The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Tuesday in a case that sounds more like a John Grisham novel than a Supreme Court case.
The issue is whether police investigators have total immunity from being sued for giving false testimony before a grand jury. The case has all the elements of a spooky saga, involving power, influence and money — all used to silence the critics of Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, the largest hospital in Albany, Ga.
On a recent day in Rio de Janeiro, police radios crackle in Providencia, a warren of cinder-block homes and narrow walkways where drugs and violence were once common.
But these days, it's just routine chatter. All is safe in this favela, one of the hundreds of slums built chockablock on the city's steep hills. A Rio advertising company is leading a tour for its employees and representatives of other companies.
Among those who have come is Raoni Lotar, a 30-year-old Carioca — resident of Rio.
Starbucks is teaming up with a network of community-based financial institutions to help create jobs. Beginning Tuesday anyone can make a tax-deductable contribution at a Starbucks store or online to the Create Jobs for USA Fund. The money will go to companies so they can hire or retain American workers.
A top political appointee in the Obama Justice Department says he made a "mistake" when he didn't flag questionable tactics used by federal agents in a gun-trafficking case for his superiors last year.
Lanny A. Breuer, assistant attorney general in charge of the criminal division, told NPR he found out in April 2010 that agents at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had let more than 400 guns connected to suspicious buyers cross the Southwest border during the Bush years, but he didn't tell senior leadership at the Justice Department.
The planet may not feel any different today, but there are now 7 billion people on it, according to the United Nations.
That number will continue to rise, of course, and global incomes are likely to rise as well. That means more cars and computers, and bigger homes: the kinds of things Americans take for granted. It's that rise in consumption that has population experts worried.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
President Obama is wielding a unilateral prerogative of his office – the executive order – to get something done about a worsening shortage of essential drugs.
It's a problem that earlier this month one administration official called "a dire public health situation." Many thousands of patients with cancer, life-threatening infections, cardiac disease, severe gastrointestinal disorders and many other conditions aren't able to get the drugs they need.
Being a comedian, Joe Marlotti is always afraid he won't get laughs. But he grows especially nervous this time of year. After all, a comedian doesn't want his kids to bomb when it comes time to tell jokes.
Marlotti hails from St. Louis, where local Halloween tradition calls for children not to say "trick or treat," but to tell a joke in order to earn candy.
"I've been all around the block — literally — telling them that it's important to tell the joke right, or it makes me look bad," Marlotti says.
The plan for Norris and Janis Galatas was that they would be settled and comfortable at middle age — paying off their bills and putting away something for the future. But now the wounded warrior and his wife are rethinking the American dream.