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Middle East
7:27 am
Sat January 11, 2014

Ariel Sharon, Whose Life And Career Shaped Israeli History, Dies

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon speaks during a news conference in his offices on Nov. 21, 2005, in Jerusalem. Sharon announced his split from his right-wing Likud party to form a new political party, Kadima. He was on the way to re-election in 2006 when he suffered a stroke and fell into a coma from which he never awoke.
David Silverman Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 11:09 am

Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, a towering figure in the history of Israel as a soldier and politician, died on Saturday. He was 85.

His death was announced by Shlomo Noy, the director of Sheba Medical Center where Sharon was being treated. Sharon had been in a coma since he suffered a massive stroke in January 2006 during the last Israeli election campaign, in which he was assured of re-election.

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Krulwich Wonders...
7:02 am
Sat January 11, 2014

Go Where Raisins Swell Into Grapes, And Lemons Light The Sky

Courtesy of Pierre Javelle & Akiko Ida

Originally published on Sat January 11, 2014 10:42 am

There's a book by the novelist China Mieville that describes two cities plopped one on top of the other. One is large-scale, the other smaller-scale, and while they live in entangled proximity, both cities have the same rule. Each says to its citizens, pay no attention — on pain of punishment — to what the "others" around you are doing. See your own kind. "Unsee" the others.

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Architecture
4:25 am
Sat January 11, 2014

Historic House Is Yours Free, But There's A Catch

Architects at Paolasquare International are giving away this historic house in Arlington, Va. for free.
Sarah L. Voisin The Washington Post/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat January 11, 2014 11:53 am

This little house is looking for a home.

In the past five years, 600 single-family homes have been demolished in Arlington, Va., many to make way for larger houses, according to a preservation group. One architectural firm is so determined to save one 1920s Sears kit house from demolition, it's giving the house away for free. But there's a catch: the buyer would need to pay to move it to a new location.

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Code Switch
4:25 am
Sat January 11, 2014

Who Gets To Be A Superhero? Race And Identity In Comics

Orion Martin reimagined several iconic X-Men covers, recasting the superheroes as people of color. The move sparked a discussion on race in comics, both on the page and in the writers' rooms.
Orion Martin

Originally published on Sun January 12, 2014 6:20 pm

The X-Men comic franchise has proven remarkably sturdy in the half-century since its launch. They've spawned dozens of animated series and four major Hollywood films with a fifth due out this summer. A big part of that is due to its central premise — a minority of superpowered humans called mutants are discriminated against by their government and fellow citizens — which has functioned as a sci-fi allegory for everything from the civil rights movement to the AIDS crisis.

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Consumer Alert
7:47 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Neiman Marcus Says Hackers Stole Credit Card Data

Upscale retailer Neiman Marcus isn't yet saying how many customers might be at risk, but it is confirming that a breach of credit card data took place. The company says it learned of "potentially unauthorized payment card activity" before Christmas. The company says it is working with federal investigators, and a forensics team is trying to determine the size of the breach.

The digital security expert Brian Krebs wrote about the stolen credit card data today:

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Environment
6:19 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

The Upside Of The Bitter Cold: It Kills Bugs That Kill Trees

Tom Tiddens, supervisor of plant health care at the Chicago Botanic Garden, displays bark with beetle larvae.
David Schaper NPR

While many of us may prefer to never again see temperatures drop below zero like they did earlier this week across the country, the deep freeze is putting warm smiles on the faces of many entomologists.

That's because it may have been cold enough in some areas to freeze and kill some damaging invasive species of insects, including the tree-killing emerald ash borer.

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The Two-Way
5:28 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

N.J. Bridge Scandal: New Emails And Documents Are Released

Newly released documents depict officials discussing the controversial September closure of several lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge from Fort Lee, N.J. Here, the New Jersey side of the bridge, which leads to New York City, is seen Thursday.
Andrew Burton Getty Images

A New Jersey State Assembly committee released a trove of documents Friday that shed more light on the bridge lane-closure scandal that is embroiling Republican Gov. Chris Christie's administration. The panel is seeking details on what's seen as an act of political retribution, which targeted the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, N.J. It obtained the documents under a subpoena.

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Planet Money
5:27 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

How A Community Bank Tripped On Footnote 1,861 Of The Volcker Rule

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 11:05 am

When people talk about the Volcker Rule, they often mention JPMorgan Chase, the giant bank where a trader recently made a bad bet that lost $6 billion. The Volcker Rule is supposed to put an end to that sort of thing, by prohibiting banks from trading with their own money.

But some banks that are very, very different from JPMorgan Chase are struggling with an obscure provision in the rule. Specifically, footnote 1,861, which bars banks from investing in something called trust-preferred securities — a rather obscure investment favored by lots of small, community banks invest

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This Week's Must Read
5:27 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

As Zamata Joins 'SNL,' A Look At — And Beyond — The Prism Of Race

iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 6:19 pm

This week the long-running comedy show Saturday Night Live hired Sasheer Zamata as a new cast member. The show had come under criticism for its lack of diversity, especially its lack of black women; Zamata will be the show's first female African-American cast member in six years.

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NPR Story
5:04 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Chris Cooper Brings A Lifetime Of Experience To 'August: Osage County'

Chris Cooper is pictured in the Here & Now studios on Jan. 9, 2014. (Jesse Costa/Here & Now)

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 4:13 pm

The new film “August: Osage County” has generated a lot of buzz for the wealth of talent in the cast. The film centers around the cancer-ridden, drug-addled matriarch Violet, played by Meryl Streep, who gathers her family at the Oklahoma homestead after her husband commits suicide. Family clashes ensue, most violently between Violet and her daughter Barbara, but everyone gets caught up in the crossfire.

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