The word that Pentagon rules may soon "catch up a bit with reality" as the military considers formally allowing women to do something that they've already been asked to do in Iraq and Afghanistan — serve close to the front lines but technically not "in combat" — raises a question.
As NPR's Tom Bowman reports, the new rules still wouldn't allow women to serve in front line combat jobs such as infantry, armor or Special Forces.
The World Health Organization has just one week left to prepare for a highly anticipated meeting on controversial bird flu research. One official says that 22 invitations have gone out and the WHO is still waiting to hear back from some of the invitees.
Recent experiments involving the H5N1 bird flu virus have caused a furor in the science community, and the WHO was urged to convene an international discussion.
Originally published on Thu February 9, 2012 9:38 am
After a surprise sweep of Tuesday's three election contests by Rick Santorum, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney headed to Georgia on Wednesday for a fundraiser and rally in Atlanta.
As NPR's Kathy Lohr reports on Morning Edition, heading to Georgia — Newt Gingrich country — was "a bold move" for Romney. "Before a packed crowd at a local tile and flooring company, Romney talked about creating jobs and reducing government spending — and he also took aim at his GOP opponents," Lohr reports.
Originally published on Thu February 9, 2012 12:46 pm
"After negotiating through the night," NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports, states attorneys general, federal officials and five major banks have agreed on a plan that will provide about $26 billion in mortgage relief and aid to homeowners who got crushed when the housing bubble burst.
Originally published on Thu February 9, 2012 8:23 am
"Syrian forces fired mortars and rockets Thursday in the rebellious city of Homs, the latest salvo in a weeklong assault that has killed hundreds as President Bashar Assad's regime tries to crush increasingly militarized pockets of dissent," The Associated Press reports.
Relying on reports from activists and residents in Homs, the AP and other news outlets say it appears that a brutal crackdown continues.
Following up on a plan he unveiled last September to let states apply to be exempt from basic elements of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind education law, President Obama will today announce the first 10 states that have qualified for such exemptions.
Russia's support for Syrian President Bashar Assad has put it at odds with other countries in the Arab world.
Russia drew a lot of flack from Arab countries and the West when it vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution aimed at pressuring Assad to stop his crackdown on protesters. That has some analysts in Russia doubting whether the Kremlin really has a cogent strategy for the Middle East.
The dilemma for Russia policy in the Arab world can be illustrated by two very different events that took place this week.
The big Swiss bank UBS awarded some of its investment bankers millions of dollars in bonuses for their work last year. Now, according to The Wall Street Journal, it's taking some of that money back.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
Or clawing it back. That's our last word in business today. Claw back provisions implemented after the financial crisis allow banks to recover bonuses from employees. A trading scandal last year cost UBS more than $2 billion and pushed it into the red.
And that settlement is, of course, a priority for President Obama. But so is the debt crisis in Europe. Today, he hosts Italy's new prime minister, the technocrat who succeeded the controversial-but-flamboyant Silvio Berlusconi last fall. Mario Monti has not yet turned around Italy's economy, but as NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports, he's changed the government's image abroad.
Rick Santorum headed in a different direction after his wins on Tuesday.
Here's NPR's Wade Goodwyn in Dallas.
WADE GOODWYN, BYLINE: North Texas was a good choice for former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum to keep his campaign's momentum going. He met with evangelical pastors in the morning, Tea Partiers in the afternoon and a Republican women's group at night.
(SOUNDBITE OF MEETING)
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: It is our pleasure to introduce to you Rick Santorum. Give him a Texas welcome.
We're going to look now at American military strategy for the war in Afghanistan. There's been some confusion lately about whether American forces would end their combat mission sooner than planned and also about how long the U.S. will remain in Afghanistan. So to try to make sense of it all, we're joined by NPR Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman.
Labor unions plan to rally in front of the Arizona State Capitol on Thursday afternoon to protest four bills quickly moving through the state Legislature that could make last year's Wisconsin labor laws look modest by comparison.
Three of the four bills restrict the way unions collect dues and the way workers get paid for union activities. The fourth bans collective bargaining between governments and government workers: state and local. Unlike Wisconsin, it affects all government employees, including police and firefighters.
Chuck Taylor All Stars are common on the streets of Shanghai. Xuan Zhihui, 62, a retiree from a state-owned factory, wears her daughter's hand-me-down sneakers, which are 15 years old. She says they're really comfortable.
Credit Frank Langfitt / NPR
My Tee in Shanghai carries loads of limited edition Chuck Taylors from cities in Japan and New York. Owner Kenny Lee considers some of them museum pieces and has refused to sell them despite offers of up to $3,000.
Stroll along a street in downtown Shanghai for very long, and you're likely to run into someone wearing Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars. One recent afternoon, Xu Jing was heading back from lunch to her job at an ad company in a pair of raspberry-colored Chuck Taylors.
"They have a young image, upbeat and outdoorsy, sporty," said Xu, 27, explaining the appeal. "Young people with an artistic sense prefer Converse."
Xu was accompanied by Chen Xiaolei, a co-worker who owns three pairs of Chuck Taylor high-tops.
Tai chi, the Chinese martial art involving slow and rhythmic movement, has been shown to benefit older people by maintaining balance and strength. Now, researchers have found that tai chi also helps patients who suffer from Parkinson's disease.
Leona Maricle was diagnosed with Parkinson's two years ago. At the time, she was teaching math, and she says she had experienced the telltale tremors of Parkinson's for a number of years. She learned how to cope.
Turn on the news on any given day, and you're likely to hear about the Dow Jones industrial average. It is the most frequently checked, and cited, proxy of U.S. economic health. But a lot of people — maybe most — don't even know what it is. It's just the stock prices of 30 big companies, summed up and roughly averaged. That's it.
And what does the daily movement of this number have to do with the lives of most Americans? Not much.
In December, Freddie Mac CEO Charles Haldeman (from left), FHFA acting Director Edward DeMarco and Fannie Mae CEO Michael Williams testified on Capitol Hill about the Federal Housing Finance Agency's performance.
Members of the Egyptian military stand guard as officials raid the offices of a nongovernmental organization in Cairo. Egyptian investigating judges referred international NGO workers to trial for allegedly being involved in banned activities and illegally receiving foreign funds, security officials said.
Credit Mohammed Asad / AP
A voter checks a sample ballot outside a polling station during the second round of municipal elections in Egypt. The National Democratic Institute says it has helped mobilize volunteers and make parties aware of citizens' needs in Egypt without promoting a particular ideology.
Credit Courtesy of the National Democratic Institute
American lawmakers are furious about a mounting diplomatic crisis in Egypt, where dozens of nongovernmental workers, including 19 Americans, could face trial.
The United States says Egypt needs to let pro-democracy groups continue their work to help the country's transition, but Egypt accuses them of operating illegally.
The work of democracy promotion groups has raised suspicions in many countries, but Lorne Craner, who runs the International Republican Institute, says he has never seen anything like what's going on now in Egypt.
You didn't have to look hard to see this one coming.
Catholics and GOP candidates have attacked the Obama administration's plans to require most employers — including religious hospitals and schools — to provide coverage of prescription contraceptives. Now the debate is moving to Capitol Hill.
Fresh off his hat trick in Minnesota, Colorado and Missouri, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum campaigned in Texas on Wednesday, speaking to a group of pastors at Bella Donna Chapel in the town of McKinney.
Forty miles north of Dallas, where black prairie dirt meets the fresh poured concrete of suburbia, this is Rick Santorum country.
This satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe, taken in 2010, shows the Yongbyon nuclear complex in North Korea. The Institute for Science and International Security monitors satellite images for updates to nuclear facilities.
Credit DigtialGlobe / AP
New START negotiator Rose Gottemoeller speaks to reporters in 2010 in Washington, D.C. The acting undersecretary of state for arms control is looking into ways social media tools can help regulate nuclear weapons.
Credit Brendan Smialowski / Getty Images
This satellite image of Sudan was made available by the Satellite Sentinel Project in 2011. It appears to be a mass grave, offering the first aerial photographs from a conflict zone that outside observers can't access.
Here are two things you don't often hear mentioned in the same sentence: social media and nuclear weapons.
Rose Gottemoeller, acting undersecretary of state for arms control, quickly links those two unlikely partners in conversation. She's behind a campaign to discover how new communications tools can help rid the world of some of the dangers of nuclear weapons.
Crowdsourcing Nuclear Problems
Gottemoeller is an avid user of Twitter, and it made her wonder how Twitter and other methods of crowdsourcing a problem can help her in her work.
Liang Sicheng, known as the father of modern Chinese architecture, lobbied Mao Zedong to preserve ancient buildings in Beijing. Despite efforts to have his former courtyard home in Beijing preserved as a cultural relic, it was recently demolished.
Credit Louisa Lim / NPR
Yan Lianke is one of China's most famous authors, known for his absurdist stories about sensitive subjects. He moved into a new house in 2008, and a year later was told it would be knocked down to make way for development.
Credit Louisa Lim / NPR
Children play in a traditional residential district in Beijing that is undergoing demolition, in April 2011. Despite public protest, historic and new homes are being destroyed all over the city to make way for development.
Down a quiet Beijing alleyway on a recent day, as the winter wind whistles, two men stand guard over a pile of bricks hidden behind a corrugated iron fence.
The pile of rubble was once the home of the man known as the father of modern Chinese architecture, Liang Sicheng. The Orwellian reason for its demolition? "For maintenance," according to a Xinhua news agency report, citing the developer, Fuheng Real Estate company.