The U.S. will bring home 34,000 troops from Afghanistan by this time next year. President Obama is expected to announce the news tonight in his State of the Union address. That will cut the force in half and set the stage for the pullout of most of the remaining U.S. troops by the end of 2014. The drawdown from Afghanistan is just one of several developments today on Capitol Hill that will have a big impact on the Pentagon.
Finally this hour, an unexpected announcement from the world of Olympic sport. The International Olympic Committee Executive Board has decided to drop wrestling from the games beginning in 2020. It is a major blow to the sport, which is among the world's oldest. Today, wrestling is represented on every continent. NPR's Mike Pesca reports on fallout from the decision.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
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And I'm Melissa Block. The U.N. Security Council is strongly condemning North Korea's third nuclear test and starting discussions on further measures. China joined in that condemnation, but China is North Korea's indispensible ally and it's an open question whether it will support tougher action. NPR's Frank Langfitt sent this story from Shanghai on China's North Korea problem.
It's evident to anyone who's visited New York City that it is a loud place to live. Also, that much of the noise is caused by frustrated drivers.
(SOUNDBITE OF CAR HORNS)
SIEGEL: Well, when it comes to honking, New York is making a U-turn. City officials are removing hundreds of don't honk signs from the streets. They say there is no evidence the signs are working. But as NPR's Joel Rose reports, others say New York is admitting defeat in the war on noise.
Originally published on Wed February 13, 2013 4:55 am
(This post was last updated at 11:13 p.m. ET.)
The Los Angeles Police Department has rejected news reports that a body was discovered at a mountain cabin in California's Big Bear area where the fugitive accused of killing four people had engaged law enforcement in a hours-long standoff.
"Any reports of a body being found are not true," Cmdr. Andrew Smith said at a news conference Tuesday night.
President Obama began last year's State of the Union address by recognizing recently returned Iraq War veterans, adding: "At the end of World War II, when another generation of heroes returned home from combat, they built the strongest economy and middle class the world has ever known." Expect more historical references in Obama's Tuesday night address to a joint session of Congress.
Sometimes the best way to advance an argument is by looking back.
President Obama's second inaugural address was filled with historical allusions. His State of the Union address on Tuesday, which will lay out a long list of agenda items for the year and his second term, is likely to employ fewer references to the past.
A common vitamin supplement appears to dramatically reduce a woman's risk of having a child with autism.
A study of more than 85,000 women in Norway found that those who started taking folic acid before getting pregnant were about 40 percent less likely to have a child who developed the disorder, researchers reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
North Korea's latest nuclear weapons test is much more powerful than the previous two, according to estimates made by instruments that measure seismic waves from the blast. It's about the size of the bomb that devastated Hiroshima in World War II.
But it's not so easy to verify the claim that the nuclear explosive has also been miniaturized. That's a critical claim because a small warhead would be essential if the rogue regime chose to threaten the United States with a nuclear-tipped missile.
Big bombs are easier to make, but they aren't all that useful as a threat.
Originally published on Tue February 12, 2013 3:20 pm
Plenty of people are ready to offer advice on noshing options when it comes to the Super Bowl. But what do you serve when the occasion for gathering in front of our screens is President Obama's State of the Union address?
When NPR White House correspondent Ari Shapiro posed that question to his 125,000 Facebook followers earlier Tuesday, plenty of people jumped at the chance to toss off a bon mot.* Among our favorites:
In concerts, The Heligoats' Chris Otepka spends a good deal of time explaining his songs, often introducing them with strange, funny, byzantine stories that somehow serve as functional explanations for the words he's about to sing.
The late civil rights icon Rosa Parks, who broke racial barriers in 1955 when she would not move to the back of a segregated bus in Montgomery, Ala., will be posthumously part of another barrier-breaking moment on Feb. 27.
The office of House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, announced Tuesday that a statue of Parks will be dedicated that day in the National Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol.
Originally published on Tue February 12, 2013 7:31 pm
Women are paid significantly less, on average, than men — even when they're doing the same jobs. But the gap varies dramatically for workers in different jobs.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics sent us some data on how much women made in comparison to their male counterparts in hundreds of different jobs; here are the jobs where the wage gap is smallest, and those where the gap is biggest. The gap is based on comparisons of full-time workers.
New York Times reporter Scott Shane and colleague Jo Becker reported last year that the Obama administration has a list of terrorists targeted for drone attacks, and that the president personally approves such strikes.
The administration has been trying to keep details of its drone program under wraps, arguing that to make it public could threaten national security. Shane has reported numerous such stories.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. If you walk into any clubhouse in organized baseball, from Yankee Stadium to a rookie-league park, you'll see a large poster that specifies the prohibitions against gambling, and they'll specify the penalty. There is only one: a lifetime ban.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan, in Washington. If no budget deal is reached by March 1st, automatic, across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester kick in. And that includes the defense budget, which accounts for roughly 20 percent of federal spending.
The U.N. Security Council held an emergency meeting Tuesday to discuss North Korea's latest nuclear test. Any specific U.N. response depends largely on China, North Korea's primary trading partner. Former CIA China analyst Christopher Johnson weighs in on China's options and their potential influence on a coordinated international response.
Swordfish from Canada are marked with a label from the Marine Stewardship Council at a Whole Foods in Washington, D.C. The MSC says its label means the fish were caught by a sustainable fishery, but critics says it's not always so clear.
Originally published on Tue February 12, 2013 12:31 pm
This week, our colleagues Daniel Zwerdling and Margot Williams with NPR's investigations unit have a terrific three-part series on the Marine Stewardship Council. As they report, the MSC's labels tell consumers which seafood is supposed to be good or bad for the environment.
James Lasdun was born in London and now lives in upstate New York. He has published two novels, as well as several collections of short stories and poetry, and was the winner of the inaugural U.K./BBC Short Story Prize.
Over the past week or so, I've mentioned James Lasdun's new book, Give Me Everything You Have to a bunch of colleagues; they've all heard about it already and they're all dying to read it. What Amy Chua's Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother was to parenting a couple of years ago, Lasdun's Give Me Everything You Have may well be to teaching: a controversial personal reflection on the professor-student relationship — except Lasdun, unlike Chua, really has no advice to offer; no certitude, nor help for pain.
Gun violence. Immigration. Education. The economy. Veterans. Afghanistan. Women in combat. Innovation. Science. Equality. Heroism.
It's safe to say those will themes in Tuesday night's State of the Union address, based on the list the White House has released of the guests who will be sitting with first lady Michelle Obama in the House gallery. Such guests, and the reasons they're there, usually make their way into a president's address.
It's Fat Tuesday, the final day of indulgence before the fasting and penance of Lent begins. While the revelry in New Orleans tends to grab the spotlight, you can find some fascinating Mardi Gras traditions elsewhere.
From chasing chickens in Cajun Country to catching MoonPies in Mobile, communities all along the Gulf Coast have their own way of marking Carnival season.
Originally published on Tue February 12, 2013 1:28 pm
Passengers aboard the cruise ship Triumph, set adrift after an engine fire Sunday, will now wait until Thursday before what was billed as a four-day cruise finally ends, the Carnival cruise ship line says. Strong currents have pushed the ship another 90 miles into the Gulf of Mexico, foiling plans to tow it to Progreso, Mexico.
The news comes as those aboard the ship have been reaching out to loved ones on shore to describe life on the stricken vessel, marked by a lack of air conditioning and ventilation below decks, improvised toilets, and sleeping on the open deck.
This is TELL ME MORE, from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Coming up, Pope Benedict XVI surprised the world when he announced his resignation yesterday, so we decided to talk about some of the issues facing the church worldwide and to see if there are any potential papal candidates from the developing world, which is where most Catholics actually live. That's coming up later in the program.