The London Summer Olympics are winding down, and by most accounts, the games have been a success. There were plenty of "thrill of victory, agony of defeat" moments; big, enthusiastic crowds — although there were too many blocks of empty seats; and for those who like a helping of scandal served up at their Olympics, there was that, too.
It wasn't the usual scourge of doping. Instead, the London Olympics had incidents of bending the rules and ethics of sport.
Originally published on Fri August 10, 2012 3:55 pm
After serving as speaker of the House, publishing several historical novels and running for president, what's next for Newt Gingrich?
One possible third act, Gingrich told NPR staffers on Friday, could be sharing a television studio with his wife, Callista.
"We're kind of intrigued with the idea of doing a daily show, which would change our lives pretty dramatically," Gingrich said. "But if we do it, we want it to be closer to Regis and Kathie Lee than to Bill O'Reilly or Hardball."
When writer David Rakoff died Thursday at the age 47, he was barely the age he said he was always "meant" to be. In his 2010 memoir, Half Empty, he wrote, "Everyone has an internal age, a time in life when one is, if not one's best, then at very least one's most authentic self. I always felt that my internal clock was calibrated somewhere between 47 and 53 years old."
Rakoff died in New York City after a long struggle with cancer — an ordeal that he wrote about with sobering honesty and biting wit.
Originally published on Fri August 10, 2012 3:18 pm
The Bahamas men's team has won the 4x400m relay, edging past a surprisingly quick U.S. team to take the gold medal. It was the first gold medal for any male athlete from the Bahamas. The quartet ran a time of 2:56.72, setting a national record. The U.S. set a season best of 2:57.05 to take silver.
Trinidad and Tobago took the bronze medal, just ahead of Great Britain.
The Bahamas led the race after the first lap, with the U.S. running in second. And the two teams' runners stayed ahead of the pack, extending their lead to make it a two-team race.
Sheik Ahmad Assir speaks to supporters at a tent encampment set up in protest against Hezbollah in Sidon, Lebanon. He accuses the Islamist militant group of using resistance against Israel as a smokescreen for another aim: advancing Iranian regional hegemony.
Credit Wael Hamzeh / EPA /Landov
Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, seen here delivering a speech via video in Beirut in June, has dismissed Assir's calls for disarmament.
On a recent day, baffled motorists honked their horns and veered around the blocked entrance to a major street in Sidon. Now Lebanon's third-largest city, Sidon was once a flourishing Phoenician city-state on the Mediterranean.
The street was closed off by Sunni cleric Sheik Ahmad Assir, who erected a small tent encampment in protest against the country's most powerful military and political force, the militant Islamist group Hezbollah.
The Royal Spanish Academy — the official arbiter of the Spanish language — recently announced that it will add the word "Espanglish" to the 2014 edition of its dictionary. This is a big deal for the traditionally conservative academy, and it's a big deal for supporters who feel that mix of Spanish and English has officially been ignored for more than a century.
With the Olympics drawing to a close, NBC is looking especially golden. They have had two weeks of great ratings — including record highs. What better time than on the eve of the network's new fall season to rack up two weeks of record audiences? But what might seem a slam dunk for the network is anything but.
Jennie Fields was well into her new novel about Edith Wharton — and her love affair with a young journalist — when she heard that a new cache of Wharton letters had been discovered. They were written to Anna Bahlmann, who was first Wharton's governess and later her literary secretary. Bahlmann had never been considered a major influence on Wharton, but Fields had decided to make her a central character in her book, The Age of Desire, even before she heard about the letters.
Originally published on Tue August 14, 2012 10:59 am
Over the past several years, Lainey Hamrick and the volunteers at Colorado Supporting Our Troops have sent hundreds of care packages to members of the military in Afghanistan, Iraq and bases all over the world. In December, the group shipped 160 boxes of goodies overseas.
Sharks are some of the most feared and fascinating animals on the planet. They've had their own week of awareness-raising and celebration on the Discovery Channel for the last 25 years. But some say they are also delicious — as in the Chinese delicacy — shark fin soup.
American wrestler Jordan Burroughs has won the first and only U.S. gold medal in his sport at the London Games, beating Sadegh Saeed Goudarzi of Iran. Burroughs, the reigning world champion at the 74kg weight, won a point in the first two periods to put a quick end to the men's freestyle match.
Goudarzi took silver with the loss, and the two bronze medals went to Russian Denis Tsargush, whom Burroughs defeated in the semifinals, and Sosan Tigiev of Uzbekistan.
Egyptian riot police sit in the shade by damaged buildings as people walk through debris from the aftermath of clashes on Aug. 1 between Christians and Muslims in Dahshour, on the outskirts of Cairo. The violence was sparked by a dispute between a Muslim and Christian over laundered clothing.
A former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood occupies Egypt's presidential palace, leaving many of the country's Coptic Christians deeply anxious about their future.
Now, a new group calling itself the Christian Brotherhood has emerged, vowing to stand up for the rights of Copts.
On a Cairo rooftop recently, members of the new Christian Brotherhood are debating how to respond to the first major outbreak of Muslim-Christian violence since President Mohammed Morsi came into office in June.
Writer and humorist David Rakoff, who died Thursday at the age of 47, wrote with a perfect balance of wit and gravity about the cancer that would ultimately take his life.
Rakoff developed a devoted following as a regular contributor to the public radio program This American Life. His books of essays include Fraud and Don't Get Too Comfortable. Rakoff's most recent book, Half Empty, won the Thurber Prize for American Humor in 2011.
Zoe Chace and Robert Smith are reporting from European borders this week. This story is about the unofficial border within one country — the border that divides northern and southern Italy. This is the fourth story in a four-part series.
A decade ago, the Barilla pasta factory in Foggia, Italy, had a big problem with people skipping work. The absentee rate was around 10 percent.
Originally published on Mon October 15, 2012 9:06 am
Ok guys, reality check here: Nutella is not really a health food, POM Wonderful may be wonderful, but it doesn't necessarily prevent heart disease and... eating Splenda Essentials doesn't single-handedly make the pounds drop off.
Up next, our monthly meeting of the SCIENCE FRIDAY book club. Flora Lichtman, our multimedia editor is going to stay here with us. And joining us now also is Annette Heist, our senior producer. Did you get your reading done? (Unintelligible) The book, the book, Annette, you chose, it was "Monkey Mind," right? "Memoir of Anxiety" by Daniel Smith. Tell us a little bit about why you chose that book. What sang to you when you chose it?
This is SCIENCE FRIDAY, I'm Ira Flatow. Unless you've been hiding under a rock on Mars, you know that last weekend NASA's Mars Science Laboratory safely made its way down to the surface of the Red Planet and now the Rover Curiosity sits, set up camp in Gale Crater.
So what'll it do now that it's there? Joining me now to talk about it is John Grotzinger. He's project scientist for the mission, professor of geology at Caltech. He joins me from the JPL Campus in Pasadena. Welcome back to the program.
Science fiction hero Tom Swift has amazed children with his incredible inventions since combustion and electricity drove the nation into a new era. These stories captured a cultural love of science and inspired such famous figures as Steve Wozniak and Isaac Asimov — all while predicting new technologies decades in advance.
This is SCIENCE FRIDAY from NPR. I'm Ira Flatow. How many pictures have you seen of Einstein in front of a blackboard, you know, scribbling equations, working through the math? That's how theoretical physicists spend their time, right? Either that or cooped up alone in their university offices with pencil and paper.
This is SCIENCE FRIDAY, I'm Ira Flatow. Earlier this week, yet another potential cure for Alzheimer's failed. Pfizer called off additional studies of its intravenous drug bapineuzumab, an antibody designed to seek and destroy plaques that build up in the brains of people with Alzheimer's.
Originally published on Fri August 10, 2012 4:27 pm
Every nation that sent a delegation to the London Games sent at least one female athlete — a first for the Olympics. This year's Team USA has more female than male athletes — and the women have won nearly twice as many medals: 100 total medals, by my count, to 59 for the men.
So yes, it looks like this is the Year of the Woman at the Olympics, particularly for the United States.