As the Supreme Court gets ready to hear a case involving the constitutionality of President Obama's health care overhaul, social scientists are asking a disturbing — and controversial — question: Do the intense feelings about the health care overhaul among ordinary Americans stem from their philosophical views about the appropriate role of government, or from their racial attitudes about the signature policy of the country's first black president?
The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Tuesday in two homicide cases testing whether it is unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment to sentence a 14-year-old to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
There are currently 79 of these juvenile killers who will die in prison. What's more, in many states, the penalty is mandatory, meaning neither judge nor jury is allowed to consider the youngster's age or background in meting out the sentence.
Now, one way governments raise money is by issuing bonds: you or your pension fund lend them the money, and they then pay a set amount of interest for a set amount of time, say 10 or 20 years. Well, Britain's finance minister, George Osborne, is reportedly ready to announce that the UK plans to issue a bond that only your great-grandchildren will be able to cash in. It matures in a hundred years.
Italy's next step in a crisis is at the top of NPR's business news.
Italian prime minister Mario Monti is trying to restructure the economy so his country has a better shot at paying its debts. Today, he sits down to negotiate with the country's powerful trade union leaders. Monti hopes to weaken legal protections that make it almost impossible to fire employees. He blames these rules for slow economic growth and high unemployment in Italy.
This morning, House Republicans unveiled a new budget plan on Capitol Hill. And like President Obama's budget document last month, the GOP's version is as much a political statement as an actual road map. NPR's Tamara Keith has that story.
TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: In some ways, this budget is a sequel. This time last year, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan unveiled a controversial budget document that passed the House with strong GOP support.
We're following up now on the fatal shooting of a black teenager by an Hispanic neighborhood watch leader. That shooting took place three weeks ago in the central Florida town of Sanford. So far, no charges have been filed against George Zimmerman, who says he was acting in self-defense when he shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. The African-American community is frustrated. And yesterday student protestors were out in Sanford demanding the shooter be arrested. Mark Simpson of member station WMFE in Orlando has this report.
Afghans say they're so inured to civilians killed in wars that they bury their dead and move on. That's not so easy for Muhammad Wazir. He lost his mother, his wife, a sister-in-law, a brother, a nephew, his four daughters and two of his sons in last week's mass shooting in two villages.
"My little boy, Habib Shah, is the only one left alive, and I love him very much," says Wazir.
Shell Oil plans to explore for petroleum off Alaska's north coast this summer. The native people of Alaska have a big stake in both oil revenue and environmental protection. That conflict has played out in recent trips by Inupiats to Washington, D.C., to argue their case.
When 21-year-old Kevin Smith decided he wanted to be a filmmaker, his sister gave him some advice: "Don't say you want to be a filmmaker; just be one." So he did. He made his first film, Clerks, on a shoestring, shooting at the convenience store where he worked.
One of the defining elements of the 2012 presidential campaign is money. Not that the candidates themselves have raised all that much; except for President Obama, they haven't. But two dozen wealthy Americans have put in at least $1 million each.
Mostly, they're a mix of Wall Street financiers and entrepreneurs. One of the biggest donors is Sheldon Adelson, a casino magnate who is worth about $25 billion.
Despite losses in Alabama and Mississippi, Mitt Romney lost little ground to Rick Santorum in the delegate chase last week — thanks primarily to wins in offshore territories, whose residents will not be allowed to vote for president come November.
Santorum had his best delegate week between his victory in the Kansas caucuses March 10 and his wins in the Deep South on March 13. The week ended Sunday with a primary in Puerto Rico.
In nine contests between March 10 and March 18, Santorum picked up 73 delegates, while Romney won 69.
The U.S. Treasury said today that it had made $25 billion from the sale of mortgage-backed securities it bought back during the financial crisis. The Treasury said the sale was part of its effort to wind down the bailout programs.
Most Americans have little difficulty practicing their religion. But for Native Americans, performing traditional religious ceremonies isn't always so simple. Many rites often involve heavy regulation by federal authorities — especially when it comes to using sacred items like eagle feathers.
What makes people creative? What gives some of us the ability to create work that captivates the eyes, minds and hearts of others? Jonah Lehrer, a writer specializing in neuroscience, addresses that question in his new book, Imagine: How Creativity Works.
Lehrer defines creativity broadly, considering everything from the invention of masking tape to breakthroughs in mathematics; from memorable ad campaigns to Shakespearean tragedies. He finds that the conditions that favor creativity — our brains, our times, our buildings, our cities — are equally broad.
Originally published on Mon March 19, 2012 4:35 pm
Police didn't arrest George Zimmerman. They didn't arrest him after he got off his car, shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was unarmed and on his way back from the store after buying some snacks. They didn't arrest him after 9-11 calls emerged in which police advise Zimmerman, who was on Neighborhood Watch patrol, not to follow Martin.
The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Monday in a case testing whether children conceived through in vitro fertilization after the death of a parent are eligible for Social Security survivors benefits.
The case before the court began in 2001 when Robert Capato was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. Before beginning treatments, he deposited sperm at a fertility clinic, and after he died, his wife, Karen, carried out the couple's plan to conceive using Robert's sperm.
The Supreme Court takes up the Affordable Care Act next week, and NPR will be exploring the questions surrounding health care in America beforehand. Many of the publicly debated issues in the act hinge on money. How much is spent on our health? Who spends it? How?
Some know how much we pay for our own medical care, but many aren't aware of how immense an industry health care is in the U.S. Our trips to the doctor employ a lot of people, and our schools play an important role in preparing those people to take care of us.
At the end of 2011, Apple had a very enviable problem. It's not too many companies that have more cash than they know what to do with, and for the electronics giant, that amounted to nearly $100 billion burning a hole in its pocket.
So it certainly pleased current and potential investors when Apple announced that, for the first time since the mid-1990s, the company will start paying a dividend.
There are some 7,000 spoken languages in the world, and linguists project that as many as half may disappear by the end of the century. That works out to one language going extinct about every two weeks. Now, digital technology is coming to the rescue of some of those ancient tongues.
Members of the Native American Siletz tribe in Oregon say their native language, also called "Siletz," "is as old as time itself." But today, you can count the number of fluent speakers on one hand. Siletz Tribal Council Vice Chairman Bud Lane is one of them.
The U.S. spent $2.6 trillion on health care in 2010 — more than the entire economy of France or Britain. But the amount spent and how it's used varies from state to state.
And no two states are more different than Texas and Massachusetts. At 25 percent, Texas has the highest rate of uninsured people in the nation. Massachusetts, where a 2006 law made coverage mandatory, has the lowest rate — fewer than 2 percent of people are uninsured.
When Michael Weber gave up animal products in 2003, the packaged food industry didn't have much to sell him.
"That early vegan food was either really hippy-ish or really processed," Weber tells The Salt. "It wasn't that high quality."
Nowadays, a stroll through a grocery store might just lead you to a freezer or cooler jammed with dozens of flavors of veggie burgers, meatless buffalo wings, dairy-free cheese and ice cream, and maple bacon tempeh.
Children who are exposed to methamphetamine before birth can have behavior problems as young as age 3, a new study finds. But those problems are manageable, the researchers say, especially if the children and their parents get help early on.
"These kids are not cracked and broken," says Linda LaGasse, an associate professor of pediatrics and Brown University Medical School, and lead author of the study. "But they do have problems that are worthy of note."
From its start in the late '90s, Zieti faced tough odds. Arranging gigs in Abidjan, Ivory Coast was a high-risk, do-it-yourself affair for the band. And that was before the country underwent a military coup, a rigged election and a brush with civil war. Zemelewa was recorded by 15 musicians in four studios on two continents. For all that, you can sense the band's solidarity, as if merely making this record was an act of resistance.