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All Tech Considered
2:30 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

With Google's Robot-Buying Binge, A Hat Tip To The Future

A BigDog robot at Boston Dynamics in 2010. The BigDog is being developed to help soldiers carry heavy equipment in the field. It can follow a human being, walking across wet/sandy/rocky terrain, just like a dog would.
Suzanne Kreiter Boston Globe via Getty Images

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 6:56 pm

In less than a year, Google has bought more than a half-dozen robotics companies, setting the industry abuzz. But when I ask Google what it's up to with all these robots, the company won't say a thing.

"They are very careful — they haven't disclosed what they are doing," says Richard Mahoney, the director of the robotics program at SRI International, a nonprofit technology accelerator in Menlo Park, Calif. Mahoney also served on the board of Redwood Robotics, one of the companies Google bought.

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Parallels
2:30 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

A Syrian Refugee Camp With Girl Scouts And A Safeway Store

An informal Girl Scout group at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan sings: "We want to learn and rise up to fulfill our dreams."
Nabih Bulos NPR

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 6:57 pm

On a sunny afternoon in the dusty, overcrowded Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, a group of Syrian girls recites a familiar pledge and hope to change their future. The youngsters promise to serve God and country, to help people at all times and live by the laws of the Girl Scouts.

The troop was organized by Hanna Vazquez, a volunteer with Mercy Corps, a U.S.-based humanitarian group.

"We are going to do the Girl Scout music badge," she says, as the girls gather around.

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Code Switch
2:30 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

What Do Jay Z And Shakespeare Have In Common? Swagger

Jay-Z performs during his Magna Carter world tour this past January.
Owen Sweeney AP

"No one on the corner has swagga like us," sang rapper M.I.A. in her global hit "Paper Planes." The song was later sampled by T.I. and Jay Z in their hit song "Swagga Like Us." A few years before that, it was Jay-Z who declared "I guess I got my swagger back" on his 2001 album The Blueprint.

The word swagger should be a familiar term to anyone who has listened to popular hip-hop songs in recent years; a recent search on Rap Genius turned up more than a thousand songs that used the word in the lyrics.

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Movie Interviews
2:09 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Jason Bateman, Taking A Turn As The Big Bad

Jason Bateman took cues from Arrested Development in portraying the profoundly unsympathetic character Guy Trilby.
Sam Urdank Courtesy of Focus Features

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 4:33 pm

When you see actor Jason Bateman on screen, he's usually playing the nice guy — or at least the nicest guy in the room. On the TV cult favorite Arrested Development, Bateman is easily the heart of the show.

But given the chance to direct a movie, he cast himself as a vulgar sociopath with a gift for coming up with the perfect put-down. The film is Bad Words, and it tells the story of a 40-year-old elbowing his way onto the middle-school spelling-bee circuit, to the frustration of kids, parents and teachers alike.

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News
2:09 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

With Sanctions, Obama Aims For Those Close To Putin

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 4:33 pm

The Obama administration is ordering new sanctions against 11 Russian and Ukrainian officials. The move is designed to penalize Russia for efforts to split Crimea away from Ukraine.

News
2:09 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

A Beer Backlash To LGBT Exclusion In St. Patrick's Parades

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 4:33 pm

Beer makers Guinness and Sam Adams withdrew sponsorship from New York and Boston's St. Patrick Day parades, respectively, over the exclusion of openly gay, lesbian and transgender participants.

Europe
2:09 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

The Ukrainian Reaction To Secession And Sanctions

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 4:33 pm

Following Sunday's referendum in Crimea, Robert Siegel speaks with the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, to find out his reaction to the vote in favor of secession.

Middle East
2:09 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Dispute And Suspicion Swirl About Iranian Water Reactor

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 4:33 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

Talks resume this week in Vienna over Iran's nuclear program. Western powers want to prevent Iran from making nuclear weapons. Iran wants relief from economic sanctions. Well, today, we look at one of the issues: the construction of Iran's heavy-water reactor near the city of Arak. Critics doubt Iran's claims that the reactor is just for medical research, not weapons.

Here's NPR's Peter Kenyon.

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News
2:09 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Hoping To Clear The Air In Paris, Officials Ration The Rue

Originally published on Tue March 18, 2014 11:18 am

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

And if you're trapped in traffic right now, or even if you're not, don't take your eyes off the road. Just let your mind drift slightly and think of Paris. That's where a spike in air pollution has driven the government to ban half of all cars from the road. Several cities in France are giving it a try, and Paris has the most severe restrictions.

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News
2:09 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Kiev Mobilizes Thousands Of Troops, Preparing For Worst

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 4:33 pm

The Ukrainian parliament has voted to mobilize 40,000 reservists as Kiev tries to beef up its military following the referendum in Crimea.

Europe
2:09 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

As Penalties Come Down For Russian Officials, How Will Moscow React?

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 4:33 pm

The former U.S. ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, joins the program to comment on the recent sanctions imposed on Russian officials in the wake of the referendum in Crimea.

News
2:09 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Europe Pulls Punches With Limited Sanctions, Wary Of Backfire

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 4:33 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The United States and Europe both condemn the vote in Crimea. President Obama announced measures he says will increase the cost on Russia. They include the freezing of U.S. assets of certain Russian officials. The president warned there would be more to come, quote, "if Russia continues to interfere in Ukraine." The European Union is also issuing sanctions.

Foreign ministers met in Brussels today and NPR's Ari Shapiro tells us what they did.

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News
2:09 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Celebrations In Crimea — And Worries Among Troops Left Behind

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 4:33 pm

Now that Crimea has voted to separate from Ukraine and join Russia, Ukrainian troops still stationed on the peninsula have become even less secure.

Education
2:09 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

On The Syllabus: Lessons In Grit

Originally published on Thu March 27, 2014 12:54 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

Got grit? That's the new it-thing in education. New research suggests that perseverance and resilience are key to a student's success. The science is still out on how or if grit can be taught, but schools around the nation are trying. One program in particular called Brainology is showing some promise.

NPR's Tovia Smith checked it out at a public school in Brooklyn.

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News
2:09 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

General Takes Plea Deal In Sexual Assault Case

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 4:33 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Today, a plea deal in the most closely watched sexual assault case in the military. An Army general admitted to charges of mistreating a subordinate and adultery. But Brigadier General Jeffrey Sinclair will not face more serious charges. That's because the Army's case against him fell apart. We're going to hear more about what happened now from NPR Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman. Hi, Tom.

TOM BOWMAN, BYLINE: Hello, Robert.

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Education
2:09 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Efforts To Close The Achievement Gap In Kids Start At Home

Stephanie Taveras (left) visits Julia Alfaro and her 3-year-old daughter, Ayleen, to read and discuss her vocabulary progress.
Jennifer Ludden NPR

Originally published on Tue March 18, 2014 8:34 am

When Andrea Riquetti taught kindergarten in Providence, R.I., the disparity between more affluent students and those from poor families was painfully clear.

"We would read The Very Hungry Caterpillar," she says, "and I would ask them, 'What is this fruit?' And they would call all the fruits just 'fruits,' because they didn't have the specific name."

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All Tech Considered
2:09 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Computers That Know What You Need, Before You Ask

Expect Labs' MindMeld app uses predictive computing to push information to us, instead of us having to ask.
Courtesy of Expect Labs

Originally published on Thu March 20, 2014 10:14 am

We're already giving voice instructions to virtual personal assistants, like Apple's Siri. But artificial intelligence is getting even smarter. The next wave of behavior-changing computing is a technology called anticipatory computing — systems that learn to predict what you need, even before you ask.

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News
2:09 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Out Of Antarctica, A 'Grand Slam' That Leads Back To The Big Bang

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 4:33 pm

Physicists using data from an Antarctica telescope say they've observed evidence of primordial gravity waves — in other words, echoes of the Big Bang. If real, this may be a big advance for physics.

Parallels
1:58 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Crimea: What's Next?

Men install a Russian flag and a Crimean flag Monday on the roof of the city hall building in the Crimean city of Bakhchysarai. Crimeans voted overwhelmingly on Sunday to join with Russia. Ukraine's government rejects the move as illegitimate.
Dan Kitwood Getty Images

Crimea appears to be on the fast track for joining up with Russia after Sunday's referendum vote in favor of union with Moscow.

Ukraine and the West are adamantly opposed to the Russian annexation of Crimea, but what are they prepared to do about it? Here's a look at the major players and the choices they face in the Crimea crisis.

Ukraine: Ukraine insists that Crimea remains part of the country and is preparing its armed forces. Defense Minister Igor Tenyukh said the country's military forces were mobilized and ready to fight.

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Monkey See
1:38 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

'Veronica Mars' And The Bad Caterpillar Theory

In the movie, Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) is a recent law school grad living in New York when an old flame — Logan Echolls — calls her back to her home town of Neptune, Calif.
Robert Voets Courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 2:57 pm

[CAUTION: Contains information about both show and movie. Be warned.]

The story of the Veronica Mars movie has already become the insta-cook version of a legend: creator and star band together for Kickstarter campaign to add chapter to cult series, fans rally, movie gets made.

Does it really matter whether it's a good movie? Maybe not. Maybe wondering whether it's good is the equivalent of critiquing a bobblehead handed out at Comic-Con: it's supposed to make people who loved something nostalgically happy; if it makes them happy, who cares?

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Movies
1:33 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Lions, Lambs, Whatever: 10 Movies To Help You Weather The Week

Originally published on Tue March 18, 2014 1:37 pm

March giveth and it taketh away, depending on which coast you call home. Here in California, it's sunny, yes — but we're also suffering a drought. Meanwhile, portions of the East Coast are anything but precipitation-deprived as they suffer under several inches of snow.

But whether you're stuck at home unable to get to work or school, or watching your lawn slowly turn brown as you conserve water, it's a good time to enjoy a movie. Get a taste of what isn't happening outside your window with these films about droughts or blizzards:

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All Songs Considered
12:44 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

SXSW 2014 In Pictures

Against Me!'s Laura Jane Grace breaks into a smile during her band's set at the Spin day party at Stubb's.
Adam Kissick for NPR

Originally published on Tue March 18, 2014 8:26 am

South by Southwest 2014 is a wrap, and it's hard to quite comprehend how much was packed into its five days. Which is why we've put together a handy guide to a small sampling of the massive quantity of music we consumed in Austin last week.

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Shots - Health News
12:39 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Even If You Don't Have Symptoms, You May Still Have The Flu

Just the sniffles? Could be the flu.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 5:33 pm

Fever, muscle aches, nausea — these are what we usually associate with having the flu.

But just because you don't exhibit these symptoms, it doesn't mean you don't have the flu, researchers say. And you could be just as contagious. In fact, their study found that roughly three-quarters of people with seasonal or pandemic flu show either no symptoms or mild ones that aren't usually linked to flu.

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The Salt
12:05 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Sandwich Monday: The Subway Flatizza

"Flatizza" is not to be confused with "Flatzilla," the two-dimensional lizard monster.
NPR

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 2:40 pm

Whether it's James Franco writing novels or Pablo Picasso scrapbooking, all great artists move outside their medium. Subway has recently been experimenting with pizzas. The latest is the Flatizza, which is a combination of "flatbread" and "pizza," and is also embarrassing to say when you have to order one.

Mike: Subway pizza is a tough sell. "Five-dollar foot-wide" feels wrong.

Miles: I just don't understand why Subway demands we wash down the Flatizza with a FlatSoda.

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Remembrances
11:37 am
Mon March 17, 2014

'Fresh Air' Remembers Comedian David Brenner

David Brenner performs at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas in 1981.
Las Vegas News Bureau AP

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 11:52 am

Comedian David Brenner became a star in the 1970s, with the help of The Tonight Show. He made his first appearance with Johnny Carson in 1971 and returned to the show more than 150 times, often as the substitute host. He also had his own short-lived late night show in the mid '80s.

Brenner died Saturday at 78. He grew up in Philadelphia, where Fresh Air is produced, and spoke to Terry Gross in 1990.


Interview Highlights

On how he started doing observational comedy

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Author Interviews
11:37 am
Mon March 17, 2014

Author Penelope Lively Shares 'The View From Old Age'

Penelope Lively's other books include A Stitch In Time, Astercote and The Road To Lichfield.
Robbin Matthew Photography Courtesy of Viking

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 11:52 am

Penelope Lively describes her latest book, Dancing Fish And Ammonites, as "not quite a memoir," but rather "the view from old age," a subject she says she can report on with some authority — Monday is the British writer's 81st birthday.

Lively was born in Egypt, where her father was working at the time. She and her mother fled the country during World War II. When she was 12, in 1945, Lively was sent to live with her grandmothers in England.

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The Two-Way
11:11 am
Mon March 17, 2014

Navy SEALs Take Control Of Oil Tanker Seized By Libyan Rebels

Navy SEALs took control of the Morning Glory on Sunday, the Pentagon said in a statement. The vessel was said to be carrying stolen Libyan oil.
Dietmar Hasenpusch DPA /LANDOV

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 12:20 pm

A team of Navy SEALs boarded and took control of an oil tanker carrying Libyan oil, southeast of Cyprus, at the request of the Libyan and Cypriot governments, the Defense Department said in a statement Monday.

Rear Adm. John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, said the SEALs boarded the Morning Glory on Sunday night local time in international waters; the vessel was seized earlier this month by three armed Libyans.

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The Two-Way
11:08 am
Mon March 17, 2014

GM Recalls 1.2 Million SUVs For Problem With Air Bags

The 2013 Buick Enclave.
GM AP

Already in the news for a recall involving 1.6 million small vehicles with faulty ignition switches, General Motors on Monday added 1.2 million SUVs and nearly 400,000 other vehicles to its list of models with problems that need fixing.

The new recalls, which GM has listed here:

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The Salt
10:47 am
Mon March 17, 2014

The Dark History Of Green Food On St. Patrick's Day

Green cupcakes may mean party time in America, but in Ireland, emerald-tinged edibles harken back to a desperate past.
Ro Jo Images iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue March 18, 2014 7:03 am

Green food may mean party time in America, where St. Patrick's Day has long been an excuse to break out the food dye. But in Ireland, where the Irish celebrate their patron saint on March 17, green food has bitter connotations that recall the nation's darkest chapter, says historian Christine Kinealy.

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The Two-Way
10:42 am
Mon March 17, 2014

Scientists Announce A Big-Bang Breakthrough

This image released Monday by Harvard-led researchers represents the gravitational waves in the Cosmic Microwave Background in the microsecond after the Big Bang.
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 2:19 pm

This post was update at 4:00 p.m. ET.

Researchers say they've discovered that gravitational waves rippled through the fabric of space-time in the first sliver of a second after the Big Bang — the first direct evidence for a mysterious, ultrarapid expansion at the dawn of the universe. If confirmed, it would represent one of the most profound insights in decades to emerge from the field of cosmology.

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