Many lives are being turned completely upside down by the eurozone crisis. That's especially true in Ireland, where they're still clearing up the mess left when the property bubble burst. Thousands of homes lie empty and unsold. And as NPR's Philip Reeves reports, some people have been left with colossal debts.
PHILIP REEVES, BYLINE: Step, for a minute, into the strange world of Jill Godsil. She lives among the farms and villages and rolling hills of Ireland's Wicklow County. The countryside's spectacular.
As Phil reported, things are still pretty tough for the people of Ireland, but there's one man who thinks things there will start to look up before too long. He's prepared to put money on it, billions in fact.
Michael Hasenstab is what's known as a contrarian investor. He's just about the only person prepared to bet that Ireland's fortunes will greatly improve over the next couple of years. Michael Hasenstab joins us from Templeton Investments in San Mateo, California.
It's the beginning of the beginning of baseball season, and two major thumpers have jumped leagues. Plus, basketball makes it to a midpoint, and suddenly you have to ask: Who's really the best team in Los Angeles? Host Scott Simon talks with ESPN's Howard Bryant about the sports of the week.
Throughout this last week while the Chinese vice president was visiting the United States, there was a lot of talk about America and American business finding new opportunities in China, selling more to Chinese consumers instead of just buying so much from the world's second largest economy. Many Americans also see China as an unstoppable economic force that's surpassing the United States. But how does all this look from China? We're going to now to NPR's Shanghai correspondent, Frank Langfitt. Frank, thanks for being with us.
That Michigan primary is just in 10 days and the contest there is turning to be closer than expected. Mitt Romney grew up in Michigan. His father, George Romney, ran a car company there. He was the governor. But Santorum has come on strong and even ahead in current polls. We're joined now by another son of Michigan, NPR's Don Gonyea, live in our studio, who spent the week in his home state. Thanks very much for being with us, Don.
There's an article by three British scientists in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters that says, in part: A general continuum theory for the distribution of hairs in a bundle is developed treating individual fibers as elastic filaments with random intrinsic curvatures, applying this formalism to the iconic problem of the ponytail. The iconic problems of the ponytail? Where's the problem? Who better to explain than our math guy, Keith Devlin of Stanford University?
The Greek economy continues to suffer. It's been another painful week for that country starting Sunday when thousands of people demonstrated outside of parliament, and rioters torched buildings in Athens. Greek lawmakers passed harsh new austerity measures despite those protests, and still, Greece's European partners refused to approve the new bailout that the Greeks need to avoid default. NPR's Eric Westervelt reports what EU finance ministers will be considering when they meet again on Monday.
The best bobsled racers in the world are in Lake Placid, New York this weekend, competing in the World Championships. There's big drama this year for the American team. After capturing a historic gold medal two years ago at the winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, the U.S. has struggled, and lost ground to the Europeans. As North Country Public Radio's Brian Mann reports, American sledders hope to prove on their home track that they can still compete.
Originally published on Fri February 24, 2012 11:54 am
How do you know you're in Kansas City, Missouri? Follow the smoke, and listen for this:
"Hi, may I help you?"
At the famed Gates Bar-B-Q in Kansas City, "May I help you?" is a kind of mantra.
It's how people standing in front of the barbecue pits greet all who walk in the door, while ribs, brisket, turkey, and for all I know, pillow stuffing sizzle, pop, and get saturated with smoke and the signature sauce of Ollie Gates, the barbecue master.
On a recent wintry day, Kansas City eighth-grader Yak Nak sat before a Missouri state Senate committee. He was there to tell lawmakers why his family had sacrificed to send him to a parochial school.
"Even though it was a struggle for my family, the reputation of the public schools in my area was not as good as my parents would have hoped," he said. "They knew there was no time to waste when dealing with young minds, and education was more valuable than any money they could save."
Consider this: Yak Nak and his family are refugees from Sudan.
Originally published on Sun February 19, 2012 10:04 am
Stepping out of my hotel on Friday evening, I could see cars backed up for miles, stretching all the way around the Benghazi's biggest lake, not far from the shores of the Mediterranean.
Horns blared in every direction, but not just car horns: bull horns, oo-gahhorns, vuvuzelas, aerosol-powered horns, even a bagpipe or two. The air smelled of exhaust, gasoline and the occasional whiff of hash. It was a cacophonous mess, overwhelming, painful to the ears, joyful, extraordinary.
Every year, roughly 750,000 high school dropouts try to improve their educational and employment prospects by taking the General Educational Development test, or GED, long considered to be the equivalent of a high school diploma.
The latest research, however, shows that people with GEDs are, in fact, no better off than dropouts when it comes to their chances of getting a good job.
This is raising lots of questions, especially in school districts with high dropout rates and rising GED enrollments.
Hourly workers at General Motors will soon be getting profit-sharing checks of up to $7,000 each after the automaker reported record earnings this week. President Obama may also get a political dividend, two and a half years after a government-engineered turnaround.
Obama reminded a group of United Auto Worker members this week that, back in 2009, his rescue of GM and Chrysler had plenty of critics.
Bighorn Sheep Canyon in Colorado holds a chuckling ribbon of water, with a highway running alongside. Artist Christo wants to drape sections of it — almost 6 miles' worth — with long, billowing panels of silvery fabric.
"The silver-color fabric panel will absorb the color," he says. "In the morning, it will become rosy, in the middle of the day, platinum, and [during] the sunset, the fabric will become golden."
Country Music Award winner Gretchen Peters had an eventful 2010: The BP oil spill washed up on her doorstep, a good friend committed suicide, and her son announced that he's transgender. The last of those in particular, she says, got her thinking about personal conflict.
No celebrity can be truly world renown unless they have their own theme park. Mickey Mouse and Disney have theirs. Now, Napoleon might get his chance too.
Christian Mantei the head of Atout France, the tourism group supporting the endeavor, once told the The Economist that "bosses at Disneyland Paris once said that only Napoleon had the stature to take on Mickey Mouse".
Roberta Flack has been singing in a way that plucks at the heartstrings since 1969, when she recorded the breakthrough song "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face." She followed that hit with many, many more, including, "Killing Me Softly with His Song," "Where Is the Love" and "The Closer I Get to You."
As he had promised, N.J. Gov. Chris Christie conditionally vetoed a bill that would have allowed gay marriage in his state.
The governor issued his veto just a day after the state's legislature passed the bill. According to The Star-Ledger, Christie said that he was, however, appointing an "ombudsman to address complaints of same-sex couples and strengthen New Jersey's civil union's law."