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For U.S. And Russia, Distrust Still Runs High

Sep 14, 2011

President Obama's policy of engagement with Russia has paid off in several concrete achievements, including a nuclear arms control agreement and greater cooperation on Iran and Afghanistan.

But both supporters and critics of the so-called reset policy worry that further victories will be harder to win.

Both nations are distracted by presidential politics, preventing policymakers from talking seriously about matters such as missile defense.

The harsh, tropical sunlight that dapples Bali's tourist-thronged beaches streams through the fingers of a palm leaf and lands on the shoulders of Nengah, who slumps like a rag doll amid a pile of tattered pillows in the island's far eastern reaches.

The poor village of Abang is remote, and Nengah spends her days in a heap, staring at hands that lie in her lap like dry leaves.

Today, Nengah is not alone. Neighbors have gathered in the mid-July heat to watch as her brother uses a stone to break a chain that has bound her to a concrete pit — her home — for nearly a decade.

NASA Unveils Next Generation 'Monster' Space Rocket

Sep 14, 2011

If things go without a hitch NASA announced that its new Space Launch System could take its first manned test flight in 2017.

The new design looks a lot like the Apollo era rockets that took American astronauts to the moon, but NASA said the new spacecraft is much more powerful than any other rocket they've made before and could set up astronauts for deep space exploration. The SLS will be NASA's first exploration-calss vehicle since the Saturn V took astronauts to the moon.

At the unveiling of the plans Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) called it a "monster rocket."

When U.S. forces launched the war in Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2001, they were riding a wave of anger and a call for justice by a broad swath of the American public.

Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center, says the initial support for the Afghan invasion was around 90 percent, and the war was closely followed by a large number of people. But since then, the public has been slowly disengaging, he says.

While there are still many open questions, some things are more certain in the sorry tale of Solyndra, the now bankrupt solar-cell manufacturer President Obama once praised as a model for the nation's renewable energy future.

One, U.S. taxpayers will take a loss on their $535 million federal loan guarantee that was part of the stimulus program.

Two, 1,100 workers have been laid off.

Three, the Federal Bureau of Investigation last week raided Solyndra's offices.

A story that's been getting some attention the past day or so — that AIDS researchers at the Mayo Clinic have inserted genes into cats that make the animals glow green in the dark — sounded familiar.

Haven't researchers been doing this sort of thing for years? We wondered.

At first glance this bit of news from the AP seems a foreboding sign for the future of the country:

Scores on the critical reading portion of the SAT college entrance exam fell three points to their lowest level on record last year, and combined reading and math scores reached their lowest point since 1995.



I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. We're going to spend a good deal of time today talking about money, how much the government has to spend and how much and how little many American families have. Later we're going to talk about that special Congressional Committee that's been charged with coming up with a plan to take a big bite out of the federal deficit. That group held it's first public hearing on Tuesday.

For another perspective on combating the increase in poverty, Tell Me More turns to Jared Bernstein. He served in the Obama administration as Chief Economist and Economic Adviser to Vice President Joe Biden. He responds to Herman Cain's 999 plan and identifies the impediments of getting Americans back to work.

'Civil, Sober' Super Committee Gets To Work

Sep 14, 2011



I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, it's an article of faith that parents are going to try to work hard and sacrifice so they can leave something to their kids. But a new survey shows that that's less and less the case for millionaire baby boomers. We'll hear more about that in just a few minutes. That's this week's Money Coach conversation.

Antidepressants are the second-most-prescribed drug in the U.S., making them seem about as common as Pez candy.

Dispatches from the field: A customer was nabbed by police for sampling raw meat at a Walmart in Pennsylvania. A woman said she had an encounter with a bat at a Walmart in Minnesota. A family of five was living in a car at a Walmart in Florida.

"Dozens of Americans who claim to have been made ill by Wi-Fi and mobile phones have flocked to the town of Green Bank, W.Va.," the BBC reports.

"A key federal report blames poor management, key missteps and a faulty cement job by BP and others for the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history and the deaths of 11 rig workers," The Associated Press reports.

One of the scoops of the day, from The Washington Post:

"The Obama White House tried to rush federal reviewers for a decision on a nearly half-billion-dollar loan to the solar-panel manufacturer Solyndra so Vice President Biden could announce the approval at a September 2009 groundbreaking for the company's factory, newly obtained e-mails show."

Republicans had reasons to cheer and Democrats to despair Wednesday with the upset special election victory in New York City of a Republican retired businessman who will complete the congressional term of Anthony Weiner, the Democrat who exited the U.S. House because of a sexting scandal.

Bob Turner, a 70-year old former cable television executive, beat David Weprin, a 55-year old, state assemblyman, in a district which had, until Tuesday, been reliably Democratic for nearly 100 years.

A sharp drop in energy costs helped keep prices at the wholesale level unchanged in August vs. July, the Bureau of Labor Statistics just reported.

According to BLS, while food costs went up 1.1 percent, energy costs fell 1 percent.

Still, over the 13 months ended Aug. 31 the producer price index rose 6.5 percent, BLS added.

The limits of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's authority appear to be showing again with word from that country's official news outlet that:

"Iran's Judiciary has rejected recent media reports on the imminent release of the two American nationals that were convicted of spying on behalf of the United States."

"Republicans pulled off an upset in Tuesday's special election in New York City to replace former congressman Anthony Weiner," NPR's Joel Rose reports. "Bob Turner claimed victory over Democrat David Weprin."