Start with a big ballroom at a resort hotel just outside D.C. Add thousands of conservative activists. Stir in hundreds of political journalists, and you've got an irresistible attraction for any Republican presidential hopeful.
For those with their eye on the Oval Office, it's also an early audition before a key audience.
It's the annual Conservative Political Action Conference — CPAC for short — where there's always talk of the next presidential election. This year as many as 10 possible 2016 candidates were invited to speak during the three-day event.
Job training programs are failing to turn out enough skilled workers to fill job openings in the U.S., a phenomenon that puzzles some European companies that expand into the U.S.
President Obama freely admits that America needs to improve the way it trains workers. In a speech at a General Electric manufacturing plant in Wisconsin earlier this year, he said, "We gotta move away from what my labor secretary, Tom Perez, calls 'train and pray.' You train workers first and then you hope they get a job."
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?
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.
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.
Hundreds of visual-effects artists are planning to picket the Academy Awards on Sunday for the second year in a row. They're hoping to bring attention to what's been happening in their industry.
The field is losing jobs and relocating to countries with bigger subsidies for employers. It's the result of a technical revolution that's changed the profession since it kicked off in the 70s with Star Wars creator George Lucas' visual-effects company, Industrial Light and Magic.
This week, one-fifth of the biggest boy band in the world made up one-eleventh of an English professional soccer team. In a charity game, the One Direction singer Louis Tomlinson turned out to play for his hometown club, the reserve team of Doncaster Rovers.
Online personality quizzes are going viral. The website BuzzFeed says their quizzes, which ask questions like which Harry Potter character are you or which city should you actually live in, break Web traffic records. But are these seemingly silly and inconsequential quizzes only for fun? With tens of millions of people filling them out, it could be a marketer's dream.
South African paralympian Oscar Pistorius goes on trial next week for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. NPR's Scott Simon speaks with Guardian reporter David Smith about the upcoming court case.
Cossacks, who formed a feared military force in czarist times, start their 2012 ceremonial march from Moscow to Paris in memory of soldiers killed during the war against Napoleon in 1812.
Credit Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP
A Cossack militiaman attacks Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and a photographer as she and fellow members of the punk band Pussy Riot, including Maria Alyokhina, center, in the pink balaclava, stage a protest performance in Sochi on Wednesday.
The contrast couldn't have been greater: the protest band Pussy Riot in colorful ski masks and mini dresses, attempting to film a segment for a new video on Sochi's waterfront; and Cossacks in traditional uniform with black sheepskin hats and riding boots, patrolling Sochi streets as part of security for the Olympics.
The Cossacks, trying to enforce a government ban on protests, knocked band member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova to the ground, lashed her with a horse whip, and roughed up other musicians.