Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep. We have no evidence this is a mass movement, but at least one person seems to have a reason to urge Israel's prime minister to delay an attack on Iran. Israeli officials have been speculating out loud about a strike. Now a Facebook page is pushing for the war to wait, at least long enough to keep from disrupting a concert by Madonna in Tel Aviv. The page is called No War with Iran until After Madonna's Performance on May 29. You're listening to MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm Steve Inskeep.
Here's a sign of just how huge the housing and foreclosure crisis has been. Five big banks agreed to pay about $25 billion to people who've been harmed bank's abuses, plus an extra billion to settle a claim involving a mortgage company. And one of the first reactions is that all that money could not possibly be enough.
President Obama says the banks will spread the money around.
Overall economic numbers for this year have been looking better, but almost every forecast for 2012 has included at least a mention that catastrophe could still come from Europe. The crisis over Greece's debt is not over, even after yesterday when lawmakers approved more budget cuts and economic reforms. Now Greek unions are protesting again.
Resolving this crisis has taken years, and there's a reason: a debt crisis has never really been solved this way before. Here's Zoe Chace of NPR's Planet Money team.
To people who visit the idyllic tourist destination of the Maldives, politics can seem far away. But this week, the country's President Mohamed Nasheed stepped down after weeks of demonstrations. He was forced to resign by elements within the police and army. Here's how he described the situation to Al Jazeera.
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PRESIDENT MOHAMED NASHEED: This is a coup. It definitely is, if you find any definition of a coup anywhere. I did not want to defend. That is why there was no blood.
NPR's business news starts with social networking profits.
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INSKEEP: You can get attention on the Internet. You can even draw a massive crowd in seconds. The question always is how to make money. Investors have been scrutinizing Facebook's plans to go public and trying to figure out the company's prospects.
The company will instead focus on home photo printers, high-speed commercial ink jet presses and software. Other companies may license the Kodak brand for cameras, and some disposables will still be out there.
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep.
Activists and human rights groups in Syria contend the government has now killed hundreds of civilians this week alone. It's hard to verify that number, but it is clear that mortars, rockets and tanks continue firing into the city of Homs. That gunfire has served as a week-long punctuation mark on the United Nation's failure to approve a resolution against Syria. NPR's Kelly McEvers is following the situation from Beirut. She joins us once again.
If George Lucas had never created that annoying, slapstick-prone CGI character in The Phantom Menace, history would be different. No amount of "meesa so sorry" can make up for this abomination. And to add insult to injury, Lucas is sending a 3D Jar Jar Binks into theaters on February 10th.
At the JS West egg farm, south of Modesto, Calif., one chicken house has the new, spacious cages that egg producers and animal welfare advocates say keep chickens happier.
Credit Big Dutchman
Gene Gregory (left), head of the United Egg Producers lobby, and Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society, visit Washington to lobby Congress for a law requiring larger cages for egg-laying chickens.
Credit John Rose / NPR
Pacelle and Gregory have different backgrounds and dietary preferences, but there seems to be genuine respect between them.
In 2002, state lawmakers in Massachusetts approved legislation requiring most employers to provide contraceptive coverage to their employees. One of the groups pushing for the law was the Coalition for Choice, led by Melissa Kogut (center).
Pascale Armand plays Jekesai, later christened as Ester, who's taken in by a black Catholic missionary when she flees an arranged marriage in 1890s Rhodesia.
Credit T. Charles Erickson / McCarter Theatre
Director Emily Mann says Gurira's three-dimensional characters illustrate the tension for those caught between Western civilization and traditional African culture.
Credit T. Carter Erickson / McCarter Theatre
Playwright and actress Danai Gurira has won several awards for her plays <em>Eclipsed</em> and<em> In the Continuum, </em>and has appeared in several stage and film productions, including 2007's <em>The Visitor</em>.
Steam rises from the cooling towers of nuclear reactors at Georgia Power's Plant Vogtle in Waynesboro, Ga. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved Southern Co.'s application to begin full construction of the nation's first new nuclear units since 1978 at Plant Vogtle.
The nuclear industry is celebrating the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission's decision to give the go-ahead for a utility company to build two new nuclear reactors in Georgia, the first license to be granted for a new reactor in the U.S. since 1978. But last year's accident at reactors in Fukushima, Japan, still clouds the future of nuclear power, as does the cost of new power plants.
Southern Co. will build the reactors at its Vogtle site in Georgia, where two older reactors already operate.
The conflict between the Catholic Bishops and the White House over contraceptive coverage has American Catholics choosing sides.
Catholics narrowly support the White House position in polls. There are potential political consequences: In presidential elections, Catholics are swing voters. They supported Al Gore in 2000, President George W. Bush in '04 and President Obama in '08.
The GOP presidential hopefuls are certainly using this issue. Framing it as a question of religious freedom is a guaranteed way to fire up the conservative base.
Originally published on Thu February 9, 2012 3:20 pm
The Republican presidential candidates won't argue their cases to thousands of conservatives gathered in Washington until Friday when Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are scheduled to speak.
(Ron Paul is skipping the event.)
But if Thursday's opening day of the American Conservative Union's annual star-studded Conservative Political Action Conference — CPAC — is any indication, they all have a lot of persuading to do.
A note to the Republican presidential candidates heading to Washington for the Conservative Political Action Conference: some of the events could make you uncomfortable if you're planning to tack to the center in your general election campaign.
Like most pop singers, Sharon Van Etten seems to love repetition — a technique used aggressively in ad jingles and Top 40 hits, but also in more hypnotic and emotionally complicated ways. Van Etten's new record, Tramp, is full of repeated riffs, drones and phonemes, and they're more intense and emotionally packed than ever. Songs like "Serpents" display her expansive voice and coiled songwriting, and are earning Van Etten a good deal of attention.
When it comes to counting GOP delegates this year, there seem to be as many different tallies as there have been primary contests. NPR launched its own delegate tracker this week. As we noted on Wednesday, it only counts delegates officially awarded by state or party rule.
GOP presidential candidates (from left) Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul place their hands over their hearts during the national anthem at the start of a debate in Florida last month.
Cutting taxes is part of the DNA of the modern Republican Party. All four of the remaining GOP candidates for president have proposed steep cuts in business and personal taxes, and it sometimes seems like Republicans are competing to show the most enthusiasm for tax cuts.
At a debate last month, former Sen. Rick Santorum said tax cuts were needed to get the economy thriving again — even if they benefit the wealthy.
In an effort to protest the working conditions in the Chinese factories that make Apple products, demonstrators delivered a petition to six different Apple stores in four different countries.
The petition, which asks the country to make "ethical" products, included about 250,000 signatures. Organizers said they were delivering them to Apple stores in Bangalore, London, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Sydney and New York City.
President Obama greets students after speaking at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich., on Jan 27. Young Republicans say they see an opportunity in 2012 to dent Obama's popularity among the youngest voters.
As the annual Conservative Political Action Conference began Thursday in the nation's capital, NPR's Michel Martin spoke to young Republicans who explained how they hope this year to change the dynamics from 2008, when young voters flocked to Barack Obama.
Washington may soon become the seventh state to legalize gay marriage. Lawmakers passed the bill Wednesday, and it has the governor's support.
Before it takes effect, though, it's likely to face a referendum challenge in November. Same-sex marriage will be on the ballot in a handful of states this year, and supporters have yet to win a statewide vote.
If there was a Julia Child of Japanese cooking — a witty and passionate interpreter of the cuisine — Elizabeth Andoh would fit the bill nicely.
As an exchange student back in the 1960s, Andoh came to Japan from New York to pursue anthropology. She fell in love, but not just with a local businessman. She is also devoted to parsing and explaining the finer points of Japanese cuisine to the rest of the world, as a writer for Gourmet, cookbook author and culinary teacher in suburban Tokyo.
In the 11 years since the Oscars introduced an award for Best Animated Feature, the category has been dominated by children's movies, often with computer-animated pandas, penguins and ogres at their center. This year's a little different. Two of the animated films are subtitled, and one is definitely aimed at adults: the Spanish film Chico and Rita, an animated love story steeped in jazz.
A bishop grasps his pectoral cross during the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore on Nov. 14, 2011.
Credit Kevin Lamarque / Reuters/Landov
In reaction to the recent contraceptive mandate, Bishop David Zubik of the Diocese of Pittsburgh <a href="http://www.npr.org/2012/02/02/146265425/u-s-catholic-bishops-take-stand-against-birth-control-rules">tells NPR's Barbara Bradley Hagerty</a>, "We can't comply and we won't comply. There's no way we can. It's a matter of conscience."
The Obama administration has drawn fierce criticism over a new rule requiring religiously affiliated charities, universities and hospitals to provide contraceptive coverage in their insurance plans. Now, that mandate has created a stalemate between American Catholic bishops and the White House that shows few signs of easing.
Originally published on Fri February 10, 2012 3:46 am
Everyone knows that when your kids get the flu, they stay home from school.
But what does it take to justify closing the school down entirely? That's a question we should probably answer before the next big pandemic hits.
At one point during the swine flu outbreak in 2009, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, "The potential benefits of preemptively dismissing students from school are often outweighed by negative consequences," such as disruption of classes and hassles for parents.