This year, the Homestead Act of 1862 turned 150. That landmark piece of legislation opened up the Western territories to settlement. Almost anybody could receive up to 160 acres for free if they built a house and "improved" the land over the course of five years. Millions took part, and eventually, more than 10 percent of all U.S. land was given away.
A German peasant named Frederick Wohler was one of those early homesteaders. Wohler received the deed to 80 acres of farmland in north-central Kansas 138 years ago this weekend. And today, the Wohlers are still there.
Congress roared into town last week after a five-week break. Lawmakers will be heading back home just as quickly this week. They're expected to complete exactly one big item before pulling the plug on this briefest of sessions: a stopgap spending measure that keeps the government from shutting down during the next six months.
Members of both parties prefer tackling the mountain of unfinished business they leave behind only after the November election.
This week, an American-made film mocking Islam sparked violent anti-U.S. protests across the Middle East and beyond. Weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz gets the latest from NPR's Leila Fadel who is in Benghazi, Libya. And while the unrest appears to be abating for now, the question becomes whether the backlash is about something deeper than the film. Raz talks about it with Steven Cook of the Council on Foreign Relations and Rami Khouri of Harvard's Belfer Center.
Time magazine named author and pastor Brian McLaren one of the 25 most influential evangelicals in America.
McLaren has written more than 20 books, and he is a principal figure in the Emerging Church, a Christian movement that rejects the organized and institutional church in favor of a more modern, accepting community.
McLaren's new book is called Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha and Mohammed Cross the Road?: Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World.
Police firing rubber bullets and tear gas sent men, women and children scattering as they herded them into their shacks in a crackdown on striking miners at a platinum mine.
Saturday's show of force follows a South African government vow to halt illegal protests and disarm strikers who have stopped work at one gold and six platinum mines northwest of Johannesburg. The strikes have destabilized South Africa's critical mining sector.
It was the first police action since officers killed 34 miners Aug. 16 in state violence that shocked the nation.