Arts

Arts and culture

President Obama says there's "no precedent" to revoke the Presidential Medal of Freedom for comedian Bill Cosby, who has been accused by several women of sexually assaulting them.

"There's no precedent for revoking the medal," Obama said at a news conference today. "We don't have that mechanism."

Cosby was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002 for his contributions to television.

Here are Obama's full comments on the allegations against Cosby:

Novelist Don Winslow has spent 10 years immersed in the Mexican drug wars. He has studied all the players, from the lowly traffickers to the kingpins who head up the cartels. One of the characters in his new novel, The Cartel, is based on drug kingpin Joaquin Guzman, known as El Chapo, who escaped from a Mexican prison over the weekend.

"I tell it like it is." Chris Christie made this his campaign slogan. Donald Trump repeats it whenever he's challenged on something he has said. And Scott Walker, Rick Perry, Mike Huckabee, John Kasich and Rick Santorum have said the same thing. It's the conventional pledge of candor, or what passes for it in American public life.

To mark this week's release of Harper Lee's long-awaited second novel, Go Set a Watchman, why not try an old-fashioned cake from Alabama, featured prominently in Lee's classic first novel, To Kill a Mockingbird.

In it, Scout Finch's neighbor, Maudie Atkinson, is known for her Lane cakes and guards her recipe closely. She bakes one for Aunt Alexandra when she moves in with the Finch Family. Scout gets buzzed from the whiskey in it and comments, "Miss Maudie Atkinson baked a Lane cake so loaded with shinny it made me tight."

Our understanding of politics and history often bends toward simplicity — toward using particular figures, events or, in the case of books like Mark Kurlansky's Salt: A World History, elements that help us grasp a movement, time period or even the grand development of human civilization.

Roberto Saviano's ZeroZeroZero follows Salt's lead but switches up the white substance: The thesis of Saviano's sprawling, ultimately unwieldy book is that by understanding the global cocaine trade we can gain unparalleled knowledge of the world we live in.

The Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art in Washington will post a sign Wednesday telling visitors an exhibition that includes art owned by Bill Cosby and his wife, Camille, is "fundamentally about the artworks and the artists who created them, not Mr. Cosby," representatives for the Smithsonian Institution say.

As Dan Charles reported on Monday, yogurt has a way of igniting passions. In his story of arson, the flames were literal.

Once you start looking, it's really not hard to find people — even entire countries — deeply attached to this nourishing and calming food.

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The new FX comedy Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll* stars Denis Leary as the decaying former singer of a briefly scorching New York band whose speedy self-immolation was brought about by debauchery and betrayal. The band was called The Heathens, because they were heathens. The singer is named Johnny Rock, apparently because it was a rock band and "John" is a popular name.

A year and a half ago, Dr. David Casarett did not take medical marijuana very seriously. "When I first started this project, I really thought of medical marijuana as a joke," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

At least no one can complain Ernest Cline wears his influences too lightly. Nerd culture pervades everything he does, from his screenplay for the movie Fanboys to his spoken-word routines.

Question: What do holiday shopping and staving off cognitive loss have in common?

Answer: Both are ordinarily earnest endeavors in which Patricia Marx has found unlikely sources of hilarity.

We talk a lot about nostalgia on Pop Culture Happy Hour — about the ways entertainment has shaped our youth and placed our memories in perspective — but in doing so, we've mostly discussed movies, TV shows, music, books, board games, that sort of thing.

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It takes about four cups of milk to make one cup of skyr, Iceland's super thick, high-protein version of yogurt.

Every drop of skyr made in Iceland comes from Icelandic cattle, the country's single breed.

But there's a problem: The average Icelandic cow can't supply much milk. And the hunger for skyr is stronger than ever now that people around the world are discovering its creamy delights.

Watson, IBM's Jeopardy!-winning supercomputer, boasts a pretty impressive resume when it comes to cooking.

Growing up in West Baltimore, writer Ta-Nehisi Coates was no stranger to violence. "Everyone had lost a child, somehow, to the streets, to jail, to drugs, to guns," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

Coates' new book, Between the World and Me, is an effort to protect his son from the same threats he experienced as a youth. Written in the form of a letter, Coates draws on history as well as personal experience to discuss the different forms of violence young African-Americans face on the street, in school and from the police.

John A. Williams might be one of the most prolific writers most people have never heard of.

Although he was often compared to Richard Wright and James Baldwin, Williams didn't much like that. He felt that when black writers were lumped together by the literary establishment, only one at a time would be allowed to succeed. His novels, which were always focused through the prism of race and were told from his black characters' point of view, were well-reviewed. But Williams never reached the level of fame of writers like Wright, Toni Morrison and Alice Walker.

As another Southern writer once said, "You can't go home again." In Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman, which takes place in the mid-1950s, a 26-year-old Scout Finch takes the train from New York City home to Maycomb, Ala., and finds the familiar world turned mighty strange.

TV and air-conditioning have changed the landscape, and beloved childhood friends like Dill and her brother Jem have vanished. Others, like Calpurnia, look at Scout, here called by her grown-up name of "Jean Louise," as though she were, well, a white lady.

Fans of the well-loved comic strip Bloom County are celebrating this morning, after cartoonist Berkeley Breathed issued the first panels of his satirical strip in decades.

Breathed won a Pulitzer Prize for his work on Bloom County back in 1987; two years later, he quit producing it. On Sunday, he posted a photo of himself to Facebook in which he sat in front of a computer screen with an empty cartoon template titled Bloom County 2015.

"A return after 25 years. Feels like going home," he wrote.

Two years ago, in the middle of the night, a fire broke out in a commercial building on the northern edge of the city of Dallas. It destroyed a small yogurt company called Three Happy Cows.

Two months later, Edgar Diaz, the founder of Three Happy Cows, confessed that he'd set the fire. Yet people who knew Diaz, and had worked with him, could not believe it.

"I was like, Edgar did that? No way! No way. No way," says Ruth Cruz, who worked at Three Happy Cows.

"No. No. It was his baby. Couldn't imagine," says Don Seale, who supplied milk to the factory.

As part of a series called My Big Break, All Things Considered is collecting stories of triumph, big and small. These are the moments when everything seems to click, and people leap forward into their careers.

Like many Star Trek fans, Michael Chang Gummelt wants the legendary franchise to return to TV. And like many fans, he has a lot of ideas about what such a reboot should look like.

But Gummelt also has something no other fan does: a meeting with Paramount to pitch his concept.

The Guinness Book of World Records calls "Happy Birthday to You" the most recognized song in the English language. But you'll rarely ever hear it on TV or in a movie.

Instead, you usually hear something that sounds sort of like the song, but not quite. In Disney's The Emperor's New Groove, for example, the characters sing: "Happy, happy birthday from all of us to you, we wish it was our birthday so we could party, too."

In an age of CEO gaffes and snafus, one in particular drew significant backlash last year.

American filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer traveled to Indonesia in 2001 to make a documentary about plantation workers. What he found was the legacy of genocide. The documentary he made, The Act of Killing, looked at life in the country since a 1965 coup led to the slaughter of between 500,000 and 2 million people by paramilitary death squads, in the name of stamping out communism.

This summer, NPR is getting crafty in the kitchen. As part of Weekend Edition's Do Try This At Home series, chefs are sharing their cleverest hacks and tips — taking expensive, exhausting or intimidating recipes and tweaking them to work in any home kitchen.

This week: A stress-free way to make a classic — and unruly — French sauce that's a variation of hollandaise.

On-air challenge: Today's puzzle involves wordplay on some well-known Canadian place names. Example:

The name of which Canadian province is an anagram of "oration"?

Last week's challenge: The seven words in the following sentence have something very unusual in common — something that almost no other words in the English language share. What is it?

"Ira saw three emigrants restock large wands."

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