There is still a week to go at the Olympics, but it's a good bet that after all the drama ends, Britons will look back on last night as the moment the Games turned in their favor - maybe not in the overall medal count but the host country got a huge psychological lift as Team Great Britain snagged three track and field gold medals on the Games' biggest stage. NPR's Tom Goldman reports.
And if there weren't enough excitement at the Olympics, another kind of record was made yesterday at the Olympic Stadium. A double amputee with artificial legs raced for the first time ever in the Olympics. South African Oscar Pistorious qualified for the semifinals tonight in the 400-meter sprint.
NPR's Howard Berkes reports from London.
HOWARD BERKES, BYLINE: The first heat of the Olympic 400 sounded like any other race.
This month we are collecting your stories about the good things Americans are doing to make their community a better place. Some of your contributions will become blog posts and the project will end with a story that weaves together submissions to make a story of Americans by Americans for Americans.
For the past five years, bats have been disappearing at an alarming rate, falling prey to a mysterious disease called white-nose syndrome. But they're making an eerie comeback in a new audio exhibit at a national park in Vermont. The exhibit features manipulated recordings of bat calls that are funneled through glass vessels hanging from a studio ceiling.
Originally published on Sun August 5, 2012 9:41 am
NASA has sent rovers to explore Mars before. But three words explain what makes this latest mission to Mars so different: location, location, location.
The rover Curiosity is slated to land late Sunday in Gale Crater, near the base of a 3-mile-high mountain with layers like the Grand Canyon. Scientists think those rocks could harbor secrets about the history of water — and life — on the Red Planet.
Republican Mitt Romney campaigned this weekend in a state that has not seen much of either presidential candidate. Nobody considers Indiana a toss-up in the presidential race.
But the Senate contest there is a different story. It's a very close race, and the result could determine which party controls the Senate next year. So Romney showed up at a barbecue shack in Evansville to give the conservative Republican candidate a boost.
In the olden days, a reader might pick up a book because the cover was exciting, intriguing, maybe even beautiful. But in the brave new world of e-books and e-readers, the days when an artist named Chip Kidd could make us reach for a book may be gone.
Even if you've never heard of Billy Edd Wheeler, you might recognize "Jackson," a song he wrote with the help of songwriting heavyweights Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller back in 1963. It was a Top 20 pop hit for Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra in 1967, and got to No. 2 on the country charts that same year in a version by Johnny Cash and June Carter.
" 'Jackson' is a fun song," Wheeler says. "It's been my most famous and most lucrative song. It helped build our house."
On-air challenge: You are given two five-letter words. Put the same pair of letters in front of each of them to complete two familiar seven-letter words. The letters that go in front will never be a standard prefix, like "re-." For example, given "quire" and "tress," the answer would be "ac" to make "acquire" and "actress."
While President Obama and Gov. Romney battle for the hearts and minds of the middle class this election season, there's a huge swath of Americans that are largely ignored. It's the poor, and their ranks are growing.
According to a recent survey by The Associated Press, the number of Americans living at or below the poverty line will reach its highest point since President Johnson made his famous declaration of war on poverty in 1964.
Ninety-eight percent of medal winners that year wore the company's LZR Racer, a zip-sealed full-body suit that carried many top athletes — including Michael Phelps — to gold.
But after those games, the sport's international governing body changed the rules to outlaw the LZR by banning zippers and restricting mens' suit coverage from the navel to the knees. So Speedo went back to the drawing board and spent years developing what's now known as the Fastskin3 system.
It's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz.
(SOUNDBITE OF POLITICAL AD)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: He tried. You tried. It's OK to make a change.
RAZ: Part of a TV ad paid for by the Republican National Committee co-opting the theme of change from Barack Obama's 2008 campaign and using it against him. James Fallows of The Atlantic joins us now as he does most Saturdays. Hello, Jim.
Originally published on Sat August 4, 2012 2:32 pm
Swimming the final race of his Olympic career, Michael Phelps gilded his resume just a bit more, helping the U.S. men's 4x100m medley relay team claim the gold medal at London's aquatic center. Phelps turned away a surprising challenge from the Japanese team, which had the lead when he went into the water to swim butterfly, the relay's third leg.
It was the 18th gold medal of Phelps' record-setting Olympic career. He leaves the London 2012 Games with 22 Olympic medals overall.
Originally published on Sat August 4, 2012 2:30 pm
Swimming in London's Aquatic Center, the U.S. women's 4x100m medley relay team set a new world record in winning a gold medal, with Allison Schmitt swimming freestyle to anchor a relay that finished two seconds ahead of the competition, at 3:52.05.
All four members of the women's relay team had previously won gold in their events: Dana Vollmer (butterfly), Missy Franklin (backstroke), Rebecca Soni (breaststroke), and Schmitt.
The victory gave Franklin, 17, four gold medals and one bronze in the London 2012 Games.
It's been a big day for Serena Williams. First, she started the day by winning her first individual Olympic gold medal. Then she earned a chance for another gold in the women's doubles match, playing with her sister, Venus. The pair defeated the Russian team of Nadia Petrova and Maria Kirilenko, 7-5, 6-4.
The Americans will next face the Czech team of Hlavackova and Kradecka in the Olympic final, Sunday at 7 a.m. ET.
For almost seven and a half years straight, Orthodox Jews around the world have been reading their holy book, the Talmud, cover to cover. Day by day, they read the more than 2,000 pages, and last week, they all celebrated finishing the last page, in an event called Siyum HaShas.
Originally published on Sat August 4, 2012 12:17 pm
The U.S. team won the silver medal in the inaugural women's team pursuit event of the Summer Olympics, finishing behind Great Britain in the final.
The British team set a new world record of 3:14.051 as they claimed the gold medal. The Americans finished 5 seconds behind them. Canada won the bronze-medal matchup, beating Australia in London's velodrome.
The American team of Sarah Hammer, Dotsie Bausch, and Lauren Tamayo averaged a speed of 54.073 Km/h, or 33.5 mph, on the track.
The U.S. men's doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan won their first Olympic gold medal Saturday, beating France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Michael Llodra, 6-1, 7-6 (6-2), in a game that was far more entertaining than its score might suggest. Both teams played creative and focused tennis, sustaining fast-paced volleys and inventing shots that delighted the crowd at Centre Court.
It was a gorgeous day at Centre Court, with the sun shining on the athletes standing on the podium, and America's national anthem playing to end the medal ceremony. But then, the flag simply fell from its post.
Originally published on Sat August 4, 2012 10:21 am
American Serena Williams stormed her way to an Olympic gold medal Saturday, dominating the final against Maria Sharapova of Russia. It is the first individual gold medal for Williams, who has twice won in Olympic doubles.
Williams won the first set, 6-0, in only 30 minutes. She hit only a handful of unforced errors in each set, and feasted on Sharapova's second serve. She won the second set by 6-1, with the entire match taking only a bit more than an hour to complete.
Good morning. As we start Day 8 of the London Olympics, big news is already happening. We posted earlier about Oscar Pistorius's historic run in the men's 400 meters, for instance. If you'd like to catch up on yesterday's events, check out our Day in Photos gallery. Here's what's been happening today:
The American men's basketball team has faced criticism for Thursday night's 156-73 blowout victory over Nigeria at the London Olympics. At the arena, NPR editor Vickie Walton-James spoke to Nigerian fans, to learn what they thought about being on the wrong end of a record score:
The vaunted USA Dream Team scored more points Thursday than any other team in an Olympic basketball game. The previous record was set in 1988, when Brazil scored 138 points to Egypt's 85.
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: