Ron Briggs, a member of the Board of Supervisors in El Dorado County, Calif., and his father helped expand the state's death penalty in 1978. Now Briggs wants the death penalty repealed and replaced with life without parole. Renee Montagne speaks with Briggs about his shift from death penalty supporter to death penalty opponent.
Let's take a look at alternative energy now. There's growing interest and investment in the process of extracting oil from algae and turning it into fuel for vehicles and airplanes. It requires a lot of water, nutrients and land. And a new report from the National Research Council says that will make it challenging to turn algae into a sustainable source of energy.
Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep. Donald Trump returned to the headlines, offering $5 million if President Obama would release college and passport records. Jay Leno brought this up when the president appeared on "The Tonight Show."
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE TONIGHT SHOW")
JAY LENO: What's this thing with Trump and you? I don't - it's like me and Letterman. What has he got against you?
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This all dates back to when we were growing up together in Kenya.
Concerns about problems at the polls appear to be greater and coming earlier than usual this election year. Already, mysterious phone calls in Florida and Virginia have told voters they can vote by phone — which they cannot do.
And until this week, there were anonymous billboards in Ohio and Wisconsin warning that voter fraud is a felony — which it is.
There are more ways than ever to watch TV programs on the Internet, from Netflix and Amazon to Hulu. But many viewers discover that watching TV on the Web can be frustrating. Their favorite show might suddenly stop, stutter and be replaced by a note that reads "buffering." The problem is lack of bandwidth: The data that is the video just can't squeeze through the wires and onto the screen.
Tanzania has been identified as the leading exporter of illegal ivory in recent years. An estimated 10,000 elephants are being slaughtered in the country annually. Here, elephants walk in the Serengeti National Reserve in northern Tanzania in 2010.
Credit Tony Karumba / AFP/Getty Images
Wildlife rangers in Tanzania came across this elephant that had been killed for its ivory. Tanzania says it wants to prevent the slaughter of elephants, but rangers are poorly paid and are responsible for monitoring vast game reserves in the East African country.
Gone from this year's presidential campaign are most mentions of climate change, environmental pollution, or green jobs. Former Gov. Mitt Romney, the GOP presidential nominee, prefers to call attention instead to the country's continuing dependence on foreign energy sources.
"I will set a national goal of North American energy independence by the year 2020," Romney declared in August.
The line is now a standard part of Romney's stump speech, and he repeated it in his first two debates with President Obama.
On Thursday, July 29, 1880, Doyle wrote, "Came across a most extraordinary natural snow house, about 12 feet high, shaped like a beehive with a door and a fine room inside in which I sat. Traveled a considerable distance, and would have gone to the Pole, but my matches ran short and I couldn't get a smoke."
Credit Courtesy of University of Chicago Press
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a Scottish physician and writer best known for penning stories about the detective Sherlock Holmes.
Credit Courtesy of University of Chicago Press
On Tuesday, April 13, 1880, Doyle wrote, "Boiled Beef day again (Tuesday — Teugh-day — Tough-day — Boiled Beef day). The worst dinner in the week except Friday."
On June 15, 1880, Arthur Conan Doyle wrote a vivid sentence in his diary. It read, "The only difference in the weather is that the fog is thicker and the wind more utterly odious and depraved."
Knowing that he was the creator of Sherlock Holmes, you might think Doyle is referring to the thick London fog drifting outside the windows of 221B Baker Street. But this sentence was written years before the first Holmes novel and it describes a considerably harsher environment — the thick fog and depraved wind of the Arctic, where Doyle traveled when he was 20.
With 13 days left until the Nov. 6 election, President Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, both included trips to Iowa and Nevada on their schedules. Each tried to fire up his supporters and cast doubts about the other to gain an advantage in a race that appears essentially tied.
At rallies in Davenport, Iowa, and Denver, both swing states where the election is fluid, Obama trotted out attack lines he's used in recent days against the former Massachusetts governor.
The top federal prosecutor in Manhattan filed a lawsuit today that alleges Bank of America Corp. cost American taxpayers more than $1 billion when it sold toxic mortgages — originally issued by Countrywide Financial — to the government controlled Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
NPR's Margot Adler explains it like this to our Newscast unit:
"U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara described the conduct of Countrywide as 'spectacularly brazen in scope.'
Originally published on Wed October 24, 2012 4:06 pm
We almost brought you news today about a study that appeared to raise some troubling questions about aspartame, the popular sugar substitute found in many common foods like diet soda. Note the key word — almost.
A study due to be published at 3 p.m. Wednesday in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and released to reporters earlier in the week under embargo found some correlation between drinking diet soda and an increased risk of leukemia and Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, as well as a few other rare blood-related cancers.
There is a remarkable change going on in Mogadishu, Somalia — often dubbed the world's most dangerous city. For starters, it may not deserve that title anymore.
Last year, African Union forces drove the Islamist militant group al-Shabab out of Mogadishu. Now, Somalia has a new president and prime minister who have replaced the corrupt and unpopular transitional government.
Hope is edging aside despair, and Mogadishu is coming back to life.
In Detroit, Tigers fans are preparing for the return of their beloved team to the grand stage of the World Series. In a city largely known for hard times these days, the World Series means far more than just a chance at a championship.
Facing high unemployment and crime rates and teetering on the edge of financial collapse, Detroit needs something to celebrate. Maybe something along the lines of the celebration that broke out after the Tigers won the World Series again in 1968.
Marijuana legalization is back on the ballot this year. California voters defeated a legalization proposal in 2010, but now similar measures have cropped up in three more Western states. This time around, some of the most intense opposition is coming from the earlier pioneers of legalization — the medical marijuana industry.
A school of manini fish passes over a coral reef at Hanauma Bay in 2005, in Honolulu. Researchers say schooling behavior like the kind seen in fish helps groups of animals make better decisions than any one member of the group could.
Credit Donald Miralle / Getty Images
A large flock of starlings flies over a park at sunset in Algiers, Algeria, in 2006. Millions of birds migrate every year, arriving from Europe and crossing into Africa.
As part of NPR's coverage of this year's presidential election, All Things Considered asked three science reporters to weigh in on the race. The result is a three-part series on the science of leadership. In Part 1, Alix Spiegel looked at the personalities of American presidents.
Voters could learn some things about choosing a leader from a fish. Or a chimp. Or an elephant.
Food appears so often and takes on so much importance in Jami Attenberg's novel The Middlesteins, that while reading it I sometimes felt like I was on a kind of literary cruise ship. But excess isn't presented here wantonly; instead, it's laid out and explored with sympathy, thought and depth. Early on, the parents of the main character think, "Food was made of love, and was what made love, and they could never deny themselves a bite of anything they desired." And so the novel takes off from the evocative starting point known as appetite.
Rep. David Rivera, R-Fla., was charged Wednesday by Florida authorities with alleged ethics violations while he was in the state Legislature, perhaps imperiling his bid for re-election to the House in an already tight contest.
Originally published on Thu October 25, 2012 8:47 am
The Texas attorney general is warning international election observers not to mess with Texas.
"Your opinion is legally irrelevant in the United States, where the Supreme Court has already determined that Voter ID laws are constitutional," Greg Abbott wrote in a letter sent to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, which monitors elections across the world.
Geneticist reported Wednesday that they had crossed a threshold long considered off-limits: They have made changes in human DNA that can be passed down from one generation to the next.
The researchers at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland say they took the step to try to prevent women from giving birth to babies with genetic diseases. But the research is raising a host of ethical, social and moral questions.