After a train journey of nearly 6,000 miles from Moscow, the Russian Pacific port of Vladivostok can feel like a different country. The people and the language are still Russian, but the strong Asian influence is undeniable. And many residents say the bond to the rest of Russia has been growing weaker, while the ties to Asia have been growing stronger since the Soviet breakup two decades ago. NPR's David Greene has this report as he wraps up his journey on the Trans-Siberian railway.
Rick Santorum was fresh off his surprise showing in the Iowa caucuses and fielding questions on a radio program, when a caller challenged the Republican presidential candidate on his overt religiosity.
"He said, 'We don't need a Jesus candidate. We need an economic candidate,' " Santorum recalled later, at a town hall meeting in New Hampshire. "And my answer to that was, 'We always need a Jesus candidate, right?' "
It's hard to tell if the Occupy Wall Street protests had much impact on banks, but banks are doing some de-Occupying within their own ranks. It wasn't as bad as the massive layoffs following the 2008 meltdown, but last year was painful for Wall Street. Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman, Morgan Stanley — almost all the big banks — announced big layoffs, totaling more than 60,000 employees.
Was Mitt Romney a job-creating turnaround artist? Or was he, as some on the campaign trail have said, a "vulture capitalist"? That question has become a top issue in the Republican presidential primaries.
In the 1980s, Romney ran a private equity firm called Bain Capital. It's an industry where it's hard to avoid getting your hands dirty.
Nathan Hoskins knew from an early age that he was gay. But when he was growing up in rural Kentucky, his mother took extreme steps to convince him otherwise.
"When I was in sixth grade, I had met a good friend and he wasn't interested in girls," Hoskins, who's now 33, tells his friend Sally Evans. "One day, he said, 'I have a Valentine's Day card for you.'"
"I asked him for it, and he said it was so special that he mailed it," he says. "And he didn't know he'd done a very terrible thing because at my house only one person got the mail — and that was my mother."
NATO officials say they have reversed a disturbing trend in northern Afghanistan.
In 2009 and 2010, Taliban insurgents made inroads across the north of the country, which had been secure for years. NATO says that last year it brought the north back under control, but Afghan officials say it's thanks to one of the most controversial American tactics here: the use of ad hoc local militias.
Nationally, women are the fastest growing prison population. And one of the highest female prison populations in the world is here in California. That's slated to change under the state's new realignment program. The number of women in prison is supposed to shrink drastically, by as much as half, over the next few years.
California prepares to empty a prison for the first time; an Alternative Custody Program seeks to thin out the state's overcrowded prisons and to help reunite families; Deborah Peagler's story; and local duo Clangin' and Bangin'.
Last January, an alternative custody program was made law in California. So far 10 women have been released early and by the end of the next year, the California Department of Corrections expects 500 women to be back in their communities. The goal? To thin out the state’s overcrowded prisons and to help reunite families. KALW’s Nicole Jones reports on how this early release program is rolling out one year later.