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Tunisia took the lead in the Arab Spring back in 2011. Its revolution was swift and largely peaceful. Within months, an assembly was elected to write a new constitution.

As other Arab countries grew more violent and chaotic, Tunisia seemed to be showing the way for an orderly transition away from authoritarian rule.

Can Detroit Be Saved?

Mar 2, 2013

Detroit is broke. On Friday, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder announced the state will take over the city's finances.

"It is time to say, we need to start moving upward with the city of Detroit," he said.

But the question on many people's minds is whether state intervention will be enough — and whether the more ominous and painful scenario of municipal bankruptcy can be avoided.

Adding Up The Debt

Just how far gone is Detroit? Eric Lupher, director of local affairs for the Citizens Research Council of Michigan, sums it up like this:

Florida Atlantic University says it's standing by its deal to sell naming rights to its new football stadium to a controversial private prison company. The Boca Raton-based GEO Group faces allegations of abuse and neglect at some of its facilities, and there's a growing call on campus for the school to sever its ties.

In the days leading up to the sequester taking effect Friday, Democrats on Capitol Hill had a very unified message.

"We're seeking to provide the American people with a balanced approach. Again, that's what the American people want," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said at a press conference.

In Anchorage, Alaska, on Saturday, the "Last Great Race on Earth" begins.

Sixty-seven sled dog teams will start the 998-mile Iditarod race across the barren, frigid and unforgiving land. In this year's competition, there are a handful of first-time racers — but those aren't the only rookies.

One is veterinarian Greg Reppas, whose job is to ensure the dogs are healthy throughout the race.

At the voting rights argument in the Supreme Court on Wednesday, Chief Justice John Roberts tore into Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, grilling him on his knowledge of voting statistics.

President Obama, who has issued few pardons during his time in office, announced on Friday that he had pardoned 17 people convicted of mostly minor offenses.

The AP reports:

"No one well-known was on the list released by the White House. Some of the crimes drew light penalties in the first place — such as a North Carolina woman sentenced to two years' probation and 100 hours of community service for distributing satellite cable decryption devices.

One nation underfed. Really?

Many of us don't think of the U.S. as the land of the underfed.

In this era of the expanding waistlines, we hear far more concern about obesity than we do about hunger. But the two are more closely connected that many of us realize.

In a small public-TV studio before an invitation-only audience of 30 people, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder made his case Friday for taking control of Detroit's finances away from the city's elected officials.

The state's signature city is grappling with a declining population, a dwindling tax base and decades of mismanagement — including corruption so pervasive at times that former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is currently on trial for federal racketeering charges.

The judge overseeing the Apple/Samsung patent case decided to throw out about half of the $1 billion in damages awarded by the jury in a trial last August.

All Things D explains:

"Judge Lucy Koh ordered a new trial to determine damages for certain of the products in the case, a move that affects $450 million of the jury's $1.05 billion award.

These are difficult times for the Republican Party. In the latest NBC-Wall Street Journal poll, Democrats led Republicans — in some cases by double digits — on issues like Medicare, taxes and the economy.

The battle between an American capitalist and a French socialist official has prompted chuckles — and heated debate — on both sides of the Atlantic. The exchange highlights some humorous stereotypes and reveals real differences between the economic cultures of France and the United States.

A leaked letter from Maurice Taylor, CEO of the Illinois-based Titan tire company, ignited the controversy. In it, Taylor, regarded by the French as a hardcore capitalist, addressed Arnaud Montebourg, France's flamboyant, leftist industrial renewal minister.

The week's developments include a pope emeritus for the first time in six centuries, federal budget cuts seemingly designed by Sweeney Todd, and the visit by one of the NBA's all-time rebounders (Dennis Rodman) to the son of one of the world's greatest sportsmen (that would be North Korean dictator Kim Jung Un, whose late father claimed to have shot five holes-in-one on his very first golf outing).

Two rapid-fire snowstorms belted Kansas with more than 2 feet of snow this week. They caused thousands of accidents and all kinds of hardships — but they also produced very broad smiles from some quarters.

That's because in a place as dry as Kansas has been lately, a blizzard can be a blessing for farmers and ranchers.

If food is love, Americans must love their kids a lot. About one-third of children and adolescents in the U.S. are overweight or obese.

And our emotional response to food may be one of the reasons so many kids eat so much, according to a poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health. The poll found that in more than a quarter of families, food is considered an important way to show affection.

The way Americans get their electricity is changing. Coal is in decline. Natural gas is bursting out of the ground in record amounts. And the use of wind and solar energy is growing fast. All this is happening as power companies are trying to choose which kind of energy to bet on for the next several decades.

Until recently, half of these plants burned coal to make electricity. Now, that's down to about one-third. Since 2010, about 150 coal plants either have been retired or it's been announced they will be retired soon.

Strange as it may seem, a pierced, tattooed and occasionally cross-dressing former basketball star is now one of the West's leading experts on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman, following his improbable visit to Pyongyang this week, has become the only Westerner to have had a one-on-one with the reclusive Kim, who by all accounts enjoys basketball at least as much as testing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

Update at 4:08 p.m. ET. Report Released:

The State Department, which is ultimately charged with approving or denying TransCanada's plans to build a 1,700 mile pipeline from Canada and through the U.S., has released a draft report that details the potential environmental impacts of the Keystone XL pipeline.

An experiment that used rats to create a "brain-to-brain interface" shows that instructions can be transferred between animals via electronic signals and the Internet, according to scientists who studied how rats can use brain implants to share problem-solving information.

Sequester: The Movie

Mar 1, 2013

On Sequester Day in Washington, lots of Twitter users invoked a favorite movie line to express their views on the automatic spending cuts. Some criticized the federal government; others just poked fun.

The #sequestermovielines hashtag reached trending status Friday with tweets citing Forrest Gump, action flicks and even the Disney movie The Lion King. We compiled a few of our favorites here:

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski says his agency will investigate whether a federal ban on unlocking cellphones is "harmful to economic competitiveness."

Genachowski made the comments during a event hosted by the technology site TechCrunch.

One of the talks from the TED stage in Long Beach, Calif., this week came from Richard Turere, an inventor. He is a Maasai from Kenya. And he's 13.

He can't do "a Jedi mind meld" with Republicans and get them to see his way about taxes and spending, President Obama said Friday.

About which CBS News' Mark Knoller immediately tweeted:

"Pres Obama Mixed Metaphor of the Day: The 'mind meld' is not a Jedi tool from Star Wars, but a Vulcan ability from Star Trek."

Friday's deadline for President Obama to issue a sequestration order is neither the beginning nor the end of this year's budget battles in Washington. Here are five key moments to watch over the next seven months, and what's at stake in each:

Robert Lustig wants to convince the world that sugar is making us very sick. And lately he's turned to an unconventional field – econometrics – to do it.

Lustig rounded up statisticians and epidemiologists to look at the relationship between food and diabetes risk. The paper, published this week in the journal PLoS One, found that the more sugar on the market in 175 countries, the higher the country's diabetes rate.

A wave of violence has rocked Bangladesh after a special war crimes tribunal Thursday imposed the death penalty on an Islamist leader for his role in the country's 1971 war of independence from Pakistan.

Demonstrators for and against the convicted leader clashed with security forces, leaving dozens of people dead, including police.

The violence demonstrates the deep sensitivities that remain over the war of independence that played out more than 40 years ago.

The question of whodunit remains unanswered in the case of a Chicago lottery winner who died last July with a lethal amount of cyanide in his blood.

Cook County Medical Examiner Dr. Stephen Cina said Friday that tests on the remains of Urooj Khan did not detect cyanide in tissues or what remains of his digestive system.

Saying it was a "sad day," Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder declared a financial emergency in the city of Detroit. He said that while it would not be appropriate to appoint an emergency manager, now, he would think about doing so after March 12. That's the day set aside for a hearing, if the city appeals his decision.

"I do have a top candidate," Snyder said during a press conference.

The Detroit Free Press explains:

Pope Benedict XVI has left the Vatican.

Love the Catholic Church or not, you have to admit the Roman numerals following a pope's name are distinctive. They set the pope apart from the rest of humankind. (As if he needs it.)

Roman numerals always stand out. In an increasingly computer-driven world run by the numbers — population totals, unemployment figures, mortgage payments, health care bills, credit card codes, "the last four of your social" — the occasional brash appearance of an X or an MCM can be surprising and sometimes a little unsettling.

"Washington sure isn't making it easy" for the American people and the American economy, President Obama told reporters late Friday morning as he and other lawmakers failed to reach a deal to avert $85 billion worth of automatic "sequester" spending cuts due to start at the end of the day.

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