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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

And now it's time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

Pepe Guerrero is a doorman at a high-rise building in Malaga, on Spain's Mediterranean coast. From his post he looks out at the turquoise blue waters — where hundreds of Arab and African migrants have drowned in recent weeks.

"They're people — human beings like us," he says. "Searching for a better life."

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Rap City: Sweat, Hope & Hip-Hop In Dakar

Apr 25, 2015

An orange streetlight glows over the sandy street corner. The surrounding alleys and cement buildings disappear into darkness at the edge of the light. It is 11 p.m. on this July night, temperatures are still in the high 80s and a cool breeze is nowhere to be found.

Young men hustle to arrange hulking, rusted speakers on either side of a small wooden platform. Others hover by the streetlight. They wear crisp T-shirts with bold lettering and splashes of color.

A century after Ottoman forces massacred an estimated 1 to 1.5 million Armenian Christians, some of the remaining Armenian Turks are taking tentative steps out into the open. They survived because their ancestors were taken in by Muslim families and raised as Muslims.

Now, thanks in part to a somewhat more tolerant climate in Turkey, their descendants, known as "hidden Armenians," are coming out of hiding.

Welcome to a special pop-up podcast from NPR's Washington Desk. As the Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments Tuesday on whether same-sex marriage bans are constitutional, our correspondents give their take on the legal questions before the court and seismic shift in the culture and politics on this issue.

Gay marriage is now legal in 36 states. And by the end of this Supreme Court term in June, same-sex couples will either be able to wed in all 50 states, or gay marriage bans may be restored in many states where they've been struck down.

#NPRreads is a new feature we're testing out on Twitter and on The Two-Way. The premise is simple: Correspondents, editors and producers throughout our newsroom will share pieces that have kept them reading. They'll share tidbits on Twitter using the #NPRreads hashtag, and on occasion we'll share a longer take here on the blog.

This week, we bring you four reads:

From Ina Jaffe, a correspondent on NPR's National Desk:

If you like the idea of zero or low-calorie sodas, but you're turned off by the artificial sweetener aspartame, you're not alone.

Sales of diet soda have fallen off significantly in the U.S. And when PepsiCo started asking consumers what they didn't like, aspartame was at the top of the list.

"It's literally the number-one complaint we've heard from diet-cola consumers as to why they're drinking less and less diet cola, " Seth Kaufman, a senior vice president for PepsiCo, tells The Salt.

A Most Indelible Ink: A Magazine Printed Using Blood

Apr 24, 2015

"Written in blood" is usually hyperbole. Not so in the case of the latest issue of a Lebanese music and culture magazine.

Audio Kultur used real blood to publish the magazine commemorating the 100th anniversary of the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians.

The Steller's sea cow, the passenger pigeon and the New Zealand moa all went extinct because people developed a taste for their meat.

Police officials in Baltimore admitted that their officers should have provided medical attention immediately following the arrest of Freddie Gray.

Instead, Deputy Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said during a press conference, police officers put handcuffed Gray and put him in the back of a police van without ever buckling him in.

The van went on to make three different stops across town. At the first, Gray was shackeled, but at no point said Commissioner Anthony Batts was Gray ever buckled into the van.

Hearing the words of a 24-year-old victim of human trafficking — and her struggle to wipe away her conviction on prostitution charges — inspired New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

That young victim, who was featured in an NPR story in February, endured years of rapes and brutal assaults by pimps who forced her into prostitution.

"I'm not ever going to forget what I've done or what I've gone through. But at the same time, I don't want it thrown in my face every time I'm trying to seek employment," she said. "I don't want to have to explain myself every time."

High on a West Bank hilltop, the extended Dissi family gathered on a recent weekend for a day out in the Palestinian countryside.

Aunts, uncles and cousins came to see the half-built weekend home of Taysier Dissi, an electrician and father of three. The concrete-block shell, with windows set and stairs roughed in, is placed just right for the view.

This will be the family's getaway from their home in the cramped confines of Jerusalem's often tense Old City. Dissi paid about $30,000 for one-third of an acre here, bought from a Palestinian-Canadian company, UCI.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

When my mother passed away, I was by her side in a peaceful, sunny room at a hospice in South Florida. The sliding glass doors looked out to a flourishing garden filled with bougainvillea, rosebushes and carefully cultivated grasses. A block of sunlight, alive with swirling dust, hit the edge of my mother's bed where the tops of her small bony feet made a lump under the light cotton covers.

Usually police simulators are tucked away in training academies. But in a Charlotte, N.C., middle school gym, a crowd of 100 people watches Capt. Rob Dance as he leads a teenager through a simulated traffic stop that goes bad.

The simulator lets out several loud bangs. Dance notices the teen is nervous, his hands are shaking.

"You shot 24 times," he tells the student. "Did you realize that?"

Same-sex marriage is legal in most states but so is discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the areas of employment, housing and public accommodation.

Gay-rights activists say this creates a contradiction because in many states someone can legally marry a person of the same gender and then get fired for being gay. They are lobbying state legislatures to add LGBT people to anti-discrimination laws that already include things like race, age, religion and disability.

It's springtime in Pittsburgh, and throughout the city, Callery pear trees are sprouting beautiful, white blossoms.

But that's just the problem. Simply put, these trees stink.

"This whole place smells like dead fish," says Sheila Titus. "I mean everywhere. Everywhere you see one of these trees with the white on them."

Titus has lived in her home in the now-hip neighborhood of Lawrenceville for 49 years. Two decades ago, her grandson and his 7th grade class planted a row of Callery pears across the street from her house.

There's more to Yellowstone National Park than meets the eye. Much more, as it turns out.

You might already know that a supervolcano dominates the famous park that is situated on land in Wyoming and Montana. A shallow subsurface magma chamber has long been known.

An incident that sparked tensions between the ideals of patriotism and free speech has culminated in a mass protest that shut down the campus of Valdosta State University in south Georgia on Friday.

According to several local media outlets, thousands of protesters from around the state flooded onto the college campus to fly American flags.

Sabeen Mahmud, a Pakistani social activist who ran Karachi's Second Floor cafe, was shot dead Friday by unknown gunmen in the port city.

The Dawn newspaper reports that Mahmud and her mother were on their way home from the cafe, known locally as T2F, at 9 p.m. local time when they were attacked. She died on her way to the hospital, the newspaper reported; doctors retrieved five bullets from her body. Her mother is in critical condition, the newspaper added.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that the U.S. epidemic of opioid abuse could lead to more severe outbreaks of HIV and hepatitis C nationally, much like the outbreak now seen in Indiana. A health advisory the agency released Friday outlines steps that state health departments and medical providers should take to minimize the risk of that happening.

Heads of state and thousands of guests traveled to the windswept shores of western Turkey on Friday to mark the 100th anniversary of one of World War I's most infamous battles. The Gallipoli campaign saw Ottoman forces, fighting under German command, repel an Allied attack led by Britain and France.

Nine months of fighting left a half-million dead and wounded on both sides. The Allies withdrew, setting in motion events that would leave the region forever changed.

The global battle against malaria, tuberculosis and other deadly diseases faces plenty of obstacles. Among them: a pandemic of fake and poor-quality medicines.

Indonesia has indicated that it is likely to execute the ringleaders of the so-called Bali Nine – a group of Australians held in the country after being convicted of drug smuggling in 2006.

Sexy, Simple, Satirical: 300 Years Of Picnics In Art

Apr 24, 2015

As the weather warms up, you might find yourself staring out an office window, daydreaming about what you'd rather be doing: lazing outdoors, perhaps, on a large blanket with a picnic bounty spread before you.

In fact, people have been fantasizing about picnics as a return to a simpler life pretty much since the dawn of urban living, says Walter Levy, author of The Picnic: A History.

Richard Corliss, the longtime film critic for Time, has died in New York, the magazine announced on its website. He was 71.

Corliss died Thursday night following a stroke he suffered a week ago, Time said. He is survived by his wife, Mary Corliss, and his brother Paul Corliss of New Jersey.

Time said Corliss, who reviewed films for the magazine for 35 years, "conveyed nothing so much as the sheer joy of watching movies — and writing about them.

Native American actors have walked off the set of an Adam Sandler movie that they say insults their culture.

Think back to the last time you got negative feedback — like when your doctor suggested you lay off the cigarettes or when your mother advised you to get rid of that ridiculous goatee.

Though we all understand the value of constructive criticism, we don't like hearing that we've done something wrong. And the knee-jerk reaction is to act defensive.

But if you focus on the big picture and future goals, you may be able to trick your mind into being a bit more receptive.

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