Not only are Chicago's schools troubled, the city's homicide rate spiked last year to its highest point in 10 years. Unemployment is 9 percent. And the city's deficit is looming near the $1 billion mark. That's just the short list of urgent problems facing Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Journalist Kevin Sites reported from Afghanistan when the United States invaded in 2001, and he has been back a handful of times. With U.S. and NATO troops scheduled to withdraw next year, Sites calls the American legacy "a paradox." While many Afghans appreciate improvements in infrastructure facilitated by the U.S., the people running the government are "still the warlords," says Sites.
While the NFL has been under a microscope for its handling of head injuries, professional hockey also has been dealing with high-profile concussions. Perhaps the league's best player, Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins, has missed large stretches of play after concussions. And this year, the season's first eight days left three players sidelined with concussions. The Mayo Clinic's Aynsley Smith discusses head injuries and hockey, including the role that fist fighting plays in the professional ranks.
In this curious base ball league, the umpire wears a top hat and the players drink water out of pewter mugs. The rules and equipment follow 19th-century protocol. A history-lover's dream, the games take place on a farm, evoking the sport's pastoral early years.
A new website devoted to pop cultural references to 4 a.m. is itself gaining a bit of pop culture status. John Rives, who created the site and calls himself an expert on the "worst possible hour" of the day, tells NPR that even Shakespeare invoked 4 a.m. (in four different plays).
Anna Holmes didn't see much reality in beauty magazines, so she started the website Jezebel — a women's mag "without the airbrushing." Now, she's the editor of an illustrated encyclopedia that takes a look at the world according to women.
This coming week, Disney Hall celebrates its 10th anniversary. NPR's Arun Rath speaks with conductor and music director Gustavo Dudamel, as well as other figures from the Los Angeles classical scene, about the highlights since then.