The typical jack-o'-lanterns that don front stoops this time of year pale in comparison to their multihundred-pound brethren: the giant pumpkin. Every year in Damariscotta, Maine, people hollow them out, climb inside and race them in the annual pumpkin regatta. There are two divisions — paddleboat and powerboat — and thousands gather to see whether it will be sink or swim for the contestants.
Topher Mallory bolts a wooden frame onto the flesh of his 550-pound pumpkin powerboat. The stern is large enough to mount a 10 horsepower engine — double that of most competitors.
In the next two installments of Solve This, NPR's series on the major issues facing the country, we'll examine each presidential candidate's approach to boosting employment. First, President Obama's strategy, then Mitt Romney's.
Job creation is the centerpiece of President Obama's campaign speeches.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel. Later this month, President Obama and Mitt Romney will meet for a debate focused exclusively on foreign policy, but the Republican is not waiting until then to confront the issue. Today, in a speech at the Virginia Military Institute, Romney attacked the Obama administration's policies, especially in the Middle East.
MITT ROMNEY: It's clear that the risk of conflict in the region is higher now than when the president took office.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Suicide bombers explode themselves in the heart of Damascus; tens of thousands killed in that Syrian civil war and counting; the U.S. ambassador to Libya and four other Americans murdered in an attack in Benghazi on the anniversary of 9/11; in Minneapolis, a gunman kills four people at a local post office before shooting and killing himself; just a few of the recent headlines from a world seemingly afflicted by war and violence.
"Good evening, hello. I have cancer. How are you?"
That's how comedian Tig Notaro began her set at Largo in Los Angeles the day she was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. As she uttered those words to the audience, there was nervous laughter, weeping and total silence in response.
Comedian Louis C.K. was there that evening, and tweeted this about her performance: "In 27 years doing this, I've seen a handful of truly great, masterful standup sets. One was Tig Notaro last night at Largo."
Originally published on Mon October 8, 2012 1:28 pm
The two scientists who won this year's Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine discovered that cells in our body have the remarkable ability to reinvent themselves. They found that every cell in the human body, from our skin and bones to our heart and brain, can be coaxed into forming any other cell.
When Zarrina Mulloboeva got invited to go apple picking the other day, she thought it would be a taste of home. She's an exchange student from Tajikistan, in central Asia — a country close to the ancestral homeland of apples. Her uncle has a small orchard. In fact, when Mulloboeva came to the United States six weeks ago, she brought with her a large bottle of homemade dried apple slices.
President Hugo Chavez waves a Venezuelan flag as he greets supporters at the Miraflores presidential palace balcony in Caracas on Sunday. Chavez won re-election and a new endorsement of his socialist project Sunday, surviving his closest race yet after a bitter campaign against opposition candidate Henrique Capriles.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has beaten his most serious political challenge in years. He defeated a young former governor handily in Sunday's presidential election. With this victory, Chavez has another six years to consolidate his socialist system in the country with the world's largest oil reserves.
It was the toughest challenge to his rule that he'd received in years — a young, vigorous candidate whose election would have ended Chavez's self-proclaimed revolution.
Originally published on Mon October 8, 2012 7:07 am
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded this morning to a British and a Japanese researcher who discovered that mature and specialized cells "can be reprogrammed to become immature cells capable of developing into all tissues of the body," according to the Nobel committee.
This year's honorees are John B. Gurdon of the Gurdon Institute in Cambridge, England, and Shinya Yamanaka at Kyoto University in Japan. They will share the prize, worth about $1.2 million.
Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep with news of the evacuation of Akron City Hall. Authorities found a suspicious pipe labeled with the word Kaboom. Turns out it was accidentally left behind by Natural Hunka Kaboom, who comes to watch city council meetings. The pipe was an extendable shower rod he used as a walking stick. Mr. Kaboom tells the Akron Beacon Journal he meant no harm and that his name really is Kaboom. He changed it legally to promote his pest control business. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep. Oregon residents are being asked to please contact police if they happen to see a 30-foot tall gorilla. He's wearing sunglasses and polka dot shorts, carrying a hot tub and may or may not be inflated. This giant gorilla stood for years on top of the Spas of Oregon store in Gladstone. John Harrison, the owner, is not sure how the thieves took down that gorilla, but he is offering a reward for the return of the animal he calls Marty. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Which brings us to our next story. As Americans try again to heat up the solar industry, let's get an update on the competition. We reported last week on the West Coast solar power company that is trying to succeed where companies like Solyndra famously failed. American companies have struggled because they've been undermined by cheap imports from China. So it is meaningful to note that China's solar power industry is a mess.
We're going to talk about that with Beijing-based economist Patrick Chovanec. Welcome back to the program.
OK. Let's review an exciting weekend of Major League Baseball playoffs. Two teams won single game playoffs to get into the full-blown playoff series that are now underway. The Yankees, Reds, Nationals and Tigers have all been winning. And if I did not just mention your team, that's because your team is now in a hole. NPR's Mike Pesca's here to help feel your pain.
Mike, good morning.
MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: In a hole, or out of it entirely.
Bruce Osterweil, 59, of San Francisco has long relied on his wife's employer-sponsored health plan for coverage, but she recently turned 65 and signed up for Medicare. She's going to retire in January and now Bruce is on his own to find a plan on the individual insurance market.
Bruce Osterweil is a lucky man to live just a short walk from where San Francisco's Golden Gate meets the cold, rough waters of the Pacific Ocean. He is also a lucky man to have married his wife, Patricia Furlong, who has long provided the family's health insurance through her job at a small financial consulting firm.
But last month, Osterweil's wife turned 65 and decided to retire, and although she may walk away with a crystal bowl or a golden watch for all those years of service, she will also walk away from her company's generous health insurance benefits.
After failing to predict the Arab Spring, intelligence officials are now exploring whether Big Data, the combing of billions of pieces of disparate electronic information, can help them identify hot spots before they explode. The intelligence community has always been in the business of forecasting the future. The question is whether tapping into publicly available data — Twitter and news feeds and blogs among other things — can help them do that faster and more precisely.
Roland Jahn, a former East German dissident, is now Germany's federal commissioner of the Stasi archives. His agency is painstakingly piecing together the shredded documents of the former East German secret police. Jahn is shown here in March 2011 at a former Stasi prison at Berlin-Hohenschoenhausen.
Credit John MacDougall / AFP/Getty Images
A worker in the former headquarters of the Stasi sorts hundreds of thousands of torn or shredded Stasi documents in January. Workers are sifting through thousands of bags, containing between 50,000 and 80,000 fragments each.
With a growing population of baby boomers, officials are bracing for a surge in senior drivers. Statistics tell us that accidents increase after the age of 65, and fatal accidents are more likely after the age of 75.
In the mid-1970s, a man approached singer Kenny Rogers after a performance in the lounge at the Las Vegas Hilton. The mysterious stranger simply said, "Hey, man, I really like your music." Rogers learned later that the fan at the dressing-room door had been Elvis Presley.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign event in St. Petersburg, Fla. Slate Magazine's John Dickerson says likeability doesn't matter as much in a presidential campaign as you might think.
William Lowndes was a congressman from South Carolina who served in the early part of the 19th century. He was once asked to describe who should serve as chief executive.
"The presidency is not an office to be either solicited or declined," he said.
In 1876, Rutherford B. Hayes didn't even vote for himself. He saw it as unseemly. And in 1916, Woodrow Wilson called campaigning "a great interruption to the rational consideration of public questions."
Originally published on Sun October 7, 2012 6:11 pm
Round 9 of Three-Minute Fiction. The new judge this round is thriller writer Brad Meltzer. And the new challenge this round, participants had to write a story in 600 words or less that revolved around a U.S. President--fictional or real. Nearly 4,000 storied were submitted. Host Guy Raz presents one of the favorites selected by our readers, "No Down Time" by Fiona Von Siemens of Los Angeles, Calif. You can read the full stories below along with other stories at www.npr.org/threeminutefiction.
Born in Tel Aviv, Anat Cohen came to New York two decades ago to study the masters of jazz. In so doing, the clarinetist and saxophonist started a bit of a stampede: Today, Israel is exporting some of the most vital jazz out there.
We turn now to Pakistan where a big motor convoy has been snaking across the map. It was led by Imran Khan, a former cricket star who is now a top politician. Khan and his supporters set out yesterday from the capital Islamabad and headed for South Waziristan in the tribal belt bordering Afghanistan. The plan was to hold a demonstration there against U.S. drones. But as NPR's Philip Reeves reports, it didn't work out that way.
It's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz.
Thousands of Venezuelans turned out to vote today in a presidential election that pits longtime leader Hugo Chavez against a younger, more moderate rival in Enrique Capriles. Chavez, the fiery left-wing leader, has irritated Washington with his anti-American rhetoric, but he's also won support among many poor Venezuelans for his social programs.
A small, fanged dinosaur called Pegomastax africanus was identified this week, more than half a century after its skeleton was dug up in South Africa. The dinosaur looked like a fierce cross between a chicken and a porcupine, and had long fangs which it used to eat plants and compete for mates. Pegomastax was a diminutive beast, standing less than two feet tall and weighing no more than a small house cat.