President Obama has a new phrase he's been using a lot lately: "I've got a pen, and I've got a phone."
He's talking about the tools a president can use if Congress isn't giving him what he wants: executive actions and calling people together. It's another avenue the president is using to pursue his economic agenda.
Let's talk more about changes to the National Security Agency that President Obama is announcing as we speak at the Justice Department. And we're joined in our studio by Tamara Keith and Tom Gjelten. And let's just begin.
Tom, you told us earlier today that technology companies wanted greater transparency. They want the public to know more about what the NSA is doing. What is the president proposing today?
In 1895, legislators in New York state decided to improve working conditions in what at the time could be a deadly profession: baking bread.
"Bakeries are actually extremely dangerous places to work," says Eric Rauchway, a historian at the University of California, Davis. "Because flour is such a fine particulate, if it gets to hang in the air it can catch fire and the whole room can go up in a sheet of flame."
American kids have a problem with obesity, according to the most recent studies. In fact, the closest thing we have to good news about childhood obesity is that kids are not gaining weight as rapidly as they were some years ago.
Researchers may have identified one surprising new factor in why kids are overeating.
Clayton Sherrod was just 19 in 1964, when he became the executive chef at an all-white club in Birmingham, Ala. Sherrod, who is African-American, had started working in the kitchen there when he was 13, after his father had a heart attack.
"My mother said, 'You can't go back to school. You're going to have to find a job.' So I went to the country club."
Oscar nominations are in. They were announced this morning in Beverly Hills. And "American Hustle" and "Gravity" are the early front-runners. Each of them got 10 Academy Award nominations, including best picture. "12 Years a Slave" was close behind with nine nominations. For more, we're joined now by Linda Holmes, who writes and edits NPR's entertainment and pop culture blog Monkey See. Good morning.
At the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this week, it's not all hybrids and battery-powered cars. Some car companies are making significant investments in a fuel that's not new at all — diesel.
The newest diesel engines are far cleaner than their predecessors, and they get many more miles per gallon. The question is, what's holding customers back from switching gas pumps?
When you look around the auto show, there's a lot of energy and there's a lot of money being spent again. The one topic that keeps coming up, of course, is fuel economy.
A group gathers in a Ballston, Va., home for a supper club organized through the site Feastly. A new food trend gaining popularity in New York and other cities lets diners enjoy a meal prepared by a stranger in that person's home.
Credit Courtesy of Noah Karesh
Glori Linares, left, and Victoria Delgado, invited strangers to a dinner party in their apartment in Brooklyn through the site EatWith.com.
The world's biggest trees, such as this large Scots pine in Spain's Sierra de Baza range, are also the world's fastest-growing trees, according to an analysis of 403 tree species spanning six continents.
Credit Asier Herrero / Nature
The General Sherman, a giant sequoia in California's Sequoia National Park, is more than 2,000 years old, and is thought to be the largest tree (by volume) in the world.
Like other animals and many living things, we humans grow when we're young and then stop growing once we mature. But trees, it turns out, are an exception to this general rule. In fact, scientists have discovered that trees grow faster the older they get.
Once trees reach a certain height, they do stop getting taller. So many foresters figured that tree growth — and girth — also slowed with age.
Two recent sporting disappointments underscore the state of interest in women in sports. The first: Lindsey Vonn, sadly acknowledging that her injuries were too serious, announced that she would not be able to compete in the Olympics next month. The second: The owners of the Los Angeles Sparks, acknowledging that they were overwhelmed by debt, just gave up the franchise.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., speaks on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. A massive $1.1 trillion spending bill, aimed at funding the government until October, is getting generally positive reviews, including from House Republicans eager to avoid another shutdown crisis with elections looming.
For the first time in years, the House of Representatives is expected to approve a massive new spending bill Wednesday that keeps federal agencies operating until a new fiscal year starts in October.
The so-called "omnibus" package of all 12 annual spending bills is a compromise; it has more money in it than what Congressional Republicans wanted, but less than what President Obama had asked for. There is some disappointment with the measure on both sides of the aisle, but this time nobody is talking about forcing another government shutdown.
In a $16 billion deal this week, Japanese beverage giant Suntory announced it plans to purchase Beam Inc., the maker of Jim Beam bourbon and the owner of other popular bourbon brands like Maker's Mark.
Those and most other bourbons are made in Kentucky, and the deal has some hoping the drink's growth in the global market won't come at the expense of its uniquely Kentucky heritage.
The recent disclosure that a large trove of customer information was stolen from Target, and now also from Neiman Marcus, points to growing vulnerabilities in cybersecurity. And experts say the problem is becoming more difficult to combat.
Though most people rely on cellphones, not pay phones these days, the telephone boxes aren't obsolete. During an art exhibit in summer 2012, artist Benjamin Shine transformed one into a work called <em>Box Lounger,</em> on display here in Central St. Giles in London.
Credit Dave Catchpole/Flickr
The most photographed phone booth in London sits in front of Big Ben. The number of beloved crimson "telephone boxes" in the United Kingdom has fallen sharply in recent years, from 92,000 in 2002 to just 48,000 now.
Credit Ari Shapiro / NPR
An ATM has been installed in this phone box in Stratford-Upon-Avon, shown here on Aug. 12, 2012.
Even with 10 months to go before the midterm congressional elections, some political and ideological groups are already on the air, attacking incumbents they hope to take down in November.
One race that's attracting early advertisers is in New Hampshire, where Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is seeking a second term, and two tax-exempt social welfare organizations are buying ads against her.
And some news from the Supreme Court this morning: The justices have decided not to intervene in a legal battle over abortion in the state of Arizona. Earlier, an appeals court said the state's law banning most abortions after 20 weeks was unconstitutional. The high court's decision today not to review the case effectively blocks that ban from coming into place in Arizona.
NPR's Julie Rovner joins us to talk about the implications of this. Hi, Julie.
Let's take a musical road trip through the American South. Think of yourself crowded into the back of the car, next to the guitar case. The driver is Rosanne Cash, whose new album was inspired by her Southern travels in the Mississippi Valley.
The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Monday in a big constitutional fight over the balance of power between the president and the Senate. President Obama has said he supports the move by Senate Democrats to make it harder for Republicans to block his nominees.
Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates has been making news all week with his forthcoming memoir. Gates recounts his years leading the Pentagon under both Presidents Bush and Obama during a time of two wars. Yesterday, Gates sat down with Steve. It was his first interview since his book exploded in the headlines, and he's arguing that the book is being misconstrued. We will be broadcasting the interview Monday, but thought we'd take a chance to preview it with Steve here in the studio.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.
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And I'm Steve Inskeep. As listeners to this program know, the Syrian civil war has created a vast refugee crisis. More than two million people have fled the country. Many have fled their homes inside that country. People are overwhelming the countries around Syria where they often live in crowded makeshift camps or fan out among the population.
Good morning. I'm David Greene. We've reported on this program about instant meals. We cooked scrambled eggs and macaroni and cheese in a microwave, but maybe even that's too much work. Now a vending machine in L.A. makes breakfast for you - or lunch or dinner.
The polar vortex chilled the U.S. so much, even a polar bear had to stay inside at Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo. In Brazil, it's been sizzling, so zookeepers in Rio brought in icy treats to help the animals beat the heat that reached 120 degrees. Primates cooled off with mango popsicles. The big cats got icy blocks of meat, and the zoo's brown bear chowed down on frozen grapes while lounging in his pool.
It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
This week we've been considering the fate of Edward Snowden. The former contractor at the National Security Agency is facing charges after he leaked classified details about surveillance programs. Yesterday we heard from a legal expert who believes that Snowden deserves clemency and that his actions inspired an important public debate about privacy and security.