Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert is running for president. He's parodying the process β including, now, superPACS β in the same way he has parodied cable news. He's getting plenty of attention, but to really look into his political practical joke, I needed to go upstairs and find Peter Overby, NPR's man on campaign finance. I warned him it would seem like a dumb question, but I needed his help. What, exactly, is a superPAC?
Millions of homeowners are finding out that their property taxes are either holding steady or climbing, even as their house may be worth much less. There may not be much they can do about it.
In Ohio, Cuyahoga County's fiscal officer, Wade Steen, has been taking many calls from unhappy homeowners. He says they most often live in a community where voters passed a recent levy. That's a property tax measure that boosts funding for things such as schools and libraries.
If you listen to commercial radio, this is not news: Katy Perry had a huge year. She went No.1 five times. She was the most played artist on the radio. But the record industry is so weird, it's hard to know whether this kind of success translates into huge amounts of money.
So we asked.
I walked over to Katy Perry's record label. She's on Capital, which is under EMI. I met Greg Thompson, executive vice president of marketing and promotion at EMI.
During China's Lunar New Year holiday, more than 200 million people will travel home. It's the world's largest annual migration, and every year, Chinese tell horror stories about trying to get train tickets.
This season, the holiday falls on Monday, and it was supposed to be different: For the first time, China's rail ministry created a website to reserve seats. But things didn't work out as planned.
Whenever the late New York Times caricaturist Al Hirschfeld sketched Carol Channing β whether picturing her as an indomitable Dolly Levi, swathed in feathers and sequins, or as carbon-crazed Lorelei Lee, eyes sparkling like the diamonds that were that splendid creature's best friends β he always made her appear a creature composed entirely of lipstick, mascara and hairspray.
Ralph Fiennes showed up for a frenzied cameo near the end of Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker, and her hand-held, adrenaline-charged approach clearly inspired his film of Shakespeare's Coriolanus, which he both acts and directs the bloody hell out of.
In 1999, Rene Foreman was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. She underwent surgery that saved her life; it also took her voice box. To speak, Rene now uses an electrolarynx β a small device that she holds against her throat to produce her voice, electronically.
Discussing how having a synthesized voice has changed her life, Rene, 70, told her daughter Michelle that the electrolarynx helps her to enjoy each day, even if it also makes her stand out in some ways.
Of those times, Michelle asks, "How do you feel when people turn around and look at you?"
Click the link above to listen to Laura Sydell's conversation with Morning Edition's David Greene about the Megaupload indictment and the attack on the Department of Justice's website by the group Anonymous.
Rhoda Janzen is the author of Mennonite in a Little Black Dress.
Recently my friend Peggy and I decided to make a jaunt from my house in Southwestern Michigan, across the state to Detroit. We took her car. At day's end we pulled into my remote driveway on Lake Allegan. It was then I realized that didn't have my keys. They were in fact, hanging in the little key box in my laundry room.
Originally published on Thu January 19, 2012 7:36 pm
Earlier today, the Justice Department announced it had charged seven people on counts of copyright infringement and conspiracy in what's being called one the biggest criminal copyright cases.
NPR's Carrie Johnson filed this report for our Newscast unit:
"The Justice Department accused Megaupload, a popular file sharing site, with helping millions of people gain access to pirated movies, music and TV programs, often before the items are released for sale.
Food policy can sound like a dreary enterprise best left to Washington, D.C. But big-city mayors are starting to see local food policy as a key step in getting healthy, affordable food to their constituents.
This afternoon, the mayors of America are meeting in Washington, D.C., to launch their own food policy task force. The goal is to share information on projects that work, and also make sure that federal food policy doesn't muck up those local efforts.
Originally published on Thu January 19, 2012 5:27 pm
Freestyle skiing pioneer Sarah Burke died this morning at the University of Utah Medical Center from injuries suffered nine days ago while practicing the sport she championed.
"Sarah passed away peacefully surrounded by those she loved," says a statement from the medical center. "In accordance with Sarah's wishes, her organs and tissues were donated to save the lives of others."
What do you do with a 1,000-foot wreck that's full of fuel and half-submerged on a rocky ledge in the middle of an Italian marine sanctuary? Remove it. Very carefully.
The wreck of the cruise liner Costa Concordia, which ran aground last week, is not unlike a car accident. The first order of business is determining whether it's worth repairing or it gets junked. Then there are the questions of how best to go about it β and who pays.
Remember that movie Sarah's Key? Did you miss it? It was last year's highest grossing foreign-language film, but it made less than eight million dollars. The fact is that selling foreign language films to U.S. audiences is a notorious challenge. Nevertheless, Fox, one of the world's most powerful media conglomerates, is beefing up its investment in foreign films.
In Asia's modern history, college students have played a leading role in pushing for political reform and challenging authoritarian regimes.
Adam Adli is one of these student activists, and is becoming a prominent political figure as he fights to abolish a 40-year-old law that bars college students in the prosperous Southeast Asian country from participating in politics.
The 22-year-old was among the crowd of thousands chanting "reformasi," or reform, outside Malaysia's high court in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, on Jan. 9.
Johnny Otis was many things over his career, including a bandleader, producer, radio and TV host and composer. Additionally, Otis launched the careers of many of R&B's finest singers. Otis died on Tuesday at his home near Los Angeles. He was 90 years old.
If it seemed like 2011 was a big year for laws restricting abortion, it was.
In fact, according to "Who Decides? The Status of Women's Reproductive Rights In the U.S.," the 21stannual report compiled by the abortion-rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America, the 69 laws enacted restricting a woman's reproductive rights were just one short of the record set in 1999.
Originally published on Thu January 19, 2012 2:53 pm
Extending the political crisis that has churned up a media frenzy and put the nation on edge, Pakistan's Supreme Court has given the Prime Minister ten more days to answer contempt of court charges
Prime Minister Yusef Reza Gilani drove himself to the imposing Supreme Court building framed by stormy skies this morning. Facing contempt charges, he stood in the well of the packed court and defended his refusal to re-open a graft case against his boss, President Zardari.
Originally published on Thu January 19, 2012 2:45 pm
A woman who was seen dining with the captain of the Costa Concordia the night the luxury liner crashed off the Italian coast is defending him. The AP reports that the woman, whom Italian authorities want to interview, is Dominican Cermotan, a 25-year-old Moldovan, who worked for Costa as a hostess but was not on duty the day of the incident.
"He did a great thing, he saved over 3,000 lives," Cermotan told Moldova's Jurnal TV, according to the AP.