Los Angeles County's sheriff is under fire. A blue-ribbon commission issued a scathing report Friday accusing Sheriff Lee Baca of failing to address long-standing allegations of inmate abuse in his jails. The accusations include deputies beating inmates, cover-ups and a persistent culture of violence.
The sheriff has been able to weather many storms during his 14-year tenure, but this may be the toughest fight of his political career.
Originally published on Fri September 28, 2012 7:56 pm
A long, controversial investigation of a polar bear scientist has ended with his government employer saying it does not look like he engaged in any scientific misconduct.
Charles Monnett is a wildlife researcher with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, part of the Department of the Interior. He and a colleague, Jeffrey Gleason, wrote an influential 2006 report describing apparently drowned polar bears floating in the Arctic, which they saw during a routine aerial survey of whales.
If there is a boogey man in the Ohio presidential sweepstakes, it's China. According to Bloomberg, the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates have aired nearly 30,000 ads that mention trade with China, many airing in the key swing state of Ohio.
Originally published on Sun September 30, 2012 10:09 pm
Talk of a Tomato War is simmering in agricultural circles, after the U.S. Commerce Department issued a report Thursday that recommends ending an agreement on how fresh tomatoes grown in Mexico are sold in the United States. The issue could create an expanding trade conflict; Mexican officials have said they would retaliate to defend the tomato growers.
The western Afghan city of Herat has become a thriving hub for the money exchange business, a consequence of geography and politics. Money-changers throng the currency market carrying thick stacks of Iranian currency, much of it brought in by the hundreds of thousands of Afghan workers who earn their living in Iran.
While the stacks of crisp 100,000 rial notes that money-changers bring to the market might look like a small fortune, the 10 million rials in each of these stacks is worth less than $400, because the Iranian currency recently lost more than half of its value.
According to Bloomberg, President Obama and Mitt Romney have aired nearly 30,000 TV spots addressing the issue of trade with China, and that's just in the past month. Many of those ads aired in Ohio where both candidates are spending a lot of time. NPR's Sonari Glinton explains the Ohio-China nexus.
SONARI GLINTON, BYLINE: If there's a boogeyman in the Ohio presidential sweepstakes, it's China.
There may be international sanctions against Iran, but not in Afghanistan's border provinces with the Islamic Republic where trade and money-laundering are thriving. Every day, millions in Iranian currency are brought in by taxis ferrying passengers. The Iranian money is exchanged for dollars, which are then shipped back to Iran. American officials recently ordered the Afghan banks to crack down on this phenomenon and it appears to be having some effect.
Today at All Things Considered, we continue a project we're calling NewsPoet. Each month, we bring in a poet to spend time in the newsroom — and at the end of the day, to compose a poem reflecting on the day's stories.
This Sunday, a landmark composition of the 20th century will be webcast by NPR, and led by the quintessential 21st century conductor: 31-year-old Gustavo Dudamel, who will conduct the Los Angeles Philharmonic in Igor Stravinsky's Le Sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring). Dudamel spoke about his experience of this earthshaking piece with All Things Considered host Robert Siegel.
Originally published on Mon October 1, 2012 11:30 am
After inadvertently airing live coverage of a car chase that ended with a man's suicide, Shepard Smith of Fox News has issued an apology to viewers of his show. The incident occurred as the cable network carried a live feed of a man fleeing police on the interstate west of Phoenix.
In the footage, the man abandoned his vehicle and began running across a field, before pulling out a gun and shooting himself in the head. Despite being filmed from a helicopter hovering above the scene, the footage was graphic enough to prompt immediate yelling in the Fox News studio.
Originally published on Fri September 28, 2012 3:19 pm
An oddity of U.S. presidential politics is that candidates and their campaigns spend nearly all their time telling voters how superior they are to their rivals in virtually every area: the wisdom of their policy proposals; the soundness of their characters and judgments — everything, really.
Except for debating.
It's the old game of setting the bar high for your opponent and lower for your candidate, of course. That way, anything short of a disastrous debate performance can be claimed as a knockout victory.
Back in the 1920s, the U.S. government thought blimps might be the next big thing in warfare. So the government started producing helium. And they created the Federal Helium Reserve, a vast store of helium that sits underground in the Texas panhandle.
Originally published on Fri September 28, 2012 4:31 pm
A big embarrassment came this week for the Republican Party, which has made voting integrity and fighting voter fraud a major issue.
A consulting firm hired by the Republican National Committee to register voters in five battleground states has been let go after one of its workers apparently submitted over 100 questionable registration forms in Florida's Palm Beach County.
The party severed its ties with the firm — Strategic Allied Consulting — because it has "zero tolerance" for voter fraud, said RNC spokesman Sean Spicer.
On the surface, the new coronavirus detected in the Middle East this month looks quite similar to SARS. It apparently causes severe respiratory problems, and can be lethal.
But with viruses, the devil is in their details — the genetic details.
Dutch virologists have just published the whole genome of the new coronavirus — all 30,118 letters of its code. And, the sequence reveals that the mystery virus is most closely related to coronaviruses that infect bats in Southeast Asia.
Originally published on Fri September 28, 2012 4:52 pm
The Food and Drug Administration isn't sure, but Rita Desollar of Pekin, Ill., feels she knows what killed Heidi, her 7-year-old German shepherd. She feels it was the chicken jerky strips she bought at her local Walgreen's.
Desollar says on the Wednesday before Memorial Day, she gave two pieces of Waggin' Train jerky to Heidi as a treat. A few days later, Heidi was throwing up and "in a lot of distress," she says. By the time the holiday rolled around on Monday, Desollar says, Heidi was convulsing in her bed. She died that day, before Desollar could even take her to the vet.
Federal authorities in Southern California have arrested the man who produced the now infamous anti-Islam video, the one that recently sparked unrest in many Muslim countries. Nakoula Basseley Nakoula was arrested for violating his probation from a previous bank fraud conviction. The judge at his hearing this afternoon denied Mr. Nakoula bail, calling him a flight risk, that's according to news agency reports. We now go to NPR West, and we're joined by NPR's Carrie Kahn, who has the latest on Nakoula's arrest.
When Laura Kate Whitney enrolled her 4-year-old, Grey, at Avondale Elementary, a public school in Birmingham, Ala., she and her husband were bucking a trend. Whitney and her husband are white, middle-class professionals. Public schools in Birmingham are 95 percent black, and 90 percent of the students are on free or reduced lunch.
Whitney's is one of about two-dozen similar families who are not buying into the conventional tradeoff that if you live within city limits and have means, you send your kids to private schools.
Right now, as we near the end of the 2012 fall TV premiere week, there's a tendency for a sense of weariness to set in. So many of the new TV series are so bad this year, and not one of them is outstanding. It tends to get a little depressing.
But then you think about the rich bounty of returning series, and how good television drama has gotten lately, and there's cause to rejoice all over again.
Mammoths and saber-toothed cats may be the most famous beasts of the Ice Age. But they shared the prairie with horses and camels, too--both of which evolved in North America and crossed the ice bridge into Eurasia, before disappearing here. Matthew Kohn and Christopher Hill talk about the lesser-known fauna of the Ice Age.
Last week, Fox and Friends saw a photo on The Drudge Report and started saying that President Obama had time to sit down with a comical "pirate" but not to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The only problem: The photo was three years old.