After failing to predict the Arab Spring, intelligence officials are now exploring whether Big Data, the combing of billions of pieces of disparate electronic information, can help them identify hot spots before they explode. The intelligence community has always been in the business of forecasting the future. The question is whether tapping into publicly available data — Twitter and news feeds and blogs among other things — can help them do that faster and more precisely.
Roland Jahn, a former East German dissident, is now Germany's federal commissioner of the Stasi archives. His agency is painstakingly piecing together the shredded documents of the former East German secret police. Jahn is shown here in March 2011 at a former Stasi prison at Berlin-Hohenschoenhausen.
Credit Johannes Eisele / AFP/Getty Images
A worker in the former headquarters of the Stasi sorts hundreds of thousands of torn or shredded Stasi documents in January. Workers are sifting through thousands of bags, containing between 50,000 and 80,000 fragments each.
In the mid-1970s, a man approached singer Kenny Rogers after a performance in the lounge at the Las Vegas Hilton. The mysterious stranger simply said, "Hey, man, I really like your music." Rogers learned later that the fan at the dressing-room door had been Elvis Presley.
Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne. The emirate of Dubai has created many wonders - a snowy ski hill in the desert, the world's tallest building. Its latest mega-project could be called a labor of love. The luxury hotel Taj Arabia will be a replica of the Taj Mahal, only four times the size. The 17th original in India was built by an emperor as a shrine to his beloved late wife. Dubai is pitching its faux Taj Mahal as a destination for weddings. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
It's official: Sean Connery IS James Bond, according to NPR readers who weighed the question this week. The final results show that Connery set the gold standard as 007, the spy known for his playfulness, his ruthlessness — and his ability to look good in a suit. Today marks the Bond film franchise's 50th anniversary.
Oh my gosh, today's last word in business is the most compelling report about our food supply since a few minutes ago, when we exploded the way that the bacon shortage was hyped. This story seems to be true.
Beekeepers in eastern France were upset, recently, to find that their bees were producing honey in unusual shades of blue and green.
Venezuelans go to the polls Sunday in an election that will decide if President Hugo Chavez remains in power. Polls indicate it's his most serious electoral challenge since taking office nearly 14 years ago, and it's mobilizing large numbers of voters in Venezuela — and in the U.S.
Nearly 20,000 Venezuelans living in Florida are registered to vote, and most arrived in the past decade, since Chavez took power. He upended the old power structure, installing a socialist government that seized property and nationalized industries.
Simon Cho competes in the men's 500-meter finals at the 2011 ISU World Cup short track speedskating final in Dresden, Germany. He won the event.
Credit Robert Michael / AFP/Getty Images
Olympic speedskater Simon Cho holds a short track skate that is similar to the one he sabotaged at an international meet last year. Cho first openly described what he did and why in an interview with NPR this week at his attorney's home outside Salt Lake City.
Credit Howard Berkes / NPR
Simon Cho (center) celebrates after beating China's Liang Wenhao and Liu Xianwei and Canada's Olivier Jean (right) in the men's 500-meter final at the 2011 World Short Track Speed Skating Championships in England.
Credit Leon Neal / AFP/Getty Images
Olympic speedskating coach Jae Su Chun arrives for a State Dinner at the White House in May 2010. Chun is accused of verbally, physically and psychologically abusing various members of the U.S. short track team.
American speedskater Simon Cho says what he did was "wrong" when he yielded to what he claims was persistent pressure from a coach to tamper with another skater's blades at the World Short Track Team Championships in Poland last year.
"Tampering with someone's skates is inexcusable," Cho told NPR in his first interview about the incident."And I'm coming out now and admitting that I did this and acknowledging that what I did was wrong." The Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune also spoke with Cho earlier this week after the NPR interview.
Here's one thing President Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney could agree on during their first debate this week: Something has to be done about the enormous gap between what the federal government collects in taxes and what it spends.
But the two men fundamentally disagree on what to do about that budget deficit.
American billionaire, casino mogul and Republican donorSheldon Adelson has a new project: a $35 billion gambling megacity in Europe. He has chosen debt-ridden Spain as the location for "EuroVegas," which is expected to bring up to 250,000 much-needed jobs.
But many Spaniards are divided over whether they want casinos in their backyard.
Ken Rensink found his calling, teaching special education, after a debilitating accident when he was 19. Now 47, he talked about his journey with friend and colleague Laurel Hill-Ward at StoryCorps in Chico, Calif.
Ken Rensink's path to special education teaching began when he was 19, just one day after he completed his training for the U.S. Army Reserves. He fell asleep at the wheel of his car, hit a telephone pole and nearly lost his life.
"I was paralyzed from the waist down," Ken told friend Laurel Hill-Ward, a Chico State University professor who trains special education teachers. "My left arm was so weak, I could barely hold a plastic cup of water."
Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne. Canadian police say they've seized thousands of gallons of maple syrup. They found the sweet stuff in the storehouse of an exporter. The truckloads of syrup appear to be a small part of a heist that siphoned off much of the strategic reserves of a producers cooperative in Quebec. The total amount missing: about $20 million worth. Still, it's a bit of a sticky investigation, as maple syrup is near impossible to track. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.
Major League Baseball's regular season ended yesterday with the kind of day that would warm the commissioner's heart: fans cheering from coast to coast, a towering achievement for one very good hitter, and the promise of even more excitement to come as the playoffs begin. NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman has been tracking this season. He's on the line.
Female Marines unload their rifles after a patrol with Afghan soldiers in Helmand province in June. The Marine Corps leadership has started an experiment to determine whether female Marine lieutenants have what it takes to become infantry officers and lead on the battlefield.
Women in the U.S. military have been flying warplanes for years, and recently began serving in artillery and tank units. But they're still barred from direct ground combat.
Now, for the first time in the course's 35-year history, the Marine Corps is putting the first women through its grueling Infantry Officer Course: 86 days crawling through obstacle courses, lugging heavy machine guns, navigating the woods at night.
Col. Todd Desgrosseilliers, the top trainer at Marine Base Quantico in Virginia, says there's a good reason the course is so tough that 1 in 5 Marines fail.
A demonstrator reacts after Pakistani policemen fire tear gas during a protest against power cuts in Karachi in June. Pakistan suffers from a massive energy crisis, one of several factors contributing to the country's severe economic troubles.
If you want to gain a good insight into Pakistan's economic situation, just look at a few of the country's newspaper headlines on any given day. The language says it all: prices soar, stocks plunge, budget deficit swells, foreign investment evaporates — and the list goes on.
Now, analysts are increasingly worried that the faltering economy could join Pakistan's pervasive insurgency and repeated political upheavals as another serious threat to the country's stability.
For one day, anyone who showed up to this alley in the U Street neighborhood of Washington, D.C., could take a free turn at playing Indiana Jones — donning a fedora and whip and fleeing from a gigantic, rolling boulder.
James Bond — the film franchise, that is — is turning 50. But if 007 is getting up there in years, his gadgets will never get old.
Throughout the series, the creators have always come up with wild gear for Bond to bring along on his missions — while often taking a lot more creative license than they might have needed. They've come up with pieces that were inventive and prescient at best, impossible in the real world at worst, as astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson tells NPR's David Greene.
"Supergenerations" of monarch butterflies migrate over 2000 miles from Canada to Mexico.
Credit SK Films
More than three decades have passed since Catalina Aguado and her husband discovered a monarch butterfly sanctuary in a Mexican forest — and helped solve the mystery of the monarch's migration. <em></em>
A young boy in Canada wondered where butterflies go in the winter — and spent 40 years trying to answer that question.
In 1973, Dr. Fred Urquhart — all grown up by then — placed an ad in a newspaper in Mexico looking for volunteers to tag and observe butterflies and find their destination. A woman named Catalina Aguado and her American husband, Kenneth Brugger, answered that ad. They spent two years searching in remote parts of Mexico.
Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne. Michelle Obama can celebrate a win today, now that her white and dark chocolate-chip cookies beat out Ann Romney's M&M cookies in Family Circle Magazine's Presidential Bake-Off. During the 2008 election, Cindy McCain's oatmeal butterscotch cookies won. Michelle Obama may be savoring her victory all the more, since on this, the couple's 20th anniversary, she's had to trade date night for debate night. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
There's a neighborhood in New York City that has always been a mystery to us. Smack dab in the middle of Manhattan, around 29th street, is the wholesale district. There you can find rows of narrow storefronts packed to the ceiling with trinkets. Racks and racks of fake gold chains. Acres of souvenir lighters and walls of belt buckles. Plastic, plastic, plastic toys.
Early voting has begun in the battleground states of Ohio, Virginia and Iowa. Voting booths were set up for early voting Thursday at the Black Hawk County Courthouse in Waterloo, Iowa. Ahead of Wednesday's first presidential debate, an NPR poll finds President Obama with a 7-point lead nationally, but his GOP challenger, Mitt Romney, is within striking distance.
The latest poll by NPR and its bipartisan polling team [pdf] shows President Obama with a 7-point lead among likely voters nationally and a nearly identical lead of 6 points in the dozen battleground states where both campaigns are spending most of their time and money.