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A few years ago, your best chance of tasting mead might have been at a Renaissance Fair. We're going to wager the enduring memory is of overpowering sweetness and little desire for a second glass.

Is it 2008 all over again?

Late Friday, Trader Joe's announced a voluntary recall of its Salted Valencia Peanut Butter because it may have been contaminated with a rare strain of salmonella that's been making people sick.

From breakfast to bedtime, college sophomore Julia-Scott Dawson and her mother, Robin Dawson, exchange a flurry of texts that include I love you's, inside jokes and casual chitchat.

"We talk every day," Dawson says.

"Every day," echoes her mother.

Julia-Scott Dawson is a sophomore at the University of North Carolina, which is just a 15-minute drive from where her parents live. Every week, she shares a Sunday meal with her family and grabs morning coffee with her parents when they can.

"I just love the time I spend with them," Dawson says.

It's taken as a given that American voters in 2012 aren't as concerned about foreign policy as they are the domestic economy.

It's also accepted as true that on matters of foreign policy, President Obama has an advantage over his Republican challenger, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who lacks significant firsthand foreign policy experience.

But Romney has made it a point lately to show that he's not ceding foreign policy and national security to Obama.

Tuesday marks six weeks until Election Day, but registered voters in two dozen states are already able to cast a ballot for president, with more states to allow early voting in the coming weeks.

In the 2000 presidential election, early voting accounted for 15 percent of the total ballots cast. By 2008, that doubled to 30 percent, according to the United States Elections Project at George Mason University. It's expected to be on the rise again this year.

The election is not over, we are told time and time again, and it's not. There are still some 40-plus days to go, there are still debates to be had. It's true that Mitt Romney trails President Obama in most key battleground states, but the margins are in single digits. And, lest we forget, it's not that presidential candidates down in the polls haven't come from behind to win in the past.

Starting today, New York commuters are passing controversial new ads equating radical Muslims with "savages."

New York's Metro Transit Authority posted the ads in 10 subway stations today after a losing a legal battle with the pro-Israel group the American Freedom Defense Initiative.

You know that ad campaign for pork, the one that called it "the other white meat?" There's a fascinating behind-the-scenes story about that slogan, revealed in a new lawsuit that was just filed this morning by the Humane Society of the United States.

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So six weeks to go before Election Day, but in-person early voting has already started in a handful of states. Many others will begin soon, and more and more of us are choosing to vote early. In Colorado, for example, where we just heard from Ari Shapiro, nearly 80 percent of votes were cast early in the 2008 presidential election.

Michael McDonald tracks these trends with the U.S. Elections Project at George Mason University and he joins me now. Welcome to the program.

MICHAEL MCDONALD: Oh, thank you for having me.

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Aung San Suu Kyi is on her first trip to the U.S. in decades. After years under house arrest, she is now a member of parliament in Myanmar, also known as Burma. So far, she's collected honors and drawn crowds in the places you might expect: New York City, Washington, D.C. But tomorrow, she heads to a smaller community in the Midwest. Sean Bueter, of member station WBOI, explains where she's going and why.

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There was another exercise in Washington last week that involved Iran, the U.S. and the impasse over the Iranian nuclear program. The Brookings Institution staged a war game. No real weapons were used, but teams playing the roles of U.S. and Iranian policymakers were presented with a hypothetical but not very far-fetched scenario, and the results were not encouraging. Kenneth Pollack is a senior fellow in the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, and he ran this exercise and joins us. Good to see you again.

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We Googled the phrase: It's difficult to replace. And auto-complete suggested a couple things people clearly find difficult to replace: a radiator, a garbage disposal, a catalytic converter. Well, how about an NFL official? For three weeks now, NFL games have been officiated by replacement refs, due to a labor dispute, and things have been getting ugly.

For more, we're joined by NPR's Mike Pesca. Hi, Mike.

MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Hi.

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As anger over an anti-Muslim film continues to reverberate in the Middle East, a new controversial statement has emerged here in the U.S. It is an ad in New York City subway stations, which equates jihad with savagery. The ad was funded by a conservative activist who is no stranger to controversy.

Here's NPR's Joel Rose.

Report: Boy Scouts Concealed Abuse

Sep 24, 2012

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I'm Celeste Headlee and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Michel Martin is away. Coming up, we'll take a look at the big winners from last night's Emmy Awards, but first, we want to turn to a much more serious topic and this would be a good time to say this conversation may not be appropriate for some listeners.

The income gap is receiving much attention lately as more Americans are isolating themselves around "people like us."

More accurately, they surround themselves with people who earn similar incomes, and it is now fueling a rise in residential segregation. One recent study suggests the income gap might be greater today than even during colonial times – even when you account for slavery.

The town of Roosevelt, N.J., was born out of an era not much different from today. It was 1937, the economy was in the toilet, and the country bitterly divided.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt had won a second term in office — an election as acrimonious as today's — and with his re-election, a host of New Deal programs moved forward. One of these projects built 99 towns outside of industrial centers across the country. The town of Roosevelt, 50 miles south of New York City, was one of them.

Cities and towns facing tight budgets have often neglected their cemeteries, an oversight that has left many of them in disrepair with broken fencing, crumbling gravestones, overgrown grass and persistent weeds.

But this summer, the Vermont town of Charlotte implemented a new strategy to both save money and keep grass in the town's graveyards under control, and it's a decidedly traditional way of doing it: Let goats and sheep do the work.

Johns Hopkins, Yale, Harvard, Columbia and Cornell. What do these medical schools have in common?

Beyond their first-rate reputations, they're also on the short list of top U.S. med schools that don't have departments of family medicine. Elite schools have long focused on training specialists and researchers, but with the federal health law's emphasis on primary care, some schools are looking harder at family medicine.

Giant Panda Cub Found Dead At National Zoo

Sep 23, 2012

The giant panda cub born to much excitement at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C., last weekend was found dead this morning.

The Associated Press reports panda-keepers were alerted by sounds of distress from the cub's mother, Mei Xiang, but it was too late. The cause of death is not yet known, but zoo officials are planning a press conference at 1 p.m. ET.

A little-known, but longtime nuclear standoff ended this week when U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta lifted a 26-year-old ban that kept New Zealand naval ships from docking at U.S. bases.

Women Head For The Hill In Record Numbers

Sep 23, 2012

More women are running for Congress this year than ever before. The 18 women running for the Senate break the previous record of 14, set two years ago. Also, there are 163 female candidates for House seats, more than the 141 who ran in 2004.

That gives this election season a Year-of-the-Woman ring to it, says The Center for American Women and Politics. The center's director, Debbie Walsh, offered some reasons in a press release:

Sportsmanship: What's Expected In Football

Sep 23, 2012

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And now it's time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, LIFE IS A BALLGAME)

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

WERTHEIMER: An incident at the end of last week's NFL match-up between the New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers has created a fuss about the unwritten rules of football.

It got the attention of NPR's Mike Pesca, too. He joins us this week from member station KCRW in Santa Monica, California. Mike, hi.

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President Barack Obama has pulled ahead of Governor Romney in another battleground state - Virginia. That's according to recent polls. This past week, we drove west from Washington, D.C. to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia to talk to voters about the presidential election. On the way, we stopped at an apple barn to see some of the other choices Virginians face.

One in three children in the United States is overweight or obese. Significant numbers of those young people are grappling with health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Those conditions can be difficult for children to manage in any setting, but they can pose particular challenges for children during the school day.

Dr. Yolandra Hancock used to be an elementary school teacher, and it shows. She's patient, encouraging and has an endearing way of ending her sentences with "my love" and "my sweet."

Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has made a remarkable transition from a detained human rights dissident to a member of Myanmar's parliament.

In her first trip to the U.S. in 40 years, Suu Kyi talked a lot about how she's learning to compromise with the former military men who kept her under house arrest for years.

Despite a series of political fumbles, Mitt Romney is "still very much in the game," according to political strategist Steve Schmidt. But, he says, it will take some work.

Schmidt served as John McCain's senior strategist in the 2008 election and helped George W. Bush get reelected in 2004. He spoke with Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon about the Romney campaign's stresses.

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(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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

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