From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel. A new novel explores life on Earth tens of thousands of years ago. It's called "Shaman" by science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson. Our reviewer, Alan Cheuse, says it's worthy of a spot on the bookshelf between "The Inheritors" and "The Clan Of The Cave Bear."
The White House announced Tuesday that President Obama will nominate Federal Reserve Vice Chairwoman Janet Yellen to chair the Federal Reserve Wednesday. She would replace Ben Bernanke, who's stepping down from the post. Yellen has been the presumptive nominee for weeks, after Lawrence Summers announced his intention to remove himself from the running in September. She'd be the first woman to head the Fed.
The partial shutdown of the U.S. government has all sorts of costs — not only in the United States, but also overseas. President Obama had to cancel a trip this week to visit four nations in Asia so he could stay in Washington to deal with the political crisis. That has disappointed — even worried — some of America's friends in the region, who are counting on the United States to stand up to an increasingly assertive China.
The disappointment over the president's no-show in Asia was palpable.
This week, All Things Considered is talking with leaders from different faiths about their perspectives on the afterlife. NPR's Robert Siegel spoke with Mufti Asif Umar, a Muslim scholar and imam of the Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis, about what Muslims believe and about his own beliefs.
Umar, the 29-year-old son of Indian immigrants, said Muslims believe that when a person dies, two angels appear and ask that person three questions about his or her faith. Those questions, Umar says, have correct answers.
A majority of Americans from all walks of life believe in life after death. Yet conversations about the afterlife — from what it might look and feel like to who else one may find there — often remain highly personal ones, shared with family members, clergy or others who share one's faith.
To better understand how many Americans conceive of the afterlife, All Things Considered has spoken with leaders from different faith traditions on their views on life after death.
It looks like even Antarctica isn't far away enough to avoid getting caught up in the government shutdown.
That's because it's currently springtime there, and scientists who study this remote, rugged continent are poised to take advantage of the few months when there's enough daylight and it's warm enough to work. Advance teams have already started working to get things set up and ready for the researchers, who usually begin heading south right about now.
The government is just 10 days away from defaulting on its debt. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has said that by Oct. 17, the department will likely have less money on hand than it needs to pay all its bills.
"The reality is that if we run out of cash to pay our bills, there is no option that permits us to pay all of our bills on time, which means that a failure of Congress to act would for the first time put us in a place where we're defaulting on our obligations as a government," Lew said on NBC's Meet The Press on Sunday.