President Obama made a personal statement in a TV interview this week. He didn't call for any new laws or initiatives. But many Americans seem to hear his statement as a truly significant moment in American history. Novelist and screenwriter Armistead Maupin joins us. Mr. Maupin is best known for his breakthrough "Tales of the City" series. He joins us from member station KQED in San Francisco. Thanks so much for being with us.
ARMISTEAD MAUPIN: Oh, it's a pleasure, Scott.
SIMON: How do you feel about what the president said?
Are you calling 911 or you just glad to sit down? Mayor Michael Bloomberg released a study this week that shows that 38 percent of the calls received by New York's emergency services are mistakes - mobile phones that dial 911 when a user jostles a phone in their purse or pocket. The popular term for such calls is pocket or butt calls.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.
Republicans in Wisconsin are gathered this weekend for their annual political convention. The delegates could make an endorsement in a key Senate race this year. It is the contest to replace retiring Wisconsin Democrat Herb Kohl.
Now, many believe that George W. Bush's former Health and Human Services Secretary, Tommy Thompson, might essentially breeze through a four-way Republican primary.
The British have been holding a public inquiry into press ethics for the last few months. The government is responding to the outcry over the phone-hacking scandal at Rupert Murdoch's News of the World. The inquiry's investing the way newspapers, the police and politicians may feed off each other and that means shining a light into the secluded world, in particular, of the prime minister's social set. NPR's Philip Reeves has been watching the questioning.
Is black pepper the new secret weapon against fat? A recent paper in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry claims that the piperine, an ingredient in black pepper, has the power to stop the body from making new fat cells, and could be used to treat obesity.
The star of John Irving's new novel, In One Person, is Billy Abbott. Billy is a character at the mercy of his own teenage crushes, which are visited upon by a whole repertory company of gender-bending characters.
It's a repertory company in the most literal sense, too. Billy spends many days backstage at the local theater — where gender can also fluctuate and where his family members are regulars.
Months after safety advocates embraced wearing helmets during tornadoes — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued guidelines on the practice. The CDC says there's not yet enough scientific evidence to fully endorse the idea. But the agency is warming up to people donning helmets when severe weather threatens.
Since a horrific outbreak of tornadoes killed more than 250 people last year in Alabama, safety advocates have been on a crusade.