NPR News

The United States House of Representatives is expected to vote on a reaffirmation of "In God We Trust" as the country's official motto, today. The bill would also encourage public buildings to include the motto in their architecture.

Crack Cocaine Case Review May Free Inmates

Nov 1, 2011

Across the country on Tuesday, federal judges began reviewing the prison sentences of thousands of men and women jailed on crack cocaine charges. Many inmates could be released or see their sentences sharply reduced.

Congress voted last year to ease federal sentencing guidelines for crack cocaine. But a decision this summer to revisit old drug cases has sparked new controversy.

Some History

Babies digest milk with ease, but it can get harder with age, unless you picked up a gene from your northern European ancestors. Between 30 million to 50 million American adults can't crank out enough of the enzyme that digests lactose, or milk sugar, which can turn a bowl of ice cream into a roller coaster of stomach discomfort.

Lactose-intolerant people who want to indulge in dairy without suffering the consequences have two options: take supplements of the enzyme lactase, or buy lactose-free dairy products, which are made by adding lactase to break down the milk sugar.

Greece, the birthplace of democracy, may be suffering from an overdose of public input.

The decision by Greece's government to hold a January referendum on its deal with the European Union to restructure public debt has thrown the pact — and investors — onto shaky ground. Stocks around the world took a sharp dive on Tuesday's news, and other European leaders left little doubt over how they felt.

A year ago, nearly 1,000 U.S. Marine officers and enlisted men of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Regiment deployed to restive Helmand province in southern Afghanistan. By the time their tour ended in April 2011, the Marines of the 3/5 — known as "Darkhorse" — suffered the highest casualty rate of any Marine unit during the past 10 years of war. This week, NPR tells the story of this unit's seven long months at war — both in Afghanistan and back home.

Third of seven parts

He had assured Japan that the water inside the nuclear reactors crippled after the tsunami was safe. Yasuhiro Sonoda, a Japanese MP, said he so sure of the safety, he'd drink a glass of decontaminated water from the Fukushima reactor in front of reporters.

Monday, he made good on his promise. Here's the video:

Americans aren't going for coffins like they used to. Cremation is becoming more popular and many families opt to dispose of the ashes somewhere other than a cemetery.

That's not good news for the funeral and cemetery business. Arne Swanson, market director for Dignity Memorial Service Corporation International, recalls watching a family spreading the ashes of a loved one on the fairway of a golf course.

"I thought, 'There must be a better way,' " he says. "There just simply was not a product to meet the needs of this family."



Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep with tales of British alcohol. The one stop shop in Essex refused to sell whiskey to Diane Taylor. She didn't have proper I.D., and the shop said rules are rules, even though she is 92. Ms. Taylor at least caused less trouble than the ghost supposedly inhabiting a pub in Birmingham, England. At Halloween, the ghost has smashed bottles of wine it didn't like. It's not clear why the staff thinks it's a ghost and not a customer. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit



Part of a monthlong series

There's a lot to like about Solano County, Calif., a collection of bedroom communities between San Francisco and Sacramento: great climate, diversity and until recently, very stable neighborhoods.

But it also has the second-highest foreclosure rate in the country. Its largest city, Vallejo, went bankrupt. And unemployment here is 11 percent, higher than the national average.

Ohio Voters To Decide Union Law's Fate

Oct 31, 2011

Earlier this year, Wisconsin received lots of attention after passing a law slashing the power of public employee unions.

But soon after, Ohio legislators went even further.

In March, Gov. John Kasich and Republican lawmakers pushed a sweeping plan to slash union negotiating clout. It would ban strikes by all of Ohio's 350,000 government workers, require all public employees to pay at least 15 percent of their health care premiums, and use merit to decide pay and layoffs.

Now, Ohio is getting attention because voters there will decide that law's fate on Nov. 8.