The nation's attention turns this morning to a tiny city in Texas. It's simply called West. It is the site of a fertilizer plant from which a message went out to police radio last night.
UNIDENTIFIED DISPATCHER: There has been an explosion on the fire scene. There are firefighters down at this time. Again, there has been an explosion on the fire scene. There are firefighters down at this time.
April 18, 2013, is a big day for Superman. The Man of Steel, more powerful than a locomotive, turns 75. Most of us know Superman's story — faster than a speeding bullet, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.
Less well-known is that the superhero is not native to the lost world of Krypton, nor the rural Kansas burg of Smallville. Superman is Cleveland's native son — at least as far as the city's residents are concerned.
Originally published on Wed April 17, 2013 6:10 pm
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that police must generally obtain a warrant before subjecting a drunken-driving suspect to a blood test. The vote was 8-to-1, with Justice Clarence Thomas the lone dissenter.
From Boston now to the White House, where President Obama reacted angrily tonight to the failure of an effort in the Senate to expand background checks for gun purchases. The amendment, proposed by Democrat Joe Manchin and Republican Pat Toomey, got only 54 votes - six short of the necessary 60. President Obama spoke in the White House Rose Garden. He called this a pretty shameful day for Washington.
The U.S. military says the number of prisoners on hunger strike at the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay has risen to 52 — up from 45 a day earlier. The news comes just days after guards raided a section of the facility to move prisoners to single cells from their communal holding area because the detainees had covered security cameras and engaged in other actions.
The Miami Herald's Carol Rosenberg had this tweet:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block.
The Senate has voted down an effort to include background checks to include gun sales over the Internet. The amendment was an attempt to regulate what turns out to be a bustling marketplace for weapons, as The New York Times reports today.
While an immigration overhaul has drawn support from church groups, business, labor and even former opponents, there's still deep opposition — mostly centered in the Republican Party.
The last time a president tried to pass a comprehensive immigration overhaul was in 2007, and George W. Bush's fellow Republicans in Congress killed his bill. Republican strategist Kevin Madden says a lot has changed since then — including the way the Republican Party is dealing with its own internal divisions.
This is the second in a three-part series aboutthe intersection of education and the arts.
Let's start with a question from a standardized test: "How would the world be different if we all had a third eye in the back of our heads?"
It's not a typical standardized question, but as part of the Next Generation Creativity Survey, it's used to help measure creativity a bit like an IQ test measures intelligence. And it's not the only creativity test out there.
The Senate has rejected a compromise background checks language pushed by Democrat Joe Manchin and Republican Pat Toomey. It could mean the end of gun control legislation in Congress, at least for a while. Ailsa Chang joins Robert Siegel from the Capitol with the latest.
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
I'm Robert Siegel. And there was a big moment in the United States Senate today. It was barely morning, the wee hours, around 2:00 a.m. An immigration reform bill was filed, more than 800 pages of legislation. It would tighten security along the borders, expand worker visas and offer a 13-year path to citizenship to people who live in this country illegally.
And Tovia mentioned a different kind of attack, one that's the subject of a widening investigation here in Washington, D.C. A second letter thought to contain the poison ricin has been sent for further testing. That one was addressed to the White House. We heard yesterday about one addressed to Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker. Also today two Senate office buildings were locked down as the Capitol police investigated suspicious packages.
In Texas, prosecutors have filed capital murder charges against the wife of a former Justice of the Peace in Kaufman County. Kim Williams is charged with the murder of the county District Attorney, his wife, and another prosecutor.
Acadia National Park draws thousands of visitors every year and contributed $186 million to the state's economy in 2011 alone. But under sequestration cuts, the park is closing roads for an additional month and cutting back staff and programming, leaving area business owners nervous about the 2013 summer season.
Originally published on Wed April 17, 2013 4:36 pm
A bipartisan compromise that would have expanded federal background checks for firearms purchases has been rejected by the Senate.
The defeat of the measure by a 54-46 vote — six votes shy of the number needed to clear the Senate — marks a major setback for gun-control advocates, many of whom had hoped that Congress would act to curb gun violence in the wake of December's Newtown elementary school massacre, where 20 students and six adults were killed.
In his cover story for the April 29 issue of The New Republic, "The Hell of American Day Care," Jonathan Cohn writes that "trusting your child with someone else is one of the hardest things a parent has to do — and in the U.S., it's harder still, because American day care is a mess. And about 40 percent of children under 5 spend at least part of their week in the care of somebody other than a parent."
From the first explosion in Boston on Monday to the second, just 15 seconds elapsed. And in those 15 seconds, three people were mortally wounded, including an 8-year-old boy. The number of injured topped 100, and for those of us watching, it was a profound reminder of a reality we'd prefer to ignore.
Yet another movie about Jackie Robinson arrived as baseball held its annual commemorative celebration of No. 42, but officials of the game are fretting over the fact that only 8 1/2 percent of current major leaguers are black.
Given that African-Americans only constitute about 13 percent of the U.S. population, and that rarely do we have any industry or school system or community population that correlates exactly to the whole country's racial or ethnic makeup, baseball's somewhat smaller black cohort hardly seems like an issue to agonize over.
Christopher Knight, whose 27 years of living in near-total isolation in Maine's wilderness made him an object of fascination after he was arrested for stealing food and supplies, appeared by video for a court hearing Tuesday, when a Kennebec County judge set his bail at $25,000 cash.
The legislative process on Capitol Hill is often slow and grinding. There are committee hearings, filibuster threats and hours of floor debate. But sometimes, when Congress really wants to get something done, it can move blindingly fast.
That's what happened when Congress moved to undo large parts of a popular law known as the STOCK Act last week.
Two years ago, we reported on an ambitious campaign to end homelessness in downtown San Diego, a city with one of the largest homeless populations in the nation. The effort involved an unprecedented coalition of business leaders, community groups and government agencies.
At the time, some advocates for the homeless — after years of seeing other, failed efforts to get people off city streets — were skeptical that the campaign would amount to much.
It's been five decades since Martin Luther King Jr., began writing his famous "Letter From Birmingham Jail," a response to eight white Alabama clergymen who criticized King and worried the civil rights campaign would cause violence. They called King an "extremist" and told blacks they should be patient.
But the time for waiting was over. Birmingham was the perfect place to take a stand.
Originally published on Wed April 17, 2013 4:03 am
As investigators combed through evidence in the deadly Boston Marathon bombings, seeking both motive and perpetrator, we turned Tuesday to a security expert for guidance on how the investigation may be unfolding.
Bryan Cunningham, a former CIA officer, assistant U.S. attorney and deputy legal adviser for the National Security Council, served in both the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. He is now a senior adviser at the consulting firm the Chertoff Group, co-founded by former Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff.
Originally published on Tue April 16, 2013 2:54 pm
A computer glitch in the reservations system at American Airlines caused all of the carrier's flights to be grounded for at least two hours on Tuesday.
"American's reservation and booking tool, Sabre is offline," American Airlines spokeswoman Mary Frances Fagan told Reuters in an email. "We're working to resolve the issue as quickly as we can. We apologize to our customers for any inconvenience."
NPR's Wade Goodwyn reports that the outage was announced about 2:30 p.m. Eastern time.