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How Well Do Hate Crime Laws Really Work?

Jun 28, 2015

Federal officials are investigating last week's Charleston, S.C. church shooting as a hate crime, and the U.S. Justice Department could weigh in in the coming weeks with a federal hate crimes charge.

On the final day of the Supreme Court's term on Monday, they will issue a ruling that could affect as many as one-third of congressional districts — possibly dramatically remaking the partisan makeup of the next Congress ahead of the 2016 elections.

Jeremy Smith has written a new book called Epic Measures: One Doctor. Seven Billion Patients. It profiles the work of Christopher Murray, a Harvard-trained doctor and health economist who looked at a lot of numbers about how people live and die around the world and found that it's all a guess.

Nearly 500 people were injured at a water park in Taiwan after an explosion at a music event caused a fire to break out Saturday night.

The fire started during an evening rap performance in New Taipei City, NPR's Frank Langfitt, reporting from Shanghai, tells our Newscast unit. The accident at Formosa Fun Coast was caught on cellphone video.

"At one point, green powder shot out from the stage over the audience," Frank says. "The powder quickly ignited, enveloping fans. Some people staggered around on fire, while others collapsed to the ground."

Before you prosecute thieves, you have to know what they stole. It's the same for crimes against nature.

The world's only lab dedicated solely to wildlife forensics is in southern Oregon. The lab usually specializes in endangered animal cases, but armed with a high-tech device, it's now helping track shipments of contraband wood.

Greg Demetri hit the jackpot. When he picked the location for Villa Toscana, his nearly one-year-old Italian restaurant on the main stretch of businesses in Central, S.C., he had no idea that the building had once been owned by the town's most famous resident, Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Graham, a South Carolina native who announced recently that he would seek the Republican party's nomination for president, first lived in a room behind his family's business, the Sanitary Café — a bar and pool hall on Main Street — before moving into the house that now holds Demetri's restaurant.

In the early 20th century, the Cherry Sisters — a family of performers from Marion, Iowa — were like a meme.

Simply invoking the name — the Cherry Sisters — was shorthand for anything awful. As Anthony Slide wrote in the Encyclopedia of Vaudeville, the onstage siblings became "synonymous with any act devoid of talent."

It took artist Katherine Craig about a year to create her nine-story mural on 2937 E. Grand Blvd. in Detroit. Most people who drive around the city have seen it — one side of the Albert Kahn-designed building is covered in a blanket of electric blue, and a flowing waterfall of multicolored paint splatters descend from the roof line. It stands in stark contrast to the rest of the landscape of low buildings and muted Midwestern colors.

It's called "The Illuminated Mural" and it's become emblematic of Detroit's North End neighborhood.

More than 80 Americans have been taken hostage abroad since Sept. 11, 2001. Currently, 30 Americans are being held around the world.

Until this week, the families of those hostages would have faced the threat of prosecution from the U.S. government for trying to pay a ransom to kidnappers.

Step aside, Peter Parker: There's a new Spider-Man joining the Marvel Universe.

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California is on the brink of passing a law that would require nearly all children to be vaccinated in order to attend school. The bill has cleared most major hurdles, but public health officials have grappled with a strong, vocal opposition along the way.

There's actually a long history to the anti-vaccination movement.

The Supreme Court decision Friday that upheld the right of same-sex couples to marry was one for the history books. Obergefell v. Hodges was exalted by gay rights groups and their supporters, and condemned by those who believe that marriage should be reserved for one man and one woman.

Opponents of same-sex marriage say that the fight is far from over.

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Police in France are questioning a suspect they believe was responsible for an explosion and the beheading of a man at a factory near Lyon on Friday. Officials reportedly say he took a "selfie" with the slain victim — his boss at the plant — and sent it to an unidentified Canadian mobile phone number.

A day after Richard Matt, one of two escaped inmates from a prison in upstate New York was shot and killed by police, a weeks-long manhunt, which has yet to track down accomplice David Sweat, has gone into overdrive. Helicopters, search dogs and hundreds of officers are scouring an area about 30 miles away from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora.

Kurdish forces have retaken the key border town of Kobani from militants with the self-declared Islamic State, the second time the Islamist extremists have been ousted from the region this year, according to a British-based monitoring group.

Farther east, ISIS fighters had also attacked the government-held Syrian city of Hasaka.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which keeps close tabs on the situation on the ground, says that ISIS fighters, who are said to have captured the town mere days ago, have been forced to withdraw.

Updated at 3:05 p.m. ET

Across Greece, people lined up outside banks and at ATMs to withdraw euros today after their prime minister called for a surprise referendum on a proposed international bailout for the troubled country — a move that has pushed Athens to the brink of default and an exit from the eurozone.

Updated at 1:05 p.m. ET

The man who opened fire on tourists at a Tunisian beach resort, killing 39 and wounding 36 others, has been identified by the country's prime minister as a 23-year-old aviation student studying at the nearby University of Kairouan.

From 1891 until 1990, just shy of a century, Phoenix Indian School boarded students from Navajo, Apache and other tribes across the Southwest.

Patty Talahongva is a Hopi who went to Phoenix Indian until 1979. By then, attendance was voluntary. That wasn't the case for generations of students before her.

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Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

And now it's time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Imagine you're on a tropical island in the Caribbean. There are coconut trees, rocky cliffs, blue-green waters. But now, imagine there are hundreds of monkeys on this island. And, these monkeys have a disease that could kill you, if you're not careful. What you're picturing is a real-life island off the coast of Puerto Rico.

The island of Cayo Santiago hosts the oldest research center in the world for wild primates. Scientists from all over the world come to the island to study questions of primate behavior, cognition and ecology.

The Confederate stars and bars have been taken down from flagpoles and store shelves all over the country this week. Calls for their removal follow the June 17 shooting of nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C.

Updated at 4:35 p.m. ET

An African-American activist scaled the 30-foot flag pole in front of the South Carolina Statehouse early this morning and removed the Confederate battle flag that flies there.

Grace Lee Boggs, who has spent much of her life advocating for civil rights and labor rights, became such a noted figure in Detroit's Black Power movement that people assumed she must be partially black. In some of her FBI files, Boggs, who is Chinese-American, was described as "probably Afro Chinese."

(We'll let that sit with you for a moment.)

And that's not the only assumption she's defied. For almost a century — she turned 100 Saturday — she's challenged how people think about their own activism.

As a newcomer in the United States, I have made many cultural gaffes. Some were not such a big deal, some were mildly embarrassing and some were, well, quite painful.

When I first started working in the U.S., I followed my boss into the restroom one day. There were five urinals and all of them were free. He went to the one at the far end. I wondered why he didn't go to the one that was closest to him. I chose the urinal right next to him. Standing beside him, I said, "It's a nice day today, isn't it?"

He didn't respond.

"Nice day, isn't it?" I repeated.

A boy, a goat and a lion.

Those are the stars of an award-winning photo called Friendship.

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