It was probably a first for Norway when a truck trailer full of sweet goat cheese caught fire near the town of Narvik late last week, blocking a road tunnel. it took four days for firefighters to put out the flames. No one was hurt. Norwegian Broadcasting says the tunnel was so badly damaged that geologists are checking it for safety, and any lingering toxic gases.
Customers chat at a Beijing cafe modeled after the Central Perk cafe in the hit American sitcom <em>Friends</em>, in<em> </em>2010. Nearly a decade after the series ended, the popularity of <em>Friends</em> continues among young Chinese, who use the show as a language-learning tool and enjoy its depiction of young Americans.
Credit Ng Han Guan / AP
Du Xin, the "Chinese Gunther," owns Central Perk in Beijing. That's not all he has in common with Gunther on the show. "I love Rachel," he sighs.
Credit Loiusa Lim / NPR
The six Manhattan singles of <em>Friends</em> (from left, Joey (Matt LeBlanc), Chandler (Matthew Perry), Monica (Courteney Cox), Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), Ross (David Schwimmer) and Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) congregate at Central Perk in this 1999 still photo from the program.
Almost a decade since the end of the hit American TV series Friends, the show — and, in particular, the fictitious Central Perk cafe, where much of the action took place — is enjoying an afterlife in China's capital, Beijing. Here, the show that chronicled the exploits of New York City pals Rachel, Ross, Monica, Chandler, Phoebe and Joey is almost seen as a lifestyle guide.
Tucked away on the sixth floor of a Beijing apartment block is a mini replica of the cafe, orange couch and all, whose owner Du Xin introduces himself by saying, "Everyone calls me 'Gunther' here."
President Obama pulled out a surprise in his inaugural address on Monday. After barely mentioning climate change in his campaign, he put it on his short list of priorities for his second term.
"We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations," he said. Today the White House had scant detail on what the president plans to do.
Abortion opponents march to a rally at the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka, Kan., on the 40th anniversary of <em>Roe v. Wade.</em> Kansas is among several states that have enacted new restrictions on abortion in recent years.
Tuesday marks the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. Thousands of activists on both sides of the issue are holding rallies marking the day at state capitals across the country.
In the decades since the decision, abortion has been one of the most debated and legislated issues in the nation. And state legislatures, which are increasingly passing laws restricting abortion, have become the debate's key battlegrounds.
The U.S. Capitol at sunrise on Monday, before President Obama's second inauguration. While the president raised big issues in his inaugural address — climate change, gay rights, immigration, the shooting of schoolchildren — none of them appear to top the agenda of Congress, which returned to work Tuesday.
The Senate picked up Tuesday exactly where it left off nearly three weeks ago. By a twist of the rules, the Senate chamber remains in its first legislative day of the 113th Congress.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he's kept things at the starting point so that he and his fellow Democrats have the option of changing the rules on the filibuster by a simple majority vote.
"The Senate will take action to make this institution that we all love, the United States Senate, work more effectively," Reid said Tuesday. "We'll consider changes to the Senate rules."
Congress faces a battle over gun laws that could be the biggest in a generation.
Leading the charge for gun rights is the National Rifle Association, with its huge budget and grass-roots operations. On the other side, a new leader has emerged in recent years: New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is not only outspoken on gun control, he has also opened his substantial wallet for the cause.
A wave of racist tweets prompted a Jewish student organization to file a lawsuit asking the American company Twitter to reveal the identities of users sending anti-Semitic tweets. Twitter says data on users is collected and stocked in California, where French law cannot be applied.
A French judge will decide this week if Twitter must hand over the identities of users sending anti-Semitic tweets. The case, brought against Twitter by a Jewish student organization, pits America's free speech guarantees against Europe's laws banning hate speech.
The controversy began in October, when the French Union of Jewish Students threatened to sue Twitter to get the names of people posting anti-Semitic tweets with the hashtag #unbonjuif, or "a good Jew."
Jose James knows jazz. The son of a Panamanian jazz saxophonist, he studied at the prestigious New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City, was a finalist in 2004's Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocalist Competition and recently toured with legendary jazz pianist McCoy Tyner.
Patient William Wishart, age 4 months, looks on as Dr. Melanie Walker uses a portable computer to enter information from his exam into an electronic medical records system, in North Raleigh, N.C., in November.
Information technology has transformed much of the American economy, but its use in health care still lags, especially when it comes to electronic medical records.
Here's an example: The state of Colorado runs a computerized registry where any provider who gives a child a vaccine can report that information. The system should help kids stay current with their immunizations.
Robert Redford's annual Sundance Film Festival draws thousands of filmgoers and millions of dollars to snowy Park City, Utah. But a state subsidy contributing to the event is drawing controversy from some conservatives, who say films screened at the festival don't reflect the values of the state.
Credit Jemal Countess / Getty Images
Sundance Film Festival founder Robert Redford speaks with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and former Sen. Chris Dodd, chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, at an event at the festival in Park City, Utah.
A disagreement between supporters of the Sundance Film Festival and a conservative think tank in Utah is raising questions about whether tax dollars should support the arts. The Sutherland Institute says some films screened at Sundance do not reflect Utah values.
So 9-year-old Lauren Kanabel there has a dream: a girl president elected in 2016. And whether or not that dream comes true, there will be inaugural balls. The tradition dates back to George Washington. Four years ago, President Obama attended ten inaugural balls, this year only two, both at the convention center here in Washington. And NPR's Allison Aubrey is there. She joins us by phone. Allison, the ball has been going on for a few hours now. What's the scene?
The Big Sandy Power Plant, 4 miles north of Louisa, is the biggest industry in Lawrence County. Local residents blame President Obama's environmental policies for the company's plans to close the plant in 2015.
If the voters in Louisa, Ky., had their wish, Mitt Romney would have taken the oath of office Monday. Louisa is in eastern Kentucky, and "coal" was the one-word issue in the election. President Obama is seen as an enemy of coal mining and he got only 27 percent of the vote in the county.
And now comes word that Louisa is going to lose its biggest industry — a power generating plant that's been burning coal since 1962.
For the past few weeks a team of scientists, archaeologists and documentary makers has been digging at Yangon's international airport in Myanmar, also known as Burma. They are searching for a legendary trove of Spitfire fighter planes, said to have been buried in Burma in the waning days of World War II.
It's about 25 degrees on a clear Saturday morning when Gregg Treinish — executive director of Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation, a nonprofit that puts volunteers to work gathering data for scientists around the world — gathers a small group of outdoor adventurers around him near the Duckabush River in the Olympic National Forest in Washington state.
One of President Obama's gun control proposals appears to have widespread support — universal background checks for gun purchases. Some experts on mental health and gun violence find problems with the current laws, and they say the system doesn't do a very good job of predicting and preventing gun crime.
When you enter Kerley's Hunting and Outfitting in Cupertino, Calif., you're greeted by a taxidermy lion roaring and leaping. There are rows of rifles on the walls, but the owner, Harry Dwyer III, doesn't appear to be as fierce as his mascot.
George Saunders has been writing short stories for decades.
Saunders, a professor at Syracuse University, was once a geological engineer who traveled the world; he now crafts stories that combine the absurd and fantastic with the mundane realities of everyday life. One story about a professional caveman inspired those Geico commercials.
For years, British environmental activist Mark Lynas destroyed genetically modified food (GMO) crops in what he calls a successful campaign to force the business of agriculture to be more holistic and ecological in its practices.
His targets were companies like Monsanto and Syngenta — leaders in developing genetically modified crops.
Earlier this month he went in front of the world to reverse his position on GMOs.
One of the chief expectations of those who voted for President Obama is that he moves assertively to pass climate change legislation, whatever the political climate in Washington.
"We have a bipartisan common interest in moving away from fossil fuels towards clean energy," says Michael Brune, the executive director of the Sierra Club. "The sooner that members of both parties in Congress realize that and develop solutions, the better off we'll all be."
As Washington, D.C., gears up for the 57th presidential inauguration, political parties are in full swing. We're not talking about run-of-the-mill partisan bickering. We're talking about inaugural celebrations: balls, galas and cocktail parties. Emphasis on the cocktail.
The Round Robin Bar in the Willard Hotel is just a stone's throw from the White House. Bartender Jim Hewes has been serving up drinks there for nearly 30 years.
"Contact with nature is not some magical elixir but the natural world is the substrate on which we must build our existence," writes Stephen Kellert in his new book Birthright: People and Nature in the Modern World.
In it, he tells stories of the environment's effect on us, and ours on it. His writing builds on the traditions of Thoreau, John Muir and Rachel Carson. Modern society, he argues, has become adversarial in its relationship to nature, having greatly undervalued the natural world beyond its narrow utility.
A recently-published menu for Abraham Lincoln's lavish second inaugural ball in 1865 provides an interesting look at how different the nation celebrated its new president just seven score and eight years ago.
Smoked tongue en geleé and blancmange (a firm custard) shared room on the buffet table with roast turkey and burnt almond ice cream.
As Yale food historian Paul Freedman told Smithsonian Magazine writer Megan Gambino, the cuisine could best be described as "French via England, with some American ingredients."
Sean Lennon, son of John and Yoko, is drawn to musical collaboration and repelled by hydraulic fracturing.
The 37-year-old just released two albums: the improvisational project Mystical Weapons and the score to the independent film Alter Egos.
Writing For Film
Lennon only appears in Alter Egos for a few seconds; the majority of his efforts went into writing the music, which he had to do twice. He describes the film as a "kitsch comedy about superheroes," and his first attempt at the music took a similar vibe.
Originally published on Sat January 19, 2013 7:17 pm
Once upon a time, in the long ago world of high school reading, Holden Caulfield was perhaps the epitome of angst: a young man suddenly an outcast in the world he thought he knew. The antihero of J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye was about to enter a perilous journey of self-discovery.
(SOUNDBITE OF PRESIDENT OBAMA'S 2009 INAUGURAL ADDRESS)
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: My fellow citizens, I stand here today humbled by the task before us.
JACKI LYDEN, HOST:
The newly minted President Obama from his 2009 inaugural address. Another speech is surely coming together right now for Monday's inauguration. James Fallows of The Atlantic joins us, as he does most Saturdays. Hello there, Jim.
It's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden. An international hostage drama has come to an end in Algeria. After four days, the Algerian army ended the bloody siege of a remote oil and gas facility where Islamist militants were holding dozens of Western hostages. The brutal assault was launched Thursday morning. Many people are dead, up to 23 captives and at least 30 Islamists, according to the Algerian state media.
If you live along the East Coast, there's a pretty good chance that stink bugs may be lurking in your attic or even behind your curtains. The invasive insects from Asia, which exude a rubber-like stench when you crush them, are a nuisance for you, but a serious pest for farmers.
Crop producers received a reprieve from the bugs in 2012, but the insects may be coming back and with a greater spread of attack.
Bob Black says he was not in a good place in 2010.