U.S. News

NPR Story
9:50 am
Wed December 4, 2013

Five Years In, Should The First Lady Do More?

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 9:55 am

A piece in Politico recently called first lady Michelle Obama a "feminist nightmare." So should the first lady use her voice for more than eating right and exercise? Or are her critics missing the point? Host Michel Martin hears from the Beauty Shop ladies: pop culture critic Mikki Kendall, freelance writer Deonna Kelli Sayed, and columnist Keli Goff.

The Two-Way
5:42 am
Wed December 4, 2013

NTSB Bars Train Union From Crash Inquiry, Citing Confidentiality

A train passes by the scene of repair efforts Tuesday at the site of a train derailment in the Bronx borough of New York.
Seth Wenig AP

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 11:40 am

The investigation into the Bronx, N.Y., train crash that killed four people Sunday will continue without the direct involvement of the rail employees union the Association of Commuter Rail Employees. The move was in response to remarks the union's leader made at a Tuesday news conference regarding the train engineer's awareness level moments before a catastrophic derailment.

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Around the Nation
3:03 am
Wed December 4, 2013

City Workers Fret Over Pensions As Detroit Enters Bankruptcy

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 3:38 am

A federal judge has ruled Detroit qualifies for bankruptcy. But the cash-strapped city, laden with roughly $18 billion in long-term debt, faces a long road to regain financial solvency. Unions whose members face pension payment cuts are appealing the ruling, and the ultimate decision about paying the pensions may be made by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Science
10:03 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Polar Bear Researcher Gets $100,000 In Settlement With Feds

Threatened Arctic polar bears have become controversial icons of climate change.
Gerald Hoberman Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 12:19 pm

A scientist whose observations of drowned polar bears raised alarms about climate change has received $100,000 to settle a whistle-blower complaint against an agency of the Department of the Interior.

Under the settlement, wildlife researcher Charles Monnett retired from his job at the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on Nov. 15, and the agency agreed to remove a letter of reprimand that officials had placed in his file.

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Politics
4:18 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Obama Offers Second Chance For Missouri Court Nominee

Ronnie White, then-chief justice-elect of the Missouri Supreme Court, talks with reporters in June 2003.
Kelley McCall AP

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 4:50 pm

President Obama has made it a priority to choose federal judges who are diverse in terms of race or gender. But for the most part, he's avoided controversy for those lifetime appointments.

That's why the nomination of a Missouri lawyer named Ronnie White has raised the eyebrows of experts who've been around Washington for a while. Old hands remember that White was rejected for a federal judgeship back in 1999 after a party line vote by Senate Republicans.

Now, in what experts say could be an unprecedented step, he's getting another chance.

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Shots - Health News
3:58 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Mammograms In 3-D May Be Better, But Hard Proof Is Missing

A woman is positioned for a traditional mammogram at Tufts Medical Center in Boston.
Bizuayehu Tesfaye AP

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 10:02 am

A newer form of mammogram may do a better job of finding cancer, a study finds. But the technology is still too untested to know if it's going to be useful for most women or even to know for sure who might benefit.

It's called breast tomosynthesis, or 3-D mammography. Since being approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2011, the new type of scan has been touted by radiologists.

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The Two-Way
3:49 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Guardian Editor: We've Published 1 Percent Of Snowden Files

Guardian Editor-In-Chief Alan Rusbridger speaks at a debate about the newspaper's NSA coverage, on Sept. 19.
Stephen Lovekin Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 6:44 pm

The editor-in-chief of The Guardian, which has turned leaks from Edward Snowden into a seemingly endless series of exposes concerning U.S. electronic surveillance activities, says the newspaper has published just 1 percent of what it's received from the former NSA contractor.

In testimony before Britain's Parliament, Alan Rusbridger told lawmakers that about 58,000 files obtained from Snowden, or "about 1 percent," had been used by the paper for its stories. However, he added: "I would not expect us to be publishing a huge amount more."

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The Two-Way
3:05 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Seahawks Fans Cause Earthquake, Set Noise Record

A Seattle Seahawks fan at Monday night's game, when he and other helped set a new noise record and made the ground rumble.
Elaine Thompson AP

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 5:23 am

They're louder than a jet on takeoff and they make the earth tremble.

We're talking about fans of the NFL's Seattle Seahawks.

During the team's home game Monday night against the New Orleans Saints, "Seahawks fans jumping up and down during" a fumble return for a touchdown "registered about a magnitude 1 or 2 earthquake," The Seattle Times' The Today File blog reports.

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The Two-Way
3:03 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Train Engineer 'Nodded At Controls,' Official Says

Monday, as a train on an unaffected track passed by (in the background) work continued on removing the commuter cars that derailed the day before.
Mark Lennihan AP

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 12:30 am

Updated at 2:00 a.m. ET Wednesday:

Federal investigators in New York announced late Tuesday that they had removed the rail employees union, the Association of Commuter Rail Employees, as a participant in the investigation. According to The Associated Press, investigators cited a breach of confidentiality after Anthony Bottalico, leader of the union, spoke to the media concerning comments train engineer William Rockefeller had made about what happened moments before Sunday's derailment.

Update at 8 p.m. ET:

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Around the Nation
3:01 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Judge Upholds Detroit Bankruptcy Eligibility

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 4:39 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

The city of Detroit is now officially bankrupt. A federal judge ruled today that the city meets the criteria for Chapter 9 protection. It is insolvent and went through the proper legal steps to file bankruptcy. As Quinn Klinefelter of member station WDET reports, Detroit still faces a long road to financial recovery and a number of legal hurdles.

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Around the Nation
3:01 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

For First Time, Americans Say U.S. Power In The World Is Declining

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 4:39 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Americans see U.S. power in the world declining. That is the key finding of a survey by the Pew Research Center. It also finds that most Americans think the U.S. should be engaged in the global economy, but ought to concentrate on solving domestic problems. Michael Dimock is here to talk about this poll. He's the director of the Pew Research Center. Good to see you again.

MICHAEL DIMOCK: Hi, Robert.

SIEGEL: And first, how many Americans say the U.S. role is declining and how significant a number is that?

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Asia
3:01 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Biden Arrives In Beijing As Trouble Brews Over The East China Sea

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 4:39 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. Vice President Joe Biden is in Tokyo today. He's there to reemphasize American support for Japan as it tangles with China over contested air space. China unnerved its neighbors late last month by declaring an air identification defense zone. The zone covers disputed islands in the East China Sea. NPR's Frank Langfitt has more from Shanghai on what's behind China's latest move.

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Code Switch
2:25 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Why Chaucer Said 'Ax' Instead Of 'Ask,' And Why Some Still Do

Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele talk Ax vs. Ask with NPR's Shereen Marisol Meraji.
Sonari Glinton NPR

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 4:39 pm

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The Two-Way
1:08 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

'This Law Is Working,' Obama Says Of Health Care

While conceding that "more problems may pop up as they always do when you're launching something new," President Obama on Tuesday said the troubled HealthCare.gov website "is working well for the vast majority of users" and his Affordable Care Act "is working and will work into the future."

"We may never satisfy the law's opponents," Obama added during an afternoon event at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House. But, he said, "we know the demand [for health insurance] is there and we know the product on these marketplaces is good."

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Shots - Health News
11:34 am
Tue December 3, 2013

Nonprofits Challenge Missouri Licensing Law For Insurance Guides

Nonprofits that are supposed to be helping people figure out their health insurance options are challenging an allegedly restrictive state law.
iStockphoto

In the first lawsuit of its kind, several nonprofit groups that received federal grants to help people sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act are suing the state of Missouri.

The Missouri law requires health insurance helpers called navigators to be licensed by the state, which involves passing an exam and paying a fee.

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The Two-Way
10:25 am
Tue December 3, 2013

American Held In North Korea Reportedly Oversaw Guerrilla Group In War

Park Boo Seo (right), a former member of the Korean Kuwol partisan unit, speaks about Merrill Newman, an American tourist detained in North Korea. Newman supervised the group during the Korean War.
Ahn Young-joon AP

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 12:03 pm

Merrill Newman, the 85-year-old American war veteran and tourist who was arrested in North Korea in October, once supervised a guerrilla group of "perhaps the most hated and feared fighters" of the Korean War, some of his former comrades say. That's according to The Associated Press, which offers details about Newman's service as a possible explanation for his detention.

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Shots - Health News
9:00 am
Tue December 3, 2013

Overweight And Healthy: A Combo That Looks Too Good To Be True

Gym members warm up on treadmills at Downsize Fitness in Addison, Texas. Membership at the gym is limited to people who have a high body mass index.
LM Otero AP

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 7:30 am

Overweight or obese people are indeed more likely to die prematurely than people of normal weight, say researchers who've analyzed the data. Their conclusion throws cold water on recent studies that have found some excess weight isn't so bad.

Earlier this year, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that overweight people actually live a bit longer than their skinnier peers.

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The Two-Way
5:37 am
Tue December 3, 2013

U.S. Students Slide In Global Ranking On Math, Reading, Science

A graphic released with the 2012 PISA results shows the annualized change in performance in average math scores between 2003 and 2012. The chart includes only nations that have comparable data from both 2003 and 2012.
PISA

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 11:13 am

American 15-year-olds continue to turn in flat results in a test that measures students' proficiency in reading, math and science worldwide, failing to crack the global top 20.

The Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, collects test results from 65 countries for its rankings, which come out every three years. The latest results, from 2012, show that U.S. students ranked below average in math among the world's most-developed countries. They were close to average in science and reading.

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National Security
3:13 am
Tue December 3, 2013

Why FISA Court Judges Rule The Way They Do

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 4:02 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

OK. So federal judges, in secret, have blasted the National Security Agency for years, for violating rules governing U.S. surveillance programs. Then the judges have gone ahead and approved those programs anyway. We know this because of leaks by NSA contractor Edward Snowden, and from documents released by the government. They have revealed new information about how the secret court works. NPR's Carrie Johnson has this report on whether it is possible for the court to control the NSA.

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Law
1:18 am
Tue December 3, 2013

A Supreme Court Fight For The Rights Of (Frequent) Fliers

Rabbi S. Binyomin Ginsberg sued Northwest Airlines for what he says was unfair termination from its frequent-flier program. His case goes goes before the Supreme Court on Tuesday.
Paul Sancya AP

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 4:02 pm

Do airline frequent fliers have any legal rights when they get into disputes over their club memberships?

That's the question before the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, when the justices examine whether, and under what circumstances, frequent fliers can sue in these disputes.

Frequent-flier programs — famous for their free trips, upgrades and goodies — are also infamous for what some members view as arbitrary airline behavior.

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Around the Nation
1:17 am
Tue December 3, 2013

As Rent Soars, Longtime San Francisco Tenants Fight To Stay

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 4:02 pm

San Francisco has long been a desirable place to live — and that's even more true today as the city is basking in the glow of another tech boom. But the influx of new money and new residents is putting a strain on the city's housing market.

The city has the highest median rent in the nation, and evictions of longtime residents are skyrocketing.

Ground zero for San Francisco's eviction crisis is the Inner Mission District. Until recently, this edgy neighborhood was home to a mix of working-class Latinos, artists and activists.

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The Two-Way
3:57 pm
Mon December 2, 2013

'TipsForJesus' Is Leaving Thousands Of Dollars For Servers

One of the two checks that "TipsForJesus" signed at a restaurant in South Bend, Ind., on Oct. 19. The anonymous givers added $5,000 to each of the bills.
@TipsForJesus

"Crazy-generous" tips, as Gawker says, have been showing up on checks across the nation as some anonymous good Samaritans known only as "TipsForJesus" add hundreds or thousands of dollars to their restaurant and bar bills.

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It's All Politics
3:48 pm
Mon December 2, 2013

Court Upholds Public Broadcasting Political Ad Ban

This image, provided by the Obama For America campaign, shows a still frame made from a video ad entitled "Only Choice."
Uncredited AP

While lawyers dismantle many restrictions on political money, the rules affecting Morning Edition and Downton Abbey still stand tall. A federal court in San Francisco says public radio and TV stations cannot carry paid political ads.

The 8-3 decision Monday by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a ruling last April by a smaller panel of the court. NPR and PBS both joined the case as friends of the court.

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Around the Nation
3:39 pm
Mon December 2, 2013

Florida Tribe Re-Creates Daring Escape From The Trail Of Tears

Willie Johns holds a photo of Polly Parker, his great-grandmother.
Greg Allen NPR

Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 5:12 pm

This week, a group of Seminole Indians in Florida is commemorating an important historical event — when a Seminole named Polly Parker organized and led an escape from federal troops more than 150 years ago.

It came at a time when Indians were being deported to the West in what became known as the Trail of Tears. Florida's Seminoles call themselves the "unconquered people" because, through three wars with federal troops, they resisted deportation to Indian Territory west of the Mississippi.

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All Tech Considered
3:36 pm
Mon December 2, 2013

Could A Tech Giant Build A Better Health Exchange? Maybe Not

Workers process applications for Oregon's health exchange program. The state paid tech giant Oracle to build its online exchange, but with the site still not functional, people shopping for insurance have been forced to apply on paper.
Don Ryan AP

Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 6:48 pm

Oregon has spent more than $40 million to build its own online health care exchange. It gave that money to a Silicon Valley titan, Oracle, but the result has been a disaster of missed deadlines, a nonworking website and a state forced to process thousands of insurance applications on paper.

Some Oregon officials were sounding alarms about the tech company's work on the state's online health care exchange as early as last spring. Oracle was behind schedule and, worse, didn't seem able to offer an estimate of what it would take to get the state's online exchange up and running.

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Politics
2:44 pm
Mon December 2, 2013

Unemployment Benefit Program Set To Expire At Year's End

Job seekers attend a March health care job fair in New York.
Mark Lennihan AP

Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 5:12 pm

More than 1 million people will see their extended unemployment benefits immediately cut off at the end of the month if Congress doesn't act.

An emergency federal benefit program was put in place during the recession to help those who are unemployed longer than six months. That allowed them to get as much as a year and a half of help while they searched for work, even after state benefits ran out.

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NPR Story
2:42 pm
Mon December 2, 2013

ACLU Sues, Claiming Catholic Hospitals Put Women At Risk

Archbishop Joseph William Tobin of Indianapolis prays at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' annual fall meeting in Baltimore on Nov. 12.
Patrick Semansky AP

Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 5:50 pm

The American Civil Liberties Union has decided to go directly to the source of its unhappiness with the way women are treated in Catholic hospitals. It's suing the nation's Catholic bishops.

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The Two-Way
2:08 pm
Mon December 2, 2013

Amazon's Drone Has Many Asking 'What Could Go Wrong?'

Buzzing to a neighborhood near you? Amazon.com's Prime Air prototype may someday fly small packages right to customers' homes.
AP

Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 4:37 pm

The news that Amazon is hoping to one day use semi-autonomous drones to deliver small packages to customers has many asking a familiar question:

What could go wrong?

Check this tweet:

"An Amazon drone!? What could go wrong?! 'They're autonomous' - this is how the Terminator started FYI..."

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It's All Politics
12:31 pm
Mon December 2, 2013

A Poorly Worded RNC Tweet On Rosa Parks Backfires

Schoolchildren tour the bus that civil rights icon Rosa Parks made famous when she refused to give up her seat.
Bill Pugliano Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 4:06 pm

If nothing else, the Republican National Committee has gotten people thinking about Rosa Parks.

Of course, the RNC also gave its political opponents a chance to mock the GOP with its poorly worded tweet Saturday marking the 58th anniversary of the African-American civil rights activist's refusal to give up her bus seat to a white person, an event that sparked the Montgomery bus boycott.

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Business
10:58 am
Mon December 2, 2013

Five Cyber Monday Stories From NPR's Archives

Workers pull merchandise as it arrives at the Amazon.com's 1.2 million square foot fulfillment center in Phoenix on Nov. 26. Americans clicked away on their computers and smartphones for deals on Cyber Monday, which is expected to be the biggest online shopping day in history.
Ross D. Franklin AP

Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 12:50 pm

The term Cyber Monday wasn't established until 2005, but online shopping was popular even in the early days of the Internet.

Analysts questioned how business models would have to change. Retail stores came up with new partnerships to help lure buyers into an online shopping world. A little company called Amazon helped us feel comfortable buying items online. And the simple perk of "free shipping" tried to make a dent in holiday sales.

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