Kesennuma, in the Tohoku region of Japan, was devastated in a March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami. A researcher studying recent mega-quakes says this one, centered some 300 miles from Tokyo, could actually mean an increased risk of a quake hitting Japan's capital, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world.
There's a joke among scientists: Prediction is difficult, especially about the future. For Ross Stein, it wasn't a joke after the Indian Ocean quake and tsunami in 2004. It killed some 275,000 people. "I just felt almost a sense of shame," Stein says, "that this tragedy could have been so immense in a world where we have so much intense research effort."
Members of the Congress of Racial Equality leaving Brooklyn en route to the March on Washington, on April 15, 1963. At 16, Lawrence Cumberbatch (fourth from left, in back wearing a white hat) was the group's youngest member.
Credit Orlando Fernandez / World Telegram & Sun/Library of Congress
Lawrence (right) recounted his 1963 walk from New York to Washington, D.C., to his son, Simeon, on a visit to StoryCorps.
Lawrence Cumberbatch was only 16 when he trekked, on foot, from New York City to Washington, D.C., to join the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Lawrence, now 66, was the youngest person on the march with the Brooklyn branch of the Congress of Racial Equality.
His parents thought two weeks on the open road would be too dangerous for a teenager and made their best effort to dissuade him, Lawrence tells his son, Simeon, 39, at StoryCorps in New York.
Forty years after his death, there's a name that's become practically synonymous with Chinese kung fu films.
And no, it's not Bruce Lee.
It's actually his teacher, Ip Man.
The late kung fu master's life story has inspired more movie releases than Spider-Man. The five films so far include Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai's The Grandmaster, which opens Friday in New York and Los Angeles.
FBI Director Robert Mueller testifies on Capitol Hill in June.
Credit J. Scott Applewhite / AP
FBI Director Robert Mueller had been on the job just a week before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. On Sept. 12, he took questions from reporters with U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft about the investigation.
For a man at the center of so many critical government actions, with a portfolio that includes preventing terrorist strikes and cyberattacks, FBI Director Robert Mueller has mostly avoided the limelight since he joined the bureau just a week before Sept. 11, 2001.
As his friend and former CIA Director George Tenet says, Mueller represents a different type.
Originally published on Fri August 23, 2013 10:05 am
In Minneapolis right now, even small matters have the potential to escalate — fast. Take the latest flashpoint in the Minnesota Orchestra's ongoing tribulations, which in about 24 hours has flared up a lot of ire in the classical community.
About a week ago, a semi-professional musician, blogger and longtime fan of the Minnesota Orchestra named Emily Hogstad was talking with some fellow Minnesota fans about the possibility of organizing a dedicated group of music lovers who want to see an end to the longstanding labor disputes at the Minneapolis-based ensemble.
Originally published on Fri August 23, 2013 8:06 pm
The case of Army Pfc. Bradley Manning tested many complex questions about espionage, journalism and even treason. But there was always one thing that lingered as a subtext to the case: Manning's struggle with gender identity.
On Thursday, when Manning announced that he wants to be known as Chelsea Manning, it became clear that the subtext would become the focus and that Manning will now likely test military policy on transgender issues.
Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 4:47 pm
The big idea in President Obama's new proposal for tackling the growing crisis in college affordability can be boiled down to this: linking federal higher education aid to a new grading system that would rate colleges and universities on the "value" they provide students.
"Remain aggressive." That's the message Attorney General Eric Holder says he has given to prosecutors around the country about pursuing wrongdoing by financial institutions — particularly, wrongdoing related to the financial crisis of 2008.
But as the five-year anniversary of the crisis approaches, the record of prosecutions against high-level Wall Street executives has been dismal.
President Obama was in Buffalo, N.Y., today, talking up the college affordability program at the SUNY campus there and urging Congress to do more to support higher education. The president also has a political agenda as he drives from town to town. NPR's Scott Horsley is with the president and joins us now.
Trading on the Nasdaq exchange was halted today due to an unspecified technical glitch. The shutdown rattled investors and raised fresh concerns about the safety and stability of financial markets. Nasdaq in particular has experienced technological mishaps, most notably during the Facebook IPO in 2012.
The former politician Bo Xilai offered a spirited defense in court in China on Thursday, surprising observers who had expected a quick show trial to end the country's biggest political scandal in decades. However Bo was allowed to cross-examine witnesses and tell judges he had been framed in the bribery charges against him. He said he had confessed to the charges under psychological pressure during interrogation.
Hundreds of people are believed to have perished in an alleged government-launched chemical weapon attack earlier this week on the rebel stronghold of Ghouta, outside of Damascus. Melissa Blocks speaks with Abo Abdulrahman, a doctor from a field hospital there, who reports an enormous influx of patients coming into his clinic.
Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was released from prison on Thursday and immediately flown to a military hospital in Cairo. The court-ordered release does not mean the end of his problems. The 85-year-old Mubarak is still facing charges of conspiracy and murder in a re-trial that could begin as early as this weekend. A small group of Mubarak supporters gathered outside the prison for his release, but overall the decision to transfer him to the hospital has not ignited any street protests.
April 5, 2014 — that's the day Afghans are scheduled to head to the polls to elect a successor to President Hamid Karzai. He's constitutionally banned from running for a third term. But, in a country that loves a good conspiracy theory, many think that Karzai will find some way to stay in power. Even if he doesn't, there are still many questions about how free and fair next year's vote will be.
More than 330,000 people filed new claims for unemployment insurance benefits last week. That sounds like a big number — and is a slight increase over the previous week — but it's being taken as some very good news. For a month, now, fewer new people are asking for unemployment insurance than at any time since November, 2007. That's before the Great Recession.
Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 4:46 pm
President Obama unveiled a plan on Thursday that would, for the first time, tie federal student aid to a new rating system for colleges and universities. While the president's message that higher education costs should be reined in was simple enough, the sweeping proposal is anything but.
We hear some of the 911 call from a Georgia school clerk to the police earlier this week. Antoinette Tuff, who works at the McNair Discovery Learning Center, talked a 20-year-old gunman who was brandishing an AK-47 and shooting at police, into giving himself up.
One aim of the organizers of the 1963 March on Washington was to get Congress to pass civil rights legislation. President John F. Kennedy had proposed a wide-ranging measure earlier that summer. But he faced unrelenting opposition from lawmakers, many in his own party.
In a military court in Washington State today, Army Sergeant Robert Bales offered these words: Sorry just isn't good enough, but I am sorry. Bales agreed to plead guilty to killing 16 Afghan civilians, as part of a deal that spared him the death penalty. Now his sentencing hearing is wrapping up.
And NPR's Martin Kaste is at the hearing at Joint Base Lewis McChord. He joins us now.
Martin, this is the first time that the jury heard from Sergeant Bales at any length. What did he say to explain what he did?
The Justice Department is suing the state of Texas over its strict voter ID law, saying it discriminates against minorities. The attorney general also wants a judge to order Texas to get federal permission before it changes its election procedures.
A group foster home + abused and at-risk kids + tough love + junior staff nearly as troubled as their charges: The potential for cliche is everywhere in Destin Cretton's enormously engaging Short Term 12, and — happily — is everywhere avoided. What might seem on paper a cloyingly sentimental heartwarmer becomes, in Cretton's hands, a briskly believable, often funny, always invigorating and ultimately wrenching story of emotional fortitude.
The difference between a provocative film and a challenging one can be difficult to parse. Yet it's essential to understanding the success and occasional missteps of Ulrich Seidl's Paradise: Faith, the second part in a trilogy that, so far, has excelled at exploring the depths of human misery.
Originally published on Fri August 23, 2013 1:07 pm
"She's so pretty, she could be in any movie," a fan gushed after a screening of Joe Swanberg's Drinking Buddies. There's a lot more to Olivia Wilde than her feline loveliness, which, combined with a challenging stare that dares you to dismiss her as fluff, reminds me of a young Michelle Pfeiffer. But not much of that is allowed out to play in this strained comic drama about two young couples struggling to answer universal questions in particular ways.
Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 4:10 pm
The Packard plant, which once symbolized the might of America's auto industry, is at risk of heading to auction if a pending development deal fails. If that happens, The Detroit Free Press reports, the 35-acre site eventually could be sold "for as little as $21,000," a figure that comes from Wayne County Deputy Treasurer David Szymanski.