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The blackout that recently disrupted electricity across northern India is said to have affected more people than any previous power outage ever. It covered an area that's home to some 670 million people; that would be roughly 10 percent of the world's population. Still, large numbers of Indians living in the blackout zone barely noticed it happened. From New Delhi, NPR's Julie McCarthy explains.
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Democrats hold their convention this week. And yesterday on this program, we heard one version of the challenge President Obama will face. Cokie Roberts said the president will need to talk of more than President Bush's failures and Mitt Romney's tax returns. He will face the challenge of defending his own record and speaking of what he'd do in four more years.
NPR's business news starts with iPhones and Kindles and Droids - oh, my.
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GREENE: Tech giants Nokia, Motorola and Amazon are all expected to announce new hand-held devices this week. It may be an attempt to keep pace with Apple, now the largest U.S. company ever. Apple's rumored to be unveiling its new iPhone at a news conference next week.
San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro (left) stands onstage with his twin, Joaquin, during preparations Monday for the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. The mayor will give the keynote address Tuesday night, introduced by his brother, a Texas legislator.
Julian Castro, the 37-year-old mayor of San Antonio, Texas, has been called the new face of the Democratic Party. And on Tuesday night, he'll become the first Latino to deliver the keynote speech at the party's national convention.
Over the weekend, parishioners at St. Paul Catholic Church in San Antonio sent off one of their own with a breakfast taco rally.
Yes, organics is a $29 billion industry and still growing. Something is pulling us toward those organic veggies that are grown without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers.
But if you're thinking that organic produce will help you stay healthier, a new finding may come as a surprise. A new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine finds scant evidence of health benefits from organic foods.
An Afghan man inspects a motorcycle used in a suicide attack in a parking lot holding dozens of trucks supplying the NATO-run Kandahar Air Base in June. Bombings and assassinations are on the rise in Kandahar. Last month, a suicide bomber struck the convoy of the provincial police chief, Gen. Abdul Raziq, who was severely injured.
Credit AFP/Getty Images
In March, villagers pray over the grave of a victim of a shooting rampage in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province south of Kabul, Afghanistan.
For years, Kandahar province has been a key focus of NATO's efforts to stabilize Afghanistan. The volatile region is the birthplace of the Taliban, and its capital is the country's second-largest city.
American troops have begun leaving this area by the thousands and are handing security responsibilities over to Afghan forces. Afghan officials claim things are getting better.
But many residents don't trust Western forces or their own government's claims, and they are now turning to a third party for help.
A child's success can't be measured in IQ scores, standardized tests or vocabulary quizzes, says author Paul Tough. Success, he argues, is about how young people build character. Tough explores this idea in his new book, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character.
An art installation of a melting fan sits on display in a subway station Thursday, June 9, 2011, in Atlanta.
Credit David Goldman / AP
Brian Stone Jr., director of the Urban Climate Lab at Georgia Tech, says that pavement stores heat during the day and makes cities hotter at night. Cities, he says, tend to be heating up at double the rate of the rest of the planet.
Credit Richard Harris / NPR
Green spaces and water features, like this new one behind Ponce de Leon Avenue in Atlanta, are ways cities can help combat rising temperatures. Trees provide shade, and evaporating water helps cool the air.
Credit Richard Harris / NPR
Greg Levine, with the nonprofit Trees Atlanta, is working to plant new trees and saplings in the area.
More than 20,000 high-temperature records have been broken so far this year in the United States. And the heat is especially bad in cities, which are heating up about twice as fast as the rest of the planet.
High temperatures increase the risk of everything from asthma to allergies, and can even be deadly. But a researcher in Atlanta also sees this urban heat wave as an opportunity to do something about our warming planet.
Originally published on Mon September 3, 2012 9:06 pm
The bus is always the center of attention. Partly because it's a hulking 1970s tour bus that somehow made it from Arizona all the way to Charlotte, but mostly because of what's inscribed on the side of it in thick, black letters.
"Sin Papeles, Sin Miedo," it reads in Spanish. "No papers, no fear."
Carrying a bunch of undocumented activists, the bus rolled through the country, through states like Arizona, Texas, Louisiana and Georgia, and into Charlotte on the eve of the Democratic National Convention.
Michael Clarke Duncan, seen here in 2010, has died at age 54 in a Los Angeles hospital. The actor appeared in more than 70 films, including blockbusters such as <em>Armageddon</em> and <em>Kung Fu Panda.</em>
Originally published on Tue September 4, 2012 9:48 am
Actor Michael Clarke Duncan has died at age 54, according to his fiancee, the Rev. Omarosa Manigault. Known for his huge size and deep, resonant voice, Duncan received an Oscar nomination for his performance in The Green Mile, the 1999 prison film in which he starred alongside Tom Hanks.
Duncan's death was announced by Manigault, who in July said that she performed CPR on the actor after finding him in a state of cardiac arrest late at night.
Is Mitt Romney shifting his abortion position again?
It's fairly well-known that Romney proclaimed himself in favor of abortion rights when he ran for office in Massachusetts, then reversed himself before launching his presidential bid. But recently, the GOP nominee seems to be softening his opposition somewhat. Or is he?
Originally published on Mon September 3, 2012 4:06 pm
The astronomer in me will tell you that summer officially ends on Sept. 22. That's the date of the Autumnal Equinox, the point in Earth's orbit where the hours of day and night are equal. That definition is fine for a scientific understanding of the cosmos, but when it comes to experience, we all know that summer really ends on Labor Day. And in that division between the ways we meter time (for science or business) and the way we actually live time, there is a Labor Day lesson we might keep close to our hearts all year long.
Syrian air force jets bombed the rebel-held town of Al-Bab in northern Syria on Monday, killing at least 18 people, according to Syrian activists.
Over the summer, the rebels gained control of a number of towns and villages along the Syrian-Turkish border. Now, those places are being bombarded from the air and from the ground by government forces.
Azaz, in northern Syria's Aleppo province, is one of these places. There, the tombstones in the old section of the town's cemetery are laid out in neat rows.
Crowd funding began as a way to support the arts on the Internet. Artists could go online to pitch a new album, for example, in the hope that thousands would give small amounts. But now it's expanded to entrepreneurs, and the rules aren't quite as clear.
Afghan girls walk home from school in Kunduz province earlier this year. Despite progress in recent years, girls who want an education face threats from the Taliban and other extremists, and sometimes even their own families.
In Afghanistan, girls are required by law to go to school. However, many of them never do.
Death threats, acid attacks and bombings by Taliban militants and other extremists lead many parents who support female education to keep their daughters at home.
Sometimes, it's the families themselves who stand in the way. School officials in conservative communities say relatives are often more interested in marrying off their daughters or sisters than in helping them get an education.
But some girls, like 18-year-old Rahmaniya, are fighting back.
Malaika, 19, sits behind a friend while her makeup is applied at a friend's home in Rawalpindi. The transgender teenager got straight As in school before dropping out because of discrimination from her classmates. Now she dances at weddings and other parties for money.
Credit Lauren Frayer / NPR
A transgender woman begs for alms from motorists at a traffic stop in Rawalpindi, outside Islamabad, Pakistan, on March 27.
Credit Bay Ismoyo / AFP/Getty Images
Almas Bobby, leader of Pakistan's transgender community, led the Supreme Court battle that ultimately won transgender people the legal right to list a third gender option — neither male nor female — on their national identity cards.
Credit Lauren Frayer / NPR
Sameeha, a 22-year-old transgender wedding performer, dances as friends look on during a rehearsal at a friend's home in Rawalpindi.
Urban Pakistan assaults your senses: tangles of traffic; Pakistani pop competing with the mosque's call to prayer; pungent spices in the steamy air. And then there are the transvestites.
At traffic lights, you see people draped in elegant pink and red clothing, with sparkling makeup. They tap their painted fingernails on your car window, asking for money. And that's when you notice the stubble on their chins.
"Begging here in traffic is just a part-time job," says 32-year-old Mina Mehvish. "I really want to be a dancer."
Unlike what Republicans did in Tampa last week, Democrats will lay out a clear plan to get the country back on sound footing, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said during news briefing in Charlotte, N.C., moments ago.
Villaraigosa, who is the chair of the Democratic National Convention, said that by the time the convention wraps up Thursday night, the party will have crystalized its platform and explained that this election is about a stark choice.
Joshua Bell, the violin prodigy who grew into what some call a classical-music rock star, has taken the helm of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, an English chamber orchestra based in London. Bell is the orchestra's first music director since Sir Neville Marriner, who created the group.
Guitar legend Buddy Guy has been called the bridge between the blues and rock 'n' roll, as well as one of the most influential blues musicians in the world. Guitar icons like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan and countless others use words like "legend," "master" and "greatest of all time" to describe him.
Freshmen "common reads" are becoming increasingly popular at American colleges and universities. Incoming freshmen are assigned the same book over the summer and are asked to come prepared to discuss the book in their first week on campus.
The new quartet album by alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón and pianist Laurent Coq is called Rayuela, which means "hopscotch." It's named for Julio Cortázar's novel, the fragmented tale of a wandering bohemian and his social circles in Parisian exile, as well as back home in Buenos Aires.
Union shops in the private sector have dwindled in recent decades. Now, public union leaders worry that they're losing political clout, bargaining power and members. That raises questions about whether unions fallen victim to their own success. Originally broadcast on June 7, 2012.