This is FRESH AIR. At 44, the German tenor Jonas Kaufmann may be the most popular tenor of his generation and one of the most versatile. Music critic Lloyd Schwartz reviews two of his recordings this year, dedicated to both Verdi and Wagner, celebrating the bicentennials of their birth.
In the opening chapter of her latest book, novelist Delia Ephron writes that losing her older sister, writer Nora Ephron, was like "losing an arm, it's that deranging." Nora, who wrote When Harry Met Sally, died of acute myeloid leukemia in June 2012. Delia and Nora were writing partners; they co-wrote the movies You've Got Mail and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants as well as the off-Broadway hit Love, Loss and What I Wore. Delia was an assistant producer on Nora's film Sleepless in Seattle.
Former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner was sentenced to three months home detention and three years probation for sexually harassing three women.
As we reported, Filner pleaded guilty to three criminal charges — including false imprisonment and battery — back in October. The charges were related to allegations that Filner grabbed and fondled three women while he was in office.
Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 5:35 pm
Russian President Vladimir Putin dissolved one of the country's official news agencies and an international radio broadcaster on Monday, setting up a new organization to be run by a news anchor known for his ultraconservative views.
RIA Novosti, the news agency, and Voice of Russia, the broadcaster, will be absorbed by a new entity, Russia Today.
Jessica Golloher is reporting on the story for our Newscast unit:
Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 2:27 pm
Their paths repeatedly crossed on the way to the World Series. And now retired managers Joe Torre, Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox are headed to the same place: the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The Hall's Expansion Era committee announced its selection Monday.
Together, the trio won eight World Series titles and led teams that were perennial threats to play in October. They account for a combined 7,558 victories.
Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 10:36 am
The meat on your dinner table probably didn't come from a happy little cow that lived a wondrous life out on rolling green hills. It probably also wasn't produced by a robot animal killer hired by an evil cabal of monocle-wearing industrialists.
Truth is, the meat industry is complicated, and it's impossible to understand without a whole lot of context. That's where Maureen Ogle comes in. She's a historian and the author of In Meat We Trust: An Unexpected History of Carnivore America.
We end our program today with another tribute to anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela. He died last Thursday, and South Africa is preparing for his memorial tomorrow. Many Americans learned about Mandela on screen through the movies that dramatized his life. Here's a clip of Danny Glover and Alfre Woodard in the 1987 film, "Mandela."
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "MANDELA")
ALFRE WOODARD: (As Winnie Mandela) Baba Mandela, when I see you walking about in this country, my joy overflows and my faith is made real enough to touch.
Now, it's time for the occasional feature we call In Your Ear. That's when our guests tell us about the music that keeps them going. And today, as the world mourns former South African President Nelson Mandela, we'll hear from Naomie Harris. She stars in the new film "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom." We recently talked to her about the movie, and she shared with us some of the songs that inspire her.
NAOMIE HARRIS: Hi, I'm Naomie Harris, and what's playing in my ear is "Brown Girl in the Rain," by Boney M.
Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 5:42 pm
We told you last week about a report from North Korea that an uncle of Kim Jong Un, the country's leader, was dismissed from a key defense post.
The uncle in question is Jang Song Thaek, who is married to the sister of Kim's late father, Kim Jong Il. As NPR's Scott Neuman noted, there have been previous reports of Jang's dismissal only for him to be back in power, apparently rehabilitated. Well, not this time — or so it would seem.
Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 5:27 pm
Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra dissolved the country's Parliament on Monday and called early elections in the face of anti-government protests that began last month. But protest leaders said their goal was to rid Thai politics of her family's influence, and to that end, they want to replace Yingluck's elected government with an unelected "people's council."
A government spokesman said a new vote would be held Feb. 2, but the date must be approved by Thailand's Election Commission. Yingluck says she'll remain as caretaker leader until a new prime minister is named.