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5:53 am
Sat March 8, 2014

Making A Computerized Voice A Little More Human

Originally published on Sat March 8, 2014 9:31 am

Transcript

STEPEHN HAWKING: Here did we come from? Are we alone in the universe?

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

You may recognize this as the voice of Stephen Hawking, the physicist. It's actually the generic voice of men and women who use computers to speak for them. Synthetic speech though can be cold and impersonal, but a scientist in Boston wants to change that. Guy Raz of the TED RADIO HOUR has more.

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Parallels
3:39 am
Sat March 8, 2014

Russia's Goal In Ukraine: Three Scenarios

A Ukrainian protester stands at a memorial for the people killed in clashes at Kiev's Independence Square, on March 1. The focus of Ukraine's crisis is now in Crimea, where Russian forces are effectively in control.
Emilio Morenatti AP

Russia has effectively taken control of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula without a shot fired in anger. Now a larger question looms: What is Russian President Vladimir Putin's ultimate goal in Ukraine?

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Movie Interviews
3:24 am
Sat March 8, 2014

Hollywood Bug Man Understands How Cockroaches Think

Entomologist Stephen Kutcher has wrangled insects for more than 100 films, commercials and music videos.
Courtesy of Stephen Kutcher

Originally published on Tue March 18, 2014 11:33 am

When most people see bugs on the big screen, they squirm, panic or squeal. But not Steven Kutcher. Kutcher is the man responsible for getting those insects on the screen. He's been Hollywood's go-to bug wrangler since the 1970s, handling, herding and otherwise directing insects in over 100 feature films.

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Simon Says
3:24 am
Sat March 8, 2014

'Unproductive Anxiety' And The Solo Act Of Essay Writing

The essay portion of the SAT exam will become optional in 2016, the College Board announced this week.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Sat March 8, 2014 9:31 am

"If you are squeamish
Don't prod the
beach rubble."

Those wise words from Sappho, the Greek woman lyric poet born around 610 B.C. came to mind this week when the College Board announced it will make the essay on the SAT exam optional.

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Author Interviews
3:23 am
Sat March 8, 2014

'Night In Shanghai' Dances On The Eve Of Destruction

Originally published on Sat March 8, 2014 9:31 am

A lot of talented jazz musicians in the 1930's couldn't buy a drink in the places they played. They were the African-American musicians who helped create the era's signature sound — but still had to live under the sting of segregation. Unless they went elsewhere.

Author Nicole Mones' new Night in Shanghai centers on classcially trained Baltimore pianist Thomas Greene, who's recruited to play jazz — a music that's new to him — in a new place: not Harlem, or the south side of Chicago, or even Paris, but Shanghai.

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Education
3:23 am
Sat March 8, 2014

What The U.S. Can Learn From Finland, Where School Starts At Age 7

President Barack Obama sits with students during a tour of a Pre-K classroom at Powell Elementary School in Washington, D.C., this week.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun March 9, 2014 10:00 am

Finland, a country the size of Minnesota, beats the U.S. in math, reading and science, even though Finnish children don't start school until age 7.

Despite the late start, the vast majority arrive with solid reading and math skills. By age 15, Finnish students outperform all but a few countries on international assessments.

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Business
3:20 am
Sat March 8, 2014

Don't Run Out For Caviar Yet, But Wages Are Heading Higher

Construction companies added 15,000 jobs even though the weather was horrible in much of the country in February.
Sarah Glenn Getty Images

Originally published on Sat March 8, 2014 10:40 am

  • Freezing Weather Put A Chill On Economy, Housing Market?

Friday's monthly employment report was encouraging — but not just for job seekers. People who already have work could find something to celebrate too: Hourly wages rose at a decent pace.

That's a welcome change for employees who have seen only very, very modest raises in this economic recovery.

The Labor Department said average hourly wages rose by 9 cents an hour in February, up to $24.31. With that bump, workers are now making 2.2 percent more per hour than they were a year ago.

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All Tech Considered
3:19 am
Sat March 8, 2014

Tech Week That Was: Women In Tech, Bitcoin's Man And SXSW Begins

A Bitcoin sign at a shop in Hong Kong.
Philippe Lopez AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 11, 2014 8:15 am

Another hectic week in the technology space wraps up just as the massive festival for interactive geeks and the marketers who love them — South By Southwest — gets under way in Austin, Texas.

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The Two-Way
6:53 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Edward Snowden Tells EU Parliament He Wants Asylum In Europe

Originally published on Fri March 7, 2014 9:01 pm

In written testimony before the European Parliament, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden said he is seeking asylum in the European Union but he has not received "a positive response to the requests I sent to various EU member states."

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The Two-Way
6:16 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Search For Malaysian Jet Spots Oil Slicks In Waters Off Vietnam

A woman, believed to be the relative of a passenger onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, cries as she talks on her mobile phone at the Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing.
Kim Kyung-Hoon Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Sat March 8, 2014 2:57 pm

For the latest news, visit our new post about the missing flight.

Vietnamese military planes report seeing two oil slicks off the country's coast that could be a sign of a missing Malaysia Airlines passenger jet Saturday. Officials say the search for the jet continues and that ships are being sent to the location of the sighting.

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Sports
5:29 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

76ers' Epic Losing Streak Makes Some Reconsider NBA Draft

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, it's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

The Philadelphia '76ers have lost their last 15 games and no one would be surprised if they didn't win again this season. But the big question now is whether all that losing is intentional and whether the league needs to do something about it. Sportswriter Stefan Fatsis joins us now. Hey there, Stefan.

STEFAN FATSIS, BYLINE: Hey, Audie.

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Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
4:20 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Not My Job: Drummer Stewart Copeland Gets Quizzed On Police Tactics

Mark Mainz Getty Images

Originally published on Sat March 8, 2014 10:03 am

In the late '70s American drummer Stewart Copeland was living in England and joined up with guitarist Andy Summers and a singer named Sting. They formed a band called The Police, and then basically provided the soundtrack for the 1980s. Since then, Copeland has scored movies, theater performances and occasionally gotten the old band together again.

We've invited Copeland to play a game called "You have the right to wonder what the heck I'm doing." Three questions about questionable police tactics.

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Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
4:20 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Prediction

Originally published on Sat March 8, 2014 10:03 am

Transcript

PETER SAGAL, HOST:

Now, panel, what new words will we see on the SAT? Faith Salie.

FAITH SALIE: In an effort to preserve some old school SAT words but add some relevant pop culture, two new words are chiwetelejioforebearance and lupitanyongoprobrium.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Mike Birbiglia.

MIKE BIRBIGLIA: A future SAT word will be Facebook, example sentence, Remember Facebook?

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: And Adam Felber.

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Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
4:20 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Lightning Fill In The Blank

Originally published on Sat March 8, 2014 10:03 am

Transcript

PETER SAGAL, HOST:

It's time to move on to our final game, Lightning Fill in the Blank. Each of our players will have 60 seconds in which to answer as many fill in the blank questions as he or she can. Each correct answer now worth two points. Carl, can you give us the scores?

CARL KASELL: We have a tie for first place, Peter. Adam Felber and Mike Birbiglia each has three points, Faith Salie has two.

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Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
4:20 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Limericks

Originally published on Sat March 8, 2014 10:03 am

Transcript

PETER SAGAL, HOST:

Coming up, it's Lightning Fill in the Blank, but first it's the game where you have to listen for the rhyme. If you'd like to play on air, call or leave a message at 1-888-WAIT-WAIT. That's 1-88-924-8924. Or click the contact us link on our website waitwait.npr.org. There you can find out about attending our weekly live shows right here at the Chase Bank Auditorium in Chicago and our upcoming shows in Kalamazoo on March 20th and San Diego, California on May 1st. Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!

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NPR Story
4:06 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Hugo Chávez and Venezuela

Originally published on Fri March 14, 2014 10:03 am

Venezuelan protests rage on as the government of Nicolas Maduro commemorates the death of Hugo Chavez. Maria Hinojosa talks with Caracas-based reporter Girish Gupta.

It's All Politics
4:03 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

CPAC's Conservative-Libertarian Split Could Be Hard To Bridge

Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky speaks at the Conservative Political Action Committee annual conference in National Harbor, Md., on Friday.
Susan Walsh AP

If any two issues illustrate how difficult it could be for the part of the Republican Party represented by the social and national security conservatives to bridge their differences with libertarians, same-sex marriage and National Security Agency intelligence are good candidates

Discussions at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference got testy Friday, when libertarians defended positions out of synch with the more traditional stances that have defined the Republican Party for decades.

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NPR Story
3:49 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Sabiduria: The Voice of God

This week's Sabiduria comes from Sylvia Villagran, a professional voice actor. She voices commercials in both Spanish and English, and talks about the importance of standing up for yourself.

NPR Story
3:49 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

La Santa Cecilia

The Los Angeles band La Santa Cecilia won a Grammy this year for the best Latin, urban or alternative album. We meet the band members, including accordion player Pepe Carlos, who's undocumented.

The Two-Way
3:46 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Brief Standoff Over Ukrainian Base In Crimea Ends Peacefully

Unidentified armed men in military uniforms block a Ukrainian military base in the village of Perevalnoye, outside Simferopol, Ukraine, on Thursday. Similar pro-Russian forces forced a brief standoff at the missile defense base in Sevastopol on Friday.
Arthur Shvarts EPA/Landov

A tense standoff Friday between pro-Russian troops and Ukrainian forces at a missile-defense base in Crimea is reportedly over without a shot being fired.

Russia's Interfax news agency reported that a Russian military truck had smashed through the gate of the Ukrainian base in Sevastopol, the port city that is home to Russia's Black Sea fleet.

Interfax, quoted by The Associated Press, says about 100 Ukrainian troops are stationed at the base and about 20 "attackers" entered, some throwing stun grenades, the report said.

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The Two-Way
3:43 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Judge Throws Out Fine Against User Of Small Drone

The kind of model aircraft Raphael Pirker was flying.
Ritewing RC

Originally published on Fri March 7, 2014 3:59 pm

A federal judge has dismissed a Federal Aviation Administration fine against a man who flew a drone near the University of Virginia to film a commercial video in 2011.

The Associated Press reports that the FAA fined the man $10,000 because commercial operators of "Unmanned Aircraft Systems" are required to obtain a permit from the agency before taking flight.

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The Edge
3:06 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Military Training Gives U.S. Paralympic Biathletes An Edge

Andy Soule, a U.S. Army veteran, lost both his legs to a bomb in Afghanistan in 2005. Four years ago, he won America's first medal — Olympic or Paralympic — in the biathlon event.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Fri March 7, 2014 5:39 pm

Biathlon may be the toughest endurance sport in the Olympics. After grueling circuits of Nordic skiing, athletes have to calm their breathing, steady their tired legs and shoot tiny targets with a rifle.

Andy Soule does it all with only his arms.

"It's a steep learning curve, learning to sit-ski," says Soule, a member of the U.S. Paralympic team. He's strapped into a seat attached to two fixed cross-country skis. He speeds along the course by hauling himself with ski poles.

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Remembrances
2:46 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Fresh Air Remembers Surgeon And 'How We Die' Author Sherwin Nuland

Transcript

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. Because he was a doctor, Sherwin Nuland witnessed many deaths, including those in his own family. Dr. Nuland - who was a surgeon - was the author of "How We Die," an influential book about dying, which won a National Book Award. It was published in 1994. Twenty years after his book was published, Dr. Nuland himself died on Monday at his home in Connecticut from prostate cancer. He was 83.

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Interviews
2:46 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

'Americanah' Author Explains 'Learning' To Be Black In The U.S.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker and Granta. She is also the author of the novels Purple Hibiscus and Half of A Yellow Sun.
Little, Brown and Co.

This interview was originally broadcast on June 27, 2013.

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Movie Reviews
2:44 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

'Particle Fever': Thrills, Chills And High Subatomic Drama

Yes, that is a man standing there, in the middle of this one small fraction of one experimental node of the Large Hadron Collider.
CERN

All you really need to know about Particle Fever is that it includes footage of physicists rapping. About physics. Wearing giant Einstein masks.

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Song Travels
2:07 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Tierney Sutton On 'Song Travels'

Tierney Sutton.
Courtesy of the artist

Jazz vocalist Tierney Sutton has headlined national venues, from Carnegie Hall to the Hollywood Bowl, and has earned five Grammy nominations. With her latest project, After Blue, Sutton takes on the genius of singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell.

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Fine Art
2:03 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Too Many Artists, Too Little Time: The Problems And Promise Of The Whitney

Originally published on Fri March 7, 2014 5:29 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

The art show everyone loves to hate opens today in New York City. Every two years, the Whitney Museum of American Art hosts a show that's billed as an overview of art in America. The Whitney Biennial inevitably gets trashed by art critics, museum visitors and artists alike. As Karen Michel reports, this is the last biennial before the museum moves to a new building.

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Movie Reviews
2:03 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Review: 'The Grand Budapest Hotel'

Originally published on Fri March 7, 2014 5:29 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Filmmaker Wes Anderson makes movies that are eccentric, pointedly artificial and, to his fans, very funny. From his early comedies "Rushmore" and "The Royal Tannenbaums," to last year's Oscar-nominated "Moonrise Kingdom," Anderson's movies have looked and sounded different from everyone else's in Hollywood. And critic Bob Mondello says that streak continues with his spoof of extravagant 1930s melodramas. It's called "The Grand Budapest Hotel."

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Television
2:03 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

From One Dream To Another, 'The Returned' Shows Promise

Originally published on Sun March 9, 2014 8:42 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

It's something most writer only dream of, but Jason Mott is living the dream. ABC has turned his first novel into a TV series. "Resurrection" premieres Sunday night. As NPR's Eric Deggans reports, it explores one transition just about everyone faces sooner or later.

ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: For Jason Mott, it all started with a vision about life after his mother's death.

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This Week's Must Read
2:03 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

A Ukrainian Conscience Lost By Complicity, Recovered By Remorse

An anti-government protester sits on the Founders of Kiev monument during clashes with riot police in central Kiev.
Louisa Gouliamaki AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 7, 2014 5:29 pm

Anthony Marra recommends Everything Flows by Vasily Grossman as a way to understand the events unfolding in Ukraine.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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