Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep. Walk a street in Beijing and you'll likely hear a whirring noise as an electric bicycle glides past. They're common in China. One auto maker wants to make them more common here. The makers of tiny Smart cars put an electric bike on display at the Detroit Auto Show. People at that show can also find bikes with pedals, like the Toyota Prius-branded bike.
Good morning, I'm Renee Montagne. I have goldfish. They're small. On the other hand, my goldfish don't live in a lake, or at least one has gotten very, very big.
Fishing at Lake St. Claire, Michigan last weekend, Mark Martin reeled in a goldfish big enough to mount on his wall. Most likely dumped by a former owner, it weighed more than three pounds and is nearly 15 inches long. It might be a record catch, if Michigan kept records on goldfish.
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It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
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And I'm Renee Montagne.
President Obama says he's done what he could on his own. Yesterday he signed 23 executive orders related to gun control. They will allow federal agencies to strengthen the existing background check system and improve the tracking of stolen guns. The big ticket items, like universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons and high capacity clips, will need congressional action.
Still more trouble for Boeing's newest passenger jet, the 787, known as the Dreamliner. The FAA has grounded all U.S.-owned 787s because of safety concerns. This follows an earlier move by Japan doing the same. NPR's Wendy Kaufman reports for today's Business Bottom Line.
Dr. Beth Zeeman says she can spot a case of influenza from 20 paces. It's not like a common cold.
"People think they've had the flu when they've had colds," Zeeman, an emergency room specialist at MetroWest Medical Center in Framingham, Mass., tells Shots. "People use the word 'flu' for everything. But having influenza is really a different thing. It hits you like a ton of bricks."
This is the second of a two-part discussion. Read Part 1.
A third of young adults in this country say they don't identify with any organized religion. NPR's David Greene wanted to understand why, so he met with a group of men and women in their 20s and 30s, all of whom have struggled with the role of faith and religion in their lives.
Peyer says that even though she and her husband believe different things when it comes to God, they have found ways to accept and support each other's beliefs.
Credit Leah Nash for NPR
Mike Bixby and Maria Peyer at their home in Longview, Wash. They have been married for two and half years but have known each other since 1981. Peyer is a church-attending Lutheran, and Bixby is an atheist.
Credit Leah Nash for NPR
Bixby and Peyer (center) with their four children (from previous marriages). From left: Hope and Sierra Bixby, Bixby, Peyer, and Grace and Luke Peyerwold.
Maria Peyer and Mike Bixby are one of those couples who just seem made for each other. They hold hands when they sit and talk. They're happy to spend the morning cooking brunch with their children in their home in southern Washington.
Bixby and Peyer have known each other since they were young, but got married only a few years ago.
"It just hadn't been the right time, until it was. God bless Facebook," says Peyer.
"She Facebooked me, and asked if I remembered her, and then it just went from there," Bixby says.
Childhood vaccines for diseases like measles, polio and whooping cough have repeatedly been proved safe and effective. Even so, some parents still worry that the schedule of vaccinations — 24 immunizations by the age of 2 — can be dangerous. That worry is likely misplaced, according to a yearlong review of all available scientific data.
As President Obama unveiled his gun control proposals Wednesday, he highlighted mass shootings at schools in Colorado, Virginia and Connecticut. He also mentioned another group of children, not in school — the ones on the street corners of Chicago.
Chicagoan Annette Holt was at the White House during Obama's address. Her teenage son, Blair, was shot to death five years ago on a Chicago bus as he shielded a fellow student from a spray of bullets.
In Syria, the staple of most meals is a thin, round, flat bread that we would probably call pita.
Back in November, as fierce fighting raged across Syria, people started to run out of this bread. Government forces were attacking bakeries in rebel-held areas and cutting off electricity so mills couldn't grind flour. By late last year, Syrians were desperate.
Originally published on Thu January 17, 2013 9:35 am
Manti Te'o, the Notre Dame linebacker who nearly won the Heisman Trophy this season, is at the center of what Deadspin reports is a "hoax," in which the story of a girlfriend — and her tragic death — was fabricated. The site is questioning the existence of a girl Te'o has said inspired him to new heights. We'll update this post with new information as it emerges.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar speaks at the dedication for the Southwest's first urban wildlife refuge on the southern edge of Albuquerque, N.M., on Sept. 27, 2012. Salazar has announced that he'll leave his post in late March and return to Colorado.
The Department of the Interior is huge — more than 70,000 employees manage a half-billion acres of public land, mostly in the West. The department does everything from operate national parks to administer Native American social programs and manage wild horses.
Vegetation like the kind growing here at Michigan State University's Kellogg Biological Station could one day be used to feed small biofuel refineries spread throughout the Midwest.
This map shows the potential biomass collection within 10 states. Each circle represents an area of about 7,800 square miles, which could produce about 23 million gallons of ethanol per year. A gigagram, or Gg, is about 1,100 tons.
Millions of acres of marginal farmland in the Midwest — land that isn't in good enough condition to grow crops — could be used to produce liquid fuels made from plant material, according to a study in Nature. And those biofuels could, in theory, provide about 25 percent of the advanced biofuels required by a 2007 federal law.
But there are many ifs and buts about this study — and, in fact, about the future of advanced biofuels.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
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And I'm Robert Siegel.
In Afghanistan today, Taliban militants staged a brazen attack in the heart of Kabul. Their target was the headquarters of the National Directorate of Security or NDS - it's Afghanistan's equivalent of the FBI.
As NPR's Sean Carberry reports, the attack began with a suicide bombing, then five militants tried to storm the compound.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
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Algerian Islamists attacked an oil and gas field at dawn this morning in the desert on the border with Libya. They claim to have taken nearly 200 people hostage. In addition to Algerians, they claim to hold seven Americans, as well as French, British and Japanese citizens.
NPR's Eleanor Beardsley in Paris reports the hostage-taking appears to be the first act of retaliation for France's actions in Mali.
Lucas Codognolla, 22, receives his license after qualifying for it under President Obama's federal immigration policy, which allows some young immigrants who are in the country illegally to stay in the U.S. for at least two years.
Lucas Codognolla's hands shake as he waits in line at the Bridgeport, Conn., DMV for his turn to take the road test.
"I don't know if it's nerves or the excitement, you know?" he says.
The 22-year-old's family emigrated from Brazil when was just 9. When he turned 16 and wanted to get his driver's license, his parents sat him down and told him the truth: He was in the country illegally.
Initially, he lied to his friends about why he couldn't drive, he says. But then, as he got older, driving simply became necessary.
Originally published on Thu January 17, 2013 6:41 am
JPMorgan Chase reports that its profits were up 53 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012 — but CEO Jamie Dimon's pay will be cut in half, after the bank lost billions of dollars on risky bets made in its London office. The incident tarnished the reputation of Dimon, who had successfully steered his bank through the recent financial crisis.
"This past year has been a bruising one for Dimon," as NPR's Steve Henn reports for our Newscast unit:
State Senator Jeff Klein (L-R), Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy and Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins congratulate New York Governor Andrew Cuomo after he signed the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act on Tuesday.
Originally published on Wed January 16, 2013 4:31 pm
President Obama's historic plunge Wednesday into the politics and realities of gun control in America has mobilized advocates on both sides of the issue.
But though his major proposals, from banning assault rifles to more stringent background checks and ammunition limits, are being rolled out in the shadow of the school massacre in Newtown, Conn., their Capitol Hill prospects remain highly uncertain given long-standing resistance to such efforts.
In anticipation of Inauguration Day, NPR photographer Becky Lettenberger and producer Justine Kenin visited 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. to ask Americans: "What do you want President Obama to remember in his second term?"
This video shows some of the answers we received outside the White House. But that was just the start of a project that we're calling "Dear Mr. President."
Originally published on Thu January 17, 2013 6:41 am
What began as a company's suspicion that its infrastructure was being hacked turned into a case of a worker outsourcing his own job to a Chinese consulting firm, according to reports that cite an investigation by Verizon's security team. The man was earning a six-figure salary.
Originally published on Thu January 17, 2013 4:12 pm
Zach Sayne was 25 when he died earlier this month at the place that had been his home for 15 years — a children's nursing home in Alabama.
But that was too far away, 200 miles too far, for his mother in Georgia. Nola Sayne was trying to bring him back, closer to her home. The story of why she couldn't reveals the bureaucratic traps, underfunding and lack of choices that plague state Medicaid programs.
Two high-profile cabinet nominations go before the Senate soon. Senator John Kerry is expected to face little opposition to become the next secretary of state. Former Senator Chuck Hagel may have more problems. But as mentioned earlier, his nomination as secretary of defense is also expected to win approval.