From the steam engine to visions of a national high-speed rail system, railroads have made their mark on American culture.
In his first term, President Obama promised to create a national system of high-speed rail, though he was scarcely the first politician to have done so. The January 2010 stimulus bill allocated $8 billion for high-speed rail projects, but Congress rejected federal funding for it.
In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, the president reiterated the goal of having passenger rail rise again.
It's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden.
Coming up, a weekly conversation with James Fallows and a new kind of leader for the Muslim movement in America. We'll also check out some Twitter poetry and hear our first Three-Minute Fiction entry for this round. And now...
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Gabby Giffords deserves a vote. The families of Newtown deserve a vote. The families of Aurora deserve a vote.
In one of the eight stories in Karen Russell's new collection, a group of dead presidents has been reincarnated as horses. Rutherford B. Hayes, a skewbald pinto, frantically licks the palm of a girl in a secret code that he's worked out, revealing his true identity and asking her to alert the authorities. "Ha-ha!" the girl laughs. "That tickles."
I know, you're probably thinking: "Dead presidents reincarnated as horses? Oh, come on, Meg, that sounds like the plot of so many short stories."
For nearly a month, school bus drivers and aides have been on strike in New York City. They're fighting for job protections. The strikes has left thousands of children without yellow bus service. And while many are able to take public transit to school, students with disabilities who rely on door-to-door bus service have had a harder time. Yasmeen Khan from member station WNYC reports on how families are scrambling to get their kids to and from school.
YASMEEN KHAN, BYLINE: At least the Noris-Weitzman family has a car.
Richard Kessinger loves to hit the gym. But some days he needs a little something to get him pumped up for his weightlifting routine.
"You might be a little bit sore. You might be tired. You might have had too many beers the day before," says Kessinger, 23, of Arlington, Va. "So you might start putting up a set and you get a few reps in and you're like, 'I'm not feeling this. I can't keep going.' "
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel. President Obama was in Chicago today, promoting what he calls ladders of opportunity to the middle class. It's the latest stop of his post-State of the Union tour, fleshing out the proposals from Tuesday night's speech. At a high school near his southside Chicago home, the president said reducing urban gun violence is essential to economic development.
In 1988, Chile's brutal military dictator, Augusto Pinochet, was facing international pressure to legitimize his regime. Confident that the opposition was splintered, and that state-run media could control the political dialogue, his administration agreed to a simple yes-or-no vote on extending his rule.
It was a vote that even Pinochet's opponents expected to go his way — but it didn't, for reasons made both compelling and instructive in Pablo Larrain's rousing Oscar-nominated drama, No.
The operator of Florida's Crystal River nuclear plant sent shockwaves through the state when it announced recently that it was shutting down the facility for good.
When nuclear plants have closed elsewhere, locals have cheered. But in Citrus County, it's been more like a death in the family.
At Fat Boy's Bar-B-Q restaurant in Crystal River, owner Bubba Keller says he's worried about what's going to happen to the community. "I mean, things are already tough," Keller says. "If this makes it worse, don't know if I can hang in there."
The massively popular Nigerian film industry known as Nollywood started humbly about 20 years ago. Nollywood movies were shot as cheaply and as quickly as possible, then released straight to VHS.
Nollywood caught on globally, and piracy was a major factor in the industry's growth, as copies of copies of Nollywood tapes sold on street corners from Lagos to Harlem. In the early 2000s, Nollywood distribution shifted from VHS to discs — and now, the movies are also beginning to stream online.
The boards of US Airways Group and AMR have approved the merger of American Airlines and US Airways. The resulting company will become the world's largest airline. American is in bankruptcy, so its creditors will own a big chunk of the new company and US Airways shareholders will own the rest.
Originally published on Fri February 15, 2013 11:11 am
There are roughly half a million people behind bars for nonviolent drug crimes in America. But no one really knows how many people have been sentenced to long prison bids since the laws known as Rockefeller drug laws first passed 40 years ago.
What's clear is that tough sentencing laws, even for low-level drug dealers and addicts, shaped a generation of young men, especially black and Hispanic men.
Many of the drugs we take aren't actually digested — they pass through our bodies, and down through the sewer pipes. Traces of those drugs end up in the bodies of fish and other wildlife. Nobody's sure what effect they have.
Now, a paper being published in Science magazine finds that drugs for anxiety drugs — even at these very low levels — can affect the behavior of fish.
It appears the American Airlines and US Airways are going to merge. There are multiple reports that late today the boards of the two companies approved the merger, which will create the country's largest carrier. The deal, if it survives regulators' antitrust review, will allow American to emerge from bankruptcy.
NPR's Wade Goodwyn joins us from Dallas with more on the merger. And Wade, what will the airline be called and what else can you tell us about the makeup of the newly merged company?
Hollywood's biggest night is in just a few weeks. People tend to focus on the glitz, the glamour and — of course — the gowns. But we thought we'd take a moment to focus on the gags.
Or rather what goes into writing both the jokes that fall flat and the jokes that soar. For a bit of Oscars Writing 101, NPR's All Things Considered turned to Dave Boone, who has written for the Academy Awards eight times.
We've been able to record sound for over 125 years, but many of the recordings that have been made in that time are in terrible shape. Many more, even recordings made in the past 10 years, are in danger because rapid technological changes have rendered their software obsolete. So Wednesday, the Library of Congress unveiled a plan to help preserve this country's audio archives.
When there's a big snowstorm or a plane has mechanical problems, airports often turn into uncomfortable holding pens, with people scrunched in chairs, lying on floors, filling up restaurants and otherwise trying to find something to do.
That's actually good news for one company. Minute Suites is building tiny airport retreats across the country. The suites are already operating in Atlanta and Philadelphia. Next up are Dallas-Fort Worth and Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.
Comcast, the Philadelphia based cable giant, announced a major deal late Tuesday afternoon. It's buying the 49 percent stake of NBC Universal that it did not already own for 16.7 billion dollars. General Electric is the seller and will also be selling some prized real estate as part of the deal.
Comcast, the Philadelphia based cable giant, announced a major deal late Tuesday afternoon. It will buy the 49 percent stake of NBCUniversal that it did not already own for $16.7 billion. General Electric is the seller and will also be selling some prized real estate as part of the deal.
The Hindu gathering known as Kumbh Mela is on a scale difficult to fathom: The world's largest religious festival is millions of feet shuffling, millions of mantras chanted, countless sales of firewood to ward off the night cold. Millions of incense sticks will be burned and bells rung in devotional rituals called aartis.
Jet-setting swamis, naked holy men and foreigners fascinated by Eastern mysticism joined tens of millions of pilgrims for a dip in river waters believed to be holy.
Kirk Siegler talks to Melissa Block for an update on the search for former Los Angeles Police Department officer Christopher Dorner. A man that authorities identified as Dorner was holed up in a cabin near Big Bear Lake, Calif., on Tuesday evening. Hundreds of officers surrounded the home. Dorner is wanted for questioning in three murders and one attempted murder.
One of the long-standing knocks against electric cars is that it can be hard for the machines to hold a charge in cold weather. That's exactly what New York Times reporter John Broder says he found when he took a Tesla Model S on a road trip from Washington, D.C., to Connecticut.
A common vitamin supplement appears to dramatically reduce a woman's risk of having a child with autism.
A study of more than 85,000 women in Norway found that those who started taking folic acid before getting pregnant were about 40 percent less likely to have a child who developed the disorder, researchers reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
North Korea's latest nuclear weapons test is much more powerful than the previous two, according to estimates made by instruments that measure seismic waves from the blast. It's about the size of the bomb that devastated Hiroshima in World War II.
But it's not so easy to verify the claim that the nuclear explosive has also been miniaturized. That's a critical claim because a small warhead would be essential if the rogue regime chose to threaten the United States with a nuclear-tipped missile.
Big bombs are easier to make, but they aren't all that useful as a threat.
The long, clunky-looking fishing boat pulls up to Day Boat Seafood's dock near Fort Pierce, Fla., after 10 days out in the Atlantic. The crew lowers a thick rope into the hold, and begins hoisting 300-pound swordfish off their bed of ice and onto a slippery metal scale.