It's a mere one hundred days remain before the opening of the Olympic Games in London. From time to time, MORNING EDITION has been getting dispatches from NPR's London-based correspondent Philip Reeves, about the preparations. In his latest, Reeves says the British are gearing themselves up for this great contest, both physically and mentally.
Chongqing party secretary Bo Xilai attended a plenary session of the National People's Congress last month in Beijing, shortly before he was stripped of all his Politburo positions.
British businessman Neil Heywood, seen in April 2011, was found dead in a hotel room in the Chinese city of Chongqing in November. An official announcement last week said Gu Kailai, the wife of Bo Xilai, is suspected of murder.
China is gripped by a tale of murder, betrayal, flight and intrigue that threatens the stability of the entire nation. At its heart is the death of a 41-year-old British businessman in a hotel room in the city of Chongqing last fall. The scandal has brought down a high-flying Chinese politician, Chongqing's party secretary Bo Xilai, and his wife, with China's state-run media hinting at their corruption and abuse of power.
At Citigroup's annual meeting Tuesday, 55 percent of shareholders voted against big paychecks for the firms top executives. Citigroup's latest pay package saw the CEO take home some $25 million, despite dwindling share values. The vote is not binding, but analysts call it historic.
In the world of advertising, the success of a billboard often depends on its location. And in the sporting world, what's a better local than the tall, imposing bodies of professional basketball players - which brings us to our last word in business: basketball billboard.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
At an NBA meeting last week, team owners floated the idea of slapping corporate logos on team uniforms.
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
LYNN NEARY, HOST:
And I'm Lynn Neary. Renee Montagne is on assignment.
In Syria, a ceasefire that's part of an U.N.-Arab League peace plan is unraveling, just six days after it got underway. Once again, dozens of people are dying each day, as the Syrian military pounds the cities and towns that have most fiercely resisted the government, and opposition rebels are fighting back.
An outsized figure on the world's stage is fighting to keep his job. Nicolas Sarkozy has made headlines pressing for intervention in Libya, travelling abroad with his supermodel second wife Carla Bruni, pressing to free up France's economy and struggling with Europe's debt crisis. Now, with an election approaching, the French president is trailing in opinion polls against his main rival, the socialist Francois Hollande.
Sarkozy's future depends on voters like those who spoke with NPR's Eleanor Beardsley.
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood presidential candidate Khairat el-Shater talks to reporters in Cairo on Tuesday. The elections commission has disqualified 10 presidential hopefuls, including el-Shater.
Credit Khaled Desouki / AFP/Getty Images
Egyptian military police stand by as a protester holds a placard in support of Salafist presidential candidate Hazem Abu Ismail at a demonstration outside the High Presidential Election Committee building Tuesday in Cairo. Ismail and nine other candidates have been disqualified from the race.
Egyptian election officials upheld their ban of nearly half of the presidential candidates running in next month's contest. Among them are two leading Islamist candidates and the intelligence chief for former President Hosni Mubarak. The decision radically alters the race for a post that will shape Egypt's political landscape.
Minutes after official news outlets announced the election commission ruling, candidate Hazem Abu Ismail took to the airwaves to denounce it as a conspiracy.
Bo Van Pelt celebrates his hole-in-one during the final round of the Masters on April 8. New research suggests that golfers may be able to improve their games by believing the hole they're aiming for is larger than it really is.
Credit Wikimedia Commons
Which Orange Circle Is Larger? In this optical trick, known as the Ebbinghaus illusion, both orange circles are the same size. (Go ahead, measure!) When small circles were projected around a golf hole, golfers perceived the hole to be larger and subsequently made more putts.
Psychologists at Purdue University have come up with an interesting twist on the old notion of the power of positive thinking. Call it the power of positive perception: They've shown that you may be able to improve your golf game by believing the hole you're aiming for is larger than it really is.
Jessica Witt, who studies how perception and performance are related, decided to look at golf — specifically, how the appearance of the hole changes depending on whether you're playing well or poorly.
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman vetoed a bill that would spend government funds on prenatal care to illegal immigrants. He has that service for illegal immigrants should be provided by churches and private organizations, not with taxpayer money.
Andrew Breitbart, the late editor and founder of BigGovernment.com, is shown in this file photo speaking at a rally at the conservative Americans for Prosperity "Defending the American Dream Summit" in Washington on Nov. 5.
Tina Brown, editor of The Daily Beast and Newsweek, tells us what she's been reading in a feature that Morning Edition likes to call "Word of Mouth." This month, Brown has been thinking about the contributions of journalists to global culture.
Paul Schubert and his wife decided to buy a new car last summer — a really fuel-efficient one. After a lot of research, they settled on a Toyota Prius. But there was a problem: They couldn't find one.
The tsunami that devastated Japan in March had dried up supplies of the Prius, which is made in Japan, and a dealer told them they would have to wait — "about four months," Schubert says. "And we thought, well, it'd be, probably, end of November, early December before we were going to have a car."
The House is scheduled to vote this week on a small-business tax cut bill offered up by Republicans. It's just the latest piece of legislation to focus on small businesses, which are widely praised in the political discourse as engines of job creation. The adoration is nearly universal — and it reflects something beyond economic reality.
"Small businesses create 2 out of every 3 jobs in this economy, so our recovery depends on them," President Obama said in 2012 at a New Jersey sandwich shop where he met with small-business owners.
Can I give you a word I love that you just don't hear anymore?
It used to be that all kinds of stuff was described as "zany," but it seems to have mostly gone out for fancier words like "dysfunctional."
Now, I bring this up because most sports franchises are pretty standard issue. Oh, some are rich, some poor, some win, some lose, but only one currently, to my mind, descends to the dear old level of zany. That is the Miami Marlins, formerly the Florida Marlins, or, now, as I like to call them, given their location in Little Havana, Los Zany-os.
Surrogacy is an idea as old as the biblical story of Sarah and Abraham in the book of Genesis. Sarah was infertile, so Abraham fathered children with the couple's maid. Today, there are many more options for people who want to grow their families — and for the would-be surrogates who want to help.
Macy Widofsky, 40, is eager to be a surrogate.
"I have very easy pregnancies. All three times have been flawlessly healthy, and I wanted to repeat the process," she says, "and my husband and I won't be having more children of our own."
More than 99 million federal taxpayers had filed their returns as of Tuesday, with more than 80 million of those expecting a refund.
People who file at the last minute — and Tuesday is this year's deadline — are somewhat more likely to owe money to the government. And if Congress and the president don't act, next year could see many more Americans paying higher taxes.
That's not because either President Obama or presumptive Republican challenger Mitt Romney advocate a tax increase for most Americans.
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And I'm Audie Cornish.
We have new information now in the investigation of Secret Service misconduct. Agents are alleged to have hired prostitutes before President Obama's visit to South America last week. The Secret Service director has been talking with members of Congress, and NPR's Ari Shapiro joins us now to tell us what he's hearing. Hey there, Ari.
Warren Buffett, 81, has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, his Berkshire Hathaway company announced Tuesday afternoon. The cancer is at Stage 1, according to MarketWatch. The billionaire investor's condition is not life-threatening, he says.
Buffett send a letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders to inform and reassure them. Here's the text of that letter:
Before Facebook and MySpace transformed how we interact virtually, there was another kind of Internet — a 1980s network, where users connected via phone lines and communicated through simple lines of text.
And while that may sound outdated, that version of the Internet is still very much alive.
'A Lot More Elegant'
Pat McNameeking, a college student in Concord, N.H., is one champion of this throwback social network known as SDF, or Super Dimensional Fortress.
Originally published on Tue April 17, 2012 3:34 pm
Mike Murphy, the very quotable Republican political consultant who has listed some of his party's biggest names as clients, including John McCain and Arnold Schwarzenegger, has some advice on picking a vice presidential running mate.
Originally published on Wed April 18, 2012 5:25 am
President Obama is leading presumed GOP nominee Mitt Romney big in recent national polls.
No, wait. Polls show he's trailing Romney by a couple of percentage points.
Oh — this just in: Obama is actually leading Romney, but the race is tightening.
It's a general election poll-a-palooza out there, people.
But what do all the numbers mean?
"I have friends who support Obama, and friends who support Mitt Romney," says Scott Keeter, survey research director at Pew Research Center. "I tell them not to get too excited or too depressed at this point."
Medicare patients who reach the annual gap in coverage for prescription drugs known as the "doughnut hole" are 57 percent more likely than those with continuous insurance coverage to stop taking drugs for heart-related conditions such as high blood pressure or heart disease.
When IRS agents raided the house of rapper Young Buck, they seized all his things: his white leather dining chairs, his watches, his craps table, his tattoo kit. Even his refrigerator. The Nashville artist, who was once part of 50 Cent's G-Unit, owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in back taxes.
His lawyer, Robin Mitchell Joyce, said he thought Young Buck's taxes were being handled by his business manager. They weren't.
A lot of the songs on Kat Edmonson's new album, Way Down Low, have a timeless sound, due in part to her own timeless-sounding voice. But she isn't above revealing her influences: The song "Champagne," she admits, was crafted with a particular American songsmith in mind.
"I was trying to write a song like Cole Porter," Edmonson tells NPR's Melissa Block. "Me and a million other people are trying to write a song like Cole Porter."
Originally published on Tue April 17, 2012 4:27 pm
For years, the U.S. Department of Justice has known that flawed forensic work by FBI experts may have led to the convictions of innocent people, but prosecutors rarely told defendants or their attorneys, according to an investigative report in The Washington Post.
For most mothers, there is no event in life bigger than giving birth to a child. Charity Lovas has given birth to eight children, yet only three of those children are her own.
It all began in 2002, when she and her family were living in Indianapolis. She says she was reading the Sunday newspaper and spotted an ad for ovum donors. She had never heard about it. She was curious.
She called the number in the ad. A woman at the other end of the line explained the egg donor program, and said they had a surrogate program, too.
A broker sits in the stock exchange in Madrid. Worries about Spain's finances intensified last week as the country's bond yields rose on international markets, making it more expensive for Spain to borrow money.
Credit Alberto Di Lolli / AP
Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has said his country will weather its current economic troubles and will not need a bailout.
Credit Alberto Di Lolli / AP
People march during a demonstration against health and education cuts recently announced by the Spanish government, in Madrid on Sunday.