Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne. Sicily has joined the space-age.
Amateur scientists have launched the Sicilian Space Program with a homemade spacecraft, a helium balloon, and at the tip of the tiny vessel: a cannollo put the cherry on top.
Well, given the extreme conditions, the clay cannollo, still, cameras filmed the classic cream filled pastry soaring into the stratosphere, capturing a sweet view of the sunrise. One small step for pastry.
NPR's business news begins with a soon-to-be top banana.
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MONTAGNE: An American company long synonymous with bananas is merging with an Irish rival to create the world's biggest banana company. The new company will be called ChiquitaFyffes, and it's expected to have annual sales of $4.6 billion.
From Syria to Afghanistan, to Russia and Ukraine, the United States finds itself confronting some major foreign policy challenges. There are old rivalries and new one testing the limits of the United States.
NPR social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam regularly joins us to talk about matters related to individual and organizational behavior, but today, he's found some new research that's relevant to the way we think about foreign conflicts and he's in our studios. Shankar, welcome back.
What do an eccentric British detective, a cut-throat Washington pol and a bunch of nerds at Caltech have in common?
They are characters in some of the most popular foreign TV shows in China.
Over the past five years, The Big Bang Theory alone has been streamed more than 1.3 billion times. To appreciate how much some young Chinese love the BBC series, Sherlock, step inside 221B Baker Street. That's Holmes' fictitious address in London as well as the name of a café that opened last year in Shanghai's former French Concession.
Christylez Bacon attended the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, a prestigious high school in Washington, D.C. that also counts Dave Chappelle and Meshell Ndegeocello among its alumni. When it came time to write a final paper for his U.S. Government class, he wanted to craft something more reflective of his upbringing in the city's Southeast quadrant — an area hit hard by crime and drugs in the 1980s.
Teenagers put a lot of stock in what their peers are doing, and parents are forever trying to push back against that influence. But with the advent of social media, hanging out with the wrong crowd can include not just classmates, but teenagers thousands of miles away on Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook.
Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 10:55 am
When it's nearly impossible to understand what a band is saying, discerning the message means cues have to come from elsewhere. The Syracuse noise-punk group Perfect Pussy issues maybe five easily discernible lines over the course of its frenetic 23-minute debut album, Say Yes to Love, but the band doesn't lack for conversation-starters.
Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 10:54 am
Back in 2007, Kevin Drew (of Toronto's baroque-pop collective Broken Social Scene) gazed longingly at a woman and pronounced her too beautiful for the carnal escapades swirling inside his brain. That song, "Tbtf," was among the wondrous creations on his solo debut Spirit If — a worship-dream set in a sleek, gliding tempo, and sung in a mood of melancholy wistfulness.
Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 10:56 am
"Under the Pressure," the nine-minute song that kicks off Lost in the Dream, opens with a few seconds of hair-raising electronic ticking and closes with two and a half minutes of full-band, synchronized, undulating feedback. In between, The War on Drugs shows many of the cards in its stacked deck: chugging drums, horn stabs, guitar runs that fly off into the atmosphere, keyboards with a strong melodic gravitational field pulling weight for singer Adam Granduciel's wandering mystic tenor.
Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 10:57 am
In the '90s, Chile experienced an artistic wave as the children of political exiles returning after the fall of dictator Augusto Pinochet brought enormous changes. Of course, waves never come alone: They bring in shells and rocks and souvenirs from faraway lands. The returning children of exiles brought new cultural trinkets with them in the form of music, words and ideas they picked up as their parents roamed the earth, waiting to come back. That wave also brought in hip-hop, and Chile became a hot scene for the genre.
Sheryl Sandberg doesn't like a word a lot of people and parents use to describe little girls.
In an editorial for The Wall Street Journal, she called it "the other B-word." She says as a kid, she didn't really play with other kids, instead the current chief operating officer of Facebook used to organize their play.
Originally published on Mon March 10, 2014 9:51 am
How many times has the average person been greeted with the phrase "long time, no see" after running into an old acquaintance? My guess is plenty. But how and why did such a grammatically awkward phrase become a widely accepted part of American speech?
It turns out there are, at least, two strong possibilities.
In 1966, psychedelic drug advocate and former Harvard professor Timothy Leary appeared on the Merv Griffin Show.
"I'm in the unfortunate situation of being about 20 years ahead of my time," Leary said. When asked how many times he'd taken LSD, he answered 311. The audience gasped.
Leary was fired for experimenting with psychedelics on undergraduates, and before long, LSD was classified as a Schedule I drug, meaning it had "no known medical use." Research on the medical uses of LSD and other psychedelics came to a halt.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has made it a priority to eliminate corruption within the Chinese Communist Party.
"The [Communist Party] desperately wants the appearance of cracking down hard on corruption because they understand that rampant corruption is threatening the party's legitimacy," says Associated Press reporter Gillian Wong.
In a story published Sunday, Wong uncovers how that crackdown on corruption has led to another problem: abuse and torture of party officials.