Originally published on Sat January 18, 2014 9:57 am
Here's a snapshot of the Arab world on the third anniversary of its uprisings: Tunisians celebrated in the streets this month. Egyptians voted on a constitution that highlighted their bitter divisions. Beleaguered Syrians prayed that peace talks will bring an end to their nightmarish civil war.
The revolutionary fervor that gripped Arab nations in early 2011 has long since dissipated. All those that experienced uprisings have struggled to remake themselves and the prevailing mood across much of the region has been disappointment or worse.
Patty Gold may be the loudest spectator at the bottom of the half-pipe, with her cheers, gasps and the yelling of her children's names. She mostly stands perfectly still with her hands clasped to her face, waiting for scores, safe landings, and possibly medals.
Taverna du Liban was a welcome respite from the pressures of living in a third-world war zone.
The cozy, Kabul restaurant with its Middle Eastern décor served up a tasty variety of Lebanese dishes and the best chocolate cake I've ever eaten, courtesy of the Lebanese owner, Kamal Hamade, who baked the cakes himself.
But the appeal of Taverna — where I ate nearly every week when I lived in Afghanistan — was about much more than the food. It was about friendship.
Originally published on Mon January 20, 2014 1:19 pm
A suicide attack at a Kabul restaurant popular with foreign nationals killed at least 21 people on Friday, including the country director for the International Monetary Fund and four United Nations employees.
The attacker exploded a bomb at the restaurant gates, clearing the way for two gunmen to enter and start shooting indiscriminately, reports NPR's Sean Carberry. Afghan security forces killed the gunmen in a shootout.
Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 6:26 pm
The U.S. Supreme Court is delving into the technology-versus-privacy debate, agreeing to hear two cases that test whether police making an arrest may search cellphones without a warrant.
The court's announcement Friday that it would take the cases came just hours after President Obama outlined his proposals to address government retention of citizen phone data as part of his speech outlining reforms at the National Security Agency.
If there was a consensus emanating from Congress Friday after President Obama's NSA reform speech, it was — not surprisingly — that Congress itself has a major role to play in the ultimate fix.
Whether from strong NSA supporters or agency critics, the reactions sounded similar: Congress intends to do much of the steering in the drive to overhaul the NSA's gathering of certain non-public information, especially consumer phone records, in the nation's counterterrorism efforts.
Even so, if you listened closely, you could hear the sound of politics in some of the reaction.
What does it mean when lawmakers as different as Colorado Democratic Senator Mark Udall and New York Republican Rep. Peter King offer praise for the president's long-awaited speech on surveillance reforms?
Mostly that resolution to the biggest controversies after leaks by NSA contractor Edward Snowden has been put off — or pushed to working groups in the executive branch and the lawmakers themselves.
Still, the president's NSA reforms speech Friday offered a revealing look into the nation's phone data collection program and the direction of the surveillance policy debate.
Last year, Venezuelans suffered from a shortage of toilet paper. Well, now thanks to government bureaucracy, another kind of paper is in low supply, newsprint. As John Otis reports, that's forced some Venezuelan newspapers to trim their size or, worse, stop printing all together.
Lawmakers are promising new efforts to restore jobless benefits for long-term unemployed, but it may take a while - 1.4 million people who've been out of work long term saw their benefits disappear three weeks ago. Congress failed to agree on funding to renew them. NPR's Tovia Smith visited with a few people who are without work in Boston.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
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And I'm Melissa Block. In New Orleans, a court decision threatens to bankrupt the public school system. A state appeals court ruled that the school board for Orleans Parrish wrongly terminated some 7,000 teachers and other school employees after Hurricane Katrina. They're to be awarded two to three years back pay.
In California, Governor Jerry Brown has signed an emergency drought declaration, saying his state is seeing the driest weather in about a century. This is California's third consecutive dry year with no appreciable rain in sight. As NPR's Richard Gonzales reports, cities and counties across the state are taking drastic measures.
Embattled New Jersey Governor Chris Christie travels to Florida this weekend but the trip is hardly a vacation. Christie is the star attraction at a series of fundraising events across the state. It's Christie's first major trip as chairman of the Republican Governors Association. And as NPR's Joel Rose reports, it may be an important test of how the scandal over lane closures at the George Washington Bridge is affecting his national ambitions.
President Obama signed the $1.1 trillion spending bill into law Friday afternoon, enacting more than 1,500 pages of legislation that received broad support in the House and Senate earlier this week. The expansive bill ensures the U.S. government won't face a potential shutdown until at least October.
Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 7:40 pm
Freedom Industries, the West Virginia company that's been blamed for a chemical spill that left around 300,000 people without water for days, has filed for bankruptcy. The chemical used in cleaning coal leaked into the Elk River and into the public water system.
Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors, and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week: