As the Summit of the Americas gets under way today, there is one embarrassing incident which threatens to distract from international efforts to focus on trade and the economy. Twelve U.S. Secret Service agents have already been sent home for alleged misconduct involving prostitutes in Cartagena. The agents have been replaced and the Secret Service says its security plans at the summit has not been compromised.
Sakar Khan with his kamancha in his home in Hamira, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan. He's passed his favorite kamancha — the one he got from his father — to his son, Darra. But this one plays just fine, if he's the guy playing it.
The number of major record labels is down to three. But that's not necessarily a bad thing when it comes to promoting music that's out of the mainstream. A label called Amarrass Records, founded in the Indian state of Rajasthan, is dedicated to exposing and preserving indigenous folk music before it disappears.
Now that President Obama is in Cartagena, he'll begin the conversations about trade and business opportunities in Latin America. But the Summit of the Americas is not the first meeting this week for President Obama and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.
On Monday, Rousseff visited the White House. And after this weekend's summit, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will head to that Brazil's capital, Brasilia.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. Scott Simon is away. I'm Linda Wertheimer. After a long, turbulent primary season, Mitt Romney is now fully in general election mode. With Rick Santorum out of the race, Romney is trying to clarify the differences between himself and President Obama. He's also trying to nail down his support from the Republican base. NPR's Ari Shapiro reports from St. Louis on Romney's speech yesterday, to the annual convention of the National Rifle Association.
Now, a piece of fiction inspired by the Titanic's fateful voyage. In the weeks leading up to the anniversary of the famous shipwreck, a cluster of books have been released looking back on the voyage. But the book that caught the eye of NPR's Lynn Neary is invented. It's the story of a fictional shipwreck that occurred two years after the Titanic. It's called "Lifeboat." Here's her report.
Philip Kerr is a British novelist, born a decade after the end of World War II, who has written a series of compelling thrillers about crime in wartime Nazi Germany. His hero — mostly a hero — is a tough and cynical Berliner, a cop named Bernie Gunther. The newest book is the eighth in the series; it's called Prague Fatale.
Many famous names went down with the Titanic, like the American millionaire John Jacob Astor IV, the wealthiest person on the ship, and Macy's department store owner Isidor Straus.
But you may not know about one of the ship's doctors — John Edward Simpson. Aboard the Titanic, Simpson wrote a letter to his mother back home in Belfast. It was mailed from the great ship's last port of call before it made its disastrous turn across the North Atlantic.
The United States ranks as the most religious country in the developed world. And New York Times columnist Ross Douthat says that despite our politics, debates and doubts, this country is as God-besotted today as ever.
But in his new book, Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics, Douthat argues that religion has fallen into heresy (hence the feisty subtitle). Douthat recently spoke with NPR's Linda Wertheimer about why he thinks American Christianity has become distorted.
This weekend, the Farrelly Brothers' version of The Three Stooges arrives in theaters. You'll see plenty of Larry, Moe and Curly. But who won't you see? Shemp. Or, as NPR's Sue Goodwin calls him, "Uncle Shemp."
For more than 20 years, the indie-pop group The Magnetic Fields has been singing songs about love, though not always in the traditional sense. With a style that ranges from bitter to sincere to ironic, Stephin Merritt — the group's frontman, writer and producer — has created a growing cast of characters surviving love's vicissitudes.
In his characteristic deadpan, Merritt tells NPR's Linda Wertheimer that he owes the inspiration for many of those characters to a particular ritual of his.
Red chairs fill a main street in Sarajevo on Friday as the city marks the 20th anniversary of the start of the Bosnian war. Officials lined up 11,541 chairs in 825 rows to represent the 11,541 Sarajevans who were killed during the siege.
Credit Sulejman Omerbasic / AP
The city lined up 11,541 red chairs in 825 rows representing the 11,541 Sarajevans who were killed during the siege of Sarajevo.
Credit Amel Emric / AP
Sarajevans placed toys and flowers on the chairs, which remained empty through memorial ceremonies.
Credit Amel Emric / AP
Red chairs fill a main street in Sarajevo on April 6, 2012, as the city marks the 20th anniversary of the start of the Bosnian war.
I think that one of the great works of humankind runs below an airport runway in Sarajevo.
Sixty-six feet of a 3,000-foot-long tunnel built during the Siege of Sarajevo have been restored. Twenty years ago this weekend, the city was surrounded by Serb armies, who rained down mortar, rockets and sniper fire.
Just when it seemed to be gaining steam, the U.S. job market pretty much stalled in March. Employers added a net 120,000 jobs during the month, defying the higher expectations of a lot of economists. And though the unemployment rate fell, it did so for the wrong reasons.
Over the past few months, the economy has been adding jobs at a good, if not spectacular, pace, and all the signs suggested that trend had continued through March. As it happened, jobs increased at a rate that barely keeps up with population growth.
A weaker than expected jobs report is a setback for President Obama as the election nears. The president says that while private employers have added some four million jobs over the last two years, economic security remains elusive. The president spoke yesterday at a White House conference on women in the economy, and as NPR's Scott Horsley reports, voters who are women may be the key to the president's political future.
The race for the Republican presidential nomination has hit a lull. The next group of primaries isn't for more than two weeks, so it might be a good time to look around at another campaign for control of the U.S. House of Representatives. After all, they control the federal budget. Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute devotes his attention to Congress year round, and he joins us from their studios. Thanks very much for being with us, Norm.
Tomorrow, Christians all over the world will observe Easter Sunday with joy. But what is joy? Not just happiness, laughs, or satisfaction, but joy? We turn to Father James Martin. He's a Jesuit priest, a contributing editor to America Magazine, and the author of "Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor and Laughter Are at the Heart of Spiritual Life." He joins us from our studios in New York.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Time for your letters.
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SIMON: A particular phrase we used in last week's coverage of the Trayvon Martin shooting prompted many listener comments. In our profile of Angela Corey, the Florida state attorney directing Florida's investigation into the circumstances surrounding Martin's death, we described George Zimmerman the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot Trayvon Martin in February as a white Latino.
Rascal Flatts is one of the most successful country crossover acts of the past decade. The award-winning trio has released eight studio records in 10 years and sold more than 21 million albums.
So why did the group recently consider breaking up?
"We had reached a crossroads to where we needed to dig deep to see if we, in fact, had the fire and hunger that we did when we first started out — to keep trying to forge ahead and be better than we'd been and push ourselves to be creatively energized again," bass player Jay DeMarcus says.
'Scuse me, but is someone trying to kill off food critics?
What about themselves?
Frank Bruni, the former restaurant critic of The New York Times, now an op-ed columnist, has revealed that he has gout.
Gout is a painful inflammation of the joints that's been called the King's Disease because it's historically associated with the kind of gluttony only kings could afford: profuse servings of beef, lobster, goose liver and strong drink.
The new movie Mirror Mirror stars Julia Roberts as the Evil Queen. In June, another Snow White movie opens starring another Oscar winner, Charlize Theron, in the same role. And Disney is working on a new animated film loosely based on Snow White set in 19th-century China. So what makes Snow White so right for right now?
Every day in New Orleans, Lily Keber rolls out of bed and walks to a flat, minor office building to meet her muse. Keber makes a cup of coffee with chicory, hooks up her computer and waits for what sounds like a dozen spiders to crawl across a piano.
The situation in Syria has deteriorated further this week. Government troops once again opened fire on thousands of protesters, armed rebels continued their own resistance, which looks more and more like an insurgency. All this despite a push by the United Nations fro a cease-fire. NPR's Kelly McEvers reports.
KELLY MCEVERS, BYLINE: It's hard to know where to start when it comes to Syria. First, let's go the protests that continued despite the fact that violence is on the rise.
Americans have always been fascinated by con men. Why else would we have so many movies about legendary swindlers? Most real-life cons are probably less entertaining than the ones on the silver screen, but in her new book, Amy Reading unearths a historical swindle that rivals anything ever imagined by Hollywood.
The history of the city of London dates back to the Romans and beyond. So, when you start digging massive tunnels beneath that place, it's always going to be interesting. And that's just what's about to happen.
MAYOR BORIS JOHNSON: I hereby declare Ada and Phyllis unleashed.
As London prepares for an Olympic influx, the world's athletes are not the only ones limbering up. Composer Tom Hunt is at work with members of a British team who compete in the equestrian sport called dressage. He joins us from the BBC studios in Salford.
Thank you for joining us.
TOM HUNT: Thank you for having me.
LYDEN: The music that you compose for the equestrian competition, tell us how the music and the horse work together.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. Scott Simon is away. I'm Jacki Lyden. The soldier suspected of killing 16 Afghan civilians is today being held at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales now has an attorney and the lines of his defense are beginning to emerge. The case has also put America's prosecution of the war in Afghanistan on trial. There are new disputes between the U.S. and Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
In the Law of Dreams, Canadian writer Peter Behrens' first novel, an Irish immigrant, based on Behrens' grandfather, makes his way out of famine-starved Ireland to Canada. The novel came out in 2006 to wide acclaim and won Canada's Governor-General's award for fiction.
Now, Behrens has followed up with another multigenerational novel. The O'Briens opens in 1867, with teenage Joe O'Brien scratching out a living in Quebec after his father and mother have both died.