NPR News

International Supermodel Revisits Refugee Past

Aug 3, 2011

Alek Wek is among 60 refugees sharing personal stories on the 60th anniversary of the 1951 U.N. Refugee Convention. She says stigma should never be attached to the term "refugee," and shares her struggles, triumphs and advocacy work with host Michel Martin. The United Nations' Larry Yungk also discusses the intent of this week's "First Refugee Congress."

Congressman's Activism Leads To Arrest

Aug 3, 2011

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D.-Ill.) was arrested in front of the White House last week to protest the huge increase in deportations under the Obama administration. He tells host Michel Martin about the motivations fueling his civil disobedience, and assesses whether moving ahead on comprehensive immigration reform is possible now.

As Famine Rises, So Do Political Hurdles

Aug 3, 2011

During East Africa's worst drought in 60 years, tens of thousands have already died and millions urgently need food. The United Nations is warning that the crisis will worsen if aid is not increased. Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai says government systems have severely lagged in helping locals and solving environmental problems. She tells host Michel Martin what else should be done to bring relief to the region.

There's one thing that freshman Republicans and the old-guard GOP leadership can agree on — the Class of 2010 fundamentally changed the focus of the debate over taxes and spending.

In a key test of their clout, the group of congressional newcomers largely stuck to their guns through tense negotiations, forcing a first-ever cap on discretionary spending and staving off tax increases.

Members of Congress have begun fleeing the nation's steamy capital for their summer break, leaving behind a funk of noxious politics and a debt-ceiling deal that averts a government default but inspires almost universal hatred.

They're also dragging along dueling narratives about what the acrimonious past few weeks have meant for the prospects of the Tea Party movement.

In 2007, James Ford Seale was belatedly convicted for his role in the 1964 abduction and killing of two black men in rural Mississippi. Seale died in jail Tuesday, while serving three life sentences. He was 76.

The AP has some background:

Seale was convicted of two counts of kidnapping and one of conspiracy to commit kidnapping in the 1964 deaths of Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charles Eddie Moore, both 19.

John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Beat since 1999.

Following in uneasy but steady lockstep behind the Republican-controlled US House of Representatives, the Democrat-controlled US Senate voted 74-26 Tuesday to endorse the deal between President Obama and Congressional Republicans that will impose massive cuts in federal programs in return for a temporary hike in the debt ceiling.

Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard.

For House speaker John Boehner, Tea Party Republicans weren't the problem as he sought support for a package of spending cuts attached to an increase in the debt limit. The biggest impediment to a House majority was Republicans fearful a primary opponent would use a vote to boost the debt limit against them.

There are two apartment buildings in my Manhattan neighborhood that share a block. They sit very close. One is about nine inches from the other. In the small vertical space between them, a horde of finches have built themselves nest upon nest upon nest rising for nine human floors. It's a finch skyscraper. In March and April you can see finches busily flying in and out of this vertical crack, bearing twigs, grasses and nest-building material.

Seventy-seven people have gotten sick and one has died in a salmonella outbreak that's appears to be caused by tainted ground turkey, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

And the bacterial strain investigators are closing in on — Salmonella Heidelberg — is potentially quite bad because it's resistant to a lot of common antibiotics. That complicates treatment for people who get sick from it.

So why hasn't the government issued any turkey recalls?

Christina Larson is a contributing editor at Foreign Policy and a fellow at the New America Foundation.

Hosni Mubarak, the man who ruled Egypt with an iron fist for nearly three decades, was wheeled into a Cairo courtroom on a hospital bed and placed in a metal cage as his trial opened Wednesday on charges of corruption and conspiracy in the killing of protesters who sought his ouster.

The ailing 83-year-old lay ashen-faced as he pleaded not guilty from inside the defendants' cage. His two sons, also on trial, stood beside him in white prison uniforms.

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.

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