In a remote part of Afghanistan early last year, a girl was sentenced to death. Her crime was possession of a cellphone. Her executioners were to be her brothers. They suspected her of talking on the phone with a boy. The girl, in her late teens, had dishonored the family, her brothers said.
"My older brother took the cellphone from me and beat me very badly. It was dinnertime. They told me that they would execute me after dinner. They said to me this would be my last meal," says "Lina," a pseudonym.
A recent NPR story about homeless veterans brought a remarkable email from listener Gary Bressick, who runs an insurance agency in Los Angeles. The story focused on one veteran, James Brown, who had just moved into his first apartment after living on the streets for most of the previous three decades.
NPR's Neal Conan reads from listener comments on previous Talk of the Nation show topics including the outlook for new graduates and jobs, guns and "Stand Your Ground" laws, and violinist Joshua Bell's new job.
Feminist literary scholar Susan Gubar was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer in November 2008. She then began her emigration "from the world of the healthy to the domain of the ill," she writes in her book, Memoir of a Debulked Woman.
Ovarian cancer often goes undetected until it has spread throughout the abdomen, and is typically fatal. To slow the spread of the disease, Gubar underwent a procedure known as the mother of all surgeries — a radical debulking operation in which her ovaries, uterus, fallopian tubes, appendix and parts of her intestine were removed.
In a piece in last month's Chicago Tribune, reporter Bonnie Miller Rubin described a message from an earlier self, a copy of the Davenport Times Democrat from 1973 that introduced her as that paper's first gal on the sports desk, complete with a photo of her in a short skirt jogging alongside the track team from a local college. In a column, her then-editor wrote: Please, no special treatment for her just because she's a member of the fairer sex. She joins us in a moment.
In the first formal acknowledgement of what's been an open secret, White House Counter Terrorism adviser John Brennan publicly stated that the U.S. conducts drone strikes targeted on al-Qaida. In a speech at the Woodrow Wilson Center, Brennan opened many doors on drone strikes.
Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's China visit comes at a fragile moment in diplomatic relations. Some analysts describe the Chen Guangcheng and Bo Xilai incidents as a "perfect storm" that will test the relationship between the U.S. and China.
Are religious people more moved by compassion than those who described themselves as less religious or non-religious?
A group of scientists at the University of California, Berkeley set out to answer that question and what they found would surprise some: In three experiments, the social scientists found that the less religious were more generous when presented with situations that stimulated their compassion, which the scientists defined as "an emotion felt when people see the suffering of others which then motivates them to help, often at a personal risk or cost."