Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:
Originally published on Sat January 5, 2013 9:59 am
LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:
The end of football is in sight, so what to do with that couch? What about another classic rivalry? An old fashioned spy versus spy Cold War drama?
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE AMERICANS")
MATTHEW RHYS: (as Phillip) Super secret spies living next door. They look like us, they speak better English than we do. According to Misha, they're not allowed to say a single word in Russian once they get here. I mean, come on. Someone's been reading too many spy novels. Talking figment of the imagination.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, good afternoon everybody. Welcome to the White House.
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At a news conference earlier this week, President Obama tried to put pressure on Republicans and federal budget negotiations. The president said he would not accept spending cuts from Republicans without some tax increases. Then he used a phrase that raised a few eyebrows.
In Pakistan, there's a cafe called the Second Floor. It's listed in a local Karachi social blog as one of the coolest cafes in town. Since it opened its doors five years ago, it's become a haven in a city more known for its violence than its civil discourse. NPR's Dina Temple-Raston paid a visit.
DINA TEMPLE-RASTON, BYLINE: The artwork on the front stoop of the Second Floor Cafe in Karachi says it all.
SABEEN MAHMUD: I wanted something right at the entrance...
It's hard to tell whether the ongoing conflict in Eastern Congo is a battle between rival ethnic groups or a fight for resources. There are so many militant groups in Eastern Congo with so many shifting alliances and demands. But a tiny ethnic minority in Congo has been at the center of this conflict for the past 20 years. NPR's Gregory Warner tells their story from the Eastern Congoli city of Goma.
The Death of Bees is a story about two young girls living in a Glasgow, Scotland, housing project. And if you believe the first sentences of a novel are often the most difficult to write, try this beginning paragraph:
"Today is Christmas Eve. Today is my birthday. Today I am fifteen. Today I buried my parents in the backyard.
Foreign buyers are pushing the prices of prime London real estate through the roof. Neighborhoods such as West London, Kensington and Chelsea are particularly popular.
The apartments at One Hyde Park have been mostly purchased by foreign-registered buyers, according to The Guardian. It said the prices ranged from 3 million to 136 million British pounds ($4.9 million to $221 million).
Few Western countries are as conservative about home ownership as Germany, where less than half the country's citizens own property.
German banks have tough lending rules. Would-be buyers are usually asked to provide hefty down payments to secure mortgages, meaning few Germans even think about buying a home until they are settled and financially secure.
But the European debt crisis appears to be changing the traditions around home ownership. The resulting surge in homebuying, some officials warn, is driving prices too high and threatens the nation's economy.
Vice President Joe Biden leads the first meeting of the working group to explore solutions following the Newtown shooting with Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey and other law enforcement leaders on Dec. 20.
Credit Drew Angerer / Getty Images
Vice President Joe Biden arrives for a closed-door meeting with Senate Democrats to urge them to support a fiscal cliff deal on Monday.
This week saw both a frantic finale to the much-unloved 112th Congress and, hours later, the swearing in of the new 113th. The cast of lawmakers and their leaders is mostly unchanged. The same can be said for Capitol Hill's never-ending drama over taxes, deficits and spending.
What was arguably this week's most sensational congressional moment did not even take place in Washington. On Wednesday in Trenton, N.J., Republican Gov. Chris Christie blasted the GOP-led House for closing down the last Congress without even considering a Superstorm Sandy disaster relief bill.
The latest figures show December was another month of steady, moderate job growth. But for many people still struggling with long-term unemployment, the situation hasn't actually changed much at all.
For Alecia Warthen, the last eight months have been painfully stagnant.
She was the first person in her family to finish college, after growing up in one of the roughest sections of Brooklyn. She had earned an accounting degree and worked as a bookkeeper for most of the last decade.
Originally published on Sat January 5, 2013 2:12 pm
An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.5 hit off the coast of southeastern Alaska just before midnight local time Friday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The USGS initially reported the event as a magnitude 7.7 quake.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says sea level readings indicate the quake caused a tsunami. "It may have been destructive along coasts near the earthquake epicenter," a NOAA report said.
On the tough side of Terpsichore Street in New Orleans stands a duplex — a two-story, wood-framed building with wood floors, high ceilings and a nice fireplace. But this old house is empty: no furniture, no walls, no electricity, no toilet. Iron bars hide the windows; there's a lockbox on the door. The facade is three different shades of blecch, blurgh and blah.
Old Aristocracy Hill isn't a part of Springfield, Ill., that draws a lot of attention. The quiet neighborhood dates back to before the Civil War, its historic homes now carefully preserved by proud business owners.
But outside a stately funeral home, a large black-and-chrome Harley Davidson motorcycle trike pulls out of the parking lot, towing a matching casket in its glass-sided trailer.
It's not something you would expect to see, but it's exactly what 67-year-old Lew Bird says his friend Dave Rondelli wanted: one last ride.
Originally published on Fri January 4, 2013 8:31 pm
For 15 years, an Icelandic teenager has been called her given name, Blaer Bjarkardottir, by everyone except government employees and other officials. That's because "Blaer" (reportedly Icelandic for "light breeze") isn't on a list of government-approved names for girls.
So, in school and at the bank, she is often addressed as "stulka" — "girl" — before she explains the situation.
President Obama leaves the Oval Office early Wednesday after the House passed legislation to retain tax breaks for most Americans, let tax rates rise for the wealthiest, and delay action on mandatory spending cuts.
Originally published on Wed January 9, 2013 10:14 am
Fiscal cliff week has mercifully ended with a deal done, hurricane relief approved, President Obama vacationing, and both parties bickering internally over what was won — and lost — in the early hours of the new year.
What we have found most intriguing is the vigorous post-facto wrestling within the liberal community over what the fiscal cliff negotiations say about President Obama.
Hugo Chavez has dominated Venezuela for so long that it's hard to imagine what the country would be like without him in charge. Opposition leaders are hoping for a new, more democratic system. But powerful factions in Venezuela want things to stay just as they are. Because the country is a key player in the region, NPR's Tom Gjelten says the U.S. is now making its own plans for life after Chavez.
Crowdsourced review sites like Yelp can be just the trick for finding a great restaurant or avoiding a bad one.
But when it comes to finding a good doctor, there still aren't enough reviews on sites that rank doctors to make them reliable, a study of urologists' ratings suggests.
Urologists averaged just 2.4 reviews on the big online doctor rating sites like Healthgrades.com, Vitals.com and RateMDs.com. The paltry number of participants means that one cranky patient's complaint — or a rave from one doctor's relative --can skew a rating.
Coptic Christians will celebrate Christmas on Monday, and many will do so outside their native Egypt. Since the revolution there, their future in the country has looked uncertain, and many are resettling in the United States.
Their population in the U.S. may have grown by nearly 30 percent, according to rough estimates. One church that has felt its membership swell with new arrivals from Egypt is in the Queens borough of New York. St. Mary and St. Antonios Coptic Orthodox Church boasts more than 1,000 families, says the Rev. Michael Sorial.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And I'm Audie Cornish. Scientists throughout the west are investigating a mysterious disappearance. Mule deer are vanishing. In Colorado, Wyoming and Utah, populations are half what they were in the 1970s. From Aspen Public Radio, Luke Runyon reports on some possible reasons.
President Obama may be going into the next big budget fight without his long-time treasury secretary. Timothy Geithner had been planning to leave before the start of the president's second term, but that would mean he is departing with the debt ceiling still looming and the Treasury scrambling to keep up with the government's bills.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
NPR's Scott Horsley joins us now. And, Scott, Secretary Geithner has made no secret of his plans to leave the government, but it sounds like his departure could be complicated.
The first key to thinking about 3-D printers is this: Do not think printer. Think magic box that creates any object you can imagine.
In the box, razor-thin layers of powdered material (acrylic, nylon, silver, whatever) pile one on top of the other, and then, voila — you've got a shoe, or a cup, or a ring, or an iPhone case.
It's miraculous to see. Press a button, make anything you want. But just how important is 3-D printing? Unlike earlier big-deal technologies (like, say, the tractor) 3-D printing won't really replace what came before.