Good morning. I'm David Greene, with a story of a harried sports fan - or, rather, a hairy sports fan. Thomas McAllister believes in his Washington, D.C. team so much that he's vowing not to shave until one of them - the Redskins, Wizards, Capitals or Nationals - wins a championship. The Washington Post says he hasn't shaved since last June, a day before he got married. Facebook followers have given his red fan beard a name: Lombeardi.
There's breaking budget news from several places this morning:
-- "President Obama next week will take the political risk of formally proposing cuts to Social Security and Medicare in his annual budget in an effort to demonstrate his willingness to compromise with Republicans and revive prospects for a long-term deficit-reduction deal, administration officials say." (The New York Times)
Its state bird is a Western Meadowlark. Its state tree is Douglas Fir. Now Oregon wants a state microbe. Saccharomyces cerevisiae - try saying that twice - is a kind of yeast used in beer. And State Representative Mark Johnson thinks making it Oregon's official microbe is a great way to celebrate the state's craft beer industry. Oregon is also proud of its wine. A type of dirt that's used to grow pinot noire grapes is the state's official soil.
GLEN CAMPBELL: And the Wichita lineman is still on the line....
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
We're listening to Glen Campbell here, with his ode to the Wichita lineman, a song that topped the charts in 1968. It might seem a long time ago, but it's still more recent than when the Wichita State Shockers last made it to the men's Final Four. That would be 1965, when the Shockers lost to legendary Coach John Wooden's UCLA team.
From 'Morning Edition': Yuki Noguchi talks with David Greene
Update at 8:41 a.m. ET.: Job Growth Slows Sharply, But Unemployment Rate Dips
Although economists had been expecting to hear that the U.S. economy added 200,000 jobs in March, the news is out and the number is far less. Just 88,000 jobs were added to private and public payrolls, the Labor Department reports. The jobless rate still edged down to 7.6 percent — but only because nearly half a million fewer people were in the labor force.
The NCAA men's basketball tournament resumes tomorrow. Louisville plays Wichita State and Syracuse faces Michigan. On the women's side, it's Louisville again. They're playing California. Notre Dame is playing Connecticut. These quartets of teams, of course, are known as the Final Four, and this stage in the tournament is a resume booster for teams and coaches. NPR's Mike Pesca ponders the question of why college basketball, unique among major team sports, celebrates the semi finalists.
Bitcoin is a virtual currency that's traded online. It's been on a wild ride lately, soaring in value during the Cyprus banking crisis. And this week, the price plummeted after a Bitcoin trading exchange was hacked.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm David Greene.
Earlier this week, President Obama announced his new Brain Initiative. He said he wants $100 million to explore America's next great frontier in science: Mapping the human brain, to understand how the brains neurons and circuits communicate. But now that brain specialists have had a little time to reflect, some are wondering whether the president's announcement has more to do with politics and some good PR?
The computer maker's chairman Ray Lane has stepped down as executive chairman. He's been on thin ice with shareholders after his role in acquiring a business software company ended up hurting HP's bottom line.
The Labor Department on Friday reported the nation's unemployment rate inched down to 7.6 percent in March, the lowest rate in four years, mainly due to more people stopping their search for work. In February, the job rate was 7.7 percent.
Let's go now to the Great Plains, where farmers are preparing for what could be a tough growing season. They are scrambling to find irrigation water, which is scarce in the midst of the region's persistent drought. In eastern Colorado, thirsty cities have gobbled up water rights for decades, selling what they don't need back to farmers.
As Luke Runyon from member station KUNC reports, the agreement only works when water is plentiful.
Former Enron CEO Jeffery Skilling could be released early from federal prison under a reduced sentencing agreement being considered at the Justice Department. Skilling was sentenced to 24 years in prison for his role in the energy trading giant's collapse
We have been hearing a lot about North Korea and nuclear weapons lately. Well, nuclear negotiators have just wrapped up a first day of talks on Iran's nuclear program. Tehran does not have nuclear weapons and insists it doesn't want them, but six world powers say the country must do more to assure the world that its program is entirely peaceful. We spoke earlier with NPR's Peter Kenyon, who is in Almaty, Kazakhstan for the talks. Peter, good morning.
The United States has pledged to remain committed to Afghanistan beyond the year 2014. That's when the U.S. and its NATO allies are set to hand over the security mission to Afghan forces. But the U.S. has not yet said how many troops will remain in Afghanistan after 2014, and that is causing concern among Afghans.
Stephen Slevin, who spent more than 22 months in solitary confinement despite not being convicted of a crime, is seen here in Dona Ana County Sheriff's Department photos, before and after his time in solitary.
Credit Colorado Department of Corrections / AP
Officials say Evan Spencer Ebel, 28, a former Colorado inmate and white supremacist, was released early because of a clerical error. Ebel was killed in a shootout with Colorado police on March 21.
Every year 10 million people funnel in and out of America's jails and prisons. And every year some of them get lost. Recently there have been two high-profile cases of such inmates — one who got out years too early, and one who stayed years too long. Both had disastrous consequences.
In January, Evan Ebel walked out of a Colorado prison four years too early. Two months later, he allegedly rang the doorbell of Tom Clements, the head of the Colorado Department of Corrections, shot him in the chest and killed him. Ebel was shot and killed by police two days later.
In Berlin's Jewish Museum, a new exhibit called "The Whole Truth" asks visitors uncomfortable and even absurd questions about Jews. One of the curators, Michal Friedlander, says it is intentionally provocative.
"The point is to get people talking about how they perceive Jews, particularly in Germany today," she says.
But some German Jews accuse the museum of going too far.
In recent years, high-profile cable TV dramas like AMC's Mad Men have helped to shift audiences and programming across all types of TV networks. (Pictured, from left: John Slattery, Jon Hamm and Vincent Kartheiser)
Credit Darren Michaels / TBS
The programming convergence between cable and broadcast networks may have already begun, with shows like Cougar Town jumping ship from ABC to TBS. (Pictured: Josh Hopkins and Courteney Cox)
Mad Men comes back for its sixth season Sunday at an opportune moment for basic cable. Last weekend, 25 million viewers combined watched The Bible and The Walking Dead on basic cable channels. That's more than triple the audience for The Good Wife on CBS that same night.
Automatic federal budget cuts that kicked in March 1 have had little initial impact in many parts of the government. For a few programs, however, the effect has been real and painful, as the government begins cutting $85 billion from its spending through the end of September.
Many of the earliest signs of the cuts are being seen on the local level, in state programs like education that rely in part on federal dollars.
Ruben Aguilar, 85, was forcibly deported from the U.S. 80 years ago as part of a largely forgotten Mexican repatriation program run by the American government.
During the Great Depression, hundreds of thousands of people of Mexican descent were forcibly deported to Mexico without due process, including many American citizens. Aguilar, an American citizen, was born in Chicago but was deported with his parents, who were undocumented. At the time, he was 6 years old.
Fast-food restaurants were a little bit slower Thursday in New York City. Hundreds of workers staged a one-day strike in what organizers are calling the biggest job action ever in that industry. It's a growing segment of the economy, but workers complain that fast-food jobs don't pay enough to survive in New York City.
This bacterium-like microbe, Archaeoglobus fulgidus, seen here in a false-color image, can live in the high temperatures found near deep-sea vents. They can also survive by consuming perchlorate, a chemical used in rocket fuel.
It's life, but not as we know it. Researchers in the Netherlands have found that a microbe from deep beneath the ocean can breathe a major ingredient in rocket fuel. The discovery suggests that early life may have used many different kinds of chemicals besides oxygen to survive and thrive.