NPR Staff

In Angola, a civil war that raged for decades has left lingering, and dangerous, reminders of the violence across the countryside. Long since the worst of the fighting ended in 2002, land mines continue to claim lives — and not just those of humans.

Even as the elephant population there saw a replenishment in numbers following the war, many of the mammoth animals were being killed by leftover land mines, as well.

Alex Landau, who is black, was raised by his adoptive white parents to believe that skin color didn't matter. But when Alex was pulled over by Denver police officers one night in 2009, he lost his belief in a color-blind world — and nearly lost his life.

For more than a decade, Wilson Matthews and Jeanne Yeatman worked together as flight nurses on emergency response helicopters. Over that time, they cared for countless patients as they were being transported to hospitals. One flight in particular, though, remains impossible for them to forget.

They had been trying to save a 13-year-old named Stephen. He'd been riding his bicycle over a dirt jump when he fell and suffered severe head trauma.

By the time he made it into the helicopter, nothing that Wilson or Jeanne tried was doing any good.

William Finnegan is a New Yorker journalist, but his new memoir doesn't focus on the wars or controversies he's covered. It's about surfing.

Finnegan traces his love of surfing back to his childhood, when he used to watch surfers in Ventura, Calif. He remembers being 10 years old, sitting with his family in a diner, watching waves break on the coast.

It seemed "like they were arriving from some celestial workshop ... carved by ocean angels," he writes. "I wanted to be out there, learning to dance on water."

Advertising is the basic business model of the Internet. It's one reason we can view online content free of charge.

Millions of Web surfers already download software to block ads online, and that number is growing. Soon, Apple could be making mobile ad blocking easier.

In recent years, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has waged a protest campaign against SeaWorld, saying that the U.S. theme parks' treatment of trained orcas is cruel. Now, PETA says it has identified a SeaWorld "agent" in its midst.

Juan Gabriel Vásquez is best known for his 2013 blockbuster novel The Sound of Things Falling. But more than a decade before that book vaulted him onto the international literary stage, he published a well-reviewed collection of short stories in Spanish.

Now, that collection, Lovers on All Saints' Day, is getting an English translation.

In The Sunday Conversation, Weekend Edition Sunday host Rachel Martin brings listeners an unexpected side of the news by talking with someone personally affected by the stories making headlines.

DiShan Washington is a pastor's daughter, and when she was 16 years old, she married a young minister at her dad's church. She didn't know a lot about sex, let alone what she describes as the "spicy stuff."

Flowers, bugs and bees: Stephen Buchmann wanted to study them all when he was a kid.

"I never grew out of my bug-and-dinosaur phase," he tells NPR's Arun Rath. "You know, since about the third grade, I decided I wanted to chase insects, especially bees."

These days, he's living that dream. As a pollination ecologist, he's now taking a particular interest in how flowers attract insects. In his new book, The Reason for Flowers, he looks at more than just the biology of flowers — he dives into the ways they've laid down roots in human history and culture, too.

In Northern Ireland, "the Troubles" — the long and bloody conflict between Catholic Irish nationalists and pro-British Protestants — formally came to an end with a peace agreement in 1998.

In one of this year's most intense international competitions, the United States has come out as best in the world — and this time, we're not talking about soccer.

This week, the top-ranked math students from high schools around the country went head-to-head with competitors from more than 100 countries at the International Mathematical Olympiad in Chiang Mai, Thailand. And, for the first time in more than two decades, they won.

If you turned on a radio in 1979, there was very good chance you'd hear the music of Rickie Lee Jones. At only 24, she leapt onto the world stage with her big single "Chuck E.'s in Love." Rolling Stone called her "the dutchess of coolsville."

President Obama responded sharply this week when a reporter asked if he was "content" to celebrate the nuclear deal with Iran when at least three and possibly four Americans are being held in Iranian jails.

"Nobody's content," he said, "and our diplomats and our teams are working diligently to try to get them out."

At least one former American hostage thinks the deal is worth signing, despite the remaining hostages.

All summer, Weekend Edition has been traveling the country in search of local flavor. The Midwest marks the latest stop on that trip of taste, down in Springfield, Mo. But the spot we found sports a distinctly tropical vibe.

It's called Pineapple Whip — both the beloved frozen dessert, and the series of roadside stands that sling them to long lines of eager eaters. And the treat is simple, too: a nondairy, juice-based soft serve. Something so simple, and so distinctive, it's tough to label it with any readily recognizable category, any name but its own.

There was a voice during the civil rights movement of the 1960s that soothed and inspired those who marched on Southern streets and tried to sit at segregated lunch counters.

Fannie Lou Hamer was a Mississippi sharecropper's daughter who grew up to become an activist and a musician. She registered black voters, stood up to bigotry, and was beaten by the police for her heroism. In 1983, Worth Long of the Smithsonian Institution put together a cassette recording of Hamer's music and recollections. That collection has just been reissued.

Seventy years ago, shortly after defeating Nazi Germany, three victorious leaders met in Potsdam, just outside Berlin. President Harry Truman was there with British and Soviet leaders Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin. Stuart Canin was also there — he was a 19-year-old GI from New York City who played the violin.

It's easy to think we're being virtuous when we fill up the blue recycling bin and put it on the curb. But it's clear we have embraced some magical thinking when it comes to what can be recycled.

Morning Edition asked its social media followers to share what puzzles them the most about the recycling process. Then, NPR's Dianna Douglas visited a waste management plant in Elkridge, Md., to get the answers from Michael Taylor, director of recycling operations for the plant.

On Thursday, President Obama became the first sitting president in U.S. history to visit a federal prison, taking a tour of the El Reno Federal Correction Institution in Oklahoma. Earlier in the week, he addressed the NAACP in Philadelphia, calling for reforms in the criminal justice system — with the hopes of helping people who have served time turn their lives around.

Oshea Israel, whom listeners first met through StoryCorps in 2011, has done just that.

Syria's civil war has created the worst refugee crisis in the world, with more than 4 million people fleeing the country. Millions more have been displaced inside Syria, though we rarely hear from them.

Over the past year, NPR's Morning Edition has spoken three times with Saeed al-Batal, a photographer and filmmaker who doesn't use his real name for security reasons.

The "E" in Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's newly unveiled presidential logo is a stylized American flag — as it turns out, one that looks remarkably similar to the logo for America's Best Contacts & Eyeglasses.

The company's CEO, Reade Fahs, said he doesn't mind but also that it's unlikely the governor hasn't seen the 18-year-old logo. "It's on hundreds of stores across the country. So assuming he's got good vision, he probably would have spotted it in his campaign travels. And we have lots of stores in Wisconsin too."

Silicon Valley admits it has a diversity problem. Companies from Google to Facebook to Twitter have reported that a majority of their employees are white males.

The Guinness Book of World Records calls "Happy Birthday to You" the most recognized song in the English language. But you'll rarely ever hear it on TV or in a movie.

Instead, you usually hear something that sounds sort of like the song, but not quite. In Disney's The Emperor's New Groove, for example, the characters sing: "Happy, happy birthday from all of us to you, we wish it was our birthday so we could party, too."

In an age of CEO gaffes and snafus, one in particular drew significant backlash last year.

Like many Star Trek fans, Michael Chang Gummelt wants the legendary franchise to return to TV. And like many fans, he has a lot of ideas about what such a reboot should look like.

But Gummelt also has something no other fan does: a meeting with Paramount to pitch his concept.

When the first Palestinian uprising began in the late 1980s, the images from the intifada showed exploding tear gas canisters launched by Israelis, answered by Palestinian youngsters shooting slingshots and hurling rocks. A photographer snapped a photo of a boy with tears in his eyes, an 8-year-old named Ramzi Aburedwan. The image came to represent the rage and frustration of life in the refugee camps. But although his face was famously stuck in time, Ramzi's life changed dramatically when he was introduced to music at age 16.

Patricia Marx is a former writer for Saturday Night Live and Rugrats. She's a contributor to The New Yorker.

And she's afraid she's losing her mind.

"There were just so many moments of, 'What's that thing that you put the thing in that's got the thing that, you know, that what is it called?' " Marx tells NPR's Arun Rath.

"I was really worried that in a matter of days, I was going to need a caregiver and the caregiver was going to find the butter dish in my sock drawer."

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