On July 18, 1863, the Union Army's famed 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry — a black military unit — made a desperate assault on Confederate forces at Fort Wagner near Charleston, S.C. In the end, they were unsuccessful and lost almost half of their forces. Escaped slave-turned-abolitionist Harriet Tubman bore elegiac eyewitness to the terrible day: "We saw the lightning and that was the guns," she said later.
Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 10:57 am
Throughout the Syrian war, President Obama has insisted that President Bashar Assad must go. But now, the U.S. may want, or even need, Assad to remain in power for a while longer so he can oversee the dismantling of his chemical weapons stockpile.
"For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside," Obama said back on Aug. 18, 2011, in his first explicit call for Assad's ouster, something the U.S. president went on to repeat on multiple occasions.
Five hundred and six people were murdered in Chicago last year. It was the kind of news that got John Lippert thinking.
JOHN LIPPERT: I live in Chicago and a lot of what we get is overnight stories saying, you know, three people shot, six people shot, day after day. And I just felt like, okay, well, what does it mean? Where are we going with this?
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning. A report by United Nations' chemical weapons inspectors does not blame Syria's government for last month's chemical weapons attack. The inspectors were not authorized to do that. But they did provide substantial evidence, the most detailed look available, of an August 21 attack that led the United States to threaten military action.
The French novelist Marcel Proust immortalized the connection between food and memory when the narrator of his novel Remembrances of Things Past bit into a madeleine and was transported to thoughts of his childhood.
But what if that madeleine were poisoned, so to speak?
That is the question underlying Russian American writer Anya von Bremzen's new memoir, Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking. Though it contains recipes, this is not a cookbook but rather, a history of a family and of Soviet Russia.
The Japanese city of Narita is best known to the outside world for its major airport that serves Tokyo, the nation's capital city.
Narita is also a rural area of Chiba Prefecture, however, with a long tradition of rice farming.
Toward the end of the summer, Narita's rice farmers gather to pray for bountiful harvests. They dance, play music and ride elaborate festival carts. From afar, the wagons appear to glide through a sea of lush green paddy fields as villagers pull them down Narita's placid country lanes.
How often do whales clean their ears? Well, never. And so, year after year, their earwax builds up, layer upon layer. According to a study published Monday, these columns of earwax contain a record of chemical pollution in the oceans.
The study used the earwax extracted from the carcass of a blue whale that washed ashore on a California beach back in 2007. Scientists at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History collected the wax from inside the skull of the dead whale and preserved it. The column of wax was almost a foot long.
These were the words uttered by painter Jean-Michel Basquiat, who was deeply shaken after he heard the story of a black graffiti artist who was beaten to death by New York City police. Seeing his own life reflected in the death of a fellow artist, Basquiat went on to create Defacement (The Death of Michael Stewart),not only to commemorate the young man's death, but also to challenge the state-sanctioned brutality that men of color could face for pursuing their art in public spaces.
Originally published on Fri October 4, 2013 4:54 pm
Al Jazeera America, the new cable news network owned by the Emirate of Qatar, has been running sponsorship ads on NPR for the last month as part of its launch campaign.
Some listeners are upset, accusing NPR of being unpatriotic or naïve. Some add that it also has been unethical. Three NPR stories about the new English-language channel did not mention the sponsorship. Most of the complaints, recalling the coverage by Al Jazeera's Arabic network of American deaths early in the Iraq war, are obviously heartfelt.
Editor's note: After the crowning of Nina Davuluri as Miss America, we solicited this commentary from writer Anna John, one of the co-founders of the blog Sepia Mutiny. This post includes several embedded tweets that contain explicit language.
Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 10:04 am
Aaron Alexis, the 34-year-old man believed responsible for Monday's shooting rampage that killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard, was a former full-time Navy reservist who had obtained a concealed-carry permit in Texas and was arrested three years ago for illegally discharging a weapon.
Over the last months, we've been reading your comments, tweets and emails about the new NPR.org home page. The shift was a major one, breaking from years of standard newspaper-style site format, and embracing new designs and technologies. We expected strong reactions to the new experience, and we've absolutely received them, both positive and negative.
A line of men in black rain boots push trash carts through the alleys of Lahore, Pakistan. They stop at an open sewer along a neighborhood street and start to pull up shoes, bricks, plates and any other trash that might block the flow of wastewater.
Standing water is a prime breeding ground for mosquitoes. And the local government in Lahore is on a focused mission: Stop the spread of dengue fever by mosquitoes.
You may be hearing a lot about the National Book Awards this week — at least that's what the National Book Foundation hopes. That's because they've made some changes to the awards that they hope will get more people talking about them. Over four days starting Monday, they will roll out their nominees in four different categories — beginning with Young People's Literature and ending Thursday with Fiction.
Originally published on Mon September 16, 2013 5:29 pm
Here at The Salt, we've been following the controversies that surround antibiotic use on the farm. Farmers give these drugs to chickens, swine and beef cattle, either to keep the animals healthy or to make them grow faster. Critics say it's contributing to an epidemic of drug-resistant bacteria not just on the farm, but among people, too.
New U.S. poverty numbers come out on Tuesday. But what, exactly, do those numbers measure?
Consider the case of Ann Valdez. She's a 47-year-old single mom who lives in an apartment in Brooklyn with her teenage son. She doesn't have a job. She gets a cash payment of about $130 every two weeks from the government. That's all that's counted for her income in the government's poverty measure.
It's being called the largest marine salvage operation ever. Off the coast of west Italy, engineers are attempting to rotate the wrecked Costa Concordia cruise liner to an upright position. The massive ship is now clear of the reef that had penetrated the hull. And apparently, no pollutants are spilling from the ship.
NPR's Sylvia Poggioli joins us now from the island of Giglio. And, Sylvia, describe where you are now and whether there's been any visible progress toward riding the ship.