The retro way to get the attention of the White House was to write an op-ed in a high profile newspaper, lobby Congress, or maybe even stage a march on Washington. Today all you need to do is click a few buttons. In 2011 the White House created a petitioning website called "We the People." Petitions that gather 25,000 or more signatures within 30 days receive an administration response. After more than a year in operation, Audie Cornish checks in with Jim Snider, a Harvard fellow who studies democratic reform in the information age, about the site's effectiveness.
Less than six months after a lone gunman shot up a theater at the Century Aurora 16 theater in Aurora, Colo., killing 12 people and injuring at least 58, the movie house is slated to reopen. Several family members of victims, after being invited to participate in reopening events, wrote a letter to Cinemark, owner of the theater, expressing their shock as the company's lack of sensitivity. Audie Cornish speaks with reporter Ryan Parker who has followed these events for the Denver Post.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel.
We may have avoided the fiscal cliff for the moment, but most Americans will still feel a dip in their take home pay this year. That's because payroll taxes that fund Social Security were not on the negotiating table this week in Congress. They are resetting back up to where they were at the end of 2010. It's an increase of two percentage points.
Originally published on Thu January 3, 2013 4:28 pm
In France, a team of scientists says that a piece of cloth that was reputedly dipped in the blood of Louis XVI is genuine. Louis XVI was executed 220 years ago this month, during the French Revolution.
The handkerchief had been stored for years in an ornately decorated gourd, as Tia Ghose writes at Live Science.
Pedestrian and cyclist fatalities are increasing nationwide, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and Los Angeles and New York City have the highest rates of those deaths.
In Los Angeles, where the car is the major mode of transportation, hit and runs involving pedestrians occur almost daily. But these crimes can be the most difficult for law enforcement to investigate and solve.
Holidays are typically a festive time, with breaks from the routine, meals with loved ones, maybe even some gifts. But for many families across the U.S., the season comes with intense stress: Roughly 1 in 5 families with children are not getting enough food.
For some, free or reduced-price school meals have become a major source of basic nutrition. When schools close for the holidays, many of those families struggle to fill the gap.
This year's drought delivered a pricey punch to US aquaculture, the business of raising fish like bass and catfish for food. Worldwide, aquaculture has grown into a $119 billion industry, but the lack of water and high temperatures in 2012 hurt many U.S. fish farmers who were already struggling to compete on a global scale.
Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig where 11 men died in April 2010, has agreed to pay $1.4 billion in criminal and civil penalties to resolve Justice Department allegations over its role in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
Hammond B3 organ master Dr. Lonnie Smith recently led his trio through a soulful set before a sold-out house at the Kennedy Center Jazz Club in Washington, D.C. The good doctor turns 70 this year, and he's still a leader and innovator on his instrument. He's also gaining a whole new audience, as young musicians and producers sample his deep, relentless grooves.
Originally published on Tue January 8, 2013 7:42 am
Still ordering gazpacho and sliders at your favorite restaurant? Not pre-screening restaurant menus before you make a reservation? Well, hop in the DeLorean and set the chronometer to 2013: You're really behind the times.
This past spring, Islamic extremists allied with al-Qaida took control of northern Mali after a coup destabilized the country. Adam Nossiter, the West Africa bureau chief for The New York Times, has been reporting on the Islamist takeover in the north — but has had to do so by telephone. The kidnapping threat for reporters covering the conflict is virtually 100 percent, he says.
If plans go ahead, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will be the workhorse of the Air Force, Navy and Marines for decades to come. The F-35 boasts a sleek profile that makes it nearly invisible to radar, and it's scheduled to replace as many as 10 planes that are currently in service, including the venerable F-16. Lieutenant Colonel Todd LaFortune is among the first to make the transition.
Downton Abbey, the drama series about the residents and servants at a grand estate in early 20th-century England, has done for PBS what the commercial broadcast networks couldn't achieve last year. It generated a hit show — one with an audience that increased over its run and left fans hungry for more. And that's a lot of hunger because when the second season was televised here in the states, it averaged 7 million viewers, more than most TV shows on any network, cable or broadcast.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan, in Washington. For over 30 years, NPR's Mike Shuster reported vivid stories from across the world but maybe none as dramatic as this piece from 1989 as people in East Germany awoke to the stunning news that they would be allowed free passage through the fearsome checkpoints in the Berlin Wall.
Originally published on Thu January 3, 2013 12:25 pm
Google has agreed to change some of its business practices, in an agreement made with the Federal Trade Commission that will end the U.S. agency's antitrust probe of the search and technology company.
In the terms of the deal, Google agrees not to appropriate content such as users' reviews from other sites for use in its search and mobile offerings. The company also pledged to make it easier for advertisers to compare the value of running ad campaigns through Google compared to advertising on rivals Yahoo and Microsoft.
Originally published on Thu January 3, 2013 12:29 pm
Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, who has come under criticism from some conservative members of his Republican caucus for — in their opinions — conceding too much in negotiations with the White House, was reelected Thursday as speaker of the House.
The speaker, known for showing his emotions, later choked up several times during a mid-afternoon address to the House. He challenged members to "do the right thing" and come to their jobs "humbled."
The brutal rape and death of a young student in New Delhi is raising concerns about violence against women in India. To find out more about the challenges women face in the world's largest democracy, guest host Celeste Headlee speaks to a women's rights advocate and an Indian author.
Before lawmakers get back to the business of arguing about taxes, deficits and other issues as they open a new session of Congress today, there was just a nice moment outside the Capitol.
Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., who suffered a stroke last Jan. 21, came to the Capitol for the first time since then. And as C-SPAN cameras watched, he made a very public return — slowly walking up the steps of the Capitol with assistance from Vice President Biden and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va.
The Grammy-winning band Ozomatli is known for its effortless mashup of musical styles, including funk, hip-hop, rock and salsa. The band got together about 17 years ago in Los Angeles and has performed around the world, including as U.S. Cultural Ambassadors.
A new Congress takes office today, after a nail-biting end to the last term. There were reports of choice words from House Speaker John Boehner to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, but Congress came together on a budget agreement. Guest host Celeste Headlee asks how congressional deals are made, and what to expect from the freshman class.
Originally published on Thu January 3, 2013 12:05 pm
When there's a cylinder of medical oxygen in the room, the last thing you want it to do is burst into flames.
So the Food and Drug Administration says Praxair has recalled its Grab 'n Go Vantage portable oxygen units. The product combines an aluminum cylinder with a regulator that releases the oxygen at the right pressure for medical use.
It's a handy combination, but only when the Grab 'n Go is working right.
It's not every day that you encounter a photographer based in Almaty, Kazakhstan, let alone one that was raised in Japan, went to school in Missouri and is fluent in Russian. That's Ikuru Kuwajima. Another thing that makes him unique: He often shoots with a panoramic camera.
I came across his work while reviewing photos for the Portland, Ore.-based PhotoLucida Critical Mass program, which exists to help photographers like Kuwajima get exposure.
People have been sharing food with strangers since ancient days, offering up the household's finest fare to mysterious travelers. Think Abraham and the three men of Mamre in the Bible and the folks who take in strangers after natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy. That deep tradition of generous hospitality has long been thought uniquely human.
If so, then bonobos, those gregarious African apes, may be more like us than we thought.
There's media speculation that Kim Jong-un may have added another title to his roles as new North Korean leader and new husband - could he be a new father?
Notoriously secretive North Korea apparently released an image of Kim's stylish wife, Ri Sol-ju this week, attending a New Year's event. She's trim and glamorous in her purple suit, standing next to her saluting husband.
To kick off Season 2 of Ask Me Another, we invited one of America's most trusted names in therapy onto the show — sex therapy, that is. Since her late-night radio show, "Sexually Speaking," debuted over three decades ago, Dr. Ruth has been dispensing honest, compassionate advice over the airwaves, television, and now, the Internet.