This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. So far, the fighting in Syria's bloody civil war has almost entirely been contained inside Syria. But plenty of outsiders are involved there, including al-Qaida in Iraq, Iran's al-Quds Force, and the Israel Air Force. No country is more deeply involved than Syria's smallest and most vulnerable neighbor, Lebanon.
Originally published on Tue February 26, 2013 7:37 pm
In a business where effects-laden movies helped Hollywood make a record-setting $10.8 billion last year, many of the studios that create those effects are barely staying afloat.
Visual effects have been a part of the movie industry ever since Georges Melies went on his famous Trip to the Moon in 1902. These days, VFX studios do everything from putting a tiger in a lifeboat on an ocean voyage to choreographing the destruction of a New York City being defended by Earth's mightiest heroes.
Originally published on Wed February 27, 2013 6:24 am
The country's largest long-term care insurer is making it tougher for people — especially women — to buy its policy.
Genworth Financial has announced that starting this spring it will begin taking gender into account when setting premiums on new policies. The reason: Women account for two out of every three dollars spent on claims, says Thomas Topinka, a company spokesman.
This year's edition of the Daytona 500 posted its strongest TV ratings since 2008, thanks to a buildup of attention drawn by Danica Patrick's history-making pole position and a horrendous crash during a race at the track Saturday. Viewership peaked late in the race, when Patrick dropped from third position to finish eighth behind winner Jimmie Johnson.
The biggest percentage gains in viewership seem to have come in big cities.
And now we turn to a political stalemate that seems to be turning into a crisis. We've been talking about the across-the-board cuts to the federal budget that seem more and more likely to go into effect this Friday because Congress and the White House have not agreed on a deficit reduction plan. It's being called sequestration.
A new study on bullying shows that people who were bullied have higher rates of psychiatric illness as adults. Host Michel Martin speaks with the study's lead author, William Coleman of Duke University, and bullying expert Rosalind Wiseman.
The shooting of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin one year ago became an international story, and raised difficult questions about race and justice. Host Michel Martin continues her conversation with Robert Zimmerman Jr., the brother of accused killer George Zimmerman, about how his family views the case and the public reaction.
Unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin was shot and killed one year ago today. Host Michel Martin speaks with Robert Zimmerman Jr., the brother of accused shooter George Zimmerman, about his brother's actions that night and the upcoming trial.
Edward Blum isn't a lawyer, and he doesn't play one on TV.
But he has been the driving force behind two race-related cases before the U.S. Supreme Court this term, including one that justices will hear Wednesday that seeks to roll back a key section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
The other, Fisher v. University of Texas, which challenges the use of race and ethnicity in public college and university admissions policies, was heard by the court in October and awaits its decision.
Originally published on Tue February 26, 2013 11:48 am
Nearly $152,000 has been donated online to help Billy Ray Harris, a homeless man in Kansas City who returned an engagement ring to the woman who accidentally left it in a cup he uses to collect change.
Partnerships instead of short-term help: Jean Jumeau Batsch, an obstetrician-gynecologist in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, is collaborating with Dr. Ambereen Sleemi, from New York City, to build a training program for Haitian OB-GYNs.
Credit Courtesy of Dr. Ambereen Sleemi
Dr. Ambereen Sleemi (second from the left) traveled to Eritrea to help start an obstetrics training program. Here she relaxes in the new ward with Dr. Haile Habte Melecot (from left), a resident student and Dr Dawit Sereke.
Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 1:39 pm
A few months ago, we told you about a Peace Corps initiative that sends doctors and nurses abroad to teach and train local health workers — a sort of Peace Corps for Doctors.
They're not alone: Lots of health care professionals are now traveling abroad to help countries build better health care systems instead of simply giving on-the-spot medical care or dealing with emergencies.
While severe winter weather has caused problems for many in the Great Plains, it has also provided some opportunities for fun. On Monday, Simon Mourning (front) and Chance Cain went sliding in Wichita, Kansas.
"Another blizzard bore down on the nation's midsection early Tuesday after lashing the Texas Panhandle with hurricane-force winds, closing highways and cutting power to thousands in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas," The Associated Press writes. It adds that "at least two people were killed in the storm, and Midwesterners still digging out from last week's deep snowpack braced for more."
As Friday's deadline approaches, we're pointing to stories that should help everyone get ready for "the sequester" — the $85 billion worth of across-the-board cuts in federal spending that would begin to kick in that day if lawmakers don't strike some sort of deal before then. (We won't call them "must-reads" because we'd never want to tell anyone that they "must" read anything about this subject. Let's refer to them as "should-reads.")
"PYONGYANG, North Korea — Former NBA star Dennis Rodman brought his basketball skills Tuesday and flamboyant style — neon-bleached hair, tattoos, nose studs and all — to the isolated communist country with possibly the world's drabbest dress code: North Korea.
Originally published on Tue February 26, 2013 9:42 am
Do failing grades inspire more effort? Oxfam hopes so. The activist group on behalf of the poor has just handed out report cards to 10 of the world's top food companies, grading their commitments to protect the environment and treat people fairly.
Oxfam doesn't grade on the curve, evidently. Every company flunked. But two European-based companies, Nestle and Unilever, were at least better than the others.
Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep. Residents of Portland, Maine, said they found Robert Smith a little too obviously cheerful. Mr. Smith had a habit of whistling while standing outside of homes and businesses. A city ordinance lists whistling as disorderly behavior, with a fine of up to $500. But the Portland Press-Herald reports Smith reached a compromise with police. He agreed to whistle only while in motion, not standing in one place.
Few can say they've reached the summit of Mt. Everest, and even fewer can say they've done it twice. And only one woman can say she's done it twice in one month. Her name is Chhurim, a 29-year-old Sherpa from Nepal. She made the climb last May, came down for a few days and then turned around and went up again. This week, she climbed into the Guinness Book of World Records.
It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:
And I'm Linda Wertheimer.
Today, a federal judge in New Orleans hears from witnesses to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. A civil trial of BP opened yesterday in a case to determine blame and financial liability for the environmental disaster that was the worst disaster in U.S. history.
If you were to open a new brick-and-mortar bookstore, New York City would be a very pricey place to do it. Manhattan boasts some of the world's most valuable land - and, as it turns out - air. And that is our last word in business this morning.
Syrian opposition leaders say they plan to attend a conference this week in Rome. They want to see what the new U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has to offer to help them bring an end of President Bashar al-Assad's regime. The opposition leaders had been threatening to boycott the meeting, but Kerry is promising he won't leave them dangling in the wind. NPR's Michele Kelemen is traveling with Kerry this week on his first trip overseas as secretary of state. She filed this report from Berlin.
The country has been debating gun regulations for months. Later this week, a Senate committee will start work on various proposals, including a background check on every gun sale and a ban on assault weapons.
But this debate over guns goes beyond disagreements about policy. Advocates on both sides quite literally disagree on the terms of the discussion — as in, the words they use to describe it.
Ask "gun control advocates" to describe what this debate is about, and they'll say "control" really isn't the word they prefer.