U.S. News

All Tech Considered
4:18 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Robot 'Olympics' Test Machines On Human Skills

Atlas, a humanoid robot, is competing against 16 other robots in a Pentagon-sponsored contest this weekend.
Greg Allen NPR

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 4:46 pm

Under throbbing loudspeakers at a NASCAR track south of Miami, vaguely humanoid robots with two legs, four legs and tank treads take up garages that normally house race cars.

The robots, along with researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lockheed Martin, NASA and 13 other teams from around the world, are in Homestead, Fla., for the robot Olympics on Friday and Saturday.

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The Two-Way
3:07 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Federal Court Strikes Down Utah's Gay Marriage Ban

Derek Kitchen (left) and his partner, Moudi Sbeity, talk with the media outside Frank E. Moss United States Courthouse earlier this month, where a challenge to Utah's same-sex marriage ban by three gay couples was decided on Friday.
Rick Bowmer AP

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 5:03 pm

A federal judge has struck down Utah's ban on same-sex marriage, saying it's unconstitutional.

The 53-page ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby says a 2004 ban passed by the state's voters violates the due process clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The Associated Press says:

"Attorneys for the state argued that Utah's law promotes the state's interest in 'responsible procreation' and the 'optimal mode of child-rearing.'

"The lawsuit was brought by three gay and lesbian couples in Utah.

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Around the Nation
3:03 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Detroit's New Top Cop Brings Hope For A Struggling Department

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 4:46 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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Number Of The Year
3:00 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

The Cost To Keep The Home Team At Home May Not Be Worth It

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announces that the city will demolish Turner Field after Major League Baseball's Atlanta Braves leave for a new stadium in the suburbs in 2017. Reed says it was a hard decision but he thinks the city will be better for it.
David Goldman AP

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 5:52 pm

$498 million — that's how much the state of Minnesota and the city of Minneapolis have agreed to pay as their share of a new, nearly $1 billion football stadium for the Minnesota Vikings. Team owner Ziggy Wilf says he believes Minnesotans got a fair deal.

And as it turns out, the deal is pretty standard. But is it fair? Increasingly, privately owned sports teams aren't just asking for newer, fancier digs. They're also asking the public to pay half — or more — of the bill.

Hidden Costs Add Up

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Around the Nation
2:53 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Bankruptcy Casts Shadow Over Detroit's Plan To Fix Streetlights

In Detroit, fewer than half of the city's 88,000 street lights actually work anymore.
Quinn Klinefelter WDET

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 4:46 pm

Many neighborhoods in Detroit are in the dark — not because of a power outage but because fewer than half of the city's 88,000 streetlights actually work.

In some parts of town, city block after city block is filled with streetlights that never come on.

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The Two-Way
2:28 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Gov. Christie Signs New Jersey 'DREAM Act' Into Law

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at a news conference Thursday.
Mel Evans AP

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 5:52 pm

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill on Friday that will give some students who are in the U.S. illegally a break on their tuition.

Christie inked New Jersey's version of the DREAM Act, which the Republican governor supported in his last re-election bid.

The state's Legislature passed the bill after a compromise that dropped a provision that would also have allowed students in the country illegally to be eligible for state financial aid if they qualified under income guidelines, according to The Associated Press.

The AP reports:

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It's All Politics
1:38 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Black GOP Hopefuls See Promise In Retirement Flurry

Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love addresses the Utah Republican Party's annual organizing convention in May.
Rick Bowmer AP

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 5:49 pm

It's not every day that three long-serving House members announce their retirements within hours of each other. It's rarer still that two of those seats have a distinct possibility of being filled by a black Republican after next year's election.

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Technology
10:07 am
Fri December 20, 2013

#NPRBlacksInTech: Creating Technology 'Comes From Passion'

Tell Me More has sparked Twitter discussions around diversity in tech at #NPRBlacksinTech. For more on why there's a racial disparity in tech, host Michel Martin talks with physicist Reginald Farrow, entrepreneur Deena Pierott and middle school student Miles Peterson.

Politics
10:07 am
Fri December 20, 2013

'A Lot Of Sour Grapes' Left In Budget Deal

Congress is hopes for a happy holiday after approving a budget deal. But the President is still feeling the heat over Obamacare and the National Security Agency's data mining. Host Michel Martin talks politics with Republican strategist Ron Christie and Fernando Espuelas of Univision.

Shots - Health News
5:47 am
Fri December 20, 2013

How Fraud Flourishes Unchecked In Medicare's Drug Plan

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 2:47 pm

With just a handful of prescriptions to his name, psychiatrist Ernest Bagner III was barely a blip in Medicare's vast drug program in 2009.

But the next year he churned them out at a furious rate — not just psychiatric drugs, but expensive pills for asthma, cholesterol, heartburn and blood clots.

By the end of 2010, Medicare had paid $3.8 million for Bagner's drugs — one of the highest tallies in the country. He added another $2.6 million the following year, records analyzed by ProPublica show.

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The Two-Way
6:42 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Pa. Man Wins $1 Million Picasso With $140 Raffle Ticket

Picasso's 1914 cubist drawing L'homme au Gibus, or Man in the Opera Hat, is presented at Sotheby's auction house in Paris.
Remy de la Mauviniere AP

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 11:50 am

A Pennsylvania man who bought a raffle ticket for $140 has won the top prize — a Picasso worth $1 million.

Jeffrey Gonano, 25, entered a raffle put on by Sotheby's in Paris offering "1 Picasso for 100 Euros" as a fundraising event for the International Association to Save Tyre, an ancient Phoenician city in Lebanon.

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It's All Politics
6:31 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Will 2nd-Term Obama Show More Mercy Through Pardons?

President Obama speaks to reporters Wednesday in the Oval Office. On Thursday, Obama announced that he was granting a series of pardons and clemencies.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 6:47 am

President Obama came to office after bemoaning the disparity in sentences for crack versus powder cocaine offenses, and with a background as a community organizer and constitutional law teacher that had some progressives anticipating a robust use of the Constitution's "reprieves and pardons" power.

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The Two-Way
5:43 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Senators Cross Aisle To Call For New Sanctions On Iran

A bipartisan measure defying President Obama would impose new sanctions on Iran if it breaks an interim deal to curb its nuclear program.

The "Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act" would also compel the United States to back any Israeli strike against Iran's nuclear facilities.

Reuters says:

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The Two-Way
5:30 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

New York City Extends Smoking Ban To E-Cigarettes

Jim Watson AFP/Getty Images

New York's City Council has approved extending the city's strict smoking ban to include electronic cigarettes, which emit a vapor.

The measure was pushed by outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg and backed by public health advocates in the city. It comes just weeks after New York became the first major city to raise the age for buying tobacco to 21.

Earlier this month, New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said that "more research is needed on electronic cigarettes," but that "waiting to act could jeopardize the progress we have made over the last few years."

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All Tech Considered
3:49 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Outdated Magnetic Strips: How U.S. Credit Card Security Lags

The U.K., Canada and other countries have been using more secure chip credit cards for years now. Why hasn't the U.S. caught up?
Martin Keene PA Photos/Landov

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 11:47 am

Criminals may have stolen information from 40 million credit and debit cards used at Target. A possible weakness? The magnetic stripe on credit cards — which fraudsters can pull credit card numbers and expiration dates from to make counterfeit cards.

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All Tech Considered
3:44 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

A City Turns To Lettuce Fields To Grow High-Tech Startups

A lettuce thinner created by an agricultural tech startup uses cameras and sensors to thin lettuce rows. Salinas, Calif., has hired a venture capital fund to help it attract other high-tech agricultural companies to the area.
Courtesy of Foothill Packing Inc.

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 6:46 pm

Salinas is just one hour south of California's Silicon Valley, but generations behind when it comes to technology. Many of its sprawling lettuce farms are stuck in the era of rakes and hoes.

City officials are hoping to change that — and also spur some job growth — by investing in high-tech agriculture.

At Taylor Farms in Salinas, Andrew Fernandez, the company's vice president of product, is stepping on heads of crunchy romaine lettuce, making his way over to a very big tractor. It's a water jet knife machine, and it's on the cutting edge of lettuce farming technology.

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Around the Nation
3:42 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Once A Mighty Bomber, A B-52 Meets Its End In The Desert

A view of a B-52 about to have its tail section cut at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Ariz.
Ted Robbins NPR

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 4:16 pm

A relic of the Cold War met its end on Thursday. The Air Force destroyed the last B-52 bomber required under the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia.

A crew used a circular saw to cut through the plane's aluminum skin, the tail section separating from the fuselage with a loud thunk and officially rendering the bomber useless.

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Shots - Health News
3:16 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Poll: Americans Favor Age Restrictions On Morning-After Pill

Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 2:50 pm

Emergency contraception has been embroiled in controversy pretty much from the start.

But this year the legal wrangling over who can buy the Plan B One-Step morning-after pill without a prescription came to an end. A federal judge in New York ruled in April that the morning-after pill also had to be made available over the counter to girls 16 and under.

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Around the Nation
2:45 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Hackers Stole 40 Million Credit, Debit Card Numbers From Target

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 3:42 pm

Right in the middle of holiday shopping season, some 40 million credit and debit card numbers were stolen in a major breach of Target customer data. The thefts occurred in stores, not online. Target says it's working with a forensics company to investigate and prevent similar data thefts from occurring in the future. Security experts say one way to limit them is to switch from magnetic stripes on cards to embedded chips.

Around the Nation
2:45 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

New York City Considers Ban On E-Cigarettes

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 3:42 pm

The New York City Council is slated to vote on a bill today that would add electronic cigarettes to the city's smoking ban. If the bill passes, use of e-cigarettes would be prohibited from public and private venues such as beaches, parks, restaurants and offices.

Around the Nation
2:45 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

One Ohio Mall Store Offers Nothing For Sale, Just Faith And Cheer

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 3:42 pm

Christmas is less than a week away and shoppers continue their quest for the perfect gift at the perfect price. But at one shop in a southwest Ohio mall, Roman Catholic friars are offering their presence for free.

Code Switch
1:50 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Is A 'Pathway To Citizenship' The Right Concern?

Immigrants hold miniature U.S. flags as they listen to a video broadcast from President Obama during a naturalization ceremony in New York City.
Bebeto Matthews AP

Much of the debate over whether and how to overhaul the country's immigration policy has hinged on whether and how to create a pathway to citizenship. But a majority of Latinos now say that's less important for unauthorized immigrants than giving them relief from the threat of deportation.

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Shots - Health News
12:36 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

How To Make Sense Of Confusing, New Blood Pressure Advice

Some people with only slightly elevated blood pressure might be able to relax a bit, if they're doctors go along new treatment guidelines.
iStockphoto

If you're confused about the latest recommendations for treating high blood pressure, take heart. Doctors are confused, too.

On Wednesday, a panel of specialists called the Eighth Joint National Committee published guidelines saying that many people over 60 don't need to start taking medications to lower blood pressure until it's above 150/90 millimeters of mercury.

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Education
10:26 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Nation's Report Card Shows Improvement, But Race Still Divides

Cities across the country are receiving the latest numbers on how well their 4th and 8th graders are doing in reading and math. Results are positive, but there's only been incremental changes when it comes to race, gender, and income gaps. Host Michel Martin finds out more.

Education
10:25 am
Thu December 19, 2013

School Leaders On What Determines Student Success

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Coming up, it is the season of giving - along with really corny ads reminding you about that. In a few minutes, we'll talk about the best and worst of charity video campaigns according to one advocacy group. That's coming up.

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The Salt
1:00 am
Thu December 19, 2013

This Stanford Ph.D. Became A Fruit Picker To Feed California's Hungry

Sarah Ramirez runs an organization that brings excess produce to the hungry. Here, she gleans apples from a front yard.
Scott Anger KQED

Originally published on Sun December 22, 2013 8:16 am

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Planet Money
3:49 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

A Tiny Taper, In 2 Graphs

Tapir
Flickr

In the past five years, the Federal Reserve has created roughly $3 trillion out of thin air.

The Fed uses the money it creates out of thin air to buy bonds. The idea is to drive down interest rates, which encourages people and businesses to borrow and spend money. It's called quantitative easing.

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Politics
3:46 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Push For Release Of CIA Interrogation Report Continues

Mark Udall of Colorado is one of the Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee pressing for the so-called torture report to be declassified.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 5:31 pm

For more than a year, the Senate Intelligence Committee and the CIA have been engaged in a tug of war over the release of the so-called torture report.

Chairman Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, says the $40 million, 6,000-page report demonstrates that CIA treatment of detainees was all but useless in terms of gathering actionable intelligence.

For its part, the CIA says the classified committee report contains significant errors and that no one at the agency was interviewed by Senate investigators.

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Education
3:46 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Decade-Long Study Of Big City Schools Finds Better Math, Reading

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 4:34 pm

Ten years after education researchers began focusing on big city school systems and monitoring their math and reading scores, there's good news to report. Today, fourth and eighth graders in many of the nation's largest cities have made impressive gains. Surprisingly, school systems with large numbers of low income children have exceeded the national average in both subjects .

The Two-Way
3:46 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Top SAC Capital Manager Guilty Of Insider Trading

Michael Steinberg (left) departs federal court in Manhattan on Wednesday after being found guilty on charges that he traded on insider information.
Lucas Jackson Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 5:42 pm

Michael Steinberg, a top portfolio manager at SAC Capital Advisors, has been found guilty of insider trading — the latest conviction stemming from a years-long federal investigation into the hedge fund's activities.

Steinberg was found guilty on five counts of conspiracy and securities fraud.

Reuters writes:

"Prosecutors said he traded on confidential information that was passed to him by an employee, who later admitted to swapping illegal tips with friends at other firms."

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