Thirty years ago this week, President Ronald Reagan's administration released "A Nation at Risk," a report warning of "a rising tide of mediocrity" in American public education.
According to the report, only one-third of 17-year-olds in 1983 could solve a math problem requiring two steps or more, and 4 out of 10 teenagers couldn't draw inferences from written material. In an address to the nation, Reagan warned that "about 13 percent of 17-year-olds are functional illiterates and, among minority youth, the rate is closer to 40 percent."
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
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And I'm Audie Cornish. The White House tried to clarify its message on Syria today, saying it is still studying evidence that the government there has used chemical weapons. Here's press secretary Jay Carney.
JAY CARNEY: We are continuing to work to build on the assessments made by the intelligence community. The degrees of confidence here are varying, this is not an airtight case.
We also have some sequester news today. The House approved a bill, and the president says he'll sign it, to end the furlough of air traffic controllers. Short-staffed control towers translated into thousands of flight delays this week, all because of those automatic across-the-board spending cuts. NPR's Tamara Keith has that story.
Businesses around Copley Square are hoping the Boston Marathon bombings won't be officially declared an act of terrorism. That's because they stand to lose insurance money. Many have business interruption insurance to pay for lost income — but that doesn't apply to terrorism and few businesses pay extra to cover it.
A 26-year-old Chinese engineer turned entrepreneur who is in Boston developing a start-up played one of the more interesting and dangerous roles in the Boston Marathon bombing manhunt. He was driving the Mercedes SUV that he'd leased when it and he were carjacked by the Tsarnaev brothers. He escaped when they stopped for gas. Ever since, this man has kept a very low profile, but he did give an exclusive two-and-a-half-hour interview to Boston Globe reporter Eric Moskowitz, who joins us now. Welcome.
"Poor Chicago." That's how a piece in the New York Times Sunday Book Review begins. The essay goes on to criticize the Windy City for everything from political corruption and violent crime to the weather and the Cubs never winning. Most of all, the author attacks Chicago's boosterism and swagger in spite of it's problems, and predictably, it's touched a nerve in the Second City.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel.
The surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing was moved today to a prison hospital outside Boston. Officials say Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is no longer cooperating with investigators. Some members of Congress, meanwhile, say the FBI should have heeded Russian warnings that Dzhokhar's elder brother had become a follower of radical Islam.
I'm Celeste Headlee, and this is TELL ME MORE, from NPR News. Michel Martin is away. Coming up, we take a closer look at reports from Detroit that local police officers are taking homeless people off the streets only to abandon them outside the city's border.
But first, it's time for Faith Matters, our weekly conversation about religion and spirituality. Today, we focus on the complex relationship between faith and mental health.
Originally published on Fri April 26, 2013 9:52 am
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving suspect in the April 15 Boston Marathon bombings and the crimes that followed, has been moved out of Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center "and is now confined at the Bureau of Prisons facility FMC Devens at Ft. Devens, Mass.," U.S. Marshals Service spokesman Drew Wade said in a statement emailed to reporters Friday morning.
Herman Blake grew up with his mother and six siblings just outside New York City. It was the early 1940s and the family was poor. This shaped their outlook on life.
"When I was growing up the great emphasis was on being able to get a job because we were on welfare, and it was so humiliating," Herman tells his brother Sidney, who is an Episcopal deacon, during a visit to StoryCorps in New York.
One of the Blake brothers, Henry, who wanted the family to stop depending on welfare, decided to drop out of school so he could help take care of their mother.
We're going to switch gears now and tell you about a competition that is really about to take off - pun intended. We're talking about the nation's largest rocketry tournament, the Team America Rocketry Challenge.
If you think that making a model rocket is kids' stuff, listen to this: Teams must build a rocket that can fly as close to 800 feet as possible in about 45 seconds. The rockets have to carry two raw eggs into the air and bring them back safely. The top-ranked teams will compete in the national competition on May 11th.
African-American men in Wisconsin are incarcerated at a rate that's nearly twice the national average, according to a new study. To find out what's behind the staggering numbers, host Michel Martin speaks with Wisconsin State Senator Lena Taylor, and Marc Mauer of The Sentencing Project.
An oil sheen appears along the shore of the Kalamazoo River in August 2012. In July 2010, more than 800,000 gallons of tar sands oil entered Talmadge Creek and flowed into the Kalamazoo River, a Lake Michigan tributary. Heavy rains caused the river to overtop existing dams and carried oil 30 miles downstream.
Credit John W. Poole / NPR
John Bolenbaugh wades through thick mud in the Kalamazoo River in August 2012, looking for leftover traces of oil from the July 2010 spill from the Enbridge oil sands pipeline.
Up until now, pipelines that carry tar sands oil have been treated just like pipelines that carry any other oil. But the Environmental Protection Agency now says that should change. That's because when tar sands oil spills, it can be next to impossible to clean up.
The agency made this argument in its evaluation of the State Department's environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline project, which, if approved, would carry heavy crude from Alberta, Canada, to refineries in the United States.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the final cases of the term, which began last October and is expected to end in late June after high-profile rulings on gay marriage, affirmative action and the Voting Rights Act.
Audio from Wednesday's arguments will be available at week's end at the court's website, but that's a relatively new development at an institution that has historically been somewhat shuttered from public view.
Former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, at an April 16 ceremony naming a Capitol Hill conference room for her aide Gabe Zimmerman. Zimmerman died in the same Tucson, Ariz., shootings that Giffords wounded.
After the Senate failed to pass bipartisan legislation to expand background checks for gun purchases, the superPAC created by shooting victim and former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, onetime astronaut Mark Kelly, vowed to remind voters of which lawmakers voted against the plan.
Originally published on Wed April 24, 2013 6:30 pm
The redesigned U.S. $100 bill will begin appearing after October with new security features that will make it "easier for the public to authenticate but more difficult for counterfeiters to replicate," the U.S. Federal Reserve said Wednesday.
In the days since the Boston Marathon bombings, local law enforcement officials have been given high marks for their response to the attack and the coordination among numerous federal, state and local agencies involved.
But at the same time, questions are being raised about the coordination among federal agencies handling intelligence they had about the suspects in the months before the attack.
Imagine this. A bomb goes off on a crowded American street. Dozens of people are killed and injured. Investigators have no leads except the bomb contained microscopic markers called taggants that tell police exactly where and when the explosives were manufactured. As NPR's Peter Overby reports, taggants are real, but the gun lobby and its industry allies blocked their use years ago.
Originally published on Thu April 25, 2013 5:30 am
Scientists have digitized and analyzed imagery taken by one of the first U.S. weather satellites to create a montage showing the extent of polar sea ice in 1964 so they can compare it to more recent satellite photos.
A "sold" sign is posted outside a home in Carmel, Ind. Black and Latino homebuyers pay about 3.5 percent more for housing than whites and Asians, according to a study released this week by Duke University.
Originally published on Thu April 25, 2013 9:40 am
Now that it's spring, maybe you've decided it's time to clean out the medicine cabinet. Maybe you'd rather your teenagers not be tempted by those dusty bottles of Vicodin or other forgotten prescription drugs.
Originally published on Tue April 23, 2013 5:31 pm
The number of people who died in a fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, last week now stands at 15, officials said Tuesday. Some earlier reports had indicated that 14 people had lost their lives. At least 200 more were injured.
In Waco, TV station KXXV says that officials believe they have found all the victims, quoting Mayor Pro Tem Steve Vanek saying "No more victims. Everything is searched," in a news conference today.