Richard Pryor occupies his own special category in comedy. He played Las Vegas and made popular movies, and performed routines that were almost short stories — searing, profane and moving.
Pryor grew up in his grandmother's brothel in Peoria, Ill.; she beat him, too. He was expelled from high school and enlisted in the U.S. Army, but spent much of his military stint in prison. And with a special fever of genius — torched by drugs, fueled by grief and enlivened by exhilaration — he created unforgettable depictions of what it's like to feel left out of American life.
This is WEEKEND EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. The news that the National Security Agency is collecting reams of telephone data and tracking Internet behavior has alarmed civil liberties groups. President Obama believes U.S. citizens have no need to worry.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: One of the things that we're going to have to discuss and debate is how are we striking this balance between the need to keep the American people safe and our concerns about privacy, because there are some tradeoffs involved.
Latin America has some of the highest crime rates in the world. And that includes extortion, which doesn't just terrorize but also takes a huge economic toll on ordinary citizens. In many Latin American countries, it's costing billions of dollars and hindering development. As part of our series on violence in Latin America, NPR's Carrie Kahn takes us to Mexico, where some estimates say extortion costs more than $30 billion a year. [POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: Extortion costs an estimated $3.2 billion in Mexico annually.]
Fifty-five boys — all poor and almost all African-American — were a part of a bold educational experiment in the early 1960s. They were placed in an intensive summer school program. If they finished, the headmasters of 16 prep schools agreed to accept them. Tuition paid.
Planning for that experiment started in 1963 at the height of the civil rights movement, one year before President Lyndon B. Johnson declared his "War on Poverty." Today, what began with 55 students and 16 schools has become an institution celebrating its 50th anniversary. It's called "A Better Chance."
Alison Krauss recorded "Lay My Burden Down" a couple of years ago for her No. 1 country album Paper Airplane, but the song was written by Aoife O'Donovan. The singer, best known as the voice of the alt-bluegrass band Crooked Still, is releasing her first solo album this week.
Sen. Frank Lautenberg was buried with military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday. There was a steady rain. Soldiers fired rifle volleys, a bugler played taps and mourners paid their final respects.
The New Jersey Democrat was 89 when he died this week — and his death marked a somber milestone.
For the first time since the end of World War II, there are no veterans of that war in the U.S. Senate. Lautenberg had been the only one remaining.
Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower addresses American paratroopers in England on the evening of June 5, 1944, as they prepare for the Battle of Normandy.
Credit Library of Congress
Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower wrote this speech on June 5, 1944, to deliver in case the invasion failed. According to the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, the president mistakenly dated the message July 5 instead of June 5.
Sometimes history gets revealed in small, nearly forgotten scraps.
The Allied invasion of Normandy took place this week in 1944. On the evening of June 5, the largest armada in history began to churn through heavy swells in the English Channel, and pink-cheeked young paratroops prepared to board airplanes that would fly through heavy gales to drop them in darkness on Occupied France.
A grim and chaotic scene today in Santa Monica, California. That's where authorities say at least six people are dead after a shooting rampage that ended violently on the campus of Santa Monica Community College. Several more people are being treated at area hospitals. Authorities say some injuries are serious, others minor. The shooting triggered lockdowns at the college and at other nearby schools. NPR's Kirk Siegler joins us now with the latest from NPR West in Culver City. And Kirk, what have you learned so far?
Ariel Castro, whose Cleveland, Ohio, home allegedly became a prison for three kidnapped young women, has been indicted on 329 counts by a grand jury. Other charges include 177 counts of kidnapping and 139 counts of rape, as well as aggravated murder, a charge stemming from "the unlawful termination of another's pregnancy."
Cambodian lawmakers on Friday approved a bill making it a crime to deny that atrocities were committed by the Khmer Rouge regime of the 1970s, echoing laws against Holocaust denial in Germany and more than a dozen other European countries.
The bill passed the assembly in Phnom Penh by a unanimous vote, but only because of the absence of opposition parliamentarians, who were expelled after forming a new party.
All this week on Code Switch and on air we've been digging into the findings of a survey of African-American views of their communities, finances and social lives. We conducted the poll with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health.
In Southern California, a nuclear power plant that supplied energy to more than a million homes is shutting down for good. As NPR's Ina Jaffe reports, the San Onofre nuclear plant has been idle for repair since January of 2012.
INA JAFFE, BYLINE: The twin, white domes at the San Onofre nuclear power plant have been landmarks on the California coast for more than four decades.
If you're having trouble picturing a health "datapalooza," think 2,000-plus data geeks, entrepreneurs, industry bigwigs and bureaucrats stuffed into hotel conference rooms with lots of coffee and PowerPoints.
Early this week the fourth annual Health Datapalooza conference descended on Washington, D.C., including a contest over the course of the two-day meeting to come up with the best health app on the spot.