The U.S. economy gained just 74,000 jobs in December, according to a disappointing report released by the Labor Department on Friday. Economists had been expecting nearly three times as many jobs. At the same time, the unemployment rate fell slightly, to 6.7 percent. It's not that more jobs were created, though — many of the long-term unemployed just stopped looking.
On the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson's "War on Poverty" speech, the clash between Republicans and Democrats on how to alleviate poverty has come front and center. Republicans insist that anti-poverty programs have failed; Democrats say they have worked and should be expanded.
Dennis Rodman took a team of former NBA players to North Korea to celebrate leader Kim Jong Un's birthday. NPR's Scott Simon likes the flamboyant and frank Rodman, but wonders if his tour amounts to sports diplomacy or propaganda for the North Korean regime.
The former prime minister, who had been in a coma after suffering a massive stroke in 2006, died on Saturday. Sharon's career spanned the birth of the nation and most of its essential turning points. Israelis had a love-hate relationship with him that was beginning to soften only shortly before his death.
Wearable devices were all the rage at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, from smart watches to Google Glass. NPR's Scott Simon talks to artist Neil Harbisson, who has gone beyond wearable technology and calls himself a cyborg. Harbisson considers the device he wears to correct color blindness to be an integral part of his body.
Think you have a long commute? Well it's probably nothing compared to the red-necked phalarope's. NPR's Scott Simon talks to Malcie Smith of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds about their record-breaking migration and how scientists tracked the tiny birds.
When the bathroom building went up behind a small Louisiana church in 1959, the doors were painted different colors. Ushers would follow black parishioners outside to make sure they entered the correct door. The once-segregated bathroom recently became part of a discussion of racism, a from-the-pulpit apology, and a demolition.
E.L. Doctorow's new novel goes inside the brain of a neuroscientist trying to outrun his memories of disaster and the daughter he gave up. He tells NPR's Scott Simon that Andrew's Brain was inspired by his own memories, and by a recurring idea of a little girl hiding her colored-pencil drawings from adult eyes.
Playwright Tracy Letts won the Pulitzer Prize for August: Osage County, a story of secrets and family dysfunction. Now it's been released as a film, for which Letts wrote the screenplay. The story and its characters came from his own experiences, Letts says.
In the 50 years since the Surgeon General's landmark report on smoking, what's worked to convince people not to smoke, and what hasn't? NPR's Scott Simon talks with Kenneth Warner, professor of public health at the University of Michigan, about cigarette consumption before and after the report.
Nearly 20 percent of Americans still smoke, in spite of what we know about the dangers. Part of the reason is the allure of a cigarette, so elemental to classic scenes in movies, television shows and books. NPR's Scott Simon speaks with Richard Klein, author of Cigarettes are Sublime, about smoking and American culture.
Israel's former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who suffered a devastating stroke in 2006 at the height of his political power, died Saturday after spending eight years in a coma. NPR's Scott Simon remembers Sharon with former ambassador Dennis Ross, who has played a leading role in shaping U.S. policy on Israel.
The al-Qaida-linked Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has played a key role in the war against Syria's government but now faces a major onslaught from other rebel forces. ISIS militants are also under fire in neighboring Iraq. NPR's Scott Simon and correspondent Deb Amos discuss how ISIS arose and what it wants to achieve.
In Duty, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates writes that the Obama team was always "suspicious" of the military and never trusted senior leaders. The memoir is a case study in a long-standing cultural divide between the White House and the military.
In an effort to save a tiny 1920s Sears kit house from demolition, architects are offering it free to anyone who can move it to another property. Current owners of the Arlington, Va., plot want to build a bigger home where the kit house stands.
Saturday's NFL playoffs pits Tom Brady's Patriots against the Colts and the Seahawks against the Saints. Over on the other side of the world, will Serena serve herself into history — again? NPR's Scott Simon talks with Howard Bryant of ESPN.com and ESPN the Magazine, about the sports stories of the week and sports to come.
Laurie Halse Anderson's latest young adult novel, The Impossible Knife of Memory, follows 15-year-old Hayley and her dad, who suffers from PTSD after serving in Iraq. Anderson says the book draws on her own experience of growing up with a World War II veteran father who still struggles with his war memories.
The composer and bandleader made his first recordings in the late 1940s. In the decades since, Heath has played with and written for everyone from Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie to Miles Davis and Milt Jackson.
The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas closed on Friday. Visitors were treated to more than 20,000 new products, with everything from Internet-connected clothing to giant television screens. NPR's Scott Simon speaks with reporter Steve Henn about some of the gadgets on the horizon.