News Archive - January 11, 2012

Reusable Grocery Bags Can Be Health Threat

The 5-cent bag tax is less than a month old in Montgomery County, and while residents embrace the reusable alternative, a report warns that those bags have issues of their own to keep in mind.

May 15 Is Likely Date For D.C. Special Election

The likely date for a special election to replace Harry Thomas Jr. as the Ward 5 councilmember in D.C. is May 15, pending a decision by the District's Board of Elections.

Ivey Drops Primary Challenge To Rep. Donna Edwards

Citing problems raising money and awareness in the D.C. Metro media market, former prosecutor Glenn Ivey has dropped his bid to challenge Donna Edwards for the Democratic nod in Maryland's 4th district.

Maryland Assembly Prefers Gas Tax To Sales Tax

Governor Martin O'Malley caused a stir on the first day of Maryland's General Assembly in 2012, when he suggested that an increase in the sales tax was an alternative to raising gas taxes.

APA Report: National Stress Levels Down

A survey by the American Psychological Association found that while stress levels were down across the country, residents in the District embraced stress as a path to success and fulfillment.

Colgan Only WWII Veteran In Virginia Senate

After taking a Senate oath Wednesday, Virginia state senator Charles J. Colgan becomes the longest-serving state senator in the history of the commonwealth.

GovExec: Disability Hiring Within the Federal Government

The federal government is stepping up its efforts to meet President Obama's commitment to hire 100,000 disabled Americans into the federal workforce.

Episcopal Church Restored As Owner Of 7 Va. Churches

A judge has ruled that the Episcopal Church will retain ownership of seven area churches whose congregations defected, dismayed by the church's liberal theology.

Recall Effort Launched To Oust Gray and Brown

Recall proceedings have begun in D.C., as an activist is seeking to oust Mayor Vincent Gray and council chairman Kwame Brown for breaching the public trust.

All Deck Chairs Are Filled: Titanic 100th Anniversary Cruise Is Fully Booked

A ship will leave Southampton on April 8 and stop at the site of the Titanic's sinking on the 100th anniversary of that tragedy. Then, it is to finish the voyage that the Titanic couldn't.

Man Arrested After Child Found Alone In McPherson Tent

D.C. Police have arrested a man and charged with him with neglect after a 13-month-old child in his care was found unattended in a tent at McPherson Square.

Did Food Safety Auditors Cause The Fatal Outbreak From Tainted Cantaloupe?

Food producers rely on private auditors, not the FDA, to make sure they are following food safety rules. But the auditor of the Colorado melon farm that was the source of last year's fatal outbreak not only gave the farm a rave review, he also recommended changes that may have caused the problems.

Justice Department's No. 3 Stepping Down

Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli has managed issues including mortgage abuses, the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and domestic violence in Indian country. With two young children and twins on the way, he's looking to focus on his family.

Virginia Dems To Push For Health Insurance Exchange

With the Virginia legislative session beginning Wednesday, Democrats are pushing legislation that will allow for the formation of a state-run health insurance exchange.

Pentagon Disgusted, Marines Investigating Disturbing Video

It appears to show four U.S. Marines urinating on the bodies of three dead men in Afghanistan, but has not yet been verified. Regardless, "it's hideous. It turned my stomach," says Pentagon spokesman Capt. John Kirby.

Report: Virginia's Traffic Loopholes Lead To Unsafe Conditions

Virginia drivers are at a higher risk of injury and death due to the state's more lax driving laws, according to to a new report from a driving safety advocacy group.

Marathon Runners Face Low Risk Of Cardiac Arrest

Participation in long-distance running events has doubled over the past decade, and race-related cardiac arrests have increased, too. Even so, the risk is low, a study finds. Undiagnosed, pre-existing heart conditions are the biggest source of trouble.

Doctor Isolates Exercise Hormone; Tells People To Keep Exercising

What if your New Year's resolution to get more exercise could be fulfilled — by taking a pill? That's the far-flung idea suddenly brought much closer to reality by the discovery of a hormone called irisin, which is produced by the human body in response to exercise.

Ethics Committee Releases Report On Rep. Hastings, Probe Will Continue

Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) has previously denied "in the strongest possible terms" that he did anything wrong. But a woman who once worked for him says he sexually harassed her on several occasions.

EPA Creates Website To ID Biggest Emitters Of Greenhouse Gases

Ever wondered who the big greenhouse-gas emitters are in your neck of the woods? The answer is now just a click away.

Nigeria Faces Double-Edged Crisis In Protests, Militant Group

Parts of Nigeria are under a 24-hour curfew, after demonstrations against a government policy to end fuel subsidies turned into a fiery rampage in the city of Minna. The BBC reports that "hundreds of rioters set fire to government and political party offices" and targeted the homes of politicians.

Expert: Pollsters Undersampled Paul's Young, Indie New Hampshire Voters

Did pollsters underestimate the strength of Rep. Ron Paul's New Hampshire support because they didn't include enough younger voters in their sample? Yes, says a Washington, D.C.-based pollster in a piece on the Campaign and Elections website.

How's The Economy? Federal Reserve Reports 'Ongoing Improvement'

The language in the central bank's "beige book" look at the economy has gotten more upbeat. It sees "modest to moderate" growth.

Sign The End Is Nigh For Huntsman? In Hypothetical, Colbert Beats Him In S.C.

A poll found the Comedy Central star Stephen Colbert, who wanted to be on his home state's ballot, would beat Jon Huntsman by one point.

Do Nicotine Patches And Gum Help Smokers Quit?

A study out this raises questions about just how effective nicotine replacement is over the long haul. How does a new study that suggests gum and patches are no better than going cold turkey square with previous studies that showed a benefit?

In South Carolina, Perry, Gingrich Go On The Attack

As expected, the harder punches had to do with Mitt Romney's work at Bain Capital, which Rick Perry referred to as "get-rich schemes."

Photo Gallery: Citizens' Defense In Sagra

Last summer, a criminal gang was heading to Sagra. Residents called the police from another community but help arrived too late so villagers fought the criminals off themselves, swinging pitchforks and firing hunting rifles.

FDA Cuts Off Orange Juice Imports Over Safety Concerns

Low levels of a fungicide, called carbendazim, have been found in orange juice products that contained juice imported from Brazil. Now, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has halted orange juice imports from all countries.

'El Gordo,' Galaxy With Mass 2 Quadrillion Times The Sun's, Discovered

It's the biggest cluster of galaxies ever seen and may help scientists learn more about dark energy, dark matter and how such clusters form.

Photo Gallery: Remembering A Lost Town

In 1941, Soviet dictator Josef Stalin carried out his plan to build a reservoir along the Volga River. Thousands of people were ordered to move their homes or face being submerged. One of the towns that faced flooding was Mologa.

Photo Gallery: Yaroslavl, Overcoming Tragedy

Yaroslavl — located just a few hours northeast of the Russian capital — was in the news last summer, when nearly every member of the hockey-loving city's professional team, Lokomotiv, was killed after the team plane crashed on takeoff.

Photo Gallery: Polaroid, Freeze Frames

In our digital age, are we trading convenience for the romance of the journey? These are photographs you can touch and smell and share, hand to hand, among your new traveling companions.

Photo Gallery: iPhone Glimpses Of Russia

The iPhone was mainly for the quick snap, uploaded to family and friends back home. But it soon became a necessary reporting tool. Russians still tend to view cameras with suspicion, even though the Soviet Union collapsed two decades ago. A cellphone, however, proved to be far less threatening.

Maryland General Assembly Prepares For Jam-Packed Session

The Maryland General Assembly has its work cut out for it during this year's session, with several major proposals -- including gay marriage, a gas tax increase, and a wind power expansion -- slated to cross members' desks.

Photo Gallery: Vladivostok, The End Of The Line

In Russia's eastern port city of Vladivostok, home to almost 600,000 people and the Russian Pacific fleet, two huge bridges are being built. They are supposed to be finished in time for Vladivostok to host the 2012 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

Photo Gallery: Lake Bailkal In Vladivostok

After a train journey of nearly 6,000 miles from Moscow, the Russian Pacific port of Vladivostok can feel like a different country. The people and the language are still Russian, but the strong Asian influence is undeniable.

Photo Gallery: Departing From Moscow

NPR journalists traveled the full length of the Trans-Siberian railroad to report on how Russia's history has shaped its people.

Hundreds Of Pardons, Some For Killers, Spark Outrage In Mississippi

Just before he left office this week, outgoing Gov. Haley Barbour (R) issued more than 200 pardons or sentence reductions — including more than a dozen to persons convicted of murder, manslaughter or other death-related crimes.

Google Tweaks Search To Boost Google+, And Rivals Get Angry

Social media has become a huge part of how people experience the web. So it's not surprising that Google's move to integrate "personal results" into its search results — drawing from the Google+ community — wasn't praised by the folks who run rival social networks.

Virginia's Senate Candidates Build Up Campaign Fortunes

Candidates in Virginia's U.S. Senate race are amassing huge campaign coffers already in advance of the November election.

D.C. Looks To Tweak Same-Sex Divorce Laws

A D.C. Council committee has given its approval to a bill that would allow gay and lesbian couples married in the District to divorce, even if they no longer live in the city.

Lost Touch: Peace Corps In Search Of 100,000 Old Volunteers

The program says it lost records of volunteers from its early days and now it wants to get back in touch.

Natalie Wood's Death Still Looks Like An Accident, Investigators Say

Two months after announcing they would take another look at the circumstances surrounding the 1981 death of the actress, authorities say there's "no evidence to suggest that the cause was anything but accidental," the Los Angeles Times reports.

New Scorecards Released For D.C. Schools

New scorecards released by D.C. Public Schools rank 119 schools in the city on achievement, teaching, safety, and other categories.

8 Killed In Syria, Including A French Journalist

Gilles Jacquier, who reported for France 2, was killed while covering a pro-government rally in the city of Homs.

Suspect In Natalee Holloway Case Pleads Guilty To Murder In Peru

Joran Van Der Sloot killed 21-year-old Stephany Flores on May 30, 2010, five years to the day after Holloway's went missing in Aruba. He has been arrested twice, but never charged, in relation to the Alabama teen's disappearance.

Beef Erupts Over Crossword Guru's Hip-Hop Slang Clue

According to some, Shortz took a false step with this past Saturday's puzzle, when he included a clue steeped in hip-hop slang. The clue asked for a 5-letter word that means "Wack, in hip-hop."

Mitt Romney Raised $24 Million Last Quarter

The haul also solidifies Romney's status as the lead man in the primary contest. He saw a significant increase in donations, while his opponents raised less money.

Fannie Mae CEO Will Step Down

Michael J. Williams, who faecd scrutiny over his salary, became CEO shortly after the government takeover in 2008.

Hostess, Maker Of Twinkies, Files For Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection

Twinkies maker Hostess Brands Inc., is again seeking protection from its creditors, blaming high debt and rising costs of labor and raw materials. Sales of Twinkies are down, despite its prime product placement in the 2009 film Zombieland.

U.S. Resumes Drone Strikes In Pakistan

The first U.S. attack since a November strike killed 24 Pakistani soldiers will likely test an already frayed relationship between the two countries.

Iran Says A Car Bomb Killed One Of Its Nuclear Scientists

Iran is blaming the U.S. and Israel for the assassination, which marks the third such attack on the country's nuclear program.

Bain Attacks On Romney Recall Notorious 'Willie Horton' Ads

The real danger of the Bain story will not be manifest among Republicans this winter and spring. The real danger is that the story bobs back up in the summer and fall.

'New Hampshire And Beyond': A Special Elections Podcast

Listen to the latest news and analysis on the New Hampshire primary and its impact on the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

'Down And Dirty,' South Carolina Has History Of Quashing Challengers

Ever since 1980, the state's voters have correctly chosen the eventual Republican nominee, who has invariably been the candidate the party's establishment types have chosen to rally around. It's not for nothing that it's called the South Carolina Firewall.

South Carolina: An Early Look Ahead

After no-drama New Hampshire, the Palmetto State is shaping up to be a fierce battle for the Republican presidential nomination. It's also a crucial spot for opponents to derail Mitt Romney.

Romney On Glide Path As Campaign Heads South

Even before his big win in New Hampshire, Mitt Romney was opening up a lead in South Carolina, the next state to host a GOP primary. It's possible support will solidify behind a challenger, but time is already running short.