National & International News

We follow stories about America and the world, with help from NPR.

(Updated at 7 p.m. ET.)

More than 150 years after they died when their ship sank during a storm, two Union sailors from the Civil War were buried at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday.

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

Update at 11:36 a.m. ET. Starts Tuesday:

"The eighth General Congregation of the College of Cardinals has decided that the Conclave will begin on Tuesday, 12 March 2013," reads a statement just sent to reporters by the Vatican Press Office. It adds that:

"A pro eligendo Romano Pontifice Mass will be celebrated in St. Peter's Basilica in the morning. In the afternoon the cardinals will enter into the Conclave."

Our original post — "Cardinals Expected To Set Date For Start Of Conclave":

Update at 8:35 a.m. ET. Things Were Better Than Expected:

"Pleasant Surprises: 236,000 Jobs Added; Jobless Rate Dips To 7.7 Percent."

Our original post:

Slow job growth and little change in the unemployment rate.

The mourning over the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez took a Lenin-eque turn today: Acting President Nicolas Maduro announced that his remains will be on permanent display at the Museum of the Revolution, "close to the presidential palace where Chavez ruled for 14 years," the AP reports.

The AP adds:

Michigan Sen. Carl Levin announced today that he would not seek reelection in 2014. Levin chairs the Armed Services Committee.

In a statement, he called the decision "extremely difficult."

It will take more than a week for Alaska's Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, which began Sunday, to cover nearly 1,000 miles. But every minute counts — and several mushers are trying out special pants that allow them to race without stopping for bathroom breaks.

Fed Beige Book Mentions PA Drilling Impact

Mar 7, 2013

The U.S. Federal Reserve's latest survey of regional economic trends is mentioning the Marcellus Shale natural gas boom.

The Fed's latest Beige Book issued Wednesday mentions that Pennsylvania banks see customers paying down loans with natural gas royalty money. In neighboring Ohio the Fed says shale gas activity is expanding at a robust pace, but some auto dealers are worried they're lose technicians to energy companies.

After an epic filibuster by Sen. Rand Paul that lasted into the early morning hours, the Senate voted this afternoon to confirm the nomination of John Brennan as the country's next Central Intelligence Agency director.

As we reported, Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, stood on the floor of the Senate for nearly 13 hours, repeatedly asking for an explanation of the Obama administration's targeted killing program.

Just before leaving for Venezuela to attend the funeral of Hugo Chávez, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad penned a laudatory tribute for the late president.

"[Chavez] is alive, as long as nations are alive and struggle for consolidating independence, justice and kindness. I have no doubt that he will come back, and along with Christ the Saviour, the heir to all saintly and perfect men, and will bring peace, justice and perfection for all," Ahmadinejad wrote in a letter he sent the Venezuelan vice president.

As he ended his nearly 13-hour filibuster early Thursday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) indirectly said it was nature's call that forced him to stop talking:

"I would try to go another 12 hours and try to break Strom Thurmond's record, but there are some limits to filibustering and I am going to have to go take care of one of those here," he said.

As he rose to begin his nearly 13-hour filibuster Wednesday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said "no American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found to be guilty by a court." He would filibuster John Brennan's nomination to be CIA director, Paul said, because he wanted a clear statement from the Obama administration acknowledging that U.S.

Several beaches in South Florida are open again following their closure earlier this week as a precautionary measure after thousands of migrating sharks were spotted near shore.

The Palm Beach Post reports that as of 9 a.m. ET, all Palm Beach County beaches were open because no more sharks had been spotted swimming near shore.

According to the newspaper:

The student victims of the Connecticut school shooting rampage that left 20 first-graders and six educators dead in December have been granted an unprecedented one-time waiver on taking standardized tests.

The AP reports:

If your shoes say a lot about you, as we learned last year, what does it say if the ones you're wearing don't match?

-- That it's not a good idea to get dressed in the dark?

-- That perhaps this blogger needs to pay more attention to what he's doing in the morning?

-- Or that he buys boringly similar shoes?

Imagine my surprise when I looked down at my feet after getting to work this morning.

Now, please make me feel better:

China's citizens do not report as much as $2.34 trillion of what they make every year, hiding "gray income" that would represent nearly 20 percent of the country's GDP, Chinese economics scholar Wang Xiaolu says, in a report from the news site Global Voices.

A California couple has donated $1 million to Penn State's department of industrial engineering.

The Centre Daily Times reports the donors are alumnus Tom Lucas, who graduated with a bachelor's degree in 1976, and his wife, Nicki. They're from of Trabuco Canyon, Calif.

The money will create an endowed professorship. Department head Paul Griffin says it will help add a top-notch faculty member and also provide resources for current and future students.

Lucas retired last year after a career in the pharmaceutical and biomedical industry.

Before The Two-Way launched in May 2009, a smart decision was made: We would sit with, and work closely with, the producers, editors and anchors on the NPR Newscast Desk. It made sense to put the hosts of a breaking news blog with the team that gets breaking news on the air. The Newscast team has helped us in countless ways.

The Two-Way lost a dear friend Thursday, someone who brought her sharp mind and editing skills to NPR's newscasts and always gave us good guidance. She also had a wickedly funny sense of humor that made it fun to come to work.

Facebook Set To Unveil Big Changes To Your News Feed

Mar 7, 2013

Update at 1:31 p.m. ET. Larger Images, Mobile Oriented:

Facebook announced today that it was overhauling its "news feed." This is significant on two fronts: First, this is truly the first big makeover for the feature since its inception. Second, its users — some 1 billion worldwide — are known to be very touchy about changes.

Reuters said the new news feed is "visually richer" and "mobile device-oriented." It means the feed will look the same on your computer as it does on your mobile device.

Update at 4:30 p.m. EST. Details Of Capture

Osama bin Laden's son-in-law and a former al-Qaida spokesman, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, is in U.S. custody and is being held in a Manhattan jail. He could appear in a federal court as soon as Friday, U.S. officials familiar with the case say.

His capture is considered important not just because he was so close to bin Laden but also because U.S. officials have decided to try him in a federal court, not Guantanamo Bay.

The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved tough new sanctions on North Korea just hours after Pyongyang threatened a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the United States and its allies.

The Security Council's actions to clamp down on the North's nuclear program follow the country's third nuclear test, carried out last month in defiance of previous United Nations' sanctions.

The 15-0 Security Council vote Thursday includes China, which has backed North Korea in the past and is one of the country's few allies.

Wednesday night it was dinner with a small group of Republican lawmakers.

Thursday it's lunch with 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.

Next week, the president is due to have lunch with more Republican senators.

A swarm of locusts that began in Egypt and has crossed the border into Israel is inviting comparison to one of the Biblical plagues of Exodus.

The New York Times says the swarms are "like a vivid enactment of the eighth plague visited upon the obdurate Pharaoh. Others with a more modern sensibility said it felt more like Hitchcock."

Update at 12:45 p.m. ET. One Measure Approved So Far:

"The Senate Judiciary Committee approved legislation Thursday making gun trafficking a federal crime as lawmakers cast the first vote in Congress to curb firearms since December's horrific shootings at a Connecticut elementary school," The Associated Press writes.

As we await Friday's much-anticipated report about the February unemployment rate and how many jobs were added to employers' payrolls last month, there are these new bits of economic data to chew over:

-- The Employment and Training Administration says there were 340,000 first-time claims for unemployment insurance last week. That's down from 7,000 the previous week. Claims continue at a pace that's the lowest since first-quarter 2008.

Four days after a hit-and-run in Brooklyn that killed a young couple riding in a cab, suspect Julio Acevedo surrendered to police at a convenience store parking lot in Bethlehem, Pa.

The New York Times says:

After nearly 13 hours during which he had only a few short breaks while sympathetic senators took over the talking, Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky ended his filibuster of John Brennan's CIA nomination early Thursday.

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

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