This week we're looking back at the year in music through the lens of NPR Music's 50 Favorite Albums of 2013. It's the annual list assembled by our in-house experts, including NPR music editor Frannie Kelley and Ali Shaheed Muhammad, producer and founding member of the rap group A Tribe Called Quest. The pair host NPR's Microphone Check.
Major League Baseball plans to eliminate home plate collisions, among other rules changes. For more on what the changes will mean for the game, Melissa Block speaks with Mike Piazza, a former MLB catcher with several professional teams and author of Long Shot, an autobiography.
As radical Islamists take control of Syrian border towns, the spill-over is evident in southern Turkey. Small shops cater to radicals, selling black head bands with Koranic slogans. In Killis, on the Turkish border, cafes offer "jihadi tea" for a clientele with long beards and an alarming agenda. Many analysts say Turkey turned a blind eye to international jihadists crossing the border to overthrow the Assad regime. The bill has come due as Washington expresses extreme concern, young Turks join the jihad in Syria, and international extremists flock to the Turkish border on the way to the jihad.
Turkey, which not long ago was predicting its role as a regional powerhouse in a re-shaped Middle East, is scrambling to adjust foreign policies that have left it increasingly at odds with its neighbors and world powers. Turkey's approval ratings in Syria and Egypt have plummeted, with many critics saying Ankara has pursued overly sectarian policies that have exacerbated crises instead of calming them. Turkish leaders reject the criticism, but recently there are signs of a shift: Jihadist rebels fighting the Syrian regime have been deported from Turkey, and Ankara has renewed efforts to strengthen ties with Iran.
Murder ballads — dark, brutal story-songs that tend to claim the lives of women — occupy a significant place in American roots music. A new song by Jim Lauderdale gives a few of those women a second act.
More than 200 people have been killed this year in Baltimore — most of them blacks. One Maryland gun group says it's in a unique position to help steer the city's black youth away from the path of gun violence by focusing on discipline, training and black history.
Rob Buyea gets it. The children's book author spent six years teaching elementary school. He's dedicated his book Because of Mr.Terupt to his former third and fourth grade students. "It's because of them that I began writing," he says.
The Indian Supreme Court has reinstated a 150 year old ban on gay sex in India. The move has outraged gay rights activists and sparked a national debate about sexuality and civil rights. Melissa Block speaks with Manu Bhagavan, who teaches about South Asian history and human rights at Hunter College.
An investigative report by Mother Jones magazine looks at the number of children who have been shot and killed with guns in the year since the Newtown tragedy. Melissa Block speaks with Mark Follman, senior editor at Mother Jones, for more.
One year ago this Saturday, a gunman killed 26 people at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. At the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, people gathered Thursday to remember those who have been killed by gun violence since that attack. A bell tolled for three minutes in memory of roughly 30,000 people who have lost their lives over the past year. We hear some of the service.