Novelist Gary Shteyngart was a wheezing, asthmatic and fearful 7-year-old when he and his parents emigrated from the Soviet Union to Queens, New York, in 1979. (This was soon after America negotiated a trade deal with the Soviets that included allowing Jews to immigrate to Israel, Canada or the U. S.) He tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that his health was a deciding factor in his parents' decision to move.
Originally published on Tue January 7, 2014 2:55 pm
Smithfield, the world's largest hog and pork buyer, announced Tuesday that it's asking the independent farmers with whom it has contracts to get rid of stalls for pregnant sows to improve the animals' living conditions.
To nudge these farmers to make the changes to their facilities by 2022, Smithfield is offering to extend their contracts once they've converted their gestational stalls into group houses, which are generally considered more humane.
The first batch of chemical weapons material from Syria's stockpile has been loaded onto a Danish commercial ship and is now in international waters, a United Nations official said Tuesday.
Sigrid Kaag, special coordinator for the U.N. and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, told reporters that the ship was loaded with "priority chemicals," that eventually will be destroyed.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. In a few minutes, we will hear from former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe. He had a solid eight-year career in the NFL until he was released last year. Now he's saying in a newly released open letter that it was his support for same-sex marriage off the field, not his performance on it, that cost him his job. He'll tell us more about why he thinks that in just a few minutes.
Yet again, Iraqi civilians are fleeing violence in Iraq's sprawling western province of Anbar. Years of under-the-radar daily tension and bloodshed has erupted into another al-Qaida surge and retaliatory Iraqi government airstrikes.
But the violence that brought Iraq back to the headlines, while tragic, was not surprising.
For months, observers had been warning about the combustible combination of the Syrian civil war next door and the alienation of Iraq's Sunni Muslim minority.
Originally published on Tue January 7, 2014 12:42 pm
In the story that opens Leaving the Sea, two men begin conversing at a family party. Rick, the more straight-laced of the two, turns to his brother-in-law and says: "I love family."
The second man, Paul, replies by saying: "Oh, hey, did someone get hurt tonight?" Rick looks worried. Then Paul adds to the confusion by claiming to have seen a stretcher go into the hotel. The way this sentence is structured ensures that the reader mentally prepares for some awful event. But it never materializes. The author never mentions this incident again.
Originally published on Tue January 7, 2014 11:25 am
This post was updated at 12:00 p.m. ET.
A three-month extension of federal unemployment benefits for 1.3 million jobless Americans won a key procedural vote in the Senate on Tuesday.
The 60-37 vote indicates there's enough Republican support to move the Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which expired on Dec. 28, forward to a full vote. As The Associated Press writes, the measure "is the leading edge of a Democratic program that also includes raising the minimum wage and closing tax loopholes on the wealthy and corporations."
GREENE: Microsoft announced sales of its new Xbox One topped three million units by the end of 2013. In a blog post, the company called it the most epic launch of Xbox, by all measures.
The third-generation console was available a week before Thanksgiving. It's been competing with Sony's new baby, Playstation 4, which also launched in November. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Good morning. I'm David Greene. YouTube videos can be all fun and games. Until your raccoon gets arrested. Mark Brown of Tennessee posted videos last summer that went viral. It was him dancing and showering with his pet raccoon Rebekah. But with the attention came Tennessee wildlife officials, who confiscated the masked animal.
It's actually not that surprising that Detroit barber Brian "B-Dogg" Price did not get enough volunteers to help him break the record for most haircuts in one hour. The current record is 34. And would you like a haircut that took less than two minutes? Still, it would be free, so he's reached out to churches and shelters for volunteers for another run at the record this spring. The barber plans to use two electric clippers simultaneously.
From 'Morning Edition': NPR's Tom Goldman on the championship game
Florida State and Auburn put on a show Monday night with a college football championship game that went down to the wire and ended with Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jameis Winston throwing a touchdown pass with just 13 seconds to go to bring Florida State the crown.
At one point, the Seminoles were behind by 18 points.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm Renee Montagne.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
I'm David Greene.
We have been hearing for, well, what feels like forever about skyrocketing health care costs. It's at the center of debates in Washington and state capitals. And many people feel the impact on their wallets and pocketbooks. But here's this reality: Spending on health care, while still going up, appears to be rising more slowly. 2012 was the fourth straight year of modest growth.