One clear threat once menaced civilization: nuclear war with the Soviet Union. The Cold War is over, but decades later, some of the fortifications built to fight that war still dot the American landscape.
Four years ago, Larry Hall bought a nuclear missile silo out on the open rolling land north of Salina, Kan. Hall paid $300,000 and spent much more to clean out all the scrap metal and stagnant water.
Originally published on Fri March 2, 2012 12:17 am
A key rebel stronghold in the central Syrian city of Homs has fallen to the Syrian army.
Residents fled as government forces bombarded the city's Baba Amr neighborhood for nearly a month. On Thursday, the rebels withdrew.
When the Syrian uprising began nearly a year ago, Baba Amr saw regular, daily protests. Then after months of being shot, detained and tortured, protesters began taking up arms. Those armed civilians were later joined by defectors from the Syrian military, and together, they called themselves the Free Syrian Army.
College and university presidents are wringing their hands over the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to revisit the issue of affirmative action next fall. Critics of racial preferences are thrilled because the court could significantly restrict the use of race in admissions, but proponents of affirmative action say this would be a huge setback for institutions struggling to diversify their student body.
President Barack Obama was in New Hampshire today talking about energy. As New Hampshire Public Radio’s Josh Rogers reports, the president said the country needs to increase oil production while also investing in newer sources of energy.
Billed an official visit, at times the President’s stop had the feel of campaign rally. Mr. Obama told the crowd he knew NH’s "political bull detector" was sharp, and urged voters to be wary of election year promises.
Iran holds parliamentary elections on Friday, the first since the disputed, and many believe fraudulent, presidential election in 2009.
But unlike that presidential poll, candidates seeking to take on the country's conservative rulers will not be taking part Friday; they are mostly under house arrest or have been in prison for years now.
The focus will be on which conservatives end up on top and how many votes are cast.
Cars decorated with white ribbons and carnations drove around Moscow's Garden Ring Road in a wet snow this past Sunday, honking cheerfully to the thousands of demonstrators on the sidewalk who formed a human chain around the city.
Elena Korobova was a link in that chain.
"I want to get rid of Putin, because I don't like his policy, I don't like what he's doing for Russia," she says of Vladimir Putin, Russia's current prime minister.
The sound of one of this year's Grammy-nominated reggae albums, Harlem-Kingston Express Live, may seem perplexing at first. But don't let the blend of swing and dub confuse you: That's just the unique sound of pianist Monty Alexander.
Alexander's music has variously been described as bebop, calypso and reggae. But after 50 years in music and more than 70 albums, he's earned the right to call his music simply his own.
Alexander grew up in Jamaica playing the piano and the accordion, and he was versed in the up-and-coming popular music of the island.
At the Fort Polk military base in the pine forests of central Louisiana, the Army has created a miniature version of Afghanistan — with mock villages and American soldiers working alongside Afghan role-players.
This is the training ground for a new American approach in Afghanistan as the U.S. begins to look ahead to the goal of bringing home the U.S. forces by the end of 2014. The idea is that Afghan forces have to be good enough to defend their country against the Taliban, and to make that happen, the U.S. Army is creating small U.S. training teams at Fort Polk.
Some 75,000 babies are born every day in India. The total population is 1.2 billion and climbing. That's a lot of people to keep track of, and the Indian government has struggled to keep up.
Many Indians, especially the poor, don't have any ID, which makes it increasingly difficult for them to be full participants in a society that is rapidly modernizing. But a new project aims to fix that.
Originally published on Thu March 1, 2012 12:18 pm
U.S. intelligence officials tracking the situation in Syria have their eye on one group in particular: al-Qaida's affiliate in Iraq.
The group has longstanding ties to Syria, and its early members weren't just Iraqis; many of them were Syrians. The former leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, not only established a network of fighters in Syria, but he also folded them into his northern Iraqi faction of al-Qaida.
Los Angeles is easing its stance on truancy. For the past decade, a tough city ordinance slapped huge fines on students for even one instance of skipping school or being late, but the Los Angeles City Council is changing that law to focus on helping students get to class because it turns out those harsh fines were backfiring.
Two years ago, Nabil Romero, a young Angeleno with a thin black mustache, was running late to his first period at a public high school on LA's Westside.
Originally published on Thu March 27, 2014 9:49 am
Just when you thought you had the latest in camera technology, along comes something new and shiny and ... rectangular.
It's called the Lytro, and it uses something called "light field technology." In short: You shoot now and focus later.
NPR's resident photo expert, Keith Jenkins, explains: In a nutshell, he says, this camera captures not only the color and the intensity of light — which is what normal cameras do — but also the direction of that light — from every possible angle.
Despite some green shoots in the economy, the housing sector remains weak. With 11 million Americans still underwater on their mortgages, some housing experts believe it's time for more dramatic solutions.
The idea of reducing the principal on the loans of underwater homeowners used to be a fringe concept, embraced by a few outliers. Today, many policymakers believe principal reduction is necessary to keep some troubled homeowners afloat.
But so far, the nation's biggest mortgage holders, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, haven't embraced the idea.
When GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum was growing up, he says, John F. Kennedy was a hero in his Catholic home.
In a speech last year, he said he had always heard glowing reports of Kennedy's speech about religion to Protestant ministers in 1960.
"And then very late in my political career, I had the opportunity to read the speech and I almost threw up," Santorum told a group of college students last year. "You should read the speech. In my opinion, it was the beginning of the secular movement of politicians to separate their faith from the public square."
Originally published on Wed February 29, 2012 8:34 pm
North Korea has agreed to suspend uranium enrichment and missile tests, and the U.S. says it will provide food aid. The agreement should set the stage for a new round of nuclear disarmament talks. But analysts caution this is a small first step.
U.S. State Department officials returned from three days of talks in Beijing with a deal meant to improve the atmosphere for a resumption of so-called six-party nuclear disarmament talks. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton outlined the deal in Congress on Wednesday.
The movie Act of Valor, which opened in theaters last weekend and earned nearly $25 million, was commissioned by the Navy's Special Warfare Command to drum up recruits for its elite SEALs program. But this is by no means the first movie made with the military's cooperation.
You've heard of identity theft — someone using a person's credit information or a Social Security number for ill-gotten gains. Well, experts say similar crimes are also affecting businesses.
Business identity theft involves posing as a legitimate business in order to get access to credit lines or steal customers. Experts believe that the practice has become more prevalent in the past two years.
Originally published on Wed February 29, 2012 11:31 am
The year the Quidi Vidi Brewing Co. started brewing beer with iceberg water, a giant iceberg floated up against the cliffs around St. John's, Newfoundland.
"It was a big berg and it jammed right across the harbor here," says Charlie Rees, the brewery's tour guide.
Rees says Newfoundlanders have a curious relationship with icebergs. On the one hand, they're a fact of life. On the other, when that iceberg was in the harbor's mouth, hundreds of people came down to gawk. He took pictures.
The goal of the Federal Reserve's low interest rate policy is to juice the economic recovery. The low rates should make it easier for people to borrow money, which they'll hopefully spend; the increased demand for goods and services is then supposed to translate into more hiring.
That's what the Fed is banking on. It hopes low interest rates will help with its mandate of achieving maximum employment, but it also has another mandate: to keep prices stable.
"In many cases, those two conflict," says economist Joe Gagnon of the Peterson Institute for International Economics.
Originally published on Wed February 29, 2012 11:02 am
Dave Zinkoff — or simply "The Zink" — was perhaps the most distinctive public address announcer in sports when, years ago, he called games in Philadelphia, especially for the city's NBA teams. Just his declaring that there were two minutes left in the quarter made you feel that, never mind that quarter, doomsday was but 120 seconds away.
But nothing The Zink cried out was so resounding as when Wilt Chamberlain would make an emphatic slam.
Originally published on Wed February 29, 2012 11:02 am
To the list of weird-sounding hybrid words of the digital age, like Googling and tweeting, we can now add "pinning." As in Pinterest. It's sort of an online scrapbook or bulletin board, and it's one of the fastest-growing websites in history.
Last month, more than 10 million unique visitors signed on to Pinterest. But some of them, like Billy Winburn, are still trying to get the hang of it. At an office in Alexandria, Va., Jennifer Folsom, who works a few desks away, is walking him through the process.
Originally published on Wed February 29, 2012 11:02 am
At newsstands across France on Wednesday, readers will delight to a humorous broadsheet published every four years on leap day.
At news shops in Paris and around France, readers look forward to their copy of La Bougie du Sapeur every Feb. 29. Published since 1980, the satirical journal is now in its ninth edition. Its title, which translates as "sapper's candle," is taken from an old French comic-book figure who was born on that fateful last day of February.
When he returned from Afghanistan and saw his partner waiting to welcome him home, "four years of pent-up emotion and secret love" just seemed to naturally lead to "what felt like an eternity kiss," Marine Sgt. Brandon Morgan told NPR this afternoon.
It's true that you can still get by in rock 'n' roll on the strength of a unique voice. But it helps if said voice has something interesting to work with.
On the first three records by Heartless Bastards, that wasn't always the case. The Mountain, from 2008, had some terrific songs about a breakup, and a few that got bogged down in a rut. But on the band's latest release, Arrow, every song has a powerful, almost magnetic melody.
On tonight's All Things Considered, NPR's Robert Siegel talks to the chief of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde.
Naturally, Robert focused his interview on Greece, which has been engulfed in a debt crisis that has threatened its membership in the European monetary union. Robert asked Lagarde about the tough austerity measures Greece has agreed to and whether those measures could promote a shrinking economy as opposed to getting Greece back to prosperity.