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There were questions Wednesday about whether U.S. regulators will approve the takeover of Smithfield Foods Inc., the company that sells all-American hams, hot dogs and bacon, by China's Shuanghui International.

A farmer in Oregon has found some genetically engineered wheat growing on his land. It's an unwelcome surprise, because this type of wheat has never been approved for commercial planting.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says it's investigating, trying to find out how this wheat got there. The USDA says there's no risk to public health, but wheat exporters are worried about how their customers in Asia and Europe will react.

Years Of Combat Experience, And Just Turning 20

May 30, 2013

Luis Bedoya is baby-faced and skinny.

And he looks ever the boy when he puts on an industrial-sized apron, thick gloves and a metal helmet - the tools of an apprentice welder at the Don Bosco center in this city in southern Colombia.

It's a big complex, complete with classrooms, basketball courts, a dormitory and work rooms. It's home to boys and girls, as well as very young adults, who defected from the FARC rebels or were captured by the Colombian army.

In the middle of the night a few weeks ago, 15-year-old Yusra Hammed watched Israeli soldiers arrest her brother Tareq. Two years older than Yusra, Tareq Hammed was among several Palestinian teenagers taken into custody that night, accused of throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers in their village, Silwad, in the occupied West Bank.

While he was being detained, his mother described him as a patriot.

"He wanted so badly to do as same what his father did, to defend his country," Suhaila Hammed said, sitting on a tawny gold couch in their home in Silwad.

NPR's Uri Berliner is taking $5,000 of his own savings and putting it to work. Though he's no financial whiz or guru, he's exploring different types of investments — alternatives that may fare better than staying in a savings account that's not keeping up with inflation.

The Houston area produces about a quarter of the nation's gasoline, and about a third of the plastics that are in our cars, cupboards and just about everywhere else. So it is no surprise that this heavily industrial area has a problem with air pollution. But in the past decade, Houston's air has improved dramatically.

How that happened is a tale of good science, new technology and a Texas law that prompted companies along the Houston Ship Channel to disclose their emissions.

Police in New York say preliminary tests of two threatening letters sent to Mayor Michael Bloomberg contained traces of ricin.

The anonymous letters, both addressed to Bloomberg, were opened Friday in New York at the city's mail facility and Sunday in Washington, D.C., at the headquarters of the nonprofit started by Bloomberg, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, according to authorities.

The 10 biggest breaks, deductions and credits in the U.S. income tax code are costing the Treasury $900 billion this year, with more than half of that total benefiting the wealthiest 20 percent of taxpayers.

Drink enough soda and your teeth could deteriorate so much that they look like the teeth of a methamphetamine or crack addict.

That's one of the messages of a case study published in a recent issue of General Dentistry, the journal of the Academy of General Dentistry.

Former Justice Official In Line To Be Named FBI Chief

May 29, 2013

NPR has learned that former Justice Department official James B. Comey is in line to become President Obama's choice as the next FBI director, according to two sources familiar with the search.

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann's announcement Wednesday that she won't seek a fifth term unleashed a torrent of tweets and blog posts on the left lampooning the short-lived 2012 presidential candidate.

Yet the response — her retirement effectively dominated the news cycle — provided a glimpse of Bachmann's impact on Washington.

This year, nearly 1.7 million students will graduate from college. Many of them are engaged in a new ritual of the digital age: cleaning up and polishing their online profiles. The demand is so great an entire industry has sprung up to help.

According to numerous surveys, the vast majority of hiring managers routinely Google potential job candidates. And what they see on that first page of search results matters — a lot. Just ask Pete Kistler, who was a college junior when he started applying to a bunch of computer software firms, looking for a summer job.

Police in France say that a 21-year-old Muslim convert who confessed to stabbing a French soldier was apparently motivated by his religious beliefs, in an eerie echo of an attack last week in London, in which a British serviceman was killed.

Pvt. Cedric Cordiez, 25, was approached from the back and stabbed in the neck at a shopping mall in a suburb of Paris on Saturday. He was treated at a military hospital and released on Monday, officials said.

Sixteen million men and women served in uniform during World War II. Today, 1.2 million are still alive, but hundreds of those vets are dying every day. In honor of Memorial Day, NPR's All Things Considered is remembering some of the veterans who died this year.

A bill that would overhaul the nation's immigration laws is headed to the Senate floor early next month, where it will need all the friends it can get to pass. The measure would give the estimated 11 million immigrants in the United States illegally a path to citizenship, as well as tighten border protections.

Hospitals can sharply reduce the spread of the drug-resistant bacteria in their intensive care units by decontaminating all patients rather than screening them and focusing only on those found to be infected already, researchers reported Wednesday.

Since Code Switch launched, friends and people on Twitter have been sharing examples of questions they've been asked about their race or culture that they've found interesting, awkward or just plain offensive.

We were intrigued when we saw this question posted on AskReddit: "What's one question you've been dying to ask another race but never do because of the impending 'THAT'S RACIST' aftermath?"

China's infamous bureaucracy has bedeviled people for ages, but in recent years, daily life in some major Chinese cities has become far more efficient.

For instance, when I worked in Beijing in the 1990s, many reporters had drivers. It wasn't because they didn't drive, but because they needed someone to deal with China's crippling bureaucracy.

I had a man named Old Zhao, who would drive around for days to pay our office bills at various government utility offices. Zhao would sit in line for hours, often only to be abused by functionaries.

Last year when New Orleans' main paper, The Times-Picayune, laid off dozens of newspaper employees and cut its circulation to three times a week, residents were shocked.

Sharron Morrow and her friends had bonded over the morning paper at a local coffee shop for the past 20 years.

"I've stopped my subscription, and I mourn the paper almost every day," she says.

Shifting Media Players

You knew this one was coming.

Earlier this month, we told you about a U.N. report that makes the case for insects to improve global food security: They're cheap, plentiful and environmentally sustainable. Now, the coming of the 17-year cicadas provides East Coast Americans, for whom bug eating is considered novel at best, with an opportunity to try local insect cuisine.

If Snigdha Nandipati, the 14-year-old who won last year's Scripps National Spelling Bee, had been asked to define her winning word, "guetapens," things might have turned out differently.

This year, a vocabulary test with word definitions is, for the first time in the bee's 86-year history, part of the competition. Preliminary and semifinal contestants must pass the test to get to the finals of the grueling competition.

If you've been following the news out of China about the latest bird flu and its threats to humans, may we direct your attention toward the Middle East for a minute?

What's Under Youngstown May Help What's On Top

May 29, 2013

A century ago, when fiery steel mills were roaring to life in Youngstown, Ohio, builders were racing to put up homes, storefronts, barbershops and more.

Today, many of those buildings sit empty and rotting. With the mills mostly gone and the population down 60 percent from 1960, to just 67,000, the city needs millions of dollars to tear down roughly 4,000 vacant structures.

One year after Facebook's troubled initial public offering, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced Wednesday that it has "charged Nasdaq with securities laws violations resulting from its poor systems and decision-making ... [and that] Nasdaq has agreed to settle the SEC's charges by paying a $10 million penalty."

After receiving complaints that a billboard advertisement included an image resembling Adolf Hitler, JC Penney has reportedly taken the sign down. The move came after images of the billboard in California's Culver City spurred a controversy on Reddit and elsewhere online. The retailer says any resemblance to the late leader of the Third Reich was unintended.

It's not confirmed that he's dead. But if a suspected U.S. drone strike on Wednesday did kill Waliur Rehman, as Pakistani officials say it did, then a top Pakistani Taliban commander with a $5 million price on his head has been taken off the battlefield.

According to the U.S. State Department's "rewards for justice" program:

As some states become friendly to medical marijuana, many users are opting to eat their pot instead of smoking it. And that means marijuana dispensaries are doing heavy business in brownies, cookies, sodas, candy and other treats heavily dosed with THC.

But unlike drugs that come in bottles, these tasty marijuana foods haven't been childproofed. And in Colorado, doctors say that kids who apparently get into their parents and grandparents' stashes are getting sick.

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Later in the program, we'll have the latest developments in the case of George Zimmerman. That's the man charged with murdering the unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida. That's a case that's gotten a lot of national attention. We'll have the latest developments there.

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Now we want to turn to a case that's captured the attention of many people in this country. It's the trial of George Zimmerman. He's the self-appointed neighborhood volunteer who fatally shot the unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin back in February of 2012. Zimmerman's trial on charges of second degree murder is set to begin June 10, but there was some preliminary business yesterday, including a request by the defense to delay the trial once again.

A coordinated attack has struck the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, Gunmen reportedly assaulted the compound after a suicide bomber detonated a device at the entrance, where a guard was killed.

Update at 3:58 p.m. ET. Reaction From Red Cross:

"We condemn this attack in the strongest possible terms," ICRC's head of operations for South Asia, Jacques de Maio, says. "Right now, our thoughts go out to the family of our dead colleague."

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