From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
Today, Secretary of State John Kerry announced a new aid package for Syrian rebels. For the first time, the administration is vowing to send aid directly to the people who are fighting to topple the regime in Syria. At a meeting in Rome, Kerry had the chance to hear from some of them and from countries backing the rebels. NPR's Michele Kelemen has our story from Rome.
The outgoing energy secretary, Steven Chu, got a rousing ovation this week when he spoke at a summit on energy innovation. But his tenure has been clouded by the department's investment in alternative energy companies that later failed, most notably Solyndra. As Chu leaves office, his real legacy may be the government's ongoing search for energy breakthroughs. NPR's Scott Horsley tells us more.
Tell Me More has been honoring Black History Month by speaking with African-Americans who've excelled in STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and math. Sylvester James Gates Jr. spent his career researching string theory. He explains to host Michel Martin that, while it seems like science fiction, it's really anything but.
Should students who want to attend medical school have to slog through a year of physics, memorize the structures of dozens of cellular chemicals or spend months studying for the MCAT? Not necessarily.
Several states are rushing to establish a foothold in online gambling — an activity that federal officials were only recently trying to ban.
Just a while ago, the federal government actually viewed online gambling as a crime. Lately, the Obama administration has taken a more permissive stance. It now allows states to sell lottery tickets online.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had expressed reservations about online gambling a month ago and had vetoed an earlier version of the bill. But in the end, the pressure to sign the legislation was just too great.
Originally published on Wed February 27, 2013 3:57 pm
North Dakota's legislature is considering a proposal to authorize the first changes to the state's license plate in two decades. North Dakotans are volunteering some humorous ideas for the plate's new slogan.
Among those watching the papal transition closely are survivors of clergy sexual abuse, including a handful who were selected to meet with Pope Benedict XVI five years ago as the crisis raged.
The group left the meeting hopeful that that Benedict would make significant changes in how the church handled both past and current cases. Among those at the meeting were Olan Horne and Bernie McDaid.
The Obama administration is rethinking its strategy in Syria. As the death toll mounts and a diplomatic solution seems out of reach, the administration is planning to do more to help Syrian rebels. That could involve what's referred to as direct, non-lethal assistance. It does not include weapons.
Secretary of State John Kerry is talking about all this in Rome with members of the Syrian opposition, and NPR's Michele Kelemen is traveling with him.
A majority of Supreme Court justices seemed prepared on Wednesday to invalidate a key section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The law is considered the most effective piece of civil rights legislation in the nation's history.
Melissa Block speaks with Republican Mayor Scott Smith of Mesa, Ariz., about his concerns for the pending sequester. Smith is in Washington, D.C., with a group of more than 30 mayors, warning members of Congress about the damage that could come to America's cities with these cuts.
Now, a new tool in the anti-piracy toolbox. This week, half a dozen Internet service providers - from Verizon to AT&T, along with entertainment industry trade groups - launched the Copyright Alert System.
It's a program to help deter online piracy. When they see movies or TV shows getting swapped illegally, they will trace that back to the person who's doing it, using the IP address. And then - well, here to tell us what happens next is New York Law School professor James Grimmelmann.
President Obama and the top congressional leaders gathered at the Capitol on Wednesday morning for the dedication of a new statue honoring civil rights activist Rosa Parks, whose refusal to give up a seat on a public bus sparked a boycott and a movement.
Update at 7:35 p.m. ET: Beer Is At Full Strength, Tests Say
Samples of Budweiser and other Anheuser-Busch InBev beers were found to be in line with their advertised alcohol content, according to lab tests conducted at NPR's request. We've rewritten portions of this post to reflect that new information.
Anheuser-Busch is accused of misleading beer drinkers about the alcohol content of Budweiser and other products, in a series of class-action lawsuits filed in federal court.
If Congress and the Obama administration can't agree on a budget deal by Friday, the federal government will be forced to cut $85 billion from just about every federally funded program. Every state could lose federal aid, and a myriad of government programs could shut down or curtail services — and that includes the nation's public schools.
Originally published on Wed February 27, 2013 3:17 pm
The victory of a pro-gun-control candidate in the Illinois Democratic primary race to replace Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. was also a political win for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose superPAC backed the winner over a candidate it linked to the NRA.
But Robin Kelly's victory Tuesday was, for Bloomberg, more than just another achievement on the gun control front. It was one more win in Bloomberg's unique assault on what he views as the public health problems of our time.
Originally published on Wed February 27, 2013 10:03 am
100 years ago, thousands of women marched on Washington D.C. to demand the right to vote. Host Michel Martin asks the Beauty Shop ladies about that moment in history, and where the women's rights movement stands today.
Students at Cooperstown Central School recently voted to stop calling their sport teams the Redskins. In turn, an Indian tribe offered to pay for new team uniforms. Host Michel Martin talks about the gesture with Ray Halbritter, of the Oneida Nation.
Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 6:08 am
As a public service to our readers this week we've been offering a list of three stories each day that we think illuminate the looming sequester (or at least the debate over it), set to be triggered by the passing of Friday's deadline.
Most families know that their kids need to exercise. In a poll that NPR recently conducted with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, practically all of the parents surveyed said it's important for their kids to exercise. But about one-third of them said that can be difficult.
There's been a tug of war between aesthetically pleasing and safe when it comes to American embassies around the world.
Many embassies have been slammed as bunkers, bland cubes and lifeless compounds. Even the new Secretary of State John Kerry said just a few years ago, "We are building some of the ugliest embassies I've ever seen."
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block.
Next month, the Supreme Court will take up a highly anticipated challenge to California's Prop 8, the ban on gay marriage. Today, a group of prominent Republicans weighed in with a legal brief opposing the ban. That puts them at odds with their party's position. But as NPR's Don Gonyea reports, it puts them in line with public opinion.
Despite warnings from Washington about looming budget cuts, Americans seem to be feeling better about the economy. Earlier today, the Conference Board reported that consumer confidence spiked upwards this month. We hear this number and others like it reported all the time and that got us wondering: What does it mean to put a number to the concept of consumer confidence, a number like this month's, 69.6.
We're going to put that question to Adam Davidson from our Planet Money team.
With automatic spending cuts totaling $85 billion scheduled to start Friday, Congressional leaders and President Obama continued maneuvering to avoid the political fallout. Melissa Block talks to Tamara Keith about the state of play and has details from a poll that suggests that Americans want to cut the deficit, but only in the abstract.