STEPEHN HAWKING: Here did we come from? Are we alone in the universe?
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
You may recognize this as the voice of Stephen Hawking, the physicist. It's actually the generic voice of men and women who use computers to speak for them. Synthetic speech though can be cold and impersonal, but a scientist in Boston wants to change that. Guy Raz of the TED RADIO HOUR has more.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Time for sports.
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SIMON: The Paralympics Games have begun in Sochi. Over the next week, nearly 700 athletes with disabilities will compete at events that range from ice sledge hockey to wheelchair curling to downhill racing. NPR's Tom Goldman joins us. Morning Tom, thanks for being with us.
On a sweltering August day in 2012, the mayor of a tiny Spanish town, fed up with the country's economic conditions, did something drastic. It was the height of the economic crisis and most Spanish politicians were away on summer vacation.
With dozens of supporters, Mayor Juan Manuel Sanchez Gordillo of Marinaleda marched into the local supermarket in a neighboring town.
For the Affordable Care Act to be considered a success years down the road, Ezekiel Emanuel believes that all Americans must have access to health coverage, and it must be better quality and lower cost. "And I think it's well within our grasp," he says.
The crisis in Ukraine and Russia's action there has raised many questions about who wants what. We're joined now by Julia Ioffe, senior editor at The New Republic, formerly a correspondent for The New Yorker from Moscow. Thanks very much for being with us.
JULIA IOFFE: Thanks for having me.
SIMON: What do you see that's going on that's distinct from the way it's been cast in so many accounts as some people being pro-European in Ukraine, some people being pro-Russia?
To Ukraine now where tensions continue to rise between that country's new government and Russia. Yesterday, pro-Russian soldiers held a standoff at a Ukrainian military base and although it seemed to end without incident, it shows just how quickly the situation has become militarized. We're joined now by Steven Erlanger, reporter for the New York Times, who's in Kiev. Steven, thanks so much for being with us.
STEVEN ERLANGER: Happy to be here.
SIMON: What do we know about this standoff yesterday in Crimea?
A Ukrainian protester stands at a memorial for the people killed in clashes at Kiev's Independence Square, on March 1. The focus of Ukraine's crisis is now in Crimea, where Russian forces are effectively in control.
Credit Emilio Morenatti / AP
Cossacks stand guard at the entrance to the Crimean Parliament building on Friday in Simferopol, Ukraine. Russian Cossacks, some heavily armed, have taken up guard duties at road checkpoints, border crossings and other key facilities that were previously guarded by local, pro-Russian militants across Crimea in recent days.
The College Board has announced a new SAT that makes the essay component which was just added in 2005 optional. In a news release The College Board said that the writing test “has not contributed significantly to the overall predictive power of the exam.”
The board has also forged a new relationship with the free online tutorial service Khan Academy, in an attempt to create a level playing field for all students taking the SAT, regardless of income level.
In the education world, friction has developed between teachers who come to the profession the old fashioned way and the increasing number who enter through a side door, particularly Teach For America.
The national program recruits students from elite colleges and prepares them to spend two years as teachers.
The rub is particularly glaring at Vanderbilt University. It’s home to one of the nation’s top education schools, Peabody College, and under its nose, Teach For America has flourished.