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Afghanistan
4:52 am
Sat January 18, 2014

Restaurant Owner Loved The Patrons He Died Trying To Protect

Kamal Hamade, the owner of the Taverna du Liban, had taken many steps to make his restaurant secure, and it was one of the few that Western agencies allowed their personnel to frequent.
Rahmat Gul AP

Originally published on Mon January 20, 2014 8:04 am

Taverna du Liban was a welcome respite from the pressures of living in a third-world war zone.

The cozy, Kabul restaurant with its Middle Eastern décor served up a tasty variety of Lebanese dishes and the best chocolate cake I've ever eaten, courtesy of the Lebanese owner, Kamal Hamade, who baked the cakes himself.

But the appeal of Taverna — where I ate nearly every week when I lived in Afghanistan — was about much more than the food. It was about friendship.

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The Two-Way
4:05 am
Sat January 18, 2014

IMF, U.N. Staff Among 21 Killed In Kabul Restaurant Attack

Afghanistan security forces help an injured man from the scene of the attack, where at least 21 — mostly foreigners — were killed.
Massoud Hossaini AP

Originally published on Mon January 20, 2014 1:19 pm

A suicide attack at a Kabul restaurant popular with foreign nationals killed at least 21 people on Friday, including the country director for the International Monetary Fund and four United Nations employees.

The attacker exploded a bomb at the restaurant gates, clearing the way for two gunmen to enter and start shooting indiscriminately, reports NPR's Sean Carberry. Afghan security forces killed the gunmen in a shootout.

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The Two-Way
8:29 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

California's Governor Declares Drought State Of Emergency

Gov. Jerry Brown holds a chart showing California's average precipitation as he declares a drought state of emergency for the state Friday. Brown asked residents to voluntarily reduce water usage by 20 percent.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Saying that his state must take steps to plan for prolonged water shortages, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency over an extended drought Friday. California faces "water shortfalls in the driest year in recorded state history," according to the governor's office.

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The Two-Way
7:07 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Federal Judge Says N.C. Ultrasound Abortion Law Is Illegal

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 7:16 pm

A controversial North Carolina law requiring women who want to have an abortion to undergo an ultrasound scan is illegal, according to a federal judge's ruling issued Friday. The state's law required that the women have a medical professional tell them what the image depicts. It also said the women should "listen to the heartbeat of the unborn child."

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The Two-Way
6:26 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Supreme Court To Decide If Warrant Needed To Search Cellphone

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide if police can seize and look through a suspect's cellphone without getting a warrant. This photo shows women in Los Angeles using smartphones on Jan. 7.
Frederic J. Brown AFP/Getty Images

The U.S. Supreme Court is delving into the technology-versus-privacy debate, agreeing to hear two cases that test whether police making an arrest may search cellphones without a warrant.

The court's announcement Friday that it would take the cases came just hours after President Obama outlined his proposals to address government retention of citizen phone data as part of his speech outlining reforms at the National Security Agency.

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Politics
6:20 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

5 Takeaways From The President's NSA Speech

President Barack Obama talks about National Security Agency surveillance Jan. 17 at the Justice Department in Washington. Seeking to calm a furor over U.S. surveillance, the president called for ending the government's control of phone data from hundreds of millions of Americans and immediately ordered intelligence agencies to get a secretive court's permission before accessing the records.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 7:21 pm

What does it mean when lawmakers as different as Colorado Democratic Senator Mark Udall and New York Republican Rep. Peter King offer praise for the president's long-awaited speech on surveillance reforms?

Mostly that resolution to the biggest controversies after leaks by NSA contractor Edward Snowden has been put off — or pushed to working groups in the executive branch and the lawmakers themselves.

Still, the president's NSA reforms speech Friday offered a revealing look into the nation's phone data collection program and the direction of the surveillance policy debate.

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Latin America
5:46 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

A Newsprint Shortage Hobbles Venezuelan Media

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 6:20 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Last year, Venezuelans suffered from a shortage of toilet paper. Well, now thanks to government bureaucracy, another kind of paper is in low supply, newsprint. As John Otis reports, that's forced some Venezuelan newspapers to trim their size or, worse, stop printing all together.

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Economy
5:46 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

In The Long Wait For Aid From Washington, Job Hunters Despair

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 6:20 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Lawmakers are promising new efforts to restore jobless benefits for long-term unemployed, but it may take a while - 1.4 million people who've been out of work long term saw their benefits disappear three weeks ago. Congress failed to agree on funding to renew them. NPR's Tovia Smith visited with a few people who are without work in Boston.

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The Two-Way
5:39 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Obama Signs Trillion-Dollar Federal Spending Bill

President Obama signed the $1.1 trillion spending bill into law Friday afternoon, enacting more than 1,500 pages of legislation that received broad support in the House and Senate earlier this week. The expansive bill ensures the U.S. government won't face a potential shutdown until at least October.

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The Two-Way
5:15 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Chemical Company In West Virginia Water Crisis Files For Bankruptcy

Freedom Industries, which has been blamed for a chemical spill that left thousands of people without water, has filed for bankruptcy. The company's facility on Barlow St. is seen here on the banks of the Elk River in Charleston, West Virginia.
Tom Hindman Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 7:40 pm

Freedom Industries, the West Virginia company that's been blamed for a chemical spill that left around 300,000 people without water for days, has filed for bankruptcy. The chemical used in cleaning coal leaked into the Elk River and into the public water system.

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Fresh Air Weekend
5:05 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Fresh Air Weekend: Roger Ailes, Rosanne Cash And Sonia Sotomayor

In addition to being the first Hispanic to serve on the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor was New York state's first Hispanic federal judge.
Kainaz Amaria NPR

Originally published on Sat January 18, 2014 12:34 pm

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors, and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

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Author Interviews
4:25 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

A Strange Composition: Classical Music Meets Bioterror In 'Orfeo'

iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 8:33 pm

Richard Powers' new novel, Orfeo, tells the story of an avant-garde classical music composer who finds himself dabbling in DNA. Like the Orpheus myth that inspired the book's name, this story takes its hero, Peter Els, on a journey. He becomes a fugitive accused of bioterror, but what follows is also a walk back into the recesses of his own memory told through the music and people he's loved and lost.

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All Tech Considered
3:53 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Week That Was: Smart Fridge Hack, Net Neutrality And The NSA

An LG representative shows off a smart refrigerator at the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Jan. 10.
Robyn Beck AFP/Getty Images

Nothing ends the tech week with a bang like the president's much-anticipated words on the NSA. But let's start with the weekly roundup of tech news from here at NPR and our friends at publications around the country.

ICYMI

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It's All Politics
3:46 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Tom Coburn, GOP Budget Hawk And Obama Friend, To Leave Senate

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., outlines his annual "Wastebook," which points a critical finger at billions of dollars in questionable government spending, on Dec. 17 on Capitol Hill.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 6:12 pm

Tom Coburn will leave the Senate with a reputation as "Dr. No," but not necessarily as doctrinaire.

The Oklahoma Republican, who at age 65 is undergoing his fifth bout of cancer, announced that he will resign in December, two years before his second term expires.

"This decision isn't about my health, my prognosis or even my hopes and desires," Coburn, a physician, said in a statement. "As a citizen, I am now convinced that I can best serve my own children and grandchildren by shifting my focus elsewhere."

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The Two-Way
3:29 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Pope Benedict Reportedly Defrocked Hundreds Of Priests For Abuse

Pope Benedict XVI, seen here in London in 2010, defrocked nearly 400 priests from 2011-2012 for abusing children, according to a document from the Holy See that was obtained by the AP.
Peter Nicholls AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 7:13 pm

In a period of just over two years, Pope Benedict XVI defrocked nearly 400 priests for molesting children, according to the AP, which says it obtained a document representing a rare collection of such data.

As of Friday afternoon, NPR hasn't independently confirmed the AP's information, not having seen the document. Here's a bit of context from NPR's Sylvia Poggioli in Rome:

"If confirmed, the number of nearly 400 marks a sharp increase over the 170 priests removed in 2008 and 2009, when the Vatican first provided details on the number of defrocked priests.

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The Two-Way
2:44 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

What's Inside This Mystery House In North Carolina?

A close look at this house at 3215 Wade Ave. in Raleigh, N.C., suggests not all is as it seems. There isn't a driveway, for instance, and there's no walkway to the front door.
Eric Mennel WUNC

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 5:17 pm

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The Two-Way
2:26 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Gen. Dempsey: Better To Get Others To Solve Their Own Problems

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, talking to U.S. military personnel in Tokyo last April.
Kyodo/Landov
  • Gen. Martin Dempsey on the situation in Iraq
  • Gen. Martin Dempsey on the looming budget crisis
  • Gen. Martin Dempsey on his 'sacred obligation' to the troops

On Morning Edition, NPR's Tom Bowman profiled Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Dempsey, as Tom reported, says the U.S. public, and even its leaders, know little about how military power can be used. The disconnect is most glaring when comes to this: What can the U.S. military achieve in places like Iraq, Afghanistan or Syria?

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National Security
1:39 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Obama Outlines 'New Approach' For Phone-Data Program

Coverage of President Obama's speech Friday wraps up with analysis of his proposed steps to "transition" rather than end the NSA program.

National Security
1:39 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Obama Calls For More Transparency, Privacy Protections At NSA

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Let's talk more about changes to the National Security Agency that President Obama is announcing as we speak at the Justice Department. And we're joined in our studio by Tamara Keith and Tom Gjelten. And let's just begin.

Tom, you told us earlier today that technology companies wanted greater transparency. They want the public to know more about what the NSA is doing. What is the president proposing today?

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National Security
1:39 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Obama Highlights Challenges Of Balancing Security, Liberty

Coverage of President Obama's speech about proposed changes for the National Security Agency continues with more of his comments, plus analysis.

The Two-Way
1:38 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Water's Back On For Just About Everyone In West Virginia

The do-not-use advisory has been lifted for nearly all water users in the nine counties of West Virginia where a chemical spill last week left about 300,000 people unable to use what was coming out of their taps.

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All Tech Considered
1:38 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Analysts: Credit Card Hacking Goes Much Further Than Target

Hackers use credit card scanning machines as part of their sophisticated campaign to steal credit card information and sell it.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 4:23 pm

The holiday season data breach at Target that hit more than 70 million consumers was part of a wide and highly skilled international hacking campaign that's "almost certainly" based in Russia. That's according to a report prepared for federal and private investigators by Dallas-based cybersecurity firm iSight Partners.

And the fraudsters are so skilled that sources say at least a handful of other retailers have been compromised.

"The intrusion operators displayed innovation and a high degree of skill," the iSight report says.

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The Salt
1:31 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Diet Soda: Fewer Calories In The Glass May Mean More On The Plate

Ditching sugar-sweetened drinks in favor of diet ones shaves the empty calories. But it doesn't help if you make up for those calories on your plate.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 22, 2014 1:17 pm

If only dropping pants sizes were as easy as switching from Coke to Coke Zero.

Sure, you're cutting out empty calories when you ditch the sugar-sweetened drinks in favor of artificially sweetened ones. But there's a growing body of research that suggests this isn't really helping in the battle of the bulge.

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Asia
12:47 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Do You Have What It Takes To Get A Chinese Driver's License?

China's driver's license test

Originally published on Wed January 22, 2014 12:44 pm

To get a driver's license in China, everyone must take a written test; 90 percent is considered passing. The test consists of 100 questions drawn from a pool of nearly 1,000.

The test is particularly tough for foreigners, owing to the volume of memorization and sometimes sketchy translations. (I failed three times before I finally passed.)

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Asia
12:42 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

How I Flunked China's Driving Test ... Three Times

Drivers step out of their vehicles for a better view while stuck in traffic along Beijing's Second Ring Road on a "Car Free Day" on Sept. 21, 2010. For foreigners trying to drive in car-crazy China, the headaches begin with the written test.
Frederic J. Brown AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 7:39 pm

Recently, I decided to apply for a driver's license in China. Since I already have one from the U.S., the main thing I had to do was pass a computerized test on the rules of the road here. I figured it would be a breeze.

Driving and car ownership have taken off in China. Last year, the country added nearly 18 million drivers. There is so much demand for licenses that I had to wait a month for the first available testing date.

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