Students at Westlake High School in Waldorf, Md., participate in an interactive digital conversation with historian Kenneth C. Davis about late 19th and early 20th century American history on Thursday. The school uses a state of the art "telepresence center" for students to connect with experts all over the world.
The hallways at Westlake High School in Maryland are just like thousands of other school hallways around the country: kids milling around, laughing and chatting on their way to class.
On a recent morning, about 30 kids took their seats in a classroom that initially seems like any other. The major difference here is that instead of a chalkboard and a lectern at the head of the class, there are two enormous flat-panel screens and thin, white microphones hanging in four rows across the ceiling.
Margaret Bonds, who died in 1972, is perhaps near the top of the very short list of African-American female composers. Thanks to her partnerships with Langston Hughes and soprano Leontyne Price and others, she's remembered in some circles as an important figure in American composition. But, mostly, she's been forgotten.
"It's amazing that people don't know who she was, although she was quite well known in her time," says Louise Toppin, an opera singer and a voice professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
For seven years, Mary Robinson served as the first female president of Ireland. Yet, she also has a long record of service as a human rights advocate.
After leaving office in 1997, she was appointed as the High Commissioner for Human Rights at the United Nations. She now runs The Mary Robinson Foundation — Climate Justice. This week, she has a new book out called Everybody Matters: My Life Giving Voice.
The death of a Polish nail polish inventor has opened a window into a world of specialty cosmetics. Wojciech Inglot was a chemist and entrepreneur who tried to come up with a more healthful alternative to traditional nail polish. He died Feb. 23 at the age of 57.
Inglot leaves behind a market of grateful customers: Muslim women, who have flocked to his invention of a "breathable" polish that allows air and moisture to reach the nail bed. Some scholars say the cosmetic is uniquely permissible under Islamic law.
In a small public-TV studio before an invitation-only audience of 30 people, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder made his case Friday for taking control of Detroit's finances away from the city's elected officials.
The state's signature city is grappling with a declining population, a dwindling tax base and decades of mismanagement — including corruption so pervasive at times that former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is currently on trial for federal racketeering charges.
A Parisian Jew who dies in 1773 reappears in the 21st century as an angel, fluttering gently down to Earth — or, so he thinks. He imagines himself as "a fully formed Christian seraph, a Viking with blond hair, a beautiful chiseled torso, hairless feet, and eyes the color of whiskey." So imagine his shock when he realizes he's no angel — he's actually been reincarnated as a common housefly.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, shown here in August at the Republican National Convention, has named a five-member task force to conduct a review of what went wrong for his party in the November elections.
These are difficult times for the Republican Party. In the latest NBC-Wall Street Journal poll, Democrats led Republicans — in some cases by double digits — on issues like Medicare, taxes and the economy.
If food is love, Americans must love their kids a lot. About one-third of children and adolescents in the U.S. are overweight or obese.
And our emotional response to food may be one of the reasons so many kids eat so much, according to a poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health. The poll found that in more than a quarter of families, food is considered an important way to show affection.
Two rapid-fire snowstorms belted Kansas with more than 2 feet of snow this week. They caused thousands of accidents and all kinds of hardships — but they also produced very broad smiles from some quarters.
That's because in a place as dry as Kansas has been lately, a blizzard can be a blessing for farmers and ranchers.
The way Americans get their electricity is changing. Coal is in decline. Natural gas is bursting out of the ground in record amounts. And the use of wind and solar energy is growing fast. All this is happening as power companies are trying to choose which kind of energy to bet on for the next several decades.
Until recently, half of these plants burned coal to make electricity. Now, that's down to about one-third. Since 2010, about 150 coal plants either have been retired or it's been announced they will be retired soon.
Rachel Weisz plays the witch Evanora in director Sam Raimi's upcoming <em>Oz: The Great and Powerful.</em> The film is one of nine upcoming Oz adaptations and tackles more frightening and adult themes than those that came before it.
Credit Walt Disney Pictures
The type of fantastical enemies in fairy tale remakes like <em>Jack the Giant Slayer</em> show the protagonists, and their problems, getting older and more complicated.
Credit Warner Bros. Pictures
Jeremy Renner's Hansel (from January's <em>Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters</em>) was himself a grown-up fairy tale character gone rogue, using guns and firepower to take revenge on witches everywhere.
Adaptations of fairy tales are everywhere you look. The TV show Once Upon a Time and the police procedural Grimm are in their second seasons. Hansel and his sister Gretel are at the cineplex hunting witches with machine guns. Jack, of beanstalk fame, starts slaying giants today. And those aren't the only bedtime stories that have been redesigned to keep 20-somethings up at night.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish. This evening, the Obama administration filed a friend of the court brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down California's ban on gay marriage, but the brief does not call for abolition of bans on same-sex marriage across the country. NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg joins us in the studio. And, Nina, just to start, remind us quickly how this case actually came to be.
When singer Thom Yorke stepped away from his influential rock band Radiohead in 2006 to release The Eraser, many thought the quirky electronic project was a one-off. Not so, it turns out. Yorke and producer Nigel Godrich called on rock-star friends for a tour, and since then, the group has convened occasionally in the studio.
There are few things in life more joyful than discovering a giant oil or natural gas field in Texas. You're suddenly rich beyond your wildest dreams. When the scope and size of the natural gas reservoir in the Barnett Shale in North Texas first became apparent, there were predictions that the find would last 100 years.
Well, that was over the top. But University of Texas geology professor Scott Tinker, who designed and authored a new study of the Barnett Shale, says there's still a lot of gas down there, even after a decade of drilling.
The network of political groups headed by conservative industrialists David and Charles Koch spent millions of undisclosed dollars in last year's elections. Now, after failing to help Republicans win the White House or the Senate, the Koch brothers are re-examining the network, its goals and strategies.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
Now to a developing story about a major Supreme Court case. NPR has previously reported that the Obama administration would file a Friend of The Court Brief, urging The Court to strike down a ban on same-sex marriage in California. Well, today is the deadline to file that brief but it has not yet been filed.
President Obama minced no words when he talked about how the looming budget cuts known as sequestration could hurt the Justice Department.
"FBI agents will be furloughed. Federal prosecutors will have to close cases and let criminals go," Obama said.
Starting late Friday, if Congress and the White House can't come to an agreement, the Justice Department will face $1.6 billion in cuts — about 9 percent of its budget. Attorney General Eric Holder told a group of state law enforcement officials who met in Washington this week that the situation looks ugly.
After decades living and working abroad, Saeed Malik (left) returned to his native Pakistan and wanted to do something to help rectify what he saw as a poor education system. He founded the Bright Star Mobile Library, which now serves about 2,500 children.
Credit Jackie Northam / NPR
Virtually none of the public schools in and around the capital Islamabad have libraries. The Bright Star Mobile Library is often the only access schoolchildren have to books.
On a cold, rainy morning, a van pulls up outside a rural elementary school on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan's capital. The fluorescent green vehicle provides a flash of color on this otherwise gray day. There's a picture of children reading books under a large apple tree, and the words "Reading is fun" are painted in English and Urdu, the national language in Pakistan.
For American policy analysts, today's announcement of direct food aid and medical supplies to Syrian rebels is a significant shift. But a top commander in the forces fighting the Syrian regime says it's not nearly enough. NPR's Deborah Amos met that commander in northern Syria today.
The sunny island of Cyprus has been a vacation haven for Arabs and Israelis alike. But recently, it's been the site of a much-watched trial of an admitted Hezbollah operative. He has described himself simply as a pawn in the militant group's hierarchy, tasked with doing surveillance on restaurants, hotels and buses serving Israeli tourists. But his trial has revealed a wide range of details about how Hezbollah operates and how it may be getting more sophisticated.
After years of tax cuts and a big hike in defense spending, deficits were rising. Then came a bitter battle over the debt limit. Three senators came up with a plan: Unless Congress and the White House could get the deficit under control, this thing called "sequestration" would do it for them.
French workers burn tires outside the Goodyear tire factory in Amiens, France, on Tuesday, after Titan CEO Maurice Taylor criticized French workers in a letter addressed to Industrial Renewal Minister Arnaud Montebourg.
Credit Eleanor Beardsley / NPR
Titan CEO Maurice Taylor, shown here in 2009, is known as a tough negotiator and an outspoken free-market capitalist.
Credit Charlie Neibergall / AP
France's socialist Minister for Industrial Renewal Arnaud Montebourg, shown here on Feb. 18, responded strongly to Taylor's criticism.
The battle between an American capitalist and a French socialist official has prompted chuckles — and heated debate — on both sides of the Atlantic. The exchange highlights some humorous stereotypes and reveals real differences between the economic cultures of France and the United States.
A leaked letter from Maurice Taylor, CEO of the Illinois-based Titan tire company, ignited the controversy. In it, Taylor, regarded by the French as a hardcore capitalist, addressed Arnaud Montebourg, France's flamboyant, leftist industrial renewal minister.