It's single-digit cold as Brett West steps into the snow in his backyard in Ridgefield, Conn., and points to a wooden monstrosity. It stands 32 feet high and looks kind of like a wooden roller coaster.
"The whole thing's made of wood — two-by-fours, four-by-fours and 3-quarter-inch plywood, all pressure-treated lumber, with a lot of screws."
The homemade track was the first training ground for his son, Tucker, an 18-year-old who is the youngest member of the U.S. luge team in Sochi.
The Deep South is in a deep freeze. Snow, sleet and freezing rain have gripped a region more accustomed to sun and surf. As a result, roads are a mess and from South Louisiana to the Carolina coast, classes are cancelled, airplanes are grounded, and businesses and government offices are closed.
NPR's Debbie Elliott reports.
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DEBBIE ELLIOTT, BYLINE: In Birmingham, Alabama today, just getting around town is practically impossible.
It came as a surprise to many people when Vermont's governor recently devoted his entire 2014 State of the State address to what he called a "full-blown heroin crisis."
While it may not fit Vermont's bucolic image, the state's addiction problem has long been acknowledged. And as the state has expanded treatment, it's also been coming to grips with one of the most difficult and emotional aspects of the issue: addicted mothers.
Now to a debate in Europe over something called poverty migration. Recently, some countries in the European Union lifted work restrictions on Romanians and Bulgarians. As a result, factions in Britain and Germany worry that poor and unskilled immigrants will flood in and collect welfare payments.
But Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports, this debate isn't being driven by new arrivals from Romania and Bulgaria. Instead, she says, it may involve prejudice against one particular group, the long-oppressed Roma.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
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In Cairo today, former President Mohammed Morsi appeared in court for the second time since he was ousted in a military coup last July. The Islamist leader wore a white prison uniform and stood in a glass-enclosed cage. As NPR's Leila Fadel reports, Morsi faces charges that could lead to the death penalty.
Former President Mohammed Morsi is just one of many Egyptians facing charges for opposing the country's military-led government. Another is former lawmaker and political scientist Amr Hamzawy. He's been charged with insulting the judiciary in a tweet that he sent back in June. In it, he criticized a ruling in which a judge convicted several dozen nonprofit workers for plotting to destabilize Egypt. And Amr Hamzawy joins us now from Cairo. Welcome to the program.
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French police raided the Paris offices and home of a controversial comedian today. The comedian is known by his stage name of Dieudonne, he's been accused of making anti-Semitic remarks during his performances, although he denies that. The French government has banned his current show, sparking a debate in France about the limits of free speech.
After losing a lot of ground, stock prices were back up a bit today. Investor anxiety about the state of the world's currency markets seemed to ease. The current turmoil is reminiscent of the 1997 currency crisis in Asia, which hurt economies all over the world.
As NPR's Jim Zarroli reports, there are also some big differences.