Venezuela's acting president, Nicolas Maduro, fist-bumps a worker of the state-run oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A., last month. Maduro faces opposition candidate Henrique Capriles in Sunday's presidential election. Whoever wins will have to tackle the legacy of Chavez's oil programs.
As Venezuela's president, Hugo Chavez thought in grandiose terms, and his country's vast oil riches enabled him to act on his vision. But Chavez died before he had to deal with the flaws in his model, and some hard choices await his successor.
Key to Chavez's notion of "21st Century Socialism" was the redistribution of Venezuela's oil earnings. The country's oil reserves — estimated by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to be the largest in the world — are worth tens of billions of dollars a year in potential revenue.
In director Gilles Bourdos' biopic Renoir, Christa Theret plays Andree Heuschling, who served as a muse for both the aging Impressionist master and his young filmmaker son.
Credit RMN-Grand Palais/Art Resource, NY
While art critics sometimes call Renoir's late period overly emotional, works like Blonde a la rose, shown here, were an inspiration to film director Gilles Bourdos. Andree Heuschling, a main character in the film, is credited as the model for this painting.
Credit Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY
Renoir's The Bathers (Bathing Women) also used Andree Heuschling as inspiration. Critics say the young model gave the aging artist a needed boost of inspiration during his final years.
Researchers in California described Wednesday their new method for mass-producing the key ingredient for the herbal drug artemisinin, the most powerful antimalarial on the market. Already, the French drugmaker Sanofi is ramping up production at a plant in Italy to manufacture the ingredient and the drug.
Global health advocates say they expect this new method of producing artemisinin will at last provide a stable supply of the drug and cut the overall cost of malaria treatment.
Scientists reported Wednesday that they had developed a way to measure how much pain people are experiencing by scanning their brains.
The researchers hope the technique will help doctors treat pain better, but the work is also raising concerns about whether the technique might interfere with doctors simply listening to their patients.
Now, when someone is in pain, a doctor has no way to judge its severity except to ask questions, a method that often is inadequate.
Jackie Robinson was the first African-American Major League Baseball player. He wore "42" on his uniform for the Brooklyn Dodgers, a number that has since been retired by every MLB team in his honor. Chadwick Boseman plays Robinson in the new biopic, 42, and he came in to talk with Weekend Edition Saturday Host Scott Simon about the playing such a legend.
Former El Paso Independent School District Superintendent Lorenzo Garcia is escorted by his attorneys into a Texas courthouse. He was found guilty of fiddling with El Paso schools' test scores for his own financial gain.
Lorenzo Garcia, the former superintendent of schools in El Paso, Texas, has been sitting in a federal prison since last year. He's the nation's first superintendent convicted of fraud and reporting bogus test scores for financial gain.
On a normal day, Kansas City, Mo., processes more than 70 million gallons of raw sewage. This sewage used to be a nuisance, but Kansas City, and a lot of municipalities around the country, are now turning it into a resource for city farmers hard up for fertilizer.
After the sewage has been processed at a treatment plant, it's piped out to Birmingham Farm on the north side of the Missouri River.
Originally published on Thu April 11, 2013 10:18 am
Marchers dressed in white descended on Wednesday on the Capitol to press Congress to overhaul the nation's immigration policies. One of the key thrusts of their appeal: an on-ramp to citizenship for the millions of unauthorized immigrants living in the United States.
The last time the federal government offered a pathway to citizenship was in 1986 during the Reagan administration. The Immigration Reform and Control Act, or IRCA, granted amnesty to millions of people.
Originally published on Wed April 10, 2013 5:38 pm
Until well into the 19th century, if you lived in the U.S. and wanted to heat your house, fire your forge, or whatever, you did what people had done for thousands of years: You chopped down a tree and burned it.
It wasn't until the rise of the railroads in the mid 19th-century that coal became a significant energy source in this country. As industrialization continued in the second half of the century, the use of coal continued to rise, powering heavy industry (think U.S. Steel), heating urban homes, and generating electric power.
Originally published on Wed April 10, 2013 7:19 pm
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In Mexico, people are rushing to see a new film that pokes fun at the country's rich. The movie has been breaking box office records. It's the first feature for the director who comes from Mexico's elite.
But as NPR's Carrie Kahn reports from Mexico City, he says he learned humbling life lessons during his time at an American film school.
Drivers travel on Interstate 495, the Capital Beltway, near Tysons Corner in Fairfax County, Va., in November, just days before the opening of four new express lanes. Virginia is among 19 states that have approved or are considering legislation to increase transportation funding, according to Transportation for America.
Credit Steve Helber / AP
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell speaks to the media at the state Capitol in Richmond in February.
It's no secret that many of the nation's roads are in pretty bad shape. In the latest report card from the American Society of Civil Engineers, the condition of America's highways rated a grade of D.
Congestion is a big problem, and so is upkeep. Most states rely on gas taxes to raise the money for repairs and new construction, but that funding source is not the stream it used to be, says James Corless of Transportation for America.
The group Mayors Against Illegal Guns has launched a million-dollar media blitz to support new gun legislation. One TV ad features Neil Heslin, whose son, Jesse Lewis, was among those killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
(SOUNDBITE OF AD)
NEIL HESLIN: Oh, I feel it's something I owe to my son, Jesse, to speak up and I'm his voice. And I feel if I didn't, I would be letting Jesse down.
Turns out that Saturday first-class mail service isn't going anywhere. The Postal Service today backtracked on its decision to reduce deliveries in an effort to save money. But it says that's only because language in the bill funding the federal government currently bars such a change. As NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports, this means the service will be running even deeper in the red.
A U.S. District court judge is wrestling with punishment for a sports memorabilia dealer. William Mastro is accused of altering a rare baseball card before selling it. The 1909 Honus Wagner card demands upwards of $2 million at auction. Melissa Block talks with memorabilia magnate Ken Goldin about the case and the card.