Nation/World

If you're a vehicle owner and happen to have a car accident in the near future (we hope you don't), it's likely the crash details will be recorded. Automotive "black boxes" are now built into more than 90 percent of new cars, and the government is considering making them mandatory.

Louisiana officials are grappling with a giant sinkhole that's threatening a neighborhood. A salt mine collapsed last year, creating a series of problems regulators say they've never seen before, including tremors and oil and gas leaks and a sinkhole that now covers 9 acres.

Residents have been evacuated for more than seven months now and are losing patience.

Ernie Boudreaux lives in a trailer on Jambalaya Street in Bayou Corne, La. Strange things have been happening to his home, he says.

Sen. Rob Portman, an Ohio conservative Republican who recently said he now supports same-sex marriage because he has a gay son, evidently has plenty of company.

A new poll from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press suggests that many Americans have changed their minds — going from opposing to supporting same-sex marriage — because they personally know someone who is gay.

When you think about the Gaza Strip, do you think "organic farming"? How about "family dairy"? Would you expect California pistachios to flavor made-in-Gaza baklava? Have you heard that Hamas has a 10-year plan to develop sustainable local agriculture?

Without "a few years" warning, humans currently have no capacity to stop an asteroid on a collision course with the planet, scientists told a Senate panel Wednesday.

"Right now we have no options," said former astronaut Ed Lu. "If you dont know where they are, there's nothing you can do."

Democrats who haven't controlled the governor's mansion in Tallahassee in 14 years could have a good opportunity to win it back next November.

Dr. Frank Dumont knew one of his favorite patients was getting depressed.

When Dumont first started seeing him in his family practice, the man was in his 70s. He was active and fit; he enjoyed hiking into his 80s. But then things started to change.

"He started complaining of his memory starting to slip," Dumont says. The man would forget where he had placed objects, and he'd struggle to remember simple words and phrases.

Dumont prescribed antidepressants and saw him every eight weeks or so.

Who or what caused a takedown of computer systems at banks and broadcasters in South Korea on Wednesday is still a matter of speculation, but suspicion immediately and unsurprisingly fell on Seoul's archenemy to the north.

If true, it wouldn't be the first time that North Korea, often regarded as technologically backward, has successfully wielded the computer as weapon.

As the Affordable Care Act nears its third birthday this Saturday, a poll finds the public actually knows less about the law now than when it passed in 2010. Oh, and a lot of what people think they know just isn't so.

Those are the central findings of this month's tracking poll just released by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Ahead Of Federal Reserve Statement, Stocks Are Up

Mar 20, 2013

Update at 2:03 p.m. ET. Rates Unchanged:

Following a meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee, the Federal Reserve said in a policy statement today that it is continuing with its "highly accommodative stance of monetary policy."

That means that it will stay the course with its aggressive stimulus, buying $85 billion of bonds a month.

The job of parenting toddlers ain't easy. Consider the 2-year-old to-do list: Get tantrums under control. Potty train. Transition from whole milk to low-fat milk.

Speaking from experience, only one of these things was easy.

As my daughter turned 2 in January, we made the simple switch to reduced-fat milk. Done. Don't need to overthink this one, right?

After all, I'm following the evidence-based advice of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Iraq War: Retired Marine Faces The Past

Mar 20, 2013

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is TELL ME MORE, from NPR news. I'm Michel Martin. Today, we are going to spend some time across North Africa and the Middle East. It's the first day of spring, and that means it's the Persian New Year. We are going to celebrate Nowruz later in the program, with a comedian who's putting a new spin on the holiday. That's in just a few minutes.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law a bill that bans high-capacity magazines and calls for background checks on private and online sales of guns.

Hickenlooper signed the bill exactly eight months after a gunman opened fire in a suburban Denver movie theater, killing 12 and injuring another 70.

The Denver Post reports:

Now And Then: Rephotographing Iraq

Mar 20, 2013

A lot of photographers are revisiting 2003 this week — the year the U.S. invaded Iraq — and sharing photos from the years of war that followed. Even more literally, Associated Press photographer Maya Alleruzzo revisited various sites photographed during the war to see what has changed and what hasn't.

One scene speaks volumes: Today, shoppers pass through a busy shopping district in Baghdad. But in the 2008 photo, taken by Hadi Mizban for AP, the sidewalk is covered in fresh stains from a bombing that killed 22 people.

NPR Science Correspondent Richard Harris traveled to Australia's Great Barrier Reef to find out how the coral reefs are coping with increased water temperature and increasing ocean acidity, brought about by our burning of fossil fuels. Day 2: The good news is life could get better for seaweed.

Picture a coral reef and the first things likely to come to mind are brilliantly colored fish swimming among stout branches of coral. Let your mind wander a bit more and you might imagine some sea turtles, stingrays and sharks.

The future doesn't look so bright for China-based Suntech, one of the world's largest makers of solar panels: On Wednesday, it was forced into bankruptcy after missing a $541 million payment to bondholders.

"I'm going Big Ten, this year," President Obama told ESPN this morning, while he filled out his NCAA tournament bracket.

The bottom line: Obama picked Indiana, Florida, Louisville and Ohio State to advance to the final four.

Obama predicted the championship game will be played between Louisville and Indiana, which he called the "two best teams."

Um Ahmed holds her infant daughter outside a United Nations registration center for Syrian refugees in Al Mina, a northern Lebanese city near the Syrian border. She is among a group of dozens of Syrians waiting for their names to be called.

Um Ahmed tries to coax her screaming infant daughter to take a bottle. The baby is hot — the slight brown curls of her hair are matted to her head with sweat, and the bottle offers no comfort. She keeps crying. She's been here before.

"The first time I came they didn't accept us," Um Ahmed says. "They told us I need documents."

Don't tell Chicago, Buffalo or Minneapolis — which will see high temperatures just in the 20s, today — but at 7:02 a.m. ET., the Earth's axis was neither tilted from nor toward the sun, marking the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere.

So: Happy spring equinox!

The National Weather Service provides this explanation for what's happening with the Earth's orbit:

How Ideas To Cut ER Expenses Could Backfire

Mar 20, 2013

Cash-strapped states are coming up with an appealingly simple fix for soaring Medicaid costs: Don't pay for emergency room visits for people who aren't sick enough to be there.

There's a problem, though. It's almost impossible to figure out who's sick enough and who isn't at the moment they walk in the door, researchers say.

The head of Colorado's Department of Corrections was shot and killed after answering the front door of his home.

Gov. John Hickenlooper made the announcement in an email sent to corrections employees.

"I can hardly believe it, let alone write words to describe it," Hickenlooper wrote.

The AP reports:

Computer networks at South Korea's three main broadcasters and major banks crashed simultaneously Wednesday, leading to speculation that it was caused by a North Korean cyberattack.

According to South Korea's Yonhap news agency:

The race to fill South Carolina's 1st Congressional District has gotten quite a bit of attention. Mostly because of the cast of politicians vying for the seat vacated when Tim Scott was appointed to Senate by Gov. Nikki Haley.

Cypriot politicians are busy trying to come up with an alternative plan to raise the cash needed to stave off a collapse of its banking sector after they unanimously rejected an international bailout package that would have imposed a levy on the nation's savings accounts.

Here's a quick look at some of Wednesday's developments:

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

President Obama landed in Israel this morning, marking the first time he visits the country as president.

"I see this visit as an opportunity to reaffirm the unbreakable bond between our nations, to restate America's unwavering commitment to Israel's security and to speak directly to the people of Israel and to your neighbors," Obama said during a welcoming ceremony at the Tel Aviv airport.

NPR's Larry Abramson, who's at the airport, just spoke to our Newscast unit. He said Obama was welcomed by Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Basketball fans have one more day to fill out their March Madness brackets. They'll need to predict not just the champions and their route to victory, but also the paths of all the losers. It's not easy. In fact, no person or computer has yet been able to do it.

Ever since the Newtown, Ct., school shooting, there's been a raging debate over how to keep America's schoolchildren safe. National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre proposed stationing an armed guard in every school in the country. Critics said that idea was impractical and would be too expensive to carry out.

But many schools and school districts already have armed police officers. Since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, about one-third of the schools in the U.S. have added some kind of armed security, according to federal data.

Pediatricians and health officials are eager to encourage breast-feeding as one of the best and most economical ways to protect a baby's health.

To that end, the federal Affordable Care Act requires that health insurance plans provide new mothers with equipment and services to help make those feedings easier.

Pages