A couple waits for a high-speed train in the Chinese city of Qinhuangdao. Modern infrastructure and the expanding private sector have greatly increased efficiency and customer service in many parts of Chinese life.
Earlier this month, we told you about a U.N. report that makes the case for insects to improve global food security: They're cheap, plentiful and environmentally sustainable. Now, the coming of the 17-year cicadas provides East Coast Americans, for whom bug eating is considered novel at best, with an opportunity to try local insect cuisine.
A century ago, when fiery steel mills were roaring to life in Youngstown, Ohio, builders were racing to put up homes, storefronts, barbershops and more.
Today, many of those buildings sit empty and rotting. With the mills mostly gone and the population down 60 percent from 1960, to just 67,000, the city needs millions of dollars to tear down roughly 4,000 vacant structures.
Credit Xie Peng and Duncan Jepson, with permission to reproduce the panels from Tabella Publishing LLP
A small, child-like creature in a cone hat peers into a toy shop, happy at the sight of a snow globe, in a vignette called "Tininess" in Darkness Outside the Night, a graphic novel illustrated by Xie Peng. Find out what happens in the excerpt below.
Xie Peng, a 36-year-old Chinese graphic novelist, spent six years working on his first book, Darkness Outside the Night. It's been praised by China's first Nobel laureate for literature, Mo Yan, as inspiring people on how to deal with life.
Tourists watch as workers clean oil from the sand along a strip of oil that washed up on the beach in Gulf Shores, Ala., in 2010 after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded off the Louisiana coast.
Credit Debbie Elliott / NPR
Casi Callaway of Mobile Baykeeper points out new marsh grass on the western shore of Mobile, Ala. Volunteers created an oyster reef just off the shoreline at this Mobile park, one of the first coastal restoration projects in the aftermath of the 2010 BP oil spill.
Gulf Coast states are lining up to spend $1 billion from BP on coastal restoration. The money is part of BP's legal responsibility to restore the Gulf of Mexico's natural resources in the aftermath of the worst oil disaster in U.S. history.
But the nature of some of the state projects, including boat ramps and a beachfront hotel, is raising questions about just what counts as coastal restoration.
Two young men — foster brothers in love with the same woman — leave their small Pakistani town for Afghanistan in late 2001. Jeo, a medical student, wants to help wounded civilians and Mikal is there to look after Jeo, but their good intentions aren't enough to keep them safe in an increasingly dangerous war zone.
About 2,200 passengers were being flown back to Baltimore on Tuesday, a day after their cruise ship caught fire on its way to the Bahamas. There were no injuries aboard Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas.
But in the wake of the incident and others like it, the cruise ship companies have something of a black eye. The industry is now trying to reassure passengers it's OK for them to sail, adopting what it called a passenger "bill of rights."
Frankie Kuzuguk, 82, gets a hug from his daughter Marilyn Kuzuguk at Quyanna Care Center in Nome, Alaska, after receiving an official honorable discharge and a distinguished service coin from visiting Veterans Affairs officials. The VA is still tracking down the few surviving members of the World War II Alaska Territorial Guard or delivering benefits to their next of kin.
Credit David Gilkey / NPR
Laban Iyatunguk, who served in the ATG, or "Eskimo Scouts," walks away from the Veterans of Foreign Wars hall in Nome, where VA officials from Washington, D.C., were trying to register ATG vets. Iyatunguk says he has waited years to take advantage of his VA benefits but found the application process too daunting.
Credit David Gilkey / NPR
For years, Clyde Iyatunguk has been waiting for benefits for his father, Laban Iyatunguk, who served in World War II with the Alaska Territorial Guard. Congress did not recognize ATG members as veterans until 2000.
Woody Guthrie's relationship with his home state has always been complicated. The singer-songwriter left Oklahoma and traveled the nation, composing some of the best-known songs of his time and ours. But to many in the state, his progressive political views did not fit with a strong conservative streak during the Cold War period. His reputation there is now closer to a full restoration as Oklahoma opens his archives.
Srinivas Ayyagari onstage in 1992 (left); at right, Ayyagari today. "Seeing someone from ESPN commenting on your style and strategy was bizarre and weird. But it's the closest I'll ever come to being an athlete," Ayyagari says.
Credit Karla Miller
Karla Miller competed in the national bees of 1984, 1985 and 1986. Her best finish was 31st, when she went out on the word "dashiki." Today, Miller is a writer and editor. At right, a recent snapshot of Miller and her daughter.
Credit Raga Ramachandran
(Left) 1988 champion Raga Ramachandran gives a TV interview at age 13. Today, Ramachandran is a surgical pathologist at the University of California, San Francisco.
For an academic contest pitting young spellers against the dictionary, the Scripps National Spelling Bee has taken on the intensity of the fiercest athletic events. Feeling the warmth of television lights — not to mention nerves and distractions — all while sports commentators are analyzing your "style" and approach is something only a select club of young word-nerdy Americans gets to experience. How does that early experience affect these mostly middle-school-aged kids later in life?
We've asked you to send us stories about the vintage sounds of technology you miss, and we've been listening to those stories on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. Today, Scott Smith of Duncan, South Carolina, with the help of his own vintage sound collection, tells us about something he recalls first hearing when he was a small child.
SCOTT SMITH: I can remember I fell in love with the startup sound of an electromechanical pinball machine, oh, when I was 3 or 4 years old.
Credit Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana / De Agostini/Getty Images
A portrait of Italian philosopher, writer and politician Niccolo Machiavelli (Florence, 1469-1527) by Antonio Maria Crespi. Half a millennium after he wrote The Prince, the slim volume continues to play an important role in political thought and evoke strong response.
Credit Sylvia Poggoli / NPR
An exhibit in Rome marking the 500th anniversary of The Prince includes a display of T-shirts and teddy bears emblazoned with Machiavelli's face.
Credit Courtesy of Donato Pineider
One of the first editions of The Prince, published in Florence in 1532 after Machiavelli's death.
The name Niccolo Machiavelli is synonymous with political deceit, cynicism and the ruthless use of power. The Italian Renaissance writer called his most famous work, The Prince, a handbook for statesmen.
An exhibit underway in Rome celebrates the 500th anniversary of what is still considered one of the most influential political essays in Western literature.
Grilling is a pillar of the American summer and the world's oldest form of cooking. From Latin America to Africa, grilling is at the heart of many cultures. This summer All Things Considered is setting out to explore some of them with the "Global Grill" series.
Cassia Mendes, who has worked as a housekeeper for more than 20 years, cleans a house in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Feb. 19, 2012. Brazil enacted on April 2 a constitutional amendment to grant domestic workers health insurance and other benefits.
The phone is ringing off the hook at the crowded waiting room at the Domestic Workers Union in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil.
In the past decade, millions of Brazilians have joined the middle class. Advocates say this isn't just the result of a growing economy or social spending, but also laws like the one just passed that enshrine domestic workers' rights.
City officials in Paris are experimenting with an unconventional way to keep urban lawns trimmed.
Agnes Masson used to be simply the director of the Paris city archives. Now, she's also a shepherdess of sorts, responsible for four black sheep munching the lush grass surrounding the gray archives building at the eastern edge of the city.
Masson says the ewes are efficient and easy to care for.
On June 5, 1944, Jake McNiece (right) led a group of paratroopers in World War II. After he shaved his head and painted his face before dropping behind German lines for D-Day, the look caught on with his men.
Credit Courtesy of the McNiece Family
McNiece received four Bronze Stars, two Arrowhead Bronzes and was appointed a Knight of the French Legion of Honor.
Sixteen million men and women served in uniform during World War II. Today, 1.2 million are still alive, but hundreds of those vets are dying every day. In honor of Memorial Day, NPR's All Things Considered is remembering some of the veterans who have died this year.
The Dirty Dozen was a Hollywood hit, but it was based — loosely — on a true-to-life WWII paratrooper regiment. Jake McNiece led the group, whose exploits inspired the 1967 movie and earned the nickname "The Filthy Thirteen." McNiece died in January at the age of 93.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is being criticized for the shortfall in care for almost a million veterans who can't get timely compensation and have been waiting hundreds of days for help, often to no avail.
Frustration with the agency came to a head last Thursday when VA Secretary Eric Shinseki was called before a closed-door meeting of the House Appropriations Committee.
"We are aggressively executing a plan that we have put together to fix this decades-old problem and eliminate the backlog, as we have indicated, in 2015," Shinseki said after the meeting.
Mynor Sanchez, a resident of Moore, Okla., lives a few blocks away and three houses down from major destruction. He is volunteering Friday in the neighborhood with his church, Templo El Alabanza, trying to do any tasks with which residents need help.
Credit Katie Hayes Luke for NPR
Eli and Maria Sanchez with their daughter, Kaylee, 6 at their home in Moore, Okla., on Friday.
Pastor Chano Najera calls out T-shirt sizes in Spanglish to volunteers waiting for their uniforms.
It's easy to spot Najera in this crowd — just look for the cowboy hat. He preaches in Spanish at Templo De Alabanza in Oklahoma City. On this morning, though, he's wrangling a group of young Latino volunteers as they wheel cases of water bottles onto trucks headed for Moore, Okla., where an EF-5 tornado ripped through neighborhoods last week, but spared Najera's home.
Chongqing Municipality Communist Party Secretary Bo Xilai attends the opening ceremony of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference at the Great Hall of the People on March 3, 2012, in Beijing, China.
Credit Tao Zhang / Courtesy PublicAffairs
Wenguang Huang is a writer, journalist, translator and author of the memoir The Little Red Guard.
On Feb. 7, 2012, Wang Lijun, a former Chinese police chief, showed up at the American Consulate in Chengdu, China. He said his life was in danger, asked for asylum and said he had information implicating Bo Xilai, an important member of the Chinese political elite, in the murder of a British citizen.
The incident set off an international media deluge, and the ensuing scandal sent ripples throughout the ruling Communist Party that are still being felt.
Alex Zhang Hungtai is a musician who has spent his life drifting from home to home. His parents were children of communist China, and since setting out, he's lived in places as far-flung as Honolulu, Montreal and most recently, Berlin.
Under the name Dirty Beaches, Hungtai makes washy, dreamy rock music that often feels nostalgic. Hungtai's whole last album was dedicated to his father; he was inspired after finding out his dad had been in a doo wop cover band during his youth in China.
NPR's Bob Mondello and Susan Stamberg read excerpts of two of the best submissions for Round 11 of our short story contest. They read The Art of Compromise by Lindsey Appleford of Boerne, Texas, and Claudia Who Found the F by Sean Enfield of Denton, Texas. You can read their full stories below and find other stories on our Three-Minute Fiction page or on Facebook.
In the classic American story, opportunity is always in front of you. You finish school, find a job, buy a home and start a family; it's a rosy dreamscape.
But that world is one-dimensional. Income inequality is just about as American as baseball and apple pie. And though the economy has improved in the past few years, the unemployment rate for black Americans, now 13.2 percent, is about double that for white Americans.
Pearl S. Buck emerged into literary stardom in 1931 when she published a book called The Good Earth. That story of family life in a Chinese village won the novelist international acclaim, the Pulitzer and, eventually, a Nobel Prize. Her upbringing in China as the American daughter of missionaries served as inspiration for that novel and many others; by her death in 1973, Buck had written more than 100 books, including 43 novels.
In his debut novel, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, Anthony Marra transports readers to Chechnya, a war-torn Russian republic that has long sought independence.
The lyrical and heart-breaking novel begins in 2004 when a doctor watches as Russian soldiers abduct his neighbor, who has been accused of aiding Chechen rebels. He later rescues the neighbor's 8-year-old daughter, then colludes with another doctor to form an unlikely family amid the daily violence.
This past week, President Obama laid out the foreign policy objectives for the remainder of his time in office, a speech that included his wish to end not just the war in Afghanistan but the "war on terror." Weekends on All Things Considered host Jacki Lyden speaks with James Fallows, national correspondent with The Atlantic.