Saturday, expectations were sky-high for Michael Phelps, who already has the biggest gold medal haul in Olympic history. There was a much-anticipated showdown with swimming teammate Ryan Lochte, which turned out to be no showdown at all. The expectations continue Sunday at the Olympic Aquatics Center, as NPR's Howard Berkes reports.
Improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, remain one of the biggest killers in Afghanistan. As NATO forces prepare to withdraw from the country, Afghans are learning the special skills needed to find and disarm these deadly weapons.
The training area near the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif is a large expanse of dirt and gravel, dotted with a few beat-up old taxis and scattered bunkers.
Imagine being able to rock a piano so well that Aerosmith wants you as its touring keyboardist. That's what happened to Russ Irwin, and he's been sharing the stage with Steven Tyler and Joe Perry for 15 years.
"I'm staring at their backsides," he tells NPR's David Greene. "It's an interesting place to be."
Mike Lee is one of the most conservative members of the Senate. The freshman Utah Republican was elected with strong Tea Party backing and, like Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, he's a man of the West.
Mention the possibility that Thune, 51, might team up with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and Lee's eyes light up: "I love John," he says. "He's articulate, passionate, collegial. I mean ... I think he'd be great."
In Spain, the growing crisis — debt, austerity and joblessness — has prompted more people to vote with their feet. In the first six months of 2012, emigration from Spain is up more than 44 percent from the same period last year.
The Spanish government denies it, but the "brain drain" has become something of a flood with more and more educated, skilled Spaniards moving abroad.
In August, lawmakers will be heading home to their districts for the month's recess. Last summer, things weren't quite so calm.
A year ago at this time, Congress was in a nasty and protracted battle over whether to raise the debt ceiling. If they didn't make a decision, the government was going to go into default. It's a fight that cost Congress its already waning public support, and cost American taxpayers $1.3 billion.
Satoshi Shimizu (left) of Japan celebrates his 10-9 points decision over Isaac Dogboe of Ghana, in their Round of 32 bantamweight bout at the 2012 London Olympic Games. The first full day of competition brought many close finishes in London.
The first full day of Olympic competition brought moments of tense excitement, in the pool and on the archery course, among other places. At the time of this post, China leads the overall medal count, with 6, followed by Italy and the United States, with 5. Four of China's medals are gold.
For all the attention Alabama Shakes' music has attracted in 2012 — and its album Boys & Girls marked a huge breakthrough earlier this year — the live stage is where the soulful blues-rock band transcends mere "one to watch" status. Boys & Girls is the work of polished professionals at the top of their game, but in concert, Alabama Shakes' music reaches ecstatic, sprawling, rafter-shaking heights.
Something is happening when it comes to religion in America.
Though more Americans go to church or believe in God than their counterparts in virtually every other Western country, fewer Americans now trust religious institutions. A recent Gallup poll showed that just 44 percent of Americans have a great deal of confidence in "the church or organized religion."