Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been visiting Chinese officials, talking of mutual cooperation, despite a lot of tension. So far her visit to Beijing has produced no breakdowns but also no breakthroughs. Here's NPR's Louisa Lim.
State Department officials have been saying that Secretary Clinton wants to push the Chinese on a surprising issue: elephants. Thousands of African elephants are being slaughtered for their ivory. The New York Times reports they are the latest plunder taken by armed African groups - a little like blood diamonds - and most of the ivory goes to China. Jeffrey Gettleman wrote the Times report after spending time in a national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He's on the line from that country. Welcome to the program.
George Takei rehearses a scene from Allegiance, a new musical inspired by Takei's childhood in Japanese-American internment camps during World War II.
Credit Jeffrey Weiser / Courtesy of The Old Globe
Takei rehearses a scene in which his character, Ojii-San, tries to cheer his granddaughter up by making her an origami flower out of a loyalty questionnaire.
Credit Photo courtesy of George Takei
George Takei (left) stands with his mother and siblings during their internment at Camp Tule Lake in California. The inset image at top right shows Takei as a kindergartener at Camp Rohwer in Arkansas.
Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 7:26 am
I was once known among my friends as the queen of desserts. OK, maybe that's an exaggeration, but I was at least the bringer of desserts. My circle of friends hosted frequent dinner parties, but my tiny apartment made entertaining any more than a couple of guests impossible. To make up for that, I always offered to bring a contribution. While I preferred appetizers, the day came when a friend asked for a dessert. With some trepidation, I complied. I have no idea what that first dessert was, but it was a hit. My fate was sealed.
Originally published on Tue September 4, 2012 4:38 pm
In Girl Model, an alarming documentary about the trafficking of Russian child models to the Japanese fashion market, a garrulous modeling agent explains his philosophy: To expiate his own past bad behavior, he says with papal solemnity, he approaches model recruitment as a religious calling, not to mention a fatherly responsibility to do right by the girls, give them a better life than they have now and protect them from harm.
One of Billie Holiday's most iconic songs is "Strange Fruit," a haunting protest against the inhumanity of racism. Many people know that the man who wrote the song was inspired by a photograph of a lynching. But they might not realize that he's also tied to another watershed moment in America's history.
Dr. Mahmoud Hasson, a specialist in internal medicine, runs a new hospital in the Syrian village of Kfar Ghan, a protected area along the border with Turkey. The Turkish government warned that any Syrian military aircraft near the border would be a target.
Driving into Kfar Ghan, you notice the difference right away: The shops are open, there are kids on the street, there's even a row of open-air vegetable stalls and a crowd of shoppers.
There is a full spread of watermelon, eggplants, peppers and tomatoes. All the farmers from the area have brought their produce to the market in this Syrian village, about a mile from the Turkish border.
Schools have been open for a couple of weeks across much of Florida, but not all of the students know who their teachers are yet. There's typically a lot of teacher turnover during the summer break, and schools can't always get vacant teaching positions filled by the time school starts.
The Social Security tax rate is scheduled to revert to 6.2 percent next year, up from the temporary reduction — to 4.2 percent on an employee's first $110,000 in wages — which has been in effect since January 2011.
Russia has been facing troubling demographics ever since the Soviet breakup two decades ago. The population has contracted by several million people over this period. The birth rate is low. Life expectancy for men is still less than 65 years.
And there is also a sense that many educated, talented people are leaving the country.
To take one example, the world of science lit up in July, when a billionaire Internet investor named Yuri Milner announced nine prizes for some of the world's most innovative thinkers in physics.
Well, the Southeastern Conference season has begun. I have it on good authority that other college football teams around the country will also be playing games this fall.
I don't know when exactly the SEC took over America. I know this is hard to believe, but the epicenter of college football used to be in the Midwest. I'm so old, I can remember when Notre Dame actually mattered, and the real tough players were supposed to come from Western Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 11:51 pm
On Tuesday, NPR's Frank James hosted a live chat during the Democratic convention. He was joined by Neal Carruth, NPR's elections editor; political science professors Sarah Treul of the University of North Carolina and Melody Crowder-Meyer of Sewanee: The University of the South; and Jake Silverstein, editor of Texas Monthly.
Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 8:55 am
There were a lot of preliminaries, but it was Michelle Obama's show Tuesday night at the Democratic National Convention, and she used it masterfully — carrying a rapt crowd along with a narrative of family, hard work, and truth-telling.
Largely wrung of politics, the first lady's speech plotted parallels in her life and that of her husband, President Obama. She pointedly tracked their humble beginnings and strivings in an unspoken but clear contrast to the privileged upbringing of GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
We've also compiled five things that struck us about the night:
'Mom In Chief' Takes A Stand: There is no question that the first night of the convention belonged to first lady Michelle Obama, who delivered a sweeping, personal and dramatic endorsement of her husband, President Obama.
Originally published on Thu September 6, 2012 1:53 pm
They billed the gathering in a Charlotte, N.C., Holiday Inn conference room Tuesday as the first national meeting of Mormon Democrats.
Don't laugh. Crystal Young-Otterstrom says she figures there are 1 million of them out there, and she's determined to find them.
"It's like a missionary effort," Young-Otterstrom said in a room packed with the curious, the media and a cadre of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints making the argument that the Democratic Party best represents their personal and religious values.
Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 6:37 am
Defense Department officials say that No Easy Day, former Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette's book about the secret mission to kill Osama bin Laden, includes classified information that may harm U.S. military operations. The book went on sale yesterday despite the Pentagon's warnings of possible legal action last week.
Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 10:23 am
Sometimes known as the Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, the New York band Antibalas — which means "bulletproof" in Spanish — is a large group of talented musicians who play rhythm-intensive Afrobeat music. In a seven-year stretch, Antibalas has released four albums and withstood a five-year hiatus in which several members worked on the Broadway musical FELA!