Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro has not had a great year. After a winning a disputed election, he faces inflation near 50 percent. Supplies of basic goods like toilet paper have run low. But now Maduro is acting. He created a new Vice Ministry of Supreme Social Happiness. It's supposed to coordinate services for the poor. We do not know of the Happiness Ministry will work but it has given a practical benefit, causing people to laugh.
German officials are scrambling to gather more information and U.S. officials are assessing diplomatic options in the wake of claims that the U.S. National Security Agency has been monitoring German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cellphone for more than a decade. Renee Montagne talks to Tim Naftali of the New America Foundation about America's history of spying and what this recent news means for the U.S. relationship with its European allies.
Dozens of women in Saudi Arabia drove cars Saturday in open protest against the kingdom's ban on women driving. NPR's Deborah Amos, who has been covering the story, speaks with Steve Inskeep about the outcome and implications of the protest.
We're listening now to some of the music of Lou Reed. He died over the weekend at the age of 71. He was in his mid-20s in 1967 when he released this song called "Sunday Morning" on the album "The Velvet Underground and Nico."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SUNDAY MORNING")
LOU REED: (Singing) Early dawnin', Sunday mornin'...
Senators and representative hold budget talks this week, a meeting that should have been routine but was not arranged until after a government shutdown. Now Democrats and Republicans are supposed to set a framework for federal spending, on everything from defense to education to helping seniors.
Ron Brownstein of National Journal says it's going to be hard because of both party's political calculations. He starts us off with Democrats.
NPR's business news starts with a digital cash dispenser.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
INSKEEP: The world's first Bitcoin ATM will be ready for use this week at a coffee shop in Vancouver, Canada. The bitcoin is a digital currency used to purchase products online. Up till now, converting bitcoins to cash has been a complicated process requiring a bank deposit and a few days wait.
Preparing For The Big One, Whisper Campaigns, 'Frankenstein'
In this weekend's podcast of All Things Considered, host Arun Rath explores the power of Hollywood whisper campaigns, learns what some people are doing to prepare for "the big one," and talks to first time composer Alexander Ebert.
Over the past week, prosecutors gave closing arguments in the case against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, two top members of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge regime. Host Arun Rath speaks with journalist Elizabeth Becker about the U.N. tribunal trying the Khmer Rouge members for war crimes. Becker covered the conflict in Cambodia in the 1970s and was one of the few journalists to enter the country while the Khmer Rouge was in power. She is the author of When the War Was Over: Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge Revolution.
Families who can't afford diapers sometimes re-use disposable diapers. That practice leads to many other problems for families living in poverty, according to a Yale study. Host Arun Rath talks with Joanne Goldblum, a social worker and an author of the study. She is also the founder and executive director of the National Diaper Bank Network.
Originally published on Mon October 28, 2013 8:27 am
From the list of things a person with multiple sclerosis can't do, we must erase "skydive onto Mount Everest." That's because Frenchman Marc Kopp, 55, reportedly jumped from an aircraft at an altitude of some 32,000 feet before landing on the mountain this weekend.
Originally published on Sun October 27, 2013 6:16 pm
Several recent cases of suspected kidnapping involving the Roma in Europe have had some some odd but peculiar resonances for 21st-century American life.
In one case, the police received a tip that a blond, blue-eyed girl was living with a Roma family in a Dublin suburb. The tipster believed that the 7-year-old didn't look like the Roma family with whom she lived. The police came and removed the child from the home, despite protests from the Roma family that the child was part of their family.
Originally published on Mon October 28, 2013 3:36 pm
The world is close to eliminating polio once and for all.
Just a few decades ago, polio was crippling more than a thousand children each day. Now the paralyzing virus is endemic to only three countries — Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria. And there were just 223 cases globally last year.
The modest, cream-colored '50s-era chapel that's home to St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church in Houston looks like many other places of worship you might find in urban America. The first clue to a unique tradition here pulls up Sunday afternoon.
The process of cataloging and destroying Syria's chemical weapons stockpile took another stride Sunday, as the country met a deadline for submitting a formal declaration of its chemical arsenal. Weapons experts must also complete their inspection of all 23 storage and production sites today.
Fears of possible listeria contamination are forcing grocery stores in 25 states to pull refrigerated foods from shelves. Taylor Farms of Jessup, Md., is recalling products that include salad kits with packets of dressing due to concerns of a possible contamination, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
NPR's Jim Hawk filed this report for our Newscast unit:
Journalists who were once among the most powerful in the United Kingdom go on trial in London on Monday. The trial is the result of a 2011 hacking scandal that electrified the media on both sides of the Atlantic and sank Rupert Murdoch's News of the World.
The trial is expected to reveal details of the uncomfortably cozy relationship between the media and political elites, says former Murdoch executive Ken Chandler.
George Polk may have been born to make history. He was descended from the American president who led the conquest of Texas and much of the Southwest. But for George Polk, Texas was too small, says his brother William.
In the 1930s, "Texas was a little backwater at the time, and very few people even knew where other countries were — what the names were, what the languages were that were spoken," William Polk says. "And he had a tremendous sense of curiosity."
Originally published on Sat October 26, 2013 9:44 pm
A lawsuit against Egypt's former interim vice president has been dismissed, as a misdemeanor court says there weren't sufficient grounds for a suit against Mohammed ElBaradei to proceed. He had been accused of betraying the national trust.
The lawsuit was filed by a law professor who opposed the rule of President Mohammed Morsi, according to Gulf News. ElBaradei had been a co-leader of the secular National Salvation Front, which supported Morsi's ouster this summer.