Ahmed Al Shayea left Saudi Arabia in November 2004 to join the insurgents in Iraq. He was misled into driving a butane-gas delivery truck, which was detonated by remote control in an attack that killed eight people and left him disfigured. Today, he wants would-be insurgents to listen to his advice: "There is no jihad. We are just instruments of death."
Credit Sven Bannuscher /
Ken Ballen is a former federal prosecutor and the founder and president of Terror Free Tomorrow, an organization that investigates the causes of extremism.
Ahmad Al Shayea grew up in Saudi Arabia in a middle-class family and dropped out of high school to join a local gang. Abdullah Al-Gilani fell in love with a girl who eventually married someone else. Zeddy was an old colleague of Osama bin Laden's.
The National Cathedral, closed since sustaining extensive damage from the August earthquake that shook Washington, D.C., and the surrounding area, will reopen on Nov. 12, according to officials.
The cathedral is also trying to raise money to pay for repairs, estimated to run into the tens of millions of dollars. A statement on the landmark's website says organizers are seeking "at least $25 million" to cover its expenses through the end of 2012.
Originally published on Wed October 12, 2011 8:02 am
I lied. My smartphone isn't a microscope — yet. But there are some smart physicists who want to make that transformation possible very soon, if not for you and me at first, then for doctors who don't have easy access to laboratories.
If you don't want to hear details, especially about last night's season finale of Breaking Bad, turn away from this website now. But I consider it fair game to talk in detail about TV shows once they've been televised — especially if they're doing interesting enough work to be saluted for it.
[Note: If the previous paragraph didn't convince you, maybe this will: There are many, many spoilers for Breaking Bad ahead. Proceed at your own risk.]
I was blown away by the season ender of Breaking Bad.
We inherit the darndest traits from our parents. My mom bequeathed to me that funny leg-shake she does when she's sitting. She also seems to have passed along a quick (but ... hmm ... endearing?) temper. And in the "thanks-for-that" column? Well, I'm on the skinny side. And so is she.
Our mother-daughter likeness isn't so unusual. Turns out, the "inter-generational transmission of thinness" is real. Thin parents appear to pass on "skinny genes."
The warnings from public health officials that the deaths and illnesses from listeria-tainted cantaloupes could drag on for a while are proving true.
The death toll from cantaloupes grown by Jensen Farms has hit 18, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's latest report on the outbreak. A hundred people have been sickened in 20 states, with Colorado and New Mexico the hardest hit.
The Texas Longhorns band performs during a basketball game against the Oakland Golden Grizzlies on March 18. A challenge to the admissions policy at University of Texas, Austin, contends that the school does not need to consider race to achieve a diverse student body.
A Texas affirmative action case that has the potential to rewrite law on how or whether public colleges and universities may consider race and ethnicity as a factor in admissions could be headed for the U.S. Supreme Court, and soon.
Though the court, which opened its fall term this week, has not yet agreed to hear Fisher v. the University of Texas at Austin, constitutional experts on both sides of the issue say they believe the case will be scheduled for a hearing this year or next spring, just as the presidential election season heats up.
Originally published on Wed October 5, 2011 5:34 am
Four men were arrested Tuesday for their alleged roles in what the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, Ronald Machen, alleges was "one of the most brazen corruption schemes in the history of federal contracting."
Israeli scientist Daniel Schectman was awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize for chemistry for his discovery of quasicrystals, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced Wednesday.
The discovery, made in 1982, changed the way chemists look at solid matter.
"Contrary to the previous belief that atoms were packed inside crystals in symmetrical patterns, Shechtman showed that the atoms in a crystal could be packed in a pattern that could not be repeated," the academy said.
Ryan Van Duzer, an outdoor enthusiast who has starred in reality TV adventure shows, visits Colorado schools to talk about how working out can be entertainment. He says he often leaves frustrated after kids tell him about staying inside playing video games.
The obesity crisis is catching up with Colorado, the nation's thinnest state.
Being fit is part of the culture in Colorado: there are biking trails and hiking trails and ski slopes and even the high altitude itself helps burn off calories. But waistlines are widening, especially among children.
The United States Supreme Court hears arguments Wednesday in a major case testing the rights of teachers in religious schools. At rock bottom, the issue is who is a minister and when, if ever, that individual is exempt from the nation's civil rights laws.
Minnesota Lynx guard Candice Wiggins, center, goes up for a shot against Atlanta Dream center Alison Bales, left, and forward Sancho Lyttle, right, in the second half of Game 1 of the WNBA finals basketball series on Sunday.
Game 2 of the WNBA finals is set for Wednesday night in Minneapolis, as the Minnesota Lynx face the Atlanta Dream. The Lynx lead the series after winning Game 1 on Sunday, where they played in front of a near-record crowd. But after 15 seasons, the WNBA is still having trouble attracting fans and making money.
Syrian exiles, both defecting soldiers and civilian protesters, have slipped across the border into northern Lebanon seeking safety from the Syrian government and its relentless crackdown on opponents.
But even here, they can literally hear the shooting from across the border in the restive Syrian town of Homs, less than 20 miles away. They express fear that President Bashar Assad's forces will track them down in Lebanon. Those most at risk are army defectors who are hiding out in small Lebanese villages.
Hollywood inhabitants always joke that nobody can understand the profit and loss statements of films. There's an old expression: "We shoulda shot the deal instead of the movie — it's got a better plot." The same, it seems to me, could be said of the economics of college athletics.
One week before the pro baseball season ended, Florida Marlins pitcher Leo Nunez made a stunning admission: For the past 10 years, he lied about both his age and his name. As the subterfuge finally came apart, Nunez left for his native Dominican Republic. Details about why he assumed someone else's identity are only now coming out.
"His real name is Juan Carlos Oviedo," Miami Herald reporter Frances Robles tells NPR's Lynn Neary. "And when he was 17, he assumed a friend's identity, who was 16 — because the teams pay so much more money for 16-year-olds."
In the past 17 days, people visiting Munich's Oktoberfest drank a record 7.5 million liters of beer — around 1.98 million U.S. gallons. That figure is made more striking if one notes that the festival, which ended Monday, hosted some 6.9 million visitors this year — or 200,000 people short of a record turnout.
Despite that number, there was less violence this year, with the police being called about 100 times fewer than they were in 2010. And Reuters says that only 58 conflicts involved people knocking one another over the head with steins — a drop of 4 from last year.
Brian Vandevender says a tough economic market prevented him from getting a good job until the state brought back the program it calls STEPS 2 last month. He just got a position working for a company that makes auto parts and supplies and hopes it will turn into a full-time job when STEPS ends in December.
Credit Kathy Lohr / NPR
Jamita Washington was unemployed for two years before the STEPS program was introduced in Mississippi. She landed a full-time position at a manufacturing plant in Vicksburg and has remained employed for 18 months.
As President Obama sells his jobs initiative across the country, people in Mississippi point to a program they say is already creating jobs. Mississippi has attracted attention because economists like the way the state got employers to share the cost of hiring workers.
Under the Subsidized Transitional Employment Program and Services, or STEPS for short, the state pays part of the cost of workers' salaries in the hopes that the subsidy will lead to full-time jobs.
Some analysts say this could be a national model, but it comes with a price tag.