In certain writers, the sense of profound moral inquiry is like a bell tower in a country church: You can see it from a long way off, and even when it's not making a sound, you can hear its reverberation. William T. Vollmann's work is like that: Regardless of his subject, he writes from a place of grave moral seriousness. In his masterpiece, the 2005 novel Europe Central, he wrestled the 20th century into one huge, luminous tome that bristled with insight and dread.
U.S. officials are saying they believe the Malaysia Airlines flight that crashed in eastern Ukraine was shot down by a missile. Thomas Erdbrink of The New York Times speaks with Audie Cornish from Schiphol airport in Amsterdam, where the flight took off.
In Gaza 24 schools are now doubling as humanitarian shelters. In recent days, some 22,000 Palestinians in Gaza have made their way to those shelters and they're operated by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. Robert Turner is director of operations for the U.N. Agency in Gaza City. When we reached him earlier he said he had only limited information about the fighting.
At the beginning of the year, residents of Charleston, West Virginia smelled a licorice odor in their water. It turned out a chemical used in coal production had leaked out of a nearby storage tank, contaminating the water supply for 300,000 people. This week, tanks at the center of this crisis are being demolished. But as Dave Mistich of West Virginia Public Broadcasting reports, that doesn't necessarily bring closure.
At a Senate hearing today, there were calls for General Motors top lawyer to step down. Recent media reports have made clear that company lawyers knew faulty ignition switches were causing fatal accidents. Despite that GM blocked internal efforts to issue a recall and they kept information from federal safety regulators. The ignition defect is responsible for at least 13 deaths and will cost GM billions of dollars. NPR's Sonari Glinton has the latest.
The Obama administration's request for more funds on immigration could get a congressional vote soon. Meanwhile, the crisis at the border is complicating Obama's plan to take unilateral action to ease deportations. The politics of immigration are shifting quickly.
President Obama had some announcements today on U.S. policy overseas. In the White House briefing room, the president ran through a long list of what he described as pressing foreign policy challenges - questions about the election results in Afghanistan, Iranian nuclear talks, the ongoing violence between Hamas and Israel and finally, the situation in Ukraine. The U.S. government imposed new sanctions on Russia today over interference in that country. Here's how President Obama summed it up.
The menus of millennia past can be tough to crack, especially when it comes to fruits and vegetables. For archaeologists studying a prehistoric site in Sudan, dental plaque provided a hint.
"When you eat, you get this kind of film of dental plaque over your teeth," says Karen Hardy, an archaeologist with the Catalan Institute for Research and Advanced Studies at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona.