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Culture warriors on the left and right would be wise to carefully examine a new survey from the Pew Research Center showing that a growing number of Americans are moving away from religious labels.

The study, titled "Nones" on the Rise, indicates that 1 in 5 Americans now identifies as "religiously unaffiliated," a group that includes those who say they have no particular religion, as well as atheists and agnostics.

Florida, Microcosm of Nation's Schools

Oct 9, 2012

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, we'll talk to a woman about the high price of friendship. Well, one friendship anyway. She cosigned a loan for a friend who was struggling. Now she is struggling with the consequences. We'll have more on that and we'll also tell you some things you might want to think about to protect your own credit score. That's in just a few minutes.

Affirmative action is back before the U.S. Supreme Court. On Wednesday, the justices hear arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. Abigail Fisher says she was denied admission to the school four years ago because she's white. Host Michel Martin discusses the upcoming arguments with Associated Press reporter Justin Pope.

Should You Hide Your Heritage?

Oct 9, 2012

Many parents raise kids who are loud and proud of their heritage. But some have a different approach. Writer Alina Adams is Jewish and her husband is African-American. She says that in some situations, her kids are better off hiding their race and religion. Adams speaks with host Michel Martin.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Saying that the former Penn State assistant football coach had assaulted not only 10 young boys' bodies but also their "psyches and souls," a Pennsylvania judge this morning sentenced Jerry Sandusky to between 30 and 60 years in prison for the sexual abuse of those children.

Jerry Sandusky is expected back in a Bellefonte, Pa., courtroom Tuesday for a sentencing hearing. The former Penn State assistant football coach was convicted in June of sexually abusing 10 boys. Now young men, some of the victims will be given an opportunity to tell the court how the abuse affected their lives.

Sandusky has been in a county jail since the jury convicted him on 45 out of 48 counts, but after the hearing, he likely will be moved to a state prison.

On her 22nd birthday this summer, Sarah Wagner of suburban Wheaton, Ill., who describes herself as a huge fan of the Chicago Cubs, opened an email to find an incredible surprise — a recorded message from her favorite Cubs player:

"Hey, Sarah! Kerry Wood here! Thanks for your message and I hope you're having a great summer!"

"When I heard for the first time, I instantly smiled," says Wagner. "I think my hands probably went over like my mouth, like, 'Oh my gosh, Kerry Wood is talking to me, even though he has no idea who I am!' "

In the five days since Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was declared by many the winner of the first presidential debate, political watchers have waited to see if polls would shift in response to his performance. And, they did.

The typical jack-o'-lanterns that don front stoops this time of year pale in comparison to their multihundred-pound brethren: the giant pumpkin. Every year in Damariscotta, Maine, people hollow them out, climb inside and race them in the annual pumpkin regatta. There are two divisions — paddleboat and powerboat — and thousands gather to see whether it will be sink or swim for the contestants.

Topher Mallory bolts a wooden frame onto the flesh of his 550-pound pumpkin powerboat. The stern is large enough to mount a 10 horsepower engine — double that of most competitors.

Just outside of Camilla, Ga. — about four hours southwest of Atlanta — up a dirt road called Alligator Lane, is one of the largest alligator farms in the country.

"We've got about 20 chicken houses, and we've got about 100,000 alligators on the farm," says owner Mark Glass.

That's right, 100,000 alligators, and they are in big demand in Europe's high-fashion industry.

Right now it's hatching season.

Bruce Osterweil is a lucky man to live just a short walk from where San Francisco's Golden Gate meets the cold, rough waters of the Pacific Ocean. He is also a lucky man to have married his wife, Patricia Furlong, who has long provided the family's health insurance through her job at a small financial consulting firm.

But last month, Osterweil's wife turned 65 and decided to retire, and although she may walk away with a crystal bowl or a golden watch for all those years of service, she will also walk away from her company's generous health insurance benefits.

After failing to predict the Arab Spring, intelligence officials are now exploring whether Big Data, the combing of billions of pieces of disparate electronic information, can help them identify hot spots before they explode. The intelligence community has always been in the business of forecasting the future. The question is whether tapping into publicly available data — Twitter and news feeds and blogs among other things — can help them do that faster and more precisely.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. Prosecutors are calling it a milestone for the U.S. justice system. A radical Islamic cleric and four other of America's most wanted terrorism suspects have finally appeared in courts in New York and Connecticut. Authorities had fought for years to extradite the men from the United Kingdom. NPR's Carrie Johnson reports.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

When was the last time you heard this sound:

(SOUNDBITE OF PINBALL MACHINE)

MARTIN: Pinball machines are as popular as ever in a small mountain town in Colorado, giving a new generation a taste of the past. NPR's Ahmad Shafi has the story.

(SOUNDBITE OF PINBALL MACHINE)

AHMAD SHAFI, BYLINE: Lyons, Colorado sits in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, about 20 miles north of Boulder. It's known for its annual music festivals and art scene. But in downtown Lyons, there's a business that doesn't fit that mold.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. Simpson, Bowles - the names flew by eight times, without explanation, during Wednesday's presidential debate. Google reported that Simpson-Bowles was among the most searched-for terms online that night. The reference was to Republican elder statesman Alan Simpson and his Democratic counterpart, Erskine Bowles. The two headed a 2010 commission on the national debt.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Before Twitter, radio, even electricity - in fact, going all the way back to pre-historic times, people gathered around fires to listen to stories. Even though the glow of computers has replaced the warmth of the campfire for most of us, some folks still hold fast to the tradition of oral storytelling.

As Missy Shelton reports, nearly 10,000 people have gathered this weekend for the National Storytelling Festival in northeast Tennessee to hear professional tellers weave some good yarns.

Comparing Greatness In Sports

Oct 7, 2012

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(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LIFE IS A BALLGAME")

SISTER WINONA CARR: (Singing) Life is a ball game being played each day. Life...

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

It's time for sports with the guy we turn to every Sunday, just because we like him and he keeps answering the phone when we call, NPR's Mike Pesca.

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: Hey, Mike.

MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: The second thing first, right?

MARTIN: Yeah, pretty much.

PESCA: Yeah. He's there and 'cause that we like him. But he's there.

(LAUGHTER)

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.

The latest national polls show the presidential race tightening in some of the all-important battleground states, with Republican Mitt Romney gaining on President Barack Obama's lead. We've been talking with political reporters in these swing states and this morning, we focus on New Hampshire. President Obama won the state back in 2008 with 54 percent of the vote to John McCain's 45 percent. The state's four electoral votes could be crucial this year.

In California, state officials are planning a multibillion-dollar environmental restoration of the inland delta near San Francisco Bay. There's only one problem: No one knows what the landscape used to look like. Ninety-seven percent of the original wetlands are gone, so the state is turning to historians for help.

This detective story begins on a sunny day in a dry field of corn, about an hour east of San Francisco.

How does a president bring the war in Afghanistan to an end? There are 68,000 American troops serving in the country as the war enters its 12th year.

The war hasn't been a major issue in the presidential campaign, and polls show American voters are tiring of the war. But the next commander in chief will find the Afghan war among the most difficult of many foreign policy challenges.

Both President Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney appear to agree on a date: the last day of December 2014. That's when the Afghan security forces are scheduled to takeover.

Despite its liberal reputation, the home of Jack Kennedy and Tip O'Neill has never elected a woman as governor or senator. And in Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown's tight re-election race with Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren, gender could prove the difference.

When Brown won his Senate seat in a special election in 2010, he came away unscathed by something his female opponent at the time would have had a much harder time explaining away. He posed nude for Cosmopolitan when he was 22 to help pay for law school.

As we approach the presidential election in November, Weekend Edition is seeking your questions about issues and candidates in a new segment called Reporter Hotline. This week, we answer inquiries about the candidates' policies on housing and taxes.

Major defense companies said this week they will not send out layoff notices to warn of big job cuts in January, taking away the prospect of embarrassing layoff notices right before the November elections.

That's led to charges that the White House overstepped when it told the industry the notices are not needed.

The NPR Third-Party Candidate Debate

Oct 6, 2012

What's it like to be a third-party candidate running for president? Ralph Nader can tell us.

"You're excluded from the debates," he says. "You spend an exhausting amount of time, until Labor Day, trying to get over the ballot access barriers. Your petitioners are harassed in the streets; you're subjected to baseless lawsuits by one party or another."

Nader has run for president three times – four if you count the time he ran unofficially. In 2000, he managed to win almost 3 percent of the national vote.

Nov. 6 is 32 days away, but for millions of Americans, there is no longer an Election Day.

Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia now have early voting, which is under way even now in eight states. Hundreds of thousands of votes have already been cast, most before this week's presidential debates or Friday's jobs report, and all ahead of the three future debates and any unforeseen October event that might test the mettle of a candidate.

Wild-Card Wins And Anxiety-Prone Players

Oct 6, 2012

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: Major League Baseball premiered its new high-stakes, single game wild-card playoff round last night. But a controversial call involving a famously vague old rule is at the center of attention today. The - eh-eh - defending world champion St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Atlanta Braves in that game. The Baltimore Orioles put away the Texas Rangers. NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman joins us now. Morning, Tom.

States Struggle To Manage Meningitis Scare

Oct 6, 2012

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Nearly two-dozen states are watching for new cases of a rare kind of meningitis, caused by fungal contamination in injections for back pain. Officials say the shots were custom made by a Massachusetts pharmacy that shipped about 17,000 doses to states from New York to California. While the disease cannot spread from person-to-person, at least five people have died and dozens more are sick. The outbreak first showed up in Tennessee as we hear from Daniel Potter of member station WPLN.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

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(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. The jobless rate fell sharply to 7.8 percent in September, which happens to be exactly where it was when President Obama took office. That's according to the U.S. Labor Department's latest monthly jobs report. But even though the unemployment rate dropped, the Labor Department's payroll survey reveals that businesses did not significantly hire new people. NPR's Yuki Noguchi has this report on how experts are interpreting the numbers.

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