National News

Overturned Truck Spills Holiday Hams

Dec 20, 2013

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Good morning, I'm David Greene. We hope you don't think we ham it up too much on this show, but apologies for this morning's traffic report here at the bottom of the hour. Let's get an update on that interstate ramp outside Atlanta. It was clogged yesterday, not with cars, but ham - 40,000 pounds of it. A semi truck hauling the ham overturned, spilling pork and fuel everywhere. Fortunately the driver was not hurt but that's a lot of wasted holiday ham, unless you like it with a side of diesel.

"The women of the Senate who led the fight to change how the military deals with sexual assault in its ranks are hailing passage of a comprehensive defense bill that now heads to President Barack Obama for his signature," The Associated Press writes this morning.

Back in ye olden days — say, a decade ago — many holiday shoppers worried about using credit cards to buy gifts online. They feared their information would end up in the hands of computer hackers.

Turns out, walking into a store and swiping a credit card can be plenty risky, too.

Update at 10:02 a.m. ET. News Conference Set For 2 P.M. ET:

The White House just announced that the president will hold a news conference at 2 p.m. ET.

So, we've changed our original headline from "If Obama Takes Questions ..." to "When."

Note: The president's sessions with reporters often get started a little late.

Our original post picks up the story:

We start with a man called Mike and a cat called Ella. Two creatures.

Nothing odd about them, except that Mike has a beard and Ella is a touch chunky. Otherwise, they could be any cat and guy. Except ...

When you think about it, no one is ordinary. You could put a totally bland cat-and-guy couple in front of a hundred people, ask them to look, and each one would see a very different pair, different in a thousand subtle ways, because everybody looks at everything with different eyes.

We Say Goodbye To Some NPR Colleagues

Dec 20, 2013

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And there's more than a touch of sadness for us in this next story. We're saying good-bye to two of NPR's finest voices.

(SOUNDBITE OF NPR NEWS)

JEAN COCHRAN, BYLINE: From NPR News in Washington, I'm Jean Cochran.

PAUL BROWN, BYLINE: I'm Paul Brown, NPR News, Washington.

GREENE: For years now Paul and Jean have brought you the first draft of history.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And now we have news - it's the last day for both.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Russia has been drawing criticism for its handling of gay rights as that country prepares to host the Winter Olympics. A recent Russian law criminalizes what it calls gay propaganda. It's so broadly written, many gay people fear they could face charges for just living their lives. This week, Russia addressed some human rights issues. It granted amnesty for thousands of prisoners, including two women in the band Pussy Riot.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. On Thursday the United Methodist Church defrocked a Pennsylvania pastor who's presided at the wedding of his gay son. That wedding was back in 2007. The pastor is appealing the decision in his church trial, which has become a parable for the divisions in a church with more than eight million members across the United States. From member-station WHYY in Philadelphia, Emma Jacobs reports.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Fans of "Duck Dynasty" know this. It is a popular reality TV show about a family that found success selling products to hunters. Well, now the patriarch of the family has been suspended indefinitely from the show; this is after he made remarks about homosexuality to GQ magazine. The show is a huge hit for the A&E cable channel, spawning a multimillion dollar industry of related products and books. NPR's Lynn Neary has this look at the family and where they might be headed.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Nothing like a story about pizza to make you hungry. And then we bring you this, our last word in business, which is: Shanghai Golden Monkey. That's the Chinese candy maker that Hershey bought yesterday for almost $600 million.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Hershey is not monkeying around. It may hold the largest share of the U.S. chocolate market, but only a small share of candy sales overseas.

You don't have to venture far to see the misery caused by the latest crisis in the Central African Republic.

On the edge of the airport in the capital Bangui, tens of thousands of people are sleeping out in the open with no basic services. It's here that Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, meets Martine Kutungai with her husband, a pastor, and their eight children.

Kutungai says she's terrified to go home because of the Seleka — Muslim rebels who toppled the government in March.

The Daily Show's Jon Stewart recently ranted against Chicago-style deep-dish pizza.

"Let me explain something. Deep-dish pizza is not only not better than New York pizza — it's not pizza," said Stewart, calling it "tomato soup in a bread bowl. ... I don't know whether to eat it, or throw a coin in it and make a wish."

Some upset Chicagoans made their own wishes — which can't be repeated here.

Yelitza Castro, an undocumented immigrant who works as a housekeeper in Charlotte, N.C., cooks dinners for homeless men and women every other Saturday night. It's a tradition that started after she and her children spotted a man standing in the rain on a cold day with a sign asking for help.

Yelitza gave the man $5, she recalls, but her children wanted to take him out to dinner. She turned around to go back, but he was already gone.

"And we were thinking we have to do something," she says.

Criminals may have stolen information from 40 million credit and debit cards used at Target. A possible weakness? The magnetic stripe on credit cards — which fraudsters can pull credit card numbers and expiration dates from to make counterfeit cards.

President Obama heads to Hawaii on Friday. He goes there for Christmas every year and always talks about how good it is to get away from Washington. This year, that's likely to be especially true.

It's been a rough year for the president, starting with the very first hours of 2013.

One year ago, when the ball dropped on Times Square and people sang "Auld Lang Syne," Obama was supposed to be in Honolulu. Instead, he was in Washington as the country went over the so-called fiscal cliff.

Salinas is just one hour south of California's Silicon Valley, but generations behind when it comes to technology. Many of its sprawling lettuce farms are stuck in the era of rakes and hoes.

City officials are hoping to change that — and also spur some job growth — by investing in high-tech agriculture.

At Taylor Farms in Salinas, Andrew Fernandez, the company's vice president of product, is stepping on heads of crunchy romaine lettuce, making his way over to a very big tractor. It's a water jet knife machine, and it's on the cutting edge of lettuce farming technology.

A relic of the Cold War met its end on Thursday. The Air Force destroyed the last B-52 bomber required under the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia.

A crew used a circular saw to cut through the plane's aluminum skin, the tail section separating from the fuselage with a loud thunk and officially rendering the bomber useless.

Emergency contraception has been embroiled in controversy pretty much from the start.

But this year the legal wrangling over who can buy the Plan B One-Step morning-after pill without a prescription came to an end. A federal judge in New York ruled in April that the morning-after pill also had to be made available over the counter to girls 16 and under.

Dennis Rodman arrived in North Korea on Thursday for his third visit this year to the hard-line Stalinist country, saying he will train the country's national basketball team and see his "friend," leader Kim Jong Un.

(This post was updated at 6:00 p.m. ET)

London's emergency services personnel say 88 people have been injured, several of them seriously, in the collapse of part of the ceiling at the Apollo Theatre in central London during an evening performance. Officials say there have been no fatalities.

Emergency services officials tell news agencies that seven of those are seriously hurt. The BBC quotes a spokesman for the theater as saying 720 theatergoers were in attendance at the time of the collapse.

Rep. Charles Rangel, the third-longest-serving member of Congress, announced Thursday he will seek a 23rd term in office next year.

There had been speculation that the New York Democrat, a veteran member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, would retire at the end of this term. But the 83-year-old Rangel, who could face a tough primary, said he still has "unfinished business" to tend to in the House.

Right in the middle of holiday shopping season, some 40 million credit and debit card numbers were stolen in a major breach of Target customer data. The thefts occurred in stores, not online. Target says it's working with a forensics company to investigate and prevent similar data thefts from occurring in the future. Security experts say one way to limit them is to switch from magnetic stripes on cards to embedded chips.

Christmas is less than a week away and shoppers continue their quest for the perfect gift at the perfect price. But at one shop in a southwest Ohio mall, Roman Catholic friars are offering their presence for free.

It's the start of retirement season in the House as members head home after a long, difficult year. Three House members — two Republicans and a Democrat — announced their retirements from Congress this week, ahead of the 2014 midterm elections.

Two billion — that's the number of dollars the federal government lost during the partial government shutdown, paying furloughed employees not to work.

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