Originally published on Mon January 20, 2014 5:44 pm
The long-anticipated Syrian peace conference is again in turmoil. The U.N. secretary-general's surprise decision to invite Iran to attend the conference prompted a boycott threat from Syria's exiled opposition. At issue is the fact that Iran has not publicly committed to the framework for the conference or pledged to withdraw its troops and allied militias from Syria. Under pressure from the opposition groups and the U.S., the U.N. has since withdrawn its invitation to Iran.
Chef Furard Tate is the kind of man who never sits still. He flits from the order desk at Inspire BBQ back to the busy kitchen, where young men are seasoning sauce, cooking macaroni and cheese, and finishing off some dry-rubbed ribs smoked on a grill.
"We grill on a real grill," Tate says. "None of this electric stuff."
But as important as the food is, Tate says it's also important that it's made by young hands who must learn a slow, consistent process.
Cook County, Ill., Sheriff Tom Dart walks the halls of his jail every day. With 10,000 inmates, this place is a small city — except a third of the people here are mentally ill.
Dart has created some of the most innovative programs in the country to handle mentally ill inmates, hiring doctors and psychologists, and training staff. But if you ask anyone here, even this jail is barely managing.
"I can't conceive of anything more ridiculously stupid by government than to do what we're doing right now," Dart says.
Last fall, curators and interns at the New York State Museum were digging through their audio archives in an effort to digitize their collection. It was tedious work; the museum houses over 15 million objects. But on this particular day in November, they unearthed a treasure.
When Melissa Shenewa and her husband imagined their first weeks with their new baby, they pictured hours of cuddling. Instead, they're enduring hours of inconsolable crying.
Their 6-week-old son, Aladdin, is a colicky baby. He cries for hours, usually in the middle of the night. They've tried everything they could think of. Nothing helps.
"Being a parent when your child is screaming in pain for hours on end and there's nothing you can do, you feel helpless," says Shenewa, 24, who lives in Houston. "You feel like you're not a good parent."
The U.S. Olympic team is taking shape in the run-up to next month's Winter Games in Russia. This week, the Olympic cross-country ski team names the athletes who'll be going to Sochi, and veteran Kris Freeman is vying for another spot.
The 33-year-old Freeman already has been to three Olympic Games, and he's considered the country's best long distance racer over the past decade.
As part of a new series called "My Big Break," All Things Considered is collecting stories of triumph, big and small. These are the moments when everything seems to click, and people leap forward into their careers.
On Jan. 18, 1990, Washington, D.C., Mayor Marion Barry was arrested for possession and use of crack cocaine in a hotel room during an FBI sting.
Meanwhile, at The Washington Post, intern Bill O'Leary was waiting for his first real assignment.
Those close to a powerful elected official, like a governor or the president, may owe their success to the boss. Yet there are times when the interests of the person on top and those who serve will diverge, and the outcome is predictable.
"When you're a staffer or consultant, at some level you have to understand that you're a bit like a milk carton and at some point you'll reach your expiration date," says Chris Lehane, a Democratic consultant. "There could always be a time when the principal is going to have to effectively throw you under the bus."
As the U.S. government has militarized the California and Arizona segment of the Southwest border over the last two decades, illegal crossers have moved to another area. South Texas has become the new border hot spot.
The Rio Grande Valley is also the closest route to Central America. Two-thirds of those caught crossing are from that troubled region.
The Border Patrol and local authorities are straining to keep up.
We all know talking on the phone or texting while driving is dangerous. More than 41 states have laws that make it illegal to text while driving. Most have laws that forbid new drivers from using their cell phones at all. But that doesn't stop drivers of all ages from talking and typing away. In December, reporter Alisa Roth rode along with a New York state trooper to see how the ban is working there. Here's an encore broadcast of her story.
Last year, revelations that the U.S. had tapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cell phone soured relations between the two allies. In Europe, President Obama's recommendations to reign in the NSA when it comes to listening to foreign leaders was met with a lukewarm reaction. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports that Germans are especially skeptical that the changes will mean an end to American eavesdropping.
If you're a football fan, Sunday is kind of like Christmas.
Two conference championship games will determine the teams that advance to the Super Bowl, and the matchups couldn't be more exciting: Denver vs. New England (Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady). And some would say the other game, pitting San Francisco against Seattle, might just feature the two best teams in the league.
America shows its love for the sport in many ways beyond breathless anticipation of big games. It also gives back to the National Football League with tax breaks and publicly funded stadiums.
Originally published on Sat January 18, 2014 1:28 pm
A bill introduced in the Missouri Statehouse adds a firing squad as an option for carrying out the death penalty in the state.
The bill would give the state another option besides lethal gas and lethal injection, which has run into speed bumps because pharmaceutical companies have halted the sale of one of the drugs used in those executions.
President Lyndon B. Johnson went to eastern Kentucky in 1964 to promote his War on Poverty. But when he did, he opened a wound that remains raw today. People in the region say they're tired of always being depicted as poor, so when NPR's Pam Fessler went to Appalachia to report on how the War on Poverty is going, she was warned that people would be reluctant to talk. Instead, she got an earful.
The North American International Auto Show opens to the public today. That's the fancy name for the Detroit car show. NPR's Sonari Glinton has been getting a sneak preview in the Motor City, hanging out with engineers and auto execs. And he's with us now. Good to talk with you, Sonari.
SONARI GLINTON, BYLINE: It's good to be here, Lynn.
NEARY: Now, you've spent, I think, four days at the car show. What are the standouts?
If you have teenagers in your house, you may find this hard to believe, but texting is on the decline.
For the first time ever, traditional texting — the kind you do through your cell phone provider — has dropped in Britain. That's according to the annual technology predictions report from Deloitte, which reported that the number of text messages passed around by Brits decreased by 7 billion last year.
Patty Gold may be the loudest spectator at the bottom of the half-pipe, with her cheers, gasps and the yelling of her children's names. She mostly stands perfectly still with her hands clasped to her face, waiting for scores, safe landings, and possibly medals.
Saying that his state must take steps to plan for prolonged water shortages, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency over an extended drought Friday. California faces "water shortfalls in the driest year in recorded state history," according to the governor's office.
Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 5:16 pm
A controversial North Carolina law requiring women who want to have an abortion to undergo an ultrasound scan is illegal, according to a federal judge's ruling issued Friday. The state's law required that the women have a medical professional tell them what the image depicts. It also said the women should "listen to the heartbeat of the unborn child."
The U.S. Supreme Court is delving into the technology-versus-privacy debate, agreeing to hear two cases that test whether police making an arrest may search cellphones without a warrant.
The court's announcement Friday that it would take the cases came just hours after President Obama outlined his proposals to address government retention of citizen phone data as part of his speech outlining reforms at the National Security Agency.
If there was a consensus emanating from Congress Friday after President Obama's NSA reform speech, it was — not surprisingly — that Congress itself has a major role to play in the ultimate fix.
Whether from strong NSA supporters or agency critics, the reactions sounded similar: Congress intends to do much of the steering in the drive to overhaul the NSA's gathering of certain non-public information, especially consumer phone records, in the nation's counterterrorism efforts.
Even so, if you listened closely, you could hear the sound of politics in some of the reaction.
President Obama signed the $1.1 trillion spending bill into law Friday afternoon, enacting more than 1,500 pages of legislation that received broad support in the House and Senate earlier this week. The expansive bill ensures the U.S. government won't face a potential shutdown until at least October.