This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. While Syria is the crisis of the moment in the Middle East, Iran looms as an even more difficult challenge in the months ahead. And these two issues are not unconnected. Iran remains the most important ally of President Assad in Damascus, and the survival of his regime is critical to Iran's larger struggle with its Arab rivals.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. The country is about to undergo the largest transition of national health policy ever. The Affordable Care Act, the signature legislative achievement of President Obama's first time, continues to phase in. Some of the more popular measures are already in effect. Parents can keep children on their own plans until they turn 26. Women have greater access to birth control.
For 40 years now, Sweet Honey in the Rock has created music deep in the tradition of the African-American community. When the women joined us in our studios in 2005, they outlined the group's message: Keep moving forward, and make a way for those who are coming behind you.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I REMEMBER, I BELIEVE")
SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK: (Singing) I don't know how my mother walked her trouble down. I don't know how my father stood his ground. I don't know how my people survived slavery. I do remember. That's why I believe.
In a small, packed Washington, D.C., living room late one December night, I heard a cacophony of horns, keys, drums and guitars that simply floored me. It was brash, zany, brainy, scary and danceable. At the end of a long year of amazing live music, this would turn out to be one of the most memorable concerts I'd seen.
A little reinvention never hurt anyone. Nashville singers Jordan Meredith and Louis Johnson met in St. Augustine, Fla., and quickly discovered how well their voices blended together, so they moved to New York City and formed Augustine.
The duo, which now resides in Nashville, has since become The Saint Johns, and recently released its gorgeous new songs on a free downloadable EP. Listen to two songs from The Live Sessions here.
Zach Williams, Kanene Pipkin and Brian Elmquist are The Lone Bellow. Although Williams, the principal songwriter and lead singer, is a native Georgian, the group found its soulful folk-rock sound in Brooklyn. The group recorded its self-titled debut album on the Lower East Side, yet the lyrical, foot-stomping songs could have easily come from the heart of Nashville.
Originally published on Mon April 29, 2013 3:08 pm
Raising pork can be a tough business for producers, who've lately been watching feed prices rise along with the cost of corn. That's one reason why a small but growing number of former commodity pork producers are trying their luck with specialty breeds instead. These premium pigs, raised on small farms with methods that appeal to consumers, can also fetch a premium price.
Originally published on Mon April 29, 2013 3:08 pm
Elie Gardner and Oscar Durand moved to Lima, Peru, in 2010, and every time they flew in or out, they noticed a large farmland by the airport. The husband and wife photojournalists began to wonder why there was so much land in the middle of an urban area, and who lived there and why.
One night they saw a story about it on the news. The government was taking back the neighborhood called "El Ayllu" and relocating hundreds of families in order to expand the airport.
Originally published on Tue April 30, 2013 8:24 am
Brooklyn-born singer-songwriter Richie Havens — who died April 22 at age 72 — appeared on Mountain Stage on Jan. 29, 1995. His unmistakably percussive guitar style and intense vocals helped set him apart from other songwriters, while his ability to make traditional and cover songs his own made him a primal force in the world of solo acoustic performers. Havens had long since secured his place in history by opening the fabled Woodstock festival with a three-hour set that kept thousands of listeners spellbound.
Originally published on Mon April 29, 2013 4:02 pm
Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo — designed to carry paying passengers beyond Earth's atmosphere — passed a key test Monday, shooting past the speed of sound under its own rocket power.
The spacecraft developed by Sir Richard Branson's space tourism venture dropped from its mother ship over the Mojave Desert and then, for the first time, fired its engine. It hit Mach 1.2 and reached an altitude of 56,000 feet before gliding to a landing.
Originally published on Tue April 30, 2013 10:23 am
In the world of television, there's nothing quite like a soap habit. People watch characters evolve not over the 10 or 15 seasons that might mark a long run in prime time, but over 30 or 40 years, until they have kids and grandkids — sometimes played by the same actors the entire time.
Originally published on Mon April 29, 2013 10:39 pm
"I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport," National Basketball Association center Jason Collins writes in a Sports Illustrated essay posted Monday, "but since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation."
With that, the 34-year-old veteran of 12 NBA seasons and six pro teams becomes the first active player in the four major American team sports to come out.
When Marc Maron started his podcast "WTF with Marc Maron" out of his garage in September 2009, he was in a dark place: He was going through a divorce, his comedy career had hit a wall and — in his mid-40s — he didn't have a Plan B.
"I was at a place in my life where I had gotten very cynical," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "I had lost a lot of hope for my comedy and everything else, and I really feel that I was no longer able to really appreciate other people's stories. I had lost my ability to really kind of listen and enjoy the company of other people."
Originally published on Mon April 29, 2013 2:05 pm
The man accused of sending letters containing the poison ricin to President Obama and other officials made a brief appearance in an Oxford, Miss., federal court Monday morning. J. Everett Dutschke, 41, was arrested Saturday, several days after another Mississippi man, former suspect Paul Kevin Curtis, was released.
Dutschke is charged with possessing a biological weapon, identified as ricin, and attempting to use it as a weapon. If convicted, he could face a sentence of life in prison.