On a Thursday, it's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
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And I'm David Greene. As soon as today, the Pentagon could announce it is extending some benefits to spouses of gay and lesbian service members. The move comes two years after the repeal of the policy known as "don't ask, don't tell." Since nine states and Washington, D.C. allow same-sex marriage, the Pentagon has struggled with whether and how to recognize these spouses. NPR's Ari Shapiro reports.
The U.S. Postal Service likes to talk about how reliable it is, and they are determined to keep that reputation, even after the change announced yesterday. The Postal Service plans to end Saturday delivery of regular mail. They will continue delivering packages on Saturdays. The decision will save some $2 billion a year, but it's getting mixed reviews, as NPR's Brian Naylor reports.
Let's get a glimpse of the troops now fighting Islamist insurgents in Somalia. Forces from multiple African nations have been battling a group called al-Shabaab for years. They're being closely watched now because the international community is considering how to intervene in future months and years against an insurgency in Mali. NPR's Gregory Warner is traveling with a force in Somalia. Gregory, welcome back to the program.
GREGORY WARNER, BYLINE: Thanks, Steve.
INSKEEP: So where are you, and what have you been doing?
NPR's business news starts with Boeing's battery problem.
Boeing's new fleet of Dreamliner 787 aircraft is grounded. But there is one in the air right now. The FAA cleared the plane's flight this morning from Fort Worth, Texas to Seattle. Engineers at the Boeing factory there will study the plane's lithium ion batteries and look for ways to reduce fire risk. Regulators around the world grounded the Dreamliner last month after batteries overheated on two planes. Only crew are aboard the 787 currently on its way to Seattle.
And we have news of another fire sale. Our last word in business today is the buy of a lifetime.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
That's what some are calling the sale of a 20-acre estate outside Cedar Falls, Iowa, which sold for a winning bid of around $600,000. The precise amount was not disclosed. One expert says to build something like that estate today would cost $1.5 million.
In exchange for multibillion-euro bailouts, Greece was required to sell state-owned assets. But the sweeping privatization process is behind schedule. In addition, European governments are nervous that Chinese, Russian and Arab companies are lining up to take advantage of the Greek fire sale.
A worker makes a cut in the side of a sandstone block at the Cleveland Quarries facility in Vermilion, Ohio, earlier this month. The legal limit on the amount of silica that workers can inhale was set decades ago.
Credit Ty Wright / Bloomberg via Getty Images
An employee uses a wet saw to cut a slab of sandstone at a Lang Stone Co. facility in Columbus, Ohio, in January. Using water while cutting helps keep dust out of the air.
Luis Romero looks out over the ocean to a view that includes the Coast Guard station where his son, Julian, was in the auxiliary. Romero started the anti-violence organization Basta Ya after Julian was murdered.
Credit Coburn Dukehart / NPR
Daysi Pena has sold cosmetics and accessories in San Juan, Puerto Rico, for 12 years. She is now thinking of moving to New York to escape the escalating violence on the island. There was a shooting one block from her stall a day before this photo was taken.
Credit Coburn Dukehart / NPR
Hector Pesquera, the police superintendent for the island, says tackling crime has been challenging.
Credit Courtesy of Luis Romero
Julian Romero (center) is seen with his parents, Marie Rodriquez and Luis Romero, on his 20th birthday, April 18, 2011. He was stabbed to death later that night while celebrating with his girlfriend in the Condado neighborhood of San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico's population is declining. Faced with a deteriorating economy, increased poverty and a swelling crime rate, many Puerto Ricans are fleeing the island for the U.S. mainland. In a four-part series,Morning Editionexplores this phenomenon, and how Puerto Rico's troubles are affecting its people and other Americans in unexpected ways.
John Brennan, President Obama's choice to lead the CIA, can look forward to a grilling Thursday on Capitol Hill. As Obama's chief counterterrorism adviser, he has been associated with some controversial policies, including the use of armed drones. Brennan's nomination comes before the Senate Intelligence Committee, and members from both parties have their questions ready.
Just a stone's throw from two of Los Angeles' busiest freeways lies the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve, a unique spot in an urban jungle.
The northern portion of the reserve is adorned with 30-foot-tall cottonwood trees, spots of coyote bush and other plants. Native plants cover 50 percent of the nature spot, says Kris Ohlenkamp with the San Fernando Valley Audubon Society.
"On the other side it was significantly more than that," he says.
John Brennan, President Obama's nominee to be the next CIA director, worked closely with Saudi Arabia to set up a secret U.S. drone base there, The New York Times reported. Brennan's confirmation hearing is Thursday.
Originally published on Thu February 7, 2013 4:50 am
The Obama administration says lethal airstrikes, delivered stealthily by drones, have been a major success in its counterterrorism efforts. But the administration has been much less successful in keeping secret the details of the often controversial drone program.
An Amish man and woman walk through a parking lot after leaving the U.S. courthouse in Cleveland in September. Sixteen members of an Amish group in Bergholz, Ohio, led by Samuel Mullet, were found guilty of attacks targeting Amish bishops.
Credit Amy Sancetta / AP
Amish bishop Samuel Mullet stands in front of his home in Bergholz, Ohio. He was found guilty of masterminding a plan to cut off beards and hair of other Amish.
Minnesota has a Democratic governor, two Democratic senators, and Democrats control both houses of its Legislature. So it may have come as no surprise when President Obama went there earlier this week to rally support for his proposals to reduce gun violence.
But even in the politically blue state, there's considerable resistance to placing further restrictions on gun ownership.
During his visit to a Minneapolis police facility Monday, Obama urged Minnesotans to find common ground in curbing gun violence.
The U.S. Postal Service announced Wednesday that it plans to end Saturday delivery later this year. The Postal Service lost more than $15 billion in fiscal year 2012 and it is under great pressure to reduce those losses.
Originally published on Wed February 6, 2013 5:12 pm
What do the Kansas City Royals, C. Everett Koop, Jack Nicholson and the United Methodist Church all have in common?
Turns out the Major League Baseball team, the former surgeon general, the actor and the denomination's general board and church society are all enemies of firearms, and as such have made it onto the National Rifle Association's list of "National Organizations With Anti-Gun Policies."
James Hunter has spent his life learning how to tell soul's stories in fresh and personal ways. Born in 1962 in Essex, England and mentored early on by Van Morrison, he embarked on a career with many ups and downs before breaking through in America in his forties. Now the Grammy-nominated Hunter has made his first album in the States, where the music he loves was born.
The details of a secret U.S. drone base in Saudi Arabia, used to launch targeted killings and surveillance missions into Yemen, were revealed Wednesday in several American media outlets. Audie Cornish speaks with Karen DeYoung, national security correspondent for The Washington Post, who authored one of the articles on the program
On a lighter, much lighter economic note, fans of Monopoly have spoken. After a month of online voting, one of the iconic game's playing pieces is being replaced. Goodbye Iron, hello Cat, which won after polls closed at 11:59 P.M. Tuesday.
As NPR's Ailsa Chang reports, the new feline will arrive on Monopoly boards by fall.
AILSA CHANG, BYLINE: For some, the news has been absolutely traumatizing. Walk the streets of New York City and you'll hear cries of distress over the death of the Iron.
More than 400 guns, including these three, were turned in during a Dallas gun buyback program in January. But determining the effectiveness of such programs is difficult due to limits on gun-related research.
Clarinetist Anat Cohen is one of a handful of Israeli jazz musicians making a mark on the American jazz scene. She's been voted Clarinetist of the Year six years in a row by the Jazz Journalists Association, and her most recent album, Claroscuro, showcases the range of her talents and musical influences, from New Orleans-style jazz to Israel to Latin music — particularly that of Brazil.
Cohen says that the clarinet's somewhat old-fashioned reputation may be the result of the very thing that attracts her to the instrument.
President Obama's choice to take over at the Department of the Interior comes from the business world. Sally Jewell is the CEO of outdoor equipment supplier REI.
"For Sally, the toughest part of this job will probably be sitting behind a desk," the president said when introducing his nominee Wednesday. "I suspect she'll want to get out of the office quite a bit."
Before Jewell took the reins at REI, she worked in the financial industry at Washington Mutual. Before that, she was an engineer in the oil business, with Mobil.
Derrin Yellow Robe, 3, stands in his great-grandparents' backyard on the Crow Creek Reservation in South Dakota. He was taken off the reservation by South Dakota's Department of Social Services in July 2009 and spent a year and a half in foster care before being returned to his family.
For years now, council members of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe in South Dakota have watched as the state's Department of Social Services removed children from the reservation and placed many of them in white foster homes, far from tribal lands. Many of the children were later adopted, losing their connection to their families and heritage.
"I've seen it firsthand," says Brandon Sazue, chairman of the Crow Creek tribe.
Sazue says the state has long overstepped its authority.