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?
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.
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.
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."
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.
Originally published on Sat February 4, 2012 12:05 pm
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene, in for Scott Simon. It's been nearly a year since anti-government protests began in Syria. President Bashar al-Assad has carried out a violent crackdown. We've heard tough statements, warnings from capitals around the world. And today, it appeared the U.N. Security Council was poised to issue a resolution condemning the crackdown.
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.
Imagine a place on earth where there's been no light, no wind for millions of years. Lake Vostok is one such place. The world's third largest lake, in terms of amount of water, has long been hidden, buried beneath two miles of ice until, perhaps, this coming week. Russian researchers are about to break through that ice.
I would like to rise up today in defense of Diet Coke. All diet sodas, in fact. But Diet Coke happens to be my favorite.
I like the stuff.
Cracking open a can of it, or pouring some over ice, helps me survive a long work day.
This love of Diet Coke is one reason my re-entry into the United States has been a little rocky. When I moved back recently after a reporting assignment in Russia, nobody warned me that war had been declared on Diet Coke.
In October 1988, the big news was presidential politics — the race between George H.W. Bush and Michael Dukakis was in its final weeks — but a dramatic whale rescue was about to captivate the world. This story is the focus of a movie now in theaters starring Drew Barrymore and John Krasinski.
Ruthie Foster is from a small town in central Texas — but there's nothing small about the way she sings on her new album, Let It Burn. Zigzagging between blues, soul, gospel and rock, the album features solid originals and surprising covers, along with several stirring collaborations with The Blind Boys of Alabama.
President Obama is back in Washington Saturday after visiting five different states, all of which are likely to be hotly contested in November. He expanded on some of the ideas he outlined in Tuesday's State of the Union address and offered a preview of the argument he'll be making in the general election. NPR's Scott Horsley reports.
Time now for your letters. Last week we spoke with Christian Bale who stars in the new film, "The Flowers of War." The movie takes place in China during Japan's violent occupation of Nanjing in 1937. "The Flowers of War" has been criticized as being part of an effort by the Chinese government to improve China's image in the world.
The women's finals in the Australian Open are already over. In baseball, power-hitter Prince Fielder has returned to his childhood team, the Detroit Tigers, for which his father played. Host Scott Simon talks sports with Howard Bryant of ESPN the Magazine and ESPN.com.
A niche industry of tour companies is taking people into wolves' habitat at Yellowstone National Park. Montana Public Radio's Dan Boyce went on an expedition with a man who recognizes the problems wolves bring to the landscape even as he makes his living off of them.
Originally published on Tue February 21, 2012 2:03 pm
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
What do you do when the conversation lags? Our friend Richard Glover of the ABC in Sydney, Australia might know. This week he and sports author and journalist Peter FitzSimons set a new Guinness World Record for Longest Radio or TV interview: 24 hours, with only an occasional loo break. [POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: The record-setting interview did not take place "this week." It was actually in December 2011.]
Martin Mull and Fred Willard are comic partners in many minds. They helped create Fernwood Tonight in the late 1970s, and while they went on to solo careers in films and stage, they were reunited to play one of TV's first gay couples on Roseanne. Host Scott Simon sat down with the duo for the public television show Backstage With.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. We begin with the latest in the Republican race for president. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney campaigned in Florida yesterday. Mr. Gingrich made appearances before two communities whose votes he hopes to win in Tuesday's primary. He spoke to Latino home builders and businesspeople in the morning, and had a rally with a group of Republican Jewish voters in the afternoon. NPR's Brian Naylor reports.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.
An illegal Jewish outpost in the occupied West Bank is at the center of a battle over settlements. The collection of trailers and makeshift buildings is called Migron, and the Israeli Supreme Court has said it must be dismantled by the end of March. The Israeli government has tried to come up with a compromise which the settlers have rejected. And the issue even threatens to bring down the government of Prime Minister Netanyahu.