Nation/World

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law a bill that bans high-capacity magazines and calls for background checks on private and online sales of guns.

Hickenlooper signed the bill exactly eight months after a gunman opened fire in a suburban Denver movie theater, killing 12 and injuring another 70.

The Denver Post reports:

Now And Then: Rephotographing Iraq

Mar 20, 2013

A lot of photographers are revisiting 2003 this week — the year the U.S. invaded Iraq — and sharing photos from the years of war that followed. Even more literally, Associated Press photographer Maya Alleruzzo revisited various sites photographed during the war to see what has changed and what hasn't.

One scene speaks volumes: Today, shoppers pass through a busy shopping district in Baghdad. But in the 2008 photo, taken by Hadi Mizban for AP, the sidewalk is covered in fresh stains from a bombing that killed 22 people.

NPR Science Correspondent Richard Harris traveled to Australia's Great Barrier Reef to find out how the coral reefs are coping with increased water temperature and increasing ocean acidity, brought about by our burning of fossil fuels. Day 2: The good news is life could get better for seaweed.

Picture a coral reef and the first things likely to come to mind are brilliantly colored fish swimming among stout branches of coral. Let your mind wander a bit more and you might imagine some sea turtles, stingrays and sharks.

The future doesn't look so bright for China-based Suntech, one of the world's largest makers of solar panels: On Wednesday, it was forced into bankruptcy after missing a $541 million payment to bondholders.

"I'm going Big Ten, this year," President Obama told ESPN this morning, while he filled out his NCAA tournament bracket.

The bottom line: Obama picked Indiana, Florida, Louisville and Ohio State to advance to the final four.

Obama predicted the championship game will be played between Louisville and Indiana, which he called the "two best teams."

Um Ahmed holds her infant daughter outside a United Nations registration center for Syrian refugees in Al Mina, a northern Lebanese city near the Syrian border. She is among a group of dozens of Syrians waiting for their names to be called.

Um Ahmed tries to coax her screaming infant daughter to take a bottle. The baby is hot — the slight brown curls of her hair are matted to her head with sweat, and the bottle offers no comfort. She keeps crying. She's been here before.

"The first time I came they didn't accept us," Um Ahmed says. "They told us I need documents."

Don't tell Chicago, Buffalo or Minneapolis — which will see high temperatures just in the 20s, today — but at 7:02 a.m. ET., the Earth's axis was neither tilted from nor toward the sun, marking the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere.

So: Happy spring equinox!

The National Weather Service provides this explanation for what's happening with the Earth's orbit:

How Ideas To Cut ER Expenses Could Backfire

Mar 20, 2013

Cash-strapped states are coming up with an appealingly simple fix for soaring Medicaid costs: Don't pay for emergency room visits for people who aren't sick enough to be there.

There's a problem, though. It's almost impossible to figure out who's sick enough and who isn't at the moment they walk in the door, researchers say.

The head of Colorado's Department of Corrections was shot and killed after answering the front door of his home.

Gov. John Hickenlooper made the announcement in an email sent to corrections employees.

"I can hardly believe it, let alone write words to describe it," Hickenlooper wrote.

The AP reports:

Computer networks at South Korea's three main broadcasters and major banks crashed simultaneously Wednesday, leading to speculation that it was caused by a North Korean cyberattack.

According to South Korea's Yonhap news agency:

The race to fill South Carolina's 1st Congressional District has gotten quite a bit of attention. Mostly because of the cast of politicians vying for the seat vacated when Tim Scott was appointed to Senate by Gov. Nikki Haley.

Cypriot politicians are busy trying to come up with an alternative plan to raise the cash needed to stave off a collapse of its banking sector after they unanimously rejected an international bailout package that would have imposed a levy on the nation's savings accounts.

Here's a quick look at some of Wednesday's developments:

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

President Obama landed in Israel this morning, marking the first time he visits the country as president.

"I see this visit as an opportunity to reaffirm the unbreakable bond between our nations, to restate America's unwavering commitment to Israel's security and to speak directly to the people of Israel and to your neighbors," Obama said during a welcoming ceremony at the Tel Aviv airport.

NPR's Larry Abramson, who's at the airport, just spoke to our Newscast unit. He said Obama was welcomed by Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Basketball fans have one more day to fill out their March Madness brackets. They'll need to predict not just the champions and their route to victory, but also the paths of all the losers. It's not easy. In fact, no person or computer has yet been able to do it.

Ever since the Newtown, Ct., school shooting, there's been a raging debate over how to keep America's schoolchildren safe. National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre proposed stationing an armed guard in every school in the country. Critics said that idea was impractical and would be too expensive to carry out.

But many schools and school districts already have armed police officers. Since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, about one-third of the schools in the U.S. have added some kind of armed security, according to federal data.

Pediatricians and health officials are eager to encourage breast-feeding as one of the best and most economical ways to protect a baby's health.

To that end, the federal Affordable Care Act requires that health insurance plans provide new mothers with equipment and services to help make those feedings easier.

Dora Hernandez gave a decade of her life to the U.S. Navy and the Army National Guard, but some of the dangers surprised her.

"The worst thing for me is that you don't have to worry about the enemy, you have to worry about your own soldiers," she says.

Sitting in a circle, a group of women nod in agreement. All are veterans, most have spent time in Iraq and Afghanistan, but they're also survivors of another war. According to the Pentagon's own research, more than 1 in 4 women who join the military will be sexually assaulted during their careers.

The first day of spring typically signals the high season for open houses and home sales.

The season seems to have arrived early in some places where homebuying is already frenzied, and in many markets, the pendulum has swung from an excess of homes on the market a few years ago to a shortage.

Companies are licking their chops at the prospect of a wave of baby boomers leaving their jobs with trillions of dollars in 401(k)s and other savings accounts, so older Americans may find themselves bombarded with ads for annuities. And younger boomers, too, may be targeted, since many are helping their parents with investment decisions.

The more I travel, the more I see sports bars. They've been around for years, usually in obvious places, like in college towns or near arenas.

But now they're everywhere, even in airports and hotels, places where you'd expect generic bars. Sports bars are becoming ubiquitous and ordinary — merely, as my wife calls them, public man caves.

All bars, of course, have forever been places where men talk about sports. Other prime saloon subjects include women, the traffic and the weather.

NFL owners passed two rules aimed at improving player safety, today.

The Associated Press reports:

"The owners outlawed peel-back blocks anywhere on the field; previously, they were illegal only inside the tackle box. A player makes a peel-back block when he is moving toward his goal line, approaches an opponent from behind or the side and makes contact below the waist.

"The penalty will be 15 yards.

Amid Washington's dysfunction, one issue has united some liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans: a common concern that "too big to fail" is alive and well.

Despite the Dodd-Frank financial reforms, these lawmakers believe the nation's largest banks still pose a threat to the economy and that the government will step in to bail them out if they get in trouble.

Bosco Ntaganda, the Congolese warlord and rebel leader wanted by the International Criminal Court, showed up at the U.S. Embassy in Kigali on Monday in a taxicab. He was apparently unexpected.

"We did not have any prior notice or consultations with him to indicate that he would do that," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Tuesday. "He was a walk-in, in the truest sense of the word."

She said the U.S. is now "working to facilitate his request" to be transported to the Netherlands to stand trial.

One of the most interesting observations we've seen regarding the Republican National Committee's latest effort to win the hearts and minds of minorities, women and young voters was to be found on a blog that promotes a

One of the joys of living in New York City is laughing at the giant screaming headlines in the New York Post. When the former secretary of state knocked back a beer on one of her trips abroad: "Swillary." When the Lance Armstrong doping scandal broke: "Drug Pedaller." And when CIA director David Petraeus admitted having an affair? "Cloak And Shag Her."

The House has begun debate on its budget resolution, with a vote expected later this week. And as supporters talk about this budget, there's one comparison you hear a lot.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio: "Every family in America has to balance their budget. Washington should, too."

Rep. Scott Garrett, R-N.J.: "You know, every family in America understands the necessity of a balanced budget."

Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis.: "This is how every family tries to live in good times and in bad. Your government should do the same."

Switzerland has an entrenched gun culture that is embraced by most of its 8 million citizens, some of them as young as 10 years old.

Every Swiss community has a shooting range, and depending on who is counting, the alpine country ranks third or fourth in the number of guns per capita.

Guns are a big part of everyday life in Wyoming, and many residents have been directly impacted by a suicide in which a gun was used. The state has the highest suicide rate in the nation, and three-quarters of Wyoming's suicides are by firearm.

The rural state's relationship with guns has long made suicide prevention efforts challenging. But that may be starting to change.

Lax Gun Laws

Last year, there were more suicides in Natrona County than anywhere else in Wyoming.

The soft-spoken county coroner saw them all.

At $2.50 a pound, broccoli may seem too expensive. But cut the price by 25 percent, and our thinking about whether we should buy it may change.

A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine concludes that rebates on healthy food purchases lead to significant changes in what people put in their grocery carts.

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