If you read Anne Applebaum's Iron Curtain as a manual on how to take over a state and turn it totalitarian, the first lesson, she says, would be on targeted violence. Applebaum's book, which was recently nominated for a National Book Award, describes how after World War II, the Soviet Union found potential dissidents everywhere.
"It really meant anybody who had a leadership role in society," she tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "This included priests, people who had been politicians, people who had been merchants before the war, and people who ran youth groups."
Chinese Communist Party leaders attend the opening session of the 18th Communist Party Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, on Thursday. The meeting marks the beginning of a once-in-a-decade transfer of power.
Credit Alexander F. Yuan / AP
During his speech Thursday, Chinese President Hu Jintao, who is also the top party official, warned delegates that corruption could be "fatal" to the party and even cause "the fall of the state."
Two days after the U.S. election, another major political development is unfolding on the other side of the world. China began its once-in-a-decade transition of power on Thursday with the opening of its 18th Communist Party Congress.
With its lack of personalities or political platforms, it is almost diametrically opposed to the hurly-burly of U.S. elections. In Beijing, the message was about fighting corruption and keeping the Communist Party in power.
Jared Loughner, the 24-year-old who pleaded guilty to killing six people and wounding 13 others during a shooting spree at a congressional meet-and-greet in Tucson, Ariz., will spend the rest of his life in prison.
Loughner was sentenced today as a U.S. District Court in Tucson, Ariz.
Before the judge handed down his punishment, victims and their families addressed Loughner and the court.
Hundreds of thousands of service members are transitioning from bases to college campuses. As Americans get ready for Veterans Day, host Michel Martin discusses the challenges veterans face, and the programs that help them succeed. She talks with Meg Mitcham, a veteran and the head of veterans programs for the American Council on Education.
The election is over and the deadline for the so-called "fiscal cliff" is drawing closer. Host Michel Martin speaks with NPR Senior Business Editor Marilyn Geewax about how the two relate, and what it could mean for America's economic future.
Mike Reynolds authored California's three-strikes law after his daughter, Kimber, was killed in a 1992 purse snatching. On Tuesday, Californians approved a ballot initiative that weakens the law — a measure Reynolds opposed.
Several thousand prisoners in California may be eligible to apply for sentence reductions, after voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot initiative Tuesday that alters the state's controversial three-strikes law.
But voters also rejected a proposition that would abolish the death penalty in the state. Proposition 34 would have replaced capital punishment with life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
An official with Alabama Power Co. said accounting procedures approved by the state's utility regulatory board will allow rates to remain the same through 2013.
The Public Service Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to allow Alabama Power to spread out some costs over several years, including complying with federal mandates for enhanced security at the Farley Nuclear Plant.
Alabama Power vice president Nick Sellers said that should keep rates flat during the coming year.
Tuscaloosa police say a man is charged with attempted murder after a shooting at a University of Alabama fraternity house.
Authorities say 61-year-old Eugene Kelly also faces additional charges after the confrontation that occurred Tuesday at Phi Delta Theta.
Police say a man allegedly went to the fraternity house after a dispute with two relatives who work for the organization. A police spokesman says a shot was fired at the fraternity house, but no one was hurt and the alleged gunman left.
Jennifer Ruiz and her 2-year-old daughter, "Moo Moo," at a Red Cross shelter in Little Egg Harbor Township, N.J. Ruiz and her daughter evacuated from their home in Seaside Heights.
Credit Alix Spiegel / NPR
Homes are surrounded by sand washed in by Superstorm Sandy on Oct. 31 in Seaside Heights, N.J.
Credit Mario Tama / Getty Images
Jan and Manny DiNunzio bought a home in Seaside Heights five years ago. But now the streets of the town are filled with sand, and they're not sure when they'll be able to return. In the meantime, they're living in a Red Cross shelter.
The barrier islands off the coast of New Jersey were hit hard by Superstorm Sandy, and for the moment, most residents are banned from living in their homes because the area is far too damaged.
Which is why this past weekend, in a Red Cross shelter at Pinelands High School in Egg Harbor, N.J., on the mainland, around 100 stranded island residents were lining up for dinner, while Red Cross volunteers worked hard to keep things reassuring.
"Excuse me everybody!" shouted one of the volunteers, waving her arms above her head. "Is there a Jan and a Manny in the house?"