Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne. China's incoming president wants to be seen as a man of the people. And he seems to know what the people don't want from their politicians. So for this year's opening of parliament, the president has banned extravagant banquets, gifts, flowers in rooms.
And in a parliament filled with hand-picked delegates used to launching to endless praise of the party, also banned are long-winded speeches; plus, empty talk is discouraged.
The San Francisco 49ers are the favorites to win the Super Bowl, but the Baltimore Ravens have a special source of fuel. Raven Jacoby Jones is from New Orleans, where the game will be played, and his mom made the team 150 plates of food. Jones describes the feast as, quote, "gumbo, jambalaya, potato salad, bread pudding, macaroni - the whole nine yards."
Finally, somebody used that cliche in a sport where it makes sense.
Originally published on Fri February 1, 2013 9:49 am
Authorities in Mexico City said Friday morning that at least 32 people had been killed and another 120 or so injured by the explosion Thursday afternoon at the headquarters of Pemex, Mexico's state-owned oil company.
And now to Google, which is looking for some hackers to ride to the top in an unusual competition. Our last word in business is: pi contest, as in 3.14.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Three point one four, that's the amount in millions of dollars that Google is offering in what its Podium Hacking Contest. The challenge here is to hack the Google Chrome operating system and expose security flaws.
Travis McCoy is the product manager for Chrome and we asked him why pi.
The Baltimore Ravens are the underdogs in this Sunday's Super Bowl, going up against the San Francisco 49ers. Now, there have been bigger underdogs. And yes, the Ravens are not the lowest-seeded team to make it to the Super Bowl. But the Ravens have beaten the odds in another way. NPR's Mike Pesca talked to some football numbers guys and has this report.
One of the most entertaining documentaries to come out of this year's Sundance Film Festival is "Sound City." The rock musician Dave Grohl, of the band Foo Fighters, is the director - a first for him. Los Angeles Times and MORNING EDITION film critic Kenneth Turan has this review.
KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: "Sound City" is a mash note to a machine - not just any machine, however, but one that helped change the face of rock 'n' roll.
Netflix customers will soon have a new option: Along with the company's usual offerings, viewers will be able to watch a new show called House of Cards, a political drama adapted from a British show, and starring Kevin Spacey. David Fincher (known for The Social Network and Seven) will direct the first two episodes. But what's new about House of Cards is that all 13 episodes will be available at once â€” and they were financed by Netflix itself.
Friday marks the day that 100 years ago, Grand Central Terminal opened its doors for business for the very first time. The largest railroad terminal in the world, the magnificent Beaux-Arts building is in the heart of New York City on 42nd St. And while it no longer serves long-distance trains, it's still a vibrant part of the city's eco-system.
This week saw the end of a years-long, international, multi-billion-dollar battle over one of the most boring things in finance: savings accounts.
At the center of the battle was Iceland, a tiny country where the banks grew into international behemoths during the credit bubble.
The banks got so big partly by convincing foreigners to open up online savings accounts. In particular, lots of people in England and Netherlands opened up "ICESAVE accounts" with a bank called Landsbanki. During the financial crisis, the bank collapsed.
It took years for Democratic Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina to become who he is today: the highest-ranking African-American in Congress.
And those years included many failures. During a visit to StoryCorps, his granddaughter Sydney Reed, who was 10 at the time of the recording, asks Clyburn a personal question: "Have you ever felt you wanted to quit?"
In the U.S., farmers and farm workers alike say the current system to import temporary workers, especially in agriculture, is slow and fraught with abuses.
But the shape of a new guest-worker program is still being hashed out. Some say the U.S. should import temporary workers the same way Canada does. For nearly four decades, the governments of Canada and Mexico have cooperated to fill agriculture jobs that Canadian citizens won't do, and that Mexicans are clamoring to get.
Melissa spent months looking for a job â€” any job. For days, the 25-year-old consistently visited her welfare-to-work program in downtown Brooklyn, resume in hand and an interview smile splashed across her face.
"Every day, Monday through Friday, 9 to 4," she explains. "That's dedication."
Melissa, who asked us to not reveal her last name, has plenty of job experience. She's a self-identified "people person" and says she aces every interview. But there's just one thing holding her back: the past.
As cocaine consumption falls in the United States, South American drug traffickers have begun to pioneer a new soft target for their product: big and increasingly affluent Brazil.
And the source of the cocaine is increasingly Bolivia, a landlocked country that shares a 2,100-mile border with Brazil.
As Brazilian police officers and border agents can attest, the drug often finds its way to Brazil by crossing the Mamore River, which separates the state of Rondonia from Bolivia in the heart of South America.
On 53rd Street and Vermont Avenue in South Los Angeles, violent members of at least six gangs run the streets. A landmark church is boarded up and tagged. There are liquor stores and abandoned lots. On Tuesday night, there was a drive-by shooting two blocks away, and folks are expecting retaliation.This is an area where murders, robberies and rapes are common â€” and so are guns.
"There's too many guns out there," says Randolph Wright, 18. "I can tell you right now, every hood has an AK[-47]. Regardless of whatever other gun they got, they have an AK."
Over the past year, small gnomes started springing up all around Oakland, Calif. The elfin creatures are hand-painted on wooden boards; each is about 6 inches tall, with red hat, brown boots and white beard. They're bits of urban folk art from an anonymous painter who surreptitiously screws them onto the base of utility poles.
Somehow, Canadian singer-songwriter Ron Sexsmith makes a case of the deep blues sound sweet. The new album Forever Endeavour is his 13th, and the songs show him, at midlife, reflecting a lot on the passage of time.
"I think there's always something comforting about sad songs," Sexsmith says. "It's a shared thing that everyone can relate to."
Adam Mansbach is the author of the forthcoming novel Rage is Back.
Stealing my 9-year-old nephew's copy of The Pushcart War by Jean Merrill was the best thing I did last summer. I was his age the first time I read it, and twice his age the last time I went back to it. I'm twice that old again now, but as soon as I dove into this intimate, majestic tale of war writ small â€” of a battle between the pushcart peddlers and the truckers of New York City â€” I realized how timeless, and how deeply a part of me, the story was.