Hurricane Sandy's effect on the nation's unemployment figures was less pronounced than expected. The reasons are complex, but one thing is clear: Thousands of victims are still struggling to rebuild their lives and get back to work.
Danielle Siekierski was tending bar at a restaurant in Manhattan's Meatpacking District before Sandy hit. When the restaurant was damaged in the storm, the workers were told it might be a week before it reopened.
California Gov. Jerry Brown is receiving radiation therapy for prostate cancer, which his physician says was caught at an "early stage." The governor's office announced the news today, adding that Brown's work schedule has not been disrupted.
"The prognosis is excellent, and there are not expected to be any significant side effects," the governor's office quoted UCSF oncologist Dr. Eric Small as saying. Calling the cancer "localized," Small said that Brown is undergoing a short course of radiation therapy.
Brown is expected to undergo treatment through early January.
Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 12:54 pm
No one can argue the setback to organized labor served up by Michigan's new law, which bars unions from requiring workers to pay dues even if they don't join their workplace bargaining unit.
Tuesday's passage of "right to work" legislation in a state dominated by the auto industry and the historically powerful United Auto Workers was a surprising "smack in the face" to unions, says labor expert Lee Adler, especially given President Obama's nearly 10-point win in the state last month.
Eighteen months ago Eden Full was finishing up her sophomore year at Princeton University. She was on the crew team as a coxswain. She had spent the previous summer in Kenya building an innovative, low-cost contraption to make solar panels more efficient.
Full was glowingly successful — the kind of college student who ends up profiled in alumni magazines.
A customer departs Total Wine of Towson, Md., with a gift pack of Belgium's Westvleteren 12 Trappist ale.
Credit Bill Chappell / NPR
For the first time, the vaunted Westvleteren 12 beer has hit U.S. beer store shelves in large numbers. The bottle's Latin inscription reads, "Ad aedificandam abbatiam adiuvi," or, "I helped to build the abbey."
Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 6:39 pm
To many beer fans, the arrival of the Westvleteren 12 Trappist ale in American shops today is a chance to try a beer they've only read about on beer-geek blogs and sites — where it's often given a "world class" rating of 100.
But finding the beer can be tricky — it's not available in all states, and some stores sold out of their allotment within hours of opening Wednesday.
In the small town of Claxton, Ga., two bakeries make more than 4 million pounds of fruitcake each year. Both bakeries say Claxton is the fruitcake capital of the world, despite a similar claim made by a company in Corsicana, Texas.
A crowd seeks help applying for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles in August. Schools have been inundated with requests for the documents needed to qualify.
In the six months since a new law opened a path to temporary legal status for some young immigrants in the U.S., more than 300,000 people have applied — and have rushed to request qualifying documents from their schools.
The law, Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, offers legal status, renewable every two years, to people ages 30 and younger who were brought to the country as children. Applicants must prove they were in the U.S. for five consecutive years — something most easily achieved through school transcripts.
Cartoonists have found many clever ways to depict the conventional wisdom that complex life evolved in the sea and then crawled up onto land. But a provocative new study suggests that the procession might be drawn in the wrong direction. The earliest large life forms may have appeared on land long before the oceans filled with creatures that swam and crawled and burrowed in the mud.
The Syrian military fired Scud missiles on rebel positions in northern Syria this week, a Pentagon source says. Here, a rebel fighter takes a position last month in the northern city of Aleppo, the scene of heavy fighting in recent months.
Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 4:58 pm
The Syrian military fired Scud missiles at rebel forces this week, launching them from near the capital Damascus and targeting opposition fighters in the north of the country, Pentagon sources tell NPR's Tom Bowman.
The development comes at a time when the fighting has been intensifying and the rebels appear to be gaining momentum in a nearly two-year-old battle against President Bashar Assad.
Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 4:31 pm
North Korea's successful rocket launch may conjure up visions of nuclear missiles in the hands of one of the planet's least predictable regimes. But building a satellite launch vehicle doesn't directly translate into an ability to rain warheads on distant enemies.
Now, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents say they recently discovered 30 large cans of marijuana in a field near Yuma, Ariz., — and that the barrels apparently landed there after being fired from a pneumatic-powered cannon 500 feet away in Mexico.
Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 3:12 pm
Despite his re-election and more Democratic seats in Congress, President Obama has far from a free hand to make the kind of comprehensive deal House Speaker John Boehner and other Republicans are demanding — one that includes cuts to entitlement programs.
Strong resistance to that notion is coming from the political left, including warnings that while Obama won't have another re-election, most of his allies on Capitol Hill will be facing voters again.
Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 2:56 pm
The 2012 flu season started strong and eight states have already reported widespread flu activity. This is the earliest regular flu season since 2003-2004. With only about 37% of the population vaccinated so far, the influenza virus still has the potential to have a severe impact.
President Barack Obama is expected to make some key changes to his second-term cabinet. As Hillary Clinton prepares to step down as Secretary of State, many wonder whether she will run for president in 2016.
Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 4:04 pm
Sitar player Ravi Shankar died Tuesday at the age of 92. Brian Q. Silver, a sitar player with over 40 years of experience, talks about playing the unique instrument and how Shankar popularized the Indian musical style.
To date, Syrian rebels have had to rely on small-scale weapons in their fight against the Syrian army. Here, a rebel fighter throws an explosive device toward a Syrian government position in the northern city of Aleppo last month.
Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 1:50 pm
The U.S. has now formally recognized a new Syrian opposition group as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people. But the U.S. has repeatedly declined to provide weapons for rebels fighting President Bashar Assad's army.
However, NPR has learned that there are movements behind the scenes. In Jordan, several Syrian sources said that Jordanian authorities, along with their U.S. and British counterparts, have organized training for Syrian rebels on sophisticated anti-aircraft weapons.
Ke$ha uses a dollar-sign instead of an "s" in the middle of her stage name. It's one of those gestures that's meant to bait her detractors — suggesting before anyone else does that she's only in it for the money. It turns out, though, that like pop stars ranging from Madonna on back to Chuck Berry, Ke$ha wants it both ways: mass-audience success and artistic acknowledgment. For Ke$ha, that's what her album title Warrior means: She's fighting a war on multiple fronts.
By the time he turned 40, Joseph Kennedy was a millionaire many times over and the head of what would soon become one of America's greatest political dynasties. In his new biography of the senior Kennedy, The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy, David Nasaw charts Kennedy's life and trajectory from Boston society boy to Hollywood bigwig to controversial ambassador to Great Britain as World War II unfolded on the European stage.
Saying it is concerned that the economy won't be strong enough in coming months to keep adding jobs to the labor market, the Federal Reserve announced this afternoon that is increasing its efforts to give the economy a boost.
And in an unusually specific statement from the central bank, its policymakers said they expect to keep a key short-term interest rate at or near zero percent "as long as the unemployment rate remains above 6.5 percent."
On Tuesday, a federal bankruptcy judge gave the nod to a Chinese firm to buy a Massachusetts technology company. The company, A123 Systems, makes batteries for electric cars, but some in Congress are fighting to block the deal.
Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 1:12 pm
India's government has approved an inquiry into Wal-Mart's lobbying activities in the U.S. as a heated debate over the retail giant's plans for stores in India moves into a new phase, NPR's Julie McCarthy tells us from New Delhi.
It's been one of those weeks that makes you not want to open the paper, not want to turn on the news. A young woman with a child in her arms was killed by the father of that child, who then flees and goes on to take his own life.
You might think I am talking about the Kansas City Chief's Jovan Belcher, who shot his girlfriend and his baby's mother, Kasandra Perkins, to death and then drove to the team's practice facility, where he took his own life. But incredibly, I'm not.
The debate over the congressional budget has both political parties putting previously 'untouchable' policies on the table for negotiation. As part of Tell Me More's 'Why Not?' series, host Michel Martin and NPR correspondents Julie Rovner and John Ydstie take a closer look at entitlement spending, like Social Security and Medicare.
Besides the congressional budget, lawmakers are also at an impasse when it comes to the Violence Against Women Act. Host Michel Martin talks with the beauty shop ladies about whether the bill should expand protections for gay people, immigrants and Native Americans.
Cecilia Gímenez's handiwork: the Ecce Homo ("Behold the Man") fresco of Christ, left, and the "restored" version, dubbed Ecce Mono ("Behold the Monkey") at right. Now, the artist is trying her hand at selling her own art work.
Originally published on Thu December 13, 2012 4:21 pm
Nobody likes to see a baby in pain. But it's been surprisingly hard for doctors to figure out how to make shots and other medical procedures hurt less.
The solution might be as simple as giving a baby a bit of sugar water before the shot. Or it might not be so simple at all.
How do we know when a baby's hurting? A parent might be able to tell the difference between a cry of pain, the wet diaper cry, and the boy I'm tired cry. Doctors and nurses lack that intimate knowledge.
Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 3:21 pm
Update at 3 p.m. ET. On His Way To Miami:
John McAfee, the anti-virus software pioneer who's wanted for questioning in Belize about the murder of a neighbor, tells Bloomberg TV that he has been released from a detention center in Guatemala and is flying to Miami.
He also says he has apologized to Guatemala's president for "putting him into a very slippery position."