After decades living and working abroad, Saeed Malik (left) returned to his native Pakistan and wanted to do something to help rectify what he saw as a poor education system. He founded the Bright Star Mobile Library, which now serves about 2,500 children.
Credit Jackie Northam / NPR
Virtually none of the public schools in and around the capital Islamabad have libraries. The Bright Star Mobile Library is often the only access schoolchildren have to books.
On a cold, rainy morning, a van pulls up outside a rural elementary school on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan's capital. The fluorescent green vehicle provides a flash of color on this otherwise gray day. There's a picture of children reading books under a large apple tree, and the words "Reading is fun" are painted in English and Urdu, the national language in Pakistan.
Fourteen-year-old Doug Swieteck seems to be stuck between a rock and a hard place. He has just moved to a new town, where he doesn't have any friends, and where his teachers — and the police — think of him as nothing more than a "skinny thug."
So it's easy to understand why Doug, the protagonist of our latest book for NPR's Backseat Book Club, Okay for Now, is anything but a happy-go-lucky kid.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
It has been a long, strange journey on Capitol Hill for the Violence Against Women Act. Today, after months of debate, the House finally passed an extension of the law, known as VAWA, and sent it to the president. It helps combat sexual assault and domestic violence. But the law had gotten tangled up over other hot-button political issues.
For American policy analysts, today's announcement of direct food aid and medical supplies to Syrian rebels is a significant shift. But a top commander in the forces fighting the Syrian regime says it's not nearly enough. NPR's Deborah Amos met that commander in northern Syria today.
The sunny island of Cyprus has been a vacation haven for Arabs and Israelis alike. But recently, it's been the site of a much-watched trial of an admitted Hezbollah operative. He has described himself simply as a pawn in the militant group's hierarchy, tasked with doing surveillance on restaurants, hotels and buses serving Israeli tourists. But his trial has revealed a wide range of details about how Hezbollah operates and how it may be getting more sophisticated.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
Today, Secretary of State John Kerry announced a new aid package for Syrian rebels. For the first time, the administration is vowing to send aid directly to the people who are fighting to topple the regime in Syria. At a meeting in Rome, Kerry had the chance to hear from some of them and from countries backing the rebels. NPR's Michele Kelemen has our story from Rome.
Corrections officers in the federal prison system are bracing for possible staffing cuts and furloughs triggered by the sequester. The cuts come at a time when studies show that inmate crowding and staff shortages in federal prisons are already posing challenges for guards trying to maintain order behind bars.
The outgoing energy secretary, Steven Chu, got a rousing ovation this week when he spoke at a summit on energy innovation. But his tenure has been clouded by the department's investment in alternative energy companies that later failed, most notably Solyndra. As Chu leaves office, his real legacy may be the government's ongoing search for energy breakthroughs. NPR's Scott Horsley tells us more.
After a weekend that saw journalists on the Oscars red carpet struggling to pronounce the name of 9-year-old Best Actress nominee Quvenzhané Wallis, we decided to ask the Twitter masses for their funniest or most annoying stories about people mispronouncing their "unconventional" or "ethnic" names.
Here's a few of the best:
Do you have any similar stories? We'd love to hear them in the comments.
Bryan Ferry says he only listens to 1920s jazz these days — and The Jazz Age, the new album from The Bryan Ferry Orchestra, backs up that claim. The Jazz Age finds Ferry doing a lot of listening, as he neither sings nor plays on the record.
Originally published on Thu August 29, 2013 11:09 am
Though originally from North Carolina, Christie Dashiell attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., and now studies with Peter Eldridge from New York Voices at Manhattan School of Music. No stranger to the Kennedy Center, she has participated in the Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead training program there, and sung with the a cappella choir Afro-Blue from Howard University.
Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 5:01 pm
There is no greater mystery in America than this: Why is poutine not available everywhere?
French fries with cheese curds, covered in gravy — there's nothing more American than this Canadian dish that's not actually American. And while you can find it stateside more easily than you used to, poutine should be in every restaurant in the country, and probably somewhere on our flag.
Army Pfc. Bradley Manning (right) is escorted out of a courthouse in Fort Meade, Md., on June 25, 2012. His lawyer announced that Manning, who is accused of leaking classified information to WikiLeaks, had agreed to plead guilty to lesser charges.
Update at 7:45 a.m. ET, March 1. Kims Are "Great Leaders," Rodman Says:
On his way home Friday from North Korea, former NBA star Dennis Rodman said Kim Jong Un, his father and grandfather have been "great leaders." According to The Associated Press, Rodman also said of the young North Korean leader that "he's proud, his country likes him — not like him, love him, love him. ... Guess what, I love him. The guy's really awesome."
Our original post — Dennis Rodman To Kim Jong Un: 'You Have A Friend For Life':
After years of tax cuts and a big hike in defense spending, deficits were rising. Then came a bitter battle over the debt limit. Three senators came up with a plan: Unless Congress and the White House could get the deficit under control, this thing called "sequestration" would do it for them.
Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 2:31 pm
A roaming chicken's close inspection of a transformer caused a power outage and brief delays at Maui's Kahului Airport this week. The incident occurred Tuesday afternoon, when the bird wandered into a transformer at the airport's rental car area, leaving parts of the facility without power for more than an hour.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. The metaphors become unbearably trite: the debt ceiling; the fiscal cliff and now the meat cleaver of the sequestration. Details are important, we'll get to those in a moment, but underlying the repeated rounds of budgetary crisis, lies a deeper political paralysis.
Brad Leithauser likes to look for poetry in graveyards. A novelist and poet himself, there's something he values greatly in tombstone epitaphs: brevity.
"You really don't want to go on at great length," he tells NPR's Neal Conan. "There's something very touching ... in seeing how they are meant to be commemorated, often in little bits of verse here and there."
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. This week the federal government and Gulf Coast states took BP and its contractors to court seeking billions in civil damages for the disaster that began almost three years ago now, with the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. Some call it the trial of the century.
Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 1:13 pm
After years of legal wrangling, the Defense of Marriage Act — the law that prevents the federal government from recognizing marriage as anything but a "legal union between one man and one woman" — comes before the Supreme Court next month.
Marco McMillian, thought to be one of the first openly gay men to seek political office in Mississippi, was found dead near a levee, yesterday.
McMillian was running for mayor of the town of Clarksdale, a town known for its rich artistic history. (At one point or another it was home to the likes of Sam Cooke and Tennessee Williams.) The AP reports that McMillian was considered to be "a man on the rise."
Six former heads of the Shin Bet — Israel's security agency — speak to director Dror Moreh in his Oscar-nominated documentary The Gatekeepers. They are men who have signed off on brutal interrogations and targeted killings. They have given their lives to the cause of Israeli security.
What is striking is that all articulate their shared conviction that the continued Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories will not lead to peace or a political solution for the future of the state of Israel.
Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 3:34 pm
How's this for a tough assignment?
A group of Italian researchers forced 21 surgical residents to play video games on a Nintendo Wii for an hour a day, five days a week, for four weeks. Whew!
Then the researchers had the residents perform a simulated keyhole surgery. They found that the gamers performed significantly better than another group of residents who didn't undergo this grueling video game training.