A devastating drought consumed nearly all of Texas in 2011, killing livestock, destroying agriculture and sparking fires that burned thousands of homes. It was the worst single-year drought in the state's recorded history.
The Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups in Egypt are flexing their growing political muscle. They control the legislative agenda in parliament, and in recent weeks introduced controversial proposals to curb social freedoms and legal rights.
Islamist lawmakers also handpicked a 100-member panel that began meeting this week to write a new constitution, which is widely expected to enshrine Islamic law.
Even so, Islamist leaders say they want Egypt to remain a secular state. But many secular Egyptians are not convinced.
Since the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin made Florida's Stand Your Ground law the subject of national debate, one of the legislators who helped write it, Rep. Dennis Baxley, has been adamant in his belief that the law simply doesn't apply in this case.
So, did Jesus really exist? With his new book, Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth, Bart Ehrman, historian and professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, wanted to provide solid historical evidence for the existence of Jesus.
"I wanted to approach this question as an historian to see whether that's right or not," Ehrman tells weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz.
For years, New York parents have been applying to preschools even before their youngsters are born. That's not new, but the approach one prestigious pre-school on the Upper West Side is.
At the Porsafillo Preschool Academy, all applicants must now submit a DNA analysis of their children.
The preschool is housed in a modern glass and steel building designed by IM Pei. It's situated in a leafy corner of the Upper West Side. On a recent afternoon, Headmaster Rebecca Unsinn showed off "Porsafillo Pre," as it's called.
A secret agreement came to light this week between the Israel and the Central Asian nation of Azerbaijan: The Azeri government has granted Israelis access to eight air bases, located just a couple hundred miles north of Israel's foe Iran.
Allowing Israeli fighter jets and bombers to land and refuel so close to Iran raises questions: Could this mean Israel and Iran are one step closer to war? Or are Azerbaijan and Israel just looking to strengthen their relationship?
An international coalition supporting the Syrian opposition announced new aid today, including a multimillion dollar fund for opposition fighters. The support for the opposition comes just as Damascus rejected a call to withdraw its troops and begin a cease-fire. NPR's Peter Kenyon reports from Istanbul.
There's a separatist rebellion raging in the desert north of Mali, and the junta leaders, who seized power last week, have the double task of grappling with the insurgency while fending off global condemnation of their coup. From the capital, Bamako, NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports this includes the threat of crippling sanctions by Mali's West African neighbors.
Joining me now is Corey Dade. He's a national correspondent for NPR digital news. He's been writing a lot about the Trayvon Martin case, and he's also interviewed Trayvon's parents. Also with us is legal scholar and attorney Michelle Alexander who recently published a book called "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness." Corey, welcome to the program.
COREY DADE, BYLINE: Thank you, Guy.
RAZ: And, Michelle Alexander, welcome to the program.
Supporters of the main opposition party in Myanmar, also known as Burma, filled the streets of the capital, celebrating Sunday a projected victory in closely watched parliamentary by-elections, as the party announced that its leader, Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, won a seat in the country's parliament for the first time.
Rest easy, that headline was just a joke. You still have 140 characters to compose a tweet. Believe it or not: The productivity of the newsroom took a hit to come up with that fake headline. A whole host of people across NPR contributed a bunch of ideas. These were our 20 runners-up:
-- NPR Blogger Wins Mega-Millions Jackpot
-- Ford: All New Cars Will Have Air Bags For Cats and Dogs
-- Citing Safety Risks, 30 States Outlaw 'Driveway Moments'
The national championship game in men's college basketball is set. The Jayhawks beat Ohio State in a close one and Kentucky got past Louisville.
At the nine-minutes-to-go mark in games one through four of Kentucky's romp through the NCAA tournament, the Wildcats have had leads of 13, 11, 18 and 30 points. So it was significant that the Louisville Cardinals actually found themselves tied with Kentucky at that nine-minute juncture.
The NCAA Division 1 women's tournament gets criticized for not having enough true March Madness moments, when the Davids rise up and beat the Goliaths in nerve-jangling upsets. Such is the power structure in the women's game, with largely untouchable elite teams.
The payoff comes when all those elite teams gather, as they have in Denver, in such a show of force and talent that a fan tends not to miss the little guys.
Across America, libraries used to reach out to readers by sending bookmobiles into school parking lots, street corners and rural byways. Now, those rolling reading rooms are becoming scarce â€” too costly and outmoded, some say.
One town in northern New England just lost its bookmobile. The Cobleigh Public Library in Lyndonville, Vt., had managed to keep its van rolling until about a month ago, when it died.
We first met the soldiers of the 182nd Infantry Regiment of the Army National Guard about a week ago, on an airport tarmac. They had just landed in the United States after wrapping up a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan.
In Germany, a federal court has ruled that the German Historical Museum in Berlin must return a rare collection of handcrafted posters to the son of the original owner. The posters were seized by the Nazis from a Jewish art collector in the 1930s.
The case is one of dozens in recent years in which art stolen by the Nazis from Jews has been returned to descendants.
The most famous case involved Gustav Klimt's masterpiece, the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer. The golden, shimmering painting of the high society hostess became known as Austria's Mona Lisa.
The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments this week over key aspects of President Obama's health care law, including the expansion of Medicaid and whether the court even had the right to hear the case. But the core of the challenge mounted against the Affordable Care Act hinges upon its individual mandate, which requires almost every American to have or buy health insurance.
It's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz.
Before the break, we mentioned the individual mandate in health care. Now, not so long ago, most Democrats hated the idea, and most of its support came from Republicans. And it started with President Bill Clinton's attempt to reform the health care system back in 1993. He came to Capitol Hill to address Congress.
PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: This health care system of ours is badly broken, and it is time to fix it.
The sale or possession of liquor is strictly forbidden by the tribal government of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. But there is a tiny town just over the border in Nebraska that does sell alcohol, in massive quantities, and mostly to tribal residents.
And now a longstanding battle over beer sales has spilled into federal court.
More than 6,000 stories came in this round of Three-Minute Fiction - 6000. Amazing. The challenge this time, the story had to begin with the sentence: She closed the book, placed it on the table and finally decided to walk through the door. It's going to take us several weeks to read through those stories and find a winner, but for now, here are a few samples of what some of you did with that sentence.
James Brown used to tell people that even being stillborn as a child couldn't stop him. He rose to the highest heights in the music industry and stayed there longer than most. But in the end he succumbed to atrocious financial planning, a drug habit and a violent temper.
RJ Smith, author of the new biography The One: The Life and Music of James Brown,tells NPR's Guy Raz that Brown believed he was indestructible.
When the song "Wonderwall" hit the airwaves in 1995, Oasis was arguably the biggest rock band in the world. At the heart of the group were two combustible figures: Noel Gallagher, the main songwriter, and his brother Liam, the main singer. With their fiery tempers and frequent public outbursts, the two were on the covers of the tabloids as often as the top of the charts.
Oasis burned out quite suddenly a few years ago, with a now-famous meltdown backstage before a show in Paris.
'Scuse me, but is someone trying to kill off food critics?
What about themselves?
Frank Bruni, the former restaurant critic of The New York Times, now an op-ed columnist, has revealed that he has gout.
Gout is a painful inflammation of the joints that's been called the King's Disease because it's historically associated with the kind of gluttony only kings could afford: profuse servings of beef, lobster, goose liver and strong drink.
North Korea is the most secretive country in the world. Its pursuit of nuclear weapons is a cause of great concern all over the world, and just this week, the country tested two short-range missiles soon after President Obama left the region after attending a nuclear summit. United States has suspended food aid to that regime in response to North Korea's planned long-range missile test later this year.
Has the guy on the Quaker Oats box been doing Ashtanga yoga? The white-haired man with pink cheeks under a broad black Quaker hat is getting a makeover. Larry, as he is apparently known among ad men and women, is associated with heritage, trust, and quality by consumers. But after being an oatmeal cover boy for 134 years, PepsiCo, which now owns the Quaker brand, wants to refresh his image a bit to make the link between oatmeal and energy and healthy choices.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.
The popular revolt in Syria against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad has been grinding on for over a year now. The United Nations says Assad's forces have killed more than 9,000 people during that time. The Syrian government in turn blames what it calls foreign-backed terrorists for the deaths of 3,000 soldiers and police. Now, the plight of Syria's children has captured attention.
After months of upsets and indecisive results, there were signs this week that the battle for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination may be entering its final stages. Mitt Romney has a huge lead in delegates, and some big endorsements are rolling in. Host Scott Simon talks with NPR's Don Gonyea in Wisconsin, which has a primary Tuesday.