The jury has begun deliberations in the federal corruption trial of former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. Nagin is accused of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars from businessmen in exchange for steering city business their way after Hurricane Katrina. NPR's Debbie Elliott was in court on Monday and speaks to host Robert Siegel about the day's developments.
Many governors are looking to use their budget surpluses to cut taxes or restore funding to programs that were slashed during lean times. But in an election year, these surpluses are setting up potential political battles.
Why was Marius, a healthy 18-month-old giraffe, killed on Sunday at the Copenhagen Zoo? Employees say it's because Marius had genes too similar to other giraffes and was killed to avoid inbreeding. But the act has caused an uproar on social media and among animal activists. Robert Siegel talks to Bengt Holst, the scientific director at the Copenhagen Zoo, about the decision to put the giraffe down.
Former University of Missouri football player Michael Sam revealed over the weekend that he is gay. Sam, an All-American defensive lineman, may become the first openly gay player in the history of the NFL if he is selected in this year's draft. Since he made his announcement, reactions have streamed in from every corner of the football world.
Former University of Missouri defensive end Michael Sam announced over the weekend that he was gay. Sam, who likely will soon enter the upcoming NFL draft, may become the first openly gay player ever in the NFL. Melissa Block gets the story behind Sam's decision from Cyd Zeigler, the editor and co-founder of OutSports, a sports news website that is dedicated to covering lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender athletes.
Melissa Block speaks with Sam Dagher of The Wall Street Journal about the latest developments in the Syrian city of Homs. A temporary humanitarian cease-fire has been extended for three more days since the U.N.-brokered deal took effect Friday. Hundreds of civilians have been evacuated from Homs' Old City, a rebel-held territory that has been under siege by government forces for more than a year.
The Egyptian security forces have targeted the Muslim Brotherhood, which is now classified as a terrorist group. But the crackdown has gone well beyond the one Islamist organization and now encompasses most everyone voicing dissent.
For 44 years, British author Penelope Lively has been publishing children's books, short stories and novels. Her latest book, Dancing Fish and Ammonites, is subtitled "A Memoir," but critic Ellah Allfrey says it is "more a collection of thoughts, a scattering of advice and a reading list to treasure."
The winter weather in Britain is even worse than people expected this year. For more than a month now, the British Isles have been battered with storms that have destroyed train tracks, blocked roads and flooded large parts of the country. And as NPR's Ari Shapiro reports from London, there's no end in sight to the dismal weather.
Much of the attention on the Olympic slopestyle events has focused on snowboarders, but the downhill event is also done on skis. Devin Logan enters Tuesday's competition as the world's top-ranked female freestyle skier. And at 20, she'll compete before she can legally celebrate with a beer.
Several members of Congress are convening a field hearing on January's toxic water crisis in West Virginia, gathering in Charleston to listen to officials testify about the safety of the water. While officials testified that the water was now suitable for drinking and bathing, there is one word nobody would use to describe the water: safe.
A month after a major chemical spill in West Virginia, Melissa Block talks to Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller about clean-up efforts in his state, as well as legislation he has introduced in order to prevent future spills.
As political sparring has gotten increasingly nasty in Israel, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has found himself caught in the crossfire for his role in the peace talks. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki points to this criticism as a sign that Israeli and Palestinian sides are getting down to the painful details. Neither side wants to be labeled as the one to end negotiations, but outsiders are nevertheless striving to exert diplomatic and financial pressure in order to ensure talks continue. Some say that this pressure alone may get a framework for peace signed.
The Obama administration is again delaying the part of the Affordable Care Act that mandates many employers to provide workers with health insurance or face potential penalties. This time, it has announced that smaller employers — those with fewer than 100 workers — can get an yearlong delay before facing requirements if they ask for it.
Ole Einar Bjoerndalen is a biathlete competing for a record 13th medal — which would make him the most decorated athlete ever at the Winter Games. No one has ever been so good for so long in his sport. "He's 40 years old, and he's motivated like an 18-year-old," says one expert.
Joaquin Phoenix stars in the film Her, in which his character falls in love with an operating system. Will artificial intelligence evolve to that point? Apple's computerized assistant Siri clearly isn't there yet. This is what else needs to happen before we get there.
Nathan Matias is not a poet — at least, not in the conventional sense of the word. Rather, he's a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has written a Shakespearean sonnet using a computer program. Matias' program used predictive language, limited only to word choices made by William Shakespeare, to produce an entirely new poem in the voice of the Bard. He joins us to talk about his process and beautiful product.
Many Alaskans are watching the lower 48 suffer through the cold and snowy winter with one reaction: envy. That's because Alaska is enduring the opposite, facing record high temperatures and extremely low snow totals. Alaska Public Radio Network's Annie Feidt reports that the unusual weather has made it difficult for residents to enjoy the winter sports, like skiing, that are popular in the state.
As an acoustic engineer, Trevor Cox has spent most of his career getting rid of bizarre, unwanted sounds. But in The Sound Book, Cox turns up the volume on those sonic oddities. The book explores weird echoes and unexpected noises from around the globe — including "whisper galleries" and a chirping pyramid.