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Citing stronger economic growth, the Federal Reserve announced it is not making any changes to its monetary policy.

As the AP reported earlier, economists were expecting this wait-and-see approach because they figured the Fed would want time to assess whether its policy from August and September was spurring growth.

The schedule for the first four Republican presidential caucuses and primaries appeared officially set Wednesday with New Hampshire announcing that it would hold its first-in-the-nation primary on Jan. 10.

That would come exactly seven days after the Iowa caucuses, which were moved to Jan. 3, the first Tuesday of the new year, and which will kick off the process by which Republicans will choose their party's nominee to contest President Obama for the White House.

Nothing is more basic and simple than food. Yet it comes to us courtesy of a long, complicated supply chain that spans the globe.

That chain delivers food cheaply — but it can break. Four years ago, it blew up in most spectacular fashion, affecting hundreds of millions of people who rely on rice for sustenance. That crash — the great rice crisis of 2008 — was a true disaster for some of the poorest people in Asia and West Africa.

The news today that Pakistan's cabinet has moved to normalize trade with India — giving its neighbor "Most Favored Nation" status — is being viewed as a positive first step toward the possible normalization of diplomatic relations between the two nuclear rivals.

Weekend Edition Sunday host Audie Cornish will be filling in for Michele Norris on All Things Considered for a year, starting in January, NPR just announced.

The Paris offices of a French newsweekly that in its latest issue "invited" the Prophet Muhammad to be a guest editor and satirically wrote of what a "soft version" of Sharia law might be like, were burned early today.

According to The Associated Press:

The lawyer for one of two women who in the late 1990s accused Republican presidential contender Herman Cain of sexual harassment wants her side of the story to come out because she believes Cain has not been telling the truth about what happened, a lawyer who represents her said Tuesday on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360.

British judges ruled this morning that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can be extradited from the U.K. to Sweden, where authorities want to question him about allegations from two women that he sexually assaulted them in August 2010.

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Right now, many people are nervous about the challenges presented by a global population that has reached 7 billion and is still rising. But for a lot of countries, a lack of babies is the bigger worry.

The so-called birth dearth is starting to cause problems across much of Europe and a substantial portion of Asia. With fewer children born, populations in many countries are aging rapidly. Soon, they may also be shrinking.

Government opponents in Syria have not been able to dislodge President Bashar Assad, but they are doing something the country has rarely if ever seen: they are organizing by themselves, outside of government control.

The massive street protests, demanding the end of Assad's regime, have defined the revolt over the past eight months.

But other things are happening as well, far from public view. In one quiet office in Damascus, Ashraf Hamza, 28, is leading a group of men at a session on community organizing.

The Stuxnet computer worm, arguably the first and only cybersuperweapon ever deployed, continues to rattle security experts around the world, one year after its existence was made public.

Apparently meant to damage centrifuges at a uranium enrichment facility in Iran, Stuxnet now illustrates the potential complexities and dangers of cyberwar.

Secretly launched in 2009 and uncovered in 2010, it was designed to destroy its target much as a bomb would. Based on the cyberworm's sophistication, the expert consensus is that some government created it.

A Wisconsin law on union bargaining rights signed by Gov. Scott Walker shows no signs of disappearing.

In February and March, there was a shocking, sometimes strange sight at the Wisconsin capitol: By day, protesters marched shoulder-to-shoulder. By night, they lived in the capitol, sleeping on the building's marble floors.

It began after Walker, a Republican, broke 50 years of Wisconsin precedent, announcing he would not bargain with public employee unions. He said the state was broke and he had nothing to negotiate with. The rest is the stuff of political folklore.

Lawyers for President Obama's Justice Department and Texas Gov. Rick Perry will be squaring off in federal court in Washington on Wednesday.

The state has sued the federal government to try to win court approval for its new legislative maps. There are big stakes: Texas stands to gain four new seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. But minorities in Texas, with a boost from the Justice Department, say the new boundaries amount to a step backward for Latino voting power.

If you want to know just how unhappy Americans are with their two-party government, a group called Americans Elect is ready to tell you.

The nonprofit group has scheduled a press conference in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday in a bid to show the Democratic and Republican establishments that voters want a third choice in presidential candidates.

It's a choice Americans Elect hopes to provide. This might sound like a third political party taking the field, but the group says that's not what it is.

'A New Force'

Next week Mississippi voters will decide whether to pass a constitutional amendment that redefines a person. Under the proposal, fertilized human eggs would be considered human beings, which would ban all abortions in the state. But abortion-rights activists say it would also limit contraception and threaten fertility treatments.

Les Riley has worked on the initiative for years, gathering signatures to get it on the ballot. Now, in northwest Mississippi, he's talking to voters and assembling yard signs that urge the passage of Amendment 26.

This week, we're asking what it really means to live in a world with 7 billion people. For some answers, we visit Karachi, Pakistan.

The grandest expression of the world's population growth is in the word "megacity." Dozens of these cities of more than 10 million now ring the globe, like a string of oversized pearls. In a megacity, people and ideas clash: The ancient collides with the modern; secular with religious; global with local. In Karachi, Pakistan, those forces can be seen in the story of a single piece of real estate.

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Deal To Sell Dodgers Sparks Celebration

Nov 2, 2011

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Well, it would be an interesting year to get into politics, but if that's not for you, maybe you could dream of owning a baseball team. Frank McCourt has agreed to a court-supervised auction of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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If you're retired, single and looking for love in Shanghai, try IKEA.

Twice a week, hundreds of Shanghai residents who have formed an informal lonely hearts club of sorts gather at the cafeteria of the Swedish furniture megastore for free coffee and conversation.

The pensioners begin arriving around 1 in the afternoon and fill nearly 20 tables in the store cafeteria. They sit for hours drinking coffee, gossiping and subtly checking each other out.

There's an awful lot of games played in November –– even with the NBA locked out –– but it's really just an in-between month in sports... and life. There are no May-and-November romances, no good November songs. It's sort of a semi-final of a month.

Why are they still playing tennis in November? Let the boys and girls rest up for the summer so they're not all hurt when it matters.

A few years ago, Father Tomasz Trafny was brainstorming with other Vatican officials about what technologies would shape society, and how the Vatican could have an impact. And it hit them: Adult stem cells, which hold the promise of curing the most difficult diseases, are the technology to watch.

"They have not only strong potentiality," says Trafny, "but also they can change our vision of human being[s], and we want to be part of the discussion."

The American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think thank in Washington, D.C., is causing waves with a study (pdf) it released today that found teachers are overcompensated in comparison to "similarly educated and experienced private-sector workers."

The organization said it took a "comprehensive" look at teacher's salaries and tried to take into account what it says are unique areas of compensation for teachers, including generous pension plans and better job security.

Obama: 'Fit For Duty' And Smoker No More

Nov 1, 2011

All middle-aged men should be so healthy.

A summary of the results from President Obama's latest physical were released yesterday, and he's looking good. Very good.

Navy Capt. Jeffrey Kuhlman, the president's doctor, declared him "fit for duty."

Federal officials say they're making headway in their push to stem abuse of addictive painkillers. Still, they say, U.S. doctors are prescribing enough narcotics to medicate every American around the clock for a month.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says drug overdoses may soon overtake car crashes as the nation's leading cause of fatal injury.

Part of a monthlong series

The plan for Norris and Janis Galatas was that they would be settled and comfortable at middle age — paying off their bills and putting away something for the future. But now the wounded warrior and his wife are rethinking the American dream.

The United States House of Representatives is expected to vote on a reaffirmation of "In God We Trust" as the country's official motto, today. The bill would also encourage public buildings to include the motto in their architecture.

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