If you drive anywhere in greater Los Angeles, you know that you spend a significant amount of time staring at the bumper of the car ahead of you. And you may have noticed that a lot of those bumpers have red and yellow stickers that say "PIOLÍN por la MAÑANA." A lot.
The stickers show up on everything from sleek luxury cars to beat-up pickup trucks, and they advertise the morning drive-time radio show of Eddie "Piolín" Sotelo. (Piolín translates into "Tweety Bird" in Spanish—a gleeful moniker for the cheerful, diminutive host.)
There are the summer days where we bake cobbler and pie, and grill up slabs of eggplant and bushels of corn. And then there are the tropically hot summer days where the thought of turning on an oven — or even an outdoor barbecue — is enough to make you want to flop your sweaty self across the bed (or, better yet, into a pool of cold water). On those dog days, you don't want your food warm from the grill — you want it dripping with cold.
"And this is a long-term project: We need to spend some time in thinking about how do we bolster and reinforce our African-American boys? And this is something that Michelle and I talk a lot about. There are a lot of kids out there who need help who are getting a lot of negative reinforcement." — President Obama
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block. Disgraced former congressman - and current New York City mayoral candidate - Anthony Weiner is apologizing again, this time after the publication of still more lewd messages and photos that Weiner exchanged online with a woman who is not his wife.
There may be no film image more iconic: Harold Lloyd, high above the street, dangling from the minute hand of a giant department-store clock.
The face of the clock swings down; the minute hand bends. It's been 90 years since the silent era's greatest daredevil shot that sequence, and it still has the power to prompt shrieks and laughter.
Lloyd's character was the All-American Boy, innocent in his horn-rimmed glasses, eager to climb the ladder of success — and like many a social striver before him, he was plagued by anxiety that he'd fall before he got to the top.
A judge has temporarily blocked a North Dakota law that would have banned abortions beginning around six weeks, when a fetal heartbeat is detectable. It's one of several state laws passed this year intended to limit abortion.
Those backing the new rules say they will make abortions safer. But abortion-rights advocates say the laws are about politics, not safety.
More than 125 million women and girls in Africa and the Middle East have suffered from genital cutting and other types of mutilation, UNICEF said this week in the most comprehensive and quantitative survey to date. Nearly half of those women live in Egypt and Ethiopia, where the practice is still entrenched in the culture.
"It's seen as tradition — something that has just always been there," UNICEF's Francesca Moneti said. "It's just like how we get up in the morning and get dressed. Your daughter reaches the age of cutting, and she just gets cut."
That Crunchy Taco will no longer come with a side of toy.
Taco Bell announced Tuesday that it is ditching kids' meals and the trinkets that come with them at its U.S. locations. The items will begin to come off menus starting this month, the company says, and should be completely gone by January 2014.
A few years ago, after songwriter Michael Friedman and writer-director Alex Timbers had finished working on their cheeky historical musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, they decided to look for a new project to work on. Friedman says they wanted the next show to have a completely different feel.
"So we started looking at Shakespeare," Friedman says. "And then, I think, we came to sort of, 'How amazing would it be to work on a romantic comedy?' "
Cigars aren't the only thing smuggled out of Cuba these days.
Cuban baseball players are also a hot commodity, and sports agents in the U.S. say the process is increasingly dominated by smugglers who track down players willing to defect and find surreptitious ways to deliver them to the United States.
"The whole business got pretty much taken over by smugglers," says former baseball agent Joe Kehoskie.
If you want to learn how to write a song — one that's built to last, with vivid characters and images that plant you squarely inside a scene — listen to Guy Clark.
Songwriters who revere Clark will tell you he crafts songs with the same precision and attention to detail he uses when he builds guitars. But Clark has a simpler, blunter explanation, as he told me with a glint in his eye when I visited him recently at his home in Nashville, Tenn.
Who needs jocks when you've got Jennifer Hudson and Amy Poehler?
That seems to be the message coming out of the White House following a star-studded meeting yesterday led by White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett. Its mission: Figure out how to help promote the Affordable Care Act.
Vermont, New Hampshire and Delaware get a notable benefit of being small: faster Internet connections. In the latest Akamai State of the Internet Report, they top the list of states with the fastest average connection speeds, and make the top 10 states with fastest peak connection speeds, too.
Check out the rankings, which include download speeds measured in megabits per second, and the year-on-year change for those numbers.
On this week's episode of All Songs Considered: Hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton offer up huge premieres, including a preview of '90s lo-fi rock pioneer Sebadoh's first new album in 14 years. There's also new music from folk duo The Civil Wars, which finished its new album just before going on hiatus, and pianist singer Lucy Schwartz.
If every era gets the historical fiction it deserves, we have been good indeed. From the transcendent psychological rummagings of Hilary Mantel to the gooey pleasures of Philippa Gregory, we can set aside flowery bodice-rippers (not that there's anything wrong with those) and view the dusty figures through lenses literary, pop culture-y, or near-pornographic.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
Billionaire Steven Cohen is fighting back. He faces federal charges that he didn't do enough to prevent insider trading at his hedge fund SAC Capital. As The Wall Street Journal reported this morning, Cohen's firm issued a rebuttal, claiming that he never saw an email that's an important part of the government's case.
In India, police have widened their hunt for the principal of an elementary school. It's the place where 23 children died last week after eating a toxic school lunch. The principal has been missing, along with her husband, since the day the children fell sick. An arrest warrant has been issued for her. In the meantime, parents of the victims are trying to cope with the tragedy. NPR's Julie McCarthy visited some of the families who live in one of India's poorest states.
It's been a bad month in U.S.-Afghan relations and efforts to negotiate a long-term security pact have been sidelined by a series of controversies and rhetorical bombshells. As the end of the NATO mission creeps closer, Afghans are increasingly worried that the bad atmospherics between Washington and Kabul could leave the Afghan people without enough U.S. support and vulnerable to predatory neighbors.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, has outlined the costs and benefits of the military options the U.S. is considering for Syria. The options include training rebels, military strikes and establishing a no-fly-zone. Dempsey offered his assessment in a letter to the top Senator on the Armed Services Committee. He noted there would be "unintended consequences" to any action, a reference to the past decade of military action in Iraq and Afghanistan.
More than two million Americans fought in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the vast majority of U.S. veterans, about 20 million, served in earlier wars - World War II, Korea, Vietnam. And they are the vets who filled up the hall today at the annual convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
JOHN HAMILTON: Comrades, I present to you a fellow combat veteran.
BLOCK: That's Vietnam vet John Hamilton, the head of the VFW, introducing another Vietnam vet.
This week, NASA is trying to do its part to raise science literacy. To give people a better understanding of Earth's position in the solar system, the agency's posted a picture of our planet taken from a billion miles away, give or take 100 million miles or so. And joining me now to talk about the picture, and why NASA took it, is NPR's Joe Palca. Joe, good to see you.
Almost all the states and Washington, D.C., are grappling with a big challenge as the new school year nears: getting teachers up to speed on the Common Core, a sweeping set of new education standards for English language arts and math.
The Common Core will soon apply to most of America's students from kindergarten through high school. The policymakers behind the Core know that it could fail if they don't help teachers make the change. So this summer, the state of Maryland has been hosting what it calls "academies" to do just that.
The line to see the thing that was supposed to smell like rotting flesh wrapped around the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C., on Monday night. Most folks who braved the heat and hourlong wait weren't greeted with the overwhelming stench of death, but rather the smell of sweat and intense, intense humidity.
Get Howard Buffett into the cab of a big ole' farm tractor and he's like a kid — albeit a 58-year-old, gray-haired one. He's especially excited when it comes to the tractor's elaborate GPS system, which he describes as "very cool."
"I'm driving hands-free," says Buffett, the son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett.
He says that the tractor has been automatically set to plant 16 perfect rows of seeds, "so it makes everything more efficient. And it's going to give you a better crop in the end."