Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou says he will ask the public to vote in a referendum on last week's European debt deal. His surprise announcement could throw a wrench into the bailout agreement. The bankers holding Greek debt agreed to accept losses on Greek bonds on the assumption that the country would carry out austerity measures. For the latest, Steve Inskeep talks with reporter Joanna Kakissis in Athens.
MF Global, the securities firm run by former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, was forced to file for bankruptcy protection Monday. The company, at Corzine's urging, made big investments in European sovereign debt. Those bets turned out to be losers. Analysts don't believe MF Global is a harbinger of bad things to come. It was much more exposed to European debt than most U.S. financial companies. Zoe Chace reports for NPR's Planet Money.
Originally published on Mon October 31, 2011 7:05 pm
The U.S. Supreme Court has once again rebuked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, based in California. This time, the court, by a 6-to-3 vote, reinstated the conviction of a California grandmother for shaking her baby grandson to death. The court's unsigned opinion, provoked a strong dissent from three of the justices, who accused the court majority of using a "tragic case" to "teach the Ninth Circut a lesson."
The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Monday in two cases testing whether a lawyer's mishandling of a plea bargain offer should be sufficient reason for a defendant to get a second chance to accept the offer.
Both cases involve defendants who got prison terms much longer than they would have under plea bargains offered by the prosecutor. In one case, the defendant's lawyer never told his client about the offer. In the other, the defense lawyer advised against taking the offer based on a clearly erroneous understanding of state law.
Originally published on Wed November 2, 2011 8:40 am
The United States Supreme Court has let stand a lower court ruling that ordered the removal of 12-foot high crosses placed along highways in Utah to commemorate state troopers killed in the line of duty.
The court acted without comment, but Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a 19-page dissent.
The buzz in Los Angeles for Halloween includes enthusiasm for the interactive play, called Delusion. In the words of the blurb, "This inclusive scare-down has audiences as participants in an interactive play by creator and professional stuntman Jon Braver, who uses his Hollywood background to pack punches in a twisted story of a mad asylum genius gone bad."
President Obama signed an executive order Monday directing the Food and Drug Administration to take steps to reduce drug shortages. The order is one of several similar actions the president has taken in recent weeks.
Originally published on Mon October 31, 2011 8:30 pm
President Obama, faced with what he described as an "increasingly dysfunctional" Congress, has turned repeatedly in recent weeks to the time-honored, but often controversial executive order to unilaterally make policy.
On Monday, Obama signed an executive order designed to require drug companies to report anticipated manufacturing shortages in advance. Last week, he said he would issue an executive order designed to help ease home-refinancing rules. And earlier in the same week, the president issued a directive to cap student loan payments.
Originally published on Tue November 1, 2011 3:00 pm
From 2008 to 2010, children's and teens' exposure to television ads for soda doubled, according to a new report from the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at Yale University. And beverage companies targeted black and Hispanic kids more than others in recent ads, the report found.
Commercials for Coke and Dr. Pepper products led the increase. Pepsi actually showed young audiences 22 percent fewer commercials for its products in that same time period.
Credit Cpl. David R. Hernandez / U.S. Marine Corps
U.S. Marines with 3rd Battalion, 5th Regiment and the Afghan National Army provide cover as they move out of a dangerous area after taking enemy sniper fire during a security patrol in Sangin, Afghanistan, in November 2010. During its seven-month deployment, the 3/5 sustained the highest casualty rate of any Marine unit during the Afghan war, losing 25 men.
Credit Staff Sgt. Ryan Smith / marines.mil
Lt. Col. Jason Morris (right), the commanding officer for 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, discusses the Marines' progress during Operation Golden Shillelagh in Malmand, Afghanistan, on March 12, with 1st Lt. Charles Broun.
Credit Courtesy of Ashley Tawney
Ashley and Sgt. Ian Tawney (seen here on their wedding day) had known each other since they were children. Ian Tawney was killed Oct. 16, 2010, by an improvised explosive device while on a foot patrol in Sangin. Ashley says she doesn't know how she made it to the door the day Marine officers came to her house to tell her that her husband was dead.
Credit Scott Olson / Getty Images
Cpl. Marcus Chischilly patrols near Forward Operating Base Zeebrugge in October 2010, near Kajaki, Afghanistan. This photo was taken a day before he stepped on an IED, losing his left leg and suffering other shrapnel damage.
Credit Cpl. Ned Johnson / U.S. Marines
Marines with 3rd Battalion, 5th Regiment salute during the playing of taps at a memorial ceremony on April 29 at Camp Pendleton, Calif. Moments before, the Marines fired a 21-gun salute in honor of the 25 fallen warriors of the battalion.
A year ago, nearly 1,000 U.S. Marine officers and enlisted men of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Regiment deployed to restive Helmand province in southern Afghanistan. By the time their tour ended in April 2011, the Marines of the 3/5 — known as "Darkhorse" — suffered the highest casualty rate of any Marine unit during the past 10 years of war. This week, NPR tells the story of this unit's seven long months at war — both in Afghanistan and back home.
Originally published on Mon October 31, 2011 11:50 pm
Republican presidential front-runner Herman Cain has stumbled before, and on big issues ranging from his position on legal abortion to the effects of his radical flat tax plan on the poor and middle class.
But his response to a Politico report that he faced two sexual harassment complaints that were settled with cash payments more than a decade ago presents a new kind of threat to his cometlike ascendancy in the Republican race.
What may be the most expensive Honda Civic in the world can be found in Havana. There's nothing especially luxurious about the car: It's a red 2005 model, with 60,000 miles on the odometer.
But what is special about this Civic is that there are few like it on the supply side of Cuba's used car market. And that's why Acela Claro says she's had plenty of interest, even though she's offering it for $65,000.
Earlier this year, Wisconsin received lots of attention after passing a law slashing the power of public employee unions.
But soon after, Ohio legislators went even further.
In March, Gov. John Kasich and Republican lawmakers pushed a sweeping plan to slash union negotiating clout. It would ban strikes by all of Ohio's 350,000 government workers, require all public employees to pay at least 15 percent of their health care premiums, and use merit to decide pay and layoffs.
Now, Ohio is getting attention because voters there will decide that law's fate on Nov. 8.
Businessman Herman Cain recently entered the top tier of Republican presidential candidates. A story published Sunday evening by Politico alleges that Cain harassed two female employees when he ran the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s. On Monday, Cain appeared at two public events, a discussion of his 9-9-9 tax plan at the American Enterprise Institute as well as a speech and Q-and-A session at the National Press Club.
"I could be wrong, you know:" John Hodgman notes that while his book That Is All is intensely concerned with "the coming global superpocalypse," it also contains much information about travel and sports and wine, and is "not depressing."
If there's anything guaranteed to lift the heart of an NPR nerd, it's the sound of All Things Considered'sRobert Siegel losing his composure. This is a news anchor, after all, who can deliver the song title "Party 'Til You Puke" with all the gravity of a president announcing the death of a hero. (No, really. This happened.)
There's been plenty written about Steve Jobs since his death. But, yesterday, The New York Times published a eulogy delivered at a memorial service by his sister, the novelist Mona Simpson.
It's lovely to say the least and there are lots of little nuggets about Jobs and his relationship to his family and Jobs as a devotee of love and beauty. But the thing the Web is buzzing about today is what Simpson said were his last words:
At an investigation of a supposedly haunted house in a wooded area an hour south of Richmond, Va., called the Edgewood Plantation, one ghost-hunting team recently used its high-tech tools to track down the spirits that always become of interest this time of year.
With uneven floorboards and creaky doors, the house is prime real estate for a haunting. Its owner hired a private firm, Richmond Investigators of the Paranormal — or RIP — to scan her property for ghosts.
In 1975, the Khmer Rouge told the family of Peou Nam that he had been executed. After 36 years of separation, hardship and an unusual series of events, the family was reunited in June this year. Son Phyrun visits his father at his farmhouse in southern Cambodia's Kampot province.
Credit Anthony Kuhn / NPR
Peou Nam's traditional Khmer farmhouse on stilts in the countryside of Kampot province. Peou settled there after surviving the Khmer Rouge's attempts to execute him. He remarried and has six children with his second wife.
On a recent day, Peou Phyrun steers his motorcycle down the rutted dirt road to his father's home in southern Cambodia's Kampot province. His father, 85-year-old Peou Nam, lives in a traditional Khmer farmhouse on stilts, where sugar palms tower over verdant rice paddies like giant dandelions on a lawn.
Like so many other families in Cambodia, theirs was torn apart by the Khmer Rouge. But unlike so many others, they were able to find each other, 36 years later, through a most unusual sequence of events.
Originally published on Mon October 31, 2011 2:41 pm
Over the weekend The Washington Post ran a long investigative story in which unnamed officials claim the United States knew that detainees in Afghan intelligence prisons were being abused. The U.S., the Post reports, knew about the abuse long before the United Nations issued a report earlier this month that said suspected Taliban fighters were tortured.