In his slim but beguiling novel Equilateral, Ken Kalfus places us inside the heads of his characters with such deftness that the line between what is true and what they believe to be true fades to obscurity. It's no coincidence that the heads in question belong to scientists who pride themselves on their evidence-based worldview; Kalfus delights in having readers continually gauge and recalibrate the distance between the world and his characters' seemingly objective observations of it.
OK, Venezuela's presidential election is not precisely tied, but remains in dispute. The government declared Nicolas Maduro the winner on Sunday night. He's the man picked by the late President Hugo Chavez to become his successor. Opposition candidate Henrique Capriles is challenging his narrow defeat, less than a percentage point, and Capriles' supporters clashed with police yesterday.
NPR's Juan Forero is on the line from Caracas. And, Juan, what is the opposition case here that something was wrong with the election?
NPR's business news begins with gold losing some of its glitter.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
INSKEEP: The explosions in Boston and a report showing China's economy to be slowing caused upheaval in many markets yesterday. But gold took the spotlight when its price dropped by more than 9 percent by the end of trading. This is the sharpest daily decline in the gold price in 30 years. Analysts say it suggests investors are losing faith in the precious metal as a safe haven.
In The Dispensable Nation: American Foreign Policy In Retreat, former State Department adviser Vali Nasr describes veteran diplomat Richard Holbrooke being all but frozen out by President Obama's inner circle, for whom Nasr believes diplomacy was a "lost art."
Instead of engaging civilians to find political solutions in Afghanistan and beyond, they would look first to the military and intelligence agencies for solutions that were politically popular — that includes getting U.S. troops out of Afghanistan.
Literary magazine Granta has just released its latest Best of Young British Novelists issue. It's a hefty volume that comes out only once a decade, so making the cut is a major feat, putting its chosen in the company of modern literary legends like Salman Rushdie and David Mitchell.
Each year, the town of Verona, Italy — home of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet — receives thousands of letters of heartache and unrequited love addressed to the play's star-crossed heroine.
The tradition of sending letters to Juliet very likely goes back centuries. People started by leaving notes on a local landmark said to be Juliet's tomb. Later, many started sending mail directly to the city. By the 1990s, Verona was receiving so many letters, it created an office to deal with it. And each letter — the Juliet Club office gets more than 6,000 a year — is answered by hand.
Originally published on Tue April 16, 2013 5:21 am
Even as the shock and horror of the deadly explosions at the Boston Marathon had yet to subside Monday, people were turning to online tools to check on the safety of their friends and family who were at the event. The latest estimates of the casualties include more than 3 dozen people injured, with two dead.
As has been the case in previous calamities, Google and the Red Cross helped to connect people with runners, spectators, and volunteers who were at the race.
Good afternoon, everybody. Earlier today, I was briefed by my homeland security team on the events in Boston. We're continuing to monitor and respond to the situation as it unfolds. And I've directed the full resources of the federal government to help state and local authorities protect our people, increase security around the United States as necessary, and investigate what happened.
Originally published on Tue April 16, 2013 5:21 am
During a short statement to the country, President Obama promised to find out who perpetrated a bombing attack at the Boston Marathon this afternoon.
"We still do not know who did this or why," Obama said. "And people shouldn't jump to conclusions before we have all the facts. But make no mistake — we will get to the bottom of this. And we will find out who did this; we'll find out why they did this. Any responsible individuals, any responsible groups will feel the full weight of justice."
Obama also offered Boston the full support of the American government.
Originally published on Mon April 15, 2013 7:36 pm
Once every decade, the literary magazine Granta publishes an issue called "Best of Young British Novelists," with short excerpts from the novels of 20 emerging authors. In the past, the list of names has proved unusually prescient, with authors such as Salman Rushdie, Martin Amis and Zadie Smith featured before they were widely read.
Originally published on Tue April 16, 2013 9:33 am
People near the finish line of the Boston Marathon described horrific scenes of the chaos that followed two loud explosions in quick succession this afternoon, sending spectators rushing away from the scene in panic as others lay bloodied and wounded on the ground.
One witness, Aaron Michael told member station WGBH that he heard first one explosion and then another.
Originally published on Mon April 15, 2013 6:16 pm
Texas homebuilder Bob Perry was a behind-the-scenes political player who helped bankroll the Mitt Romney campaign last year, and who even before the era of superPACs spent tens of millions of dollars to influence the nation's politics.
Originally published on Mon April 15, 2013 5:06 pm
Is small-batch hard apple cider the next microbrew? It seems everybody and their brother is experimenting with ways to make the potent stuff profitable. Sales of domestically produced hard cider have more than tripled since 2007, according to beverage industry analysts — and that's not counting Europe, where it has held a steady popularity for centuries.
The explosions happened in quick succession four hours after the beginning of the race, the world's oldest and one of the most prestigious road races in the world. At that point, the majority of 27,000 runners had crossed the finish line. Thousands, however, were still out on the course.