Illinois is facing a massive pension problem with an estimated $96 billion unfunded liability for its public workers. The legislature has been unable to reach a plan to overhaul the pension system. So Governor Pat Quinn has unveiled a marketing strategy hoping to start a grassroots discussion on pension reform. The effort includes a video and a mascot, Squeezy the Pension Python. Robert Siegel and Audie Cornish tell us the snake is getting a mixed receptions from the people of Illinois.
Last night, in a Division Three college basketball game, Grinnell College beat Faith Baptist 179 to 104. That is a piece of sports news we would not spend a second on, but for the individual performance of Grinnell's Jack Taylor. The 5-foot-10 inch guard scored 138 points. It's a new collegiate record and, for all we know, a new planetary record. Among the 108 shots he attempted, Taylor took 71 three-point shots and made 27 of them. And he joins us now.
Originally published on Fri November 30, 2012 10:50 am
The election may be over, but the bickering continues, and not just between NPR's Ron Elving and Ken Rudin. As President Obama defends his United Nations ambassador, Republicans on Capitol Hill continue to lambast her for "misleading" reports about what happened in the aftermath of the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Plus: Mitt Romney's "gifts" that keep on giving. And Rep. Allen West concedes in Florida.
David Knell was born on Nov. 23, 1916, in Youngstown, Ohio, the second son of immigrant families from Russia. Back then, Albert Einstein had just formulated his theory of relativity, the 40-hour workweek had just been created, and the hamburger had recently been invented.
This is TELL ME MORE, from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee. Michel Martin is away. Coming up, the duo of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis is breaking down barriers in rap. They talk with us about their music and its message in just a few minutes.
We want to go now to a place where art and culture intersect. We've heard a lot about the shooting that took place at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin over the summer, and the questions and the soul-searching over that tragedy are still going on, both inside and outside the Sikh community. One man, though, says he has an idea to make the country a more tolerant place for Sikhs and everybody else, actually, and it comes in the form of comic strips.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan, in Washington. Whether you call it battle fatigue or shellshock or PTSD, we've come to accept that the trauma of combat can leave profound psychological scars. But how do you describe the damage from actions that violate one's values, but don't involve trauma, injury from horrific scenes that betray core moral beliefs?
Didn't happen. But while we're on the subject, ever wonder why we carve our gobblers on the fourth Thursday of November? Hint: It's not because Thanksgiving Thursday is more alliterative than Thanksgiving Friday.
Originally published on Thu November 22, 2012 10:03 am
One micro-grant project in Detroit is gaining a lot of traction. Every month, the group Detroit SOUP hosts a dinner, and for five bucks you get soup, salad, bread and a vote to give the night's proceeds to a community project. Director Amy Kaherl talks to guest host Celeste Headlee about the power of neighbors talking to neighbors.
Over five million people in the U.S. claim some form of Native American identity, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. For Native American Heritage Month, guest host Celeste Headlee checks back in with author Anton Treuer about historic education challenges Native Americans have faced and what's being done to close the achievement gap.
Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 5:21 pm
The last time Kathy Neal's family had a big gathering, they got into a fight about politics.
At her niece's high school graduation in May, the conversation turned to gas prices, which led Neal to argue that oil companies were not just profiteering at the expense of consumers, but getting billions in government subsidies to boot.
Everyone knows the schoolhouse version of the first Thanksgiving story: New England pilgrims came together with Native Americans to share a meal after the harvest. The original menu was something of a joint venture, but over the years, a lot of the traditional dishes have lost their native.
For those who want to create a feast that celebrates the flavors that Native Americans brought to the table, Chef Richard Hetzler has an entire menu of options from his award-winning cookbook, The Mitsitam Cafe Cookbook.
Three years ago, a report from the National Academy of Sciences exposed serious problems in the nation's forensic science community. It found not only a lack of peer-reviewed science in the field, but also insufficient oversight in crime laboratories.
Little has changed since that report came out, but concerns are growing as scandals keep surfacing at crime labs across the country.
Originally published on Tue November 20, 2012 4:19 pm
The 2012 general election may be slipping into the past, but elements of President Obama's successful campaign aren't likely to go away anytime soon.
Just as it did after the president's 2008 election, the Obama campaign appears very likely to keep alive parts of the grass-roots effort that contributed to victory. And, just like four years ago, the idea would be to use the corps of Obama organizers and volunteers to push for the president's second-term agenda.
New York City lost almost 10,000 trees from the winds of Superstorm Sandy and the nor'easter that followed. That's far more trees lost in the city than in any other storm for which tree damage was recorded.
Walking through Central Park, Ken Chaya peers past a stone arch, observing the damage and uprooting of about 800 trees. He knows more about the park's trees than just about anybody else; he created a map that charts every single one of the roughly 20,000 trees.
Since an escalation in fighting between Gaza and Israel last week, there have been more than 100 casualties on Gaza's side of the border. On Israel's there have been three. That low death count in Israel, despite many rockets fired into its territory, is thanks largely to the Israeli "Iron Dome" air defense system. For more on how that system works, Robert Siegel speaks with Barbara Opall-Rome, Israel bureau chief for Defense News.
Some Mississippi parents are learning a new routine when they drop their kids off at day care centers that are taking part in a new pilot program aimed at combating fraud and saving the state money.
Under the program, the state scans parents' fingerprints to capture biometric information, and that information is turned into a number. Then, at a day care center, parents dropping off or picking up their kids put their fingers on a pad, and a small keyboard records the exact time a child is checked in or out.
In Colorado and Washington, voters recently approved measures to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Supporters say legalization will generate tax revenue, move the trade into the open, and free up law enforcement resources.
Presidential pardons usually take the world by surprise. There's no advance notice — the White House just sends out an announcement with the names of those receiving clemency. Thanksgiving is one lighthearted exception.
On Wednesday, President Obama will once again take part in the traditional turkey pardoning at the White House. But while the business of pardoning humans is more serious, it's also increasingly rare.
Imagine going to college and finding an oil rig on campus. That's becoming increasingly likely as oil and gas companies use a controversial technique commonly referred to as fracking to extract resources from land underneath campuses across the country.
Environmental science professor Jeffery Stone will never forget the day the earth shook on Indiana State University's campus in Terre Haute.
"They did it like in eight-second pulses, and you could feel the whole sidewalk wobble like an earthquake almost," Stone says.
In New York, the city is expected to begin demolishing some of the houses that were damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Inspectors have fanned out across the boroughs to places hard hit by the storm to decide which houses are safe to return to and which are not. Some of the most-damaged neighborhoods are along the coastal stretches of Staten Island. NPR's Jeff Brady began his story on the streets of the Midland Beach neighborhood.
Debate over the long-term debt and the annual deficit has dominated the post-election agenda. Both the White House and Congress want to avert massive budget cuts and tax hikes early next year, a situation popularly called the "fiscal cliff."
The challenge has been brewing for years. But its current prominence owes much to the decades-long lobbying of billionaire Peter G. Peterson and his private foundation.
You may remember that Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin's only daughter, who had defected to the U.S. in 1967, died last year. Today, The Associated Press reports that the FBI kept close tabs on Lana Peters after her defection to determine how her presence in the U.S. was affecting international relations.
The AP obtained documents under the Freedom of Information Act following Peters' death at age 85 in a Wisconsin nursing home.
President Obama visited Myanmar, also known as Burma, on Monday. In doing so, he became the first sitting U.S. president in history to visit the country. He was greeted by cheering crowds and promised the Burmese people that the U.S. would stand by them as Myanmar moved towards greater freedom and democracy. The president's visit was a controversial one, since the government there has yet to release many people the U.S. considers prisoners of conscience and large sections of the population are still suffering inter-communal violence.
We go now to the small community of Union Beach, New Jersey. It's just across the Raritan Bay from New York City. It's also among the places hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy. The powerful storm surge flooded much of the town, gutting buildings along the waterfront and destroying hundreds of homes and businesses. New Jersey Public Radio's Scott Gurian recently visited Union Beach and met one restaurant owner who's trying to put her life back together.
The Obama Administration is hoping allies like Egypt and Turkey use their influence to persuade Hamas to stop firing rockets into Israel. But can the U.S. count on that kind of help, with a new government Egypt that doesn't see things the same way? The U.S. has shown no sign that it will pressure Israel to ease tensions. Officials have repeatedly said that Israel has the right to defend itself.
More than two weeks after Sandy devastated lives across New York and New Jersey, one strange reminder of the storm has come to light: a mass of dead fish near commuter rail train tracks in New Jersey's Meadowlands.