Surrogate Whitney Watts had her son, J.P., while her husband, Ray Watts, was at sea with the Navy. Surrogacy experts say it's crucial for surrogates to have their own children because they'd presumably understand the emotions involved in bearing a child. The couple for whom Whitney carried twins paid for all expenses during the pregnancy, including private health insurance.
Credit Marisa Peñaloza / NPR
Bob and Susan de Gruchy had been through several failed rounds of in vitro fertilization before meeting the surrogate who would ultimately deliver their twins, Owen and Elle.
Credit Courtesy of Whitney Watts
At 16 weeks, Whitney Watts' pregnancy was still perfectly normal. It wasn't until 23 weeks in that doctors noticed abnormalities and put her on bed rest.
As she approached her sixth month of pregnancy last year, Whitney Watts' cervix had started to shorten. It's a common problem with twins. Watts was concerned, and was taking care not to overexert herself.
But it's probably fair to say her condition was far more frightening for Susan de Gruchy, the woman who had hired Watts to be a surrogate because she and her husband were unable to conceive. Nearly 400 miles away, de Gruchy was obsessed with worry.
Originally published on Tue January 29, 2013 3:55 pm
One doesn't necessarily associate spring travel with heavy reading. For one, books are bulky luggage, the weighty enemies of economical packers; even an e-reader takes up precious space in one's overflowing duffel. And two, escapist migration to mountaintops or flowery fields or seaside locales for sun worship and meditative communion with nature connotes a markedly book-free environment, an escape from the office or the solemn halls of academe.
For more than 20 years, the indie-pop group The Magnetic Fields has been singing songs about love, though not always in the traditional sense. With a style that ranges from bitter to sincere to ironic, Stephin Merritt — the group's frontman, writer and producer — has created a growing cast of characters surviving love's vicissitudes.
In his characteristic deadpan, Merritt tells NPR's Linda Wertheimer that he owes the inspiration for many of those characters to a particular ritual of his.
In 2009, jazz pianist Alfredo Rodriguez showed up in Laredo, Texas, with only a suitcase, some sheet music and one aim: to collaborate with Quincy Jones. A Cuban seeking amnesty in the U.S., Rodriguez ended up arrested by Mexican border officials. He says they questioned him for hours and demanded money.
These days it can take a village to create a child. Technology means someone who never thought they'd be able to conceive can use a sperm donor, an egg donor and a surrogate — a woman who bears a child for someone else. But the law has not kept pace with technology, and with so many people involved, a key question remains: Who is a legal parent?
After a financial bailout earlier this year, fees in Portugal's health system have risen substantially. As a result, nongovernmental organizations say, the poor and elderly in Western Europe's poorest country can no longer afford essential care. Some Portuguese fear that austerity measures are threatening not only their livelihoods, but their lives.
Alfredo Silva, 67, showed up at an anti-austerity protest in Lisbon last month dressed as a skeleton. He says the costume shows the effect of Portugal's $100 billion bailout on retirees like him.
Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 6:14 am
North Korea this week quite literally demonstrated an old truism, with the world as an anxious witness. It turns out that reaching space is, as the saying goes, as tough as rocket science.
The much hyped launch of the Unha-3 rocket, which North Korea said was meant to place a satellite into orbit to celebrate the centenary of the country's "Great Leader" Kim Il Sung, apparently failed Friday shortly after launch. It was the fourth time North Korea had tried and failed to do it, adding to the growing worldwide history of failed rocket launches.
When M. Night Shyamalan's fantasy film The Last Airbender — panned by both critics and fans of the wildly popular TV series on which it was based — flopped majestically at the box office, it looked like the end of a valuable franchise.
But now, with The Legend of Korra, which premieres Saturday on Nickelodeon, the creators of Avatar: The Last Airbender have been given a rare chance to rebuild a world that was taken away from them.
Imagine an era when mainstream music wasn't filled with synthesizers. When electronic music wasn't a force propelling everything from pop and hip-hop to music from the underground. There was a time when this world existed. Then Kraftwerk emerged, and the world we knew changed.
After rescuing his neighbor from a burning building, Newark Mayor Cory Booker joins an elite list of politicians who have performed heroic acts while in office. While it's inspiring anytime a stranger reaches out to help someone, it's not often that the person risking his or her life happens to be an elected official.
We've compiled a partial list of past heroic feats performed by pols.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan meets Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran, Iran, in March. Relations between the two countries have deteriorated over Iran's continued support of the Syrian regime.
Iran's suspect nuclear program will again be in the spotlight this weekend when negotiators from Iran and six international powers meet in Istanbul.
Iran was reluctant to have Turkey host the meeting, reflecting Iran's growing unhappiness with Turkish foreign policy moves, especially its call for regime change in Syria, Iran's key ally in the Arab world.
Analyst and columnist Yavuz Baydar says Turkey has stuck its neck out for Iran in the past, defending what it calls Iran's peaceful nuclear energy program and even voting against U.N. sanctions on Iran two years ago.
Originally published on Fri October 26, 2012 10:19 am
Before the iceberg, before the lifeboats, before the sinking, there was the dinner.
On the evening of April 14, 1912, the first-class passengers aboard the Titanic sat down for a sumptuous 10-course meal. The menu included oysters, filet mignon, poached salmon, chicken Lyonnaise, foie gras, roasted pigeon, lamb with mint sauce and Punch Romaine, a palate-cleansing ice flavored with oranges and drenched in champagne.
When President Obama recently complained to news media executives about their ostensibly even-handed "pox on both of your houses" coverage of the partisan battles in Washington, it might have seemed like, well, a partisan shot from a Democratic president.
The two suspects in last Friday's killings in Tulsa of three African-Americans and wounding of two others were formally charged today with "three counts each of first-degree murder, two counts of shooting with intent to kill and five counts of malicious intimidation or harassment," the Tulsa World repo
Originally published on Fri April 13, 2012 12:17 pm
Days after it was acquired by Facebook for $1 billion, reports have emerged that Instagram now has more than 40 million users in its photo-sharing community. The gain, which was derived from the service's API, represents a spike of 10 million Instagram users added in the past 10 days, according to Venture Beat.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Coming up, we will hear the latest entry in our Muses and Metaphor series for National Poetry Month. Those are our tweet-length poems. We'll have another one in just a few minutes.
But first, we turn to election news and a controversy that's keeping the battle for women voters in the spotlight. Polls show women voters strongly favor President Barack Obama over presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
Switching gears now, often, stories about politicians in their off hours take on kind of a scandalous turn. Not this one. When Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker went home last night, his neighbor's house was on fire. A woman who had escaped the inferno told him that her daughter was trapped inside and what happened next is something really out of an action movie, with Cory Booker in the starring role.
Here's Newark Fire Director Fateen Ziyad describing the scene to New York station WABC.
A makeshift latrine hangs over the water at the edge of Cite de Dieu, a slum in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Credit John W. Poole / NPR
A man walks along the bank of one of Port-au-Prince's main sewage canals. This area is the de-facto bathroom for most of the residents of Cite de Dieu.
Credit John W. Poole / NPR
A truck discharges raw sewage from Port-au-Prince into a brand-new treatment plant outside the city. It's one of two that will soon handle the entire effluent from the Haitian capital, which has a population of 3 million.
The White House just posted word that President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama filed 2011 tax returns showing an "adjusted gross income of $789,674" and that they paid "$162,074 in total [federal] tax." That works out to about 20.5 percent of the AGI.
About half of the first family's income was from the president's salary. The rest came from royalties generated by his books. According to the White House:
Originally published on Fri April 13, 2012 8:41 am
One week from today, Chief Michael Maloney was due to retire from the Greenland, N.H., police department.
Thursday night, he was killed during a drug bust in which four officers were also wounded. The man authorities were trying to arrest, and a female acquaintance, were later found dead inside the home where the raid took place. Authorities believe they may have died in a murder-suicide.