On a Wednesday, it's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne.
Here's the good economic news: Employers have been hiring more quickly than the experts predicted.
INSKEEP: The bad economic news is that experts still are not sure why employers are hiring so quickly. While the U.S. economy is growing, economists are not sure it is growing quickly enough to justify the many jobs created in recent months.
President Obama has received a high-profile endorsement for his re-election bid. Though it's no surprise the country's largest federation of unions, the AFL-CIO, has traditionally endorsed a Democrat for president.
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The strength of that support bears watching this year. Collective bargaining has been under attack in several states, draining union resources.
MONTAGNE: But labor leaders say it's also made them more determined than ever to keep Mr. Obama in the White House. NPR's Scott Horsley reports.
Americans and Britons share the same language, yet transatlantic visitors to the London Olympics might struggle to understand what's going on. The games are in East London, home of rhyming slang, a form of linguistic gymnastics. It was pioneered in the nineteenth century by Cockneys as a code to confuse snooping policemen.
Britons are struggling with the issue of faith in the workplace. Two British women, one an airline employee and the other, a nurse, were suspended or barred from doing their jobs because they wore crucifixes at work. Now the two are taking their case to the European Court of Human Rights.
To find out how this debate is playing out in the UK, we called Lucy Kellaway, she's a columnist for the Financial Times. And she joined us from London.
Law enforcement agents raid a home where the occupants are suspected of selling drugs last month in Middletown, N.Y. For three months, court papers say, authorities tracked them using wiretaps and cameras set up on telephone poles and trees.
Palestinian artist Mohammed al-Dairi paints a mural of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat (right) and late Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin (left), in Gaza City. Hamas leaders are divided on what direction to take the Islamist movement, with some calling for reconciliation with Arafat's Fatah movement.
The Islamist movement Hamas, which rules Gaza, is a house divided. Its leaders say there are divisions among the ranks as they try to grapple with where to push the movement: toward moderation or a continued commitment to armed resistance against Israel.
Omar Shaban, a Gaza-based political analyst, wonders where Hamas is headed in the next two to three years. He says the changes in the region after the Arab Spring not only shook the world, but they also forced groups like Hamas to reassess where they stand, in terms of old alliances and future direction.
Workers build cars on the assembly line at the Ford Motor Co.'s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich., in December. As auto sales boom, parts suppliers are having a tough time finding the labor they need to catch up, having lost workers during the recession.
Detroit automakers are creating thousands of new jobs amid a sales boom. And as they expand, their suppliers are racing to keep up, adding tens of thousands of new jobs.
At Bridgewater Interiors in Warren, Mich., for example, the pace is intense. Hundreds of union employees scurry to fill a growing list of orders. The factory floor is packed with stacks of foam cushions, seat covers and headrests.
In the closing minutes of a game last month, Purdue University's Robbie Hummel was fouled by Penn State's Matt Glover. College basketball needs to find ways to make its games' final moments more exciting, says Frank Deford.
One thing that distinguishes most team sports is that the game is suddenly played differently at the end. Often, this adds to the fascination, too. Nothing, for example, gets a rise out of me like when the hockey goalie skates off the ice with a minute or so to go, his team down a goal, leaving an open net.
In championship soccer, tie games go to a shoot-out, which is totally alien with all that came before. Neat stuff.
The Egyptian national soccer team's American coach, Bob Bradley, attends his team's friendly match against Kenya in the Qatari capital, Doha, in February. The Egyptian team won 5-0.
Credit Karim Jaafar / AFP/Getty Images
As an American coaching a foreign team, the language barrier is one of the challenges Bob Bradley faces. He relies on Arabic-speaking assistants to translate for his players, most of whom don't speak English.
Anti-Americanism is on the rise in Egypt these days. A highly publicized trial is under way in Cairo against U.S.-funded pro-democracy groups, and Egyptians are making it clear they reject any American involvement in their country's affairs.
There's one exception, however: an American living in Cairo whom Egyptians are counting on to shake things up. His name is Bob Bradley, and he's the New Jersey-born coach of Egypt's struggling national soccer team.
The Karnes County Civil Detention Center in Texas has outdoor spaces and other features meant to make immigrant detention less like prison. It will house mostly low-risk, nonviolent offenders.
Credit Laura Sullivan/NPR
"It was never our authority or our responsibility to punish people or correct their behavior," said Gary Mead, who is in charge of ICE's enforcement and removal operations. "Our authority is only to facilitate removal."
Credit Will Weissert / AP
Detainees will sleep eight to a room, with a private bath, and will be permitted to move around the detention center largely unescorted.
Credit Laura Sullivan/NPR
Detainees at the new facility will be issued clothing and personal items, and there's a walk-up pharmacy and commissary for other needs.
Just off the side of the road in rural southern Texas is a large beige building that looks a lot like a prison. Fences and tall walls mark the outside. Inside, the doors slam and people sit in control booths at the end of long concrete hallways.
But just a little farther into the facility, the door opens to a courtyard in the center of the complex, and there, things begin to change. There's a soccer field, a pavilion and a gymnasium. There's also a walk-up pharmacy and commissary. All of it is guarded by officers in polo shirts.
The digital age has taken its toll on another long-held tradition: Encyclopaedia Britannica is going out of print and from now on will be all digital.
Its final printed product will be the 2010 edition, which The New York Times describes as a "a 32-volume set that weighs in at 129 pounds and includes new entries on global warming and the Human Genome Project."
With two wins in the Deep South, Mitt Romney could solidly establish himself as the inevitable GOP candidate. If you believe polls, that could very well happen in Mississippi and Alabama, which are holding nominating contests tonight.
Now, the polls are so close that Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich could also pull together wins that keep their campaigns going.
"We did it again," declared Rick Santorum during his victory speech in Lafayette, La.
Indeed, the former Pennsylvania senator swept the Republican presidential primaries in Alabama and Mississippi and once again threw Mitt Romney, who has from the very beginning been the presumptive nominee, on the defensive.
Of course, there are two other contests going this evening: Hawaii and American Samoa are holding caucuses, and if Romney takes both of those, he may very well end the night with the most delegates.
The Federal Reserve has released the results of its much-anticipated stress test of the nation's biggest banks. The Fed says most of the nation's 19 biggest financial institutions passed the tests, although four did not. To find out what this means, we turn to NPR's Jim Zarroli. Jim, first, why is the Fed running stress tests? What are they supposed to show about the banks?
Los Angeles has become the nation's first city to require male adult film actors to wear condoms. The city council's new ordinance has riled the region's billion-dollar-plus porn industry. Filmmakers are warning that the measure will harm the local economy and threaten the health of industry performers.
Condoms are now required on all film shoots that receive a city permit, but the law does not apply to adult films shot in studios. Those don't require city permitting in the first place. But a proposed ballot measure in November looks to extend the law throughout the county.
The documentary Bully follows several middle- and high-school students who are different, awkward or for some other reason the targets of bullying. One of the kids at the center of the film is Alex, from Sioux City, Iowa.
In the film, Alex, a small boy, says people think he's not normal, and most kids don't want to be around him. And some kids at his school, or on the school bus especially, make his life miserable.
Director Lee Hirsch says Alex immediately struck him as someone who was having a hard time — and no one seemed to notice or really care.
As part of a new campaign, dozens of citizen groups around the country are searching voter registration lists, looking for problems.
They're also training poll watchers to monitor this fall's elections.
Leaders of the effort — spawned by the Tea Party movement — say they want to make sure that elections are free from voter fraud. But critics say it's part of a campaign to suppress the votes of minorities, students and others who tend to vote Democratic.
This May 3, 1999, funnel became the F-5 storm that damaged thousands of buildings in central Okahoma. University of Oklahoma storm chasers and observers are anticipating the annual tornado season as it approaches the central part of the country.
Credit J. Pat Carter / AP
Dozens of people line up in a Tuscaloosa, Ala., supermarket. They're buying weather alert radios and having them programmed to receive specific warnings about bad weather. Tuscaloosa was hit by a monster tornado that decimated parts of the town last April.
Credit Russell Lewis / NPR
Computer screens at the Birmingham office of the National Weather Service show forecast models. Meteorologists use the information to predict severe weather. During Alabama's tornado outbreak on April 27, 2011, forecasters were forced to take shelter when one of the twisters came close to their offices.
For many, the only way they learn a tornado is approaching are sirens. In the spring and summer, tornado sirens go off a lot more when twisters roar across Alabama, which has been hit by 900 since 2000, accounting for a quarter of all U.S. tornado deaths.
"I am still surprised that so many people rely on just one source of getting warned, and that has to change," said Jim Stefkovich, meteorologist in charge of the Birmingham office of the National Weather Service.
Holmes County High School Principal Eddie Dixson says paddling is used for minor offenses like back-talking or consistent tardiness. Students at the school are spanked only by Dixson or the assistant principal, and there is always a witness.
Credit Sarah Gonzalez / StateImpact Florida
A wooden paddle sits on the principal's desk at Sneads High School in Jackson County, Fla. Almost every county in the state's rural north has policies that allow schools to paddle students.
Spanking in school may seem like a relic of the past, but every day hundreds of students — from preschoolers to high school seniors — are still being paddled by teachers and principals.
In parts of America, getting spanked at school with a wooden or fiberglass board is just part of being a misbehaving student.
"I been getting them since about first grade," says Lucas Mixon, now a junior at Holmes County High School in Bonifay, Fla. "It's just regular. They tell you to put your hands up on the desk and how many swats you're going to get."
Originally published on Tue March 13, 2012 5:46 pm
Update at 4:34 p.m. ET. 15 of 19 Banks Pass Stress Test:
The Federal Reserve says 15 of the country's top 19 banks have enough capital to survive a "severe recession," which it defined as "peak unemployment rate of 13 percent, a 50 percent drop in equity prices, and a 21 percent decline in housing prices."
AGCO employees work on the assembly line in the company's newly expanded Jackson, Minn., manufacturing plant. The expansion brought the facility's staff from 850 to 1,050 workers and allows the plant to make tractors that were previously made in France.
Credit Jackson Forderer for Minnesota Public Radio
Richard Beaulieu operates a molding machine that makes rubber parts for radiators at Hiawatha Rubber Co., just outside Minneapolis.
Sandra Fluke, a third-year law student at Georgetown University and former president of the Students for Reproductive Justice group there, testifies during a hearing before the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee last month in Washington.
Could Georgetown University students like Sandra Fluke have to wait an extra year for free birth control?
There's a reason to ask the question.
Fluke, in case you missed it somehow, is the law student who testified before the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee last month about the importance of providing free contraceptive services to students and others at religiously affiliated institutions.
Originally published on Tue March 13, 2012 2:31 pm
Citing an economy that is "expanding moderately," an improving labor market and subdued inflation — but a housing sector that "remains depressed" — the Federal Reserve just announced it is holding to its current policy on short-term interest rates.
The central bank's policymakers also said they expect "moderate economic growth over coming quarters" and that the jobless rate will continue to "decline gradually."
The sudden national fame for 85-year-old North Dakota newspaper columnist Marilyn Hagerty because she wrote last week that the new Olive Garden restaurant in Grand Forks is "impressive ... welcoming ... [and] is the largest and most beautiful restaurant now operating" in the city reinforces two things for this blogger:
1. Almost everyone loves a story about someone who seems to be just so darn nice and who's still going strong at an age when many of us will just be glad to still be around.