Military benefits for retirees cost the Pentagon more than $50 billion each year. Few in Washington are publicly in favor of cutting those entitlements, even though former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the cost was "eating the Defense Department alive." One former Navy commander, Bryan McGrath, tells weekends on All Things Considered guest host Rachel Martin he'd be willing to pay more for his benefits.
At 32, neo-soul singer and multi-instrumentalist Mayer Hawthorne isn't quite old enough to remember the classic days of Motown, but the Michigan native says he did absorb some of the music's aesthetic growing up, thanks to his father.
Pauline Kael, long-time New Yorker film critic, was famous for her scathing, but honest movie reviews. She took digs at many popular films like The Sound of Music and Star Wars with no inhibitions. Yet her enthusiasm for films like Bonnie and Clyde gave some movies a new lease on life.
My 5-year-old nephew, Ezra, sits between his mother and grandmother on a porch-swing covered in old quilts. An expansive view of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Madison County, N.C., spreads out before them.
The porch used to be a really important part of mountain music. Ezra's mother, Melanie, sings one of the old ballads, just like her ancestors used to do 200 years ago.
The hope is that if Ezra hears the ballads, he'll start to learn them, just as he's learned the names of the trees on his farm, says his grandmother Sheila Kay Adams.
A woman of some importance: Sabine Spielrein, one of Karl Jung's celebrated patients, later became a psychiatrist herself — and, as screenwriter Christopher Hampton tells NPR's Rachel Martin, an influence on both Jung and Sigmund Freud. Keira Knightley plays Spielrein in the new film A Dangerous Method.
Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud are known as the fathers of psychoanalysis, but they focused on different things. Freud on the sexual underpinnings of — well, almost everything — and Jung for his mystical bent and dream theories.
For years, the two were close friends and collaborators but they had a falling out that ultimately ended their relationship. And turns out, there was a woman involved. Her name was Sabina Spielren.
The stories of all three are woven together in a new film called <em>A Dangerous Method.</em>
Founded in Los Angeles in 1960s, The Doors (left to right: drummer John Densmore, keyboard player Ray Mansarek, vocalist Jim Morrison and guitarist Robby Krieger) took their name from Aldous Huxley's 1954 book, The Doors of Perception.
Chuck Berry's 1973 Eldorado now belongs to the collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. The museum, now under construction, is set to open its doors in 2015.
Credit Bill Griffiths / Smithsonian
The hood ornament on Chuck Berry's 1973 Eldorado is the factory original — "amazing," Smithsonian fleet manager Bill Griffiths says.
Credit Timothy Hiatt / Getty Images
Chuck Berry performs at the Congress Theater on Jan. 1 in Chicago.
When rock 'n' roll legend Chuck Berry navigated his music career, he didn't rely on agents or record labels; he drove himself to his own business meetings and concerts in his fleet of Cadillacs.
Now Berry has donated one of those cars, a candy-apple red 1973 Eldorado, to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, set to open its doors in 2015. NPR's Rachel Martin went with curator Kevin Strait to watch Smithsonian fleet manager Bill Griffiths restore the car in Suitland, Md.
Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're out to get you.
That could be the motto this week for abortion rights groups that immediately sprang into battle mode when it was discovered that Siri, Apple's new artificially intelligent personal assistant, wasn't so, well, intelligent when it came to abortion.
It turns out, however, that it was all much ado about not so much.
Seventeen years ago, Mary J. Blige shook up the world of R&B when she released the record My Life. It ushered in a new sound: soul music over hip-hop beats. Instantly, Blige became known as the queen of hip-hop soul.
My Life was about pain — about Blige's rough childhood, abusive relationship and battles with addiction and depression. Seventeen years on, she's revisited that album. Her new record is called My Life II ... The Journey Continues. She says it's about strength.
Erin Morgenstern is the author of The Night Circus.
Yesterday I was told I had approximately 20 hours to write an essay: 450 words about National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. I'm quite partial to the event. Still, I thought about declining the essay, given the time constraint.
But then I decided, in the spirit of NaNoWriMo, that it was rather silly to say "oh, I can't write 450 words in less than a day" So here we go:
The government has changed land leasing rules to make it easier for tribes to build houses and businesses. The move comes as President Obama met with Native American leaders Friday in Washington. Laurel Morales reports from the Fronteras Changing America Desk .
AIDS activists haven't always been happy with Barack Obama. But many of them were on this Worlds AIDS Day.
The president used the occasion to pledge a 50 percent increase in the number of HIV-infected people getting treatment through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR — from around 4 million now to 6 million by the end of 2013.
The American electorate is getting more diverse, more educated and younger. These demographic trends seem to suggest that voters could, in theory at least, be more Obama-friendly in 2012, especially in some key states. But it's not clear whether these shifts can outweigh the dragging economy and the president's dismal approval ratings.
The songs we turn to during winter months are as distinct from the light, joyous anthems of summer as tank tops and shorts are from the mittens and scarves we pull out of the closet when a chill creeps into the air. This season, we'll ask musicians, writers and listeners to tell us about a song that evokes winter for them, along with a memory or story that goes with it.
When the iconic American punk band Fugazi started playing back in 1987, it started taping, too.
"Our friend Joey Picuri, who was a local sound man — or a fellow who helped do sound for bands — he recorded the shows," Fugazi frontman Ian MacKaye tells NPR's Guy Raz. "He just gave us tapes of our first show, and he gave us a tape of our second show."
There are basically two solutions to the European debt crisis. One, someone can show up with really deep pockets and bail out all the countries. Or, two, the European Central Bank can create a bunch of money and loan it to the countries who need it. The problem is there's a barrier blocking both these potential solutions — a certain European country known for its beer and brats: Germany.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad waves in Pakdasht, southeast of Tehran, Nov. 23. Ahmadinejad on Wednesday said he was surprised at European moves to isolate Tehran's central bank.
Credit Atta Kenare / AFP/Getty Images
Iranians shout slogans during a demonstration outside the British Embassy in Tehran, Nov. 29. New British sanctions against Iran's central bank sparked the recent protests. Now, the U.S. is considering even tougher measures.
Iran has been dealing with economic sanctions for years, but the country could soon face measures tougher than anything it has encountered before: Legislation moving through the U.S. Congress would target the central bank of Iran, with the likely effect of severely limiting Iran's oil exports.
Such sanctions would almost certainly damage Iran's economy. The challenge would be to make sure other countries are not hurt as well, given the fragile state of the global economy and the tight global oil market.
A new Pennsylvania law could curb municipalities' ability to zone and regulate hydraulic fracturing — or "fracking." And that raises questions about how much say a local government should have over what goes on within its borders.
State lawmakers are grappling with how to update Commonwealth's decades-old Oil and Gas Act to catch up with a natural gas drilling boom.
Ken Harbaugh is a former Navy pilot and an NPR commentator.
When I was five, my father made a promise he never intended to keep. He had returned from a long trip, with presents. I got a fossilized shark tooth, and spent the next month asking about fossils.
At some point, my father made the mistake of describing a massive fossil bed somewhere in Germany. I begged him to take me. There were good reasons that could never happen. Dad knew nothing about fossils; Germany was far away; I was five. But I would not be deterred.
Melissa Block and Guy Raz read emails from listeners about a report on Kentucky's Berea College, about Melissa's remembrance of Vermont poet Ruth Stone, and about the other person responsible for that mega-hit earworm "Moves Like Jagger."
Now, if you've been following events in the eurozone over the past few months with equal parts anxiety and confusion, you're not alone. To help put today's news into a broader debt crisis context, we're joined by Felix Salmon. He blogs about finance for Reuters.com. Felix, welcome.
FELIX SALMON: Thanks, Guy.
RAZ: In your blog today, you call this coordinated action by the central banks, and I'm quoting you, "a holiday greeting card to the financial markets." Why?
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Myanmar, also known as Burma, to see if the county's leaders are serious about political reform. Myanmar has long been under international sanctions because of the repressive nature of the military junta that held power until recently. But there are signs that a new civilian government is loosening the military's grip.
The major central banks of the world moved Wednesday to prevent a banking crisis in Europe. They're providing more liquidity to the European banking system in hopes that big banks there will remain solvent and continue to make loans. The coordinated move by the central banks sent stock markets soaring. But it will not even begin to fix Europe's fundamental economic problems.
Researchers and ranchers are studying whether cattle grazing could significantly reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires in rugged areas of the southwest. As Laurel Morales reports from the Fronteras Changing America Desk, firefighters had the toughest time fighting recent record-setting fires in steep terrain where dry grasses and other fuels had built up.
Rep. Barney Frank, the long-time liberal voice (and a fast-talking, brusque one at that) who announced he won't be running for re-election, discussed with NPR's Guy Raz, co-host of All Things Considered, the items of unfinished business he plans attend to during his remaining year in Congress.
Welcome to the second installment of NPR's Backseat Book Club! Every month, we invite kids to read a book along with us, and then send in their questions for the author.
Our book club selection for November is a classic that's celebrating a big anniversary. The Phantom Tollbooth — written by Norton Juster and illustrated by Jules Feiffer — was published 50 years ago. Juster tells NPR's Michele Norris that the story sprang from his own childhood.