In Pakistan, there's a cafe called the Second Floor. It's listed in a local Karachi social blog as one of the coolest cafes in town. Since it opened its doors five years ago, it's become a haven in a city more known for its violence than its civil discourse. NPR's Dina Temple-Raston paid a visit.
DINA TEMPLE-RASTON, BYLINE: The artwork on the front stoop of the Second Floor Cafe in Karachi says it all.
SABEEN MAHMUD: I wanted something right at the entrance...
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At a news conference earlier this week, President Obama tried to put pressure on Republicans and federal budget negotiations. The president said he would not accept spending cuts from Republicans without some tax increases. Then he used a phrase that raised a few eyebrows.
It's hard to tell whether the ongoing conflict in Eastern Congo is a battle between rival ethnic groups or a fight for resources. There are so many militant groups in Eastern Congo with so many shifting alliances and demands. But a tiny ethnic minority in Congo has been at the center of this conflict for the past 20 years. NPR's Gregory Warner tells their story from the Eastern Congoli city of Goma.
The Death of Bees is a story about two young girls living in a Glasgow, Scotland, housing project. And if you believe the first sentences of a novel are often the most difficult to write, try this beginning paragraph:
"Today is Christmas Eve. Today is my birthday. Today I am fifteen. Today I buried my parents in the backyard.
Illinois' pension-fund shortfall is by far the largest in the nation, and the clock is ticking for the state's governor and lawmakers to tackle the problem before a new Legislature is sworn in next week. So far, their proposals have stoked frustration from state employees and retirees.
On the tough side of Terpsichore Street in New Orleans stands a duplex — a two-story, wood-framed building with wood floors, high ceilings and a nice fireplace. But this old house is empty: no furniture, no walls, no electricity, no toilet. Iron bars hide the windows; there's a lockbox on the door. The facade is three different shades of blecch, blurgh and blah.
For some, bringing in the new year means praying for good things to come. Kristina Olsen ponders the reasons for prayer in her song, "Prayer Flags." She tells the story behind it in the latest edition of What's in a Song, a series from the Western Folklife Center.