AUDIE CORNISH, host: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.
We posed a question to our listeners on Facebook recently: Are you a parent who is worried your adult children won't have the same chance at a middle-class life as you did? Or are you the child of middle-class parents, and find you're not able to match your parents' lifestyle?
AUDIE CORNISH, host: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish. Organizers say more than 5,000 people signed up online for a protest today at the White House. At issue is the Keystone XL Pipeline, which is proposed as a way to take oil from Alberta, Canada 1,700 miles to refineries on the Gulf Coast. Environmental groups are asking President Obama to kill the project, but labor unions argue the construction would create badly needed jobs. Joining us to talk about the pipeline controversy is NPR's science correspondent, Richard Harris. Richard, welcome.
AUDIE CORNISH, host: Is it still possible to move up the economic ladder in the U.S.? Has the American dream become just that - a dream? As we found out from our social media callout, those questions are on the minds of many families like the Spoerners.
For nearly 40 years, voters in Maine have been able to walk into a polling place or town hall on Election Day and register to vote. But the Republican-controlled legislature this year decided to remove the option, citing the stress on municipal clerks and concerns about the potential for voter fraud.
Angry Democrats responded by launching a people's veto campaign, and come Election Day this Tuesday, voters will consider whether to restore same-day registration.
Taylor Howell told Vasquez High's football coach that if he wasn't blind he sure would love to play football. The coach told him he'd have to come up with a better excuse than that. The sophomore now plays center on the junior varsity team.
Credit Gloria Hillard / for NPR
Taylor's teammates look out for him and give him cues on the field.
It's afternoon practice for the junior varsity football team at Vasquez High in Acton, Calif. A high desert wind somersaults a discarded paper plate across the line of scrimmage just before it becomes a pile of white jerseys and purple helmets.
"You were offsides," the coach yells after blowing his whistle.
The players dust themselves off and line up for the next play. At center, is Taylor, a lean 15-year-old. His quarterback, Bryan McCauley, is a few yards behind him in shotgun formation.
Chinese children celebrate the Communist Party in Chongqing municipality in March. Bo Xilai, the region's party secretary who is vying for a place in the Politburo Standing Committee, espouses a government-intervention model to economics.
Credit Louisa Lim / NPR
Guangdong party secretary Wang Yang is taking a different approach from Chongqing's secretary. Wang follows a more market-oriented, liberal strategy.
Credit Louisa Lim / NPR
Academic Qiu Feng suggests that factions may become institutionalized inside China's Communist Party, leading to a possible split into two parties.
What goes on inside China's leadership is usually played out behind the closed oxblood doors of the compound where the top leaders live. This year, though, a political debate has sprung out in the open — and it has leaders and constituents considering how to move forward politically.
The entrance to the Two Rivers Regional Detention Facility in Hardin, Mont. The 464-bed detention facility was built with the promise of bringing jobs and stimulating the economy, but it has sat empty since it was completed in 2007.
Federal and state officials are increasingly contracting private companies to run prisons and immigration detention centers.
Critics have long questioned the quality of private prisons and the promises of economic benefits where they are built. But proponents say private prisons not only save taxpayers money, but they also generate income for the surrounding community.
The 2011 Latin Grammy Awards will take place this Thursday in Las Vegas. For those unfamiliar with the categories and nominees, Betto Arcos of KPFK's Global Village returns to weekends on All Things Considered to play songs from a few of his favorite nominated performers. Included are a samba artist best known for his film role as a singing sailor, the reigning king of flamenco, one of Mexico's biggest bands and an L.A. ensemble that channels the various sounds of its city.
The Rev. Bill Freeman reads from a copy of the U.S. Constitution during a public hearing before the Holland City Council in June. Despite appeals from Freeman and others, the council decided not to expand its anti-discrimination laws to include gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Last June, the city council in Holland, Mich., voted against adding sexual orientation and gender identity to its local anti-discrimination laws. Now an unlikely coalition is pressuring the city council to change that vote.
On Wednesday nights, Pastor Bill Freeman turns the podium of the city council meeting into a pulpit. He wants Holland to adopt local laws that would protect people from getting fired or kicked out of their homes because they are gay, bisexual or transgender.
When Jerusalem fell in 70 AD, hundreds of Jews journeyed through the desert and settled in the haven of Masada. In what is now southern Israel, Masada was an old fortress of King Herod's that sits atop an enormous rock plateau surrounded by steep cliffs.
"When I was there, I felt so moved and so connected," author Alice Hoffman tells Laura Sullivan, guest host of weekends on All Things Considered.
Hoffman was so struck by the beauty of Masada's rocky terrain, she says, that she chose to make it the backdrop in her new novel, The Dovekeepers.
This past week, All Things Considered has been sharing stories about the Darkhorse Battalion — that's the Marine unit that suffered the highest casualty rate of any Marine unit during the 10-year Afghan war. NPR Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman wraps up the series today, as he tells weekends on All Things Considered guest host Laura Sullivan about some of the people he met — both on the battlefield and on the home front.
SCOTT SIMON, host: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Quite a week for Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain. He came to Washington, D.C. for a series of public events and meetings with members of Congress, but decade-old sexual harassment allegations dogged him all week long, and then late yesterday the story took another turn when the lawyer for one of the accusers made a public statement. NPR's Tamara Keith has the latest.
SCOTT SIMON, host: Now, listening to this news you may come away with an impression of Herman Cain beset by controversy and scandal. But at a Washington, D.C. conference hosted by the Conservative Americans for Prosperity group, Mr. Cain elicited a very different response. NPR's Andrea Seabrook has this report.
ANDREA SEABROOK: Judging by this crowd, Herman Cain has taken conservatives by storm.
FREDERICK MCKINLEY: Mr. Cain is wonderful individual.
SEABROOK: Frederick McKinley from Jackson, Mississippi.
SCOTT SIMON, host: While Herman Cain was wrapping up his week in Washington D.C., five of his fellow Republican presidential contenders were in Iowa last night for the GOP's Ronald Reagan dinner. Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum spoke at the annual fundraiser, but Mr. Cain and Mitt Romney did not attend the Iowa event. In fact, compared to the current crop of Republican presidential candidates, Cain and Romney have spent little time in Iowa.
The Labor Department said Friday that unemployment ticked down last month from 9.1 percent to 9 percent. Overall, job growth was modest, a continuation of a trend that's been with us all year. Host Scott Simon talks with NPR's business correspondent Yuki Noguchi.
SCOTT SIMON, host: President Obama spent the last two days in France wrestling with Europe's financial problems. He's back in the United States this morning where America has its own economic challenges. Home and abroad, Mr. Obama and his fellow leaders are confronted with slow growth, big debts and the political battles over how to deal with them. NPR Scott Horsley reports.
SIMON: Tonight: Alabama, LSU. College footballs two top-ranked teams play for the number one spot, and new crop of baseball free agents are now on the market - and this just in: still no basketball. Maybe ESPN will pick up that big game next week between the (unintelligible) High School Bulldogs and the Von Steuben Panthers. Howard Bryant, from ESPN.com, ESPN the magazine and ESPN the pesto sauce joins us from the studio of WBUR in Boston. Howard, thanks very much for being with us.
SCOTT SIMON, host: Six men in Moscow are readjusting to life on Earth today after enduring a long simulated mission to Mars. They spent 520 days locked inside a fake spaceship. The hatch was opened yesterday.
NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce reports that this pretend trip involved real psychological challenges that may still persist.
It is always tempting for Americans to look at problems in Europe and ask, "What does that have to do with me?"
Well, U.S. banks hold almost $17 billion in Greek debt and billions more bought through European banks. Billions of dollars that Americans have saved for retirement, college — or the rainy days that may be — are now invested in Greece.
But we also might remind ourselves why the euro and the European Union were created.
The problems of Europe led to two world wars in the 20th century, and America got involved in each.
SCOTT SIMON, host: Jerry West is the symbol of the National Basketball Association - truly so. The NBA's logo silhouette of a player dribbling the ball down court in perfect form is drawn from a 1969 photo of Jerry West when he played for the Los Angeles Lakers, which he did for 14 years and was an All Star 14 times.
Journalist Andy Rooney poses in his office at CBS in New York City on June 19, 1998. Rooney delivered his first 60 Minutes commentary on July 2, 1978.
Credit D. Jennings / AP
Rooney sometimes wrote his TV essays on an old typewriter in the cluttered office of his summer home in rural Rensselaerville, N.Y.
Credit Jim Cooper / AP
As a commentator for 60 Minutes, Andy Rooney became known as one of the most famous curmudgeons in American public life.
A portrait of Andy Rooney taken Nov. 25, 1960. From 1959-65, Rooney was writing for The Garry Moore Show and helped it achieve hit status as a Top 20 program according to CBS. During this time, he was also writing for CBS News public affairs broadcasts. From 1962-68 he collaborated with correspondent Harry Reasoner as a writer and producer for CBS News specials.
Credit Mark Lennihan / AP
Andy Rooney, commentator for CBS's 60 Minutes, speaks at the program's 25th-anniversary party, held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York on Nov. 10, 1993.
Generation Xers — grown up now and in their 30s and 40s — are feeling hardest-hit by the recession, and are the most divided over the presidential candidates for 2012, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center.
Daniel Ortega is seeking a third term in Sunday's elections despite a constitutional limit on holders of the office to two terms.
Credit Charles Tasnadi / AP
President Jimmy Carter welcomes three of Nicaragua's five-member ruling junta to the White House on Sept. 24, 1979. From left: Alfonso Robelo, Carter, Ortega and Gorgio Ramirez.
Credit Tomas Garcia / AFP/Getty Images
Cuban President Fidel Castro (right) and Ortega walk together during Ortega's departure from Jose Marti International airport in Havana on Aug. 13, 1987.
Credit Pedro Ugarte / AFP/Getty Images
Ortega (right) with Tomas Borge on May 23, 1994, shortly after Ortega was re-elected secretary-general of the Sandinista National Liberation Party. Borge was elected vice secretary on May 23, 1994, in Managua.
Credit Miguel Alvarez / AFP/Getty Images
Sandinista Party leader Ortega speaks to supporters on July 19, 2000 as they celebrate the 21st anniversary of the Sandinista revolution, which toppled the dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza in Managua on July 19, 2000.
Credit Rodrigo Arangua / AFP/Getty Images
Daniel Ortega, who has served two previous terms as president, is shown during his re-election campaign in Managua on Oct. 31.
Credit Charles Tasnadi / AP
Daniel Ortega, commander of the Nicaraguan army, is shown in Cuba, during the 20th anniversary of the Bay of Pigs invasion April 21, 1981.
Credit Charles Tasnadi / AP
Daniel Ortega led the Sandanistas to victory through a guerrilla campaign in the 70s. He headed the junta until 1984, when he was elected the nation's president.
Sometimes it's the little things that tell the best story. Across the ages, everyday items like plates, pots and even pipes have stood the test of time — and they are just as integral to our history as any monument or cathedral.
A new book takes a selection of these everyday objects and weaves their stories together to tell the ultimate story — a history of the world. In A History of the World in 100 Objects, author Neil MacGregor, the director of the British Museum, culled 100 artifacts from his museum's collection to help him with the task.