The preparations for Pope Benedict XVI's three-day visit to Cuba have produced some unusual sights and sounds there lately.
A church van with a megaphone drove around one Havana neighborhood recently, calling Cubans out of their homes to a gathering in a nearby park, with the message that God loves them.
The number of churchgoing Catholics on the island is growing again, but it remains less than 10 percent, and the call to gather was a rare exception to the Communist government's ban on public acts of religious proselytism.
The Russian boy sent back to his homeland by his adoptive U.S. mother two years ago might have finally gotten a break.
Torry Ann Hansen put Artyom Savelyev on a plane with a note saying he had "severe psychopathic issues" and she didn't want to be his parent any more. A Shelbyville, Tenn., court ordered her to pay child support this month.
Artyom's journey highlights the challenges both within Russia and between Russia and the United States over how to care for orphans.
Rick Santorum had been expected to win Louisiana's Republican presidential primary Saturday, but the size of the victory was a surprise. The former Pennsylvania senator captured 49 percent of the GOP vote. Mitt Romney, who is the front-runner nationally, finished a distant second with nearly 27 percent. Santorum sees his win as evidence that the party still has big doubts about Romney.
Among those who voted for Santorum was 54-year-old Curt Thurmon in Shreveport.
Louisa McQueeney manages a small business in Lantana, Fla., shipping gift food and produce. She believes the new health care law could bring down her employee health care costs, but Florida Gov. Rick Scott disagrees, and he's leading the battle to strike down the law in court.
No state has worked harder to stop the federal health care overhaul than Florida. Hours after President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law two years ago, Florida led 12 other states in a federal court challenge. Eventually, a total of 26 states signed on.
The Supreme Court will hear the case this week. Meanwhile, Florida's governor, Rick Scott, has rejected more than $35 million in federal grants to help the state prepare for the new federal program.
Originally published on Mon March 26, 2012 8:33 am
The U.S. Supreme Court is set to begin hearing oral arguments Monday in a Republican-led challenge to the national health care law that has convulsed the country and its political class for more than two years — and may well define President Obama's tenure in the White House.
It's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Laura Sullivan, in for Guy Raz.
The Republican nominating contest is back in the South today as primary voters cast their ballots in Louisiana. A little earlier, we caught up with NPR's national political correspondent Don Gonyea who's on the road in Louisiana. Don, where are you now?
In Round 8 of our Three-Minute Fiction contest, listeners were given this challenge: Begin a story with this sentence: "She closed the book, placed it on the table, and finally decided to walk through the door." And, as always, the story must be 600 words or less. The deadline is 11:59 p.m. ET Sunday.
A new online ad from Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum sketches out a dire threat.
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UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Imagine a small American town two years from now if Obama is re-elected. The wait to see a doctor is ever increasing. Gas prices through the roof, and the freedom of religion under attack.
If you walk through the desert in southern Arizona you can find evidence of a major migration. Water bottles, shoes, food wrappers — these are some of the things left behind by the thousands of people who try to cross the border between Mexico and the United States every year.
For some people, the items are trash to be cleaned up; for others, they offer a window into a perilous voyage.
Mary Johnson and Oshea Israel wait outside the Supreme Court for Tuesday's hearing on whether it is unconstitutional to sentence teenagers to life in prison without the possibility of parole. When he was 16, Israel shot and killed Johnson's son.
Credit Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth
Sharletta Evans holds a photograph of her 3-year-old son Casson in Aurora, Colo., last July. Casson was killed in a drive-by shooting by two 15-year-olds.
The Supreme Court heard arguments this week about the fate of 2,500 offenders who were sentenced as teenagers to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Seventy-nine of them were 13 or 14 when they committed their crimes.
Many prosecutors and family members of victims spoke out about the need to keep the sentences in place.
Sixteen-year-old Katniss is an accomplished archer in Suzanne Collins' young adult trilogy, The Hunger Games, so it should be no surprise that in her film incarnation, she's hit the box office bulls-eye. This dystopian wonder (for those who've been living in a cave of late, The Hunger Games is a thriller about a totalitarian society that forces teens to participate in a televised fight to the death) appears poised to join the Harry Potter and Twilight movies in the top echelon of teen-oriented page-to-screen blockbusters.
Originally published on Sat March 24, 2012 4:09 pm
Saturday should be another good day for Rick Santorum, as his strength has been in Southern states. Polls in Louisiana, which is holding its primary, also gave him a double-digit lead over Mitt Romney coming into the weekend.
The Sportsman's Paradise has 46 Republican delegates to send to the party's presidential-nominating convention. But the very helpful Frontloading HQ blog informs us that only 20 of 25 at-large delegates will be doled out based on Saturday's results.
The situation in Syria has deteriorated further this week. Government troops once again opened fire on thousands of protesters, armed rebels continued their own resistance, which looks more and more like an insurgency. All this despite a push by the United Nations fro a cease-fire. NPR's Kelly McEvers reports.
KELLY MCEVERS, BYLINE: It's hard to know where to start when it comes to Syria. First, let's go the protests that continued despite the fact that violence is on the rise.
A rally organizers have billed as the "largest secular event in world history" will be held on the National Mall today.
The Reason Rally will bring atheists and nonbelievers together in a hallowed American place.
But Paul Fidalgo of the Center for Inquiry, one of the organizations involved, says, "It's not a march on Washington where we're picketing anything. It's a celebration of the fact that the secular movement is really starting to come into its own."
The MF Life is the second album by R&B singer Melanie Fiona, released this past week. The two-time Grammy winner says the title has sparked a lot of discussion.
"It gets people talking to each other," Fiona says. "I wanted it to be a collection of music and songs that make people think about the things that we actually go through and feel, and to acknowledge that — to know that there's someone out there singing their story, as well."
Outrage over the shooting death of Trayvon Martin spread across the country this week following the release of the recordings of 911 calls. Trayvon Martin was unarmed. He'd gone out to purchase candy. Thousands of people protested this week, donning hooded sweatshirts in solidarity with Trayvon Martin, who was wearing one when he was shot. Many called for the arrest of George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who says he shot the 17-year-old in self-defense.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.
Be careful what you wish for. After John McCain so quickly clinched the Republican presidential nomination the last time around, the party changed its rules with an eye to extending their primary season, reaping public interest for months like the long Democratic primary season of 2008. You might wonder how they feel about that now. John McCain himself has dubbed this campaign the nastiest he's ever seen - akin to watching a Greek tragedy.
This week, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum got their secret service code names. Mr. Romney is Javelin. Mr. Santorum is Petrus. We asked Ian Chillag and Mike Danforth from the NPR podcast How to Do Everything to look into how secret service code names are assigned.
IAN CHILLAG, BYLINE: Presidents have been getting codenames all the way back to Harry Truman. The secret service called him General.
MIKE DANFORTH, BYLINE: Here's historian Michael Beschloss.
Now, from March Madness to the scandal called Bountygate. And can a virtuous young man find happiness in the big city that never sleeps, but sure swears a lot. Senior write for ESPN.com and ESPN the magazine, Howard Bryant, joins us.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News, I'm Scott Simon. Murder charges have been filed against the U.S. Army Sergeant accused of killing 17 Afghan men, women and children. Now, an investigative officer will decide whether there's enough evidence to go forward with a court martial. NPR's Pentagon correspondent, Tom Bowman, walks us through the legal challenges ahead for the defense and the prosecution.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Time for sports.
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SIMON: And coming up, we'll talk about the scandal rocking the NFL. But first, in the NCAA last night: North Carolina needed overtime to put away Ohio. Kansas defeated NC State. Baylor beat Xavier. And Kentucky toppled Indiana 102 to 90. And with that win, the powerhouse Wildcats moved into the elite 8 of the tournament. NPR's Mike Pesca reports.
In a cave-like basement bursting with rickety old bicycles, tires and churning middle-schoolers, Daniel Furbish barks orders.
Close-cropped beard, pen behind his ear, Furbish is an artist-turned-teacher from a military family — creative and disciplined. He started his Nashville, Tenn., bike-building workshop as a summer experiment. He thought, "What if I take donated bike parts and teach kids to put them together?"
Americans have always been fascinated by con men. Why else would we have so many movies about legendary swindlers? Most real-life cons are probably less entertaining than the ones on the silver screen, but in her new book, Amy Reading unearths a historical swindle that rivals anything ever imagined by Hollywood.