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Despite what you may hear from alarmists, it's not easy for refugees to get to the United States — or really anywhere, for that matter. If they're even able to escape their own country, they face constant roadblocks and long waiting lists before they're able to establish themselves, however precariously, in another country. There are no magic doorways they can walk through that will just bring them to another land.

Starbucks has come full circle.

More than three decades ago, during a trip to Milan, Howard Schultz was inspired to turn the coffeehouse chain into a space that served as a community gathering place. Now Schultz, the company's CEO, has announced Starbucks is opening its first location in Italy, in the heart of Milan's city center.

One might think Italian coffeehouses would be shaken by the looming arrival of this global java giant. But many are saying, bring it on.

Today is Pancake Day in the United Kingdom, or Shrove Tuesday, as it's known on the Christian calendar. It's a time for indulging before the beginning of Lent and, in Britain, racing around with a frying pan, flipping pancakes.

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'To Be A Machine' Digs Into The Meaning Of Humanity

Feb 28, 2017

"Flesh is a dead format," writes Mark O'Connell in To Be a Machine, his new nonfiction book about the contemporary transhumanist movement. It's an alarming statement, but don't kill the messenger: As he's eager to explain early in the book, the author is not a transhumanist himself.

In 1890, Sir Thomas Lipton arrived on the island of Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, to purchase a plot of land that would become the first tea estate in his global tea empire. These days, in the Ambadandegama Valley located just a few miles from Lipton's original estate, another experiment in tea production is unfolding.

Mahershala Ali won the Academy Award for best supporting actor for his role in Moonlight. NPR's Kelly McEvers spoke to Ali in October about his experience working on the film, which won the Oscar for best picture. This story originally aired on Oct. 21, 2016 on All Things Considered.

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Actress Emma Stone summed it up nicely at the post-Academy-Awards press conference.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

EMMA STONE: Is that the craziest Oscar moment of all time?

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Unintelligible).

STONE: Cool.

Sweeney Todd is a piece of theater that should make you lose your appetite. The grisly musical by Stephen Sondheim tells the story of a demonic barber whose clients become the filling for meat pies. Many productions leave the stage soaked in blood.

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National Geographic contributing photographer Joel Sartore is 11 years into a 25-year endeavor to document every captive animal species in the world using studio lighting and black-and-white backgrounds. So far, he's photographed 6,500 different species, which leaves approximately 6,000 to go.

Well, excuse me while I throw away my first draft, won't you?

If you called it a night as soon as La La Land was announced best picture, you didn't get the whole story. Moonlight, in fact, took home that prize.

In a shocking end-of-night twist, La La Land was incorrectly announced as best picture. In the midst of the celebration, La La Land's cast and crew were all smiles as they gathered on stage.

But then, mid-speech, one of La La Land's producers, Jordan Horowitz, had to break the news.

Seven Fun Facts About 'Arab Idol'

Feb 26, 2017

The Arab world has crowned a winner.

12:39 a.m.: Next up on Pop Culture Happy Hour's end, we'll record a late-night Small Batch, which ought to be up in your feeds overnight. Too bad there won't be much to discuss...

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The Indonesian island of Java has long been synonymous with coffee. But it's only in the past decade or so that Indonesians have begun to wake up and smell the coffee — their own, that is.

Big changes are brewing in the country's coffee industry, as demand from a rising middle class fuels entrepreneurship and connoisseurship.

The trend is clear at places like the Anomali Coffee shop in South Jakarta. It roasts its coffee just inside the entrance on the ground floor.

Updated at 12:38 p.m. ET

Bill Paxton, prolific actor and big-screen fixture for decades, has died at the age of 61. In a statement released to media outlets Sunday, a family representative says Paxton died of complications from surgery.

"A loving husband and father, Bill began his career in Hollywood working on films in the art department and went on to have an illustrious career spanning four decades as a beloved and prolific actor and filmmaker," the statement reads.

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Hollywood has been speaking out this week about the current political climate. There were teach-ins and rallies at talent agencies, and events and awards shows have been peppered with political opposition. NPR's arts correspondent Mandalit del Barco reports.

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The Academy Awards are Sunday night. But that's just what we call a peg for what I really want to talk about.

This spring marks the 45th anniversary of The Godfather.

"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."

Francis Coppola's film is smartly scripted, beautifully acted and gorgeously directed. It's one of those special films you can see every few years and notice something new each time. It's an opera, really, where the arias are story lines about love, blood and America.

In the 1950s and '60s, if there were any children's books in a house, at least one of them was likely to be a Little Golden Book. With their golden spines and brightly colored pictures, they begged to be grabbed off a shelf by a curious child — which is exactly what their creators intended. Those beloved books celebrate their 75th birthday this year.

First introduced shortly after the start of World War II, many of them — such as The Tawny Scrawny Lion, The Saggy Baggy Elephant and The Poky Little Puppy — have become classics.

First, know that Yiyun Li is not exactly a comforting author. Those who have read her fiction may recognize her tone: calm, but not soothing, matter-of-fact, yet dreamlike; a voice dedicated to seeing the world clearly and without sentimentality. Across two collections of short stories and two novels, this voice is both chilly and elegant, like a 19th-century Russian novelist, or a snowfall. Paired with Li's legion of characters — often near-biblically afflicted with a deep powerlessness — the overall effect can leave you with a mix of wonder, awe, and pain.

When Anna Taylor got her U.S. patent for false eyelashes in 1911, it's doubtful she could see far enough into the future to know that trying to make lashes look longer and fuller would turn into a multimillion-dollar industry.

A young woman meets a prince and falls in love. That sounds like the start of an old fashioned fairy tale, but in the movie A United Kingdom it's the start of a diplomatic firestorm. The film tells the story of Ruth Williams and Seretse Khama, who married in 1948. Williams was a typist in London; Khama was heir to the throne of Bechuanaland, or modern-day Botswana.

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The Academy Awards are this Sunday. And the playwright and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda is up for best original song for this. It's called "How Far I'll Go" from the film "Moana."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "MOANA")

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