NPR News

Filmmaker Heather Courtney didn't set out to make a war story. "I set out to make a story about rural America," she says. Her new documentary, Where Soldiers Come From, is both war story and small-town homecoming saga; it follows a group of young men who sign up for the National Guard, serve in Afghanistan, and then return home to their families in Michigan's woody Upper Peninsula.

Courtney joins NPR's Scott Simon to discuss the documentary, along with two of the young soldiers featured in the film, Dominic "Dom" Fredianelli and Matt "Bodi" Beaudoin.

An end to the war in Afghanistan is slowly beginning to come into view, 10 years after the Sept. 11 attacks. Few countries have been as deeply affected by the decade of fighting as Pakistan.

Since 2001, Islamist extremism fueled by the Afghan conflict has claimed the lives of 35,000 Pakistanis — 30,000 of them civilians.

In Murfreesboro, Tenn., more than 5,000 people are expected Sunday for the annual Sept. 11 memorial. What started as a small flag ceremony at the Rutherford County's Sheriff's Department 10 years ago is now a major community event. Murfreesboro has been dealing with another legacy of the attacks, which is playing out in a controversy over a mosque.

A Local Response To The Trauma

At the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, a small temporary exhibit marks Sept. 11, 2001. Along with artifacts found in the wreckage of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon — like a smashed firetruck door and twisted bits of fuselage — is a bin filled with every imaginable object people have tried to carry on airplanes.

Migratory songbirds like Swainson's thrushes spend their winters in South and Central America. But as spring approaches, they fly thousands of miles north to Canada.

Along the way, these little birds show endurance that would shame even the toughest athletes. They can fly for up to eight hours straight without stopping for food or water.

Scientists know how birds cope without food during the flights: They burn fat. But until now, they haven't figured out the water question. How do migrating birds avoid dehydration after all that flying?

President Obama is selling his jobs plan as a much-needed shot in the arm for a still struggling economy. It includes new public works projects, help for local school districts, training opportunities for those who have been out of work a long time, and more than $200 billion in tax cuts for workers and the companies that hire them.

A man saves thousands from a burning building, then goes back in to make sure he got everyone out. He dies, leaving behind the great love of his life. It might sound too dramatic to be real life, but it happened exactly 10 years ago this Sunday, at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Journalist James Stewart wrote a book about that man, called Heart of a Soldier, and now that book is the subject of a new opera, premiering Saturday in San Francisco.

New York City was on high alert this week, even before Thursday night's announcement that there was a "credible but unconfirmed" terrorist threat to New York and Washington, D.C. Newspaper headlines screamed about a city on lockdown.

Report: 160,000 Deported Without Facing Judge

Sep 9, 2011

Over the course of seven years, 160,000 immigrants have been deported without ever facing a judge, a new report reveals. Issued by the National Immigration Law Center, the report charges that the U.S. has used something called "stipulated removal" to strong arm immigrants into signing away their due process.

President Obama called on legislators on Thursday to pass his American Jobs Act, which proposes billions of dollars in new spending on infrastructure.

"Building a world-class transportation system is part of what made us an economic superpower," Obama told a joint session of Congress.

It's difficult to say exactly how much additional infrastructure spending would take place if the president's plan is approved by Congress. But experts say examining how — and if — previous stimulus projects created jobs can help maximize results for this round.

For Veterans, The Tough Climb Back To Civilian Life

Sep 9, 2011

The lasting legacies of Sept. 11 are numerous — sometimes elusive. There's the altered New York City skyline and the ongoing war. There also are wounded soldiers coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan each year to face a new battle: Fitting back into civilian life.

Rehabilitation programs exist for those returning with physical wound, but little support exists for those with invisible wounds such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

Hillary Scott, Dave Haywood and Charles Kelley are all accomplished musicians in their own right, but taken together, they form the country-music mega-group Lady Antebellum. It's been been a relatively quick trip up the charts for the trio, whose ubiquitous single "Need You Now" was certified five times platinum. Now, Lady Antebellum is set to release its third studio album in as many years, Own The Night.

Nobody likes ticks. Well, maybe some scientists who study them do. But civilians and people concerned with public health really are not fans.

Republican Now Leads In Race To Replace Weiner

Sep 9, 2011

It's been more than two months since former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner resigned in disgrace after sending lewd messages on the internet and then lying about it. But now the race to fill his seat in Queens and Brooklyn is causing more headaches for Democrats.

With just days to go before a special election, a Siena College poll taken this week showed the Republican candidate with a six-point advantage in a heavily Democratic district.

Fresh Eurozone Worries Send Markets Tumbling

Sep 9, 2011

The situation in Europe has the markets worried today. At one point, the Dow Jones was down 353 points, while the Standard & Poor's shed 3 percent and the Nasdaq wasn't far behind with a 2.9 percent loss.

If you thought that the nation's electrical grid was designed to prevent a single, localized malfunction from triggering a blackout for millions of people, you'd be right.

But that didn't prevent that exact event from happening Thursday in San Diego, parts of Arizona, and Mexico's Baja peninsula. Phoenix-based Arizona Public Service Co. said the blackout started when a piece of monitoring equipment was removed at a substation in Yuma, along the border with Mexico.

Ten years ago Friday, a team of al-Qaida agents carried out an assassination that was the first step in their plan leading to the Sept. 11 attacks. In the north of Afghanistan, suicide bombers posing as journalists killed Ahmad Shah Massoud, the most famous leader of Afghan resistance against Taliban rule.

Today, posters of Massoud still adorn shops around northern Afghanistan, and admirers held a huge commemoration of him Friday near his home.

But 10 years after his death, Massoud's legacy has been overshadowed by a grueling war that grinds on with no end in sight.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has fought hard to repeal a law in her state that gives undocumented immigrants driver's licenses. But in an interview with KLUZ-TV, the Univision affiliate in Albuquerque, the Republican governor said her paternal grandparents came into the country illegally.

In the interview, she said her grandmother died when her father was about 1, but she knows they "arrived without documents."

Economists have been looking over the $447 billion job-creation package President Obama proposed to Congress Thursday night. Predictably, the reaction was mixed, with most economists giving it a thumbs up, and many conservatives turning thumbs down.

Here are a few of the economists' opinions that were blogged, tweeted, reported or emailed around.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission handed down a long awaited decision today that allows the Obama administration to continue its plans to close Yucca Mountain, the nuclear waste dump in Nevada.

The AP reports:

This morning The Guardian has a report about a 2004 incident concerning one of Moammar Gadhafi's most prominent children. Based on documents the paper found in Gadhafi's compound in Libya, The Guardian reports that in 2004, the United Kingdom offered Saif Al-Islam Gadhafi protection after the government uncovered an assassination plot.

The Guardian reports:

One of the creepier stories in recent weeks has been about feet found along the shores of Washington state and British Columbia. There have been 11 or so discovered since 2007 — usually in athletic shoes.

Jake Ellison at NPR member station KPLU set out to see if he could figure out what's going on, and starts his report with this attention-getting line:

"There are likely hundreds of dead human bodies in the waters of the Northwest at any given time."

One of the most unsettling truths facing President Obama and the nation is that there really was little precedent in modern history for the financial crisis that hit the globe in 2007 and continues.

As economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff note in "This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly," their examination of economic crises going back eight centuries:

There's a hoary bit of advice in journalism that still gets passed from old-school editors to newbies: "If your mother says she loves you, check it out."

So what about your doctor? The nonprofit investigative journalism outfit ProPublica has a tool you can use to see how much money your doctor has received from drug companies. ProPublica is kind enough to share it for all to use, so I've embedded it in this post. Have at it.

American Jobs Act Holds Promise?

Sep 9, 2011

President Obama presented his jobs plan to Congress Thursday evening. It proposes tax cuts to businesses that hire new employees, reforms to the unemployment insurance system and investments in schools and infrastructure. Host Michel Martin discusses the plan with National Urban League President Marc Morial and small business owner Andy Shallal.

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner on Friday defended President Obama's new jobs plan. In a Morning Edition interview, Geithner said that if passed, the plan unveiled Thursday night "would have a substantial, powerful effect on strengthening the economy." He said that tax cuts aimed at small businesses who hire new workers would boost employment quickly.

The $447 billion package of tax cuts, infrastructure spending and aid to states "is designed to make the economy stronger now and get more Americans back to work," Geithner told host Steve Inskeep.

The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, inflicted the single greatest loss of life ever suffered by a police department in U.S. history. The department wasn't the New York Police — it was the less well-known Port Authority Police Department. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey polices the bridges and tunnels around New York, and it also was in charge of security at the Twin Towers. It's a small, tight-knit department, and it lost 37 officers that day.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep with an update on a hot dog war.

Kraft Foods and Sara Lee settled dueling lawsuits. Kraft claims its Oscar Mayer hot dogs defeated Sara Lee's Ball Park Franks. Sara Lee claimed to be America's best franks. And each company sued the other for exaggeration. Now the companies have settled out of court. Each will drop its claim that the other's hot dog wasn't so great. This way they avoid the danger of the court ruling that they were both right.

It's been rumored for a few days, and now it's official: Eddie Murphy will host the Oscars in 2012, the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences announced today.

When I was a kid, I assumed that in the future things would get better and better until we were all driving flying cars and playing badminton with space aliens on top of 500-story buildings. Frankly, I kind of counted on this happening. But now I don't assume that we'll just keep going up anymore.

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