In 1979, when Jim Stigler was still a graduate student at the University of Michigan, he went to Japan to research teaching methods and found himself sitting in the back row of a crowded fourth-grade math class.
Veterans Day — originally Armistice Day — was renamed in 1954 to include veterans who had fought in all wars. But the day of remembrance has its roots in World War I — Nov. 11, 1918 was the day the guns fell silent at the end of the Great War. On this Veterans Day, we celebrate the poetry of World War I, one of the legacies of that conflict.
As NATO prepares to withdraw combat troops from Afghanistan in 2014, Afghan forces are increasingly taking the lead against the Taliban and other insurgents. But the results are mixed.
In parts of Logar Province, just south of Kabul, Afghan troops are successfully leading security operations. In other parts of the same province, where insurgents are more active, U.S. troops are still taking the lead.
A "return on investment" is a concept better known to Wall Street than to Washington. But after President Obama and the Democrats won most of the close elections last week there are questions about the seven- and eight-figure "investments" made by dozens of conservative donors.
During the election season, it was pretty common to hear about donors making "investments" in superPACs and other outside groups, rather than a "political contribution," perhaps because the phrase has a sort of taint to it.
In Spain, new austerity measures mean higher sales tax on everything from beer and wine to clothing and movie tickets. But in Bescanó, a small town in the country's northeast, the local theater director has come up with a rather creative way to get around a new 21 percent tax on tickets for plays at his theater –- by selling carrots instead.
Among the difficult decisions facing President Obama is whether to give the go-ahead for the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline, which would bring oil from Canada down to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico.
Environmentalists want it blocked. They are concerned about endangering the Nebraska sand hills, under which is the largest aquifer in the country. It provides drinking water and irrigation water for several states.
Hundreds of Mormons in Utah participated in gay pride parades across the country this summer. Now some LGBT Mormons and their supporters have formed a choir in Salt Lake City. Organizers say they are not pushing a political agenda. They say they simply want to create a space where all are welcome to sing in praise of God. But the choir has not been completely welcomed by some Mormon communities.
On a Wednesday evening at a historic LDS Church in downtown Salt Lake City, about 20 people gather to sing.
Daily Show host Jon Stewart recently called writer Jon Ronson an investigative satirist. As Ronson himself puts it: "I go off and I have unfolding adventures with people in shadowy places. I guess I tell funny stories about serious things."
Ronson has collected many of these stories in his new book, Lost at Sea. He talks to Guy Raz, host of weekends on All Things Considered, about the characters and places he has encountered along the way.
Housing is always in short supply in New York City, and Superstorm Sandy just made things much worse. The government is paying hotel costs for many of those displaced, while others are staying with friends and family.
That still leaves many people still looking for a spare bedroom, and some are now turning to the social networking website Airbnb – a site that matches people seeking vacation rentals — to find a place to stay.
One scene has become increasingly common amid Spain's economic crisis: Thousands of people, many of them immigrants, are searching trash dumpsters by night. Some scour the garbage for food, but many others are involved in a black-market trade for recycled materials.
The scavengers have slowly become a sad fixture in many barrios across Spain, like the well-dressed, middle-aged man on a Barcelona street corner on a recent night. He averts his eyes from onlookers as he reaches his arm down deep into a dumpster.
Each year around this time, weekends on All Things Considered welcomes world music DJ Betto Arcos onto the show to share some of his favorite nominees from this Latin Grammys, the 2012 installment of which is coming up next week. Arcos hosts the program Global Village on KPFK in Los Angeles; his picks include singer-songwriters from Mexico and Brazil, a Chilean rapper and a Puerto Rican-American jazz saxophonist.
There was once an Indian princess whose beginning was something out of a fairy tale. Her terrible end achieved mythic status among the few who knew about her extraordinary life. And now, the princess, who became a spy for the British, during World War II, is finally being recognized by the wider world. Vicki Barker reports from London.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: We were taught all about firearms, British and foreign.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.
Here's a term you're going to get really tired of in the next several weeks - if you haven't already: The fiscal cliff. It's a combination of automatic spending cuts and tax increases set to hit at the start of the year. That is, if Congress and the president fail to find a way to avoid it.
NPR's Tamara Keith has this primer.
TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Both House Speaker John Boehner and the president made it clear, they don't want to go off the cliff.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. A newly re-elected President Barack Obama won't officially begin his second term until he is sworn in again on January 20th. But some of the priorities of his next four years in office are already taking shape, and the challenges are becoming more apparent. NPR's national political correspondent Mara Liasson joins us now to talk more about all this. Hey, Mara.
Finding lasting employment and the peace of mind that goes with it has proved a challenge for many of the men and women who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years. It's one of the issues we've been covering in our series Home Front.
STAFF SERGEANT JASON COPP: My name is Staff Sergeant Jason Copp.
CORPORAL TERRY NARCIS: I am Corporal Terry Narcis(ph).
CAPTAIN MICHAEL CURRY: I am Captain Michael Curry.
PFC MCCITRICH: PFC McCitrich(ph).
STAFF SERGEANT JEFF BARLOW: Staff Sergeant Jeff Barlow.
So, we all know losing is part of sports, and it's part of politics too. We asked Mike Danforth and Ian Chillag, our friends from the NPR podcast How to Do Everything to explore some options for Mitt Romney on this recent campaign loss.
MIKE DANFORTH, BYLINE: If you want advice on how to deal with a loss, you got to someone with experience.
IAN CHILLAG, BYLINE: Coach Marv Levy, want to remind us of your Buffalo Bills?
With baseball playoffs becoming a distant memory, NPR's Mike Pesca talks to host Rachel Martin about basketball becoming more like baseball. People are increasingly trying to identify more valuable statistics for individual basketball players.
Making a deal to avert the fiscal cliff is going to take more than mere consensus on spending and taxes. It'll take political skill on the part of the president; the ability to leverage the power of his office to find new strategies and pressure points to break the gridlock. In short, he'll need to do what appears to be impossible.
ROBERT CARO: Part of the nature of political genius is that you can come along and do something where no one else can do it.
Time, now, another story you have probably never heard before; this one though, absolutely true.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
NIKOLAJ ARCEL: There's this young, beautiful British princess. She's married off to a king in Denmark who she hasn't even met.
MARTIN: This is Nikolaj Arcel. He's a Danish filmmaker. And his latest movie is about the king of Denmark back in the late 1700s, and of course, that beautiful princess who is shipped off to a foreign land.
The second act of Puccini's opera Madama Butterfly opens with the aching aria"Un Bel Di," one of the most famous in the Italian repertoire. Onstage, an abandoned young woman sings longingly for "one fine day" when her lover might return to her and their young son in Nagasaki, Japan.
Wild turkeys and buffalo have more in common than you might guess. Both were important as food for Native Americans and European settlers. And both were nearly obliterated.
There were a couple of reasons for the turkey's decline. In the early years of the U.S., there was no regulation, so people could shoot as many turkeys as they liked. And their forest habitat was cut down for farmland and heating fuel. Without trees, turkeys have nowhere to roost. So they began to disappear.
One of the most dangerous things you can do behind the wheel of your car is text or check your email. Texting and driving is illegal in 39 states, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands and Guam.
Despite the danger, millions of us continue to do it. I am ashamed to say that I was one of them.
During the recent presidential campaign, I was on the road — a lot. I was mainly driving on rural roads in places such as Iowa, Indiana and, of course, Ohio. On several occasions I checked my email while driving, and like many people I rationalized my behavior.
Among the thousands of volunteers helping the victims of Superstorm Sandy in New York and New Jersey are hundreds of military veterans who have turned out to help.
For this group, work like this seems to address a real need for a sense of mission. Former troops who have been cleaning up and rebuilding say that volunteering helps them as much as it supports the local residents.
In front of Sami McFarlanes' house off Rockaway Beach Boulevard in Queens, N.Y., a group of Afghanistan and Iraq veterans take chainsaws to a huge spruce tree hung up on wires.
Democratic Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin's sexual orientation was never really a factor in her victorious campaign against Republican former Gov. Tommy Thompson. Advocates for gay rights see that as a watershed moment for the movement.
Baldwin won a seat many thought she couldn't, defeating one of the state's most successful politicians in the process. The celebration Tuesday night in Madison was euphoric.
The enthusiastic crowd was never louder than when Baldwin acknowledged making history.