Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.

The Salt
7:16 am
Sat February 18, 2012

At Gates Bar-B-Q, The Ultimate Flavor Lies in Burnt Ends

The brisket and ribs are on the fire at Gates Bar-B-Q for ... as long as it takes.
Tom Bullock NPR

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.

Read more
Education
7:15 am
Sat February 18, 2012

Kansas City's Failed Schools Leave Students Behind

On Jan. 1, the Missouri State School Board revoked the Kansas City public school district's accreditation. Now parents have a hard choice to make: leave or keep their children at a failed school?
Tom Bullock NPR

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.

Read more
The Two-Way
7:14 am
Sat February 18, 2012

Independence Day Parade, Benghazi-Style

Libyan flags fly above the cars lining the streets of Benghazi.
Andy Carvin NPR

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.

Read more
Education
5:30 am
Sat February 18, 2012

In Today's Economy, How Far Can A GED Take You?

In Cleveland, 2010 GED graduates from the Get On Track program parade down the aisle during their commencement. In today's economy, some experts say, the GED may not be enough to provide "gainful employment."
John Kuntz The Plain Dealer/Landov

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.

A Second Chance, But Is It Enough?

Read more
Asia
5:29 am
Sat February 18, 2012

U.S. Not Afraid To Say It: China's The Cyber Bad Guy

Staff members use computers at a press center in Beijing. Security experts say hacking of U.S. computers from China is becoming an increasing problem.
Greg Baker AP

Originally published on Sat February 18, 2012 3:09 pm

American officials have long complained about countries that systematically hack into U.S. computer networks to steal valuable data, but until recently they did not name names.

In the last few months, that has changed. China is now officially one of the cyber bad guys and probably the worst.

Read more
Economy
5:25 am
Sat February 18, 2012

'Made In The USA' Not Enough For Campaign Trail

An employee welds a stainless steel tank at JV Northwest in Camby, Ore. U.S. factories have boosted output, and busier factories are helping drive the U.S. economy.
Rick Bowmer AP

Originally published on Sat February 18, 2012 3:17 pm

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.

Read more
Fine Art
5:24 am
Sat February 18, 2012

6 Miles Of Silver Ribbon: Locals Protest Christo

Artist Christo finances his projects by selling design drawings like this one, a preparatory sketch for the Over the River project on Colorado's Arkansas River.
Wolfgang Volz Copyright Christo 2007

Originally published on Sat February 18, 2012 10:16 am

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."

Read more
Music Interviews
6:46 pm
Fri February 17, 2012

Gretchen Peters: Personal Pain As Universal Truth

Gretchen Peters' new album is Hello Cruel World.
Gina Binkley

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.

Read more
The Two-Way
6:41 pm
Fri February 17, 2012

Let Them Eat Funnel Cake: A Napoleon-Based Theme Park for France

A dark cloud passes over a statue of Napoleon in Vienna.
Joe Klamar AFP/Getty Images

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".

Read more

Pages