Suzanne Collins' novel The Hunger Games and its two sequels are smashingly well written and morally problematic. They're set in the future, in which a country — presumably the former United States — is divided into 12 fenced-off districts many miles apart.
Each year, to remind people of its limitless power, a totalitarian government holds a lottery, selecting two children per district to participate in a killing ritual — the Hunger Games of the title — that will be televised to the masses, complete with opening ceremonies and beauty-pageant-style interviews.
At 54, Don Verrilli Jr. stands tall and calm in the Supreme Court chamber, his salt and pepper mustache the only thing about him that bristles. His deep, baritone voice suggests to the justices that he is the essence of reasonableness. There are no histrionics. Indeed, if he gets backed into a corner, his voice just gets deeper. Only the occasional, needless throat-clearing betrays any nerves at all.
A Bedouin guide makes his way down from Mount Sinai to the Greek Orthodox monastery of St. Catherine in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. The Bedouins depend on tourism, but have been kidnapping visitors in recent months in an attempt to pressure Egypt's government.
Credit Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson / NPR
Sheik Ahmed Hashem, 37, who heads the Revolutionary Movement of Sinai, led a group of some 150 protesters that detained two busloads of Western tourists earlier this year for five hours at a monastery in Wadi Feiran in South Sinai.
Credit Asmaa Waguuih / Reuters/Landov
A Bedouin man takes a visitor on a tour of Mount Catherine in South Sinai. Bedouin tribesmen in the region say they have been kidnapping Western tourists to pressure the Egyptian government to meet their basic needs and release jailed Bedouins.
Credit Khaled Elfiqi / EPA/Landov
Tourists visit the desert near the Red Sea resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh, in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, in February.
Bedouin tribesmen on Egypt's Sinai Peninsula rely on tourists for their livelihood — taking them on safaris, selling them trinkets, renting them huts at no-frills resorts on the Red Sea.
But these days, some Bedouins are using tourists for something completely different: as hostages in their political battle with the Egyptian government. In one recent incident, the tribesmen kidnapped two Brazilian tourists to secure the release of imprisoned relatives. The kidnappers released the women unharmed a few hours later.
A New Hampshire man who claimed last year that for a fee of $135 he would arrange to have your dog walked if the Rapture did indeed begin last May 21 and you got taken up to heaven, is now saying that his business venture was a hoax.
Allegations of phone hacking and bribery brought down Rupert Murdoch's tabloid News of the World. Criminal and parliamentary investigations are now under way in the U.K., and dozens of journalists and top executives from Murdoch's paper have been arrested.
Scotland Yard has been investigating the scandal, but several police officials from that iconic institution have also been implicated; they're accused of accepting bribes from reporters at Murdoch's papers.
Vanderbilt administrators and faculty field questions at a January 2012 town hall meeting on the school's controversial "all comers" rule. Many campus religious groups say aspects of the policy are discriminatory.
Credit Neil Brake / Courtesy of Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt University's Kirkland Hall. A controversial nondiscrimination policy has roiled the campus.
Administrators at Vanderbilt University are beginning to enforce a long-held nondiscrimination policy for student groups. The policy is forcing a dilemma for faith-based organizations: Either drop requirements that their leaders hold certain beliefs, or forfeit school funding and move off campus.
Members of Christian student groups say Vanderbilt's nondiscrimination policy has them feeling more like victims of discrimination. They include the school's star quarterback, junior Jordan Rogers.
When he was killed on Feb. 26, Trayvon Martin was said to be wearing a hooded sweatshirt. In New York City on Wednesday, hundreds of people gathered for a "Million Hoodies" march to call attention to his death.
French Interior Minister Claude Guéant (translated)
After a massive manhunt and a two-day standoff at an apartment building in Toulouse, French authorities say a man who claimed to be a member of al-Qaida and to have killed seven people in recent weeks is now dead himself.
According to French Interior Minister Claude Guéant, in the hour before 7 a.m. ET there was a dramatic conclusion to the saga that had gripped France and gotten the attention of people around the world.
The Homeland Security Department's Control System Security Program facilities in Idaho Falls, Idaho, are intended to protect the nation's power grid, water and communications systems. U.S. security officials and members of Congress are convinced a new law may be needed to promote improved cyberdefenses at critical facilities.
Consider what Hurricane Katrina did to New Orleans, and you get an idea of the consequences of a cyberattack on critical U.S. infrastructure: No electricity. No water. No transportation. Terrorists or enemy adversaries with computer skills could conceivably take down a power grid, a nuclear station, a water treatment center or a chemical manufacturing plant.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep.
President Obama visits Oklahoma today, talking of speeding construction for a major oil pipeline. Yesterday, he visited a solar panel farm in Nevada. Those were just two of the stops on a presidential effort to defend his energy policies. He's under pressure from Republicans because of rising gas prices.
And we start our coverage with NPR's Scott Horsley.
Today, Justice Department officials meet with family of Trayvon Martin. The unarmed African-American teen was shot in Florida by a neighborhood watch volunteer. Last night, Martin's parents joined a rally in New York's Union Square, and NPR's Margot Adler attended.
MARGOT ADLER, BYLINE: There was rage, sadness and also the feeling of a prayerful community gathering. When the parents of Trayvon Martin spoke, the crowds pushed closer to get a look and shouted words of encouragement. Tracy Martin, the teenager's father, spoke first.