Billy McCarthy lost his mother to suicide when he was a teenager. He cared for his schizophrenic brother as best he could after that, but his brother landed in solitary confinement in prison, where he eventually took his own life, too. Somehow, McCarthy found a way to rise above his anguish — as a songwriter. He began playing music while living in foster care in California.
Kurt Vonnegut was a counterculture hero, an American Mark Twain, an avuncular, jocular friend to the youth — until you got to know him.
"Kurt was actually rather flinty, rather irascible. He had something of a temper," author Charles Shields tells weekends on All Things Considered host Laura Sullivan. Shields is the author of a new biography of Vonnegut, called And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life.
"But as I also point out in the book," Shields adds, "he was a damaged person."
Originally published on Sat November 19, 2011 2:37 pm
LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News, I'm Linda Wertheimer. In Libya today, news that Moammar Gadhafi's son, Seif al-Islam has been captured as he was traveling in a convoy across the southern desert of Libya. Seif was the only Gadhafi family member still at large. Officials said he would be held in the mountain town of Zintan until his transfer to Libya's capital, Tripoli. Joining us to talk more about this development is Leila Fadel, The Washington Post correspondent based in Cairo. Leila, good morning.
Operation Pedro Pan shaped the lives of a generation of Cuban-Americans. Between 1960 and 1962, the program airlifted more than 14,000 Cuban children from Havana to the U.S. Fifty years later, those children are recalling how that flight changed their lives.
In Miami this weekend, a group of Cuban-Americans — now in their 50s and 60s — are gathering to commemorate the flights that took them from their homeland to America.
The journey began in early January 1959, after Dictator Fulgencio Batista fled the country. Fidel Castro arrived in Havana soon after and took control.
It's a politics-filled Saturday as Republicans hold a presidential candidate forum and the Democrats have their Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa. This year's dinner features Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel as the keynote speaker; four years ago the dinner launched then-Sen. Barack Obama's presidential candidacy into high gear. Guest host Linda Wertheimer talks with NPR's Don Gonyea about the events.
Italy and Greece, two European countries mired in debt, are pinning their hopes on technocrats. It got us wondering, what exactly is a technocrat? For some answers, we first turned to former technocrat Ricardo Hausmann. He's an economist by trade and currently teaches at Harvard. But for a brief moment, starting in 1992...
RICARDO HAUSMANN: I was a, yeah, I was a minister of planning in the government of Venezuela.
WERTHEIMER: Hausmann left the post the following year. Politics, he says, has never been his calling.
Europe's economy, the world's largest, is in the midst of economic turmoil. A growing debt crisis has already forced the resignations of Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou as well as Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi. And forecasts from the European Union suggest the 17-nation Eurozone could be facing possible recession next year. Some analysts are considering the possible collapse of the Eurozone. The Institute for Policy Studies recently published an article titled "Is Europe Over?"