The year is 1839, and two great empires — Great Britain and Russia — are treating the world map like a chessboard, trying to outmaneuver one another for territory. For no reason other than geography, Afghanistan gets caught in the middle.
Today, as the U.S. ends its war in Afghanistan, historian William Dalrymple recounts the first time a Western power fought in that country. In Return of a King, Dalrymple details Great Britain's attempt to control Afghanistan by putting an ousted king back on the throne — a plan that went famously wrong.
Curzan explains that in a history of English course she teaches at the University of Michigan, she requires students to teach her slang terms. This semester, students stunned her with a brand new conjunction.
Originally published on Thu April 25, 2013 11:56 am
During the steady stream of breaking news last week, NPR News staff were mid-move to our new headquarters. Divided between two buildings, the news desks and shows reported hours of live coverage without missing a beat. Their work helped inform people across the country not only on air but on television screens as well.
Originally published on Wed April 24, 2013 4:02 pm
Between 1998 and 2004, Lance Armstrong's cycling team paid him nearly $18 million. Most of the team's money came from sponsorship fees paid by the U.S. Postal Service.
Because Armstrong used a bunch of banned, performance-enhancing drugs during that time, the USPS didn't get its money's worth out of the sponsorship — and Armstrong was "unduly enriched at the expense of the United States," according to a complaint the Department of Justice filed this week in federal court.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the final cases of the term, which began last October and is expected to end in late June after high-profile rulings on gay marriage, affirmative action and the Voting Rights Act.
Audio from Wednesday's arguments will be available at week's end at the court's website, but that's a relatively new development at an institution that has historically been somewhat shuttered from public view.
Up until now, pipelines that carry tar sands oil have been treated just like pipelines that carry any other oil. But the Environmental Protection Agency now says that should change. That's because when tar sands oil spills, it can be next to impossible to clean up.
The agency made this argument in its evaluation of the State Department's environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline project, which, if approved, would carry heavy crude from Alberta, Canada, to refineries in the United States.
Originally published on Fri April 26, 2013 2:33 pm
President Obama on Friday became the first sitting president to address Planned Parenthood's annual meeting, delivering a strongly worded speech defending the embattled organization.
"We shouldn't have to remind people that when it comes to women's health, no politician should get to decide what's best for you," said Obama, who was greeted by sustained applause when he took the stage.
Originally published on Thu April 25, 2013 3:39 pm
What is going on in Wisconsin?
A new study from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee that looked at the prison population there found that the state has the highest percentage of incarcerated black men in the country. About 1 in 8 black men of working age (13 percent) are in state prisons or jails. The national average is 6.7 percent.
According to census figures, African-Americans make up 6.5 percent of the state's population.
Originally published on Wed April 24, 2013 11:18 am
Writer Joel Arnold is surveying the scene at the Tribeca Film Festival, which runs in New York City through April 28. He'll be filing occasional dispatches for Monkey See.
At Tribeca over the weekend, I was initially reluctant to seek out The Kill Team, a documentary focused on American soldiers charged in the 2010 murders of three Afghan civilians — this, after a week when senseless violence felt especially close to home.