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All Tech Considered
12:47 pm
Sat September 14, 2013

Musical Robots Take The Stage For Harmony, Not Domination

Stickboy, Compressorhead's four-armed drummer rocks out in front of thousands of fans at the Big Day Out music festival.
Shar Try ekto23

Originally published on Sun September 15, 2013 12:38 pm

Robots aren't taking over the planet yet, but they are doing jobs in more and more places: hospitals and offices, movie sets and battlefields. They're making a mark in the world of music, as well.

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The Two-Way
12:17 pm
Sat September 14, 2013

Costa Concordia Salvage Operation To Begin Monday

Work at the wreckage of the Costa Concordia continues through the night Sept. 14, off the Italian island of Giglio. The Costa Concordia is due to be righted, in a project set to begin Monday.
Marco Secchi Getty Images

Originally published on Sat September 14, 2013 1:25 pm

A complicated salvage operation is set to begin Monday at the site of the Costa Concordia, the luxury cruise ship that ran aground off Italy in 2012. Even if it succeeds, it will be a long time before things return to normal on the island of Giglio, where the ship wrecked last January.

A large team has gathered to try to move the wreck of the ship, which measures 952 feet in length and weighs more than 114,000 tons. NPR's Sylvia Poggioli filed this report for our Newscast unit:

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Parallels
12:11 pm
Sat September 14, 2013

Cold War Flashback? Vienna Villa Alleged To Be NSA Post

The villa that allegedly belongs to the NSA in Vienna. News outlets, the government and opposition parties are battling it out over allegations that the stately villa in a leafy Vienna district served as a sophisticated a U.S. intelligence listening post keeping tabs on most of Vienna.
Hans Punz AP

For fans of Cold War-era spy stories, Vienna carries a certain allure — as seen in this YouTube video with scenes from the classic film The Third Man.

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It's All Politics
11:23 am
Sat September 14, 2013

How 'J-Lho' May Keep Democrats Out Of New York Mayor's Office

Joe Lhota, the Republican nominee for mayor of New York City, is former head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Sun September 15, 2013 9:25 am

Republican Joe Lhota wants to be the next mayor of New York.

His odds are long — Democrats outnumber Republicans 6-to-1 in a city President Obama won in 2012 with 81 percent of the vote.

But Democrats have been out of the mayoral office since 1994, when Republican Rudy Giuliani was elected, followed by Republican-turned-Independent-turned-Big-Gulp-banner Michael Bloomberg.

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All Tech Considered
9:28 am
Sat September 14, 2013

Will New iPhone Colors Create A Hierarchy Among Users?

The new iPhone 5c is displayed during an Apple product announcement Tuesday in Cupertino, Calif.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

After Apple's announcement this week, choosing which iPhone to buy won't be such a black-and-white decision.

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Code Switch
9:13 am
Sat September 14, 2013

At Fashion Week, Color Pops And Models Call For Diversity

Marc Jacobs is among the designers who were named by the Diversity Coalition for not having enough models of color on the runway.
Emmanuel Dunand AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat September 14, 2013 12:40 pm

Color continued to be a big deal on the New York runways during Fashion Week this week, but almost all the color was represented by the clothes being showcased in the new collections and not the models wearing them.

That lack of diversity has been a perennial problem in the fashion industry — at home and abroad — for at least the past 15 years. And while there may be an Asian or Hispanic girl from time to time (in this industry, everyone is a "girl"), discernibly black girls get token representation if they get it at all.

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The Two-Way
8:51 am
Sat September 14, 2013

Japan Uses Laptops, Cost-Cutting To Launch Rocket Into Space

Japan's new solid-fuel rocket lifts off from the launch pad at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Uchinoura Space Center in Kimotsuki, Kagoshima prefecture, on Japan's southern island of Kyushu Saturday.
Jiji Press AFP/Getty Images

Japan has sent a space telescope into orbit, as its new Epsilon rocket delivered its payload Saturday. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency says the successful launch is a step toward its goal "to lower hurdles to space" by simplifying rocket launches and making them more affordable. The launch was reportedly done via laptop.

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The Two-Way
7:08 am
Sat September 14, 2013

Bookless Public Library Opens In Texas

An artist's rendering shows computer stations at the new BiblioTech bookless public library in Bexar County, Texas. The library is holding its grand opening Saturday.
Courtesy of Bexar County

Originally published on Mon September 16, 2013 1:02 pm

An all-digital public library is opening today, as officials in Bexar County, Texas, celebrate the opening of the BiblioTech library. The facility offers about 10,000 free e-books for the 1.7 million residents of the county, which includes San Antonio.

On its website, the Bexar County BiblioTech library explains how its patrons can access free eBooks and audio books. To read an eBook on their own device, users must have the 3M Cloud Library app, which they can link to their library card.

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The Two-Way
5:25 am
Sat September 14, 2013

Colorado Gets Brief Break From Flood Warnings; Rain Is Forecast

Samantha Kinzig of Longmont, Colo., and her daughter Isabel, 5, took a close look at a damaged bridge in Longmont Friday. Heavy rains that fueled widespread flooding in numerous Colorado towns have eased, but forecasters predict more on Saturday and Sunday.
Marc Piscotty Getty Images

Originally published on Sat September 14, 2013 11:17 am

The rains that brought severe flooding to parts of northern and central Colorado have eased, allowing people a chance to regroup before more rain comes, possibly as soon as Saturday afternoon. Thousands of residents have been displaced by the flooding, from Fort Collins in the north to Colorado Springs in the south, since waters hit dangerous levels Wednesday.

The floods have been blamed for four deaths, as the Two-Way reported Friday.

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The Two-Way
3:13 am
Sat September 14, 2013

U.S. And Russia Form A Plan On Syria's Chemical Weapons

Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced a plan to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons arsenal from Geneva on Saturday.
Larry Downing AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat September 14, 2013 8:06 am

Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart have reached a deal that calls for Syria to destroy all of its chemical weapons. The plan, which Kerry announced in a news conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva on Saturday, gives Syria a week to detail its chemical arsenal.

"The world will now expect the Assad regime to live up to its public commitments," Kerry said. "And as I said at the outset of these negotiations, there can be no games, no room for avoidance, or anything less than full compliance by the Assad regime."

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National Security
2:47 am
Sat September 14, 2013

Medea Benjamin's Anti-War Activism: Wearing Pink, Seeing Red

A Code Pink protester holds up a red-painted hand behind Secretary of State John Kerry as he testifies on Capitol Hill on Sept. 4 about possible military strikes on Syria.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Mon September 23, 2013 6:49 am

As the Obama administration made its case for military action in Syria, one of the loudest voices in opposition came from Medea Benjamin, the co-founder of Code Pink.

You may not know her by name, but if you follow national politics, you've no doubt seen her work.

At the House Foreign Affairs Committee earlier this month, for instance, as Secretary of State John Kerry made the case for a military strike in Syria, Medea Benjamin sat behind him, holding up her hands, painted bright red.

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NPR Story
2:22 am
Sat September 14, 2013

Diplomats Sing For Peace

Originally published on Sat September 14, 2013 6:28 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

In the midst of international crisis and consternation this week, five U.N. diplomats stepped onto the stage at the United Nations headquarters to sing.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)

CHORUS: (Singing) Many people, one world...

SIMON: From Romania, Canada, Cape Verde and Costa Rica, we've got the singing ambassadors with us to tell us about their new CD, "Ambassadors Sing for Peace." Thank you very much for being with us.

AMBASSADOR GUILLERMO RISHCHYNSKI: Our pleasure.

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NPR Story
2:22 am
Sat September 14, 2013

Colorado Voters Recall Two Gun Control Backers

Originally published on Sat September 14, 2013 6:28 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Another Colorado story now. Gun control advocates had hoped that last year's shootings in Newtown, Connecticut and Aurora, Colorado might move more Americans to call for stricter gun laws. Gun control measures ground down in the U.S. Congress but some states did pass legislation, including Colorado. Yet this past week, Colorado voters recalled two lawmakers who had backed the legislation.

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NPR Story
2:22 am
Sat September 14, 2013

Rescue Operations Underway In Flooded Colorado

Originally published on Sat September 14, 2013 6:28 am

Heavy rain and flooding have destroyed scores of communities, with at least four people dead. While the rain had let up a little, more is expected Saturday.

Author Interviews
11:58 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

McMillan 'Asks' Readers To Empathize With A Family's Problems

Terry McMillan is the best-selling author of Waiting to Exhale and How Stella Got Her Groove Back
Matthew Jordan Smith Courtesy of Penguin Group USA

Originally published on Sat September 14, 2013 6:28 am

Terry McMillan weaves together different voices, generations, races and surprises in her latest novel, Who Asked You?. It's a family story that revolves around Betty Jean — known as BJ — a woman who worked as a Los Angeles maid and raised three kids. Her husband is now retired and suffers from Alzheimer's and her children have grown up in radically different ways. One son, Dexter, is in prison. Another son, Quentin, is a successful chiropractor who has had multiple marriages, pointedly lives out of town and wants little contact with his family.

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Architecture
11:57 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

In Los Angeles, Showcasing A City That Might Have Been

Pereira and Luckman, Los Angeles International Airport Original Plan, 1952
LAWA Flight Path Learning Center

Originally published on Sat September 14, 2013 5:52 pm

A museum exhibit about buildings that don't exist might not sound all that exciting. But the Architecture & Design Museum in Los Angeles has had its crowds grow to 10 times their normal level for a show called Never Built: Los Angeles. It's on through Oct. 13 – and it's all about projects that were imagined for the city but never constructed.

Let's start with one of the most high-profile: a 1968 proposal that would've dramatically altered the profile of Mount Hollywood.

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Middle East
11:54 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

In Syria Debate, Obama's Internal Dialogue Becomes Audible

President Obama's speeches about Syria have at times seemed to reveal his own internal struggle on the topic.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Sat September 14, 2013 1:21 pm

A surprise agreement between the U.S. and Russia, announced Saturday, calls for Syria to destroy all of its chemical weapons by mid-2014. The deal follows a chaotic week of seat-of-the-pants foreign policy.

Performing on the international stage, Obama and his Cabinet secretaries have offered up one plot twist after another, though it often seems as if the actors are working without a script.

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Around the Nation
11:53 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

For Wounded Vets, Climbing Half Dome Only Half The Mission

At base camp, Timmy O'Neill, gives instructions to volunteers and veterans participating in the week's hiking and climbing activities.
David P Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Sat September 14, 2013 9:50 am

Timmy O'Neill is guiding Steve Baskis through ancient yellow pines that almost touch the sky. They're hiking all day to base camp in California's Yosemite National Park, 2,000 feet up in Little Yosemite Valley.

Taking Baskis by the hand, O'Neill traces the distant ridge of Half Dome, a bald rock rising almost a mile from the valley floor. That's tomorrow's challenge.

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Music News
9:03 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Barbez Mines Resistance And Tradition Of Italian Jews

New York musician Dan Kaufman (third from right) traveled to Rome to learn more about the city's Jewish community and the Italian resistance during WWII. The result is a new album by his band Barbez, based in part on the lost melodies of Roman Jewish music.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sat September 14, 2013 6:28 am

The unique musical traditions of Rome's ancient Jewish community were almost lost for good. Now, those melodies are being revived — not by musicologists, but by a rock band based in New York.

"I fell in love with the melodies, and I started to re-imagine them for my band in our own style," says Dan Kaufman, guitarist and leader of the Brooklyn band Barbez.

The Tradition

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The Two-Way
1:52 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Social Security Wrongfully Paid $1.3 Billion In Disability

People line up outside of the Social Security Administration office in San Francisco, in February of 2005.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

The Government Accountability Office says that the Social Security Administration made about $1.3 billion in payments over two years to about 36,000 people who were believed to be working, while claiming they were disabled.

The GAO arrived at this number by comparing names on the National Directory of New Hires and people on disability insurance.

While $1.3 billion sounds like a whole lot of money, keep in mind that this only represents less than 1 percent of all the disability benefits paid by the agency.

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Environment
1:38 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Spy Drones Turning Up New Data About Hurricanes And Weather

A Global Hawk unmanned aircraft comes in for a landing at the Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Va., on Sept. 7, 2012, after studying Hurricane Leslie. The remotely controlled planes can stay in the air for as long as 28 hours and fly over hurricanes at altitudes of more than 60,000 feet.
NASA

Originally published on Fri September 13, 2013 1:57 pm

For several weeks now, two unmanned spy planes have been flying over the Atlantic on an unusual mission: gathering intelligence about tropical storms and hurricanes.

The two Global Hawk drones are a central part of NASA's five-year HS3 (Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel) Mission investigating why certain weather patterns become hurricanes, and why some hurricanes grow into monster storms.

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Shots - Health News
1:23 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Synthetic Marijuana Prompts Colorado Health Investigation

A sign outside a medical marijuana dispensary in Manitou Springs, Colo. Voters amended the state's constitution to legalize marijuana for recreational use in November 2012.
Eric Whitney

Originally published on Mon September 16, 2013 12:58 pm

More than 150 people are now believed to have been sickened by synthetic marijuana in Colorado, which legalized recreational use of real pot last November. Three people may have died.

State and federal investigators are scrambling to identify the exact source of the illnesses. The state health department has named about a dozen illicit products, often sold as "incense," that it believes are responsible for at least some of the illnesses. The stuff goes by names like "Spice," "Crazy Clown" and "Dead Man Walking."

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Shots - Health News
1:04 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

After Disasters, DNA Science Is Helpful, But Often Too Pricey

A Thai medic checks bodies for forensic identity in Phang Nga province in southern of Thailand on Jan. 11, 2005. Thousands of people were killed in Thailand after a massive tsunami struck on Dec. 26, 2004.
Pornchai Kittiwongsakul AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri September 13, 2013 2:32 pm

Human DNA is the ultimate fingerprint. A single hair can contain enough information to determine someone's identity — a feature that's been invaluable for identifying the unnamed casualties of natural disasters and war. But forensic scientists who use DNA say the technology isn't always available where it's most needed, like in poor countries, or in war zones like Syria.

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Code Switch
1:04 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

East LA Homegirl Goes Hollywood

Evangeline Ordaz (center) stands with teens from Legacy LA who were her script consultants and extras for East Los High. From left: Rebecca Hernandez, Brenda Flores, Ordaz, Wesley Michua, Marlene Arazo.
Mandalit del Barco NPR

Evangeline Ordaz is no ordinary Hollywood show runner. When she's not teaching constitutional law or rehabbing historic buildings, she's writing for a racy soap opera about Latino teens in East Los Angeles. East Los High was a big summer success for the TV-on-demand website Hulu, and much of the credit for keeping the show real goes to its multitalented main writer.

Ordaz was born and bred in East Los Angeles — East Los, as it's known. She still lives there, and you can hear the neighborhood cadence in her voice.

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It's All Politics
12:35 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Vote For The Creature From The Black Lagoon

Originally published on Fri September 13, 2013 4:36 pm

How do you break out of the pack if you're in a mayoral race with dozens of other candidates?

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The Two-Way
12:33 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Police Start Clearing Zocalo Of Striking Mexican Teachers

General view of the Zocalo of Mexico City, on September 2, 2013, while thousands of teachers camp in protest against the new education law passed by the Congress.
Ronaldo Schemidt AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri September 13, 2013 2:06 pm

This post was last updated at 6:58 p.m. ET.

Riot police moved into Mexico City's Zocalo Plaza on Friday to remove thousands of striking teachers from the historic square.

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Europe
12:05 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Off The Tuscan Coast, Raising The Ill-Fated Costa Concordia

An aerial view taken on Aug. 23 shows the Costa Concordia as it lies on its side next to Giglio Island. The wrecked cruise ship will be rolled off the seabed and onto underwater platforms.
Alessandro Bianchi Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri September 13, 2013 3:29 pm

Weather permitting, one of the largest maritime salvage operations ever attempted will get underway Monday in the waters off of an Italian island.

Twenty months ago, in January 2012, the Costa Concordia luxury liner smashed into a jagged reef, killing 32 people. Since then, the vessel has being lying on its side — an unsightly wreck visible for miles around.

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NPR Story
12:05 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Another Week Of College Football, And Yet Another Scandal

Originally published on Fri September 13, 2013 1:04 pm

It's another week of college football and yet another scandal, this time at Oklahoma State, the subject of a five part investigative story by Sports Illustrated involving athletes taking cash from coaches, sex, and drugs. Sportswriter Stefan Fatsis joins Audie Cornish to talk about that and the ultra-hyped big game between Alabama, the defending national champion and Texas A&M, home of the most polarizing player in college football, quarterback Johnny Manziel.

NPR Story
12:05 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Kerry And Lavrov Turn Focus To Setting Up Peace Conference

Originally published on Fri September 13, 2013 1:04 pm

The US and Russia continue talks on the proposed transfer of Syria's chemical weapons arsenal to UN control.

The Two-Way
11:59 am
Fri September 13, 2013

Hong Kong Bans Shark Fin At Official Functions

This file picture taken on January 2, 2013 shows shark fins drying on the roof of a factory building in Hong Kong.
Antony Dickson AFP/Getty Images

Shark fin will no longer be included on the menus of official government functions in Hong Kong, the country said in a press release on Friday.

"No shark fin, bluefin tuna or black moss will be on the menu at official entertainment functions," the government said. "The items have aroused international and local concern because they are either captured or harvested in ecologically unfriendly or unsustainable ways, or cause other conservation concerns."

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