National & International News

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

The winter storm that has dumped several inches of snow from the Dakotas to Maryland is expected to linger over the mid-Atlantic on Wednesday, bringing another 5 to 9 inches to many areas in the east.

Federal government offices in the nation's capital were closed Wednesday in anticipation of the wet, heavy snow, and many schools were closed in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore. Hundreds of flights were canceled at Dulles and Reagan National airports.

Update at 10:45 a.m. ET: A 'Bust' For D.C.?

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

A tale of two car thefts has transfixed China, sparking a new bout of soul-searching. It's generated far more attention online than the ongoing legislative session in Beijing, despite leaked orders from the local government restricting official coverage.

Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez, has died, Vice President Nicolás Maduro announced in a televised statement.

Chávez died at a military hospital in Caracas at 4:25 p.m. Tuesday. He was 58.

In power since 1999, the former military commander became an icon of socialist policies in Latin America. With his country's oil wealth as backup, he launched fierce and unyielding criticism of the United States and its allies.

The AP reports:

Fred Butler has done many things in his 106 years, from serving in two military theaters of World War II to helping raise five children. But he had never gone to high school, or earned a diploma — the result of leaving school after the eighth grade to work full-time in a print shop to help support his family.

The TSA is whittling down the list of objects air travelers are forbidden to carry on board and says small pocket knives will soon be allowed on commercial flights.

But thats not all! According to the TSA, travelers will also be able to take on board golf clubs (a maximum of two), hockey sticks, and wiffle ball bats. Yes, wiffle ball bats. Finally!

TSA Administrator John Pistole outlined the changes today at an appearance in New York.

By a vote of 12 to 3, the Senate Intelligence Committee approved the nomination of John Brennan as the head of the Central Intelligence Agency.

The nomination now goes to the full Senate for their confirmation. Reuters reports that timing of that vote is still unknown.

As we've reported, Brennan's nomination has drawn opposition from Senators who "want to know more about last September's attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya."

The Masters Tournament is still a month away, but the green jackets that grace the winners' shoulders are already in the news, thanks to a lawsuit over a proposed auction of a former champion's jacket.

On one side is tournament host Augusta National Golf Club, which says the jacket, won by Art Wall Jr. in 1959, was stolen; on the other is Florida doctor Stephen Pyles and Heritage Auctions of Texas, who insist the jacket was obtained legally and can thus be sold to the highest bidder.

White House Backs Right To Unlock New Cellphones

Mar 5, 2013

Following the lead of FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, the White House said yesterday that it believed users should be allowed to unlock their cellphones without breaking the law.

The White House made the statement in response to an online petition signed by more than 114,000 people. R. David Edelman wrote:

While diplomats move ahead at the United Nations on a package of new sanctions aimed at North Korea in another effort to convince that Stalinist state to give up its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, there's also this news:

During a long, fiery speech, Venezuelan Vice President Nicolás Maduro said the country had expelled American diplomat David del Monaco because of what Maduro said was his work trying to "destabilize the country."

"Mr. David del Monaco has 24 hours to pick up his bags and leave the country," Maduro said in the televised speech.

Three people are in custody Tuesday in California, accused of commandeering an 82-foot luxury sailboat in Sausalito, partying through the night, and then running the yacht aground in the pounding surf off the beach at Pacifica.

Days after angering cyclists with his contention that people who ride bikes don't help pay for roads — and stating that "the act of riding a bike results in greater emissions of carbon dioxide from the rider," Washington State Rep. Ed Orcutt has apologized for his words, and any confusion they created.

At the Geneva Motor Show on Tuesday, Volkswagen introduced a futuristic-looking car that the company says is the "world's most efficient."

VW's XL1 is a two seater, plug-in, diesel hybrid that the company says gets 261 miles per gallon "with an all-electric driving range of a little over 30 miles," CNN reports.

CNN adds:

Yet another scandal has hit U.S. Speedskating (USS), which governs the sport with the biggest haul of winter Olympic medals for Team USA.

The USS board announced Monday night that it is investigating allegations of sexual abuse involving short track silver medalist Andy Gabel, now 48, who also once served as president of USS.

"U.S. Speedskating will not tolerate abuse of any kind and we intend to investigate these claims, and any others that arise, thoroughly," the group said in a written statement.

Climate change will make commercial shipping possible from North America to Russia or Asia over the North Pole by the middle of the century, a new study says.

Two researchers at the University of California ran seven different climate models simulating two classes of vessels to see if they could make a relatively ice-free passage through the Arctic Ocean. In each case, the sea routes are sufficiently clear after 2049, they say.

Are you a "mega-commuter"?

That's a term used by the U.S. Census Bureau to describe people who commute at least 90 minutes and 50 miles to work. Nearly 600,000 Americans spend that much time in vehicles, carpool lanes, and trains and buses each day, according to the bureau.

This interactive map, created by WNYC, shows commute times, by ZIP code, across the country. Zoom into your area to see how your commute compares:

Screaming, crying fans are par for the course if you're teen idol Justin Bieber. But this is a bit different.

After a Monday concert at London's O2 Arena that reportedly started two hours late, the 19-year-old pop star has been forced to apologize for upsetting disappointed young concertgoers and their angry parents.

In a series of tweets Tuesday, Bieber issued his mea culpa:

The pilot of an Alitalia pilot flying into New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport told controllers Monday afternoon that he had spotted "a drone aircraft" 1,500 feet high in the sky and approximately 5 miles west of the airport.

Update at 4:09 p.m. ET. A New Record:

The Dow Industrials finished in record territory today. Gaining 89 points, it closed at 14,253.77, its highest level since Oct. 9,2007.

That is, the Dow has recovered all the losses it suffered during the Great Recession.

The man who authorities want to question about Sunday's hit-and-run car crash in Brooklyn that killed a young couple and the baby that the 21-year-old pregnant mother was carrying has "a history of violence and a prior drunken driving arrest," The Associated Press writes.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who has been battling cancer for months, is in a "very delicate" condition, with breathing difficulties and a severe respiratory infection, a government statement says.

The statement, read out Monday by Minister of Communications Ernesto Villegas, spells out the 58-year-old socialist leader's decline since his December surgery in Cuba for an unspecified cancer in the pelvic area:

Roman Catholic cardinals are in "no rush" to set the date for the start of their conclave that will choose the next pope, a Vatican spokesman told reporters Tuesday.

"Flakes are flying in Minnesota and North Dakota, where up to 10 inches of snow has fallen from an 'Alberta Clipper' that is barreling southeastwards across the U.S.," Weather Underground writes this morning.

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

The Transportation Security Administration today would not confirm there were any unusual delays in air travel caused by budget cuts.

The government-controlled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced today that they would try to merge some of the operations the two companies currently perform separately.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Hunger strikes are often used in India as a method of protest — but try being on one for 12 years.

That's how long it's been since Irom Sharmila last ate on her own. She is protesting an Indian law that suspends human rights guarantees in conflict-ridden parts of the country. The government is force-feeding her through a tube. And on Monday, Sharmila was charged with attempted suicide.

Batman has apparently given up Gotham for a stint in the northern English town of Bradford.

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