When peace talks open in Switzerland, one common concern between the West and Syria is expected to be the threat of Islamist extremists and the rise of al-Qaida-linked militias. Thousands of Sunni militants from around the world have joined the rebel groups in Syria, but there are other groups of militant foreign fighters who support the Syrian regime. Iraqi Shiites are being recruited in the thousands to bolster Syria's armed forces. Recruiting billboards and social media help portray the fight as an existential battle between Sunnis and Muslims.
NPR Justice Department correspondent Carrie Johnson discusses some of the most significant proposals detailed by President Obama on Friday. The president outlined changes to the way the National Security Administration conducts surveillance. In particular, he proposed modifications to one of the NSA's most controversial practices: the bulk collection of telephone records of calls made by Americans.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff talks with NPR about why it's often better to advise and assist than to get involved militarily. And he looks at the Pentagon's looming budget crisis.
The president said intelligence agencies would now need court approval before accessing phone data of hundreds of millions of Americans. He also directed the agencies to stop spying on the leaders of friendly nations. The changes come amid criticism directed at the NSA.
One change that privacy advocates have been pushing for is that the NSA no longer store the records from millions of phone calls — including those of Americans. Officials are telling Reuters and NPR that the president will endorse the idea of having a third party, not the NSA, hold that data.
After his father suffered a heart attack, 13-year-old Clayton Sherrod got a job washing dishes at a country club in Birmingham, Ala. By the time he turned 19 in 1964, he was the executive chef.
For decades, the Supreme Court ruled that laws regulating things like wages and working conditions were unconstitutional. That changed during the Great Depression, when one of the justices switched sides, paving the way for the Fair Labor Standards Act.
A study in the journal Obesity found that students who used credit or debit cards in the school cafeteria chose fewer fruits and vegetables and more desserts than kids paying with cash. But the researchers say schools should work with the bias instead of trying to fight it.
High schooler Megan Yurko won more than $21,000 last year in cowgirl barrel races. The sport requires circling three barrels in a cloverleaf pattern at top speed, and Yurko hopes she'll leave this weekend's world championship competition as the top ranked racer.
Lanny and Tracy Barnes competed on the U.S. Olympic team in 2006, and Lanny competed in 2010. This year, Tracy gave her spot on the team to Lanny, who was ill during the selection races and just missed qualifying. "The Olympics are about more than just competing," Tracy says.