NPR News

Secret To A Long, Healthy Life: Bike To The Store

Nov 2, 2011

What would you say to a cheap, easy way to stay slim, one that would help avoid serious illness and early death? How about if it made your neighbors healthier, too? It could be as simple as biking to the store.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin were wondering if getting people out of their cars just a wee bit would create measurable improvements in health. health. So they gathered up data sets on obesity, health effects of pollution, and air pollution caused by automobiles in 11 Midwestern cities, and did a mashup.

For a lot of farm kids, "learning to drive" means learning to drive a tractor before ever driving a car.

Here we go again with the race-card business.

Questioning the motives of those seeking the truth about the sexual harassment allegations against him when he led the National Restaurant Association, Herman Cain said he suspects critics on the political left of attacking him for racial reasons.

A few months ago, Kansas seemed ahead of the game in preparing for an important requirement of the federal health law. The state had started to plan for exchanges — online marketplaces to help individuals and small businesses compare and buy health insurance.

But politics is intervening.

Syria Accepts Arab League Plan To End Crisis

Nov 2, 2011

Syria accepted an Arab League proposal calling for it to withdraw armored vehicles from the streets and stop violence against protesters in a bid to end the country's seven-month-old political crisis that has led to the deaths of some 3,000 people.

The agreement was announced by Qatar's Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jassim, who urged Damascus to follow through with action on the ground. Syria has continued its bloody crackdown on anti-government protesters despite international condemnation and previous promises of reform.

The Arab League, which had sent a delegation to Syria to try and bring the seven-month conflict between protesters and the government to an end, announced that Syria had agreed to withdraw its military from residential areas and release political prisoners.

The AP reports:

The proposal calls on Syria to withdraw all tanks and armored vehicles from the streets, stop violence against protesters, release all political prisoners and begin a dialogue with the opposition within two weeks.

Women who raise a glass just a few times a week appear to have a higher risk of getting breast cancer than those who are teetotalers.

A study that looked at the drinking habits and development of breast cancer in more than 100,000 nurses found those who drank more had a small but detectable increase in breast cancer compared with those who drank less.

Citing stronger economic growth, the Federal Reserve announced it is not making any changes to its monetary policy.

As the AP reported earlier, economists were expecting this wait-and-see approach because they figured the Fed would want time to assess whether its policy from August and September was spurring growth.

The schedule for the first four Republican presidential caucuses and primaries appeared officially set Wednesday with New Hampshire announcing that it would hold its first-in-the-nation primary on Jan. 10.

That would come exactly seven days after the Iowa caucuses, which were moved to Jan. 3, the first Tuesday of the new year, and which will kick off the process by which Republicans will choose their party's nominee to contest President Obama for the White House.

Nothing is more basic and simple than food. Yet it comes to us courtesy of a long, complicated supply chain that spans the globe.

That chain delivers food cheaply — but it can break. Four years ago, it blew up in most spectacular fashion, affecting hundreds of millions of people who rely on rice for sustenance. That crash — the great rice crisis of 2008 — was a true disaster for some of the poorest people in Asia and West Africa.

The news today that Pakistan's cabinet has moved to normalize trade with India — giving its neighbor "Most Favored Nation" status — is being viewed as a positive first step toward the possible normalization of diplomatic relations between the two nuclear rivals.

Weekend Edition Sunday host Audie Cornish will be filling in for Michele Norris on All Things Considered for a year, starting in January, NPR just announced.

The Paris offices of a French newsweekly that in its latest issue "invited" the Prophet Muhammad to be a guest editor and satirically wrote of what a "soft version" of Sharia law might be like, were burned early today.

According to The Associated Press:

The lawyer for one of two women who in the late 1990s accused Republican presidential contender Herman Cain of sexual harassment wants her side of the story to come out because she believes Cain has not been telling the truth about what happened, a lawyer who represents her said Tuesday on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360.

British judges ruled this morning that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can be extradited from the U.K. to Sweden, where authorities want to question him about allegations from two women that he sexually assaulted them in August 2010.

Police are on the hunt for the bandits who robbed a Union Pacific Railroad car after it made an emergency stop in Victorville, Calif. They made off with 20 boxes. Police told the Victorville Daily Press that the robbers couldn't have known what was in the car; they made off with $200 worth of pigs feet.

The pro basketball season still hasn't started, but Kevin Durant got a workout. The Oklahoma City star drove across the state to a flag football game. On Twitter the other night, he wrote, "This lockout is really boring. Anybody playing flag football?" An Oklahoma State student invited Durant to join a game his team had planned.

Right now, many people are nervous about the challenges presented by a global population that has reached 7 billion and is still rising. But for a lot of countries, a lack of babies is the bigger worry.

The so-called birth dearth is starting to cause problems across much of Europe and a substantial portion of Asia. With fewer children born, populations in many countries are aging rapidly. Soon, they may also be shrinking.

Government opponents in Syria have not been able to dislodge President Bashar Assad, but they are doing something the country has rarely if ever seen: they are organizing by themselves, outside of government control.

The massive street protests, demanding the end of Assad's regime, have defined the revolt over the past eight months.

But other things are happening as well, far from public view. In one quiet office in Damascus, Ashraf Hamza, 28, is leading a group of men at a session on community organizing.

The Stuxnet computer worm, arguably the first and only cybersuperweapon ever deployed, continues to rattle security experts around the world, one year after its existence was made public.

Apparently meant to damage centrifuges at a uranium enrichment facility in Iran, Stuxnet now illustrates the potential complexities and dangers of cyberwar.

Secretly launched in 2009 and uncovered in 2010, it was designed to destroy its target much as a bomb would. Based on the cyberworm's sophistication, the expert consensus is that some government created it.

In Wis., Focus Shifts From Union Law To Governor

Nov 2, 2011

A Wisconsin law on union bargaining rights signed by Gov. Scott Walker shows no signs of disappearing.

In February and March, there was a shocking, sometimes strange sight at the Wisconsin capitol: By day, protesters marched shoulder-to-shoulder. By night, they lived in the capitol, sleeping on the building's marble floors.

It began after Walker, a Republican, broke 50 years of Wisconsin precedent, announcing he would not bargain with public employee unions. He said the state was broke and he had nothing to negotiate with. The rest is the stuff of political folklore.

Lawyers for President Obama's Justice Department and Texas Gov. Rick Perry will be squaring off in federal court in Washington on Wednesday.

The state has sued the federal government to try to win court approval for its new legislative maps. There are big stakes: Texas stands to gain four new seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. But minorities in Texas, with a boost from the Justice Department, say the new boundaries amount to a step backward for Latino voting power.

If you want to know just how unhappy Americans are with their two-party government, a group called Americans Elect is ready to tell you.

The nonprofit group has scheduled a press conference in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday in a bid to show the Democratic and Republican establishments that voters want a third choice in presidential candidates.

It's a choice Americans Elect hopes to provide. This might sound like a third political party taking the field, but the group says that's not what it is.

'A New Force'

Next week Mississippi voters will decide whether to pass a constitutional amendment that redefines a person. Under the proposal, fertilized human eggs would be considered human beings, which would ban all abortions in the state. But abortion-rights activists say it would also limit contraception and threaten fertility treatments.

Les Riley has worked on the initiative for years, gathering signatures to get it on the ballot. Now, in northwest Mississippi, he's talking to voters and assembling yard signs that urge the passage of Amendment 26.

This week, we're asking what it really means to live in a world with 7 billion people. For some answers, we visit Karachi, Pakistan.

The grandest expression of the world's population growth is in the word "megacity." Dozens of these cities of more than 10 million now ring the globe, like a string of oversized pearls. In a megacity, people and ideas clash: The ancient collides with the modern; secular with religious; global with local. In Karachi, Pakistan, those forces can be seen in the story of a single piece of real estate.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Arizona is one of a handful of states that hands the redistricting to an independent commission, instead of its legislature. At least that's what's supposed to happen. In a stunning move last night, though, the Arizona Senate and its governor ousted the head of the state's independent commission.

NPR's Ted Robbins joins us from our bureau in Tucson to explain. Good morning, Ted.

TED ROBBINS, BYLINE: Good morning, Renee.

MONTAGNE: What exactly happened?

Deal To Sell Dodgers Sparks Celebration

Nov 2, 2011

Embattled Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and Major League Baseball reached an agreement late Tuesday to sell the storied franchise. Roger Arrieta of Los Angeles, who started a website calling on billionaire Mark Cuban to "Save the Dodgers," plans a rally at the stadium to celebrate the sale.

If you're retired, single and looking for love in Shanghai, try IKEA.

Twice a week, hundreds of Shanghai residents who have formed an informal lonely hearts club of sorts gather at the cafeteria of the Swedish furniture megastore for free coffee and conversation.

The pensioners begin arriving around 1 in the afternoon and fill nearly 20 tables in the store cafeteria. They sit for hours drinking coffee, gossiping and subtly checking each other out.

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