This year is the bicentennial of Richard Wagner's birth. The man widely called the greatest living Wagnerian tenor is marking the occasion in style — and asking listeners who may have turned away from the German composer to give his music another chance.
From the steam engine to visions of a national high-speed rail system, railroads have made their mark on American culture.
In his first term, President Obama promised to create a national system of high-speed rail, though he was scarcely the first politician to have done so. The January 2010 stimulus bill allocated $8 billion for high-speed rail projects, but Congress rejected federal funding for it.
In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, the president reiterated the goal of having passenger rail rise again.
This summer on the South Side of Chicago, thousands are expected to gather for an outdoor festival sponsored by the Inner-City Muslim Action Network, or IMAN.
The festival, Takin' It to the Streets, attracts well-known musicians, like hip-hop artist Mos Def in 2010 and Chicago native Lupe Fiasco. The goal of the festival's organizers is to promote cooperation between the city's residents, regardless of their backgrounds.
It's poetry — rhyming couplets written in perfect iambic pentameter, those ten-syllable lines of alternating emphasis made famous by authors of sonnets and blank verse. But unlike your average metered rhyme, these lines were written by Twitter ... with some help from a program called Pentametron.
When Napoleon Chagnon first saw the isolated Yanomamo Indian tribes of the Amazon in 1964, it changed his life forever. A young anthropologist from the University of Michigan, he was starting on a journey that would last a lifetime, and take him from one of the most remote places on earth to an international controversy.
That controversy would divide his profession and impugn his reputation. Eventually he would come to redefine the nature of what it is to be human.
It's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden.
Coming up, a weekly conversation with James Fallows and a new kind of leader for the Muslim movement in America. We'll also check out some Twitter poetry and hear our first Three-Minute Fiction entry for this round. And now...
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Gabby Giffords deserves a vote. The families of Newtown deserve a vote. The families of Aurora deserve a vote.
More than 4,000 stories. That's how many of you submitted your original fiction to us from this latest round of our Three-Minute Fiction contest. Now, we're going to start poring through those stories that did come in with the help from graduate students at more than a dozen schools.
Originally published on Sat February 16, 2013 11:00 am
After all the hoopla and news of people buying tools to catch Burmese pythons invading Florida, the state's monthlong hunt for them is over. Hunters caught 68 pythons. That's right, 68, according to The Associated Press, even though 1,600 people signed up with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission to search for them.
The president's speech, which they watched on a giant flat-screen TV, was punctuated with groans, rebuttal, criticisms and sarcasm from this young audience. These students worked hard, to no avail, to deliver the much prized battleground state of Ohio to Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
Originally published on Sat February 16, 2013 11:24 am
They thought they'd managed this problem a few years ago. But Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee got a disturbing call Friday from Energy Secretary Steven Chu: Nuclear waste is leaking out of a tank in one of the most contaminated nuclear waste sites in the U.S.
Originally published on Sat February 16, 2013 9:15 am
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:
Now to another remarkable fall from grace. Just three months after he resigned from Congress, Jesse Jackson, Jr. is preparing to plead guilty to a criminal conspiracy charge. Prosecutors say the Illinois Democrat used $750,000 in campaign funds to buy a Rolex watch, mink coats, sports memorabilia. His wife Sandy will plead guilty to a tax change for failing to report that money to the IRS.
"It's good to be home," President Obama said to a crowd, including uniformed high school students, at Chicago's Hyde Park Academy on Friday.
The school is in the same neighborhood where the Obamas raised their children, but the topic of the president's visit was raising Chicago's children — and the nation's. The president returned to his hometown to address the scourge of gun violence that's plaguing the city and many other parts of the country.
Michael Hainey was 6 years old when his uncle came to his house and told him and his brother that their father was dead. Bob Hainey was just 35. He was the slot man — a high-pressure, high-profile position overnight on the ChicagoSun-Times, a newspaper that in 1970 was the quintessence of roustabout Chicago journalism. Bob Hainey had died of a heart attack on a North Side street, as one of the obits put it, "while visiting friends."
President Obama's also trying to get the government more involved in trying to stop gun violence, but his supporters in Congress face an uphill battle in getting new gun control measures passed. Senator Richard Durbin's Senate judiciary subcommittee held hearings this week. The senator from Illinois, who is also majority whip, joins us now. Thanks for being with us.
SENATOR RICHARD DURBIN: It's good to be with you, Scott.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. In his State of the Union address, President Obama called for Congress to raise the minimum wage to $9 an hour, up from its current rate of 7.25.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Today, a full-time worker making the minimum wage earns $14,500 a year. Even with the tax relief we've put in place, a family with two kids that earns the minimum wage still lives below the poverty line. That's wrong.
Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon considers all the attention Sen. Mark Rubio received, not for his comments on President Obama's State of the Union address, but for the water the Florida senator drank while delivering his remarks.
Politics is a subjective business, but a recent study seems to indicate — with some manipulation — people can claim to recall political events that never actually occurred. Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon speaks with NPR science correspondent Shankar Vedantam about the research.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.
Oscar Pistorius remains in prison, the athlete who mesmerized so much of the world last summer when he became the first double amputee to compete in the Olympic Games, has been changed with the premeditated murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. Oscar Pistorius has been a hero in South Africa and lionized all over the world as the blade runner.
We're joined now by Howard Bryant of ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine. Howard, thanks for being with us.
Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation this week. He gave the announcement in Latin, but who still understands the language? Apparently there are more than 50,000 people in Finland who do. Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon speaks with Finnish radio broadcaster Tuomo Pekkanen about his Latin radio show.
In his hometown of Valencia, Spain, Miguel Angel Ferris Gil runs a "wastefulness tour."
Every Saturday, he charters a bus to take people past government buildings where bribery is rumored to take place, and then to elementary schools where kids go to class in trailers. He wants to show foreign investors where their money has gone.
"Here we are, in [the] face of the Valencian parliament," he says. "We start all our tours, our waste tours, protesting against the political corruption and waste."
Originally published on Sat February 16, 2013 8:06 am
Abraham Lincoln's black stovepipe hat is an icon. It seemed to enhance his height, emphasize his dignity and, I suppose, keep his head warm.
There is a stovepipe hat at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill., soiled and slightly brown with age. Lincoln is said to have given it to William Waller, a farmer and political supporter in Jackson County, Ill., and kept by his family for decades.
The names of African cardinals are popping up as possible contenders to succeed Pope Benedict as head of the Roman Catholic Church when he steps down at the end of the month.
The Mary Mother of Good Council School is one of a number of respected Roman Catholic schools overseen by the archdiocese of Accra, the capital of the West African nation of Ghana. The Metropolitan archbishop of Accra, Charles Palmer-Buckle, who trained as a priest at pontifical universities in Rome, is upbeat about the continent's contribution to the Catholic Church.
The movie Argo, up for seven Oscars at this year's Academy Awards, is based on the true story of the CIA rescue of Americans in Tehran during the 1979 hostage crisis. Missing from most of the coverage of this movie? The actual guy who ran the mission, played by Ben Affleck in the movie.
Movie aficionados — and historians — know that the movie sticks pretty close to what really happened during the Iranian Revolution. In 1980, a CIA agent named Tony Mendez sneaked into Iran and spirited away six American diplomats who were hiding with Canadians.
Just inside a room on the second floor of the Louisiana State Museum's Presbytere, there's a large baby doll dress, big enough for a woman to wear. And one did.
The costume and the baby bottle next to it belonged to 85-year-old Miriam Batiste Reed, who was known as a baby doll and one of the first women to parade in Mardi Gras. The bottle and the dress are part of a new exhibition, They Call Me Baby Doll: A Mardi Gras Tradition.
Originally published on Sat February 16, 2013 6:57 am
At a news conference Friday, San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon revealed new details about the final showdown with ex-cop Christopher Dorner that left one deputy dead and another seriously wounded.
Since Al Gore's term as the 45th vice president of the United States ended in 2001, he has starred in an Oscar-winning documentary, won a Grammy Award and received the Nobel Peace Prize. But obviously he won't be satisfied until he wins the NPR news quiz, so we've invited him to play a game called "Maybe you can beat Bill Clinton at this."