This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. The number of people applying for unemployment benefits has been dropping around the country as the new year begins. Companies are laying off fewer workers, and hiring may be picking up. The U.S. Labor Department reported yesterday that the unemployment rate is now 8.5 percent, the lowest level in almost three years.
This is Weekend Edition from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.
Shakespeare's Iago is one of the great defining villains of literature. He masquerades as a friend, and that disguises his schemes to manipulate, betray and destroy. He fools Othello into believing that his wife is betraying him - she's not - then manipulates his old friend and commander into having her killed in a fit of engineered jealousy.
The honey bee population of North America is in decline. That fact has even acquired an acronym, CCD, Colony Collapse Disorder. A number of theories have been advanced as to why honey bees are dwindling, including viruses, mites and various fungi.
This week, researchers at San Francisco State University published a paper with a finding that bees on their own campus have been invaded by parasitic flies, who lay their eggs in the bees abdomen which causes the bees to become disoriented - falling down drunk disoriented.
Eleven-year-old Gloriana Hamphill, known as Glory, feels like she's about to have the worst summer of her life. It's 1964 in Hanging Moss, Miss., a year that will teach her about bigotry, loyalty and bravery. Former librarian Augusta Scattergood talks with host Scott Simon about her first young adult fiction novel,Glory Be.
Now the story about one woman's effort to bring attention to the invisible wounds of war. The playwright Kate Wenner says she was stunned by investigations that showed thousands of U.S. troops were coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan with traumatic brain injuries and didn't receive the help they need. So Ms. Wenner decided to raise awareness through art. She's written a play about troops with traumatic brain injuries.
NPR's Daniel Zwerdling went to a production and has this report.
Iowa and New Hampshire are not demographic snapshots of America. They are smaller, less diverse and more rural than California, New York or Illinois, which have a lot more votes.
But Iowa and New Hampshire win a lot of attention early in an election year. As an old political columnist, now departed, once told me over the din of clinking cups in an Iowa diner, "If the first presidential caucuses were in Hawaii, congress would give federal subsidies to make gasoline out of pineapples."
Elizabeth McGovern is back — though she was never really gone. She just moved across the pond.
She was 19 when a star — hers — was born, after she played the love interest in Robert Redford's film Ordinary People. She went on to co-star with some of Hollywood's leading men, including Robert De Niro, Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, and landed an Oscar nomination for Milos Forman's big-budget film Ragtime.
But in the early '90s, McGovern married a British guy and gave up Hollywood for London. She raised a family and developed a British acting career.
For the past several years, a group of friends has gathered every week in the living room of a suburban home in Logan, Utah, to sing long-forgotten songs. It's a fun way to spend the evening, but it's also therapy for a dear friend.
Until several years ago, Barre Toelken was a folklorist at Utah State University. He'd spent much of his life preserving sea shanties and other antique songs, but then he had a stroke and was forced to retire.
"I used to know 800 songs," Toelken says. "I had this stroke, and I had none of these songs left in my head. None of them were left."
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Jackie Lyden. In Syria yesterday, activists on called on people to come out in force to show visiting monitors from the Arab League the depth of opposition to President Bashar al Assad's regime. They say hundreds of thousands of people responded despite the presence of security forces. Nearly two dozen people were reportedly killed. This adds to the 5,000 people the UN says have died in the popular uprising since it began in March.