President Obama is feeling election-year pressure on the pending decision over the Keystone XL pipeline. Republicans say the Canadian project would provide the U.S. with oil and new jobs, but environmentalists want him to block it. They say Alberta's oil sands generate more greenhouse gases than other kinds of oil, and Americans must not become dependent on such a dirty source of energy. But it may already be too late to change that.
France's 35-hour work week has plenty of critics who say it has sapped the country of its competitiveness and is tying companies in knots. And to make their case, a leading example is the current state of overtime at French hospitals.
Along with five weeks of annual leave, French employees get time off if they work more than 35 hours in a week. At the Hopital Vaugirard, a public hospital in central Paris, employees have accumulated more than 2 million days off in the past decade.
Now that Tim Tebow is out of hearts and minds, and we can actually turn our attention to other things, let us go clear to the other side of the world. There, a short while ago, while preparing for the Australian Open, Serena Williams said: "I don't love tennis today, but ... I've actually never liked sports."
While her confession might have surprised some, I suspect that even more were irritated, actually angered, that an athlete — a great champion! — could utter such blasphemy.
There's a controversy brewing in India over an invitation extended to Booker Prize-winning novelist Salman Rushdie by the organizers of the Jaipur Literary Festival.
Rushdie, the author of Midnight's Children, angered Muslims with his 1988 novel Satanic Verses. The novel, which many Muslims say insults the Prophet Muhammad, led to Iran's Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini declaring a fatwa against Rushdie. The writer spent much of the next few years in hiding.
Mark told you earlier that Wikipedia is going black for 24 hours beginning at midnight tonight. While Wikipedia's reason for shutting down is to protest anti-piracy legislation making its way through the United States Congress, another interesting question is going to be what happens to all those web surfers seeking answers to can't-wait questions?
As the U.S. economy struggled to get back on its feet over the past few years, a lot of states found themselves contending with big budget deficits. They responded by firing workers, raising taxes and cutting spending. Now the fiscal picture for a lot of states is brightening a bit — but many still face enormous challenges.
Jerry Yang, Yahoo!'s co-founder, has resigned from the company's board of directors and every other position he held. Yang is leaving at a time when the Internet behemoth has struggled to remain relevant in an age of social media.
"The time has come for me to pursue other interests outside of Yahoo!," Yang said in a statement. In the same press release, Yang was praised by the chairman of the board and the CEO, who called him a visionary and an innovator.
Originally published on Tue January 17, 2012 3:48 pm
How badly do Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's opponents want him out of office? So badly they collected significantly more signatures than they needed to ensure a recall election for the governor. A lot more.
We're talking more than a million signatures, according to Wisconsin Democrats who, in order to meet the Tuesday deadline, were hauling boxes of documents to the state office responsible for reviewing them.
The International Telecommunication Union's Radiocommunication Assembly, otherwise known as the international authority that keeps close tabs on time, will debate a philosophical question this week: They will decide whether to eliminate the leap second and in doing so break its tie to astronomical time.
You could call Michael Brooks a supplement junkie. He pops exactly six pills a day, three times a day, not to mention powders and shakes and chews. "A multivitamin, vitamin C, omega-3s, alpha lipoic acid," he says. "I'm taking a digestive enzyme."
Brooks is a personal trainer in Birmingham, Ala. He's healthy and fit, but he almost obsessively wants to know more, which is why we find him here, a few doors down from a sandwich shop and a nail salon, at a storefront lab called Any Lab Test Now.
This used to be a busy time of year for Shara'a Simsim, the Palestinian version of Sesame Street.
Producers and educators would be choosing the "words of the day" for the upcoming season. Writers would be brainstorming ideas around a large conference table. Project director Laila Sayegh says everyone would be working long days.
"From the morning, like 8 until 6 o'clock in the evening. And now as you can see, it's empty. We have nothing," she says.
Every year, thousands of video-game fans flock to the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area for a unique music festival called MAGFest. It's short for "Music and Gaming Festival," and it's designed to celebrate the music of video games.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to hear a trio of cases involving free speech and religion.
In the first set of cases, the court declined to address the burgeoning legal debate over what powers school officials have to censor students who are at home, working on their personal computers, when they create parodies or personal attacks involving school officials or fellow students.
The employees of Morgan Stanley, owner of the world's biggest brokerage, will receive a maximum cash bonus of $125,000, this year. As The New York Times puts it, the cap reflects "the difficulties that new financial regulations and the debt turmoil in Europe have posed to Morgan Stanley and its rival firms."
And with tongue firmly in cheek, it also notes that the bankers "may want to put their kitchen renovations off until next year."
Originally published on Tue January 17, 2012 1:25 pm
There were hints that all was not well in Paula Deen's Southern-fried world. Last November, when NPR correspondent Allison Aubrey asked Deen if she'd ever do healthier versions of her greasy, sugar-laden fare, Deen said: "As I age, and get older and I get 'different things' that I have to battle physically — it may, you know, resonate closer to home for me."
The voice mail and computer hacking and police bribery scandal that has roiled the British newspaper industry has also led to calls for government regulation of the press in one of the world's greatest democracies.
Some newspaper executives, such as Paul Dacre, editor of the Daily Mail and editor-in-chief of the Mail on Sunday, are attempting to draw the line.
Originally published on Tue January 17, 2012 12:03 pm
Investigators are now saying arson was not the likely cause of a fire that on Monday destroyed a cypress tree in Central Florida that was an estimated 3,500 years old — making it perhaps the oldest such tree in the nation and one of the oldest in the world.
Known as "The Senator," the tree that once stood 165 feet tall (before a hurricane lopped off about 45 feet in 1925) was more likely brought down by a fire that had been smoldering inside it — without being detected — since a lightning strike about a week ago, investigators say.
The Los Angeles City Council is poised to approve a measure today that would require adult film stars to wear condoms when making films. The AP reports that last week, the council voted 11-1 for preliminary approval.
The new requirement is controversial in the porn industry. NPR's Alex Cohen explored the issue back in 2010. Essentially, the industry claims condoms hurt sales and their method of testing actors every 30 days is effective.
The nation's obesity epidemic appears to have hit a plateau, according to the latest federal data released Tuesday.
Obesity soared in the U.S. during the 1980s and 1990s, doubling among adults and tripling among children. That raised widespread alarm and debate about the causes and possible solutions. Obesity can increase the risk for diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other serious health problems.
"I don't object to foreigners expressing their opinion," Harper told the CBC. "But I don't want them to be able to hijack the process so that we don't make a decision that's timely or in the interests of Canadians."
If patients and doctors both have easy access to the notes the doctor takes during their office visits, will it change their behavior?
That's a question that an experiment called OpenNotes aims to answer by letting patients of more than 100 primary care doctors in three states see the notes online.
In December, researchers reported the results of surveys taken before the project started in 2010 in which patients and physicians were asked about their attitudes toward making such information available.