The presidential inauguration is a solemn and important occasion, of course, steeped in history and pomp. But it's also a time for parades and balls — and, sometimes, a bit of tomfoolery. As we prepare for President Obama's second inauguration on Monday, a look back at a few funny and unusual moments:
Like everyone else in Washington, D.C., right now, we're gearing up for the long inaugural weekend, bracing ourselves for various events and balls around town that can be thrilling, patriotic, touristy and traffic-jamming, all at the same time.
As we prepare for President Obama's second inauguration on Monday, we've been looking back through our coverage of inaugurations past. (And it's reminded us that a lot has changed, even from just four years ago.) Along the way, we ran across a few memorable features that we thought worth revisiting.
Originally published on Sat January 19, 2013 11:12 am
Say it isn't so. Various newsorganizations have recently reported that on occasion the Subway sandwich chain's $5 footlong measures 11 inches instead of 12 — as advertised. Sure enough, the bacon, lettuce and tomato jewel we bought Friday fell a little short.
Host Scott Simon talks with NPR's Mara Liasson about whether the Obama administration and Congressional Republicans can find some common ground and overcome the political gridlock that characterized much of the president's first term.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has a new autobiography out about her life and her career in law. Earlier this week, we broadcast portions of her interview with NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg. Today, Nina talks to the justice about the role that books have played in her life.
The Algerian government gave no advance notice that it was planning to launch a military operation to rescue hostages at the remote In Amenas natural gas field, despite offers of support and advice by many nations, including the U.S.
The anger and disappointment in Washington is muted, however, because the U.S. sees Algeria as a critical ally in the fight against terrorism.
This weekend, hundreds of thousands of people — including President Obama and his family — are participating in volunteer activities around the country. Saturday's National Day of Service kicks off the president's second inauguration and honors the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday.
As budgets tighten and personal schedules fill, nonprofits are looking for new ways to attract extra helpers, and organizers for the national event hope it will lead to a permanent boost in volunteerism.
After the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December, the town arranged for students to go to school at a building in the neighboring town of Monroe. Now, Newtown is deliberating what to do with the building where the shootings took place and whether to build a new school.
Newtown officials held a second public meeting Friday night to hear what community members think should happen to the school.
President Obama says he's willing to use "whatever power his office holds" to stop gun violence, but the fate of many of his White House proposals will rest in no small part with one man: the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Spc. Lance Pilgrim was among the first Army troops to enter Iraq in March 2003. Eventually, he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and died from an accidental overdose in 2007 at the age of 26.
His father, Randy Pilgrim, says he first realized something was wrong when his son broke down at the sight of an animal that had been run over. The image had triggered the memory of a traumatic time overseas.
Cristina Pato is a jazz pianist from Spain who also plays flute and sings. But on her new album, Migrations, there's a striking sound not often heard in jazz: a bagpipe. Pato has been playing the traditional gaita (pronounced "GY-tah"), a version of the bagpipe from her native region of Galicia, since she was 4 years old.
If you live along the East Coast, there's a pretty good chance that stink bugs may be lurking in your attic or even behind your curtains. The invasive insects from Asia, which exude a rubber-like stench when you crush them, are a nuisance for you, but a serious pest for farmers.
Crop producers received a reprieve from the bugs in 2012, but the insects may be coming back and with a greater spread of attack.
Bob Black says he was not in a good place in 2010.
Four years ago, when the nation's first African-American president was inaugurated, even conservative editorial cartoonists marked the moment with reverence.
As Scott Stantis, now of the Chicago Tribune, tells All Things Considered host Audie Cornish: "There are times in our history where we can just take half a step back from our partisanship and revel in the history and wonder of something."
On Tuesday, New York became the first state in the nation to pass a tough new gun control law. Gov. Andrew Cuomo convinced his state's Legislature to act, even before President Obama took executive action to limit access to guns.
The governor's legislative victory followed his impassioned State of the State address earlier this month, delivered the first day of the 2013 legislative session.
Originally published on Wed January 23, 2013 7:57 am
As the flu season grinds on from news cycle to news cycle, there's some flu news of a different sort. Federal regulators have approved a next-generation type of flu vaccine for the second time in two months.
The two new vaccines are the first fruits of a big government push to hasten and simplify the laborious production of flu vaccines.
In an interview that aired last night on the Oprah Winfrey Network, Lance Armstrong confessed that he doped. That confession, added to mountains of other evidence, could cost him millions of dollars. There are three groups of people he may owe money to:
1. SCA Promotions
SCA is a company that underwrote millions of dollars of bonuses that Lance received for winning the Tour de France. Now that he's been stripped of those titles — they want their money back.
A presidential inauguration is an event defined by huge, sweeping optics: the National Mall full of cheering Americans; a grandiose platform in front of the Capitol building; the parade down Pennsylvania Avenue. And the centerpiece: a speech.
On Monday, President Obama will give his second inaugural address — and he faces a challenge in crafting a speech for this moment.
In a move that could head off another bruising battle over increasing the nation's debt ceiling, GOP leaders in the House plan to approve a three-month increase in the nation's borrowing authority next week, NPR's S.V. Date reports.
But, he tells our Newscast Desk, Republicans want to tie a longer-term increase to the passage of a budget that cuts spending.
His report continues:
"The plan comes from Majority Leader Eric Cantor as House Republicans wrap up a retreat in Southern Virginia.
Former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin has been indicted on 21 counts of bribery and other corruption charges by a federal grand jury. When he became the city's mayor in 2002, Nagin, a former cable TV executive, promised to revive New Orleans' economy, and its trust in the city's government.
Originally published on Fri January 18, 2013 11:49 am
Federal health officials say this year's flu season shaping up to be especially severe for the elderly.
According to the latest update from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of people age 65 and older who are getting the flu jumped sharply in the last week or so. They are being hospitalized at a rate of about 82 per 100,000 cases. That's the rate that is seen during severe seasons, officials said.
In New York City, the failure to agree on a plan for evaluating its teachers is being widely criticized, especially because it means the city will now miss out on hundreds of millions of dollars in state financing.
At stake was $250 million in state aid, and another $200 million in grants, according to WNYC's Schoolbook education blog.
A masked assailant threw acid into the face of the Bolshoi ballet's artistic director on Thursday in Moscow in what may have been a "reprisal for his selection of dancers in starring roles at the famed Russian company," The Associated Press reports.