NPR News

Private Hiring Up, But So Are Layoffs

Aug 3, 2011

Two reports sent mixed signals about the job market Wednesday.

Companies added 114,000 jobs in July, but job cuts rose to a 16-month high, according to two private reports. The numbers come two days before Friday's official July jobs report from the Labor Department.

Payroll processor ADP said employment in the services sector rose 121,000 last month, but goods-producing jobs fell by 7,000. The report "suggests that employment continued to advance at a moderate pace in July," but employment is decelerating, ADP said.

ABC News has a report out this morning that claims to name the source of the new information in the D.B. Cooper skyjacking. ABC says unnamed and unspecified sources have confirmed that a woman named Marla Cooper provided the FBI with a guitar strap for fingerprint testing.

NPR is trying to independently confirm ABC's claim. The FBI has yet to respond to a request for comment.

Good morning!

The story dominating the morning is that six months after his ouster, former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is standing trial on charges of corruption and complicity in the deaths of protesters. The ailing 83-year-old was in a hospital bed inside a metal cage. The AP reports:

Ed Kilgore is a special correspondent for The New Republic.

Mathew Continetti is an opinion editor for The Weekly Standard.

The talks were going nowhere. It was July 13, the fifth straight day of negotiations between President Obama and congressional leaders over an agreement to increase the debt ceiling. The hour was late when House majority leader Eric Cantor repeated the Republican preference for a short-term increase. But the president wasn't having it. "Eric, don't call my bluff," Obama said. "I'm going to the American people on this."

Yet another politician has given up his seat because explicit pictures of themselves ended up on the World Wide Web and in this case on the site of a political adversary.

Louis N. Magazzu, 53-year-old Democrat, had been a New Jersey freeholder, or county commissioner, for nearly 14 years. He resigned, yesterday, amid a controversy that's becoming very familiar: Magazzu texted naked pictures of himself to a woman he'd never met in person and then those pictures went public.

Echoing what Fitch Ratings said yesterday, Moody's Investor Service said it is keeping a triple-A credit rating for the United States. Bloomberg reports that the announcement also came with a warning that a downgrade is still possible if the country doesn't take on debt reduction:

The rise of fracking as a method for extracting natural gas from shale rock has triggered demand for a key ingredient in the process: silica sand. In parts of the upper Midwest, there's been a rush to mine this increasingly valuable product.

With the fight over the U.S. debt ceiling finally over, investors are free again to focus on all the economic challenges that lie ahead, but they are finding little reason to celebrate. Stock markets around the world fell sharply on Tuesday, skipping the "relief rally" that customarily follows the resolution of a crisis.

In the United States, signs of a serious economic slowdown had been building up, though with attention focused on the debt-ceiling debate, the news had apparently not yet sunk in.

For several GOP lawmakers, the decision on whether to vote for the debt deal hinged on how the prescribed cuts will affect defense spending. In the end, enough Republicans in the House put their concerns about cutting the deficit over their concerns about cutting defense spending.

But no one really knows how much the Pentagon will have to cut as a result of the deal or when.

"We are in uncharted territory here," said David Berteau, an expert on budgetary issues with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

More than half a century after the death of sports star Jim Thorpe, his surviving children and a small town in northeastern Pennsylvania are locked in a battle over the Native American athlete's remains.

The two-time Olympic gold medalist, member of the NFL Hall of Fame and former Major League Baseball player was buried in the town of Jim Thorpe, Pa., after he died of a heart attack in 1953.

NASA, the agency best known for exploring space, is trying to answer some urgent questions about air pollution right here on Earth.

For much of July, the agency flew research planes between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore as part of a mission known as DISCOVER-AQ. The planes, along with weather balloons and ground stations, were gathering data on how pollutants such as ozone and particulates behave in the atmosphere.

Rural Arizona Hospital Prepares For Future Cuts

Aug 3, 2011

Mayor Jack Porter arrived at the only post office in Bisbee, Ariz., on a red motorcycle. Getting off, he walked with a slight limp, the only lingering effect of a frightening morning last July when he awoke with numbness in his right side and slurred speech.

The paramedics had rushed him to the only emergency room in rural Bisbee at the Copper Queen Community Hospital. There, doctors determined he was having a stroke and gave him tPA, a clot-busting drug that, when administered within a tight timeframe, can minimize a stroke's effects.

The bill passed Tuesday to raise the nation's debt limit and avoid default includes as much as $2.4 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade.

"It's an important first step to ensuring that as a nation we live within our means," President Obama said.

The deal was hard-fought, with cuts some say will be painful, but experts say it doesn't come close to fixing the country's debt problems.

Syria's uprising has been called the YouTube Revolution. The protest videos from cities across the country are a guide to how the movement works.

The banners and the slogans are remarkably similar, from the city of Dera'a in the south, to Hama on the central plain, to the eastern desert town of Deir Ezzor. Even in the capital of Damascus, the chants are the same: "It's time for President Bashar al-Assad to go."

Renee Montagne speaks with Kristalina Georgieva about the famine in Somalia and the difficulties of getting aid into the country. Georgieva is the European Union's humanitarian aid commissioner and is just back from Somalia.

Egypt's ousted president Hosni Mubarak goes on trial in Cairo today along with his two sons and top officials from his government. Mubarak could face the death penalty if he is convicted of ordering attacks on protesters in Tahrir Square that left some 800 dead.

Next week, at some place in Indianapolis where time has been instructed to stand still, Mark Emmert, president of the NCAA, will convene what is being called, without irony, a "retreat."

Assembled will be about 50 college presidents, pledged, it seems, to make sure that college athletics continue to remain firmly in the past, in the antiquated amateur hours.

The White House will unveil its strategy to counter radicalization on Wednesday afternoon, ending months of speculation about how President Obama intends to tackle the growing problem of violent extremism in this country.

The strategy paper, titled The National Strategy on Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism, has been more than a year in the making and marks the first time the U.S. has laid out a comprehensive strategy to counter violent extremism.

Jeffrey Quick doesn't have any family ties to legendary Yankees ballplayer Lou Gehrig. But his collection of mementos from Gehrig's life — a glove and a grade-school autograph book among them — are the kinds of things passed down from one generation to the next. And that's how Quick got them. Gehrig's mother, Christina, left them to Quick's mother, back in 1954.

As Quick tells All Things Considered co-host Michele Norris, his mother, Ruth Quick, briefly dated Lou Gehrig, back when he was a single superstar in New York.

Democrats may have yielded on their demand for tax increases to Republicans to achieve the the debt-ceiling deal President Obama signed into law Tuesday.

But Sen. Harry Reid had a warning for congressional Republicans when he talked Tuesday with Michele Norris, co-host of All Things Considered. Later this year when Congress has to decide on additional ways to cut federal deficits, Democrats intend to stand firm on the need for more tax revenues, the Senate minority leader said.

Gearing up for the fall is a big job for most school districts. But in Joplin, Mo., where a monstrous tornado killed 160 people and destroyed more than half of the district's classroom space in May, the task is massive.

Thanks to a very resourceful approach, plenty of help and hard work, though, school will start as scheduled — and that means a lot to the community.

The tornado ripped across Joplin on Sunday, May 22, graduation day. The devastation was vast and surreal: phones and power lines in tatters, desperate triage at swamped medical centers, scores missing.

The Federal Aviation Administration has been in a partial shutdown mode since July 22. And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says the shutdown will continue, with some 4,000 federal workers remaining on furlough.

"It'll be closed until... maybe not September, maybe more than that," he tells All Things Considered co-host Michele Norris.

Four Loko, 11 Young People And A Busy Emergency Room

Aug 2, 2011

Here at Shots, we've been watching the uproar over the alcoholic energy drink Four Loko ever since college kids last year reportedly started ending up in hospitals after drinking too much of the stuff.

For the Republicans vying to replace President Obama, the debate on the campaign trail has taken a back seat to the debate in Washington.

Among the GOP presidential hopefuls, the dominant position on the deal is thumbs-down, though some reluctantly supported the agreement.

But now, the issue of federal spending promises to become one of the leading topics of discussion as voters size up the Republican field.

The House of Representatives' vote to raise the debt ceiling Monday was upstaged by the surprise appearance of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), making her first visit to the chamber since being shot in the head in January during a visit to her home state.

Less than six months after he was toppled, former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is scheduled to go on trial Wednesday, and a guilty verdict could bring the death penalty.

Mubarak, who ruled Egypt for 30 years, is charged with multiple crimes that include corruption and ordering the killing of hundreds of protesters while he struggled to put down a popular uprising.

State television will broadcast the proceedings live, a show that is sure to grip the nation. That is, if it begins as scheduled — or at all.

Second in a three-part series

China basked in a moment of technological glory last November when it nudged out the U.S. as home of the world's fastest supercomputer.

The achievement was short-lived — after just six months, a Japanese supercomputer three times as fast supplanted the Chinese machine — but it generated intense national pride.

But questions remain as to whether China's much-vaunted supercomputing program will be able to live up to Beijing's high expectations.

A law signed into law last month in Missouri is making waves nationally, this week. A small part of the wide-ranging SB54, makes it illegal for teachers to be "friends" with students on any social networking site that allows private communication.

That means teachers and students can't be friends on Facebook or can't follow each other on Twitter for example.

Reaction was swift in Alabama on Tuesday after the Justice Department filed a lawsuit to block a new immigration law set to take effect next month.

Alabama's new law — considered the toughest in the country — requires authorities to confirm the status of anyone they stop if there's reasonable doubt that person could be in the U.S. illegally. The law makes it a crime for undocumented immigrants to work, rent an apartment or get a driver's license.

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