Saturday is the day the Obama administration set as its deadline for making HealthCare.gov a "smooth experience" for most users.
A tech-savvy team of engineers, database architects and contractors has been working through the holiday to ensure the White House makes good on that promise, but judging the success of their efforts may take some time.
Picking up on an interesting finding from the General Social Survey, the Associated Press conducted a national poll on Americans and trust.
The General Social Survey found that the number of Americans who say most people can be trusted has plummeted. Back in 1972, when the GSS first asked the question, half of respondents said most people can be trusted. These days, it's down to one-third.
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:
Originally published on Sat November 30, 2013 12:42 pm
While saying that it is still "deeply concerned" by China's broadening of its air defense zone, the U.S. State Department urged commercial airlines to abide by the new zone and give Chinese authorities advance notice if they planned to fly over a set of disputed islands in the East China Sea.
Back in September, poet and novelist Sherman Alexie wrote an open letter to a group of people whom he called the "gorgeous book nerds" of the world, asking them to become "superheroes" for independent bookstores.
This week, at least 30 people died when a packed sailboat ran aground and capsized off the coast of the Bahamas. The rest of the migrants on board clung to that splintered boat for hours until the U.S. Coast Guard found them. The survivors are being cared for at a Bahamian military base until they are sent back to the place they risked their lives to leave.
Originally published on Sat November 30, 2013 8:54 am
Even if you haven't heard of Tony Joe White, you've probably heard his music. His songs have been performed by Elvis, Ray Charles and Tina Turner. He's even been sampled by Kanye West. Host Scott Simon talks with White about his distinctive swamp rock sound, and his new album, Hoodoo.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. No way around it. It's shopping season and for many people there's nothing like giving a book as a holiday gift. A book is not only a fine companion, it reflect something about both the giver and the receiver. And you don't have to change the batteries.
University of Miami professor Robert Plant is starting to wonder if big data is ruining sports. He talks with host Scott Simon about how crunching the numbers is changing — and has already changed — the games we love to watch.
Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 7:42 am
Readers always seem to want to get closer to Emily Dickinson, the godmother of American poetry. Paging through her poems feels like burrowing nose-deep in her 19th century backyard — where "the grass divides as with a comb," as she writes in "A narrow Fellow in the Grass."
Whatever they are, our holiday traditions tend to be a mixture of the universal and the specific.
If we celebrate Christmas, for instance, we might have stockings and trees just like our neighbors, but we might also be the only ones in town who wear homemade elf hats while we open presents. It's a mix that helps us feel closer to the rest of the culture while reaffirming what's special about our own little community, family and home.
Originally published on Sat November 30, 2013 9:05 am
How to make dead fish look attractive? That's the challenge New York-based duo Shimon and Tammar Rothstein faced when they were hired to do the photography for famed French chef Eric Ripert's book On the Line.
About 20 scientists are clustered in a cramped conference room in San Diego, one of the country's science hubs, but they aren't there to pore over their latest research. Instead, this is a meeting of BioToasters — a chapter of the public speaking organization Toastmasters, geared specifically toward scientists.
"For a typical scientist, they will spend a lot of time at the bench, so they're doing a lot of maybe calculations or lab work where they're not interacting directly from person to person," says BioToasters President Zackary Prag, a lab equipment sales rep.
Afghanistan may be one of the world's poorest countries, but weddings are still a big — and expensive — deal. On most weekends, Kabul's glitzy and somewhat garish wedding halls are packed with people celebrating nuptials.
One of them is the Uranos Palace complex. On the night I attended my first Afghan wedding, all three of its halls were overflowing. I was one of two foreigners in a room of about 200 men. The female guests sat on the other side of a 7-foot-high divider in the middle of the hall.
There is a broad scientific consensus that to keep global warming in check, we need to phase out 80 percent of all oil, coal and natural gas by midcentury. President Obama has set a nonbinding target to do precisely that.
There are technologists who say this national goal is well within reach, but there are also economists who are quite pessimistic about those prospects. And you can find this range of opinion on the University of California, Berkeley campus.
Many Chinese are pleased with the recent announcement that their government will further loosen the country's one-child policy. Some couples there are already allowed to have two children, while others say that even if they are permitted to have another kid, they can't afford it.
A young, professional couple surnamed Gao and Deng went to a government office in Shanghai earlier this month to apply for a marriage license.
Waiting on a metal bench, Gao, the 30-year-old groom-to-be, said he was glad more couples will be able to have a second child.
Originally published on Fri November 29, 2013 3:17 pm
The U.S.-led international coalition in Afghanistan is apologizing for an airstrike that killed a 2-year-old, a death that Afghan President Hamid Karzai said imperils a long-term security agreement between the two countries.
The International Security Assistance Force said it carried out an airstrike Thursday on a militant riding a motorbike in Helmand Province. The child was also killed, and two women were injured in the attack.
Rome is often called the Eternal City, and generations of filmmakers from around the world have sought to capture its enduring beauty on screen.
The new film The Great Beauty is the latest, a picture that casts Rome itself in the title role. After playing to critical acclaim in Europe, it opens in American cinemas this month. The film is also Italy's official entry at this season's Academy Awards.
The Great Beauty is a double-edged portrait, out to capture both the beauty and the ugliness of modern Rome.
Sometime after 3 a.m. on Sunday, international negotiators emerged from a conference room in a Geneva hotel, bearing with them weary smiles and a historic agreement. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and representatives from five other world powers had come together on a deal to freeze the Iranian nuclear program temporarily.