With President Obama on vacation and Congress out of town, Washington, D.C., was relatively quiet this week. That, however, doesn't mean the political buzz has stopped. Guest host John Ydstie talks to Matt Continetti of the Weekly Standard and political consultant Karen Finney about President Obama's bus tour-slash-vacation, and about Gov. Rick Perry's take-no-prisoners speech.
JOHN YDSTIE, host: Another Republican governor made a move on to the national scene this past week. Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia was named chairman of the Republican Governor's Association. While that role isn't as dramatic as Governor Perry's high-octane campaign, it could influence the race for the Republican presidential nomination. Governor McDonnell joins us now. Good morning, Governor.
Governor BOB MCDONNELL: Hey. Good morning, John. Nice to be on with you.
YDSTIE: Nice to be on with you and congratulations on your new job.
Researchers have found a way for LCD screens to charge using solar power, indoor light and the devices' own backlight. That means in a few years, you may be able to recharge your phone by pointing it toward the sun instead of plugging it into the wall. Guest host John Ydstie talks to the lead UCLA researcher, Yang Yang.
Residents of Tripoli are fleeing as Libyan rebels move slowly toward the capital city. The battlefront is now about 18 kilometers out of town; there's also heavy, bitter fighting and multiple NATO airstrikes in Zawiyah. Meanwhile, rumors about the fate and location of Moammar Gadhafi and his son are rampant. Guest host John Ydstie gets the latest on the rebel advance from NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro in Libya.
A spry 80-year-old cruises through the thick vegetation of western Borneo, or western Kalimantan, as it's known to Indonesians. Dressed in faded pinstripe slacks and a polo shirt, Layan Lujum carries a large knife in his hand. The chief of the island's Sekendal village is making his morning rounds.
Layan is a member of an indigenous ethnic group called the Dayaks, who once had a reputation as fierce headhunters. As on most mornings, his first job on a recent day is to tend to his rubber trees.
The next few days may tell us a lot about the case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn. The former International Monetary Fund chief is due back in court on Tuesday, and prosecutors in New York are weighing whether to go forward in spite of big questions about the credibility of Strauss-Kahn's accuser.
The man who will make that call is Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. It may be the hardest decision he's faced since taking office 20 months ago.
The Obama administration on Thursday said it would review the deportation cases of 300,000 illegal immigrants.
The policy might make a difference to thousands of undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children because the administration wants to put high priority on removing convicted criminals, and low priority on cases that involve people who pose no security threat.
Heavy two-way gunfire and mortar rounds have been heard in Tripoli, as rebels inch closer to the Libyan capital from the western mountains.
In the west, rebels control the road leading to the border with Tunisia. To the east, they control Misrata and Zlitan. Since taking the city of Gheryan, rebel forces have cut off the road from the south.
"Tripoli is essentially being strangled," says NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro.
Say you own a house in Gainesville, Fla., or St. Paul, Minn. It cost you $172,000 — that's the median sales price of a single family home in the United States. You put 20 percent down when you bought the house, and you're able to make your monthly payments — but just barely. This property is your little slice of the American dream.
Now what if someone tells you the plan is to raise your interest rate, cut your house value and eliminate the tax deduction you get for mortgage interest?
A couple weeks ago, Katie Eastman was asleep at her boyfriend's place in Chicago. She had the night off from her job as a reporter at WOI-ABC 5 in Des Moines, Iowa. She'd been on the job about two months, after graduating from college in the spring.
"I woke up to a barrage of voicemails, text messages, tweets" she says. One message, from a friend across the country, said only, "Katie. I just saw everything. I hope you're all right. Call me."
As she was sleeping, Eastman had just broken into the national spotlight.
Rebels in Libya are tightening their grip on territory they've seized from forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi. They are fighting battles in coastal cities around the capital of Tripoli, capturing the main square in the strategic western city of Zawiya after more than a week of heavy fighting.
NPR has not independently confirmed wire reports that the rebels control Zawiya, but a victory in that city would be an important boost for the rebels as they try to tighten the noose on Gadhafi's stronghold in Tripoli, just 30 miles to the east.
Libya's six-month-long civil war may well be in its final days. Rebel fighters appear to be in their strongest position yet, as Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi becomes more isolated. Guest host Jacki Lyden talks with NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro.
In the NFL, one suspended bad boy is ready to make his debut. Also, the University of Miami is under investigation for what might be the biggest rules violation in NCAA history. There was bad behavior overseas, too: Georgetown's basketball team got roughed up in a "good will" game against a Chinese team. Guest host Jacki Lyden talks with NPR's Tom Goldman about a tough week in sports.
American international aid expert Warren Weinstein was kidnapped in Pakistan last week. The law minister of the Punjab says he believes it's the work of local militants. Senior police investigators don't go that far, saying they are cautiously optimistic that Weinstein will be safely recovered. NPR's Julie McCarthy visited the scene of the abduction in Lahore and has this report.
When major anchor stores like the Borders bookstore chain close their doors, what happens to the surrounding neighborhoods? Guest host Jacki Lyden talks about urban development issues with Chris Leinberger, who directs the University of Michigan's real estate graduate studies.
In the American Corn Belt this year, the weather has already felt apocalyptic at times. In the last six months, the Midwest has seen record-breaking floods, devastating twisters, unseasonable cold snaps and late heat waves. Now add to these forces of nature: the "Bugnado." Guest host Jacki Lyden speaks with entomologist Joe Keiper about an unprecedentedly large swarm of insects in Iowa.
Financial turmoil in Europe and weak economic data in the U.S. were the backdrop for a week of high-profile politicking by several major candidates for president in 2012. NPR Senior Washington Editor Ron Elving joins guest host Jacki Lyden to recap the week in politics.
Texas governor Rick Perry was at the center of the political news cycle this week. He's promising to bring Texas-style prosperity to Washington. D.C. NPR's John Burnett takes us around the candidate's home state to see what Perry's supporters and critics think prosperity looks like.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn is due back in court next Tuesday. The sexual assault case against him has been on shaky ground since prosecutors announced they had serious concerns about the credibility of his accuser. But there's one person who's determined to prosecute: the woman's lawyer, Kenneth Thompson. Ailsa Chang of member station WNYC profiles Thompson, a federal prosecutor turned victim's lawyer. Note: This report contains graphic language.
Bill Clinton became renowned on the campaign trail for his ability to snarf up burgers and fries. Heart bypass surgery convinced him to cut back on the grease. In the past year, Clinton's gone even further: He's gone vegan.
In baseball, it's better to be lucky than good, according to Bill Buckner. He should know. Buckner was very good. He was an All-Star Gold Glove first baseman who played 22 years in the major leagues, including four seasons for the Boston Red Sox.
This summer, Buckner is back in baseball and back in New England, where he's reminded that 22 years of being good can't erase one moment of being unlucky.
Iraq has turned into a back-burner issue, but there's still plenty to worry about in a country that remains far from stable.
Attacks across the country this week raised a host of questions about the ability of Iraq's security forces to maintain control. There are still nearly 50,000 American troops stationed in the country. But their primary mission now is to train Iraqi soldiers, and most of the U.S. forces are scheduled to leave by Dec. 31 under an agreement between the U.S. and Iraqi governments.
Dognappings have risen 49 percent in the U.S. in 2011, according to data gathered by the American Kennel Club.
"We believe the increase is due to economic times," Lisa Peterson, a spokesperson for the nonprofit group, which has been tracking pet theft for several years, tells Weekend Edition Saturday guest host Jacki Lyden.
The Arctic is heating up faster than anyplace on Earth. And as it heats, the ice is growing thinner and melting faster. Scientists say that sometime this century, the Arctic Ocean could be free of ice during the summers. And that transition is likely to be chaotic.
Arctic sea ice has always seen dramatic swings. Every winter, the ocean is completely covered with ice. It starts to melt in the late spring, and by September about half that ice has melted away.
NCAA President Mark Emmert says he's willing to back up his tough talk on punishing rule-breakers — even using the "death penalty" as a deterrent.
With salacious allegations swirling around Miami's football program, and one week after Emmert joined with university presidents to discuss toughening sanctions against cheating schools, the NCAA's leader said he believed the infractions committee should make the harshest penalty an option.
President Obama's bus tour across the Midwest this week could probably be summed up this way: jobs vs. deficits. Americans are clamoring for action on both, but action on jobs might mean more spending, which is a toxic word in Washington, as well as for many small-business owners.
A Small-Business Owner's Struggle
Terry Frank and her husband own a shop that sells everything from sandwiches to desserts on the Oak Ridge Turnpike in Oak Ridge, Tenn.
More than 300,000 children in the Horn of Africa are severely malnourished "and in imminent risk of dying" because of drought and famine, the head of the U.N. children's agency said Friday.
The United Nations says that tens of thousands of people have died in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti — and the organization warns that the famine hasn't peaked. More than 12 million people in the region need food aid, according to the U.N.
"The crisis in the Horn of Africa is a human disaster becoming a human catastrophe," UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake told reporters.
The Libyan rebels have been on the move this week.
In Gheryan, an important city south of the capital Tripoli, it seemed everyone was celebrating Friday. Women, children, young men, older men and even white-haired grandfathers.
They jumped into trucks and cars and flashed the victory sign to each other in an impromptu parade. The city, which straddles the main road south from Tripoli, was a garrison for Moammar Gadhafi's forces for the past six months. From Gheryan, the military would resupply forces for the frequent battles in the country's Western Mountains.