Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 7:51 am
President Obama is expected to announce Friday morning that he is "ordering a transition that will significantly change the handling of what is known as the telephone 'metadata' " that the National Security Agency collects, officials are telling Reuters and NPR.
The wire service, which broke the story, writes that:
Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 1:00 pm
E.L. Doctorow's 19th book, Andrew's Brain, is a real head-scratcher. This short, perplexing but occasionally potent novel presents particular challenges to a critic, as it's difficult to discuss its enigmas without giving away its odd twists. What I can say is that what starts out as a tale of lost love ends up taking a baffling political turn into rather biting commentary on post-Sept. 11 America.
Colombia is a country famous for its exports. It's well known that those exports traditionally include flowers and, also, unfortunately, cocaine. You may not realize Columbia is also the world's fourth largest coal exporter thanks in part to the Drummond Coal Company. The Alabama-based mining firm produces about 25 million tons of coal annually in the South American country.
World powers will be gathering in Switzerland next week to look for ways to end Syria's brutal civil war. At this late date, though, representatives of the Syrian opposition are still deciding if they will come. For months now, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has been cajoling opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to come to the Geneva conference, but the U.S. would allow Iran only a limited role on the sidelines, although Iran is a major player in the Syrian conflict.
And even before Edward Snowden and his leaks made NSA surveillance the subject of dinner table conversations all over American, President Obama said he wanted a debate about the right balance between security and civil liberties. The Snowden revelations made sure that Mr. Obama got one. NPR's Mara Liasson reports on how the political calculus is working at the White House.
MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: The president's new senior advisor, John Podesta, describes what Mr. Obama wants Americans to understand.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning. President Obama today is set to announce the changes he would like to make in the way the National Security Agency keeps track of Americans and foreigners. He will speak at the Justice Department, six months after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden prompted a fierce debate in this country and abroad by exposing previously secret NSA surveillance programs.
Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn announced last night that he is giving up his Senate seat early at the end of this congressional session. His departure won't affect the balance of the Senate. But something that might affect the House - this week, several Democrats there said they won't be running again, which could add to an already uphill battle the party is facing in its effort to win back control of the House.
MONTAGNE: Yes, Omaha. It's more than just the biggest city in Nebraska. It's also a signal that Denver Bronco's quarterback Peyton Manning barked out repeatedly last Sunday during a playoff game against the San Diego Chargers.
This next story began as pretty much your standard contract dispute. The Weather Channel wanted more money for its programming, and DirectTV wanted to pay less.
So, at 12:01 Tuesday morning, the satellite service dropped the Weather Channel and replaced it with a smaller producer of weather programming, which raises the question: How much do TV viewers really want or need weather information when they can get it from other sources?
Many in the region of Catalonia in Spain are pushing to secede from the country, partly for cultural and partly for economic reasons. Naturally, the government of Spain opposes that. But yesterday, the regional parliament pressed the bid for independence a step further.
NPR's business news begins with a slam dunk for Bitcoins.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
INSKEEP: Pro basketball's Sacramento Kings will now accept Bitcoins, the electronic currency, as payment for just about everything, from court-side seats, to a DeMarcus Cousins jersey. The Kings are the first major professional sports team to accept the virtual currency.
Next, we'll hear from a man who was driven from his country, and who returned only to be driven away again. The country is South Sudan, formerly a part of Sudan. It became independent in 2011, part of the resolution to a decades-old conflict.
In 1895, legislators in New York state decided to improve working conditions in what at the time could be a deadly profession: baking bread.
"Bakeries are actually extremely dangerous places to work," says Eric Rauchway, a historian at the University of California, Davis. "Because flour is such a fine particulate, if it gets to hang in the air it can catch fire and the whole room can go up in a sheet of flame."
American kids have a problem with obesity, according to the most recent studies. In fact, the closest thing we have to good news about childhood obesity is that kids are not gaining weight as rapidly as they were some years ago.
Researchers may have identified one surprising new factor in why kids are overeating.
Clayton Sherrod was just 19 in 1964, when he became the executive chef at an all-white club in Birmingham, Ala. Sherrod, who is African-American, had started working in the kitchen there when he was 13, after his father had a heart attack.
"My mother said, 'You can't go back to school. You're going to have to find a job.' So I went to the country club."
About 10 years ago, a disgruntled pianist in Los Angeles named John Wood began a popular bumper sticker campaign with the slogan, "Drum Machines Have No Soul." Not everyone was convinced, including producer Eric Sadler.
"Drum machines don't run themselves," Sadler says. "It's the people who put into the drum machines that give the drum machines soul, to me. I've definitely given some drum machines some soul."
The latest project from Google X is a smart contact lens, a tiny, flexible computer capable of monitoring glucose levels in tears. Researchers at Google are hopeful that one day this technology might be used to help diabetes patients better control their disease.
"I think the Google X device could be a huge game changer," says Dr. John Buse, professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. He's also chairman of the National Diabetes Education Program for the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Cecilia Abadie, the motorist who was cited for allegedly speeding — and driving while wearing Google Glass — has won her day in court, after a San Diego traffic commissioner ruled there was no proof Abadie had the device's screen on while she drove.
Originally published on Thu January 16, 2014 5:44 pm
A massive $1.1 trillion spending bill has gained Senate approval, allowing Congress to send a wide-ranging bill to President Obama for his signature. The massive bill will prevent any gaps in government funding as well as take some of the sting out of automatic spending cuts.
Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 5:27 am
The thing about the Internet of Things, which describes the near future in which all our devices and appliances are connected to the Internet — and one another — is that suddenly they're vulnerable to the dark side of constant connectivity, too. Cybersecurity folks point out it "opens a Pandora's Box of security and privacy risks that cannot be ignored," writes Christophe Fabre, CEO of software services vendor Axway.
Republican hopes of picking up the six seats needed to capture the U.S. Senate include a suddenly interesting race in Virginia.
Ed Gillespie, former chairman of the Republican National Committee and a top White House aide to President George W. Bush, announced Thursday that he'll challenge Democratic Sen. Mark Warner in Virginia.
In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, incidents between Jewish settlers and Palestinians happen almost every day. Olive trees and grapevines are destroyed, tires are slashed, mosques are defaced. It's not just property destruction. Violence has cost lives on both sides.
Megan Yurko is small, but she's a big name in barrel racing. And the 16-year-old is on track to be crowned the world's top cowgirl barrel racer at the upcoming International Professional Rodeo Association's finals in Oklahoma City.
Just under 4-foot-10, Megan depends on her 1,200-pound filly Beea in a sport where the fastest rider around three barrels in a cloverleaf pattern wins.
Originally published on Thu January 16, 2014 6:09 pm
Russell Johnson, the actor whose job it was to be the voice of reason and calm on an island of shipwrecked ninnies, has died at age 89, according to reports. Johnson's role as the Professor on the 1960s comedy Gilligan's Island endeared him to audiences who watched him build radios and generators from things like coconuts and palm branches.
Johnson reportedly died of natural causes today at his home in Bainbridge Island, Wash.
Oscar nominations were announced this morning, and though lots of the slots went to the expected titles — Gravity, American Hustle and 12 Years A Slave led the pack — there were certainly some surprises.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And I'm Audie Cornish.
It's been more than seven months now since Edward Snowden shared top-secret NSA documents with the media and the world. Since then, a debate has raged about how the U.S. gathers intelligence and whether it's been invading Americans' privacy, for instance, by collecting records of their phone calls. Well, tomorrow, President Obama will officially weigh in with changes he'll make to the way the NSA does business.
NPR Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman joins us now to talk about the Pentagon's view on cuts to military benefits. And Tom, we just heard from Quil that retirees feel the military is essentially breaking faith with those who served. But what do Pentagon leaders say to that?
TOM BOWMAN, BYLINE: Well, Audie, I spoke with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Martin Dempsey earlier this week and I asked him about these pension cuts and here's what he had to say.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block. The budget deal making that's made its way through Congress has been hailed as a sign of bipartisan cooperation, extremely rare in Washington, but not everyone is happy. Veterans group have been protesting a cut to military pensions, a key part of the deal that saved $6 billion. We'll hear in a moment why the Pentagon wants the cut.