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House Majority leader Eric Cantor is pushing a package of small business bills that also has the support of President Obama. The rare instance of cooperation could mark a change in strategy for the House following historically low approval numbers for Congress and rising poll numbers for the president.

Campaigning in Tennessee Wednesday, GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum's camp took the opportunity to slam rival Mitt Romney for having a "liberal Record" on freedom of religion. At Nashville's Belmont University, Santorum spoke about his own views of religious freedom.

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The battle over social issues in the Republican presidential primaries has extended through most of another week. This time the flashpoint was a remark by Mitt Romney. The former Massachusetts governor said he opposed, and then clarified that he actually favors, legislation involving contraception.

NPR's Tamara Keith reports it was not what Romney intended to discuss in Ohio.

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NPR's business news starts with a prognosis from Ben Bernanke.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is back on Capitol Hill today, for a second day of testimony. He's speaking to Senators one day after he told House members that the economic recovery is, quote, "uneven and modest." He showed no sign of what his predecessor once called irrational exuberance.

Final Day For Greeks To Swap Drachmas For Euros

Mar 1, 2012

Beginning Friday, the Bank of Greece will stop exchanging drachma notes for euros. The deadline comes at an uncertain time for Greeks, who worry that their country's debt crisis could eventually force it out of the eurozone.

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And this morning's last word in business is: killer deal.

That's what Acorn Media may feel it's landed. Acorn distributes British TV series in the U.S., and it's now acquired a controlling interest in the estate of Agatha Christie. The late author of murder mysteries has sold billions of books. Those include the classic detective series Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot.

(SOUNDBITE OF AGATHA CHRISTIE MOVIE)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (as Hercule Poirot) However, there is someone in this room who denied to him this pleasure.

Later this month, an election will be held to select Hong Kong's next chief executive. The race has been tarnished with accusations of extra-marital affairs and conflicts of interest. As the local press puts it: Beijing has lost control of the puppet strings.

Broadway history is littered with flop musicals — but if some shows are bombs, then Carrie, based on Stephen King's best-selling 1974 novel, was kind of a nuclear bomb.

The story of a teenager with telekinetic powers who wreaks bloody havoc on her small Maine town had already been successfully adapted as a film starring Sissy Spacek in 1976. But as a musical?

Frank Rich was theater critic for The New York Times when the show opened in April 1988. He called it a musical wreck that "expires with fireworks like the Hindenburg."

Los Angeles is easing its stance on truancy. For the past decade, a tough city ordinance slapped huge fines on students for even one instance of skipping school or being late, but the Los Angeles City Council is changing that law to focus on helping students get to class because it turns out those harsh fines were backfiring.

Two years ago, Nabil Romero, a young Angeleno with a thin black mustache, was running late to his first period at a public high school on LA's Westside.

For India's Undocumented Citizens, An ID At Last

Feb 29, 2012

Some 75,000 babies are born every day in India. The total population is 1.2 billion and climbing. That's a lot of people to keep track of, and the Indian government has struggled to keep up.

Many Indians, especially the poor, don't have any ID, which makes it increasingly difficult for them to be full participants in a society that is rapidly modernizing. But a new project aims to fix that.

At the Fort Polk military base in the pine forests of central Louisiana, the Army has created a miniature version of Afghanistan — with mock villages and American soldiers working alongside Afghan role-players.

This is the training ground for a new American approach in Afghanistan as the U.S. begins to look ahead to the goal of bringing home the U.S. forces by the end of 2014. The idea is that Afghan forces have to be good enough to defend their country against the Taliban, and to make that happen, the U.S. Army is creating small U.S. training teams at Fort Polk.

Just when you thought you had the latest in camera technology, along comes something new and shiny and ... rectangular.

It's called the Lytro, and it uses something called "light field technology." In short: You shoot now and focus later.

NPR's resident photo expert, Keith Jenkins, explains: In a nutshell, he says, this camera captures not only the color and the intensity of light — which is what normal cameras do — but also the direction of that light — from every possible angle.

Still confused? We are, too.

U.S. intelligence officials tracking the situation in Syria have their eye on one group in particular: al-Qaida's affiliate in Iraq.

The group has longstanding ties to Syria, and its early members weren't just Iraqis; many of them were Syrians. The former leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, not only established a network of fighters in Syria, but he also folded them into his northern Iraqi faction of al-Qaida.

In the Michigan Republican primary Tuesday, Mitt Romney had a near-death experience, but he squeaked out a narrow victory over Rick Santorum. That, says veteran Republican strategist Ed Rogers, has calmed some of the anxiety in Republican circles about Romney's strength as a general election candidate.

"Mitt Romney did what he needed to do to give more certainty and more clarity to the race. He dodged a bullet; it was an ugly win," Rogers says. "It's not over. Santorum is still very competitive."

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told a reporter Wednesday that he opposes a measure being considered by the Senate that would allow employers to decline to provide contraception coverage to women.

"I'm not for the bill," Romney said during an interview with Ohio News Network reporter Jim Heath. "But, look, the idea of presidential candidates getting into questions about contraception within a relationship between a man and a woman, husband and wife, I'm not going there."

A next-day analysis of the Republican presidential primaries in Michigan and Arizona won by Mitt Romney underscores one of his weaknesses with his party's base, especially with the ascent of his now-chief rival Rick Santorum: He fares more poorly with born-again and evangelical voters than with nonevangelicals.

New Ways To Think About Online Privacy

Feb 29, 2012

As an editor who helps put Morning Edition on the air, I work overnight. There is something called sleep hygiene that some of us who work while you sleep have studied closely. Sleep hygiene is a set of practices that aim to help you sleep better — like not reading in bed, not watching TV there or playing Angry Birds or reading the news.

In light of the news of Google's new privacy policy, I got to thinking about privacy practices, something you might call privacy hygiene.

Despite some green shoots in the economy, the housing sector remains weak. With 11 million Americans still underwater on their mortgages, some housing experts believe it's time for more dramatic solutions.

The idea of reducing the principal on the loans of underwater homeowners used to be a fringe concept, embraced by a few outliers. Today, many policymakers believe principal reduction is necessary to keep some troubled homeowners afloat.

But so far, the nation's biggest mortgage holders, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, haven't embraced the idea.

There's been lots of talk on the Web and the news channels today about The Washington Post's front page account of what happened when Barbara Johnson went to Communion on Saturday during the funeral mass for her mother in Gaithersburg, Md.

The priest, Rev. Marcel Guarnizo said he would not give her the sacrament because she is a sinner.

Johnson is a lesbian.

When GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum was growing up, he says, John F. Kennedy was a hero in his Catholic home.

In a speech last year, he said he had always heard glowing reports of Kennedy's speech about religion to Protestant ministers in 1960.

"And then very late in my political career, I had the opportunity to read the speech and I almost threw up," Santorum told a group of college students last year. "You should read the speech. In my opinion, it was the beginning of the secular movement of politicians to separate their faith from the public square."

On its opening weekend, the Navy SEAL's movie Act of Valor grossed over $20 million at the box office. The military movie is believed to be the first to feature active duty military personnel as actors in the film.

Scary labels the U.S. Food and Drug Administration would require on cigarette packages later this year were nixed today.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon in Washington ruled the requirement that cigarette makers put the labels — some quite gruesome and all quite large — on their products would "violate the First Amendment by unconstitutionally compelling speech."

North Korea has agreed to suspend uranium enrichment and missile tests, and the U.S. says it will provide food aid. The agreement should set the stage for a new round of nuclear disarmament talks. But analysts caution this is a small first step.

U.S. State Department officials returned from three days of talks in Beijing with a deal meant to improve the atmosphere for a resumption of so-called six-party nuclear disarmament talks. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton outlined the deal in Congress on Wednesday.

When we think of the farmers we know, we can count a lot of locally-produced food we've reported on, from unusual greens to pawpaws.

And when the Obama Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture promotes their Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, what do they count? Jobs.

Maybe you won't agree, but we think this video is fascinating. It's a very close encounter with a woodpecker at a bird feeder in Dryden, N.Y.

(Hint: don't give up before the 15-second mark.)

(H/T to this blogger's old hometown friend, Jim Pearson.)

Mitt Romney's decisive victory in Arizona on Tuesday won him every one of that state's 29 delegates in what was a winner-take-all election. But it was quite a different story in Michigan.

Even though Rick Santorum finished 3 percentage points behind Romney, Santorum ended up with the same amount of delegates: 15. That's because Michigan awards most of its delegates according to congressional districts.

Every one of the 10 states voting next week on Super Tuesday will also award delegates on a proportional basis.

Picking Up Delegates

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It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

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And I'm Audie Cornish. Deadly tornadoes swept through the Midwest overnight and this morning, killing at least eight people. The storm system hammered parts of Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Kentucky, where it still poses a threat.

As NPR's David Schaper reports, hardest hit is the small city of Harrisburg in southern Illinois.

(Updated at 5:57 pm ET)

A day after Senate Democrats' chances of keeping control of the chamber seemed to improve with the news that Maine Republican Olympia Snowe was retiring from a seat Democrats seem likely to gain, they got apparently more good news — Bob Kerrey finally decided to run for the soon-to-be-vacated U.S. Senate seat from Nebraska.

My First Crush: A Love Letter To Davy Jones

Feb 29, 2012

Kitty Eisele is supervising senior editor at NPR's Morning Edition. In this essay she remembers Monkees band member Davy Jones, who died Wednesday at age 66.

This is embarrassing to write, but years ago when my first crush erupted, I asked my dad to write a love note on my behalf to Davy Jones.

Our car pulled over along a deserted traffic circle in a small Jordanian village. An old man freshly covered in thick, wet sleet climbed into the back seat, his cold breath reeking of cigarettes.

"This is Khaled," my Syrian contact said. "He will show us to the border."

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