For eight days, the Syrian regime and an opposition delegation sat face-to-face, but were not on speaking terms in Room 16 of the Palais des Nations in the sprawling complex of United Nations headquarters in Geneva.
Round one demonstrated the bitter divide with no breakthrough on the core issues of a political transition or access to humanitarian aid.
Who knows who'll win the Super Bowl tomorrow, but history will be made before the coin toss.
Renee Fleming will sing the national anthem at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. She is the first opera star to be asked, and it seems so utterly fitting, both for the first Super Bowl to be played within view of the towers of New York, and in the 200th anniversary year of the national anthem.
When the Oscar nominees for best song were announced earlier this month, there were, of course, several well-known titles, including Karen O's "The Moon Song," from the movie "Her"; and Pharrell Williams' "Happy," from "Despicable Me 2." Then there was this...
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALONE...YET NOT ALONE")
JONI EARECKSON TADA: (Singing) I will not be bent in fear. He's the refuge I know is near...
This Super Bowl weekend millions of slices of pizza will be consumed and 51 million cases of beer. But there are a lot of beverages to wash down a slice. Katie Parla is a journalist and food historian. She's from New Jersey, where the game will be played, but she lives in Italy now and has written about beverages that go with pizza for Saveur magazine. She joins us on the line from Rome. Thanks very much for being with us.
We generally think of hell as hot, but with the polar vortex sweeping through the country, many Americans may feel that hell is these bleak, cold days of mid-winter. Sally Franson is a write who's felt besieged in her apartment in Minneapolis. She says, "Dante's hell and winters are the same thing." And that's a direct quote from a blog post that she wrote this week. Sally Franson joins us now from Minneapolis. Thanks very much for being with us.
The Keystone XL oil pipeline may be closer to being built. The U.S. State Department's released an environmental impact statement that says the project would not make climate change any worse, and it's now up to President Obama to decide the fate of the pipeline. NPR's Jeff Brady reports that environmental groups and many Democrats want the president to reject the review's findings.
This is WEEKEND EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's denied new allegations that he knew about the lane closures on the George Washington Bridge as they were going on. Now, charges made in a letter released yesterday from the lawyer of David Wildstein, a former ally of the governor's. He oversaw the closures as an official of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Leaving Washington, D.C. for the frozen banks of the Chesapeake Bay might not be everybody's idea of a great late January getaway, but that's where House Republicans packed off for a three-day retreat this week. They gathered at a resort in Cambridge, Maryland, to try to reach agreement on a few big issues, among them immigration and the need once again to raise the debt ceiling.
A lot of reporters who cover Congress went along too, including NPR's congressional correspondent David Welna. David, thanks very much for being with us.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. The U.S. Labor Department says there are nearly four million people in America who've been unemployed for six months or more. That number has remained stubbornly high, even as the overall unemployment rate has fallen. Yesterday, President Obama met with U.S. business leaders and urged them not to overlook qualified job applicants just because they've been out of work for a while.
A college education is famously expensive. But what about the tests just to apply? Benjamin Tonelli wrote an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal this week; and he questioned the costs of the SAT and AP tests that students have to take just to be considered for admittance to college, and asked if this doesn't discriminate against poorer families especially. Mr. Tonelli is a senior at Garfield High School in Seattle, and he joins us. Thanks very much for being with us.
You know, being the Queen of England, it's not all about cute Corgis, glamorous balls and lacy hats. Even the royal family has financial troubles. This week a report by members of the British parliament found that the royal coffers are down to their lowest level ever. Just about a million pounds are left in the fund. That is slightly less than $2 million. NPR's Ari Shapiro joins us from London. Ari, thanks so much for being with us.
We now know that the government's spy agency is Hoovering up billions of bits of data from our phone calls and emails. But we don't really know how it's being used. Much of it apparently just sits in a giant top-secret storage facility in Utah. And that makes some people nervous, especially many foreigners on whom we're spying. Here's Guy Raz of NPR's TED Radio Hour.
GUY RAZ, BYLINE: Picture the largest Ikea you've ever been in. And now picture five of them.
Composer Dmitri Shostakovich called it a perfect masterpiece without ever having seen it performed. The Passenger, an opera about the Holocaust, was written nearly half a century ago, but was only given its first full performance just three years ago.
Now it's getting its U.S. premiere at the Houston Grand Opera. The opera is based on a story by a Holocaust survivor, with music by Mieczyslaw Weinberg, a composer who lost his entire family in the Nazi death camps.
Originally published on Sat February 1, 2014 9:33 am
An hour-long gun battle erupted in the Thai capital of Bangkok on Saturday, a day ahead of parliamentary elections opposed by anti-government activists were to take place.
The opposition is seeking the ouster of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, whose Pheu Thai Party won overwhelmingly in 2011 elections. They have boycotted the polls and threatened to disrupted them in a bid to replace Yingluck's government with an unelected council.
Originally published on Sat February 1, 2014 9:33 am
Secretary of State John Kerry has criticized what he calls a "disturbing trend" among governments in eastern and central Europe to "trample the ambitions" of their people.
Speaking at an international security conference in Munich, Germany, Kerry said:
"The aspirations of citizens are once again being trampled beneath corrupt, oligarchic interests — interests that use money to stifle political opposition and dissent, to buy politicians and media outlets, and to weaken judicial independence and the rights of non-governmental organizations."
Originally published on Sat February 1, 2014 10:44 am
Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor's Kenya is a country knit together by secrets. Each character in Dust, her debut novel, owns a share of his land's violent past, a history that longs to be forgotten. They live and love in an atmosphere of mutually agreed-upon silence, a mindset best summed up by Nyipir Oganda, a former soldier: "For the good of the country," he tells his daughter, "we know, nyara, that to name the unnameable is a curse."
Originally published on Sat February 1, 2014 2:51 pm
Editor's Note: Code Switch is engaged in a month-long discussion and exploration of interracial and cross-cultural dating. Follow the conversation via the Twitter hashtag #xculturelove.
My first kiss was with an Albanian man I met in Venice, Italy; within hours, Jeta and I were telling each other, "Ti amo."I didn't mean it any more than I knew his last name (and I won't kid myself into thinking there was much sincerity on his end).
Clement and Angel, fraternal twins separated at birth, have very different lives. After being abandoned, both are raised in Stillwater, Minn., around the time of the Civil War. But Clement dwells among orphans and prostitutes; Angel is adopted by a wealthy couple, and she lives in the town's mansion.
Many Germans were surprised in December when Ursula von der Leyen was named the country's first female defense minister.
Some people questioned whether a medical doctor with seven children, who championed Germany's generous parental leave policy, was the right choice to shepherd the country's military through the challenges of being a newly minted volunteer force.
Ben Bernanke hands over the reins at the Federal Reserve to Janet Yellen on Friday. The Fed's vice chairwoman will be the first female ever to lead the nation's central bank. It's a position many view as the second most powerful in the country.
The world of central banking is largely a man's world. But Yellen has been undeterred by such barriers since she was in high school in Brooklyn. Charlie Saydah, a former classmate, says she was probably the smartest kid in the class. Yellen was "clearly smart, and she was smart among a lot of smart kids," he says.
The home of Sean Morey bears the impressive signposts of his 10-year career in the NFL: a Vince Lombardi trophy for his Super Bowl championship with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2006. A hefty Super Bowl ring. A framed photograph showing Morey in midair, launching himself like a missile to block a punt. With that play in 2008, his Arizona Cardinals became the only team in NFL history to win a game in overtime with a blocked punt.