This has not been an easy month for Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
Republican Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas — who learned the political ropes working for Sebelius' father-in-law, then a Kansas congressman — called for her to step down over the debut of HealthCare.gov, the problem-plagued website where people are supposed to apply for coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
Fish sauce — that funky, flavor-enhancing fermented condiment — is part of what gives Southeast Asian cooking its distinctive taste. But it turns out, this cornerstone of Eastern cooking actually has a long history on another continent: Europe. And it goes all the way back to the Roman Empire.
Washington, D.C.'s football team has been under increasing criticism for keeping an old team name that's a racial epithet. I usually don't say it. I will now - for the purposes of information. The Washington Redskins. That name's been hotly debated, criticized for being a racial slur, but defended by the team's owners as actually being a kind of tribute to Native Americans.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. San Antonio's newest library doesn't look very bookish. It's got neon orange walls, a play area for children that has glowing screens, and it abounds with desktop computers, iPads, eBooks and laptops. They call it BiblioTech because it's completely digital. There is no paper in this library.
The shutdown of the U.S. government has sparked lots of finger-pointing and name calling in Congress. But our friend A.J. Jacobs says this is hardly the nastiest dispute in the history of our democracy. A.J., an editor-at-large at Esquire Magazine - until they come to their senses - joins us now from New York. A.J., thanks so much for being with us.
Originally published on Sat October 12, 2013 6:05 am
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
The government shutdown is now entering its second week. That's left many lawmakers with little to do and many tourists in Washington, D.C. wandering wanly through the streets of the city, wondering how to spend their pre-planned vacations. NPR's Alan Yu checks in with some of them.
It's time now for sports and we have to begin with the sad and tragic story. The two-year-old son of Adrian Peterson, the great running back of the Minnesota Vikings died this week apparently of abuse and allegedly by a boyfriend of the little boy's mother. NPR's Tom Goldman joins us. Good morning, Tom.
Thousands of beer aficionados are in Denver this weekend for the Great American Beer Festival. Some 600 breweries from around the country are represented at the marquee event for the craft-brewing industry.
And while this annual competition has long been male-dominated, that's starting to change.
David Shannon has written books about an adorable West Highland terrier, a duck on a bike and a fairy named Alice. Maybe he's tired of drawing cute. So, now the author and illustrator has done a book called "Bugs in My Hair," and it isn't about pets, forests or fantasy creatures. No, it's about head lice. David Shannon joins us from the studios of KQED in San Francisco. Thanks so much for being with us.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. I wait all week to say time for sports.
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SIMON: Playoff time in Major League Baseball. So many games, but the Cubs aren't in any of them. However, we are joined by Howard Bryant of ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine to talk about those good clubs playing now. Thanks for being with us, Howard.
HOWARD BRYANT: Good morning, Scott. If the Cubs are what you're looking for in playoff baseball, I suggest a new team, a new century.
This is "West Side Story" - on six legs. Dr. Mark Stoeckle, who's a researcher at Rockefeller University, says that New York cockroaches can be just about as territorial as the sharks and the jets. He joins us from the studios of the Radio Foundation on the Upper West Side. Thanks so much for being with us.
MARK STOECKLE: It's good to be here. Thank you.
SIMON: So are cockroaches as native to New York as poppy seed bagels?
In 1973, Erica Jong was tired of reading about silent, seething housewifes, so she introduced a new kind of female protagonist: a frank young woman who loved sex and wasn't ashamed to admit it. Fear of Flying turns 40 this year, as does its most famous phrase: "the zipless f - - - ." Jong defines it in the novel:
Barry Clifford has spent the last 30 years diving in the waters off Cape Cod. He's searching for buried treasure spilled by the pirate ship Whydah, which sunk there in 1717. He's pulled a trove of artifacts out of the sea and sand over the years and this summer he learned there may be far more treasure waiting. He joins us now from Provincetown, Massachusetts. Mr. Clifford, thanks so much for being with us.
SIMON: Just a day left to the end of regular baseball season. The Cardinals clinched a playoff spot last night. Of course they were playing the Cubs. But those rampaging Cleveland Indians won their eighth game in a row to move a game closer to a wildcard spot. They're knotted up with the Tampa Bay Rays, trying to keep the Texas Rangers in the rearview mirror.
Officials from BP, formerly British Petroleum, will be back in a New Orleans courtroom next week. It's part of a complex federal case that will ultimately determine responsibility in damages for the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. And that's the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. NPR's Debbie Elliott's been following the trial and joins us. Deb, thanks for being with us.
DEBBIE ELLIOTT, BYLINE: Glad to be here.
SIMON: Remind us of what's at stake in this phase of the case.
What do you get a Nobel Prize-winning poet for his birthday?
The poet, in this case, is T.S. Eliot, and this year he would have turned the intimidating age of 125. It's a tough question, but New Yorker poetry editor Paul Muldoon has got an answer: a new re-issue of the first edition of Eliot's groundbreaking poem, The Waste Land.
Vanessa Pierson, the heroine of Valerie Plame's first novel, is — ahem — "blonde, lithe, and nicely sexy." She is also a CIA agent, determined to lasso a nuclear arms dealer named Bhoot before he arrives at an underground nuclear facility in Iran.
But just as her informant is about to tell her where Bhoot will be, he's shot by a sniper who misses Vanessa — or does he simply overlook her? How will Vanessa Pierson halt the terrorists, protect the world and, by the way, also keep the secret of her forbidden romance with David, a fellow CIA ops officer with green-flecked hazel eyes?
Saxophonist Gabe Baltazar got his big break after Stan Kenton heard him playing in a college band and invited him to join his Orchestra in 1960.
"One of my biggest highlights in Stan's band was being featured on a beautiful standard tune called 'Stairway to the Stars,'" the 83-year-old Baltazar says. "He liked that tune, and he thought it would be my signature song. And throughout my career, four years with the band, I was featured on that and it was just great."
If you're a regular public radio listener, you may hear Garrison Keillor every morning reading other people's poems on The Writer's Almanac. Now, the Prairie Home Companion host has decided to share some of his ownpoems for a change.
Top White House aides constantly refer to a "civil war" in the Republican Party.
They sometimes use the phrase with near delight, reveling in the tensions that threaten to pull apart the GOP. But for President Obama, the divided opposition creates a major problem: He has neither a partner to cut a deal with nor a high-profile adversary to vilify.
That situation stands in stark contrast to previous fiscal standoffs.
As expected, the Senate passed a bill Friday to keep the government funded through mid-November — without stripping any funding away from the president's health care law.
Now the action returns to the House, where Republicans earlier in the week tied the measure to defunding the Affordable Care Act. With the threat of a shutdown looming three days away, the question is now, what will the House do?
Originally published on Sat September 21, 2013 9:34 am
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. An upscale shopping mall in Nairobi is the scene of a deadly standoff.
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SIMON: Kenyan armed forces are battling gunmen who stormed that mall earlier today. The Red Cross says that at least 20 people have been killed in the attack. NPR's Gregory Warner is on the scene. Greg, thanks for being with us.