This week the long-running comedy show Saturday Night Livehired Sasheer Zamata as a new cast member. The show had come under criticism for its lack of diversity, especially its lack of black women; Zamata will be the show's first female African-American cast member in six years.
The town of Spencer, in central Massachusetts, isn't well known for ... well, anything, really. But it's about to become internationally famous — at least in beer-drinking circles.
Spencer is home to St. Joseph's Abbey, where robed monks are busy brewing the first American Trappist beer. If all goes as planned, Spencer Trappist Ale will be available in Massachusetts retail stores by the middle of next week.
Changes are coming soon to the way the National Security Agency gathers information about people all over the globe. President Obama is slated to speak next Friday about what action he'll take to revamp the NSA surveillance programs, which were revealed in news leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The president has been meeting with stakeholders for several months, including executives from some of the biggest technology firms.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's lengthy mea culpa has not put an end to the scandal surrounding lane closures on the George Washington Bridge. He continues to face the fallout from a scandal that has received national coverage.
You never know where you might find a volunteer with a clipboard looking for signatures trying to get a voter referendum on the local ballot – like Ed Flanagan in the town of North Pole, Alaska.
"I'm out in what's called the North Pole transfer station. This facility has about 50 metal dumpsters arranged in a fenced area. Folks back up and throw their household trash in there. This is a very busy place," he says.
When people talk about the Volcker Rule, they often mention JPMorgan Chase, the giant bank where a trader recently made a bad bet that lost $6 billion. The Volcker Rule is supposed to put an end to that sort of thing, by prohibiting banks from trading with their own money.
But some banks that are very, very different from JPMorgan Chase are struggling with an obscure provision in the rule. Specifically, footnote 1,861, which bars banks from investing in something called trust-preferred securities — a rather obscure investment favored by lots of small, community banks invest
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The retail giant Target delivered more bad news today. The company was the victim of a massive security breach before Christmas, and today it announced that that cyber-attack was much worse than originally reported. NPR's Sonari Glinton explains.
It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.
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And I'm Robert Siegel.
Is it a bad economy or just bad data? That's the question today after a new round of disappointing employment numbers. The government reported the economy added just 74,000 jobs in December, well below expectations. The other surprise, the unemployment rate still dropped.
NPR's John Ydstie spent the day talking with economists about the report, and many say they just don't believe it.
Alicia Soderberg studies the death of stars. Often, these final moments come as violent explosions known as supernovae. They're spectacular events, but catching one as it unfolds can be tricky.
"You have to be in the right place at the right time, and often we're not," says the professor in Harvard's astronomy department. "So all you can do is do a stellar autopsy and go back and try to pick up the pieces and try to figure out what happened."
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shocked the world last month when he accused his uncle and mentor of treason and had Jang Song Thaek executed.
The consequences of that purge are reaching beyond North Korea's border. Jang had been in charge of trade with China, and his death has had a chilling effect on ties with North Korea's neighbor and longtime ally.
If you think the recent liberalization of marijuana laws around the country is only about smoking leaves and buds, think again. For users younger than 25, "hash oil" is where it's really at. This concentrated resin of marijuana is creating new public safety headaches — even in places where it's legal.
There have always been forms of the substance, but the resins available today are much stronger than in years past. That's due in part to the expertise developed by medical marijuana producers, who have learned how to make more potent versions of the oil.
Ross Miner is among those competing for a spot on the U.S. Men's figure skating team Friday night in Boston. He is a hometown favorite who is bringing some local flavor to his performance — he's going to tell the story of last year's Boston Marathon bombing.
West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has declared a state of emergency in nine counties because of water contamination. Approximately 300,000 people have been affected as a chemical has leached into the water supply.
The Department of Justice said today it will recognize more than a thousand same-sex marriages that took place in Utah recently. The announcement comes despite the state's questions about their validity. Utah is appealing an earlier court ruling that allowed the unions. From member station KUER in Salt Lake City, Terry Gildea has this report.
TERRY GILDEA, BYLINE: News of the federal government's recognition of gay married couples in Utah didn't change the minds of state officials.
Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 1:37 pm
When you take a pill, you and your doctor hope it will work — and that helps it work.
That's not a new idea. But now researchers say they know just how much of a drug's effect comes from the patient's expectation: at least half.
When patients in the midst of a migraine attack took a dummy pill they thought was a widely used migraine drug, it reduced their pain roughly as much as when they took the real drug thinking it was a placebo.
Whether you had a job or were looking for one, December was a gloomy month.
The Labor Department said Friday that for December, employers added only 74,000 jobs — about a third as many as most economists had been predicting. That was the lowest level of job creation in three years — not exactly the news that 10.4 million job seekers wanted to hear.
Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 3:12 pm
It's 2014 and we're back to full team strength, which means we've returned with your guide to the week's previous tech coverage on NPR (in case you missed it) and from our friends at what seems like an ever-growing crop of tech journalism organizations.
Julian Fellowes may be the Lord Fellowes of West Stafford, but the English screenwriter, director and novelist says his background "was much more ordinary than the newspapers have made it." What he means is that he did not grow up with servants waiting on him hand and foot, as people have seen done for the Crawley family on Downton Abbey, the hit television series Fellowes created.
The influential and controversial poet, playwright and essayist Amiri Baraka, formerly known as LeRoi Jones, was one of the key black literary voices of the 1960s. The political and social views that inspired his writing changed over the years, from his bohemian days as a young man in Greenwich Village, to black nationalism and later years as a Marxist.
This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies in for Terry Gross. The new film, "The Invisible Woman," charts the hidden relationship between Charles Dickens and a young actress for whom left his wife, but who for years never showed up in biographies of Dickens. It's the second film directed by Ralph Fiennes, who also plays Dickens and features Felicity Jones as the actress, Nelly Ternan.
Woody Harrelson has a simple explanation for how he handled playing the same detective over a 17-year span of time for HBO's newest foray into quality TV, True Detective.
"I just took off my wig," joked Harrelson, sporting a beard and his naturally receding hairline for a press conference here Thursday to tell a roomful of TV critics about HBO's attempt to reinvent the buddy cop story.
Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 1:35 pm
"Attorney General Eric Holder announced Friday that the federal government will recognize the 900-plus same-sex marriages that took place in Utah during the two weeks when such unions were legal," NPR's Nina Totenberg writes for us.
That means those couples "will be eligible for all federal benefits," NPR's Carrie Johnson adds.
Piano Jazz continues with part two of a monumental session (here's part one), as host Marian McPartland sits down as a guest on the program with guest host Elvis Costello. In this all-new interview, McPartland and Costello celebrate more moments from 30-plus years of Piano Jazz.
A 26-part series on genetically modified food was not Nathanael Johnson's idea. And he didn't realize it would take six months, either.
Last year, Johnson was hired as the new food writer for Grist, a website for environmental news and opinion. Grist's editor, Scott Rosenberg, was waiting with an assignment: Dig into the controversy over GMOs.
Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates has been making news all week with his forthcoming memoir. Gates recounts his years leading the Pentagon under both Presidents Bush and Obama during a time of two wars. Yesterday, Gates sat down with Steve. It was his first interview since his book exploded in the headlines, and he's arguing that the book is being misconstrued. We will be broadcasting the interview Monday, but thought we'd take a chance to preview it with Steve here in the studio.
Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 11:33 am
Death seems one of life's few certainties, but the cases of a girl and a young woman who are being kept on life support even though they are legally dead show how difficult it still can be to agree on the end of life.