It was a long road to the Supreme Court. On the way, Justice Sonia Sotomayor faced a diabetes diagnosis, her father's death to alcoholism and her cousin's overdose. For Sotomayor, life began in the Bronx, in tenement housing in a community of Puerto Rican immigrants. She gave NPR exclusive access to a huge suitcase brimming with family photos and tells her story in this multimedia experience.
Originally published on Sat January 12, 2013 1:32 pm
Lebanon has had some of the worst winter weather in decades. First, record rainfalls flooded the low-lying part of the country, then ice and show bent trees and blocked roads. The frigid conditions are making it even harsher for Syrian refugees trying to take shelter from the violence in their home country.
The al-Marj refugee camp sits wedged between snow-covered vineyards, a community center and an unfinished warehouse in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, just a 10-minute drive from the Syrian border.
It's not clear whether a French intelligence agent is dead or alive after a botched rescue attempt in Somalia on Saturday morning. As the AP reports:
"France says the agent, code-name Denis Allex, was killed in the raid, along with a French commando and 17 Islamist militants. But the militant group al-Shabab, which held Allex for more than three years, says it still has Allex and claims to have captured a French soldier."
The Baseball Hall of Fame is a tourist attraction, not a papal conclave. And the people who cast votes for the Hall are sportswriters, not the College of Cardinals.
But there was something momentous this week when the Baseball Writers Association elected no one to the Hall of Fame. Not Roger Clemens, who won a record seven Cy Young Awards. Not Barry Bonds, who hit a record 762 home runs. Not Sammy Sosa, who hit 60 or more home runs in a season three times.
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:
A lot of you have had it by now, or are having it or are about to be exposed. This year's flu is called "H3N2" and this week it's doing big business in about 47 states, Chicago and New York. If you've had a flu shot and if you wash your hands several times a day for 20 seconds, (which is the time it takes to hum "Happy Birthday to You" two times through) you might reduce your odds of getting sick.
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor readily concedes that she was the beneficiary of affirmative action in higher education, and she doesn't really know why her view is so different from that of her colleague, Justice Clarence Thomas.
"As much as I know Clarence, admire him and have grown to appreciate him," she says, "I have never ever focused on the negative of things. I always look at the positive. And I know one thing: If affirmative action opened the doors for me at Princeton, once I got in, I did the work. I proved myself worthy. So, I don't look at how the door opened."
Among the donations that poured into the American Red Cross building after the earthquake in Haiti three years ago was a box of Frisbees. In a flood of well-intentioned but unneeded donations, this box stuck out to Meghan O'Hara, who oversees in-kind donations for the organization.
O'Hara says someone clearly wanted to help — the person mailed the box from Germany — but all she could think was, "Wow. That $60 or $70 could have been sent to so many different organizations to help out in so many different ways, and now we have a box of Frisbees."
Just a few years ago, Georgia Power generated nearly three-fourths of its electricity with coal. Last year, for the first time, natural gas edged out coal, and just this week the company announced plans to close 10 coal-fired power generators within the next few years.
"We do recognize this is a historic event for our company. We've never announced this many closings at one time," says Mark Williams, a company spokesperson.
It's been only a few years since Congress granted the federal government the power to approve how tobacco products are made and sold in the U.S.
The Food and Drug Administration's new Center for Tobacco Products, established under a 2009 law that gives the agency jurisdiction over tobacco, must review all new cigarettes or smokeless tobacco, as well as any changes to existing brands.
But the agency has yet to clear any products under the new system, and some cigarette makers are frustrated by the backlog of applications.
Thousands of Superstorm Sandy victims are still displaced more than two months after the storm. So, some locals in Connecticut hatched a plan to relocate some of them to a brand-new neighborhood with homes of their own.
Deborah Rassi and her family from Staten Island, N.Y., have been in the small, rural town of New Milford, Conn., for three days.
She was happy to be unpacking at her brand-new mobile house, which came with bags of donated clothing.
You might think that after a pretty rancorous election season there would be lingering acrimony between people who belong to groups embroiled in some of the campaign's most heated debates. But if there is, a new study by Pew found that many Americans don't feel that way.
For years, I've taken issue with depictions of mentally ill characters in books and movies. Irrational behavior is easily explained away: They're crazy! No need to elaborate further.
So when I picked up Too Bright to Hear Too Loud to See, I was apprehensive that the main character, an untreated bipolar Hollywood studio executive who leaves his wife and child for an international adventure, might be a kooky manic cliche.
The historical drama is a staple of the film awards season, and the tortured history of modern Germany — with its echoes of the brutal Third Reich and war — has played a central role in many an award-winning film. But the new film Barbara, which was Germany's official entry to this year's Oscars, is a nuanced portrait of the more recent history of a newly reunited East and West.
Yonathan Melaku, the former Marine who admitting to shooting at several U.S. military buildings in the Washington, D.C., area in 2010, has been sentenced to 25 years in prison, in a plea deal that makes his sentence non-negotiable. After his arrest, Melaku was diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Saturday marks the third anniversary of the powerful earthquake that destroyed much of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince. The quake killed roughly 200,000 people and left 1.5 million Haitians homeless.
Despite billions of dollars in international aid and pledges to help Haiti rebuild from the disaster, very little new, permanent housing has been built. And about 350,000 Haitians are still living in squalid, makeshift camps — where they face an array of health challenges.
The announcement from Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., that he will not seek a sixth term in 2014, would seem to give Republicans a big opening in a state that has gone deep red in recent presidential elections.
But West Virginia's animus toward recent Democrats in the White House, especially President Obama, doesn't necessarily translate into Republican advantages in statewide races.
Originally published on Fri January 11, 2013 3:43 pm
Millions of computer users who run the most recent versions of Oracle's Java software should disable the product owing to security flaws, says the cybersecurity section of the Department of Homeland Security. The agency says, "Web browsers using the Java 7 plug-in are at high risk."
Originally published on Wed January 16, 2013 6:59 am
The tantalizing aroma of freshly baked brioche is hard to resist, while a virtuous loaf of whole wheat often lacks that same allure. Blame it on the ferulic acid.
See, whole-wheat bread contains all parts of the wheat, including the bran, but white bread does not. That bran in the wheat bread contains the aforementioned ferulic acid, which overrides the compounds that give white bread its mouthwatering smell, according to new research.
Originally published on Fri January 11, 2013 12:45 pm
Federal healthy officials said Friday there are some early signs this year's flu season may be easing in some parts of the country. But they stressed it's far too early to tell whether the flu season has peaked.
The number of states reporting widespread flu activity is up to 47, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But flu activity nationally fell slightly in the CDC's most recent data. Five states reported less flu than a week earlier, according to the CDC.
British TV personality Jimmy Savile, who died in 2011, was a sexual predator who abused hundreds of victims on a scale that is "unprecedented" in Britain, according to a comprehensive police report on the disgraced celebrity. The report by a team that included 30 detectives found that Savile exploited "the vulnerable or star-struck for his sexual gratification."