OK, the first lady always generates attention for her fashion choices. As we mentioned elsewhere in our broadcast, she made news last week by getting bangs. People do not necessarily pay as much attention to that guy that the first lady may bring around to various events, but presidential fashions can make history. Think of Ronald Reagan's brown suits or Jimmy Carter's cardigans. NPR's Rachel Ward takes a look at this president's sartorial statements.
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President Obama took the oath for a second term yesterday, on January 20th, as the Constitution requires. The public ceremony takes place today at the Capitol, and we'll have live coverage all day long.
The dead are still being counted from last week's attack and hostage drama at a natural gas plant in the remote desert of Algeria. Among those killed are dozens of foreign workers from Britain, Japan and elsewhere, with at least one from America. To get a better understanding of what is unfolding in the region and America's role in it, we're joined by Vickie Huddleston.
The president of the United States, as his title suggests, is the leader of this country, but in many ways is also the leader of the world. And so we're looking at how other countries see the next four years on this Inauguration Day. India enjoyed strong relations with the Obama administration in its first term, but in a second term, NPR's Julie McCarthy reports, the South Asian giant is concerned about the uncertainty seen in American policy toward China and Afghanistan.
And the widow of a murdered Mississippi civil rights leader will help open the inaugural ceremony today. President Obama selected activist Myrlie Evers-Williams to deliver the invocation. She's the first woman and the first layperson to have the honor.
NPR's Debbie Elliott has this profile.
DEBBIE ELLIOTT, BYLINE: Evers-Williams' prominent role in President Obama's second inauguration comes in the 50th year since NAACP field secretary Medgar Evers was shot to death outside his family's home in Jackson, Mississippi.
After the first Obama inauguration, everybody talked about three things: the historic moment, the Arctic weather — and Aretha Franklin's hat.
If it is possible for a piece of millinery to steal the thunder of one of the most-watched moments in recent memory, the Queen of Soul's hat managed to do it. Her gray felt cloche was topped with a giant, matching bow, outlined in rhinestones that flashed in the chill sunlight as she sang "My Country 'Tis of Thee."
George Saunders has been writing short stories for decades.
Saunders, a professor at Syracuse University, was once a geological engineer who traveled the world; he now crafts stories that combine the absurd and fantastic with the mundane realities of everyday life. One story about a professional caveman inspired those Geico commercials.
For years, British environmental activist Mark Lynas destroyed genetically modified food (GMO) crops in what he calls a successful campaign to force the business of agriculture to be more holistic and ecological in its practices.
His targets were companies like Monsanto and Syngenta — leaders in developing genetically modified crops.
Earlier this month he went in front of the world to reverse his position on GMOs.
One of the chief expectations of those who voted for President Obama is that he moves assertively to pass climate change legislation, whatever the political climate in Washington.
"We have a bipartisan common interest in moving away from fossil fuels towards clean energy," says Michael Brune, the executive director of the Sierra Club. "The sooner that members of both parties in Congress realize that and develop solutions, the better off we'll all be."
As Washington, D.C., gears up for the 57th presidential inauguration, political parties are in full swing. We're not talking about run-of-the-mill partisan bickering. We're talking about inaugural celebrations: balls, galas and cocktail parties. Emphasis on the cocktail.
The Round Robin Bar in the Willard Hotel is just a stone's throw from the White House. Bartender Jim Hewes has been serving up drinks there for nearly 30 years.
"Contact with nature is not some magical elixir but the natural world is the substrate on which we must build our existence," writes Stephen Kellert in his new book Birthright: People and Nature in the Modern World.
In it, he tells stories of the environment's effect on us, and ours on it. His writing builds on the traditions of Thoreau, John Muir and Rachel Carson. Modern society, he argues, has become adversarial in its relationship to nature, having greatly undervalued the natural world beyond its narrow utility.
A recently-published menu for Abraham Lincoln's lavish second inaugural ball in 1865 provides an interesting look at how different the nation celebrated its new president just seven score and eight years ago.
Smoked tongue en geleé and blancmange (a firm custard) shared room on the buffet table with roast turkey and burnt almond ice cream.
As Yale food historian Paul Freedman told Smithsonian Magazine writer Megan Gambino, the cuisine could best be described as "French via England, with some American ingredients."
Sean Lennon, son of John and Yoko, is drawn to musical collaboration and repelled by hydraulic fracturing.
The 37-year-old just released two albums: the improvisational project Mystical Weapons and the score to the independent film Alter Egos.
Writing For Film
Lennon only appears in Alter Egos for a few seconds; the majority of his efforts went into writing the music, which he had to do twice. He describes the film as a "kitsch comedy about superheroes," and his first attempt at the music took a similar vibe.
More bodies have been reported found at the gas plant in Algeria where a four-day standoff with Islamist militants came to a bloody end on Saturday. An Algerian security official tells the AP that the state of the bodies makes it difficult to tell whether the dead are hostages or attackers.
Originally published on Sun January 20, 2013 11:04 am
President Obama's second term officially begins Sunday: He took the oath of office in an intimate ceremony at the White House, fulfilling the constitutional requirement to take the oath before noon on Jan. 20.
NPR's Ari Shaprio reported on the swearing-in for our Newscast unit. Here's what he said:
"Family and a few close friends gathered in the Blue Room of the White House. The president placed his hand on a family Bible and recited the oath with Chief Justice John Roberts.
Originally published on Tue January 22, 2013 10:28 am
1) Why Monday?
Inaugural events are sprinkled over three days, with the most important one actually taking place out of the public eye on Sunday. That's when the official oath of office will be administered at the White House, on the date and time (noon on Jan. 20) specified by the Constitution. But because the 20th falls on a Sunday this year, the public festivities, including another oath taking, all happen Monday.
Originally published on Mon January 21, 2013 1:56 pm
Every president gets sworn in once, but it's a smaller club of presidents who manage to get there twice. Here's a look at some recent presidents who served two terms. See who changed the most (or the least) in four years.
Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
The plummeting mercury in Alaska this time of year doesn't keep bikers inside. More and more of them are heading to recreational trails and to the office on "fat bikes." They look like mountain bikes on steroids, with tires wider than most people's arms.
Kevin Breitenbach runs the bike shop at Beaver Sports in Alaska's second-largest city. Aboard a fat bike, he makes his way down a trail that winds through a forest as wet, quarter-sized snowflakes drop from the sky. Visibility is low, and the snow hides the roughest spots on the trail.
President Obama takes the oath of office for a second term on Sunday and Monday. By the time he is through Monday, he and President Franklin D. Roosevelt will be the only two presidents to have taken the presidential oath four times — Roosevelt because he was elected four times, and Obama because he will have taken the oath twice the first time and twice the second.
Obama took the oath twice in 2009 because he and Chief Justice John Roberts messed it up a bit the first time and redid it a second time in private to quell any questions about Obama being president.
Originally published on Tue January 22, 2013 9:19 am
Editor's note: NPR's Corey Dade recently traveled to New York to interview the Rev. Al Sharpton about the unusual arc of his checkered career, from pugnacious street fighter for racial justice to savvy insider with ties to CEOs, a successful television show and the the ear of a soon-to-be second-term president.
Originally published on Sat January 19, 2013 7:17 pm
Once upon a time, in the long ago world of high school reading, Holden Caulfield was perhaps the epitome of angst: a young man suddenly an outcast in the world he thought he knew. The antihero of J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye was about to enter a perilous journey of self-discovery.