Events as disparate as the cruel, escalating violence in Syria and the congested, unnerving conditions where Apple's iPads and iPhones are made at the Foxconn assembly plants in China raise a recurring question:
When do a country's internal affairs become the business of the world? And when do we make that our personal business?
You can take that question back through atrocities, crimes and outrages of recent history.
During the summer of 1972, five men were arrested in the middle of the night for breaking into the Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate office building in Washington, D.C.
The breach went to the very top. Watergate toppled the Nixon administration and became an iconic (and exhaustively studied) American political scandal. In his new novel, Watergate, Thomas Mallon gives the story a fresh twist, retelling it from the perspectives of the involved parties — from seven different points of view.
Fifty years ago, John Glenn was alone on top of a rocket waiting to blast into space and around the Earth. In these times, when people can become suddenly famous for doing so little, it may be good to recall the daring and imagination of that moment on Feb. 20, 1962.
Two Russians, Yuri Gagarin and Gherman Titov, had already dauntlessly orbited the Earth. The Soviets kept their missions secret until they were under way, but John Glenn would fly with the eyes of the world watching every second.
It's the beginning of the beginning of baseball season, and two major thumpers have jumped leagues. Plus, basketball makes it to a midpoint, and suddenly you have to ask: Who's really the best team in Los Angeles? Host Scott Simon talks with ESPN's Howard Bryant about the sports of the week.
The Greek economy continues to suffer. It's been another painful week for that country starting Sunday when thousands of people demonstrated outside of parliament, and rioters torched buildings in Athens. Greek lawmakers passed harsh new austerity measures despite those protests, and still, Greece's European partners refused to approve the new bailout that the Greeks need to avoid default. NPR's Eric Westervelt reports what EU finance ministers will be considering when they meet again on Monday.
The best bobsled racers in the world are in Lake Placid, New York this weekend, competing in the World Championships. There's big drama this year for the American team. After capturing a historic gold medal two years ago at the winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, the U.S. has struggled, and lost ground to the Europeans. As North Country Public Radio's Brian Mann reports, American sledders hope to prove on their home track that they can still compete.
There's an article by three British scientists in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters that says, in part: A general continuum theory for the distribution of hairs in a bundle is developed treating individual fibers as elastic filaments with random intrinsic curvatures, applying this formalism to the iconic problem of the ponytail. The iconic problems of the ponytail? Where's the problem? Who better to explain than our math guy, Keith Devlin of Stanford University?
Throughout this last week while the Chinese vice president was visiting the United States, there was a lot of talk about America and American business finding new opportunities in China, selling more to Chinese consumers instead of just buying so much from the world's second largest economy. Many Americans also see China as an unstoppable economic force that's surpassing the United States. But how does all this look from China? We're going to now to NPR's Shanghai correspondent, Frank Langfitt. Frank, thanks for being with us.
That Michigan primary is just in 10 days and the contest there is turning to be closer than expected. Mitt Romney grew up in Michigan. His father, George Romney, ran a car company there. He was the governor. But Santorum has come on strong and even ahead in current polls. We're joined now by another son of Michigan, NPR's Don Gonyea, live in our studio, who spent the week in his home state. Thanks very much for being with us, Don.
Many lives are being turned completely upside down by the eurozone crisis. That's especially true in Ireland, where they're still clearing up the mess left when the property bubble burst. Thousands of homes lie empty and unsold. And as NPR's Philip Reeves reports, some people have been left with colossal debts.
PHILIP REEVES, BYLINE: Step, for a minute, into the strange world of Jill Godsil. She lives among the farms and villages and rolling hills of Ireland's Wicklow County. The countryside's spectacular.
As Phil reported, things are still pretty tough for the people of Ireland, but there's one man who thinks things there will start to look up before too long. He's prepared to put money on it, billions in fact.
Michael Hasenstab is what's known as a contrarian investor. He's just about the only person prepared to bet that Ireland's fortunes will greatly improve over the next couple of years. Michael Hasenstab joins us from Templeton Investments in San Mateo, California.
Roberta Flack has been singing in a way that plucks at the heartstrings since 1969, when she recorded the breakthrough song "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face." She followed that hit with many, many more, including, "Killing Me Softly with His Song," "Where Is the Love" and "The Closer I Get to You."
When Americans traveled by stagecoach, they had to worry about rocks, rattlesnakes, robbers and other varmints. But I wonder if there weren't fewer passenger complaints.
Ralph Nader is not running for president this year. But he's giving a couple of speeches in Dallas this weekend and booked an American Airlines flight a couple of weeks ago for a $750 fare.
The flight takes three hours. Mr. Nader is 6 feet, 4 inches tall. His longtime travel agent tried to select an aisle seat, which is more comfortable for Mr. Nader. Probably for whoever might be next to him, too.
Now let's move to Egypt where one year ago today mounting protests forced Hosni Mubarak to step down as president. Last February, millions of jubilant Egyptians poured out onto the streets across the country, but that mood has given way to widespread frustration. Many Egyptians object to the continued hold on power by Mubarak's military allies, a rapidly weakening economy and the failure to bring the former president to justice. This week we spoke with people around Cairo about their impressions one year on.
Fernando Trueba, whose film Belle Epoque won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 1993, will be back at the Academy Awards this year; his film Chico and Rita, a love story about a Cuban pianist and singer, is up for a statue in the Animated Feature category.
Trueba says animation has some of the qualities that classic old movies had — "a more concise, more synthetical way of storytelling."
As most people who care about modern art, to list the major 20th century painters, they may start with Picasso, Matisse, then move on to the Americans, Jackson Pollock, Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. But in France, a new museum just opened, devoted exclusively to one of the most multi-talented, controversial and often forgotten artist of the last century, Jean Cocteau.
Frank Browning traveled to France on the Cote d'Azure to report on this very peculiar man and the museum that celebrates him.
Dave Isay begins his new book with a quote from co-worker Lillie Love, whose name resonates deeply with his latest project. Shortly before she died in 2010, Love said, "Love is all there is ... When you take your last breath, you remember the people you love, how much love you inspired and how much love you gave."
Siegfried is a Norse hero, and one of the most demanding roles in all of opera. He slays dragons and has to sing about it — in Gotterdammerung, The Twilight of the Gods, the last opera in Wagner's Ring Cycle.
In Moscow on Saturday, tens of thousands of protesters braved the sub-zero temperatures to gather in the city center. They were demonstrating against Vladimir Putin's planned return to the presidency next month. Guest host David Greene has more.