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.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. This week, an art dealer named Glafira Rosales pleaded guilty to wire fraud, money laundering and tax evasion after she admitted that she sold paintings that she claimed were by Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Willem de Kooning to a couple of Manhattan galleries.
They were actually painted by an artist living in Queens. Those paintings sold for $80 million. I'm joined now from New York by Jerry Saltz, senior art critic for New York magazine. Thanks very much for being with us.
Las Vegas is set to claim the title for the world's largest Ferris Wheel. It completed it's 550 foot tall high roller last week. But New York City plans for an even taller one, 625 feet, and rumor has it Dubai may be planning an even taller Ferris Wheel, but Chicago can always claim the first and definitive Ferris Wheel, so named because it was George Ferris himself who designed it for the 1893 World's Fair.
Know what gets me through the week? The chance to say, time for sports!
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SIMON: Football season is back with a kathunk(ph). Plus, the first two teams have qualified for the Major League Baseball playoffs, and the WMBA playoffs are on. NPR's Tom Goldman joins us. Good morning, Tom.
From Norvelt to Nowhere is a book that begins in the shadow of nuclear annihilation, during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. The first few paragraphs also disclose that nine elderly women in the town of Norvelt are dead by poison.
There's a certain kind of joy in breaking the overnight fast by biting into a bagel: crackling crust, chewy center, smooth and silky cream cheese, sharp smoked salmon. For some, capers and onions join the ritual.
But just who invented this breakfast staple, which has become as American as apple pie?
Like Leonard Bernstein himself, there is absolutely nothing predictable about the music he wrote. None of the three amazing works Bernstein labeled as "symphonies" in any way resemble a conventional orchestral symphony.
President Obama has had a tough year. He failed to pass gun legislation. Plans for an immigration overhaul have stalled in the House. He barely escaped what would have been a humiliating rejection by Congress on his plan to strike Syria.
Just this week, his own Democrats forced Larry Summers, the president's first choice to head the Federal Reserve, to withdraw.
Former Clinton White House aide Bill Galston says all these issues have weakened the unity of the president's coalition.
Here's some food for thought: One-third of the world's food goes to waste every year. In the U.S., about 40 percent of our food gets thrown out. It's happening on the farm, at the grocery store and in our own homes.
Another Colorado story now. Gun control advocates had hoped that last year's shootings in Newtown, Connecticut and Aurora, Colorado might move more Americans to call for stricter gun laws. Gun control measures ground down in the U.S. Congress but some states did pass legislation, including Colorado. Yet this past week, Colorado voters recalled two lawmakers who had backed the legislation.
A new computer school in Paris has been overwhelmed by some 60,000 applicants.
The school, called 42, was founded by a telecom magnate who says the French education system is failing young people. His aim is to reduce France's shortage in computer programmers while giving those who've fallen by the wayside a new chance.
In the hallways of 42, suitcases and sleeping bags are piled, and people are stretched out on mattresses in some of the corners. There are showers and dozens of colorful bath towels.
As the Obama administration made its case for military action in Syria, one of the loudest voices in opposition came from Medea Benjamin, the co-founder of Code Pink.
You may not know her by name, but if you follow national politics, you've no doubt seen her work.
At the House Foreign Affairs Committee earlier this month, for instance, as Secretary of State John Kerry made the case for a military strike in Syria, Medea Benjamin sat behind him, holding up her hands, painted bright red.
It's axiomatic now that comics have gone from being kids' stuff to, in some cases, adults only. These days, comics are recognized as a real artistic form, one that can be complex, subtle, pointed, probing and profane.
One of the artists most responsible for this is Art Spiegelman, who drew for Topps Bubble Gum comics, invented the Garbage Pail Kids, created a character who was all head, no body, for Playboy and won the Pulitzer Prize for Maus, his Holocaust comic — a phrase that was once unfathomable.
Terry McMillan weaves together different voices, generations, races and surprises in her latest novel, Who Asked You?. It's a family story that revolves around Betty Jean — known as BJ — a woman who worked as a Los Angeles maid and raised three kids. Her husband is now retired and suffers from Alzheimer's and her children have grown up in radically different ways. One son, Dexter, is in prison. Another son, Quentin, is a successful chiropractor who has had multiple marriages, pointedly lives out of town and wants little contact with his family.
A museum exhibit about buildings that don't exist might not sound all that exciting. But the Architecture & Design Museum in Los Angeles has had its crowds grow to 10 times their normal level for a show called Never Built: Los Angeles. It's on through Oct. 13 – and it's all about projects that were imagined for the city but never constructed.
Let's start with one of the most high-profile: a 1968 proposal that would've dramatically altered the profile of Mount Hollywood.
A surprise agreement between the U.S. and Russia, announced Saturday, calls for Syria to destroy all of its chemical weapons by mid-2014. The deal follows a chaotic week of seat-of-the-pants foreign policy.
Performing on the international stage, Obama and his Cabinet secretaries have offered up one plot twist after another, though it often seems as if the actors are working without a script.
Cow tipping is considered an adolescent rite of passage in some places. Now, we have members of our staff in this very office of urban sophisticates who say they've been part of a group that tipped a bovine. But a journalist named Jake Swearingen insists that cow tipping is what amounts to a rural legend - no more real than jackalopes. His sod-breaking analysis appears in the new quarterly magazine Modern Farmer. Jake Swearingen joins us from our studios in New York. Thanks so much for being with us.
Tomorrow, the International Olympic Committee will meet in Buenos Aires to decide which sport - wrestling, the combined sports of baseball and softball, or squash - will be added to the 2020 Olympics. Now, if squash is chosen, it would make its debut as an Olympic sport. Jonathon Power was the first North American to become the world's top-ranked squash player. He joins us on the line now. Thanks very much for being with us.
JONATHON POWER: An absolute pleasure. Thanks for having me.
The superintendent of the Lancaster, Pa., school district is meeting with teachers and staff at George Washington Elementary. It's the start of a new school year, and he's trying to sound upbeat about the district's finances.
"We continue to lose 5 and 10 percent of budgets each year," Pedro Rivera tells them. "And our overall goal is to make those plans and stretch out dollars to not impact you, because no kids should go without. Right?"