NASA may have retired its shuttles, but it has its sights on sending astronauts deeper into space than ever before.
These voyages are years away, but on Monday, astronauts are heading underwater to take part in a simulation that will help them figure out how they might explore one possible new destination: a near-Earth asteroid.
Sometimes referred to as "The Rock," Alcatraz Island on San Francisco Bay in California served as a lighthouse, then a military fortification, and then a federal prison until 1972, when it became a national recreation area. Now the island is open to tours.
Fifty years ago, three men set out into the frigid waters of the San Francisco Bay in a raft made out of raincoats. It was one of the most daring prison escapes in U.S. history.
As one newsreel put it: The spoon proved "mightier than the bars at supposedly escape-proof Alcatraz prison."
"Three bank robbers serving long terms scratched their way through grills covering an air vent, climbed a drainage pipe and disappeared from the forbidding rock in San Francisco Bay," the report continued.
A recent Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program event in Boston offered help for members of the 182nd Infantry Regiment of the Army National Guard as they transition back to being civilians.
Credit Tom Dreisbach / NPR
Maj. Matthew Porter, his wife, Jennifer, and their 3-month-old daughter attended the Yellow Ribbon event. They say the deployment strained their relationship, but they are working to keep their marriage healthy.
The 182nd Infantry Regiment of the Army National Guard landed back in the U.S. last March after a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan.
After two months of leave, however, their official transition time is over and the deployment paychecks have stopped. It's now time to get back to regular life, and for the members from Massachusetts, that means a mandatory check-in with the unit's leadership.
Southeast of Macon, Ga., near Oglethorpe, rows of peanuts planted six weeks ago have sprouted. Tiny yellow flowers dot the rich-green plants. Donald Chase, his father and grandfather have owned this farm since the 1950s.
Like many southern farmers, Chase objects to the version of the farm bill kicking around in the Senate this week. The bill aims to do away with direct payments to farmers by expanding crop insurance programs.
On Jan. 1, trillions of dollars in spending cuts and tax increases — called Taxmageddon — will take effect unless Congress and the White House can agree on a new plan. Many economists say the country will fall back into a recession if it happens. Former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin says Congress may actually be "forced to make a decision that affects taxes and spending."
It's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz.
Support for Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad, may be further deteriorating. That's after Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, said his country would be glad to see Assad step down if most Syrians agreed. Russia's been one of the Syrian regime's staunchest supporters.
In Syria itself, another night of gunfire and explosions, some of it in the capital, Damascus. NPR's Deborah Amos is there and with me now.
The Justice Department has launched an investigation to determine the source of a series of leaks about sensitive intelligence matters. President Obama denied his administration authorized the leaks, but some Senate Republicans accused the White House of deliberately leaking the stories in order to boost the president's national security credentials.
Last year, Kansas became the first state in the nation to completely eliminate arts funding. Republican Gov. Sam Brownback has always said he supports the arts, but when the state was facing a tight budget, he said Kansas needed to cut back.
"As we look to grow Kansas' economy and focus state government resources to ensure the most efficient use of taxpayer dollars, we must do all we can to protect the core functions of state government," he said.
Like most members of the Penobscot Nation, Scott Phillips grew up near the Penobscot River and learned to paddle and fish as a young boy. He took to it like a duck to water. He became a competitive racer and eventually opened his own business selling canoes, kayaks and other outdoor gear.
Next week, the first of two dams on the river will be removed, altering the way it's used recreationally. The change could also be a boon to Phillip's business.
Steve Guttenberg (left), Michael Winslow (center) and G.W. Bailey star in 1987's <em>Police Academy 4: Citizens On Patrol</em>, part of the film franchise launched by 1984's <em>Police Academy</em>.
Credit Warner Bros./Getty Images
Steve Guttenberg (left) stars alongside Daniel Stern (center) and Paul Reiser in 1982's <em>Diner</em>, which continues to be one of his most beloved film projects. He sometimes appears as a guest at revival screenings.
When Steve Guttenberg was 16, he went to see an agent about starting his acting career.
That agent told him: "You are the last guy I would pick to be a movie star."
Guttenberg decided to become an actor anyway.
The summer before he was supposed to start the University of Albany, he moved from Long Island to Los Angeles to try his luck. Once there, he tells weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz, he snuck onto the Paramount Studios lot, set up his own office, and started making phone calls to agents and producers.
"The Spanish government states its intention to request European financing for the recapitalization of banks that need it," Spanish Economy Minister Luis de Guindos said at a press conference on Saturday.
Spain will ask, and European finance ministers will agree, to offer up financial aid for the country's struggling banks.
Spanish and eurozone officials announced their intentions after a three-hour emergency conference call on Saturday. If they make good on it, Spain will be the fourth – and largest — member of the 17-nation eurozone to receive outside help as Europe's debt crisis marches on.
It's a good time to be a craft brewer, as Americans are thirsty for full-flavored and local beers. But when small breweries grow, they can also risk losing some of the "craftiness" their fans love. And when they expand, many brewers have to rewrite their recipes — starting with the water.
To the daredevils of motor sports now - stock car racers. The Airborne Park Speedway in Plattsburgh, New York - racing takes on a hometown feel. North Country Public Radio's Sarah Harris went to an early season race and has our story.
SARAH HARRIS, BYLINE: At the Airborne Park Speedway in Plattsburgh, it's all stock car racing all day.
SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: And I'm Scott Horsley in Providence. Netroots Nation is part pep rally, part technology seminar, and - this year at least - part postmortem. Netroots chairman Adam Bonin kicked off the gathering just two days after the Wisconsin vote, which was viewed very differently in this crowd than it was by the audience at CPAC.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Time for sports.
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SIMON: And there won't be a Triple Crown winner this year. But it's still a weekend for major matchups of all kinds, with Nadal and Djokovic, LeBron James and the Boston Celtics, and the peerless Manny Pacquiao in action. NPR Sports Correspondent Tom Goldman joins us.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. It seems that every week, there's a new study out on political polarization in America. More and more, we talk to, vote with, and get our news from only those who think the way that we do. So, this week we sent reporters on a couple of polar expeditions to political gatherings on the left and the right. And in a moment, we'll hear from NPR's Scott Horsley at Netroots Nation in Rhode Island. First, now here's NPR's David Schaper at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Chicago.
Today had the promise of history — that is, until the horse I'll Have Another was scratched from the Belmont Stakes. Also scratched: hopes for a long-awaited Triple Crown winner. It was yet another piece of bad news for the horse racing industry, which is under new scrutiny over the safety and treatment of the horses.
This is Weekend Edition from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.
It's been another bloody week in Syria. This week, dozens of people were reportedly killed in cold blood in a tiny farming hamlet in Central Syria by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. It is the latest atrocity in a 15-month revolt against the regime.
From Syria we head now to Bahrain, where a prominent human rights activist is back in detention this time for what he's been writing on Twitter. The U.S. says it's looking into the case and continuing to encourage Bahrain to allow free speech. Activists say the U.S. isn't pushing its ally hard enough.
NPR's Michele Kelemen spoke with a Bahraini human rights advocate who was in Washington, D.C. this week to remind U.S. officials that activists are still under pressure a year after Bahrain cracked down on anti-government protesters.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Last month, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement made a significant policy change. They increased the number of agents responsible for finding and deporting illegal immigrants with criminal records by nearly 25 percent. Now, the agency says it wants to remove offenders who pose the greatest threat to public safety or national security.
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:
Neil Young: The Fresh Air Interview: Young's latest album with Crazy Horse, Americana, features songs many of us learned as children, like "Oh Susannah" and "Clementine."
Fredric Stahl is "the sympathetic lawyer, the kind aristocrat, the saintly husband, the comforting doctor, or the good lover." At least onscreen.
He's an American movie star, born in Vienna, and says "my dear" with a kind of dreamy, trans-European cosmopolitan allure that makes him seem "a warm man in a cold world." He's also the hero of Alan Furst's new novel, Mission to Paris, set in Furst's favorite locale: Europe on the brink of war.
Nik Wallenda walks a tightrope in the rain during a training session for his upcoming stunt in Niagara Falls, N.Y.
Credit Gary Wiepert / AP
Spectators watch Nik Wallenda practice in Niagara Falls, N.Y. Local officials are hoping the stunt revives flagging tourism.
Credit David Duprey / AP
High-wire performer Nik Wallenda will try to cross the Niagara Gorge on a tightrope this Friday. The seventh-generation member of the Flying Wallendas spent months getting the necessary permissions from Canada and the United States for the cross-border stunt.
Niagara Falls has long been a magnet for daredevils, but strict laws have kept them away for more than a century. That's expected to change Friday, when circus performer Nik Wallenda will walk a two-inch-thick wire above the giant waterfall. It's an exception officials hope will rescue tourism — and the city's economy.
The crowd of job seekers at an unemployment office in downtown Madrid looks different than it did a few years ago.
When the housing market went bust, construction workers flooded the lobby. Now, labor reforms have made it easier for corporations to fire workers without seniority. So now young people, including those with an education, are unable to find work.
Jaime Garcia de Sola, a former intern at an investment bank, was one of those waiting in the unemployment line.
It's not easy shaking a bad reputation. Take the gorilla, for example: It's been saddled with a sketchy rep for as long as anyone can remember. Something along the lines of big, hairy, ferocious and superhuman in strength. A bit daunting, perhaps. And yet folks who work with and study gorillas say they are as much gentle as giant. I recently had the opportunity to find out for myself thanks to a trip organized by the International Reporting Project that took us to Rwanda.