Let's talk next about a natural disaster. The many cities hit by hurricane Sandy included Hoboken, New Jersey. That city's mayor is ready to build walls to keep the water out next time, but that's a challenging proposition and the subject of today's business bottom line. Here's NPR's Joel Rose.
JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: Hoboken used to be an island, surrounded by the Hudson River on one side and tidal marshes on the other. By the 20th century, those wetlands were paved and developed. But after Hurricane Sandy, Hoboken was an island again.
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep.
The worst environmental disaster in American history is the subject of a trial that is beginning today. It's a big and complicated civil lawsuit stemming from the 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico - and, of course, the spill that followed that.
A drawing from a child sent to Newtown. Illustrator Ross MacDonald, who wants to archive and preserve art like this sent to the town after the elementary school shootings, calls it "both profoundly moving and just a beautiful piece of folk art."
Credit Courtesy of Ross MacDonald
Some of the many cards, letters and artwork sent to Newtown from all over the world was on display at the Newtown Municipal Center on Jan. 30. The items were recently moved to temporary storage.
Credit Kate Kunath / Courtesy of Ross MacDonald
Ross MacDonald, an illustrator in Newtown, Conn., has been documenting the letters and artwork. He describes the outpouring of grief the town has received on his blog and also here.
Two months after the massacre at an elementary school in Connecticut, letters, cards and gifts continue to arrive in Newtown each day, but the town is not sure what to do with it all.
The outpouring of grief started arriving just days after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School — poetry, stories, banners and posters. Soon the halls of Newtown's Municipal Center and buildings all over town were packed with messages from children and parents, from a soldier in Afghanistan and an inmate at a California prison.
Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 2:36 pm
If you like Argo (which won Best Picture), the movie Chicago (which made a couple of appearances) and jokes about women (which just kept coming), you probably had a substantially better night than the average viewer, who was subjected to Seth MacFarlane's delivery of one of the worst hosting performances in Oscar history.
Haven't had a chance to watch the Oscar-nominated documentary shorts? All Things Considered is here to help. In the week leading up to the Academy Awards, NPR's Audie Cornish talked with the directors of the five short films nominated for best documentary short.
The films tell a range of stories — about a preventable disease that's ravaging Africa and the quiet loneliness of Florida retirees, the vibrant art of a homeless teenager and the hard life of "canners," and finally a salon that helps women with cancer cope with their scars.
When Pope Benedict XVI said he was stepping down, he broke a tradition that had been in place since 1415. The pope, who gave his final blessing Sunday, leaves the Catholic Church in the midst of changing social views and demographic shifts among its followers.
Originally published on Sun February 24, 2013 10:59 pm
A big first for Danica Patrick, but an even bigger second for Jimmie Johnson.
Patrick made history out front at the Daytona 500, only to see five-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson reclaim his spot at the top in the end.
Johnson won his second Daytona 500 with a late push on Sunday, grabbing the spotlight from Patrick as she faded on the final lap. Patrick became the first woman in history to lead laps in "The Great American Race" and was running third on the last lap, but slipped to eighth in the late push for position.
For Terje Isungset, the cold weather in Washington, D.C., this week is no problem. The Norwegian musician was in town to perform as part of the Kennedy Center's "Nordic Cool" series, and he needed low temperatures to keep his instruments in good shape.
He has chimes, drums, a marimba and a "tube-ice" (like a tuba). They're all carved out of shimmering ice, harvested from the frozen lakes of Ottawa, Canada, and shipped to the Kennedy Center for an hour of melting music.
It's worth the effort, Isungset says, to get the perfect sound.
For centuries, Aramaic was the language of an entire empire. It was the language of Christ, of biblical scholars, and of the Middle East. And for that reason, Esho Joseph, a former translator for the Iraqi regime who now lives in the U.S., is saddened by its slow disappearance.
"This language ... is ... [of] historical importance," says Joseph, who grew up speaking the language. "... And now it ... [is], you know, dying. It is really painful."
Jimmie Johnson has won the Daytona 500, one day after crash during a race there injured fans. Danica Patrick, who was hoping to make history, finished eighth. Jacki Lyden gets the latest from NPR's Mike Pesca.
André Brink is one of the most well-known anti-apartheid writers in South Africa. His latest novel Philida, which was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, is set in 1832 in the South African Cape, just two years before emancipation.
The title character lodges a complaint against her master, Francois Brink, who is also the father of her four children. He'd promised her freedom, but then backs out and marries a wealthy white woman.
A new album by bluesman Corey Harris pays tribute to one Southern neighborhood with a particularly haunted past.
Fulton Blues is named for a district in Richmond, Va., that was once home to a large number of the city's middle class African-American families. But by the 1960s, Fulton had fallen on hard times. Its scenic views of the James River and easy access to downtown made it a target for "urban renewal," as it was euphemistically called in the Virginia Statehouse. The residents of Fulton were evicted and the neighborhood was razed.
A man inspects a plastic cover placed over an artwork attributed to Banksy in London. The stencilled image depicts a poor child making Union Jack flags on a sewing machine and is located on the wall of a Poundland discount shop in the Wood Green area of north London.
Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 8:01 am
With less than a week before the across-the-board-spending cuts go into effect, Republicans and Democrats are sounding off about the sequestration.
"There's easy ways [sic] to cut this money that the American people will never feel," Rep. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said on Fox News Sunday. "What you hear is an outrage because nobody wants to cut spending ... and it will be somewhat painful, but not cutting spending is going to be disastrous for our country."
Originally published on Sun February 24, 2013 11:08 am
We're getting word that Afghan President Hamid Karzai has ordered U.S. special forces to leave Wardak Province within two weeks amid allegation of torture and disappearances centering on Afghans who are part of the U.S. forces.
Update at 1:07 p.m. ET. Order Came After Report
NPR's Sean Carberry is reporting on the move for our Newscast unit. Here's what he says:
Paul C.P. McIlhenny reigns as Rex as he arrives at Canal Street during Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans on Feb. 28, 2006, six months after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city. McIlhenny, the CEO and chairman of the company that makes Tabasco sauce, died Saturday in New Orleans. He was 68.
"Benedict told the crowd that God is calling him to dedicate himself 'even more to prayer and meditation,' which he will do in a secluded monastery being renovated for him on the grounds behind Vatican City's ancient walls.
Weekend Edition Sunday host Rachel Martin speaks with NPR National Political correspondent Mara Liasson about the week in politics, including the looming spending cuts facing Congress and the administration's urging of the Supreme Court to strike down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act.
What would you do if your literary idol came to life — came into your life — and then you couldn't get rid of her? Violet Epps, heroine of the new novel Farewell, Dorothy Parker discovers being a fan isn't the same as being a roommate when Dorothy Parker's spirit rematerializes from an ancient Algonquin Hotel guestbook — and then follows her home.
Author Ellen Meister tells NPR's Rachel Martin that she first encountered Parker's work as a teenager.
Steven Callahan survived for 76 days adrift in an inflatable life raft. This 2002 photo shows Callahan with an improved life raft he designed after his ordeal. While enduring shark attacks, rain and helpless drifting, Callahan dreamed of a better survival vessel. Once he returned to land, he spent almost two decades designing this one, featuring a rigid exterior, a removable canopy and a sail.
Credit Twentieth Century Fox
Callahan helped actor Suraj Sharma, who played Pi in the film, to convey the psychological distress of being stranded at sea.
In Life of Pi, one of the nine Oscar nominees for Best Picture this year, a boy suffers a shipwreck and is lost at sea. It's a fictional story, of course, based on a novel, but director Ang Lee nevertheless wanted the movie to have depth and realism. But how do you add a realistic edge to someone drifting alone in the sea? For most people, even those in the imaginative business of movie-making, it's hard to picture the perils and isolation of months without rescue.
Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 9:40 am
Michael Dirda's latest book is On Conan Doyle.
When I was a boy growing up in the working-class steel town of Lorain, Ohio, I used to ride my beloved Roadmaster bicycle to the branch library. Located in the Plaza Shopping Center, this former storefront was just around the corner from the W.T. Grant's and Merit Shoes. Inside there were perhaps six small tables, a couple of reading chairs, the librarian's checkout desk, and light oak bookshelves along three walls. There can't have been more than one- or two-thousand books.
Cranes fly at sunset above the Hula Valley of northern Israel in January. Millions of birds pass through the area as they migrate south every winter from Europe and Asia to Africa. Some now stay in the Hula Valley for the entire winter.
Credit Menahem Kahana / AFP/Getty Images
Tens of thousands of cranes stayed this winter in the Hula Valley in northern Israel instead of migrating to Africa, taking advantage of the restored wetlands.
Like many countries, Israel tried to drain many of its swamplands, then realized it was destroying wildlife habitats. So the country reversed course, and has been restoring the wetlands of the Hula Valley in the north.
The effort has had a huge and rather noisy payoff. Unlike many birding sites, where the creatures take off when you approach them, you can practically touch the cranes that inhabit the Hula Valley.
Stephanos Mwange, a Greek-born citizen of Ugandan descent, says his love for Greek history and mythology have inspired him to act ancient Greek tragedies such as Hecuba. He's a well-known actor, though his positive experience as a naturalized Greek citizen is exceptional. Most from a similar background say they've been made to feel like foreigners.
Credit Courtesy of Myrto Papadopoulos
A young couple is framed by Greek flags while watching Antonis Samaras, now the country's prime minister, speak at a campaign rally last June. Samaras wants to dismantle a law making it easier for second-generation Greeks to obtain citizenship.
Credit Joanna Kakissis / NPR
Jackie Abhulimen, 21, was born in Athens to a Kenyan mother and a Nigerian father and has lived here all her life. In Greek history books, she says, "the foreigner is always viewed as something negative, something threatening."
John Kerry sets off Sunday on his first foreign trip as secretary of state, visiting Europe and the Middle East.
One dominant theme of the trip will be how to resolve the crisis in Syria, where an estimated 70,000 people have been killed over the past two years. Kerry is portraying his trip as a listening tour, and he expects to hear a lot about Syria.
He told reporters recently that he wants to talk with U.S. allies about how to persuade Bashar Assad to agree on peace talks that would end the Syrian leader's bloody rule in Syria.