We all know what happens when individuals stop paying their bills: angry letters, pestering phone calls and possibly getting property repossessed. In the end, there's you might declare bankruptcy and start again. That's how it works for a person up to his eyeballs in debt, but how does it work for an entire country?
Harvard economist Ken Rogoff says that it's not unusual for countries to go into default. In fact, he says it's happened hundreds of times.
Orlando "Zeus" Brown, an offensive lineman for the Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Ravens, was found dead late last month in his Baltimore apartment. The cause: diabetic ketoacidosis, common among those with diabetes.
Brown was 6 feet 7 inches tall and 360 pounds when he played in the NFL. That may sound like a lot for a football player, but it's not uncommon among today's offensive and defensive lineman, who rarely weigh less than 300 pounds.
When a loved one dies and is cremated, family members face a tough decision on what do with the ashes. Some want the final resting place to be spectacular — spread in the Grand Canyon, launched into space, sprinkled in Times Square; others just keep Aunt Jane's remains in an urn at home.
"The ashes get put on the mantel, stay there for a couple of years, and then a couple of years later, they get put in the attic," says Thad Holmes. "A few years later, the house gets sold and, 'Oh gosh, we forgot the ashes!'"
Clashes between Coptic Christian protesters and the Egyptian military in Cairo on Sunday left at least 19 people dead and more than 100 wounded, according to official counts. The violence erupted after the Christians were marching to protest what they claim was an attack on a church in southern Egypt by radical Muslims.
Here's a partial list of things that happened in 1876:
It was, of course, the nation's 100th birthday. George Armstrong Custer met his fate at the Battle of Little Bighorn. Alexander Graham Bell made the first phone call. A giant squid, 18 feet long, washed up on a beach in Newfoundland.
And James Boyle's great-great-grandmother grew a very special cucumber in her Illinois garden. She put the sprouting vine in an old medicine bottle, so the cucumber grew inside it.
Massive clashes that drew in Christians angry over a recent church attack, Muslims, and Egyptian security forces raged over a large section of downtown Cairo Sunday night, leaving at least 19 people dead and more than 150 injured, Health Ministry officials said. It was the worst violence since the 18-day uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak in February.
And not just any dessert ... the oldest dessert in New York City. No, not those rock-hard doughnuts from the corner coffee cart. We're talking about the kinds of sweets people would have been eating 500, 1,000, even 2,000 years ago.
From presidential palace to people's market — in Libya, Moammar Gadhafi's compound in the heart of Tripoli has been put to new use, as NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro explains in this Reporter's Notebook.
For most Libyans, Bab al-Azizia was the most foreboding address in the country. Moammar Gadhafi gave some of his most defiant speeches from the sprawling compound in Tripoli.
In 1977, the family of retired autoworker John Demjanjuk was astounded when he was accused of having been a guard known as "Ivan the Terrible" at a Nazi death camp in World War II. His case was considered the last of the Nazi war crimes trials, but this week, prosecutors in Germany said they were reopening hundreds of investigations. Host Audie Cornish talks with historian Deborah Lipstadt about how that might play out.
Syria on Friday issued a warning to other countries in the world not to recognize the newly-formed Syrian National Council. For the last seven months, protesters have been trying to force changes in the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. So far Assad has resisted change, often forcefully. NPR's Deborah Amos was given rare permission to visit the Syrian capital of Damascus this week, and updates host Audie Cornish on the state of the uprising.
Longtime Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis, whose maverick style had a huge impact on professional football, has died. The 82-year-old saw his team win three Super Bowls. His independent streak was both admired and excoriated, but stubbornness in his later years was blamed for the team's struggles. NPR's Allison Keyes has this remembrance.
AUDIE CORNISH, host: And now I'm joined by Mara Liasson, NPR's national political correspondent. Hi there, Mara.
MARA LIASSON: Hi, Audie.
CORNISH: So, as we just heard, a new controversy for Rick Perry this weekend, after evangelical leader Robert Jeffress, who's a Perry supporter, said that Mormonism is a cult. And he did this when he was speaking with reporters at the Values Voter Summit. First, let me just play a clip of that tape.
A former longtime employee of the National Archives pleaded guilty this week to stealing almost a thousand audio recordings belonging to the federal government. The stolen goods range from radio episodes of Dragnet and Gunsmoke to a 1937 recording of Babe Ruth hunting. Host Audie Cornish has the story.
Lately, for-profit colleges like DeVry, Kaplan and the University of Phoenix have been subject to scrutiny and new regulations for allegedly deceptive recruiting tactics and the high number of federal loan defaults among their students. Host Audie Cornish talks to Christopher Beha, who discreetly enrolled as a student at the University of Phoenix, and wrote about it in a piece in this month's issue of Harper's Magazine.
Roughly 80 people, most of them Spanish-speaking women and children, packed the media center of Tarrant Elementary School, just north of Birmingham, Ala., recently. Considering the number of kids in the room and spilling out into the hallways, there was surprisingly little noise.
It was a "Know Your Rights" meeting, meant to calm fears and familiarize families with their legal rights in light of Alabama's tough new immigration law.
Supreme Court Justices Stephen Breyer (left) and Antonin Scalia testify during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday. The justices showed that while they are legal opposites, they are by no means opponents.
In a rare moment, two Supreme Court justices appeared before a Senate committee on Wednesday for a hearing about the role of judges under the U.S. Constitution. Among the topics of discussion was the granddaddy of all legal debates: how to interpret the Constitution.
Justice Antonin Scalia is a staunch conservative, what he calls an "originalist." He believes judges should determine the framers' original intent in the words of the constitution, and hew strictly to it.
We often speak about the immigration debate in terms of justice, rights and the protection of our borders, but there's a business story to be told as well. The question is: can the U.S. economy really function without undocumented workers?
By the late 1960s, classic horror movies pioneered by Vincent Price and Boris Karloff had run out of steam. What took their place in the period after that was something different, edgier and altogether more terrifying.
"To some extent you could say that modern horror started with the Universal classics, but I do think there is this significant turning point starting in 1968," says Jason Zinoman, author of the new book Shock Value: How a Few Eccentric Outsiders Gave Us Nightmares, Conquered Hollywood, and Invented Modern Horror.
It's day two of the Values Voters Summit in Washington, D.C. Weekends on All Things Considered guest host Robert Smith talks with NPR's Don Gonyea about the surprising results of a straw poll there today: Ron Paul won big, Herman Cain was a strong second, and Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and Mitt Romney trailed badly.
Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis died today at age 82. Davis was a legend in the football world and was largely responsible for building the Raiders into a three-time Super Bowl champion. Weekends on All Things Considered guest host Robert Smith Robert Smith talks to sportswriter Peter Richmond, author of the book "Badasses: The Legend of Snake, Foo, Dr. Death, and John Madden's Oakland Raiders."