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.
Shu Qiao in front of the memorial (on the left side) he erected to the 32 victims of the famine in Shuangjing village, in the central province of Henan. The memorial is part of the Folk Memory Project, which records the stories of Chinese peasants who lived through the Great Famine a half-century ago.
Credit Courtesy of Shu Qiao
The father of Shu Youying died during the famine caused by Chairman Mao's Great Leap Forward.
Credit Courtesy of Shu Qiao
The brother and grandmother of Shu Qingfa died in the famine. In this village, most of the inhabitants share a single surname, Shu.
Credit Courtesy of Shu Qiao
Documentary maker Wu Wenguang started the Folk Memory Project, and believes it's the most important work he's been involved in. "We are in the era of forgetting," he says. He's just returned from a speaking tour to three U.S. universities.
Veterans from around the country have deployed to the Northeast to help after Superstorm Sandy. Jeff Blaney (left) of San Francisco was in the Army and Jamie Havig was a Navy medic attached to the Marines in Iraq.
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.
On-air challenge: Sunday is Veterans Day, so we have a game of categories based on flags. Given some categories, for each one name something in the category beginning with each of the letters F, L, A, G and S.
For example, if the category were chemical elements, you might say fluorine, lead, argon, gold and sulfur.
The song "The Seed (2.0)," a collaboration between the hip-hop band The Roots and singer Cody ChesnuTT, was everywhere 10 years ago. But while The Roots produced album after album in the decade that followed, ChesnuTT took a hiatus. Now, he's finally out with his second full-length record, Landing on a Hundred.
"About four and a half, five years ago, material started coming," ChesnuTT tells NPR's Rachel Martin. "Certain ideas — lyrical phrases and melodies — would pop into my head, and I felt good about it. I felt energized again. I felt inspired again."
The resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus, the retired four-star general who stepped down late Friday citing an extramarital affair, brings to an end one of the most storied careers in modern U.S. military history.
Petraeus left the Army in August 2011 after nearly four decades in uniform. Before his retirement ceremony had even begun, he walked up on the empty stage, went over to the podium and tapped on the microphone. The general was doing his own mic check.
Originally published on Sun November 11, 2012 9:16 am
Paging Jeb Bush.
Your party needs you.
In the aftermath of Tuesday's election losses, Republicans have been scrambling to formulate a fix for what went wrong.
A big part of that calculation involves repairing relations with Hispanics, the fast-growing electoral power base that rejected Republican Mitt Romney's "self deportation" immigration solution and voted for President Obama in numbers that exceeded 70 percent.
One hundred fifty years ago today, Giuseppe Verdi first mounted his opera La Forza del Destino ("The Force of Destiny") on a stage in St. Petersburg, Russia. Today, La Forza is considered one of Verdi's masterpieces, but it wasn't always that way. The story of Don Alvaro, whose love for the aristocratic Leonora incurs the wrath of her family, is violent and chaotic, and it flopped on its first run.
On Dec. 23, 1973, cars lined up in two directions at a gas station in New York City.
Credit Marty Lederhandler / AP
Cars line up in two directions at a gas station in New York City on Dec. 23, 1973.
Credit Marty Lederhandler / AP
Leon Mill spray paints a sign outside his Phillips 66 station in Perkasie, Pa., on June 1, 1973, to let his customers know he's out of gas. An oil crisis was the culprit, squeezing U.S. businesses and consumers who were forced to line up at gas stations for hours.
Drivers and a man pushing a lawnmower line up at gas station in San Jose, Calif., on March 15, 1974.
Motorists rush to fill their gas tanks in Martinez, Calif., on Sept. 21, 1973. Northern California service station operators threatened to shut down entirely to protest gas price restrictions.
Originally published on Sat November 10, 2012 3:52 pm
Gas lines in America may be rare, but they're not unprecedented.
The gas shortage in the Northeast, the result of Superstorm Sandy, is inflicting plenty of pain. But it's a localized phenomenon that's not expected to last for long.
During two separate oil crises in the 1970s, Americans from coast to coast faced persistent gas shortages as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, flexed its muscles and disrupted oil supplies.
In 1973 and again in 1979, drivers frequently faced around-the-block lines when they tried to fill up.
Nickelback. The name itself is musical shorthand for everything music aficionados love to hate about modern rock.
But with more than 50 million record sales worldwide and a lead singer who earns $10 million a year, the band is laughing all the way to the bank — as reporter Ben Paynter describes in Bloomberg Businessweek Magazine.
When Katherine Marsh was a young girl, she was mesmerized by the dwarfs of Diego Velazquez's paintings. Years later, that obsession inspired Jepp, Who Defied the Stars, her latest novel for young adults.
Marsh joins NPR's Guy Raz to discuss her book, which is rooted in history, yet speckled with fantasy. It carries her readers to the Spanish Netherlands in the late 16th century to tell the coming-of-age story of Jepp of Astraveld.
In the new movie Lincoln, actor Daniel Day-Lewis is getting a lot of attention for his spot-on portrayal of the 16th president. But Ben Burtt, the sound designer, also deserves credit for the film's authenticity. You may not know his name, but you surely know his work.
Burtt is something of a legend in the movie sound world. He has won numerous Oscars, including for his work on Star Wars.
Burtt invented that iconic swoosh of the light saber, using the hum of an old projector and the buzz of a television set.
Originally published on Sat November 10, 2012 3:14 pm
A day after the story broke, the news remains stunning — CIA director and retired Gen. David Petraeus resigns in a lightning stroke, admitting he used extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair.
It's shocking because Petraeus is considered an extremely able leader who's been judged by this single word, says NPR's Tom Bowman: Iraq.
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:
Men look at mobile phones at the Adjame market in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. The market for mobile telephones in developing countries has grown quickly, and now Facebook and Google are trying to get users to use the Internet on their devices.
Originally published on Sat November 10, 2012 10:47 am
The chances are slim that a person living in poverty in a developing nation has access to the Internet on a computer. It's expensive and, in some places, there's a lack of infrastructure to support it.
The chances are better, though, that that person owns a cellphone. It's probably not an iPhone or an Android, and he or she probably hasn't purchased a data plan for it, but it has the ability to access the Internet.
Google believes that this category of cellphone user is the future of its expansion.
New Hampshire Gov.-elect Maggie Hassan and Gov. John Lynch visit with fourth-graders from Derry, N.H., at the Statehouse on Thursday in Concord. Come January, Hassan will govern a state where — for the first time — all U.S. senators and representatives also are women.
Credit Jim Cole / AP
Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., is joined by her children, Katherine and Jacob, in campaigning with Mitt Romney on July 4 in Wolfeboro, N.H.
I'd like to thank Carol Shea-Porter, Ann McLane Kuster, Jeanne Shaheen, Kelly Ayotte, Maggie Hassan and ... Jocelyn Chertoff.
On Tuesday, Democrats Shea-Porter and McLane Kuster won congressional seats from New Hampshire. They'll join Democratic Sen. Shaheen and Republican Sen. Ayotte in the nation's capital in January when the 113th Congress convenes — giving New Hampshire the first-in-the-nation all-female congressional delegation.
The Military Voices Initiative, a StoryCorps' project, collects stories from members of the U.S. armed forces, with a special focus on those who served in post-Sept. 11, 2001, conflicts. Every month, highlights from that initiative air on Weekend Edition Saturday.
Spc. Justin Cliburn, 30, was deployed to Iraq in 2005 with the Oklahoma Army National Guard. His job was to train the Iraqi police in Baghdad. During his time there, he got to know a boy in his early teens named Ali, who walked through their compound one day.
Cabbie John Crowood's traditional London taxi was one among hordes as he began trundling through the city's streets with so many other benevolent black beetles more than 30 years ago.
Today, he's one of a dwindling band. Crowood says that the only company that makes the classic retro London cab had to recall 400 of its newest vehicles after a mechanical defect was found, leaving hundreds of his fellow cabbies unable to ply their trade.
Nearly two years ago, Soner Yalcin and more than a dozen of his employees at the online news outlet OdaTV joined the growing list of incarcerated Turkish journalists. Yalcin, the owner of OdaTV, is one of the sharpest critics of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government.
As their trial proceedings dragged on, challenges to the state's case grew, and most of the outlet's journalists were released, pending the trial's conclusion. But Yalcin and two others remain behind bars, 22 months and counting.