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Governing
11:01 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

Shrinking Community Grants Put Cities In A Crunch

Originally published on Fri March 2, 2012 5:24 am

Budget cuts approved by Congress in the past two years are trickling down to local communities, and officials there are not happy. They say that reductions in community development block grants will hurt the nation's most vulnerable neighborhoods.

Two years ago, the federal government gave out about $4 billion in such grants to low- and moderate-income communities. This year, the figure is $3 billion — a 25 percent cut. And as that pie has shrunk, those whose slices have shrunk even more are hungry for answers.

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Europe
11:01 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

Putin Heavily Favored As Russians Pick A President

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin delivers a campaign speech during a rally of his supporters in Moscow, Feb. 23. Putin is mounting a vigorous campaign in the face of growing opposition but is expected to win Sunday's presidential elections.
Yuri Kadobnov AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 2, 2012 7:12 am

When Russians go to the polls Sunday, they will have several choices for president. But none is a serious threat to Vladimir Putin, who has been the most powerful figure in Russia for the past 12 years.

Boris Makarenko, a longtime observer of Russian politics, says the candidates arrayed against Putin are all more or less part of what Kremlin leaders call "the systemic opposition."

In other words, he says, they are "the tolerable opposition ... which can never even hope of replacing them in the Kremlin."

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Around the Nation
11:01 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

Underground Cold War Relics As Doomsday Castles?

Larry Hall shows off the old vents and 9-foot-thick walls of a missile silo he's developing into condominiums.
Frank Morris

One clear threat once menaced civilization: nuclear war with the Soviet Union. The Cold War is over, but decades later, some of the fortifications built to fight that war still dot the American landscape.

Four years ago, Larry Hall bought a nuclear missile silo out on the open rolling land north of Salina, Kan. Hall paid $300,000 and spent much more to clean out all the scrap metal and stagnant water.

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Governing
11:01 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

Government Backs Up On Rearview Car Cameras

A camera is used instead of a rearview mirror on the Toyota NS4 plug-in hybrid concept car at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Jan. 10.
Mike Cassese Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Tue March 6, 2012 5:47 pm

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Planet Money
11:01 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

What The IRS Could Learn From Mormons

The money Mormons tithe goes to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah, and then is distributed to congregations around the world.
Douglas C. Pizac AP

Many religious traditions stress the importance of charity. But Mormons are remarkable for the amount and the precision with which they give to their church.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that each Mormon in good standing should tithe 10 percent of his or her income. The money goes right to church headquarters in Salt Lake City and then is distributed back to congregations around the world.

"That's written in stone, and preached from the pulpit," says Gordon Dahl, an economist at the University of California, San Diego, who is Mormon.

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The Two-Way
5:23 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

Judge Who Emailed Racist Obama Joke Calls For Investigation On Himself

Originally published on Thu March 1, 2012 5:32 pm

U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull says he will apologize to President Obama and ask for a panel of judges to investigate his conduct after a Montana newspaper reported he had sent a racially inflammatory message using his courthouse email account last month.

The Great Falls Tribune reported the judge had forwarded the following message to six of his friends February 20:

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News
5:07 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

Nation's Toughest Immigration Law Stays Put For Now

A line of people wait outside the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which heard arguments over tough new laws targeting illegal immigration in Alabama and Georgia on Thursday.
John Amis AP

Originally published on Fri March 9, 2012 3:38 pm

Portions of Alabama's strict immigration law will remain in force until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on its predecessor, the Arizona statue that ignited a national firestorm in the debate over illegal immigration.

A panel of three judges from an Atlanta federal appeals court decided Thursday to put off action on lawsuits against measures in Alabama and Georgia. Oral arguments are set for April 25 before the Supreme Court over the constitutionality of Arizona's enforcement policy.

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Europe
5:03 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

Will The New AK-47 Be As Popular As The Original?

A Colombian police officer stands guard next to seized Chinese-made AK-47 replicas on Nov. 18, 2009. The guns have become so ubiquitous around the world that Russia's planned redesign may not do much to booster sales.
Luis Robayo Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 9:59 am

The Kalashnikov assault rifle, or AK-47, is one of the most dangerous and widely used weapons in the world. For more than 60 years, nations, rebels, gangsters and child soldiers have wielded the gun.

And now, Russian officials say it's outdated. As part of a $700 billion army modernization program, the country has announced a redesign of the rifle.

New York Times foreign correspondent C.J. Chivers — author of The Gun, a book about the Kalashnikov — tells NPR's Audie Cornish that the updates are mostly cosmetic.

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The Salt
4:35 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

Seattle's First Urban Food Forest Will Be Open To Foragers

Designers of a food forest in Seattle want to make blueberry picking a neighborly activity.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu March 1, 2012 6:41 pm

If you're a regular reader of The Salt, you've probably noticed our interest in foraging. From San Francisco to Maryland, we've met wild food experts, nature guides and chefs passionate about picking foods growing in their backyards.

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The Two-Way
4:30 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

Suspect In Ohio School Shooting Charged With Three Counts Of Murder

In this Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012 photo, seventeen-year-old T.J. Lane is led from Juvenile Court by Sheriff's deputies in Chardon, Ohio.
Mark Duncan AP

Prosecutors have officially charged 17-year-old T.J. Lane in the shooting rampage at an Ohio high school.

The charges — three counts of aggravated murder, two counts of aggravated attempted murder and one count of felonious assault — were filed in juvenile court, but the AP adds that this could be the first step toward charging him as an adult.

A hearing is set next week in Geauga County to determine whether he'll be charged as an adult.

The AP reports:

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Middle East
4:02 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

Syrian Army Drives Rebels From Embattled City

Syrian mourners in Qusayr, a few miles outside Homs, carry the body of a man killed by shrapnel, during his funeral on Tuesday. After a month-long assault by the Syrian army, rebels were forced to retreat from Homs on Thursday.
Gianluigi Guercia AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu March 1, 2012 11:17 pm

A key rebel stronghold in the central Syrian city of Homs has fallen to the Syrian army.

Residents fled as government forces bombarded the city's Baba Amr neighborhood for nearly a month. On Thursday, the rebels withdrew.

When the Syrian uprising began nearly a year ago, Baba Amr saw regular, daily protests. Then after months of being shot, detained and tortured, protesters began taking up arms. Those armed civilians were later joined by defectors from the Syrian military, and together, they called themselves the Free Syrian Army.

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Shots - Health Blog
3:50 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

Air Pollution In An Unlikely Spot: An Indoor Hockey Arena

Ah, hockey.

Ice chips spray as a player skates to a stop and digs for a puck in the corner. A cool breeze wafts over the rink in the wake of opposing players rushing down the ice to stop him.

And then there's the yellowish blanket of nitrogen dioxide, a toxic gas that's an ingredient in smog, hovering over the ice.

Say what?

Early last year, 31 people got sick after spending time at an unnamed indoor ice arena owned by a private school in New Hampshire.

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Around the Nation
3:38 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

Teen Charged As Juvenile In Ohio School Shooting

A teenager was charged Thursday with killing three students in a U.S. school shooting, the first step in proceedings that could see him charged as an adult and face the possibility of life without parole if convicted.

The charges accuse T.J. Lane, 17, of killing three students and wounding two others in the shooting Monday morning at Chardon High School, about 30 miles east of Cleveland.

He is charged in Geauga County juvenile court with three counts of aggravated murder, two counts of attempted aggravated murder and one count of felonious assault

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World Cafe
3:30 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

Kevn Kinney And Golden Palominos On World Cafe

Kevn Kinney (left) and Anton Fier have been friends and occasional collaborators since the 1980s.
Brittny Smith

Kevn Kinney of Drivin N Cryin and Anton Fier of The Golden Palominos combine the twangy side of their respective rock bands for an album aptly titled A Good Country Mile. Through the '80s rock scene, Kinney and Fier became friends and collaborators, and the trend continues more than 20 years later.

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The Two-Way
3:14 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

NASA Struggles With IT Security, Loses Space Station Code

The International Space Station, seen from the shuttle Discovery
NASA

The "algorithms used to command and control the International Space Station" were lost when an unencrypted NASA laptop computer was stolen in March 2011. That tidbit came in testimony Wednesday delivered by NASA Inspector General Paul K. Martin as he reported on the space agency's IT security track record.

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