Books News & Features
4:00 am
Sun July 14, 2013

An Ancient Parchment Refuses To Give Up Its Secrets

William Friedman, who helped create the NSA and became its first chief cryptologist, declared the Voynich Manuscript impossible to translate. He thought it was an early example of a made-up language.
Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University

Originally published on Sun July 14, 2013 11:47 am

It reads like a Dan Brown novel: An indecipherable, cryptic medieval text, shrouded in mystery, filled with entrancing images, disappears for hundreds of years and then suddenly resurfaces at an Italian castle.

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Peabody Award-winner Peter Breslow is a senior producer for NPR's newsmagazine Weekend Edition. He has been with the program since 1992. Prior to that, he was a producer for NPR's All Thing's Considered.

Breslow has reported and produced from around the country and the world from Mt. Everest to the South Pole. During his career he has covered military conflicts in a half dozen countries, had his microphone splattered with rattlesnake venom and played hockey underwater. For six years he was the supervising senior producer of Weekend Edition Saturday, managing that program's news coverage.

Parallels
3:22 am
Sun July 14, 2013

The Don Who's Taken Charge Of Jordan's Biggest Refugee Camp

Mohammed al Hariri is known as the mafia don of the Zaatari Refugee camp. He is the man who gets things done.
Peter Breslow/NPR

Originally published on Sun July 14, 2013 9:14 pm

In chaotic situations, certain people rise to the top, and that is certainly the case for Mohammed al-Hariri, a former air conditioning repairman who commands enormous deference on the windblown streets of Zaatari refugee camp.

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Code Switch
2:00 am
Sun July 14, 2013

With Fla. Verdict, Is Protective Clothing Still Required?

Many families live in dread of standing in the shoes of Trayvon Martin's parents. His mother, Sybrina Fulton (second from left) and father, Tracy Martin, were in court Friday as a Florida jury began its deliberations.
Gary W. Green AP

"I'm ashamed at how long it took me to realize why so many people in my family have been consumed with looking church-ready when they step out the door regardless of time or day."

That Facebook quote came from Phyllis Fletcher, an African-American colleague at KUOW in Seattle. And it reminded me of something my sister once told me when a white friend teased her about taking too long to get ready when they went on joint shopping expeditions. "Why are you getting all dressed up? Just throw on some jeans, like me, and let's go."

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The Sunday Conversation
2:00 am
Sun July 14, 2013

Patrolling Border, Sheriff Sees Immigrants' 'Determination'

Tony Estrada is the sheriff of Santa Cruz County, Ariz.
Courtesy of Tony Estrada

Each week, Weekend Edition Sunday host Rachel Martin brings listeners an unexpected side of the news by talking with someone personally affected by the stories making headlines.

Tony Estrada is the sheriff of Santa Cruz County, Ariz., the poorest of all the border counties in the U.S. There are more than 1,000 Border Patrol Agents stationed in the county, which shares some 50 miles of border with Mexico.

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Arts & Life
1:58 am
Sun July 14, 2013

These Stormtroopers' Galactic Mission: Comic-Con

Sam Newcomer, a member of the Southern California Garrison of the 501st Legion, marches as Darth Vader leading his Stormtroopers in the Rosemead Fourth of July parade.
Courtesy of Mark Edwards

Originally published on Sun July 14, 2013 10:12 am

A short time ago, in a garage not so far away, Steve Leahy was having a problem with his armor. A tiny piece of plastic, maybe just a few millimeters wide, stuck out from the shin guard.

"I know it's a minor detail, and while you're wearing it, someone may never notice," Leahy says. "But I know it's there and I know it shouldn't be, so we like to put the effort in to make it as perfect as possible."

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Parallels
1:48 am
Sun July 14, 2013

Russia Keeps Up Prosecutions Of Critics, Living And Dead

Sergei Magnitsky, who died in jail in 2009, was convicted of tax evasion on July 11, 2013. Kremlin critics say this was just the strangest of several legal cases against government opponents.
Misha Japaridze AP

Originally published on Sun July 14, 2013 10:09 am

A Russian court's conviction of a dead man, Sergei Magnitsky, made headlines this past week because the case was so bizarre.

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Business
1:27 am
Sun July 14, 2013

Baggage Fees Turn Five Years Old; Passengers Turn Blase

A traveler collects his bag from a luggage carousel in the Philadelphia International Airport in 2011. Baggage fees have helped financially desperate carriers stay aloft.
Matt Rourke AP

Originally published on Sun July 21, 2013 10:41 am

Hey, baggage fees — happy fifth birthday!

Even if passengers aren't eager to celebrate, airlines are. The fees, born in 2008, helped financially desperate carriers stay aloft as the U.S. economy was spiraling down.

"That was a watershed year that scared the bejeezus out of the airline industry," said Mark Gerchick, an aviation consultant who has just released a book, Full Upright and Locked Position. Even as ticket sales were sliding, jet fuel prices were shooting to historic highs.

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Parallels
1:09 am
Sun July 14, 2013

Despite Repeated Tries, Afghan Peace Efforts Still Sputter

Afghan soldiers take positions following a clash with Taliban fighters on the outskirts of the eastern city of Jalalabad on July 7. The U.S. is trying to organize peace talks, but the latest effort has been put on hold while the fighting continues.
Noorullah Shirzada Getty Images

Originally published on Sat July 20, 2013 2:48 pm

The U.S. has been pushing the Taliban and the Afghan government to find a political solution for the past year and a half. But every time it seems the parties are close to starting peace talks, a new demand or controversy arises and nothing happens.

In the latest attempt, the Taliban finally opened a political office in Qatar, a move that was supposed to set the stage for negotiations. But when the Taliban envoys gave that office the trappings of an embassy, a furious Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, called off the talks, and they have yet to be re-scheduled.

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The Salt
1:02 am
Sun July 14, 2013

Homemade Bitters Put The Local Bite Back Into Cocktails

Homemade bitters with medicinal herbs and roots at the Black Trumpet Bistro in Portsmouth, N.H.
Emily Corwin New Hampshire Public Radio

Originally published on Sun July 21, 2013 10:41 am

Evan Mallett is hovering over some plants in a Victorian-era greenhouse in Portsmouth, N.H.

Mallett, a chef at the Black Trumpet Bistro, is collecting medicinal herbs, which he infuses in alcohol to make his own bitters, a bittersweet alcoholic concentrate used to flavor cocktails.

Mallett says he often forages in the woods for ingredients like wild chamomile, dock and burdock root for his bitters, too.

The "homemade bitters" trend is relatively new.

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