Deacon Mark Coudrain, bottom left, Rev. Charles Benoit, top left, Abbot Justin Brown, top right, and attorney Evans Schmidt carry a casket built by Benedictine monks down the steps of the U.S. federal district courthouse on Aug. 12, 2010.
Credit Patrick Semansky / AP
Benedictine Brother Brian Harrington (left) and novice Dustin Bernard pull a casket handle from a press in a workshop at St. Joseph Abbey in Covington, La.
Residents of Sugar Hill, N.H., are adjusting to a big change in postal services. Their local post office is now open only half an hour a day, and it only sells stamps. It's one of thousands of rural post offices reducing its hours because of the U.S. Postal Service's financial struggles.
"We had two shows that night," says Bobby Womack, recounting a recent concert in Houston. "It was a small theater, about 5- or 6,000 people. The second show, I was just out of it; they had to take me to the hospital."
It was a serious scare for the 68-year-old singer-songwriter — who has also lived through drug addiction and the deaths of two sons — and it didn't end that night.
Fraser and Marian Shields Robinson raised their children, Craig and Michelle, in Chicago, but their family's ancestry can be traced back to pre-abolition Georgia.
Credit Barack Obama Campaign
The Shield and Robinson lines met in 1959 in Chicago, where Fraser and Marian Shields Robinson married and raised their children, Craig and Michelle.
Credit Barack Obama Campaign
The first lady's maternal great-great-grandfather Dolphus Shields (seated) was born to Melvinia Shields. After emancipation, he settled his family in Birmingham, Ala., where he stayed until his death in 1950.
Credit Courtesy of Jewell Barclay
Obama's paternal grandfather, Fraser Robinson Jr., fought in World War II and spoke Gullah, a language that emerged on the South Carolina coast during slavery.
Credit Courtesy of Francesca Gray
DNA tests have shown that Joan Tribble, the great-great-granddaughter of Melvinia Shields' owner, and the first lady are distantly related.
Credit Damon Wood
Michelle Obama's family was part of American history long before she, Malia, Sasha and Barack Obama moved into the White House.
Credit The White House / Getty Images
Rachel Swarns reconstructs Michelle Obama's family tree in her book <em>American Tapestry</em>. (Click <a href="http://media.npr.org/assets/artslife/arts/2012/06/6familytree-americantapestry.jpg">here</a> for a closer look.)
Credit Courtesy of HarperCollins
Author Rachel Swarns has been a reporter for <em>The New York Times</em> since 1995. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and their two children.
When Michelle Obama's great-great-great grandmother was 8 years old, her life underwent a dramatic change.
Melvinia Shields was a slave who grew up at a South Carolina estate with a relatively large community of slaves she knew well. But then she was moved to a small farm in northern Georgia where she was one of only three slaves; most white people in the area didn't own any.
Weekends on All Things Considered guest host Laura Sullivan talks with Heidi Cullen, chief climatologist at Climate Central, a non-profit science journalism organization in Princeton, New Jersey. They discuss wildfires and extreme heat in the Midwest this week and how these climate conditions are tracked by Earth-observing satellites.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Oh, Balotelli. Mario's moment to shine.
SULLIVAN: That was the call on ESPN of the heroics of 21-year-old Mario Balotelli. He scored both of Italy's goals in their win over Germany in the Euro 2012 soccer tournament. The Italians now advance to the final tomorrow.
Billy Lynn is a 19-year-old college dropout living in the small Texas town where he grew up. After he's arrested for trashing the car of his sister's ex, he's given two choices: face jail time or enlist in the Army.
He chooses the Army. And Iraq.
Author Ben Fountain's debut novel, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, is the story of what happens to Lynn after he joins Bravo Company in the early years of the Iraq war.
Weekends on All Things Considered guest host Laura Sullivan talks with James Fallows, national correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly. They discuss the decision of the Supreme Court to uphold the Affordable Health Care act, Chief Justice John Roberts' role on the court and what the decision means in this election year.
Metric has long been identified as an indie-rock band, but it recently embraced the "indie" part of that descriptor in a big way.
For their last album together, the band's members formed their own company — Metric Music International — to distribute the record, organize a tour and handle promotion without a label's support. The result was the biggest album of Metric's career: Fantasies sold half a million copies worldwide.
The U.S. Supreme Court justices — (first row, from left) Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, (back row) Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Samuel Alito and Elena Kagan — pose at the Supreme Court in 2010.
It's a bit less likely now than a week ago that you'll hear people accuse the Supreme Court of being politicized.
That's because this week, the court ended its session with two controversial decisions — neither one of which was decided on the usual and predictable split between the five justices appointed by Republican presidents and the four appointed by Democrats.
But that doesn't make the court any less of a political animal.
NPR's Backseat Book Club is taking a break for the summer months, but we're already making a list of books to read in the fall. Do you have suggestions? <strong><a href="http://www.npr.org/contact/backseatbookclubsummer.html">Share Your Recommendations</a>!</strong>
"Let me just say for the record that I think middle school is the dumbest idea ever invented," laments <em>Wimpy Kid </em>protagonist Greg Heffley. "You got kids like me who haven't hit their growth spurt yet mixed in with gorillas who need to shave twice a day." <a href="http://n.pr/LiWSpO">Click Here To Read An Excerpt From Diary Of A Wimpy Kid<em></em></a>
Credit Jeff Kinney / Abrams
Jeff Kinney is an author, cartoonist and game designer. He lives in southern Massachusetts and has two sons.
We've chosen some popular books for our monthly Backseat Book Club selections, but nothing quite like the boffo best-sellers in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.
How popular are these books? Consider the numbers: There are six books, and a seventh is on the way. They've been translated into 40 languages and there are 75 million copies in print worldwide. And it was our 2009 interview with author Jeff Kinney that originally inspired us to start a book club just for kids.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block. For once, we have what looks like good news from the eurozone. At least that's how the financial markets view it. Markets shot upwards today after European leaders reached a deal to help Spain and Italy survive the region's financial crisis.
The agreement came at a summit in Brussels. NPR's Philip Reeves was there.
Buddhists donate food and other necessities to monks as a way of earning merit for future lives. Monks have refused donations of alms from the military as a political protest in 1990 and 2007, a boycott that some monks insist is still in effect.
Credit Ye Aung Thu / AFP/Getty Images
Nay Myo Zin is a former captain in the Myanmar army who now runs a charity and is a political activist. He says he quit the army because soldiers were "always made to do bad things," and thus preventing him from properly practicing his Buddhist religion.
Credit Anthony Kuhn / NPR
A monk waves his alms bowl upside down in defiance of a threat to send troops to end anti-junta protests in Yangon on Sept. 25, 2007, during the country's monk-led Saffron Revolution.
In response to political reforms in Myanmar — also known as Burma — the U.S. and other Western countries have eased some sanctions targeting the country's former military rulers.
But so far, one of the most powerful institutions inside the country has kept its sanctions in place. For some time, Myanmar's Buddhist clergy have effectively been on a spiritual strike by refusing to take donations from the military — a serious blow to the former regime's legitimacy.
Ted (voiced by writer-director Seth MacFarlane) and Johnny (Mark Wahlberg) share a laugh in <em>Ted. </em>The talking teddy bear got his powers when 8-year-old Johnny wished upon a falling star for Ted to speak.<em></em>
Credit Universal Pictures/Tippett Studio
When Johnny's girlfriend, Lori (Mila Kunis), tires of Ted's constant presence around the house, Ted gets a job — which is when the comedy catches fire.
Seth MacFarlane is known mostly for creating, writing and directing the animated TV show Family Guy. In the show, he also voices Peter and Stewie Griffin, and their dog, Brian.
With his new movie, Ted, he has moved to the big screen for the first time, again creating, writing and directing. And though it's a live-action picture, he has again voiced one of the characters — the titular teddy bear, whom I tried to resist but couldn't.
This artist's rendering shows Chief Justice John Roberts (center) speaking at the Supreme Court on Thursday. From left are Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Samuel Alito and Elena Kagan. The court voted 5-4 to uphold President Obama's health care law.
Shock, dismay, relief, confusion — all those emotions played out Thursday when the U.S. Supreme Court announced its 5-to-4 decision to uphold almost all of President Obama's health care overhaul.
The ruling, with shifting majorities on different provisions and multiple dissents, covered close to 200 pages and provoked initial confusion. Both Fox News and CNN got it wrong, reporting at first that the individual mandate had been struck down. But when the dust cleared, the law labeled derisively by Republicans as "Obamacare" was largely intact.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block. Two years ago, a backlash against the Obama administration's health care law helped propel Republicans to a House majority and today's Supreme Court ruling upholding the law prompted more Republican calls for repeal. Here's the speaker of the House, John Boehner.
REPRESENTATIVE JOHN BOEHNER: Today's ruling underscores the urgency of repealing this harmful law in its entirety.
We want to find out what today's ruling means for someone who's had difficulty with his health-care coverage. So we're turning to Shawn Pollock. He's 30 years old. He said he had excellent benefits until he was laid off from his job at a TV station, in 2009. He couldn't afford insurance, even under COBRA. And then he got viral meningitis and was hospitalized, leading him to be labeled high risk when he applied for insurance.
Shawn Pollock joins me now from Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Welcome to the program.
Now to the attorney general of Ohio, Republican Mike DeWine. Ohio was among the plaintiffs seeking to strike down the Affordable Care Act. And again, they ended up on the losing side today as the court upheld the law, including the individual mandate. Mike DeWine, welcome to the program.
MIKE DEWINE: Good to be back. Thank you very much.
For President Obama, today's high court ruling brought vindication. It would have been a stinging embarrassment for the former constitutional law professor had his signature domestic policy been struck down as unconstitutional. NPR's Scott Horsley reports on the political impact of the ruling.