The first in my series of posts on The First Novel Experience was called "The Romance of Agents." A couple of people wrote me after it was posted and asked if I was going to include in this series any stories of any writers who'd had a bad time with their books. I thought about it and decided no – at least not yet.
Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 9:42 am
The year may have suffered a couple of black eyes in the form of shuttered opera companies and orchestras in labor disputes, but as far as recordings go, don't let anyone tell you classical music is dying — the music and musicians are thriving.
Jakarta, Indonesia, has some of the worst traffic on the planet. For some local entrepreneurs, all those people stuck in their cars are potential customers.
In a middle of one Jakarta traffic jam, a guy pushes his chicken cart through the cars, clanging his pots. Men walk down the center lane selling nuts, crackers as big as your head and other treats. They're all trying to make eye contact with the drivers.
And another story of intrigue with plenty of unanswered questions. An American claiming to be a businessman went to Iran seven years ago and then he vanished. An Associated Press investigation into Robert Levinson's disappearance uncovers that he was actually part of a sensitive covert and apparently rogue operation that shook the CIA when it came to light.
Matt Apuzzo is part of the reporting team at the AP who broke this story. Matt, welcome back to the program.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne. We're looking this morning at two stories of international intrigue. First to North Korea. Until recently, the uncle of leader Kim Jong Un was the country's second-in-command. Earlier this week, though, he was detained on national television, hustled out of a meeting by guards.
Some African leaders have lavished resources on their home villages, building palaces and outsize monuments to themselves that look entirely out of place in the poor and remote spots they came from.
Nelson Mandela adamantly rejected such extravagance, and the world will see for itself when he's buried Sunday in Qunu, a simple village set amid the lush green hills in the southeastern corner of the country. It's little changed from the days when Mandela ran barefoot in the fields and herded sheep and calves as a boy nearly a century ago.
The North America's grizzly bear is protected under the Endangered Species Act. Its population was virtually wiped out in the lower 48 states. One group of bears, though, may soon lose that protection - the Yellowstone grizzly. Some scientists say that group is thriving. Others disagree. NPR's Christopher Joyce has more on the battle over the bear.
Apparently, the queen of England is going nuts about Buckingham Palace Guards snacking on the job. This is a detail that came out during the long trial of defunct Murdoch tabloid News of the World. According to emails read in court, the queen's staff placed bowls of nuts around the palace for her. But royal police roaming the corridors couldn't resist. So her highness drew lines on the bowls to keep track of the snack levels.
David O. Russell hovers at the top of my list of favorite directors. He captures the messy collision of self-interests that for him defines America. In American Hustle, he whips up a black comedy based on Abscam, the late-'70s FBI sting that centered on a bogus sheik and led to the bribery convictions of sundry U.S. politicians. But he doesn't tell the real Abscam story; he adapts it to fit his theme, which is that most of us are busy reinventing ourselves and conning one another.
And its goal is pretty ambitious. The blog's author, Malisha Dewalt, says that her goal is to challenge the common perception that pre-Enlightenment Europe was all white, which she argues is a much more recent and deliberate invention.
Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 1:59 pm
President Obama's oft-repeated promise that "if you like your health care plan, you can keep it" is 2013's "lie of the year," according to the fact checkers at the Tampa Bay Times' nonpartisan PolitiFact project.
The citrus industry is facing a crisis. It's called citrus greening — a disease that has devastated orange production in Florida since it first showed up eight years ago. Now the U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced a new effort to try to control the disease before it destroys the nation's citrus industry.
The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., one year ago sparked a national conversation about the country's troubled mental health system. Politicians convened task forces and promised additional funding and new laws. But today, despite those promises, patients and advocates say treatment for mental health is still in shambles.