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2011 MacArthur 'Genius' Grants Announced

Sep 20, 2011

Radiolab co-host and producer Jad Abumrad is among this year's 22 recipients of "genius" grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Each MacArthur fellow receives $500,000 "to advance their expertise, engage in bold new work, or, if they wish, to change fields or alter the direction of their careers."

No Clemency For Troy Davis, Georgia Death Row Inmate

Sep 20, 2011

"The state Board of Pardons and Paroles ... has denied clemency for Troy Anthony Davis after hearing pleas for mercy from Davis' family and calls for his execution by surviving relatives of a murdered Savannah police officer," The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Now, the newspaper adds:

'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Fades Away, Media Say

Sep 20, 2011

There are plenty of stories to choose from about today's milestone for the U.S. military — the end of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that barred openly gay Americans from serving in the armed forces.

Our NPR.org colleague Liz Halloran focused on two men who were "immersed in efforts to repeal the controversial measure."

There's a new development in the story that turned the U.K.'s "hacking scandal" into front-page news:

"Milly Dowler's family have been made a £3m offer by Rupert Murdoch's News International in an attempt to settle the phone-hacking case that led to the closure of the News of the World and the resignation of the company's chief executive, Rebekah Brooks," The Guardian reports.

As President Obama and other world leaders gather in New York City for the opening of the United Nations General Assembly session, one of the hottest issues is President Mahmoud Abbas' request to make Palestine a member of the U.N.

He's making that push over "heated Israeli objections and a promised U.S. veto" in the Security Council, The Associated Press notes.

With Repeal Of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' An Era Ends

Sep 20, 2011

The law that for almost 18 years has banned openly gay Americans from serving in the armed forces will be officially repealed Tuesday, nine months after Congress voted to end the Clinton-era edict.

President Obama signed the repeal into law last December, but its provisions required time for the Pentagon to prepare for the policy change, and for top military officials to "certify" the law's end.

Gov. Perry Cut Funds For Women's Health In Texas

Sep 19, 2011

Texas Gov. Rick Perry likes to hold out the Lone Star State as a model — his vision for the country. But while Texas' growing economy has been a reliable jobs producer, the state's health care system is straining.

Only 48 percent of Texans have private health insurance, and more than a quarter of the state's population has no insurance at all, more than any other state. To fill this gap, the state's hospital emergency rooms and dozens of women's health clinics have stepped in to serve the uninsured across Texas.

Entrepreneurs Emerge As Cuba Loosens Control

Sep 19, 2011

Since Cuba's communist government loosened its grip on the economy, thousands of small private businesses have sprung up.

It's a new frontier for budding capitalists, but competition is fierce and advertising is still tightly restricted.

Snack bars and food stalls are now all over Havana, but there aren't many as distinctive as Tio Tito, or Uncle Tito. The first thing you notice is the uniformed employees, scrambling to serve up Hawaiian pizzas and fruit drinks as music videos play on a monitor behind the counter.

Two of this week's most talked-about TV premieres have very similar settings: Pan Am, first airing on Sunday, is about attractive young women working as Pan Am flight attendants in the 1960s. The Playboy Club, which premiered Monday night, is about — well, attractive young women working as Playboy bunnies in the 1960s. Both shows are trying to imitate the success of another show set in the '60s: Mad Men.

'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Is Done; What Now?

Sep 19, 2011

"Don't ask, don't tell" is over Tuesday.

The ban against gays serving openly in the military has been repealed. Starting Tuesday, gay service members cannot be discriminated against for their sexual identity. But the policy has affected the lives of thousands of people during the 18 years it was in place. NPR spoke with two of them: one who was discharged from the military under the law eight years ago; the other a gay Marine who has been keeping his sexual identity a secret for 14 years.

The Former Army Soldier

Eying Senate, Tommy Thompson Must Face New GOP

Sep 19, 2011

Former Wisconsin governor and Bush Cabinet secretary Tommy Thompson is laying the groundwork for a run at his state's open U.S. Senate seat. But as Thompson prepares for his return to politics, the one-time standard bearer for Wisconsin Republicans appears to be facing a conservative backlash.

Since Yemen's president Ali Abdullah Saleh left for Saudi Arabia to seek medical treatment after an assassination attempt in June, things had been relatively quiet in Yemen. Saleh remained in power, but there were talks about a transition.

Surely, it's not an extinction that will cause many tears: This afternoon Department of Transportation crews ripped out the last single-space parking meter in Manhattan. You know, the kind of meter that sits atop poll and takes quarters.

The New York Times paid its respects, yesterday, with a long obit:

Wherever he goes, GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry proudly waves the flag of conservatism, often introducing himself with, "I simply want to get America working again and make Washington, D.C., as inconsequential in your life as I can."

But the Texas governor, a favorite of conservatives overall, is taking criticism for being too moderate when it comes to immigration. The reason: In 2001, his first full year in office, he signed legislation that grants in-state tuition rates at Texas colleges and universities to some illegal immigrants.

Tax Winners And Losers Under Obama's Deficit Plan

Sep 19, 2011

If enacted, President Obama's deficit-reduction plan would increase tax revenues by about $1.5 trillion over the coming decade. The wealthiest taxpayers could see significantly higher taxes, but the vast majority of Americans would pay less, at least through 2012.

These are some of the groups that could see higher tax bills starting in 2013:

See, Mom? Playing online video games can pay off.

An online group of gamers has correctly deduced the structure of an enzyme that AIDS-like viruses use for reproduction. By playing the online-game Foldit, the group figured out the structure of an important viral protein that has baffled scientists for more than a decade.

Yankees closer Mariano Rivera earned his 602nd career save, today, making him the top closer in baseball history. In a drama-free, 1-2-3 inning, Rivera surpassed Trevor Hoffman as the new record holder for most saves.

ESPN reports:

Hank Williams III: Ghosts And Cattle Calls

Sep 19, 2011

Hank Williams III, also known as Hank 3, is the son of Hank Williams Jr., as well as the grandson of Hank Williams, considered to be one of the greatest country music performers of all time. Hank 3 got his start in music playing punk and metal, then went on to form bands with members of Pantera and The Jesus Lizard. Hank 3 made country albums, too, but had little use for mainstream Nashville's restrictive culture.

The United States Justice Department expressed concern Monday about whether new Texas redistricting plans for four U.S. House seats comply with the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which protects the interests of minority voters.

In a filing with a special three-judge court panel in Washington D.C., civil rights lawyers at Justice wrote that they doubted new boundaries for the House seats "maintain or increase the ability of minority voters to elect their candidate of choice."

Parents Fight Over Pledging Allegiance In Schools

Sep 19, 2011

Residents are waving the flag in Brookline, Mass., both for — and against — the Pledge of Allegiance.

Courts have ruled that public schools cannot compel students to recite the pledge, so in Brookline, as elsewhere, the pledge is voluntary.

But critics say there's still pressure on students to conform, and they want the pledge out of the classroom altogether.

A Concern About Peer Pressure

Pirate Party Wins Seats In Berlin Elections

Sep 19, 2011

Germany's state parliament now has representatives from a brand new political party that focuses heavily on Internet freedoms. The Pirate Party won 8.5 percent of the vote for the Berlin state parliament and ousted the Free Democrats, which is part of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition.

And who are the party members? Here's how Der Spiegel opens their story today:

"A painting considered beyond repair after being submerged in filthy floodwater when the Thames breached its banks in 1928 will be seen in something approaching its wild and lurid former glory on Tuesday when it goes on public display for the first time in a century," The Guardian writes.

President Obama's plan to cut the deficit doesn't exactly spare Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal health programs. But he also doesn't propose the sweeping sorts of changes envisioned by House Republicans earlier this year.

Andrew Wallenstein is an editor at Variety.

This is a big, big week for broadcast TV — 44 returning series are having their season premieres, and 14 new shows will launch in the span of seven days.

But does running premiere week that way still make sense for the TV business? Or does it just create a traffic jam on your television?

With Police Watching, Syrian Dissidents Meet

Sep 19, 2011

It was an unprecedented gathering in Syria: The security police were monitoring, but they did not break up, a six-hour meeting of more than 300 dissidents at a farmhouse outside the capital Damascus.

Syria's traditional dissidents, men and women who have spent years in jail, have met before. For the first time, they sat together Sunday with young street organizers of the current unrest.

Samir Aita, an opposition figure who lives in Paris, attended the gathering and talked about the significance when he reached Beirut.

Cherokee Nation Faces Scrutiny For Expelling Blacks

Sep 19, 2011

Every September, the Cherokee Nation celebrates its national holiday. The holiday marks the signing of its first constitution after the Trail of Tears in 1839. The main event, a big parade, features traditional Cherokee music, colorful floats and people singing and dancing in traditional garb.

The holiday draws tens of thousands of people to Tahlequah, Okla., the heart of the Cherokee Nation. But this year it was marked by controversy and protests.

Obama Releases Deficit Plan

Sep 19, 2011

Before heading to the United Nations meeting Monday afternoon, President Obama released his plan to get control of the federal deficit.

Feeling rushed at the doctor's office? No wonder, if you're there with an infant or toddler.

A third of parents say the last well-child visit with the doctor lasted 10 minutes or less. About half said the checkup lasted 11 to 20 minutes. That leaves about 20 percent who say the visit took longer than 20 minutes. The findings appear in the latest issue of Pediatrics.

Calif. Community Takes Action Against Sex Trafficking

Sep 19, 2011

In the San Antonio neighborhood in Oakland, Calif., sex trafficking has been a problem since several motels moved into the community decades ago attracting pimps.

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