The State Department is delaying a decision for at least a year on whether to approve the Keystone pipeline. The $7 billion pipeline would carry oil from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, through the U.S. to Gulf of Mexico refineries. Nebraska's state government and environmental groups have put intense pressure on the State Department and White House to reject the pipeline's proposed route. NPR's Richard Harris talks with Robert Siegel about the project.
After keeping a nervous world waiting for days, the squabbling politicians of debt-ridden Greece finally announced a new interim government Thursday. It will be headed by a former European Central banker, Lucas Papademos, whose main task will be to ensure that Greece meets the conditions set by its European partners to receive new loan money and avoid default. That means showing that Greece will enforce austerity measures.
It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel.
Maybe it's not so bad. That seemed to be the read of investors when they saw today's economic numbers. Better than expected news about unemployment stoked some optimism that the U. S. will avoid a double-dip recession. And stock market recovered a bit from yesterday's drop.
But the news is not as good in Europe, as NPR's Chris Arnold reports
Alan Cheuse reviews a new book from Ann Beattie. Mrs. Nixon tells the story of an author as she tackles the challenge of writing a biography of former first lady Pat Nixon. Cheuse teaches writing at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.
ROBERT SIEGEL, host: Fifteen years ago, Congress overwhelmingly approved the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA. It said, while each state could decide how to define marriage, the federal government would only recognize the legal union of a man and a woman.
Since then, more than 130,000 same-sex couples have legally married in the U.S. and today, a congressional committee passed the very first measure to repeal DOMA. NPR's David Welna reports.
For the first time in 50 years, Cubans can now buy and sell homes. Here, a Cuban woman stands on the balcony of a dilapidated building earlier this month in Havana.
Credit STR / AFP/Getty Images
Antonio Gonzalez repairs the facade of a house in Havana in May. The new law means many property owners are now updating long-neglected buildings. Well-kept single family homes in prime neighborhoods are listed at $100,000 or more.
The U.S. State Department is ordering the developer of a pipeline that would carry oil from western Canada to Texas to reroute it around environmentally sensitive areas of Nebraska.
That means possibly delaying a final U.S. decision until after the 2012 election.
The decision to order Calgary-based TransCanada Corp. to figure out a way around an area that supplies water to eight states will require an environmental review of the new section. That review probably would take at least a year.
Power plants that burn fossil fuels release carbon dioxide as well as a complex soup of chemicals, including nitrogen and sulfur. These chemicals in the air actually help keep global warming in check by reflecting sunlight back into space and by interacting with carbon dioxide. Above, the Bruce Mansfield Power Plant in Shippingport, Pa.
Cleaning up the air, while good for our lungs, could make global warming worse. That conclusion is underscored by a new study, which looks at the pollutants that go up smokestacks along with carbon dioxide.
These pollutants are called aerosols and they include soot as well as compounds of nitrogen and sulfur and other stuff into the air. Natalie Mahowald, a climate researcher at Cornell University, says so far, scientists have mostly tried to understand what those aerosols do while they're actually in the air.
Originally published on Thu November 10, 2011 12:42 pm
On Tuesday, Italy's Parliament cast a vote on a measure to approve the 2010 state finances. But it was no ordinary vote: It laid bare the fact that Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi had lost a majority. That vote would eventually lead to Berlusconi offering his resignation on Wednesday.
In all the news, we missed this interesting picture:
Wilson Ramos of the Washington Nationals appears to be the first Major League Baseball player to have fallen victim to what's become an alarming trend in Venezuela: the kidnapping and holding for ransom of the rich. He was grabbed Wednesday by gunmen and hasn't been seen since.
But he's not the first major leaguer to have been touched by the epidemic of kidnappings-for-ransom in Venezuela.
'Tis almost the season, and what would the holidays be without our favorite foods?
There are the traditional standbys — like turkey and cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving, or latkes for Hanukkah. But many people also have a specialdish they eat only during the holidays. For example, one NPR reader raves about lefse, which she says is a potato-based staple for any traditional Norwegian-American holiday dinner. It's "best served hot with butter. Or cold with butter and sugar. Butter is key," she writes.
Soul food has become the comfort food for a lot of Americans – not just the African-Americans whose ancestors invented it.
Now, food educators are looking closely at soul food's culinary roots for inspiration on how to eat healthfully today.
A group of culinary historians, nutritionists and health experts have put together the Oldways African Heritage Diet Pyramid, a new model for healthful eating designed specifically for African-Americans and descendants of Africans everywhere.
Originally published on Thu November 10, 2011 2:12 pm
The Nixon Library and National Archives have released a trove of documents (.pdf and a big file) relating to former President Richard Nixon's grand jury testimony. The testimony, taken after Nixon resigned, was the first by a president. Nixon was interviewed at his California home on June 23 and 24, 1975, after he had been pardoned by President Gerald Ford. The release of documents was ordered by a federal judge back in July.
Originally published on Thu November 10, 2011 9:48 pm
With so much attention being given to the firing of football coach Joe Paterno and school President Graham Spanier, as well the long-term impact on the school from the sexual abuse scandal that came to light at Penn State this week, there's a danger of the alleged victims being forgotten.
Add minimally invasive surgery through an opening between the cheek and jaw to the list of procedures I'm happy exist and that I hope I'll never have to endure.
A Johns Hopkins surgeon who is pretty handy with an endoscope has figured out how to operate in some hard-to-reach spots at the base of the skull through a natural opening that's above the jawbone, behind the back teeth and just below the cheekbone.
It requires a small incision inside the cheek, sure, but that's no biggie, really.
It didn't take before the Obama administration backed down on a plan to tax Christmas trees this holiday season. Shortly after the USDA announced it had approved a 15-cent per tree fee, there was an uproar.
Disgraced American cyclist Floyd Landis, who was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title, today was convicted in absentia by a French court "for his role in hacking into the computers of a French doping lab," The Associated Press reports. Landis was given a suspended sentence of 12 months.
Those taking samples can attach either a camping pump or a small electric vacuum to the top to help collect the sample.
Credit Natasha Soto / The Clean Air Coalition of Western NY
Using a bucket, a hose and pump, and a plastic bag, air samples are collected. The finished contraption can test for more than 70 gases and 20 sulfur compounds. The sample can then be sent to a state or independent laboratory for evaluation.
Credit Natasha Soto / The Clean Air Coalition of Western NY
Jeani Thomson has been pleading with New York state officials for more than 30 years to protect her neighborhood from the foul-smelling "blue fog" that settles in her yard. She has long suspected the source is an industrial facility about a mile from her house called Tonawanda Coke.
James Murduch, the son of Rupert Murdoch and his deputy CEO at News Corp., was defiant in his second appearance before British Parliament. Murdoch, whose company has been under fire after it was accused of hacking into the phones of royalty and victims of crime, said he did not know the extent of the illegal activity undertaken at his publications.
After NPR and Kaiser Health News reported yesterday on Wal-Mart's plans to become a big provider of primary care in the U.S., the retailer said its document that served as an invitation to partners for the effort was "overwritten and incorrect."
Alabama's Jefferson County has filed for what is the biggest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. The county commission voted 4-1 in favor of seeking bankruptcy protection on Wednesday after a debt-restructuring deal fell apart.
As The Birmingham News reports the history of the more than $4 billion in debt spans a decade and mostly involves a failed sewer construction deal fraught with corruption. Jefferson County is home to Birmingham, Alabama's largest city.
Originally published on Thu November 10, 2011 2:27 pm
Texas Gov. Rick Perry was doing his best Thursday to limit the damage after he drew a blank at Wednesday's GOP candidate debate on his own plan to reduce the size of government.
Discussing the proposal, Perry said he would eliminate three federal agencies, but then could not name them all, despite being pressed by the moderator.
"Commerce, Education and the — what's the third one there? Let's see," the Texas governor said. Rival candidate Ron Paul suggested it might be the Environmental Protection Agency. "EPA, there you go," Perry responded — incorrectly.
Justice Department lawyers prosecuting a former CIA agent for leaking classified information allegedly lagged in turning over evidence that would help the intelligence operative with his defense, causing the judge to bar a pair of government witnesses from testifying.
Lucas Papademos was named prime minister of the new Greek interim government Thursday. His main task will be to implement the multibillion-dollar bailout that Eurozone leaders agreed to last month. But can he convince Greeks to swallow the austerity measures they hate? Steve Inskeep talks to reporter Joanna Kakissis, who is in Athens.
Originally published on Thu November 10, 2011 2:30 pm
Lucas Papademos, a former vice president at the European Central Bank, was named Greece's new prime minister. George Papandreou, the former prime minister, was pressured to resign earlier this week amid an all-out European Union crisis.
In a statement, the country's president said Papademos' chief role will be to ensure swift passage of the terms of the European Union bailout.
Had Wednesday's first nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System been a real alert, some may have been left in the dark. Instead of that irritating tone interrupting television and radio programming, some TV viewers heard Lady Gaga singing "Paparazzi." Others had their programming switched to QVC, a home shopping channel.