NPR News

Mega Mirror To Power Massive New Telescope

Jan 14, 2012

One upon a time, the largest glass telescope mirror was 100 inches in diameter. Today, scientists are casting a mirror 27 feet in diameter that will be part of one of the most powerful telescopes on Earth. NPR's Joe Palca speaks with weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz from the mirror laboratory, located under the football stadium at the University of Arizona.

Breaking Down Bain Capital

Jan 14, 2012

Private equity firms are under the microscope this week as a pro-Gingrich superPAC hounds GOP candidate Mitt Romney for his role as head of Bain Capital. Weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz talks with Dan Primack, senior editor of Fortune Magazine, about how these firms operate and the legitimacy of these attacks.

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GUY RAZ, HOST:

It's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz.

(SOUNDBITE OF POLITICAL AD)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: A story of greed, playing the system for a quick buck, a group of corporate raiders led by Mitt Romney, more ruthless than Wall Street.

RAZ: That's part of an anti-Mitt Romney ad now running in South Carolina. The video is being distributed by pro-Newt Gingrich superPAC. And its message may be a sign of a growing philosophical split among the GOP candidates.

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GUY RAZ, HOST:

Now, as the Romney campaign has been building momentum, religious conservatives remain deeply uncomfortable with him as the prospective Republican nominee. Today in Texas, evangelical leaders met. And as NPR's Joel Rose reports, they threw their support behind former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.

Italian Cruise Ship Runs Aground

Jan 14, 2012

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News, I'm Scott Simon. An enormous cruise ship is lying on its side in the Mediterranean today. The Italian ship, Costa Concordia, ran aground off Italy's Tuscan coast, killing at least three people. Passengers described scenes reminiscent of the Titanic. Fabio Costa was working in a shop on the cruise liner when he felt a jolt.

Fresh Air Weekend: Gary Oldman, Rin Tin Tin

Jan 14, 2012

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors, and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

Given Lubinda jumped off a bridge this week and popped up smiling.

Mr. Lubinda is the minister of information, broadcasting and tourism of Zambia, nearly 50 years old and just a tad pudgy, judging from photographs.

The widening gulf between the rich and everyone else is a growing source of tension in America.

A new survey from the Pew Research Center finds the income gap is now seen as a bigger source of conflict in the U.S. than race, age or national origin. That's why some believe the issue could matter in the presidential campaign, and others worry it could warp the national debate.

Two out of three Americans now perceive strong social conflicts over the income gap — up sharply from two years ago. Paul Taylor of the Pew Research Center has an idea what's behind the increase.

As Guatemala's new president, Otto Perez Molina, takes office today, the former general carries the burden of a complicated history into a new struggle against violence.

GOP Fault Lines Expose Ideological Divides

Jan 14, 2012

There is a diversity of views in the Republican field for president that is wide, even wild. Host Scott Simon talks with Ross Douthat, a conservative author and New York Times columnist, about the ideological divides in the Republican Party, as apparent in the GOP presidential race.

European Credit Downgraded: What's Next?

Jan 14, 2012

Late Friday the U.S. credit rating agency Standard & Poors downgraded nine European countries. S&P suggested Europe's single-minded focus on austerity to solve its sovereign debt problem is just not working. Host Scott Simon speaks with NPR's John Ydstie about the downgrades.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Haiti has long been regarded as a special challenge for international aid organizations. Haiti has a noble, unique and often bloody history. It was the only nation of slaves to successfully revolt against their colonial overseers, became the first black-led republic in the world. It has also been afflicted with its own demons and tyrants.

The South Carolina primary is one week from Saturday. On Friday night, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum hit an upstate barbecue, vying to emerge as the candidate the state's conservative Republicans can rally behind. NPR's Debbie Elliott was there and has this report.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

And Mitt Romney spent the last week celebrating a major victory and then fending off some major attacks. NPR's Ari Shapiro reports from Aiken, South Carolina.

ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: Mitt Romney had a contradictory week. On the one hand, his landslide win in New Hampshire put him solidly on a course to focus on the general election and President Obama.

MITT ROMNEY: This president puts his faith in government. We put our faith in the American people.

The Muslim Brotherhood has emerged as the big winner in Egypt's parliamentary elections. Long oppressed under the regime of Hosni Mubarak, the Islamist party is now the most important power broker in the country. Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reports that the question on everyone's lips now is what does the Brotherhood really represent and how will it govern?

The lack of snow in most of the northeast has extended the hiking season for those willing to brave the cold. Brian Mann takes a winter hike into Roaring Brook Falls in New York's Adirondack Mountains.

Sports: Hopefuls Battle For NFL Glory

Jan 14, 2012

The NFL playoffs are well under way. Eight teams are still standing, but two will be sent home on Saturday. Howard Bryant of ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine joins host Scott Simon to discuss the latest news in sports.

Karaoke Copyrights: Taking Back The Music

Jan 14, 2012

Karaoke machine manufacturers and the distributors of karaoke CDs have had an uphill battle fighting copyright infringement cases brought by music publishers. One player in the karaoke business is fighting a joint venture of Sony and the estate of Michael Jackson over a $1.28-billion bill. Host Scott Simon has more.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Now time for your letters.

(SOUNDBITE OF TYPING AND MUSIC)

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: We got lots of comments on Gloria Hillard's piece on Native Americans who've moved off reservations into major cities. The Bureau of Indian Affairs Urban Relocation Program had encouraged that migration a few decades ago, and Los Angeles County has the country's largest urban Native American population.

Wisc. Recall Supporters Confident, But GOP Has Sway

Jan 14, 2012

There's a downside to starting a two-month recall petition drive in mid-November in Wisconsin. Sometimes it snows. A lot.

On Tuesday, Democrats plan to turn in petitions by the truckload to try to force a recall election of Gov. Scott Walker. The effort follows the governor's move last year to strip public workers of union bargaining rights.

A heavy snowstorm late this week had most Wisconsin residents more occupied with shoveling than with knocking on doors. Recall petition circulators in the heavily Democratic city of Madison, for the most part, disappeared.

Russia By Rail: One Last Look

Jan 14, 2012

Six thousand miles. Seven time zones. And endless cups of hot tea.

NPR reporter David Greene along with producer Laura Krantz and photographer David Gilkey boarded the Trans-Siberian Railway in Moscow and took two weeks to make their way to the Pacific Ocean port city of Vladivostok.

Wim Wenders On 'Pina': A Dance Documentary In 3-D

Jan 14, 2012

The film Pina is Germany's official entry at the 84th Academy Awards — and a collaboration between two famous Germans of the postwar generation. The filmmaker Wim Wenders captures the groundbreaking modern-dance choreography of the late Pina Bausch, in what many critics are calling a groundbreaking use of 3-D film.

You can see some progress in Haiti two years since the 7.0-magnitude quake hit. But Port-au-Prince is a tour of unrelenting misery and often disturbing images. Things are happening — slowly. You can tell the pace of progress by looking into people's eyes — emptiness looks back at you. Pain is etched on their faces.

You see it in Elicia Andre. We met her back in December at the homeless encampment run by Catholic Relief Services in Port-au-Prince, where she sought refuge after the quake. The charity had just given her $500 to rent an apartment for a year.

Standard & Poor's downgraded the sovereign debt of France, Italy, Spain and six other European countries on Friday. The move was highly expected, but it's still a blow to France and sending shock waves across Europe. France is the eurozone's second-largest economy, and its downgrade could even threaten Europe's master plan to stop its debt crisis.

We're used to thinking of "obesity" in physical terms — unhealthful weight that clogs our arteries and strains our hearts. But there's also an obesity of information that clogs our eyes and our minds and our inboxes: unhealthful information deep-fried in our own preconceptions.

There are two stories about space junk today: First, the AP reports that the International Space Station had to fire its engines to move out of the way of some space junk.

"NASA officials said debris from an old U.S. private communication satellite would have come within three miles of the orbiting outpost on Friday had the station not changed its orbit," the AP reports.

The dynamic duo of PBS host Tavis Smiley and professor/activist Cornel West was it again in Washington Thursday evening during a live television broadcast of a program addressing poverty.

The two have made a traveling roadshow out of their roles as the loudest African-American critics of President Obama.

Ten years after the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, there's still some debate about Mitt Romney's claim that he helped "save" the games — and about whether he used the Olympics to relaunch a fledgling political career.

In 1999, Romney accepted the job as CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC), five years after he failed to oust Sen. Ted Kennedy from his Massachusetts Senate seat.

Four years ago, Texas Rep. Ron Paul finished fifth in the New Hampshire presidential primary with just under 8 percent of the vote.

On Tuesday, he got nearly 23 percent of the vote in the New Hampshire primary, finishing second to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in the Republican contest. That came a week after Paul's third-place finish in the Iowa caucuses.

A year ago today, India saw its last recorded case of polio in an 18-month-old girl in West Bengal named Rukhsar Khatoon. She recovered without lasting paralysis.

One year without another case is an impressive milestone in the decades-long effort to wipe the poliovirus from the face of the planet. Only a few years ago, India reported more polio cases than anywhere else — as many as 100,000 cases a year.

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