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The Arab uprisings have ousted or weakened some American allies. Elections in Tunisia and Egypt have shown the strength of Islamist political parties. And after the long, hard war in Iraq, the U.S. appears to have a diminished appetite for new, complicated undertakings in the region. In the last of our six-part series on the upheavals changing the Middle East, NPR's Deborah Amos looks at what it all means for America.

You may remember the controversial studies linking food coloring and additives to hyperactivity in kids. Or you may know parents who have pinned their hopes on an elimination diet to improve their kids' rowdy behavior.

The New Hampshire Primary: Boost Or Bust

Jan 8, 2012

New Hampshire voters could make Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's nomination a near-certainty on Tuesday, when the state holds the first primary of the 2012 election.

Every presidential candidate in modern history who has won both Iowa and New Hampshire has gone on to win the party's nomination. (Romney narrowly won the Iowa caucuses last week). Since 1920, New Hampshire has been the first state to hold a presidential primary, and Granite State voters guard that status fiercely.

During this final sprint toward Tuesday's New Hampshire primary, candidate stops will be full of local diners and doughnut shops where the presidential hopefuls can chat up "real" voters — locals who stop in for a meal or a coffee.

But customers in one New Hampshire restaurant are over it. In response, a Portsmouth breakfast spot has banned candidates completely, reports Seacoast Online:

At last, the rivals who were supposed to savage front-runner Mitt Romney in the final weekend before Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire got down to business.

In the opening minutes of their debate Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press, several of those chasing Romney in the polls let fly the roundhouse punches they'd been pulling through weeks and months of TV debates.

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The Tucson Shooting: A Solemn Remembrance

Jan 8, 2012

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This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.

On The (Political) Ground In New Hampshire

Jan 8, 2012

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New Hampshire Republican Congressman Frank Guinta joins us. He's a veteran of new Hampshire politics as a former state representative and former mayor of Manchester. He joins us from his district office in Manchester.

Congressman Guinta, welcome to the program.

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This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.

Classes Teach Soldiers To Be 'Army Strong'

Jan 8, 2012

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With election season in full swing now, the sheer amount of media coverage can be daunting to anyone trying to follow the races.

For the press covering politics, NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik has this reminder: Most people are visitors to the land of political obsession, not full-time residents.

Folkenflik tells Weekend Edition Sunday host Rachel Martin that much of the campaign coverage "assumes that everybody is up to date on real minutiae."

Some people don't have the time to keep up with minor — or even major — developments.

This blogger's mom was a knitter. She and a friend made hundreds of knit caps that went to children in Rochester, N.Y. Some made their way to a village in Afghanistan when her youngest son went there on assignment for USA Today in 2002 and 2003.

Watching her, it always seemed as if knitting was calming and challenging at the same time. It's repetitive, yet also has to be done precisely right if you want to succeed. And if you mess up, you may have to unravel and start over.

When Lucas Etter's grandparents bought him a Rubik's Cube while he was visiting their retirement home, it was mainly to pass the time. Fast-forward two years, and that pastime is now an obsession.

Tensions with Iran these days are as high as they've been in years, and managing them will be one of the top challenges facing the Obama administration this year. With Iran threatening to block U.S. ships from entering the Persian Gulf, and the United States vowing not to back down, the stage seems to be set for war. And yet, what's happening with Iran right now may be more of an economic confrontation than a military standoff.

Americans' religious liberties are under attack — or at least that's what some conservatives say.

Newt Gingrich warns the U.S. is becoming a secular country, which would be a "nightmare." Rick Santorum says there's a clash between "man's laws and God's laws." And in a campaign ad, Rick Perry decried what he called "Obama's war on religion," saying there is "something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can't openly ... pray in school."

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is no stranger to budget battles.

He was head of the Office of Management and Budget and White House chief of staff under President Clinton. But now, the former congressman faces what could be some of the toughest budget decisions of his career — how to cut more than $480 billion from the Pentagon's bottom line.

When a gunman opened fire on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and others at a shopping center near Tucson exactly a year ago — killing six people and injuring Giffords and many others — some people were quick to blame the episode on the overheated political climate.

Once more, the great media consensus was confounded. Saturday night's debate at St. Anselm's College in Manchester, N.H., produced another battle among half a dozen presidential contenders, much like a dozen before it. Front-runner Mitt Romney was neither knocked out nor even knocked down. He was scarcely even knocked around.

Once again, the evening ended with the bruises pretty equally distributed among the contestants. And with the New Hampshire primary bearing down on Tuesday, virtually no time remains for Romney's rivals to bring him down.

Many of the journalists and professional political types who dutifully watched Saturday night's Republican presidential debate in New Hampshire probably had the same thought occur to them at several points: "For this we missed most of the NFL wildcard game between the New Orleans Saints and Detroit Lions?"

While people tend not to know much about New Hampshire, when it comes to presidential politics, the small state tucked into northern New England has some clout.

For the better part of the past week, all eyes have been focused on the 42nd most populous state, which holds its primary Tuesday. But who are the voters there, who play such a critical role in selecting the nation's next leader?

It's pretty easy to identify the classic stereotypes most outsiders associate with New Hampshire. Just ask long-time resident Earl Wingate:

The people of Tucson, Ariz., are commemorating the one-year anniversary of the shooting that claimed six lives and left 13 people wounded, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.). As NPR's Ted Robbins reports, community-wide events are scheduled all weekend:

Rick Santorum has complained about being disregarded during a string of Republican presidential debates. The former Pennsylvania senator has a point (more on that in a moment), but likely won't for long: He should be at the center of attention during a pair of televised debates this weekend that lead into the New Hampshire primary.

On the edge of downtown Los Angeles, Rae Marie Martinez looks for familiar landmarks. The 60-something grandmother turns in a slow circle and shakes her head. In 1957, she still had long braids and wore long dresses.

People made fun of her back then. "I remember they used to kick my heels all the way to school," Martinez says.

An effort to halt public benefits for undocumented students in California hit a snag Friday. As Bob Hensley of Capital Public Radio reports for NPR News, a petition to get the issue on the state ballot has failed:

Supporters of a proposed ballot initiative to rescind a law providing financial aid for California students who are illegally living in the state came up more than 55,000 signatures short.

So when the law goes into effect next year, it will allow undocumented students enrolled at public universities to apply for state loans and scholarships.

Next GOP Stop: New Hampshire

Jan 7, 2012

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