Voters in Germany's most populous state, North Rhine Westphalia, have delivered a major blow to the ruling party, the Christian Democrats, led by Chancellor Angela Merkel. Weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz talks with Michael Kolz, the chief political reporter for German station Phoenix, about why the results in North Rhine Westphalia matter and what they mean for the left-wing Social Democrats.
One week ago today, an enormous chalkboard popped up on a busy street here in Washington, D.C. And at the very top corner painted in huge letters, just three words: Before I Die. The board was like a magnet to passersby to write their greatest wishes, their wildest dreams, the things they want to accomplish before they die. Think of it as a crowd-sourced bucket list.
In 2002, Rafe Sagarin was working in Washington, D.C., as a science adviser. It wasn't long after the Sept. 11 attacks, and Sagarin started paying attention to the security measures on Capitol Hill.
"I'd watch these other Capitol Hill staffers and I noticed that they'd just put their hand over the keys in their pockets so they didn't have to waste 30 seconds putting it on the conveyer belt though the security screening — and that didn't set off the alarm when they did that," Sagarin tells host of weekend All Things Considered Guy Raz.
Zimbabwe's government has exercised control over most of the media. Here, workers sort out copies of The Daily News, one of the few independent newspapers. It was allowed to reopen in March 2011 after being shut down for years because it was critical of the government.
Credit Jekesai Njikizana / AFP/Getty Images
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe is the focus of attention in the state-run media. He is shown here in February in Mutare, speaking at a rally marking his 88th birthday.
Weekends on All Things Considered continues its "Why Music Matters" series with stories of music fans, told in their own words. Today's story is about Amy O'Neal, a choreographer who took on the challenge of dancing in complete silence.
Host Rachel Martin talks with NPR's national political correspondent Mara Liasson about Mitt Romney's commencement address and the dominant political story of the past week: President Obama's public endorsement of same-sex marriage.
It's graduation season at colleges and universities around the country. And just as Mitt Romney addressed the students at Liberty University, other prominent politicians, entertainers and leaders are joining in that celebrated tradition. Here now, we present a composite commencement address for the class of 2012, drawn from some famous voices over the years.
(SOUNDBITE OF COMMENCEMENT SPEECHES)
PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY: Board of trustees, distinguished guests...
For more on the Yemen bomb plot and what it tells us about U.S. intelligence operations, we're joined by Philip Mudd, former deputy at the CIA's Counterterrorism Center. He's now a senior research fellow with the New America Foundation here in Washington. He joins us in studio.
Egypt, under ousted President Hosni Mubarak, was one of America's closest intelligence partners in the Middle East. And U.S. officials are watching this month's presidential election in Egypt very carefully.
A one-time leader of the Muslim Brotherhood is emerging as a leading candidate. He's considered a moderate Islamist who appeals to secular as well as religious Egyptians.
But, as we hear from reporter Merrit Kennedy in Cairo, the candidate is walking a fine line trying to stay true to his agenda.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News, I'm Rachel Martin.
On the same day that President Obama announced that he's had a change of heart and now publicly supports same-sex marriage, there were quieter moves on Capitol Hill to protect the rights of some who do not.
On Wednesday, the House Armed Services Committee passed its version of a bill designed, in part, to protect military chaplains from coming under pressure to marry service members of the same sex.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
MARTIN: If life is a ball game, then Mike Pesca is the guy behind home plate helping us sort out the check swings from the foul balls. He is, of course, NPR's sports correspondent and our guide to the fascinating intersections between life and sports. He joins us, as he does every week. Hey, Mike.
MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Hey. Every once in a while you could foul a ball off a check swing.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gets questioned about her political future wherever she goes. She says she plans to get off the "high-wire" of politics after she wraps up her tenure as secretary of state, but her trips sometimes feel like she's campaigning — for America's image and for her own legacy. NPR's Michele Kelemen has this behind-the-scenes reporter's notebook of Clinton's most recent swing through Asia.
Syrian President Bashar Assad's government has waged a two-pronged campaign against the opposition, critics say. His military continues to fight, while nonviolent activists are being detained in increasing numbers, according to monitoring groups.
Credit Yin Bogu / Xinhua/Landov
While fighting continues in Syria, the government has been detaining many nonviolent activists, according to monitoring groups. Here, Syrian soldiers are shown on a bridge in Damascus last November.
President Bashar Assad's regime has launched a new and sweeping arrest campaign of opposition activists and intellectuals in the past few weeks, according to Western analysts and diplomats.
The growing tally of arrests has gone largely unnoticed, overshadowed by the daily violence that threatens to jeopardize the U.N. peace plan. But in combination, both are undermining the already faint hopes of peace.
Credit Tyrone Turner / Copyright 2012 National Geographic
Conservator Angelyn Bass cleans and stabilizes the surface of a wall of a Mayan house that dates to the ninth century. The figure of a man who may have been the town scribe appears on the wall to her left.
Credit Illustration by William Saturno and David Stuart / Copyright 2012 National Geographic
Four long numbers on the north wall of the ruined house relate to the Mayan calendar and computations about the moon, sun and possibly Venus and Mars; the dates stretch some 7,000 years into the future.
Credit Tyrone Turner / Copyright 2012 National Geographic
The painted figure of a man — possibly a scribe who once lived in the house built by the ancient Maya — is illuminated through a doorway to the dwelling, in northeastern Guatemala. The structure represents the first Mayan house found to contain artwork on its walls.
Archaeologists working in one of the most impenetrable rain forests in Guatemala have stumbled on a remarkable discovery: a room full of wall paintings and numerical calculations.
The buried room apparently was a workshop used by scribes or astronomers working for a Mayan king. The paintings depict the king and members of his court. The numbers mark important periods in the Mayan calendar.
After spending much of the year on the rise, gas prices are now falling. The average price for a gallon of regular gas nationwide is $3.73, according to AAA. That's a drop of nearly 20 cents in one month, and industry analysts expect the price to keep falling.
You can get in a lot trouble trying to predict commodity prices, though. Phil Flynn, a market analyst at futures brokerage PFGBEST in Chicago, says there is one thing you can predict.
California's Legislative Analyst's Office said the latest proposal to build a $68.4 billion high-speed train system is still too vague and the state legislature should not approve funding it for it this year.
Mitt Romney delivers the keynote address at Liberty University's commencement ceremony in Lynchburg, Va., on Saturday. In his speech, Romney told students that "marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman."
President Obama's support for same-sex marriage has been a hot topic this week. After he announced his position during an ABC News interview Wednesday, it's been difficult for pundits, the media and the public to focus on much else, especially since the news came on the heels of North Carolina's approval of a ban on same-sex marriage.
From NPR News, it's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Guy Raz.
For three days now, Mitt Romney's campaign has tried to steer the national conversation back to the economy. But the pressure to respond to President Obama's announcement in support of gay marriage has been intense. And this morning at a speech to students at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, Romney definitively spoke out.
MITT ROMNEY: Marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman.