Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 10:35 am
When I was coming of age in the late 1970s, as an African-American high-schooler and college student, I had two certainties: Nelson Mandela would die in prison in apartheid South Africa and no black person would become U.S. president in my lifetime.
So much for my youthful powers of prediction.
Little could I have known then that I would become a journalist who would one day get to cover events I once thought would never happen, at least not during my time on Earth.
Refugees warm their hands at a refugee camp in Harmanli, Bulgaria, on Nov. 27. More Syrians are turning up in Europe. Many are trying to get to northern Europe, believing that is the best place to start a new life.
Credit STR/Italy / Reuters /Landov
A boatload of refugees, including Syrians, is picked up by an Italian coast guard rescue boat off the coast of Sicily on Sept. 20.
The 27-year-old Syrian, who once smuggled arms for Syrian rebels, is now waiting in Istanbul for a human smuggler to get him to Europe. He says his name is Mohammed. He does not offer a second name. He will go by air, he says, the safest route. He has paid a smuggler more than $8,000, and he's sure he will get to Austria.
In the past week, he connected seven friends with smugglers.
"I know that most of them made it," he says, with a tight smile. He is traveling light. Everything he owns is in a backpack.
"I am leaving Syria under a lot of pressure," he explains.
Nick Lowe was one of the founders of the Great British rock explosion of the 1970s, writing songs like "Cruel to Be Kind and "What's So Funny 'Bout Peace Love and Understanding." He's just released a new album of Christmas songs called Quality Street — A Seasonal Selection For All The Family.
Since Lowe's lyrics would lead us to believe there isn't anything funny about peace, love or understanding, we'll quiz him on three hilarious instances of human kindness.
An unmarked New York State Police SUV pulls over a motorist for distracted driving. Troopers are using a fleet of the tall vehicles to crack down on texting while driving.
Credit Jim Fitzgerald / AP
New York State Trooper Clayton Howell checks a screen that displays driving records inside his patrol SUV. The vehicle allows him to see whether passing drivers are on their phones. "It's a bird's-eye view," he says.
Forty-one states and the District of Columbia have laws that make it illegal to text while driving. Six others forbid new drivers from texting behind the wheel.
But that doesn't stop drivers from doing it — and enforcing those laws can be difficult.
On a highway north of New York City, state Trooper Clayton Howell is in an unmarked SUV. He's looking for drivers who are texting or using hand-held phones, which is banned in New York, along with 11 other states.
In Mexico, lawmakers are debating one of the touchiest subjects in the country today, whether to open up the nation's state oil monopoly to foreign investors. Ever since the oil industry was nationalized back in the 1930s, Mexico's control of this precious resource has been a symbol of national pride. But with oil prices rising and revenues down, the president has made modernizing the oil company Pemex his number one priority.
As NPR's Carrie Kahn reports, not everyone is happy about it.
Mohsin Ikram drives a 1954 Austin-Healey across Pakistan. As the head of Pakistan's Vintage and Classic Car Club, he's doing it mostly because he loves the open road. But he also sees it as a statement against the turmoil that has made parts of the country no-go zones.
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
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And I'm Robert Siegel. The unemployment rate hit a five-year low in November. That's according to the government's latest monthly jobs report. The other headline, the economy beat expectations adding more than 200,000 jobs. NPR's John Ydstie has more on what that says about the health of the economy and about whether the Federal Reserve might dial back its stimulus efforts.
All this week we've been hearing about the making of the Planet Money T-shirt, a global journey that's taken us from the United States to Indonesia, Bangladesh, Colombia and back to the States. The series raised big questions about the nature of the garment industry and the role the very clothes on our back play in the global economy. I'm joined now by Planet Money's Alex Blumberg to wrap up the project. And Alex, when you think about all these stories, is there one single biggest takeaway that you're left with?
For freelancers and artists living in expensive cities like New York, the home-sharing site Airbnb has become a way to subsidize their rents. It's also often illegal. With the site's users in the crosshairs of New York's attorney general, and questions elsewhere, some now wonder if the good times are going to end.
So the lowest unemployment rate in five years, down to 7 percent. To talk about the economic picture and more from this week's news, I'm joined by our regular Friday political commentators, David Brooks of the New York Times and E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post and Brookings Institution. Welcome back to you both.
France has sent troops to the Central African Republic after violence there flared between Muslim and Christian militias amid reports that the death toll from fighting had reached 280.
The Associated Press reports:
"[Mostly] Muslim armed fighters who have ruled the country since March hunted door-to-door for their enemies. Bodies lay decomposing along the roads in a capital [Bangui] too dangerous for many to collect the corpses."
Cookies are a sometime food, and with the holidays around the corner, that sometime is now.
Here at NPR, the holiday baking season is not complete without a story from the always-charming Brass Sisters, Marilynn and Sheila.
They've been collecting recipes for more than 50 years. When it comes to holiday cookies, they immediately turn to Dorothy Sullivan's shortbread. The cookies were a treat they enjoyed when they were girls, just 10 and 15 years old, growing up in Winthrop, Mass.
Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 4:35 pm
When big food corporations try to horn in on Twitter conversations about TV shows and other pop culture fare, it usually doesn't work.
Remember when McDonald's tried to engage customers with the hashtag #mcdstories, only to have it turn into a way to share horror-story experiences at the fast food chain? Or when Snickers got busted for paying celebrities to tweet about its brand?