Ayman al-Zawahiri (shown here in a still image posted online by al-Qaida in July) replaced Osama bin Laden at the top of al-Qaida's leadership. Some argue that eliminating a few key leaders would significantly weaken the group; others say the more dangerous threat — from al-Qaida affiliates — would be unaffected by changes in the group's core leadership.
A debate is raging in the intelligence community about what it means to defeat al-Qaida. Because America's efforts to capture or kill al-Qaida's key members have been so effective, some officials say the core group — al-Qaida's founders and longtime members hiding out in Pakistan — is near collapse.
One camp, which includes members of the Obama administration, says al-Qaida's core group is three to five members away from collapse. Others, however, say with al-Qaida affiliates gathering strength, any victory over the core will be a hollow one.
For months now, Europe's debt crisis has hung ominously over the U.S. markets and economy. But even as U.S. banks begin lessening their investments in Europe, it remains difficult to quantify the threat they face.
A gunman opened fire killing six and wounding three others at an Orange County, Calif. hair salon this afternoon. The Orange County Register reports that the shooting rampage is one of Seal Beach's worst mass killings.
Originally published on Wed October 12, 2011 4:42 pm
Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) and billionaire Warren Buffett have been involved in a cordial back-and-forth about Buffett's now-famous New York Times op-ed in which he implored the government to raise his taxes.
The United States Supreme Court wrestled on Wednesday with a case testing whether some 700,000 people arrested each year on minor charges can be subject to automatic strip searches when taken to jail. Specifically, the issue the justices grappled with was whether jail authorities need some reasonable suspicion to conduct that kind of a search.
Caterpillar products produced in Illinois, like the ones shown above, will be able to be exported to South Korea, Colombia and Panama duty free if Congress passes trade agreements with those countries on Wednesday. Obama says the agreements will provide a major boost to U.S. exports and support tens of thousands of jobs.
Congress approved with bipartisan support Wednesday much-delayed free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. The Obama administration and supporters in Congress have labeled these agreements jobs bills, though there are questions about how many jobs will really be created.
When Bill Lane, the Washington director for the heavy equipment maker Caterpillar, looks at the three trade deals, he sees opportunity.
In this courtroom sketch, defendant Manssor Arbabsiar and defense attorney Sabrina Shroff, appear in court in New York on Tuesday. Arbabsiar has been charged in an alleged plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the U.S.
One day after the U.S. outlined an assassination plot allegedly linked to the Iranian military, a host of U.S. officials began making angry calls for tough action in response.
But what kind of action might that be? The U.S. has been imposing sanctions against Iran ever since U.S. diplomats were seized following the 1979 Islamic revolution. And analysts say they do not expect a U.S. military response.
At last night's GOP presidential debate in New Hampshire, Newt Gingrich condemned the government's latest effort to discourage men from routinely getting blood tests for prostate cancer by citing the views of Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach.
Gingrich stressed some of von Eschenbach's prestigious bona fides, including heading the National Cancer Institute and practicing at one of the country's major cancer centers.
The hits keep coming for Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation: While the company is still dealing with the consequences of its phone hacking scandal in the U.K., yesterday the publisher of The Wall Street Journal's European edition stepped down.
Today on All Things Considered, Alisha Niehaus of the Girl Scouts of America talks to host Guy Raz about a big update: for the first time in a quarter-century, they've updated the badges that Scouts can earn.
It started when Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor announced that a 10 percent budget cut would force him to end his office's prosecution of misdemeanor cases, almost half of which last year were domestic battery cases.
Scientists have used DNA lurking inside the teeth of medieval Black Death victims to figure out the entire genetic code of the deadly bacterium that swept across Europe more than 600 years ago, killing an estimated half of the population.
The researchers didn't find any genetic feature that could explain why the plague was so virulent, according to a report just published in the journal Nature.
A tiny portion of a secret cable released last month by WikiLeaks is just now making its way to the United States. In the Sept. 2009 cable, U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos tells the Obama administration that Japan doesn't think it's a good idea for President Obama to visit Hiroshima or to apologize for using an atomic bomb on two Japanese cities during World War II.
The contents of the cable were reported back in September by The Japan Times and ABC News picked it up, today.
GOP presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman says he's the most qualified Republican in the White House race, thanks to his background as governor of Utah, a corporate executive, and as U.S. Ambassador to China. But if Huntsman had lived out his youthful ambition, he would have been none of those things.
"My initial passion in life was to be a rock-and-roll musician," Huntsman told graduates at the University of South Carolina in May.
Originally published on Wed October 12, 2011 11:22 am
The alleged plot by two Iranians to kill Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States, which U.S. investigators say had the support of some "factions" within Iran's government, marks a "dangerous escalation" in that nation's support for terrorism, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said this morning.
For a long time, the Irish economy airline Ryanair has been the leader in slashing costs. It's also been known as the airline that made the current nickle-and-dime model of charging for food and carry-on luggage popular.
At one point last year, Ryanair briefly considered charging passengers to use the toilet. Now, Ryanair chief Michael O'Leary has put another cost-saving plan on the table: Removing two of the three on-board lavatories to make room for more seats.
The folks at Virunga National Park, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, alerted news media this week about a baby gorilla rescued from the clutches of poachers. You can tell a lot about little Shamavu's recent ordeal from this photo. With less than 900 mountain gorillas remaining on Earth, according to Virunga National Park, one gorilla saved is an accomplishment.
Frank Kameny sued the government in 1957 for firing him as a government astronomer because he was gay. His case is believed to be the first civil rights claim based on sexual orientation that reached the U.S. Supreme Court. Kameny then became a vocal gay rights advocate. He died Tuesday at age 86. Michel Martin looks at his legacy.
The "Don't ask, don't tell" policy was still in effect when Air Force 1st Lt. Josh Seefried helped start secret Facebook groups to connect active-duty gay and lesbian soldiers with each other online. Lieutenant Seefried also wrote for many publications — under the pseudonym J.D. Smith — about what it was like to be gay and an active-duty member of the military.
Language drives Johnson's art since her illness, as depicted in her piece called "Enthusiastic," created in 2009.
Credit Courtesy of Walters Art Museum
Artist Lonni Sue Johnson created this piece — "Clothes That Hang Up in the Closet" — in 2008, the year after she contracted viral encephalitis, which destroyed parts of her brain. Now researchers at Johns Hopkins University are hoping Johnson can help unravel some of the mysteries of memory.
Credit Courtesy of Walters Art Museum
This work, called "The Christmas Tree Line," is one of Johnson's famous pieces that ran in The New Yorker in 1985 well before she got ill. It has layers of meaning if you look at it closely, says Barbara Landau, a professor of cognitive science at Johns Hopkins University. She says it's "very, very clever and beautiful."
Credit Courtesy of Aline Marie Johnson
In 2007, artist Lonni Sue Johnson contracted viral encephalitis, which destroyed her hippocampus and parts of her left temporal lobe. Since then, she continues to create art, it's just different.
It's not often you see an image of a brain scan on the wall of an art exhibit. But among works by Monet and Sisley at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore hangs just that — a cross-section of a human brain. It belongs to artist Lonni Sue Johnson.
The room is really two exhibits — the art Johnson created before she contracted viral encephalitis in 2007, which destroyed her hippocampus and parts of her left temporal lobe — and her work after.
Originally published on Wed October 12, 2011 12:53 pm
Saying "it's time we know the whole truth" about the so-called Fast and Furious gun trafficking operation, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee today followed through on his promise to issue subpoenas to Attorney General Eric Holder and other high-ranking Justice Department officials.
Better medical care and equipment means fewer troops are dying on the battlefield. But more troops are coming home severely wounded, with injuries that require lifelong care and cost millions of dollars in medical costs.
Originally published on Wed October 12, 2011 8:48 am
When it comes to meeting the goal of getting more local food into school lunch, a major challenge has always been finding the money. Thanks to the new school lunch law, more federal grants than ever are available.
But the problem is bigger than money. It takes a serious supply chain and dedicated labor to make it work, too.
In an interview for Wednesday's Morning Edition, Bill Adair, editor of PolitiFact.com and Washington bureau chief for the St. Petersburg Times, talked with NPR's Steve Inskeep about how candidates at Tuesday night's GOP debate rated on PolitiFact's Truth-O-Meter.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is this hour pleading guilty to attempting to blow up a Detroit-bound passenger jet on Christmas Day 2009.
The Detroit Free Press, which is live-blogging the court action, reports that attorney Anthony Chambers surprised the courtroom earlier by announcing that "his client plans to plead guilty." And it adds that: