Fifty years ago, Johnny Carson became the host of TheTonight Show. During his 30 years as host, he reached a nightly audience of 15 million people and became one of the most trusted and famous men in America.
But Carson was intensely private off-screen, and very few people — including members of his own family--really knew him. Documentary filmmaker Peter Jones wanted to try and change that. Once a year, for 15 years, Jones sent Carson a letter, begging him for permission to make a documentary on his life.
Voters in Germany's most populous state, North Rhine Westphalia, have delivered a major blow to the ruling party, the Christian Democrats, led by Chancellor Angela Merkel. Weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz talks with Michael Kolz, the chief political reporter for German station Phoenix, about why the results in North Rhine Westphalia matter and what they mean for the left-wing Social Democrats.
Demonstrators shout slogans during a protest to mark the anniversary of the "Indignados" movement in Madrid, Spain on Sunday. Tens of thousands of Spaniards took to the streets to protest the handling of the country's worst crisis in decades.
And if you're just joining us, this is WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz.
In North Carolina this past week, voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union between one man and one woman. A solid majority of the state's African-American voters backed it as well.
The very next day, President Obama publicly endorsed same-sex marriage. But will that affect black turnout in support of the president in November? Here's Tanner Latham from member station WFAE in Charlotte.
In 2002, Rafe Sagarin was working in Washington, D.C., as a science adviser. It wasn't long after the Sept. 11 attacks, and Sagarin started paying attention to the security measures on Capitol Hill.
"I'd watch these other Capitol Hill staffers and I noticed that they'd just put their hand over the keys in their pockets so they didn't have to waste 30 seconds putting it on the conveyer belt though the security screening — and that didn't set off the alarm when they did that," Sagarin tells host of weekend All Things Considered Guy Raz.
Zimbabwe's government has exercised control over most of the media. Here, workers sort out copies of The Daily News, one of the few independent newspapers. It was allowed to reopen in March 2011 after being shut down for years because it was critical of the government.
Credit Jekesai Njikizana / AFP/Getty Images
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe is the focus of attention in the state-run media. He is shown here in February in Mutare, speaking at a rally marking his 88th birthday.
Weekends on All Things Considered continues its "Why Music Matters" series with stories of music fans, told in their own words. Today's story is about Amy O'Neal, a choreographer who took on the challenge of dancing in complete silence.
For more on the Yemen bomb plot and what it tells us about U.S. intelligence operations, we're joined by Philip Mudd, former deputy at the CIA's Counterterrorism Center. He's now a senior research fellow with the New America Foundation here in Washington. He joins us in studio.
Egypt, under ousted President Hosni Mubarak, was one of America's closest intelligence partners in the Middle East. And U.S. officials are watching this month's presidential election in Egypt very carefully.
A one-time leader of the Muslim Brotherhood is emerging as a leading candidate. He's considered a moderate Islamist who appeals to secular as well as religious Egyptians.
But, as we hear from reporter Merrit Kennedy in Cairo, the candidate is walking a fine line trying to stay true to his agenda.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News, I'm Rachel Martin.
On the same day that President Obama announced that he's had a change of heart and now publicly supports same-sex marriage, there were quieter moves on Capitol Hill to protect the rights of some who do not.
On Wednesday, the House Armed Services Committee passed its version of a bill designed, in part, to protect military chaplains from coming under pressure to marry service members of the same sex.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
MARTIN: If life is a ball game, then Mike Pesca is the guy behind home plate helping us sort out the check swings from the foul balls. He is, of course, NPR's sports correspondent and our guide to the fascinating intersections between life and sports. He joins us, as he does every week. Hey, Mike.
MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Hey. Every once in a while you could foul a ball off a check swing.
Host Rachel Martin talks with NPR's national political correspondent Mara Liasson about Mitt Romney's commencement address and the dominant political story of the past week: President Obama's public endorsement of same-sex marriage.
It's graduation season at colleges and universities around the country. And just as Mitt Romney addressed the students at Liberty University, other prominent politicians, entertainers and leaders are joining in that celebrated tradition. Here now, we present a composite commencement address for the class of 2012, drawn from some famous voices over the years.
(SOUNDBITE OF COMMENCEMENT SPEECHES)
PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY: Board of trustees, distinguished guests...
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gets questioned about her political future wherever she goes. She says she plans to get off the "high-wire" of politics after she wraps up her tenure as secretary of state, but her trips sometimes feel like she's campaigning — for America's image and for her own legacy. NPR's Michele Kelemen has this behind-the-scenes reporter's notebook of Clinton's most recent swing through Asia.
Syrian President Bashar Assad's government has waged a two-pronged campaign against the opposition, critics say. His military continues to fight, while nonviolent activists are being detained in increasing numbers, according to monitoring groups.
Credit Yin Bogu / Xinhua/Landov
While fighting continues in Syria, the government has been detaining many nonviolent activists, according to monitoring groups. Here, Syrian soldiers are shown on a bridge in Damascus last November.
President Bashar Assad's regime has launched a new and sweeping arrest campaign of opposition activists and intellectuals in the past few weeks, according to Western analysts and diplomats.
The growing tally of arrests has gone largely unnoticed, overshadowed by the daily violence that threatens to jeopardize the U.N. peace plan. But in combination, both are undermining the already faint hopes of peace.
Credit Tyrone Turner / Copyright 2012 National Geographic
Conservator Angelyn Bass cleans and stabilizes the surface of a wall of a Mayan house that dates to the ninth century. The figure of a man who may have been the town scribe appears on the wall to her left.
Credit Illustration by William Saturno and David Stuart / Copyright 2012 National Geographic
Four long numbers on the north wall of the ruined house relate to the Mayan calendar and computations about the moon, sun and possibly Venus and Mars; the dates stretch some 7,000 years into the future.
Credit Tyrone Turner / Copyright 2012 National Geographic
The painted figure of a man — possibly a scribe who once lived in the house built by the ancient Maya — is illuminated through a doorway to the dwelling, in northeastern Guatemala. The structure represents the first Mayan house found to contain artwork on its walls.
Archaeologists working in one of the most impenetrable rain forests in Guatemala have stumbled on a remarkable discovery: a room full of wall paintings and numerical calculations.
The buried room apparently was a workshop used by scribes or astronomers working for a Mayan king. The paintings depict the king and members of his court. The numbers mark important periods in the Mayan calendar.
After spending much of the year on the rise, gas prices are now falling. The average price for a gallon of regular gas nationwide is $3.73, according to AAA. That's a drop of nearly 20 cents in one month, and industry analysts expect the price to keep falling.
You can get in a lot trouble trying to predict commodity prices, though. Phil Flynn, a market analyst at futures brokerage PFGBEST in Chicago, says there is one thing you can predict.
California's Legislative Analyst's Office said the latest proposal to build a $68.4 billion high-speed train system is still too vague and the state legislature should not approve funding it for it this year.
Mitt Romney delivers the keynote address at Liberty University's commencement ceremony in Lynchburg, Va., on Saturday. In his speech, Romney told students that "marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman."
President Obama's support for same-sex marriage has been a hot topic this week. After he announced his position during an ABC News interview Wednesday, it's been difficult for pundits, the media and the public to focus on much else, especially since the news came on the heels of North Carolina's approval of a ban on same-sex marriage.
From NPR News, it's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Guy Raz.
For three days now, Mitt Romney's campaign has tried to steer the national conversation back to the economy. But the pressure to respond to President Obama's announcement in support of gay marriage has been intense. And this morning at a speech to students at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, Romney definitively spoke out.
MITT ROMNEY: Marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman.
Football is a violent game, but a century ago it used to be a lethal pastime. NPR's Tom Goldman explains how President Teddy Roosevelt stepped in and forced the establishment of new rules that made the game safer.
In 1919, Chicago was called the "youngest great city in the world." World War I had just come to a close, troops were coming home, industry was booming and crime was down. Chicago's mayor at the time, William Hale Thompson — known as Big Bill — had just been re-elected and was spearheading an ambitious urban improvement program.
But in mid-July of 1919, just about everything that could go wrong in Chicago did. Among the headlines were a deadly dirigible crash, a bizarre kidnapping, race riots and a major public transit strike.
In one of the most talked-about moments from the hit TV show Glee, Blaine declared his love for Kurt and then — they kissed.
Glee is just one of many popular shows on television right now that feature gay characters. Those characters aren't just entertaining us, they're changing Americans' attitudes toward homosexuality.
In five separate studies, professor Edward Schiappa and his colleagues at the University of Minnesota have found that the presence of gay characters on television programs decreases prejudices among viewers.
Cuban trumpeter Arturo Sandoval first met Dizzy Gillespie in Havana in 1977, when the American jazzman came to Cuba to play a concert. Sandoval showed him around the city, where the two men listened to the sounds of rumba music echoing through Havana's black neighborhoods. That night, Sandoval managed to play his trumpet for Gillespie — and blew him away.
Most Americans give politicians low marks for sincerity and see every decision they reach as a cold, poll-driven calculation. Often enough, it is. Politicians, after all, have asked pollsters where they should spend their summer vacations.
Yet when pundits and interest groups urge politicians to change their minds and they do, they're assailed for flip-flopping.