Diaz is retiring at a time when his department is under close scrutiny by the Department of Justice, which found the department policed in a bias manner.
A director spent a year filming the Alawite community in the Syrian coastal city of Tartous, where many believe President Bashar Assad is the only man who can save them from the mostly Sunni Muslims leading the country's rebellion.
It's only been about a month since across-the-board federal spending cuts kicked in, but real, tangible, quantifiable signs of the sequester are proving hard to find so far. Politically, that means — for now, at least — there's not much pressure for Congress to undo or modify it.
Thatcher was Britain's first female prime minister and its longest-serving premier since the 19th century. She is widely credited with playing a key role in ending the Cold War. Thatcher died Monday at age 87.
Congress returns from a two-week recess amid reports that a gun deal in the Senate may have gained late momentum; a focus on immigration to include a rally on Capitol Hill and perhaps movement in the Senate; and a budget proposal from President Obama that already has some in his own party fuming.
Former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, also known as "The Iron Lady," died on Monday.
A leader whose tactics and policies were widely disputed during and after her 11-year term (the longest for any British politician), Thatcher made a lasting impact on the nation — economically, socially and culturally.
She was steadfast on her set of principles, which became known as "Thatcherism." What exactly were those principles? According to the New York Times they're "the belief that economic freedom and individual liberty are interdependent, that personal responsibility and hard work are the only ways to national prosperity, and that the free-market democracies must stand firm against aggression."
Here are three of the policies that'll remain as part of her legacy:
1. Raising the tax burden.
Denying the advice of many academic economists at the time, she raised the tax burden and curtailed public sector budgets. According to the BBC, 364 of Britain's leading economists condemned her policies in a letter to the Times, predicting a worsening slump in a recession already marked by mass unemployment. But the following eight years saw economic revival with annual growth above 3 percent.
2. Breaking labor unions.
Thatcher broke the power of the labor unions. She stood against the all-powerful National Union of Mineworkers and announced plans to shut down several plants and eliminate thousands of jobs. A violent strike by coal miners erupted. It lasted nearly a year, but ended without settlement — though with Thatcher as the clear victor.
"A lot of people here hated her, hated what she stood for, hated what she did for us," says Cummings, who's from a coal mining community in the north east of England where Thatcher’s refusal to support the mines caused tens of thousands of job losses. "She has a legacy, a legacy of destruction, a legacy of destroying lives and a legacy of destroying communities."
3. "Popular Capitalism."
Thatcher pushed hard for bringing "popular capitalism" to Britain, moving major state industries like telephones and gas supply to the private sector. The economy thrived to the point that in 1985, the Treasury announced it would not need deficit spending in the next fiscal budget.
Her industry minister Lord Young says the policy of privatizing is still popular in Britain and abroad: "In those days — the '70s — every telephone company in the world outside the United States was owned by the government," claims Young. "Today none are."
What Thatcher didn't change
Nonetheless, Thatcher did face a number of drawbacks.
She did not follow through with her plans to privatize the water industry or the National Health Service, and failed to revamp Social Security. Inflation rose and inflation rates remained high. Among political tensions, she resigned from office in 1990.
On the day of Thatcher’s death, Britain isn’t neccesarily prospering. It’s laden with debt and on the brink of another recession.
However, free market economist Ruth Lea remembers as a civil servant in the 1970s the national mood before Thatcher came to power.
"There was a terrific sense of defeatism that all you were doing in the Civil Service was managing decline. Mrs. Thatcher reversed that," Lea says. "She left the spirit of the British economy in much better shape than she found it."
No matter where you fall on Thatcher's policies, there is an agreement — she left the British economy different than how she found it.
"She made an enormous change to the country, Lea says. "I must say this on the day that she’s died, that is a terrific tribute to her."
There was a big report out today, on airline performance. Every year, Wichita State University and Purdue University run the data on the number of lost bags, on-time takeoffs and landings, and passenger complaints.
Last year, despite all those mergers and what are now mega-airlines, quality was almost at the highest it’s been in more than 20 years.
“United was dead last, as far as the numbers go,” says Dean Headley, who co-authored the report. He is an associate professor marketing at Wichita State.
United merged with Continental almost two years ago, and there wasn’t much of a honeymoon. What dragged down United, Headley says, is how often passengers complained.
“You mean, we’re going to be delayed an hour?! I’m going to tell somebody.”
After a merger, there usually is an adjustment period, but Headley says some of them have gone better than others. Take Delta and Northwest, for instance. They merged in 2008, and now, Delta is number four in the ranking.
Number one is Virgin America, a carrier that is pretty small and still pretty new, that hasn’t bought -- or been bought by -- another airline.
Alan Bender is an airline economist at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and he calls these annual rankings “controversial.” Data can only tell us so much.
“A flight can be on time, and the bags are not lost, however it is five hours of shear misery,” he says.
Sure, more flights are on time, but those planes probably aren’t that comfortable.
Another thing worth considering is that our standards have changed. Wichita State’s Dean Headley gets this question a lot: “How was your flight?”
“The best I’ve been able to tell them: uneventful,” he says. “If nothing really good happened, nothing really bad happened, goes as planned, that’s a good flight. That’s about as good as it gets.”
And as good as we can hope for, maybe, with two more mergers on the way, between Southwest Airlines and AirTran, and US Airways and American Airlines.We asked our Facebook fans what the worst thing about flying today is. Here's what you said:
[View the story "What's the worst thing about flying today?" on Storify]
Tell us your thoughts by commenting below or on our Facebook page.
Former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, also known as "The Iron Lady," died on Monday. A leader whose tactics and policies were widely disputed during and after her 11-year term (the longest for any British politician), Thatcher undoubtedly made a lasting impact on the nation -- economically, socially and culturally.
She was steadfast on her set of principles, which became known as "Thatcherism" and is described by the New York Times as "the belief that economic freedom and individual liberty are interdependent, that personal responsibility and hard work are the only ways to national prosperity, and that the free-market democracies must stand firm against aggression."
Here are three of the policies that'll remain in her legacy:
1. Raising the tax burden. Denying the advice of many academic economists at the time, she raised the tax burden and curtailed public sector budgets. According to the BBC, 364 of Britain's leading economists condemned her policies in a letter to the Times, predicting a worsening slump in a recession already marked by mass unemployment. But the following eight years saw economic revival with annual growth above 3 percent.
2. Breaking labor unions. Thatcher broke the power of the labor unions. She stood against the all-powerful National Union of Mineworkers and announced plans to shut down several plants and eliminate thousands of jobs. A violent strike by coal miners erupted. It lasted nearly a year, but ended without settlement -- though with Thatcher as the clear victor.
3. "Popular Capitalism." Thatcher pushed hard for bringing "popular capitalism" to Britain, moving major state industries like telephones and gas supply to the private sector. The economy thrived to the point that in 1985, the Treasury announced it would not need deficit spending in the next fiscal budget.
Nonetheless, Thatcher did face a number of drawbacks. She did not follow through with her plans to privatize the water industry or the National Health Service, and failed to revamp Social Security. Inflation rose and inflation rates remained high. Among political tensions, she resigned from office in 1990.
For decades, U.S. presidents have been appointing friends and big donors to serve as ambassadors. Now it looks like President Obama will tap Caroline Kennedy as the next envoy to Japan.
JFK’s daughter is definitely a friend of the president. She’s backed Obama since the 2008 primary and co-chaired his re-election effort. On the money side, she’s personally donated $5,000 to his campaigns, plus the political currency of her last name.
“Probably her biggest asset was her ability to attract funds to the president,” says Dennis Jett, a veteran diplomat and Penn State professor. He recently co-authored a report that shows 40 percent of politically appointed envoys have been big campaign donors.
They’re also more likely than career diplomats to get posts in desirable destinations, like Western Europe and the Caribbean. Jett says Japan is seen as more of a challenge.
“It has a language that not many appointees re going to speak, and it also probably a more complicated relationship in a perhaps more difficult part of the world,” he explains.
Kennedy would be only the latest high-profile choice for the post. Former Vice President Walter Mondale was ambassador to Japan during the Clinton administration.
“Of the issues she will confront when she arrives, security will be right on the top or at the top of the list,” Mondale says. “You have North Korea, which is acting I’d say very dangerously now. You’ve also got the Chinese are acting up over the islands. This is a serious assignment. It’s one of the largest embassies we have in the world.”
Mondale adds that appointing a Kennedy sends a message about the importance of America’s relationship with Japan. She’d be the first female U.S. ambassador to a country notorious for its gender gap.
“It matters that we are at a position in our relationship with Japan, that we would send a woman as an ambassador there,” says Sheila Smith, senior fellow for Japan Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.
The Obama administration has yet to formally announce her appointment, but Caroline Kennedy might want to start learning some Japanese.
The suspense is over for many college-bound kids, as nearly all the acceptance letters have gone out. Now it's decision time -- not only which school to attend in the fall, but how to pay for it.
Financial aid that colleges give out regardless of need comes as a welcome boost to many American households. But even though state schools cost a tiny fraction of what it costs to attend private colleges, that's just the sticker price.
Richard Ekman, president of the Council of Independent Colleges, says the actual amount students pay at private colleges is on average less than 60 percent of the total cost of school. That discount is a selling point for students and for schools, as tuition costs soar and the economy remains weak.
"Offering a merit-based scholarship where maybe that student is not eligible for need-based financial aid could entice them to come to your school instead of a different institution where they'd have to pay the full sticker price," says Amanda Griffith, who teaches economics at Wake Forest University.
Griffith says colleges want to attract a variety of students, including those whose families make too much to be eligible for financial aid. They want the drum majors, the debate stars, the artsy types.
Beckie Supiano, who reports for the Chronicle of Higher Education, says merit aid has given private colleges an edge."The colleges that really rely on merit aid tend to feel that they just wouldn't be able to enroll the kind of class they're looking to without it," she says.
But some say the trend toward giving money to students regardless of income needs to stop, and several private college presidents are calling for a shift back to more need-based aid. Tori Haring-Smith, president of Washington Jefferson College, is one of them. "We need to provide broader and broader access to higher education," she says.
She says that doesn't mean colleges ought to stop trying to lure students with special talents. But she says they do need to give more aid to students who just plain can't afford private college tuition.
Ekman, of the Council of Independent Colleges, says many people fall into that category. "The 18-year-old college-going generation these days is disproportionately lower income compared to what it was a generation ago," he says.
The school could bring home trophies in both the men's and women's basketball championships. The first step comes Monday night when the Louisville men play Michigan. On Tuesday, the Louisville women play Connecticut.
A woman hailing from a place many U.S. conservatives once viewed as a hopeless bastion of liberalism has become an enduring figure for the right. Just as Ronald Reagan helped move conservatism from the fringes of U.S. politics, Margaret Thatcher helped do the same on the international stage.
Funicello, one of the first child stars to emerge out of The Mickey Mouse Club, went on to star with Frankie Avalon in the Beach Party films.
A major blast inside what's known as the "Square of Security" in the Syrian capital today is the latest sign of the deteriorating security situation in the capital. The instability has grown so quickly in the past month or so that many die-hard Damascenes are fleeing.
What if you put all 7 billion humans into one city, a city as dense as New York, with its towers and skyscrapers? How big would that 7 billion-sized city be? As big as New Jersey? Texas? Bigger? Are cities protecting wild spaces on the planet? We try a little experiment to find out.
In Hanover, Germany, the Russian leader was greeted by three women protesters who stripped off their tops before shouting expletives at him. While he professed to enjoy their demonstration, Putin's aides want the women punished.
It's noon at the KFC in the heart of Shanghai’s busiest shopping district on Nanjing Road. Half the tables are empty. It's a highly unusual scene at this particular location, surrounded by dozens of glass towers full of office workers.
KFC’s business appears to be in a bird flu funk. "I was a little scared when I walked in," says Ma Xiaobin, one of the few customers here. "There’s hardly anyone here because of the bird flu. I asked if they had any beef products. They didn’t. Other customers were eating chicken burgers, so I ordered one of those."
Health officials believe the new strain of bird flu is being passed on by live poultry, not cooked poultry. Still, James McGregor, author of "One Billion Customers," says Chinese consumers don’t take chances when it comes to food safety. McGregor says the threat of a bird flu pandemic is going to hurt KFC parent company YUM! Brands, which earns half its profits from the China market alone.
“What’s difficult for YUM! is that China has become such a huge portion of their global earnings," says McGregor. "And China is a topsy-turvy market where you get hit by politics, you get hit by disease, and you get hit by competitors going after you that they can use the local media to put out bad stuff about you that’s not true.”
If history is any indication, KFC will likely bounce back. In 2003 during the SARS outbreak in China, KFC’s sales dipped by 30 percent for a few weeks before making a full recovery.
Whenever a federal agency sets new standards, say about the environment, or the financial industry, there's an office inside the White House that has to put the final seal of approval on those regulations. It's called OIRA (pronounced, "Oh, Ira") -- the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.
Up until last year, Cass Sunstein ran that office for President Obama. And he's got a new book about making government, and its rules, work more elegantly. It's called "Simpler".
"Think of a large company which is not going to get smaller. It shouldn't. It should grow. But it can get simpler. It can make the experience for its own employees and for its customers easier," Sunstein says. "My suggestion is that governments can serve their citizens a lot better if they get simpler."
The current regulatory system in the United States is undoubtedly complicated, with state and local agencies issuing their own rules. That's in addition to the sometimes conflicting policies coming out of multiple federal agencies. At Sunstein's former post, OIRA, the focus is on negotiating and solving those potential conflicts.
That can lead to criticism that the office is a convenient place for Presidents to allow inconvenient rules to wither away. Sunstein doesn't agree with that characterization.
"Recent Presidents, starting actually with Reagan, have found it useful to have an office where there's an administration-wide examination of whether regulations make sense," he says.
However, he acknowledges that process can prevent a regulation from being enforced.
"It might happen sometimes that the internal scrutiny means the rule doesn't come out. And that means there isn't sufficently wide administration support for [the rule]".
Lest these rules sound like dull stuff, Sunstein reminds us how we're touched in everyday life by regulation.
"If you think about whether the economy is booming or not, or whether the air is clean or not, or whether food is safe or not, those are all core issues that regulation is engaged with," Sunstein says. "I hope there's nothing dry about that."
Investigators are exploring a possible link between white supremacist prison gangs and the murders of law enforcement officers in Texas and Colorado. Host Michel Martin explores how these gangs operate in and outside of prison with NPR investigative correspondent Laura Sullivan.
There could be as many as 400 million dengue infections worldwide each year, making it more common than malaria, according to a new study. One reason for the huge increase in estimated infections is that dengue has been spreading far and wide to regions outside the tropics.