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The U.S. population is growing. In normal times, the labor force — working or not — would be growing too. But these are not normal times, and the labor force is actually smaller than it was four years ago, meaning millions of people who should be there aren't.

The reasons people drop out of the workforce are myriad. People go back to school. Others have health issues or family priorities that keep them from looking for work. But some stop looking because they are discouraged.

It's not hard to find online shoppers these days. Take the hipster cafe in San Francisco's Mission District where Shirin Oskooi opens her laptop and ticks off her latest Amazon purchases.

Next to her is Craig Sumner. He opens an Amazon invoice to see how much sales tax he was charged on his latest pair of Levis: none.

As U.S. embassies and consulates face protests in the Muslim world over an anti-Islamic film, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is walking a fine line. She is distancing herself and the State Department from the video that has sparked anger among Muslims, but stressed the US commitment to free speech.

"To us, to me personally, this video is disgusting and reprehensible," she said Thursday in Washington, D.C. "It appears to have a deeply cynical purpose: to denigrate a great religion and to provoke rage."

From Topless Bar To Biology: A Love Story

Sep 13, 2012

Forty years ago this week, Philip and Susan McClinton had their first date. Today, Susan is a retired biologist and Philip is assistant curator at the Draper Museum of Natural History in Cody, Wyo. But when the two met, it was at a very different place.

Our friends at Weekend Edition are trying something different starting this weekend. They're calling on NPR reporters to answer some of your questions on different topics.

Here's how they explain it:

One of the biggest questions still outstanding about the attack on a United States consulate in Libya is whether it was planned or whether it was the result of a protest against a U.S.-made film that criticizes the Prophet Muhammad.

The attack killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.

The bottom line is that nothing is firm. But NPR's Leila Fadel reports that Libya's Deputy Interior Minister, Wanis al Sharef, said this was a sophisticated two-prong attack.

The First Amendment guarantee of free speech is in the spotlight this week. If you haven't kept up, a U.S.-produced film depicting the Prophet Muhammad in a less than flattering way has inflamed the Arab world.

In a lot of ways, the story is showing how the sweeping nature of the First Amendment puts the United States at odds with most of the world.

That rift was perhaps most evident when you compare the statements of Egypt's Islamist President Mohamed Morsi and that of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

A panel in Florida tasked with examining the state's "Stand Your Ground" law is unlikely to suggest that any major changes are needed.

Since it was convened in May, members of the task force have held meetings at locations around the state. At almost every meeting, they've heard impassioned testimony from people like David Boden, whose son, Jason, was killed in a shooting. Prosecutors in West Palm Beach told Boden that Florida's Stand Your Ground law prevented them from filing charges against the shooter.

Death Toll Climbs In Congo Ebola Outbreak

Sep 13, 2012

As health workers try to contain an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the death toll has increased to 31.

The deaths from the hemorrhagic fever outbreak doubled in the past week. World Health Organization spokesman Tarik Jasarevic tells Shots that's because they have discovered more people who were originally infected.

Appearing in Virginia on Thursday, Republican Mitt Romney tried to bring his campaign back to the issues he has focused on before in the swing state: the nation's economy and strengthening the military.

A day after Romney ignited a debate over his criticism of President Obama's handling of events in Libya and Egypt, the Republican presidential nominee largely steered clear of discussing unrest in Egypt and the attack on an American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead.

One of the primary issues at the heart of the the Chicago teachers' strike is whether student test scores should be used to evaluate teachers and determine their pay. Mayor Rahm Emanuel is pushing that approach, as are other officials around the nation.

But many teachers insist that it's inherently unfair to grade their teaching based on their students' learning.

Republican hopes of capturing the Senate in November rest on a handful of tossup races in states like Montana, Missouri and Virginia.

Surprisingly, some analysts also are putting Hawaii in the tossup column.

Hawaii is the bluest of blue states; it hasn't elected a Republican to the Senate since 1970. But with the retirement of 22-year incumbent Daniel Akaka, Republicans believe they have a chance.

And regardless of who wins, the state will have its first female senator come January.

In Hawaii, the language of politics is a little different.

There's no ready euphemism for this, so be warned.

The New York City Board of Health voted unanimously today in favor of a new regulation that would require parents of young boys who undergo ritual circumcisions involving "direct oral suction" to sign a consent form first.

Federal Reserve Chief Ben Bernanke said the new monetary policy announced today is aimed at getting the U.S. economy moving for good.

After a meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee, the Fed announced that it would spend $40 billion a month on mortgage-backed securities in an effort to stimulate the economy and drive the the unemployment rate down.

It would seem difficult to overlook something as large as a new species of monkey, but scientists had no idea about the lesula until just a few years ago when conservation biologist John Hart discovered a specimen being kept as a pet in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In retrospect, the monkey's striking, almost humanlike face should have made it hard to miss, and Hart, who spoke with All Things Considered host Melissa Block, is the first to admit that this new monkey was apparently not such a mystery to the Congolese themselves.

What people think is going to happen to the economy has a huge influence over what actually happens. If you can change peoples' expectations, you can change the world.

The Federal Reserve knows this. And, as Robert Smith pointed out this morning, Ben Bernanke and the Fed have been using the power of expectations more and more in recent years.

This afternoon, the Fed took another huge step in this direction.

What's At Stake For U.S. Teachers

Sep 13, 2012

The intractable issues that led to the teachers' strike in Chicago are being argued about in states and school districts across the country.

The past decade has been a time of enormous ferment in education policy, with numerous new ideas and approaches being promoted by everyone from conservative think tanks to the well-heeled Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to Obama administration officials.

Hundreds packed the Washington National Cathedral today to pay their respects to Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon.

Perhaps the most amazing tribute came from Eugene Cernan, the man who followed in Armstrong's footsteps and became the last man to walk on the moon during the 1972 Apollo 17 mission.

Welcome To The New Middle East?

Sep 13, 2012

The three attacks on U.S. diplomatic missions this week have a common theme: all took place in countries where autocratic rulers were ousted last year and where new governments are still struggling to keep order.

Last year, many Americans were cheering on Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt, Libya and Yemen. Now the U.S. is the focus of violent anger over an anti-Islamic film produced in this country.

When crossing from Uganda into Congo at the shabby border town of Bunagana, I encountered a broadly smiling man in a black leather jacket named Hamid Kashaisha.

He asked if I wanted to see the gorillas. I replied that it's guerrillas — with guns, that is — that I wanted to see: the M23 rebels who, for the past two months, had occupied a piece of real estate in eastern Congo larger than Delaware.

That was no deterrence to the pitchman.

Beef Products, Inc., the South Dakota company at the center of a firestorm this spring over its product labeled "pink slime" by critics, announced Thursday it is suing ABC News for defamation and $1.2 billion in damages.

BPI alleges that ABC reporters and hosts made 200 false statements over the course of a month about BPI's product, known in the industry as lean, finely textured beef (LFTB).

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I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, we'll take a look at the latest technology hitting the market. Do I really need to say the words, iPhone? We'll talk with tech guru Mario Armstrong.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Is The New iPhone Worth The Upgrade?

Sep 13, 2012

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And now about that new iPhone. Techies have long been speculating about what the device will look like and what it will do. Guessing right along with everybody else was Mario Armstrong. He's a digital lifestyle expert and a frequent guest on this program.

Mario...

Update at 12:31 p.m. ET. Federal Reserve Announces QE3:

The Federal Reserve announced it would spend $40 billion a month on bond purchases in an effort to stimulate the economy and drive the the unemployment rate down.

The Wall Street Journal says that unlike the first two rounds of Quantitative Easing, this time the Fed will focus solely on buying mortgage-backed securities.

To protect children against whooping cough, doctors recommend five shots of vaccine before they turn 7.

But what happens after that? How long does the protection last?

The past 24 hours have produced a few answers — but many more questions — about the anti-Islam film that became a flashpoint across North Africa and the Middle East this week.

NPR's Carrie Kahn reports on Morning Edition that The Innocence of Muslims was shot in Los Angeles County last August, under the title Desert Warriors. It's full of "choppy dialogue, bad acting and scenes of a buffoonish Muhammad," she says.

UPDATE: 11:37 a.m. As expected, the New York Board of Health passed a rule banning sugary drinks like soda in sizes 16 oz. or larger at restaurants, concession stands and other eateries in an effort to combat obesity today. The ban is expected to take effect in March, but according to the Wall Street Journal, opponents are already considering a legal challenge to prevent that. It passed 8-0.

Update 8:21 ET. Two Slain Americans Identified:

Two of the security personnel who were killed Tuesday along with Ambassador Chris Stevens and Information Management Officer Sean Smith have been identified. They are Tyrone S. Woods and Glen A. Doherty, both security personnel who died helping protect their colleagues. Both men were former Navy SEALs, according to a statement from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Here's more from the statement:

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