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The Supreme Court added another controversial case to its docket today: The court agreed to hear a case about a Michigan ballot initiative that banned racial preferences in the admission practices of the state's public university.

A henna tattoo looks like a fun beach souvenir — until you break out in a rash and blisters.

The dyes used for the popular temporary tattoos aren't always natural or safe, the Food and Drug Administration warned today. "Black henna" used to make the intricate designs darker often doesn't come from a plant, but from a harsh chemical that causes allergic reactions.

As the national spotlight turns to the U.S. Supreme Court this week with two historic arguments on same-sex marriage, the court on Monday made headlines on another high-profile issue: affirmative action.

Just 10 years ago a narrow court majority upheld affirmative action programs in higher education in an opinion written by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. But ever since O'Connor retired and was replaced by the more conservative Justice Samuel Alito, the court has been on a steady march to get rid of all race-conscious programs.

Is it OK to eat alligator on Fridays during Lent? That question isn't just rhetorical in Louisiana, which has large populations of both Catholics and gators.

"Alligator's such a natural for New Orleans," says Jay Nix, owner of Parkway Bakery, which serves a mean alligator sausage po boy sandwich. "Alligator gumbo, jambalaya. I mean, it's a wonder that alligator isn't our mascot, you know?"

An oral history project that checks in on the Indiana town split in the 1980s by teenager Ryan White's AIDS diagnosis is finding that the topic still hits a raw nerve.

More than 25 years ago, Kokomo, Ind., was reluctantly thrown into the national spotlight when resident White, then 13, was barred from going to school after getting AIDS from a tainted blood transfusion. The decision to keep White out of school sparked national outrage and quickly divided this community.

China has reportedly signed a deal to buy new submarines and Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets from Russia, the first such arms deal in nearly a decade.

In an editorial for the Yale student newspaper, Will Portman says he is "proud" of his dad for his evolution on gay marriage.

Will Portman told his family he was gay two years ago, leading Rob Portman, the prominent Republican senator from Ohio, to have a change of heart on the issue of gay marriage.

Rebels Rain Down Mortars On Damascus

Mar 25, 2013

The author is a Syrian citizen living in Damascus who is not being further identified out of safety concerns.

Syrian rebels carried out mortar and rocket attacks on Sunday and Monday in what appeared to mark a new escalation in the fighting over the Syrian capital.

Last summer Bill Gates and his foundation held a competition to reinvent the toilet. Now he's hoping to do the same for condoms.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is putting up $100,000 to the best proposal for a more fun and pleasurable condom.

Tiger Woods is back on top. With his victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, Woods is now ranked the No. 1 player in the world.

As The Washington Post explains, this is the first time Woods is at the top since both his personal life and his professional life crumbled following a 2009 cheating scandal that ended in divorce and a plummet from the top of the golf world.

The Post says:

Goldman Sachs on Monday downgraded BlackBerry after a disappointing launch for the company's new smartphone, the Z10.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Goldman slashed its investment rating on the Canada-based company — formerly known as Research in Motion, or RIM — to neutral from buy, citing weak support for the new product.

In the lush Nile Valley city of Assiut, the police went on strike earlier this month, along with thousands of other cops across the country. They demanded the ouster of the minister of interior, and more guns and equipment to deal with anti-government protests.

A group of hard-line Islamists then stunned the city, which is south of Cairo, by promising to handle security during the strike. The next day, the policemen were back at work.

Last Friday, the United States won an epic World Cup qualifying match against Costa Rica. The team did it outside Denver, under what were essentially blizzard conditions.

Now, on the eve of a Mexico vs. U.S. game in Mexico City, Costa Rica has lodged a formal complaint with FIFA, saying the "physical integrity" of the players and officials was affected and "ball movement became impossible." The country is now asking for a rematch of their 1-0 loss.

There's no bigger sports story in the nation this week than what Florida Gulf Coast University's team did during the first weekend of the NCAA Division I men's basketball championship.

Jews all over the world are gathering around dinner tables Monday night to celebrate the first night of Passover, one of the most important festivals of the Jewish calendar. And in the small, northern Spanish town of Ribadavia, Spanish, American and Israeli Jews are coming together to conduct the first Seder there in more than 500 years.

President Obama on Monday designated five new national monuments, including one in Maryland dedicated to anti-slavery activist Harriet Tubman and another setting aside Washington state's San Juan Islands.

"These sites honor the pioneering heroes, spectacular landscapes and rich history that have shaped our extraordinary country," President Obama said in a statement. "By designating these national monuments today, we will ensure they will continue to inspire and be enjoyed by generations of Americans to come."

Here's a list of the new dedications:

Anthony Lewis, whose "thorough knowledge" of the Supreme Court's work "allowed him to write authoritatively and accessibly about difficult points," has died, The New York Times writes.

Lewis, twice a Pulitzer Prize winner, was 85.

The Same-Sex Marriage Cases: A Primer

Mar 25, 2013

California Gay Marriage Ban Challenge

The Case: Hollingsworth v. Perry, 12-144 (Argued Tuesday at 10 a.m. ET)

Illustrations produced by an Indian ad agency showing scantily clad cartoon women bound, gagged and stuffed into the hatch of a Ford Figo have led both the car company and the ad agency's parent to issue apologies.

The images, according to FirstPost.Business, were "scam ads — ads that are created not to sell products and services, but to win awards at awards shows such as the Abby or at Cannes."

When the Pentagon said earlier this year that it would open ground combat jobs to women, it was cast in terms of giving women equal opportunities in the workplace — the military workplace.

But the move has practical considerations, too. The military needs qualified people to fill its ranks, and it's increasingly harder to find them among men.

British police say exiled Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky, whose body was found over the weekend, left no suicide note and that there was no evidence of third-party involvement in his death.

The deal we posted about Sunday evening — a $13 billion bailout by international creditors for the beleaguered banking system on Cyprus — is being met with skepticism on that Mediterranean island nation.

Didn't have time to watch or didn't really care? If you're not up to speed on the weekend's news from the men's and women's Division I college basketball championships, but want to be armed with a few things to talk about if someone brings up basketball today, here goes:

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

The calendar says one thing, but the snow, slush and ice coating the nation from the Central Rockies through parts of the Midwest and on into the mid-Atlantic and Northeast say something else entirely.

Technically, it's spring.

In reality, winter still hasn't let go.

As this year's tax deadline approaches, hundreds of thousands of low-income Americans are relying on free services to help them with their returns.

Tax preparation fees — even a few hundred dollars — can be a burden for those living on the margins. And taxpayers desperate for cash can fall prey to high-cost loan offers that eat into their refunds

At the free tax-preparation site at the main library in Washington, D.C., about 30 taxpayers wait for help from volunteers.

The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Monday in a case worth billions of dollars to pharmaceutical companies and American consumers. The issue is whether brand-name drug manufacturers may pay generic drug manufacturers to keep generics off the market. These payments — a form of settlement in patent litigation — began to blossom about a decade ago when the courts, for the first time, appeared to bless them.

When Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman recently reversed his stance on gay marriage after his son came out as gay, he joined a tidal wave of Americans who have altered their views on the subject.

As far back as he can remember, George McCann lived in fear. When he was asleep he would have horrific nightmares filled with violent images. When he was awake, he often felt threatened by people, including members of his own family. And when he felt threatened, he would become aggressive, even violent.

George spent his childhood certain that something very bad was going to happen. And when he was 12, it did. His unrelenting fears led to a violent outburst at school. And George landed in a psychiatric hospital.