Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro has not had a great year. After a winning a disputed election, he faces inflation near 50 percent. Supplies of basic goods like toilet paper have run low. But now Maduro is acting. He created a new Vice Ministry of Supreme Social Happiness. It's supposed to coordinate services for the poor. We do not know of the Happiness Ministry will work but it has given a practical benefit, causing people to laugh.
German officials are scrambling to gather more information and U.S. officials are assessing diplomatic options in the wake of claims that the U.S. National Security Agency has been monitoring German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cellphone for more than a decade. Renee Montagne talks to Tim Naftali of the New America Foundation about America's history of spying and what this recent news means for the U.S. relationship with its European allies.
Dozens of women in Saudi Arabia drove cars Saturday in open protest against the kingdom's ban on women driving. NPR's Deborah Amos, who has been covering the story, speaks with Steve Inskeep about the outcome and implications of the protest.
Fans of Arcade Fire might be feeling a bit of culture shock. The group has been called the world's most successful indie rock band — but its new album, Reflektor, explores the Haitian roots of band member Regine Chassagne.