Since 2006, 40,000 people have been murdered in Mexico as drug cartels battle each other and the Mexican military.
British journalist Ioan Grillo has spent the past 10 years covering the Mexican drug trade. His book El Narco traces how Mexico came to dominate drug trafficking, how it spread throughout the country, and how the drug cartels have radically transformed the area along the U.S.-Mexico border.
It's tough to get excited about another awareness day. In case you hadn't heard, October is National Protect Your Hearing Month. Sept. 21 was National School Backpack Day. There is a Hug Your Hound Day. These are all worthy causes, of course, but at a certain point, one wonders whether any good can come from singling out one more day to force awareness on people.
Originally published on Mon October 24, 2011 2:02 pm
At this point the McRib has become American folklore. The boneless pork sandwich slathered in barbeque sauce is only sold whenever each individual McDonald's franchise feels like selling it. So — probably because of elusiveness — it's developed a cult-like following.
The AP reports that McRib hunters will be very happy, because the fast-food behemoth is doing what it did last year and asking its restaurants nationwide to sell the sandwich through Nov. 14.
Originally published on Tue October 25, 2011 10:50 am
That headline may seem insignificant — you know that Larry Page, Google's CEO, now has more followers on Google+ than Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg — but in the tech world it's seen as tea leaves that hint at the future of the social network.
<p>A boat navigates along the Black River near the village of Tumbira, in the Amazon, northern Brazil, on Aug. 18. In a few weeks, Google will post a 3-D, on-the-ground view of Tumbira on Google Earth Outreach. </p>
Credit Evaristo SA / AFP/Getty Images
<p>A Google team member rides a Trike with a 360-degree camera system on it to record the "Street View for the Amazon" in Tumbira in August. Google says the images will be ready in a few weeks. </p>
Google has long offered anyone with an Internet connection a street-level view of cities and landmarks around the world, from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Roman Coliseum.
Now, it's teaming up with a Brazilian environmental group to offer a 3-D, on-the-ground view of one of the planet's most remote areas: the hamlet of Tumbira in the center of the Brazilian Amazon. The goal is to show how people in the Amazon live — and educate the public about their effort to protect the forest.
In 1980, the Supreme Court ruled that living, human-made microorganisms could be patented by their developers. The ruling opened the gateway for cells, tissues, genetically modified plants and animals, and genes to be patented.
<p>Dr. Brenda Williams, right, with her husband, Dr. Joe Williams, in their Sumter, S.C. medical clinic. The two routinely register their patients to vote. Brenda also seeks out new voters at the county jail. </p>
MICHEL MARTIN, host: This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Coming up: As cholera epidemic grips Haiti, we'll hear about new efforts to fight the disease and the challenge of getting medical care to all who need it, and we'll also hear about a musical group with roots in the Haitian diaspora that is wowing critics and audiences around the world. That's all coming up later in the program. But first, an announcement that many Americans have been waiting for, for years, that U.S. troops will be leaving Iraq by the end of the year.
Originally published on Mon October 24, 2011 1:22 pm
An advantage of being an Oval Office incumbent seeking re-election was readily evident Monday in President Obama's roll-out of his administration's latest effort to help struggling homeowners.
With many Americans either facing foreclosure and others, because of declining property values or much tighter lending standards, unable to refinance their mortgages to take advantage of lower interest rates, the Obama administration is doing extensive renovations of its current housing policies.
Michele Norris, an All Things Considered co-host since December 2002, is stepping away from that post until after the 2012 presidential campaign because her husband has taken a senior position with President Obama's re-election effort.
She is not leaving NPR's airwaves, however. While she will not be involved in coverage of the 2012 election, Norris will continue to report and produce projects for the organization.
Saying that "an arbitrary and unlawful financial blockade ... has destroyed 95 percent of our revenue," WikiLeaks has suspended publishing operations and founder Julian Assange says it may have to shut down permanently by year's end.
A big fight is brewing in the Senate over the national defense policy bill. It's legislation that would authorize a pay raise and other benefits for U.S. troops.
But the bipartisan bill also contains a provision about detainees that's raising alarms at the White House, because the Obama administration says the measure would tie its hands in some terrorism cases.
The defense authorization bill has pitted President Obama's national security advisers against some prominent Democrats in the U.S. Senate.
Originally published on Mon October 24, 2011 5:50 pm
Update at 5:42 p.m. ET. As expected, President Obama announced that his administration was easing the terms of a federal program that would open the doors for homeowners to refinancing their homes no matter how far underwater their mortgage is.
The AP reports that the Federal Housing Finance Administration "estimated an additional 1 million people would qualify. Moody's Analytics say the figure could be as high as 1.6 million."
"Libya's transitional leader has ordered an investigation into the death of Moammar Gadhafi after the U.S. and other international powers pressed for the probe," The Associated Press reports. It adds that "Mustafa Abdul-Jalil told a news conference in the eastern city of Benghazi that the Transitional National Council formed a committee to investigate the killing on Thursday, amid conflicting reports of how the dictator who ruled Libya for four decades died."
"The U.S. has pulled its ambassador out of Syria over security concerns, blaming President Bashar Assad's government for the threats.," The Associated Press writes. "State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Monday that Ambassador Robert Ford returned to Washington this weekend after 'credible threats against his personal safety.' "
<p><strong>Four's The Score:</strong> One of a handful of performers to score an EGOT — an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony — Rita Moreno is revisiting the highlights and lowlights of her life and career in a new solo show.</p>
Credit Michael LaMonica / Berkeley Repertory Theatre
<p>Moreno won her Oscar for the part of Anita, the firebrand girlfriend of the heroine's brother, in the film <em>West Side Story</em>, which recently had its 50th anniversary. </p>
<p>John Leguizamo's fifth solo show, <em>Ghetto Klown</em>, tracks the arc of his show-business career.</p>
Rita Moreno — the only Latino performer to win an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony — is reprising some of her most memorable characters in a solo show at the Berkeley Repertory Theater. Up the coast in Los Angeles, John Leguizamo, who co-starred opposite Al Pacino in Carlito's Way and voiced Sid the sloth in the animated Ice Age films, is performing another of his acclaimed solo shows. And while their Hollywood success came 40 years apart, the two say they encountered many of the same hurdles.
If you're a senior on Medicare — or an adult child responsible for a senior on Medicare — here's something you should know: The annual "open enrollment" period for joining or changing prescription drug or private health plans is already under way.
"It's much earlier this year. It started on Oct. 15, and it's going to stop on Dec. 7," says Nancy Metcalf, a senior editor and health expert at Consumer Reports. "So you have your window right now."
<p>Farmer Scott Allgood, front, of Allgood, Ala., listens during a meeting of farmers and state officials to discuss the impact of the Alabama Immigration law on their livelihoods in Oneonta, Ala.</p>
Credit Dave Martin / AP
<p>Farmer Guiseppe Peturis says he's tried to hire workers through the state unemployment office before, but the workers didn't stay for more than a day.</p>
Credit Debbie Elliot / NPR
<p>Migrant worker Felipe Chacoa of Mexico talks about his desire to continue to harvest produce during a meeting of farmers and state officials to discuss the impact of the Alabama Immigration law on their livelihoods in Oneonta, Ala.</p>
Alabama farmers are facing a labor crisis because of the state's new immigration law as both legal and undocumented migrant workers have fled the state since the strict new rules went into effect last month.
So far, piecemeal efforts to match the unemployed or work release inmates to farm jobs are not panning out, and farmers are asking state lawmakers to do something before the spring planting season.
<p>Lance Cpl. Dakota Hicks, from Laharpe, Ill., connects a radio battery to a portable solar panel system in Sangin District, Afghanistan.</p>
Credit William Price Small / AP
<p>A tanker bringing fuel to U.S. and NATO forces burns after being attacked by militants in Afghanistan's Logar province in August. Military officials say fuel convoys are a significant vulnerability for U.S. forces.</p>
With a bill of about $15 billion a year the U.S. military is the largest energy user in the country by far, so the Defense Department has been finding alternative ways to meet its energy needs with help from Silicon Valley.
But this partnership between the military and clean tech companies is taking some heat in the midst of discussions about Solyndra, the failed solar panel manufacturer, and the riskiness of green startups.
<p>Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, businessman Herman Cain, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann participate in a Republican presidential debate last week in Las Vegas.</p>
Home prices across the U.S. have dropped 30 percent from their peaks, a downturn that has sapped trillions of dollars in wealth from Americans. Not surprisingly, it's a hot topic for presidential candidates this campaign season. But so far, new ideas about how to fix the crisis have been scarce.
On Monday, President Obama is visiting Nevada, where he's expected to announce his administration's latest proposals on housing. The state is at the epicenter of the downturn, with the latest reports showing home prices and sales numbers continuing to slip.
<p>President Obama, seen here in North Chesterfield, Va., last week, is on a campaign swing through the West this week, making stops in California, Nevada and Colorado — states with significant Hispanic populations. </p>
RENEE MONTAGNE, host: The Texas Rangers beat the St. Louis Cardinals four to nothing in Arlington, Texas last night. The win evens the series at two games apiece. The keys to the Rangers' victory were a single swing to the bat on offense and 112 pitches from their starter, Derek Holland. NPR's Mike Pesca was at the ballpark and filed this report.
MIKE PESCA: Mike Napoli - Napoli. It's fun to say. Napoli.
European political leaders failed to come to agreement over the weekend on key issues to try to stem the debt crisis that threatens to spread from the smaller economies of Greece and Portugal to Europe's third- and fourth-largest economies: Italy and Spain. EU leaders vowed to keep working toward a wide-ranging plan at a second meeting Wednesday.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has just returned to the U.S. after a weeklong trip through Central Asia. Most of her stops were associated with two issues: the war in Afghanistan, and frayed relations with Pakistan. Clinton described her talks with U.S. and Pakistani military leaders as very comprehensive.
The ragtag militias that overran Moammar Gadhafi's hometown included at least one American. Reporter Marine Olivesi spoke with him on several occasions during the battle and sent us this report.
MARINE OLIVESI: At the makeshift cafeteria set up a couple of miles west of Sirte, a young man stands out in the crowd of disheveled fighters. He wears Oakley sunglasses, a helmet on his shaved head, and a khaki bulletproof jacket on a fit body. Then, there's the accent.