The political map of America changes, but it doesn't change very quickly. Massachusetts was a reliably liberal state decades ago and still is. The South is still the South. This raises the question of why it is that certain areas come to be reliably liberal or conservative.
NPR Shankar Vedantam joins us to discuss some research that explores the question. Hi, Shankar.
It's the kind of international crisis that is numbingly familiar: a coup, followed by a steep descent into sectarian bloodshed and revenge killings. This is what's happening now in the Central African Republic.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
The coup happened last year. It was led by a rebel group call Seleka, drawn from the minority Muslim community in this largely Christian country. After the coup, many of the Muslim rebels targeted Christian neighborhoods, plundering and killing. And then came a moment of hope.
The Senate will be voting on final passage of a five-year farm bill this afternoon. One big change in the new bill - it puts an end to the controversial cash payments made directly to farmers regardless of their profits. Still, as NPR's Ailsa Chang reports, critics argue the new crop insurance program that replaces those cash subsidies is just another giveaway.
Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep. Kenny Martin finally hit his limit. He's a mailman working out of the Walled Lake post office northwest of Detroit. Despite that northern location he wears shorts all year around. He gives the Detroit Free Press a simple explanation, quote, "I hate pants. They chaffe."
This winter finally broke him. He's put on pants on some of the coldest days though he still likes shorts and adds: I have a very high tolerance for pain. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
The eruption of an Indonesian volcano has claimed its first fatalities. It happened in recent days. Mount Sinabung has been erupting for about three months after 400 years of quiet. Nobody knows how bad this could get, but already the volcano is sending scalding ash a mile into the sky and it killed 14 people last weekend. Wall Street Journal reporter Ben Otto is on the line in Jakarta. Welcome to the program, sir.
BEN OTTO: Hi. Thanks for having me.
INSKEEP: What does the erupting volcano look like?
Next week, workers at a Chattanooga auto plant run by Volkswagen will vote on whether to join the United Auto Workers. This is the first attempt in 13 years to unionize a plant that is not run by one of the big three Detroit automakers.
As Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton reports, Volkswagen has given the drive its blessing, so outside groups are stepping in to fight the union.
One of the most dramatic changes in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban is the increase in average life expectancy from 45 to 62 years. That gain is almost entirely a function of reductions in child mortality due to the spread of basic health services.
Yet Afghanistan still has one of the highest child mortality rates in the world, and there could be significant backsliding as the international community reduces aid after NATO troops withdraw at the end of this year.
2013 was a record-breaking year for exonerations in the United States, according to statistics compiled by the National Registry of Exonerations.
At least 87 people were set free for crimes they did not commit last year, the highest number since researchers began keeping track more than 20 years ago. Some of those people spent decades in prison before release.