Witnesses from Afghanistan have testified in the sentencing phase of the court martial of Sgt. Robert Bales. He's admitted to killing 16 Afghan villagers during a nighttime massacre, and a military jury in Washington state is deciding whether his life sentence should come with any possibility of parole.
In 2011, the foreign intelligence surveillance court ruled that one part of the National Security Agency's monitoring of emails broke laws and violated the Constitution. Until now, that court ruling was classified, so we didn't know what exactly the NSA had done. But today, the court ruling was made public. We learned that the court found that tens of thousands of emails, collected by the NSA, had no connection to foreign suspects and were illegally intercepted.
When the drug company Merck Animal Health announced plans to suspend sales of its Zilmax feed additive last week, many observers were shocked.
Yet concern about Zilmax and the class of growth-promotion drugs called beta agonists has been building for some time. In an interesting twist, the decisive pressure on Zilmax did not come from animal welfare groups or government regulators: It emerged from within the beef industry itself, and from academic experts who have long worked as consultants to the industry.
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has teamed up with other tech giants to pursue the goal of providing Internet service to five billion people in the developing world. The group, called Internet.org, says data can be used more efficiently and participating partners can work cooperatively to make access to the web affordable in emerging economies. Zuckerberg makes the case on his Facebook page for how a global Internet infrastructure can be created. But the document doesn't have tangible commitments from Facebook or other participating companies.
Originally published on Mon August 26, 2013 6:53 am
A secret federal court found that the National Security Agency violated the civil rights of Americans when it collected thousands of emails and other digital messages between Americans, according to a 2011 opinion released Wednesday.
The FISA court ruled parts of the program to be unconstitutional and ordered them to be revised. The government made changes and the court signed off on the program in November of 2011.
Colombia. The drug trade. Multiple plane crashes, drive-by shootings, Peace Corps hippies who peddle drugs, and an actual hippo on the loose. Despite all of that, there's actually not much plot to this novel. This is more of a metaphysical detective story where cause and effect can be difficult to pin down — a book where the events that matter most occur inside the characters.
Originally published on Sat August 24, 2013 3:51 pm
Jazz musicians strive for an individual voice. If a listener can tell right away who's playing, that's an achievement. The same is true of composers — and after only a few measures of music, you know it's Marian McPartland. The pianist and host of Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz died Tuesday night at her home in Long Island, N.Y. She was 95.
Rocky, windswept Eastern Egg Rock, about 6 miles off the coast of Maine, was once a haven for a hugely diverse bird population. But in the 1800s, fishermen decimated the birds' ranks — for food and for feathers.
When ornithologist Stephen Kress first visited 40 years ago, the 7-acre island was nearly barren, with only grass and gulls left. Not a puffin in sight. Not even an old puffin bone.
Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 6:16 am
This week's innovation pick is a shower head that reminds you you're taking too long. The Uji shower head gradually turns from green to red as users linger in the shower.
"It encourages [people] to take shorter and more energy efficient showers," said one of the co-inventors, Brett Andler. "By letting people become aware of how long they're in the shower, we've actually been able to cut shower time by 12 percent."
South Sudanese pan for gold in Nanakanak, in the eastern part of the impoverished country. Tens of thousands of informal miners are looking for gold, and the government is trying to attract international mining companies to carry out the search on an industrial scale.
Credit Hannah McNeish / AFP/Getty Images
A South Sudanese woman, with a child on her back, pans for gold in the Singaita River in the eastern part of the country.
Credit Adriane Ohanesian / Reuters/Landov
A gold miner in the eastern part of South Sudan takes a break. Miners say it used to be easy to find gold nuggets. But now tens of thousands of South Sudanese are mining, and it can take days to find a single gram.
Digging a trench under the punishing midday sun, Thomas Lokinga stops only when he needs to wipe the sweat from his face. He is determined to find a nugget of gold amid the hard-baked ground in Nanakanak, in the eastern part of South Sudan, the world's newest nation.
David Cox Jr. talks with NPR's Melissa Block about how his father would have loved getting his ring back
"I can't touch it or pick it up without thinking about him and I can't pick it up without thinking about this journey of the ring."
That's David C. Cox Jr. of North Carolina talking Wednesday about the rather amazing saga of the ring his father had to trade for food in a German prisoner of war camp during World War II — a ring that has now made it back to the Cox family after seven decades.
All this summer, NPR is looking back to civil rights activism of 1963, marking the 50th anniversary of a number of events that changed our society. From the assassination of civil rights leader Medgar Evers in Mississippi to the March on Washington; NPR is remembering the past and examining how our society has changed.
The Indian rupee has fallen nearly 16 percent against the dollar since May. The drop comes amid a slowdown in the country's economy. India's troubles are mirrored in other emerging economies that drove global growth for the past decade.
Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 2:15 pm
Would you go to a bar to celebrate a massacre? That's a choice people in Kansas City are facing.
Wednesday marks the 150th anniversary of Quantrill's Raid, a notorious killing and burning spree in Lawrence, Kan., the present-day home of the University of Kansas. It was the worst atrocity in a decade's worth of Kansas-Missouri border fighting between abolitionists and pro-slavery forces.
Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 11:41 am
Saying it was vital to the country's national security, New Zealand passed a controversial law today that allows the Government Communications Security Bureau — the country's NSA equivalent — to spy on New Zealanders on behalf of law enforcement.
The law was approved by a razor-thin — 61-59 — margin and comes in the shadow of a worldwide discussion of just how much spying governments should be allowed to conduct on their own citizens.
Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 11:45 am
What's a baker to do when all foodies can talk about, on both sides of the Atlantic, is the cronut craze, a croissant-doughnut that NPR reported on earlier this year? Simple: Come up with an equally addictive hybrid dessert.
Hundreds of samples taken from riders in this summer's Tour de France found no signs of doping, officials say. The epic race, which was put on for the hundredth time in 2013, has been at the center of recent doping scandals.
Anti-doping officials say they took 202 blood and urine samples before the race began, and an additional 419 during competition. Nearly 200 of those samples were taken with the goal of creating a "biological passport" for riders, to establish a baseline of their body chemistry.
The new FX series The Bridge begins with the discovery of a body on a bridge that connects El Paso, Texas, and Juarez, Mexico. In it, a Mexican detective, played by Mexican actor Demian Bichir, has to work with an El Paso homicide cop to solve what turns out to be a serial murder case.
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Army Private Bradley Manning was sentenced this morning to 35 years in a military prison. The intelligence analyst shared hundreds of thousands of documents with the website WikiLeaks in what prosecutors call the biggest leak of classified information in U.S. history. The 25-year-old Manning stood at attention as his sentence was handed down in a courtroom in Fort Meade, Maryland.
I'm Celeste Headlee and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Michel Martin is away. Pulitzer prize-winning playwright August Wilson may be best known for a 10 play series of dramas that explore black life in America, one for each decade of the 20th century. The series includes plays like "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," "The Piano Lesson" and of course, perhaps Wilson's best-known work "Fences."
On Philadelphia pianist Orrin Evans' trio version of Ornette Coleman's "Blues Connotation," drummer Donald Edwards and bassist Eric Revis set a New Orleans second-line groove tinged with vintage hip-hop. A beat like that is catnip to Evans, who gets right down and rolls in it.