Sometimes history stares you in the face, and you look in the wrong direction.
As a young reporter in the late 1970s, I did stories about some of the first automatic teller machines as they came into use. Most of my stories bore in on the concerns that seemed most urgent back then: Will people trust getting money from a machine, not a person? What if you ask the machine for $50 and it spits out $20?
Today, those worries sound as antique as wondering if the Iron Horse would put a lot of blacksmiths out of business — which I guess the automobile did.
Lawmakers in Illinois are headed back to work next week to address the state's $100 billion pension crisis, the worst unfunded pension liability in the nation. While almost all states faced pension funding issues during the recession, none of them are looking at a predicament as severe as in Illinois. Every day it doesn't get fixed, the burden on taxpayers grows larger.
Here's what we know about a National Security Agency program that collects vast amounts of data on the electronic activity of Americans: While controversial, a leaked secret document authorizing the collection makes it clear that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has decided that the collection of metadata for every call made in and into the United States is legal under Section 215 of the U.S.A.
Despite a number of victories for gay rights and national polls reflecting a growing acceptance of gay men and women, there is a population within the LGBT community that often feels left out of the national debate.
This week, the Internet radio broadcaster Pandora made what seems like a backward move — technologically speaking. Pandora purchased a local radio station in Rapid City, S.D. The company says it's aiming to get the more favorable royalty rates given to terrestrial broadcasters, but the move has songwriters and composers up in arms.
Since public revelations that the National Security Agency is collecting telephone records and reviewing Internet communications in the U.S. and abroad, officials have been making the case that the programs are vital. They argue that the tactics match the new ways terrorists are planning and communicating.
There was a time when America's enemies conspired face-to-face, or communicated through couriers, or by leaving messages for each other somewhere. But in the digital age, that has changed.
Bruce Springsteen performs during halftime of the Super Bowl in Tampa, Fla., in 2009. In music, and increasingly in other industries, a relative handful of top performers take more and more of the spoils, says White House chief economist Alan Krueger.
White House economic adviser Alan Krueger took some ribbing from his boss this week. President Obama noted that Krueger will soon be leaving Washington to go back to his old job, teaching economics at Princeton.
"And now that Alan has some free time, he can return to another burning passion of his: 'Rockanomics,' the economics of rock and roll," the president said. "This is something that Alan actually cares about."
We want to remind everyone to join us here most weeks at the Chase Bank Auditorium in beautiful downtown Chicago, Illinois. For tickets and more information, go to wbez.org. You can find a link at our website, waitwait.npr.org. Right now, panel, time for you to answer some questions about this week's news.
BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!, the NPR News quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis, filling in for Carl Kasell. We're playing his week with Bobcat Goldthwait, Faith Salie, and Luke Burbank.
KURTIS: And here again is your host, at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
Thank you, Bill. Right now, it's time for the WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME! Bluff the Listener game. Call 1-888-Wait-Wait to play our game on air. Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!
BILL KURTIS ANNOUNCER: From NPR and WBEZ-Chicago this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME! the NPR News quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis filling in for Carl Kasell. We're playing this week with Bobcat Goldthwait, Faith Salie, and Luke Burbank. And here again is your host, at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.
Now, panel, who will flee the country next? Bobcat Goldthwait.
BOBCAT GOLDTHWAIT: Oh, I didn't - I wanted - I thought it was who I wanted to leave.
SAGAL: All right. Well...
GOLDTHWAIT: I'd hate to make it personal again, but every time my ego (unintelligible) after I do this show, there's this one person that's really mad that I'm on the show that I always find commenting. And all I can say to this guy is like, hey way to be all inclusive. Can't a guy from "Police Academy" be on WAIT WAIT?
You probably know that Neil Armstrong was the first man on the moon. But that guy in all the pictures from the first moon landing? That's Buzz Aldrin. So here's a lesson for you all: It doesn't matter if you're the first guy out of the spaceship, just as long as you make the other guy hold the camera.
So sure, Aldrin has been to the moon, but what does he know about mooning? We've invited him to play a game called "Drop your pants and take a bow" — three questions about exposing one's buttocks.
Hasan Rowhani, the lone moderate in Iran's presidential elections, has secured victory and headed off a runoff vote in a symbolic rebuke to the country's hard-line Islamic clerics.
Rowhani, 64, won nearly 51 percent of the vote in a field of five other candidates, all but himself considered conservatives who were more or less in line with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Rowhani's closest rival, Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqher Qalibaf, came in a distant second, with less than 17 percent of the ballots.
A 94-year-old man who allegedly was a top commander of a Nazi SS unit responsible for the massacre of civilians during World War II is reportedly living quietly in Minnesota, according to an exclusive report by The Associated Press.
The news agency says it obtained records through the Freedom of Information Act that show Michael Karkoc lied to officials in 1949 about his past in order to immigrate to the United States.
As it turns out, prime urban parking can be almost as valuable as a single-family home. A Boston woman bought two parking spaces for $560,000 at auction Thursday, winning a tough bidding war that increased by the tens of thousands at each turn.
The buyer, Lisa Blumenthal, said the spots will be used for guests and workers, at the hefty price of $280,000 each — nearly 90 percent of the worth of the median sales price of a single-family home in Massachusetts.
This week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed a new rule that would extend "endangered species" protections to chimpanzees held in captivity. Nearly half of all the chimps in the U.S. live in research facilities, and the regulation changes would make it more difficult to use these animals in medical experiments.