Well, the first round of golf's first major tournament of the year tees off today. And if people are not excited enough about the Masters, there is added drama this year. The most recognizable golfer on the planet, Tiger Woods, is a bonafide favorite to win his fifth green jacket. NPR's Tom Goldman has been wandering, strolling the grounds of golf's most storied course. He joins us now from Augusta, Georgia. And, Tom, how did you get this assignment?
In recent elections the Republican Party has struggled to find much support among African-American voters. That though did not dissuade Kentucky's Republican Senator Rand Paul from making a pitch yesterday at Howard University, the historically black college in the nation's capital.
NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson was listening.
MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Rand Paul spoke carefully from a teleprompter and posed this question to his audience of young African-American students.
On Capitol Hill, the Senate is set to open debate this morning on the first major gun control legislation to reach Congress in two decades. Some Republicans, though, say they have a pretty good reason to hold up that debate. NPR's Ailsa Chang explains.
AILSA CHANG, BYLINE: Senator Mike Lee of Utah is one of the Republicans who say they're filibustering, and here's his rational: He's not actually trying to block debate. He's just trying to buy more time to consider the proposals.
Now the Federal Housing Administration might need its first bailout in its 79 year history. So-called reversed mortgages are at the heart of the problem here, as fallout from the housing crisis continues.
NPR's Dan Bobkoff explains.
DAN BOBKOFF, BYLINE: Perhaps you've seen ads like this one on TV.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV AD)
FRED THOMPSON: A government-insured reverse mortgage allows seniors to stay in their own home and turn their equity into tax-free cash...
The federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. is second only to the United States Supreme Court in terms of the important cases it decides. But the court, known as the D.C. Circuit, has been limping along with four vacancies. President Obama's first nominee recently withdrew after two Senate filibusters blocked her path. The White House is hoping its other nominee will have an easier ride.
Venezuela's acting president, Nicolas Maduro, fist-bumps a worker of the state-run oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A., last month. Maduro faces opposition candidate Henrique Capriles in Sunday's presidential election. Whoever wins will have to tackle the legacy of Chavez's oil programs.
As Venezuela's president, Hugo Chavez thought in grandiose terms, and his country's vast oil riches enabled him to act on his vision. But Chavez died before he had to deal with the flaws in his model, and some hard choices await his successor.
Key to Chavez's notion of "21st Century Socialism" was the redistribution of Venezuela's oil earnings. The country's oil reserves — estimated by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to be the largest in the world — are worth tens of billions of dollars a year in potential revenue.
In director Gilles Bourdos' biopic <em>Renoir</em>, Christa Theret plays Andree Heuschling, who served as a muse for both the aging Impressionist master and his young filmmaker son.
Credit Samuel Goldwyn Films
While art critics sometimes call Renoir's late period overly emotional, works like <em>Blonde a la rose</em>, shown here, were an inspiration to film director Gilles Bourdos. Andree Heuschling, a main character in the film, is credited as the model for this painting.
Credit RMN-Grand Palais/Art Resource, NY
Renoir's <em>The Bathers (Bathing Women) </em>also used Andree Heuschling as inspiration. Critics say the young model gave the aging artist a needed boost of inspiration during his final years.
Researchers in California described Wednesday their new method for mass-producing the key ingredient for the herbal drug artemisinin, the most powerful antimalarial on the market. Already, the French drugmaker Sanofi is ramping up production at a plant in Italy to manufacture the ingredient and the drug.
Global health advocates say they expect this new method of producing artemisinin will at last provide a stable supply of the drug and cut the overall cost of malaria treatment.
Scientists reported Wednesday that they had developed a way to measure how much pain people are experiencing by scanning their brains.
The researchers hope the technique will help doctors treat pain better, but the work is also raising concerns about whether the technique might interfere with doctors simply listening to their patients.
Now, when someone is in pain, a doctor has no way to judge its severity except to ask questions, a method that often is inadequate.
Former El Paso Independent School District Superintendent Lorenzo Garcia is escorted by his attorneys into a Texas courthouse. He was found guilty of fiddling with El Paso schools' test scores for his own financial gain.
Lorenzo Garcia, the former superintendent of schools in El Paso, Texas, has been sitting in a federal prison since last year. He's the nation's first superintendent convicted of fraud and reporting bogus test scores for financial gain.
On a normal day, Kansas City, Mo., processes more than 70 million gallons of raw sewage. This sewage used to be a nuisance, but Kansas City, and a lot of municipalities around the country, are now turning it into a resource for city farmers hard up for fertilizer.
After the sewage has been processed at a treatment plant, it's piped out to Birmingham Farm on the north side of the Missouri River.
The group Mayors Against Illegal Guns has launched a million-dollar media blitz to support new gun legislation. One TV ad features Neil Heslin, whose son, Jesse Lewis, was among those killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
(SOUNDBITE OF AD)
NEIL HESLIN: Oh, I feel it's something I owe to my son, Jesse, to speak up and I'm his voice. And I feel if I didn't, I would be letting Jesse down.