As a roving NPR correspondent based in Austin, Texas, John Burnett's beat stretches across the U.S., and, sometimes, around the world. Currently, he is serving as NPR's Religion correspondent.

The Two-Way
5:00 pm
Fri March 2, 2012

Mine Safety Officials Ditched Safety Citation Fearing Congressional Scrutiny

Originally published on Fri March 2, 2012 7:25 pm

NPR has obtained a report from the Inspector General of the Labor Department that describes an incident last year in which the nation's coal mine safety chief and agency lawyers withdrew a legitimate safety citation and order "not based upon the merits" but "to avoid the appearance of retaliation and possible Congressional scrutiny."

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World
4:47 pm
Fri March 2, 2012

Mexican Drug Cartel Targets Australia

An image released Nov. 14, 2011, by the Australian Federal Police shows cocaine seized during the yacht raid in Bundaberg. Drug smugglers take advantage of Australia's long coastline and many harbors.
Australian Federal Police EPA/Landov

Originally published on Sat March 3, 2012 7:09 am

Australia is a huge island, with stretches of lonely, rocky coastline that extend for thousands of miles. What's more, there are lots of harbors and airports.

In short, opportunities are plentiful for an enterprising Mexican drug trafficker to move his product 8,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean to service the vibrant new market Down Under.

One such drug lord is Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman, head of Mexico's Sinaloa cartel. He's a cunning, small-statured, exceedingly dangerous outlaw recently dubbed "the world's most powerful drug trafficker" by the U.S. Treasury Department.

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Sports
4:39 pm
Fri March 2, 2012

MLS's New Spring Idea: Beckham Bends It In Tucson

The L.A. Galaxy plays against Real Salt Lake at Kino Stadium in Tuscon, Ariz.
Ted Robbins NPR

For Major League Soccer, spring training has meant playing exhibition games all over the continent. Until now.

MLS now wants to emulate baseball — much to the delight of fans in Tucson, Ariz., a city that Major League Baseball left behind.

The defending MLS champions, the L.A. Galaxy, are in Tucson with teams from New York, New England and Salt Lake. They're playing in a two-week tournament called the Desert Diamond Cup.

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The Salt
4:36 pm
Fri March 2, 2012

Kids Don't Mind If You Put Veggies In The Cake

Chocolate chip cookies don't seem to be a great vehicle for chickpeas, according to kids.
Robert Linton iStockphoto.com

Will kids eat their veggies if they're inside desserts? Parents and nutritionists have been debating this question for years.

Now, it seems there's an answer: Yes, if it's broccoli in the cake. No, if it's chickpeas in the chocolate-chip cookies.

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Around the Nation
4:35 pm
Fri March 2, 2012

Tourism Boom Pays Off For N.Y. Hotel Union

New York hotel workers protest at a hearing for former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn in June 2011. Under a new contract, workers will receive "panic buttons" to use if they fear for their safety. They also won several other significant benefits.
Nicholas Kamm AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 2, 2012 6:01 pm

When the New York Hotel Trades Council ratified a new contract for hotel workers last month, much of the media coverage focused on "panic buttons." Coming after the sexual assault allegations against former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the idea of housekeepers wearing a badge that could call for help was all over the news.

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The Two-Way
4:34 pm
Fri March 2, 2012

Rescued Photographer: In Syria 'It's Not A War, It's A Massacre'

An image grab from a video uploaded on YouTube shows Paul Conroy in the Syrian city of Homs.
AFP/Getty Images

The British photographer who was rescued from Syria gave his first interview to Sky News today.

Paul Conroy, who was injured during the shelling of the Baba Amr neighborhood of Homs, said that what he saw in the city was a "massacre beyond measure."

"It's not a war, it's a massacre," he said. "An indiscriminate massacre of men, women and children."

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Sports
4:21 pm
Fri March 2, 2012

With Playoff Expansion, Baseball Goes Wilder

Manager Fredi Gonzalez was the face of frustration when his Atlanta Braves collapsed last year and missed the playoffs on the last day of the season. If this season's rules had applied, he might've been smiling: The Braves and the Boston Red Sox would've made the postseason.
Patrick Smith Getty Images

Major League Baseball expanded its playoff format to 10 teams Friday, adding a second wild-card in each league.

The decision establishes a new one-game, wild-card round in each league between the teams with the best records who are not division winners, meaning a third-place team could win the World Series.

This is the only change in baseball's playoff structure since the 1995 season, when wild-card teams were first added.

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It's All Politics
4:18 pm
Fri March 2, 2012

Obama Phones His Support To Fluke, Law Student Limbaugh Derided

Law student Sandra Fluke talking to House Democrats, February 23, 2012.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 2, 2012 5:01 pm

In a move certain to bring even more attention to one of the latest media tempests, President Obama on Friday got on the phone to encourage the Georgetown University law student disparaged by conservative radio superstar Rush Limbaugh with misogynistic epithets.

Sandra Fluke, who is also an activist, was about to appear on MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports when she took a phone call from the White House. It was the president. As an emotional Fluke explained once she was in front of the cameras with Mitchell:

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