When Katherine Marsh was a young girl, she was mesmerized by the dwarfs of Diego Velazquez's paintings. Years later, that obsession inspired Jepp, Who Defied the Stars, her latest novel for young adults.
Marsh joins NPR's Guy Raz to discuss her book, which is rooted in history, yet speckled with fantasy. It carries her readers to the Spanish Netherlands in the late 16th century to tell the coming-of-age story of Jepp of Astraveld.
In the new movie Lincoln, actor Daniel Day-Lewis is getting a lot of attention for his spot-on portrayal of the 16th president. But Ben Burtt, the sound designer, also deserves credit for the film's authenticity. You may not know his name, but you surely know his work.
Burtt is something of a legend in the movie sound world. He has won numerous Oscars, including for his work on Star Wars.
Burtt invented that iconic swoosh of the light saber, using the hum of an old projector and the buzz of a television set.
Originally published on Sat November 10, 2012 4:56 pm
A day after the story broke, the news remains stunning — CIA director and retired Gen. David Petraeus resigns in a lightning stroke, admitting he used extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair.
It's shocking because Petraeus is considered an extremely able leader who's been judged by this single word, says NPR's Tom Bowman: Iraq.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. In parts of New York and New Jersey, life is returning to the way it was before Hurricane Sandy hit. Power has been restored. Schools have reopened. But there are still thousands of people without electricity and areas where homes are unlivable. This is the case of New Jersey's barrier islands. Yesterday, residents of Seaside Heights returned to their homes for the first time since the storm struck.
Scott Gurian of New Jersey Public Radio was with them and filed this report.
With his election victory behind him, President Obama now turns his focus to planning his second term. He again faces a divided Congress - a Republican-controlled House and a Senate led by Democrats. But a second term presents an opportunity for the president try to set a new agenda and maybe change his approach to governing.
This is Weekend Edition from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Time for sports.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
SIMON: The NFL season at the half-way point. Big game this weekend. Sunday, tomorrow night, two 7-1 teams in a classic face-off. Ha-ha. One of them's the Bears. In college football, Notre Dame and Kansas State are in the top 5. What is this, 1997? And the L.A. Lakers send their coach packing. Are they already chanting ohm in Santa Monica?
Twelve days after Hurricane Sandy smacked the eastern seaboard and beyond, tens of thousands of people still lack basic necessities - food, water, even shelter. NPR's Richard Gonzales sent us this postcard about three men from Chicago who took it upon themselves to bring some comfort to Sandy's victims.
From left, Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) await President Obama's State of the Union address in January 2011, when a bipartisan seating arrangement symbolically suggested a more cooperative spirit among lawmakers.
Gridlock is the term many use to describe what happens when legislation gets stalled in the U.S. Congress.
But gridlock suggests that people in Congress at least run into each other. I've had enough casual, personal conversations with representatives in both parties in recent years to begin to think a more critical problem might be that politicians of opposing parties are almost strangers to each other.
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:
Elliott Carter died this week, a month shy of his 104th birthday. He had a huge influence on modern classical music. So in 2008, when Elliott Carter was celebrating his centennial, NPR's Tom Cole went to New York City to interview him. And he has this remembrance of what it was like to meet the storied composer.
TOM COLE, BYLINE: I was terrified. I mean, this was a man who had lived history. A composer who'd won two Pulitzer Prizes for his 2nd and 3rd String Quartets.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.
David Petraeus has resigned as director of the Central Intelligence Agency, citing an extramarital affair and saying that he showed, quote, "extremely poor judgment." It was a stunning fall for one of the most celebrated generals in recent U.S. history. NPR's Tom Bowman is here to talk about it. Tom, thanks so much for being with us.
Men look at mobile phones at the Adjame market in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. The market for mobile telephones in developing countries has grown quickly, and now Facebook and Google are trying to get users to use the Internet on their devices.
Originally published on Sat November 10, 2012 12:47 pm
The chances are slim that a person living in poverty in a developing nation has access to the Internet on a computer. It's expensive and, in some places, there's a lack of infrastructure to support it.
The chances are better, though, that that person owns a cellphone. It's probably not an iPhone or an Android, and he or she probably hasn't purchased a data plan for it, but it has the ability to access the Internet.
Google believes that this category of cellphone user is the future of its expansion.
New Hampshire Gov.-elect Maggie Hassan and Gov. John Lynch visit with fourth-graders from Derry, N.H., at the Statehouse on Thursday in Concord. Come January, Hassan will govern a state where — for the first time — all U.S. senators and representatives also are women.
Credit Jessica Rinaldi / Reuters/Landov
Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., is joined by her children, Katherine and Jacob, in campaigning with Mitt Romney on July 4 in Wolfeboro, N.H.
I'd like to thank Carol Shea-Porter, Ann McLane Kuster, Jeanne Shaheen, Kelly Ayotte, Maggie Hassan and ... Jocelyn Chertoff.
On Tuesday, Democrats Shea-Porter and McLane Kuster won congressional seats from New Hampshire. They'll join Democratic Sen. Shaheen and Republican Sen. Ayotte in the nation's capital in January when the 113th Congress convenes — giving New Hampshire the first-in-the-nation all-female congressional delegation.
Author Ian McEwan's latest creation, Serena Frome, isn't much of a spy. She got recruited into MI5 by her Cambridge history tutor, whom she wanted to dazzle. But he dumps her, and she never sees it coming. She winds up on the clerical side of the operation, cross-filing schemes and plots to stop terrorists, until one day, in the middle of the Cold War, she's summoned to the fifth floor of the agency, where five wise men ask her to rank three British novelists according to their merit: Kingsley Amis, William Golding and David Storey.
Credit Keystone-France / Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images
Chinese villagers welcome the arrival of tractors purchased by a farmers' cooperative in April 1958, during the Great Leap Forward campaign. The disastrous modernization program ended in China's great famine and tens of millions of deaths.
Credit Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Yang Jisheng is a Chinese author and journalist. After graduating from Tsinghua University, he was a career journalist with Xinhua News Agency.
Credit Louisa Lim/NPR
Yang Jisheng, 72, spent a decade working undercover, secretly amassing official proof of China's great famine. "When you are writing history, you can't be too emotional. You need to be calm and objective," he says. "But I was angry the whole time. I'm still angry."
It's not often that a book comes out that rewrites a country's history. But that's the case with Tombstone, which was written by a retired Chinese reporter who spent 10 years secretly collecting official evidence about the country's devastating great famine. The famine, which began in the late 1950s, resulted in the deaths of millions of Chinese.
The Military Voices Initiative, a StoryCorps' project, collects stories from members of the U.S. armed forces, with a special focus on those who served in post-Sept. 11, 2001, conflicts. Every month, highlights from that initiative air on Weekend Edition Saturday.
Spc. Justin Cliburn, 30, was deployed to Iraq in 2005 with the Oklahoma Army National Guard. His job was to train the Iraqi police in Baghdad. During his time there, he got to know a boy in his early teens named Ali, who walked through their compound one day.
Cabbie John Crowood's traditional London taxi was one among hordes as he began trundling through the city's streets with so many other benevolent black beetles more than 30 years ago.
Today, he's one of a dwindling band. Crowood says that the only company that makes the classic retro London cab had to recall 400 of its newest vehicles after a mechanical defect was found, leaving hundreds of his fellow cabbies unable to ply their trade.
Nearly two years ago, Soner Yalcin and more than a dozen of his employees at the online news outlet OdaTV joined the growing list of incarcerated Turkish journalists. Yalcin, the owner of OdaTV, is one of the sharpest critics of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government.
As their trial proceedings dragged on, challenges to the state's case grew, and most of the outlet's journalists were released, pending the trial's conclusion. But Yalcin and two others remain behind bars, 22 months and counting.
When you reach a certain age, big life surprises tend to come few and far between, unless you're Harold Van Heuvelen. Van, as everyone calls him, has had a blockbuster week full of dreams fulfilled. The story of his dream starts more than 70 years ago, on Dec. 7, 1941.
Van Heuvelen enlisted in the Army after Pearl Harbor. He was posted to a base in New Orleans as an instructor for recruits. He spent the war stateside, training men who were being shipped out to Europe and the South Pacific.
Originally published on Mon November 12, 2012 7:27 am
Every year, India receives hundreds of millions of dollars from Britain in bilateral aid. But starting in 2015, that will all change. International Development Secretary Justine Greening has announced that British financial assistance is coming to an end, highlighting India's "changing place in the world".
Mervel Parker fills out his ballot at Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Montgomery, Ala., on Tuesday. Alabama is one of nine states with a history of discrimination that the Voting Rights Act requires to obtain pre-clearance before changing any election procedures.
Originally published on Fri November 9, 2012 7:17 pm
The U.S. Supreme Court said Friday it would consider eliminating a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, the federal law that for decades has been the government's main tool for fighting discrimination at the polls.
The law, first enacted in 1965 and reauthorized three times by Congress since then, is generally considered the most effective civil rights legislation in American history. Its provisions were extended by a Republican Congress in 2006 and signed into law again by President George W. Bush.
Since Superstorm Sandy ravaged the New Jersey and New York coastlines last week, FEMA has already put more than 30,000 residents in hotels and motels and given out roughly $300 million in rental assistance.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Friday announced more help for residents: a new program called NYC Rapid Repair for people whose houses were damaged by the storm. The program, paid for by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will cut through bureaucracy and get contractors to many damaged homes starting next week, he said.
Originally published on Fri November 9, 2012 5:52 pm
If you fell asleep Rip Van Winkle-like earlier in the year only to wake up Friday, you might be forgiven for thinking no time had passed.
Because on Friday, President Obama called for higher taxes on the wealthy to be part of any agreement to avoid the fiscal cliff, while House Speaker John Boehner strongly indicated that proposal was a non-starter with House Republicans.
But, of course, we just had an election in which the president won a second term and, through that, some political capital. Exactly how much remains to be seen.