And if the mandatory spending cuts do take affect tomorrow, the secretary of agriculture says he will be forced to furlough food safety inspectors. Without those inspectors, food companies could grind to a halt. But many in the meat industry say the USDA is mostly cooking up a scare.
Frank Morris of member station KCUR has that story.
This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
After two years and an estimated 70,000 deaths, the U.S. is about to step up its involvement in Syria's civil war. The Obama administration has offered more direct aid to the Syrian rebels fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad. Secretary of State John Kerry announced the aid today after meeting with Syrian opposition leaders in Rome.
Kenya will soon have a new president. Voters there go to the polls on Monday. The last election was followed by allegations of vote-rigging, and by weeks of deadly tribal violence, which left more than a thousand dead. NPR's Gregory Warner sat down with a few perpetrators of that violence in a bar to watch a Kenyan presidential debate and to find out what, if anything, has changed this time around.
New Jersey is hoping to hit the jackpot. Governor Chris Christie just signed a new law allowing online gambling. You have to be in the state to gamble there online, though it does save a drive to Atlantic City. And New Jersey's new law follows a similar move in Nevada last week.
To find out more, we called David Schwartz. He's director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
And let's remember, now, a brilliant pianist who turned music into a bridge between the U.S. and the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War. Van Cliburn passed away yesterday, at his home in Texas, at 78.
Back in 1958, the young Cliburn was an unknown when he went to Moscow and wowed the country. In winning the Tchaikovsky International Music Competition, he beat Soviet musicians playing Russian music.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne. Good morning.
The sequester countdown calendar now has the number one on it. Tomorrow is the big day. Over time, the automatic across the board spending cuts could slow economic growth and lead to the furlough of hundreds of thousands of government employees. And we're going hear more about that in a moment.
NPR congressional correspondent Tamara Keith begins our coverage with the efforts to stop that from happening.
Yahoo touched off a debate about the effectiveness of telecommuting when it told employees last week that they may no longer work from home. The policy change was made, according to the company's internal email, to enhance workplace collaboration.
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who happens to be a new mother, drew fierce criticism from those who say she should embrace, rather than reject, flexible work arrangements.
What exactly is lost and what's gained when people work from home?
Many homes that were rebuilt after the earthquake in 2010 are even more dangerous than the original ones. This three-story home was put up after the quake but is already slated for demolition to make way for an 18-unit housing project.
Credit David Gilkey / NPR
Although progress has been slow, there are signs of construction in Haiti. A neighborhood near downtown Port-au-Prince that was in shambles after the quake has been rebuilt.
If you've ever shot the breeze, had a heart-to-heart or bent somebody's ear — in fact, if you've ever talked at all — odds are you've used an idiom. These sometimes bizarre phrases are a staple of conversation, and more than 10,000 of them are collected in the latest edition of The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms, which came out this week.
Today, in Almaty, Kazakhstan, Iran and six world powers including the U.S. wrapped up two days of talks. No breakthroughs, but Iran is considering a proposal that would impose new restrictions on its nuclear program in exchange for the easing of some economic sanctions. The two sides will return to Kazakhstan for another meeting in early April. NPR's Peter Kenyon has this report from the scene of the negotiations.
On his last full day as Pope, Benedict XVI had his final general audience in St. Peter's Square before a crowd estimated at 150,000 people. He had a more personal message than usual, saying his resignation was dictated by his ailing health and declining speech. He spoke of the moments of joy in his papacy, but also of turbulent seas and rough winds when it seemed like the lord was sleeping.
Pope Benedict XVI had his final general audience Wednesday in front of a crowd of thousands. On Thursday, he leaves the papacy and becomes "Pope Emeritus". It's a brand new position and there are a lot of questions. What will he wear? Where will he live? How will he fill his time? Melissa Block speaks to long time pope watcher Rocco Palmo, editor of the website "Whispers in the Loggia."
Several states are rushing to establish a foothold in online gambling — an activity that federal officials were only recently trying to ban.
Just a while ago, the federal government actually viewed online gambling as a crime. Lately, the Obama administration has taken a more permissive stance. It now allows states to sell lottery tickets online.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had expressed reservations about online gambling a month ago and had vetoed an earlier version of the bill. But in the end, the pressure to sign the legislation was just too great.
Update at 7:35 p.m. ET: Beer Is At Full Strength, Tests Say
Samples of Budweiser and other Anheuser-Busch InBev beers were found to be in line with their advertised alcohol content, according to lab tests conducted at NPR's request. We've rewritten portions of this post to reflect that new information.
Anheuser-Busch is accused of misleading beer drinkers about the alcohol content of Budweiser and other products, in a series of class-action lawsuits filed in federal court.
Originally published on Wed February 27, 2013 5:57 pm
North Dakota's legislature is considering a proposal to authorize the first changes to the state's license plate in two decades. North Dakotans are volunteering some humorous ideas for the plate's new slogan.
A majority of Supreme Court justices seemed prepared on Wednesday to invalidate a key section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The law is considered the most effective piece of civil rights legislation in the nation's history.
Melissa Block speaks with Republican Mayor Scott Smith of Mesa, Ariz., about his concerns for the pending sequester. Smith is in Washington, D.C., with a group of more than 30 mayors, warning members of Congress about the damage that could come to America's cities with these cuts.