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The Two-Way
3:40 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Will A Handshake Lead To Better U.S.-Cuba Relations?

In this image from TV, President Obama shakes hands with Cuban President Raul Castro at the memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
AP

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 7:00 pm

In everyday life, a handshake is rather ordinary. But when President Obama shook hands Tuesday with Cuban leader Raul Castro at a memorial service for the late South African President Nelson Mandela, this was how it was described:

-- "a simple gesture that signaled possible thawing between the leaders of the two Cold War foes"

-- "an unprecedented gesture"

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Code Switch
3:33 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

In A Small Missouri Town, Immigrants Turn To Schools For Help

Abbie Fentress Swanson Harvest Public Media

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 12:30 pm

This story comes to us from Harvest Public Media, a public radio reporting project that focuses on agriculture and food production issues. You can see more photos and hear more audio from the series here. Wednesday, we'll have a story from a meatpacking plant in Garden City, Kan., which takes a proactive stance toward its newest immigrants.

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The Salt
3:30 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Elevenses And Then Some: How To Prepare A Feast Fit For A Hobbit

Precious snack: In Tolkien's books, lembas was a special bread made by elves that could stay fresh for months — perfect for sustaining travelers on a long journey (or engaging in an all-day movie marathon.) Try it for elevenses.
Beth Accomando for NPR

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 11:23 am

"If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world." — J.R.R. Tolkien

Each year, I swear I will never do this again.

And yet, for the third year in a row, I am preparing to host a day-long Lord of the Rings movie marathon – and cooking up a seven-course hobbit-themed feast, plus dessert, to serve my guests. Maybe it's because, like Tolkien, I too would like the world to be a merrier place.

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World Cafe
3:19 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Bill Callahan On World Cafe

Bill Callahan.
Hanly Banks Courtesy of the artist

Those who love indie singer-songwriter Bill Callahan's music no doubt have their favorites among his solo albums, if not from records he previously made under the name Smog. Callahan's music has been remarkably consistent and deeply meaningful; as a writer, he's truly invested in making every word count. Callahan's latest album, Dream River, is a classic illustration of his artistry.

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A Blog Supreme
2:04 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

O Brothers: Drummers Brian and Brady Blade

Brian (left) and Brady Blade.
Megan Holmes/Mary Ellen Matthews Courtesy of the artists

If the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, sometimes two apples will land on similar turf. Brian Blade has been Wayne Shorter's drummer for several years and leads his own project called The Fellowship Band. His older brother Brady Blade is perhaps best known for his drumming with Emmylou Harris and is an all-around music industry mover and shaker.

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The Two-Way
1:59 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Ouster Of North Korea's Jang Noted With Unease In China

A South Korean man watches TV news about the dismissal of Jang Song-Thaek, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's uncle, at a railway station in Seoul on December 3.
Jung yeon-je AFP/Getty Images

The recent, very public ouster of North Korea's Jang Song Thaek, the uncle of Kim Jong Un and formerly the country's No. 2 leader, has been noted with some concern in China, which is more or less Pyongyang's only friend in the region.

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Politics
1:56 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

How ALEC Serves As A 'Dating Service' For Politicians And Corporations

President Bush speaks to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in Philadelphia, on July 26, 2007.
Mel Evans AP

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 12:07 pm

A batch of internal documents recently leaked to The Guardian has revealed new insights into the goals and finances of the secretive group called ALEC. The American Legislative Exchange Council is a group that brings together state legislators and representatives of corporations. Together, they develop model bills that lawmakers introduce and try to pass in their state legislatures.

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Music Reviews
1:56 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

A Nostalgic — But Bumpy — Journey With The Beach Boys

The Beach Boys in 1964. Top row: Carl Wilson, Dennis Wilson. Bottom row: Mike Love, Al Jardine, Brian Wilson.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 5:44 pm

All it takes is two seconds of hearing "Round round get around / I get around" and you're there — in the sun, on the beach, in the '60s. The Beach Boys vaulted up the charts while branching out from surf music to psychedelia. This year the remaining band members released Made in California, a six-CD box set loaded with outtakes and other rarities. Critic Ed Ward examines the rise and long decline of a beloved group with a unique sound.

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Book Reviews
1:00 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Frustrating Heroine Stars In Fresh, Feminist 'Nightingale'

iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 3:33 pm

There's an unforgettable moment in the diary of the great Polish writer Witold Gombrowicz. He's on the beach and he spots a beetle that's been blown on its back by the wind and now lies there helplessly, legs wiggling, unable to right itself. Gombrowicz saves it by turning it over. He sees another upside-down beetle, and turns it over. Then, another. Looking along the sand, he realizes that there are so many beetles he can't possibly save them all. Eventually, he gives up trying.

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The Two-Way
1:00 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Using Satellite, Scientists Pinpoint Coldest Place On Earth

Sastrugi stick out from the snow surface in this photo near Plateau Station in East Antarctica. Most of Antartica looks quite flat, despite the subtle domes, hills, and hollows.
Atsuhiro Muto National Snow and Ice Data Center

Using data from a NASA satellite, scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) say they have now pinpointed the coldest place on Earth.

On a 1,000 kilometer swath of the highest section of the East Antarctic ice divide, scientists measured temperatures of -134 to -137 degrees Farenheit.

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