Many political watchers say the 2012 presidential campaign is shaping up to be the most expensive election cycle in American history. One reason: the growing influence of political action committees, independent groups that raise money largely from corporations, trade unions and the wealthy. Host Scott Simon talks with Bill Burton, co-founder of the Democratic Super PAC Priorities USA, about his group's fundraising efforts for the 2012 presidential election.
This week, a military court in Bahrain handed down harsh sentences to 20 doctors and medical personnel accused of stockpiling weapons and illegally occupying a hospital during recent protests. The doctors say they're being punished for treating demonstrators injured in anti-government protests. Host Scott Simon speaks with Dr. Fatima Hajji, one of the medical professionals sentenced to prison.
It's been more than a hundred days since Matt Rutherford has walked on dry land. With any luck, it'll be another 200 before he does. The 30-year-old Marylander is sailing around North and South America. Alexandra Gutierrez of member station KUCB in Unalaska reports that if he makes it, he'll be the first person to do the 23,000-mile trip alone and without stopping.
The 2011 baseball playoffs have begun, but fans are still reeling from perhaps the single most exciting end to baseball's regular season since Babe Ruth ate 30 hot dogs. Host Scott Simon talks with NPR's Tom Goldman about this week's playoff action and more.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.
"Homeland" premieres tomorrow night on Showtime. It's a psychological espionage thriller that centers on a CIA officer, played by Claire Danes, who hears about a conspiracy when she gets a tip from a terrorist who is about to be executed by the Iraqi government.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SERIES, "HOMELAND")
CLAIRE DANES: (as Carrie Anderson) You said you were an important man. You said you had information about an attack on Abu Nasir.
SCOTT SIMON, host: Times are tough in Europe these days. But if you crave comfort food in Denmark to lift your mood, it'll cost you. Starting today, shoppers in Denmark will pay extra kroner, according to the saturated fat levels of certain foods. Not just potato chips, ice cream, sweet rolls and candy bars, but famously clean, creamy Danish butter.
Next week, the Chicago Bears, who won the 1985 Super Bowl, will finally be received at the White House — now that a Bears fan lives there. Their original visit was canceled when the Challenger Space Shuttle exploded in January 1986.
Gliding along in a flat-bottom boat on the San Antonio River thorough the heart of downtown San Antonio is a beautiful and authentic Texas experience.
There's one thing a boat tour guide is not going to mention, however. Texas is in the middle of a historic drought, and the river that tourists are cruising along with ducks, big bass, catfish and perch is actually treated sewage water.
Losing weight in America is big business. Americans spend $61 billion a year on everything from diet pills and exercise videos to meal plans, health club memberships and medical treatment. One of the fastest growing and lucrative segments of the weight-loss market is surgery.
The story of America's rise on the global art scene has mostly taken place in New York — but now Los Angeles wants in on the narrative.
Over the past 10 years, the wealthy L.A.-based Getty Foundation has doled out about $10 million in grants to help launch Pacific Standard Time, an unprecedented collaboration between more than 60 cultural institutions with one grand theme in mind: the birth of the L.A. art scene from 1945 to 1980.
This December, along with the holidays, voters in Iowa and New Hampshire can also look forward to lots of visits from presidential candidates. The primary calendar now looks like it will start early in January—first with the Iowa caucuses, followed closely by New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina and then, by month's end, Florida.
On Friday, officials in the Sunshine State announced they were scheduling their presidential primary on Jan. 31 — breaking party rules and forcing four other states to move up even earlier to maintain their places in the batting order.
Astronomers are lining up to use a powerful new NASA telescope called SOFIA. The telescope has unique capabilities for studying things like how stars form and what's in the atmospheres of planets.
But unlike most of the space agency's telescopes, SOFIA isn't in space — it flies around mounted in a Boeing 747 jet with a large door cut on the side so the telescope can see out. Putting a telescope in space makes sense: There's no pesky atmosphere to make stars twinkle. But why put one on a plane?
Today marks 35 years since Congress first passed what's come to be known as the Hyde Amendment, which bans most federal abortion funding.
While the actual language of the rider to the annual funding bill for the Department of Health and Human Services has changed considerably over the years, since 2003 it has allowed federal Medicaid funds to pay for abortions in cases of rape, incest, or if the life of the woman is endangered by the pregnancy.
For years scientists have been faced with a mystery about the planet Mercury. Its iron core is much bigger than that of most other planets. More than half of Mercury's mass comes from its core. In comparison, about 32 percent of Earth's mass comes from its core.
Scientists theorized that was because Mercury is so close to the sun that its rocky surface simply melted away.
A new study, which was released along with a series of other papers about Mercury in this week's issue of Science, disputes those theories.
A Hellfire missile fired from an American drone killed Anwar al-Awlaki on Friday, ending a two-year hunt for a radical cleric who had called on his followers to attack the U.S. any way they could.
Some details of the strike are sketchy. U.S. officials and the Yemeni Defense Ministry both confirmed that a drone had fired on a convoy of cars that was carrying Awlaki in northern Yemen. They said it was a joint operation, but it is unclear what role the Yemeni military played in the attack.
There's a restless quality to Glenn Jones' music that starts with the guitarist himself. Jones doesn't just write songs; he makes up a new way of tuning the guitar for each one.
"For me, inventing a new tuning goes with inventing a new song," Jones says. "The song is a way to navigate a tuning that I'm not yet familiar with. It kind of forces me to explore or dig into a tuning in ways that are atypical — kind of forces me to think."
With all the recent turmoil in the Middle East, one piece of news that has been overlooked is the revelation that the Obama administration approved the sale of 55 deep earth penetrator bombs to Israel in 2009.
The two-year-old transaction was recently reported by Newsweek. No U.S. officials have talked openly about why the bunker busters were provided to Israel but speculation falls most heavily on a single target.
Originally published on Fri September 30, 2011 3:03 pm
A new analysis of 2010 census data by the Williams Institute shows how same-sex couples are distributed across the nation. Liberal enclaves are well-represented, of course. But so are some surprising pockets of the heartland and the South.
Libya's victorious militias are still fighting the last forces loyal to ousted strongman Moammar Gadhafi, but as the military endgame draws closer, some are worrying about the political battles that are just beginning.
The question is an old one for revolutionaries: How to go from a military triumph to a civilian government?
In Libya, the problem is magnified because the fighting is still going on and the military consists of various regional militias that don't answer to a single commander.
Alabama and Arizona have some of the toughest immigration laws in the country. Behind both states' laws, and many others, is Kris Kobach, a constitutional lawyer and the Kansas secretary of state.
Kobach has helped several other states shape immigration legislation, and he says there's more to come in 2012.
Many national stories have called the 45-year-old conservative a "movie star," handsome and loaded with charisma. He looked the part greeting some 60 guests during a recent address to the Pachyderm Club in Topeka, Kan.
As bans on gay marriage and civil unions spread across the majority of America in the past decade, new U.S. Census figures reveal a starkly different trend: The number of same-sex partnerships skyrocketed even in the most prohibitive states.
Some 646,464 gay couples said they lived together in last year's census, an increase of 80 percent from 2000, according to revised figures released this week. Same-sex couples make up just 1 percent of all married and unmarried couples in the U.S., but as a group they nonetheless made large gains in every state.
Today, we've read nothing but bad economic news. The worst of which came from the Economic Cycle Research Institute, an independent forecasting group.
Lakshman Achuthan, the managing director of ECRI, was on CNBC this morning and he had the hosts cringing. After Achutan said "a vicious circle has started," and that "we're not going to escape" a double-dip recession, one of the anchors said, "A drink?"
Long before U.S. officials said he was one of the world's most-wanted terrorists, Anwar al-Awlaki was a Muslim cleric who U.S. media outlets would turn to during discussions about the post-Sept. 11 world.
The decision by Florida's Republican officials to move the state's presidential primary into January from March will have a range of effects, some foreseeable, some not.
By advancing its primary date to Jan. 31, Florida makes it virtually certain the four traditional early states — Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada — will now move their caucuses and primaries to earlier in January to maintain their status as the earliest contests.
Originally published on Mon April 30, 2012 8:11 am
In New Hampshire, where the state motto is "Live Free Or Die," college students don't take kindly to restrictions on their energy drinks.
After the food services folks at the University of New Hampshire moved to ban energy drinks as part of the school's drive to become the "healthiest campus community in the country by 2020," the president stepped in to reverse the decision.