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As Italy and much of Europe struggle with their finances, the city of Florence has staged an art exhibition looking at the critical — and controversial — role that financial institutions have played for centuries.

The recent Money and Beauty exhibit, held in the majestic 15th-century Palazzo Strozzi, illustrated how Florentine merchants got around the Catholic Church's ban on money-lending and bankrolled the Renaissance.

Every year, federal judges sentence more than 80,000 criminals. Those punishments are supposed to be fair — and predictable. But seven years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court threw a wrench into the system by ruling that the guidelines that judges use to figure out a prison sentence are only suggestions.

A club drug called "Special K" is generating a lot of buzz among researchers who study depression.

That's because "Special K," which is actually an FDA-approved anesthetic named ketamine, can relieve even suicidal depression in a matter of hours. And it works on many patients who haven't responded to current antidepressants like Prozac.

Those traditional drugs, which act on the brain's serotonin system, can take more than a month to kick in, and don't work for up to 40 percent of people with major depression.

For many years, top Egyptian officials coming to Washington could expect a warm welcome, with few points of contention.

But for a group of Egyptian generals now in the U.S., several points of friction are likely to dominate the agenda between the longtime allies.

Egypt doesn't like the new conditions U.S. lawmakers have placed on American aid. And the U.S. is furious with the way Egypt has been treating U.S. groups that promote democracy. At least three Americans have taken shelter in the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.

Here's A Pie In Your Eye: A Brief History Of Food Fights

Jan 30, 2012

Last week, 500 tacos appeared at the mayor's office in East Haven, Conn. But they weren't intended for a casual luncheon.

Instead, this truckload of tacos was meant to be a symbol of discontent. An immigration reform group sent the fare in protest to what they said was an insensitive comment from Mayor Joseph Maturo in reference to Latinos and tacos.

"Talent, odd it is," Yoda might say.

In one of those quirks we've come to like about the Web, a video called "Alyssa talking backwards. Poteau Oklahoma" that was posted last July is just now beginning to get some viral-style attention. She seems to be quite good at quickly saying — backwards — any word she's given.

At least 100 people were killed across Syria today by security forces loyal to President Bashar Assad, activists said. The Local Coordination Committees, which organize protests on the ground and document the killings, said 76 people were killed in the restive central region of Homs.

The past five days have been some of the bloodiest since the uprising began last March, with about 387 people killed since Thursday, activists said.

Grade-schoolers are supposed to be riding in booster seats. But anyone who's ever chauffeured a bunch of second-graders can tell you that the day will come when you don't have enough boosters to go around. Faced with this obvious safety risk, most parents (including this one) buckle up the kids without boosters, and pray.

One of the biggest antitrust investigations in the nation's history has led to fines of $470 million against one Japanese auto parts manufacturer and $78 million against another, the U.S. Justice Department announced today.

The contest for the seat held by Sen. Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat, is one of the potentially close 2012 races that could ultimately decide whether Democrats maintain control of Congress' upper chamber.

As such, the battle is attracting attention from outside groups hoping their financial assistance will make a difference for both the first-term Democrat and his Republican challenger, Rep. Denny Rehberg, the state's sole House member and a former lieutenant governor.

The FBI has raised eyebrows in the tech world with a public document that asks for advice on how to harvest information from social networking sites.

Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum was back on the campaign trail Monday after improvements in the medical condition of his hospitalized young daughter Isabella or "Bella."

Bella's pneumonia, linked to a severe genetic condition, forced the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania to cancel campaign events in Florida over the weekend.

But with the three-year old's turn for the better, Santorum headed to the Midwest to resume campaigning, forgetting Florida where Mitt Romney appeared headed for a big win Tuesday.

Mitt Romney starts the week having undergone a transformation.

For almost a year, he tried to portray himself as the grown-up in the Republican race for the presidential nomination. Now, over the course of two debates and countless Florida campaign stops, the buttoned-up businessman is showing that he can get tough.

This shift has upended the yin-yang dynamic that has been playing out for weeks between the passionate, fiery Newt Gingrich and the staid, steady Romney.

One of the guests in the congressional gallery at last week's State of the Union address was Roxana Delgado, an advocate for soldiers returning home with traumatic brain injuries. Her husband, an army sergeant who NPR profiled in June, 2010, had been dramatically affected by the concussion he received from a roadside blast in Iraq.

Many investors are expecting Facebook to file papers for an initial public offering sometime later this week. The company, which was founded in a Harvard dorm room less than a decade ago, is expected to be valued at nearly $100 billion by Wall Street.

And if these early reports are true this is shaping up to be the biggest Internet IPO ever.

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