Originally published on Sat December 7, 2013 11:57 am
Saying this was a "great homecoming," Merrill Newman, the 85-year-old Korean War veteran who had been held by North Korea for weeks, walked out of San Francisco International Airport with his wife on Saturday.
As we reported, Newman was deported by North Korea on Friday, days after he appeared on state TV reading an apology for alleged war crimes.
Originally published on Sat December 7, 2013 11:51 am
France is increasing its military presence in the Central African Republic. The Associated Press reports that after a summit in Paris on Saturday, French President François Hollande said 1,600 troops would be deployed by the end of the day and they would remain in the country until tensions between Muslim and Christian militias cool.
Researchers say they are achieving success in curing the genetic defect that causes some children to be born without immune defenses, a rare condition made famous in the 1970s by a Texas boy who lived most of his short life in a sterile "bubble."
Scientists now report that 8 out of 9 young children given gene therapy for a type of severe combined immunodeficiency disease, called SCID-X1, are alive and living amid the everyday microbial threats that would otherwise have killed them. The oldest is just over 3 years old.
Originally published on Sat December 7, 2013 11:40 am
After a significant winter storm dumped a mixture of snow and ice across the country's midsection, another gruesome storm is moving east and meteorologist say the Eastern Seaboard should prepare for the kind of conditions that paralyzed cities in Texas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Arkansas and Missouri.
Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors, and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:
When writers finish a book, they may think they've had the last word. But sometimes another writer will decide there's more to the story. The madwoman Bertha from Jane Eyre and the father in Little Women are just two examples of secondary characters who have been given a fuller life in a new work of fiction based on a classic novel.
New England chefs like Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley are still coming to terms with the news: No more shrimp until further notice.
This week, regulators shut down the New England fishery for Gulf of Maine shrimp for the first time in 35 years. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission judged the stocks of the popular shrimp, also known as northern shrimp, to be dangerously low.
Originally published on Sat December 7, 2013 11:22 am
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel landed in Afghanistan Saturday for a surprise visit with the troops.
Despite the fact that the U.S. and Afghanistan are at odds over a security agreement that allows U.S. troops to remain in the country past 2014, Hagel has no plans to meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has refused to sign the security agreement.
Every year, on the day after Thanksgiving, almost 100 volunteer decorators show up at the White House. They spend the next five days stringing garlands and hanging ornaments, making the White House sparkle for the holidays.
At NPR, we have a related tradition. This is the fourth year in a row that White House correspondent Ari Shapiro has brought us the voices of some of those volunteers.
There's been a string of unsolved murders in Belfast, Northern Ireland, so they have to bring in the heat from London. Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson appears to be the embodiment of what people in Belfast often don't like about London: She seems cool, correct, fiercely intelligent, but icy.
By the time he died this week, Nelson Mandela was considered one of the few — perhaps the only — giants on the world stage.
But the man who was prisoner 466/64 on Robben Island was a giant among heroes who offered their lives for freedom as valiantly as he did. In a way, the acclaim the world now heaps so justly on Nelson Mandela commemorates them, too.
Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 9:35 am
When I was coming of age in the late 1970s, as an African-American high-schooler and college student, I had two certainties: Nelson Mandela would die in prison in apartheid South Africa and no black person would become U.S. president in my lifetime.
So much for my youthful powers of prediction.
Little could I have known then that I would become a journalist who would one day get to cover events I once thought would never happen, at least not during my time on Earth.
The 27-year-old Syrian, who once smuggled arms for Syrian rebels, is now waiting in Istanbul for a human smuggler to get him to Europe. He says his name is Mohammed. He does not offer a second name. He will go by air, he says, the safest route. He has paid a smuggler more than $8,000, and he's sure he will get to Austria.
In the past week, he connected seven friends with smugglers.
"I know that most of them made it," he says, with a tight smile. He is traveling light. Everything he owns is in a backpack.
"I am leaving Syria under a lot of pressure," he explains.
Jay Z easily led Grammy Award nominations announced Friday with nine, but left-of-center rappers Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Kendrick Lamar were among a group of new stars who took many of the major nominations.
Macklemore and Lewis' gay marriage anthem "Same Love" was among song of the year nominees and the Seattle rap crew joined Los Angeles rapper Lamar with seven nominations apiece, including best album and best new artist of the year. Pharrell Williams had four major nominations among his seven and Justin Timberlake also had seven.
Nick Lowe was one of the founders of the Great British rock explosion of the 1970s, writing songs like "Cruel to Be Kind and "What's So Funny 'Bout Peace Love and Understanding." He's just released a new album of Christmas songs called Quality Street — A Seasonal Selection For All The Family.
Since Lowe's lyrics would lead us to believe there isn't anything funny about peace, love or understanding, we'll quiz him on three hilarious instances of human kindness.
Originally published on Sun December 8, 2013 1:25 pm
The official North Korean news agency, KCNA, reports that Pyongyang has deported Merrill Newman, the U.S. tourist and Korean War veteran who was arrested in October during a visit to the reclusive state.
The Associated Press says, "Newman appeared over the weekend on North Korean state television apologizing for alleged wartime crimes in what was widely seen as a coerced statement."
KCNA said he was being released because he had made the apology.
Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 6:03 pm
The Associated Press is quoting a Mexican government official as saying six people in the hospital for possible radiation exposure are suspects in this week's theft of a shipment of radioactive cobalt-60.
The unnamed official tells the AP that the suspects were arrested on Thursday and were taken to the general hospital in Pachuca for observation and testing.
The news agency quotes Hidalgo state Health Minister Pedro Luis Noble as saying none are in grave condition and may be released soon.
So the lowest unemployment rate in five years, down to 7 percent. To talk about the economic picture and more from this week's news, I'm joined by our regular Friday political commentators, David Brooks of the New York Times and E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post and Brookings Institution. Welcome back to you both.
For freelancers and artists living in expensive cities like New York, the home-sharing site Airbnb has become a way to subsidize their rents. It's also often illegal. With the site's users in the crosshairs of New York's attorney general, and questions elsewhere, some now wonder if the good times are going to end.
All this week, All Things Considered and Morning Edition has aired stories about the global journey a T-shirt makes from seed to finished product. Over the months NPR's Planet Money team spent reporting the series, they tackled questions about trade, work and clothes play in the global economy. There's a whole lot more about a simple T-shirt's journey from cotton to completion here.
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel. The unemployment rate hit a five-year low in November. That's according to the government's latest monthly jobs report. The other headline, the economy beat expectations adding more than 200,000 jobs. NPR's John Ydstie has more on what that says about the health of the economy and about whether the Federal Reserve might dial back its stimulus efforts.