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4:27 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

As Zamata Joins 'SNL,' A Look At — And Beyond — The Prism Of Race

iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 5:19 pm

This week the long-running comedy show Saturday Night Live hired 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.

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The Salt
3:02 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

American Beer Fans, Praise The Heavens: A Trappist Brewery In U.S.

Spencer Trappist Ale, made by the first official Trappist brewery outside Europe, will go on sale next week in Massachusetts.
Nick Hiller The Spencer Brewery

Originally published on Mon January 13, 2014 2:27 pm

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.

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Movie Interviews
3:01 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Cate Blanchett Finds Humor In The Painfully Absurd

Laugh Riot: Blanchett, pictured here at a Hollywood screening of Blue Jasmine on Jan. 9, tells NPR's Robert Siegel that she read the film as a black comedy. It wasn't until three weeks into filming that director Woody Allen told her it was meant to be a serious drama.
Valerie Macon Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 5:19 pm

The actress Cate Blanchett is in the States this week; it's summer vacation time for her kids in Australia, where she and her husband are artistic directors of the Sydney Theatre Company.

It's also awards season, and Blanchett makes a compelling claim for one: She plays the title role in Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine, for which she's earned near-unanimous acclaim.

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Politics
3:01 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Tech Companies 'Gob-Smacked' To Find NSA Collecting Data

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 5:19 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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.

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Commentary
3:01 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Week In Politics: Christie Scandal & The War On Poverty

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 5:19 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

It's time now for our weekly political talk with columnists David Brooks of the New York Times and E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post and the Brookings Institution. Hello to both of you.

DAVID BROOKS: Hello.

E.J. DIONNE: Great to be with you.

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Politics
3:01 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

In Christie Scandal, A Question Remains: Who Was The Target?

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 5:19 pm

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.

Politics
3:01 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Minimum Wage Fight Takes Shape Across The Map

Trish Gallagher holds a sign for passing motorists to read during a demonstration in support of a higher minimum wage near a Burger King in Boston on Dec. 5. Massachusetts is one of several states considering a minimum wage ballot measure.
BRIAN SNYDER Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 5:19 pm

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.

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Planet Money
3:01 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

How A Community Bank Tripped On Footnote 1,861 Of The Volcker Rule

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 10:05 am

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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Economy
3:01 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

For Target, Holiday Woes Are Worse Than Expected

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 5:19 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.

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.

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Economy
3:01 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

December Jobs Report Disappoints

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 5:19 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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.

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The Two-Way
3:01 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Dying Stars Write Their Own Swan Songs

This composite image shows new details of the aftermath of a massive star that exploded and was visible from Earth over 1,000 years ago.
Chandra X-ray Observatory Center NASA

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 5:48 pm

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."

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Parallels
3:01 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

An Execution In North Korea Has A Chilling Effect In China

The Chinese and North Korean flags are seen attached to a railing as trucks carrying Chinese-made goods cross into North Korea on the Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge at the Chinese border town of Dandong on Dec. 18, 2013. Ties between the two longtime allies are strained after the execution of the North Korean official in charge of economic relations with China.
Mark Ralston AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 5:48 pm

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.

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U.S.
3:01 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Marijuana 'Hash Oil' Explodes In Popularity, And Kitchens

Jim Andersen displays butane hash oil at a marijuana growing facility in Seattle in April 2013. The state's licensed producers will be required to use professional-grade equipment when making the extracts.
Elaine Thompson AP

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 5:19 pm

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.

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Sports
3:01 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

A Story Of The Boston Marathon Bombing, As Told On Skates

Ross Miner skates during the men's short program at the 2013 Skate Canada International last year. He hopes to qualify for the upcoming Winter Olympics.
Dave Sandford Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 5:48 pm

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.

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Around the Nation
3:01 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Chemical Spill In West Virginia Leads To State Of Emergency

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 5:19 pm

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.

Law
3:01 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

U.S. Government Will Recognize Same-Sex Marriage In Utah

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 5:19 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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.

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Shots - Health News
1:30 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Half Of A Drug's Power Comes From Thinking It Will Work

iStockphoto

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.

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Business
1:20 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

What's Behind The Drop In Unemployment

Shoppers make a purchase at an outlet mall in Los Angeles. Employers added 55,000 jobs in the retail sector in December.
Gus Ruelas Reuters/Landov

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.

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All Tech Considered
1:11 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Tech Week That Was: CES, T-Mobile CEO And Predictions For 2014

John Legere, CEO and president of T-Mobile USA, crashed rival AT&T's Consumer Electronics Show party and won a slew of free publicity as a result.
John Moore Getty Images

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.

ICYMI

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Song Travels
12:37 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

John Proulx On 'Song Travels'

John Proulx.
Courtesy of the artist

Vocalist, pianist and composer John Proulx has a voice that recalls another great all-around musician, the late Chet Baker.

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Interviews
12:30 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Julian Fellowes On The Rules Of 'Downton'

Jim Carter as Mr. Carson in Downton Abbey.
WGBH/PBS

This interview was originally broadcast on Dec. 11, 2012.

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.

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Remembrances
12:26 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Remembering Activist Poet Amiri Baraka

Playwright, poet and activist LeRoi Jones on June 30, 1964. Jones later changed his name to Amiri Baraka.
AP

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 12:48 pm

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.

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Movie Reviews
11:59 am
Fri January 10, 2014

'Invisible Woman' Charts Charles Dickens' Hidden Relationship

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 12:30 pm

Transcript

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

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.

Film critic David Edelstein has this review.

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Monkey See
11:39 am
Fri January 10, 2014

HBO's 'True Detective' Brings Big Stars To Tell A Brutal Tale

Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey star in HBO's series True Detective.
JIm Bridges HBO

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.

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The Two-Way
11:11 am
Fri January 10, 2014

Same-Sex Couples In Utah Made Eligible For Federal Benefits

Chris Serrano, left, and Clifton Webb embrace after being married on Dec. 20 in the Salt Lake County Clerk's Office in Salt Lake City.
Kim Raff AP

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.

In a statement, Holder says that:

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NPR Story
11:09 am
Fri January 10, 2014

Marian McPartland On Piano Jazz, Part Two

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.

Beginnings In England

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The Salt
10:52 am
Fri January 10, 2014

A Green-Movement Website Shakes Up The Debate Over GMOs

After Grist's six-month-long series on genetically modified foods, some loyal readers accused the site of changing directions in the debate.
iStockphoto

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.

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Around the Nation
10:45 am
Fri January 10, 2014

On Monday's Show: Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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.

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Shots - Health News
10:28 am
Fri January 10, 2014

Why Hospitals And Families Still Struggle To Define Death

Erick Munoz stands by a photo of his wife, Marlise Munoz, at home in Fort Worth, Texas, on Jan. 3. She is being kept on life support in a local hospital against the family's wishes.
Fort Worth Star-Telegram MCT via Getty Images

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.

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The Two-Way
10:06 am
Fri January 10, 2014

Gates Says His Points About Obama Have Been Mischaracterized

Robert Gates waves and President Obama claps at the then-defense secretary's farewell ceremony in June 2011.
Jason Reed Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 12:08 pm

  • On 'Morning Edition': Steve Inskeep and David Greene discuss NPR's interview with Robert Gates

Reports this week about former Defense Secretary Robert Gates' new book have implied that he thinks President Obama approved a 2009 troop surge in Afghanistan "believing the strategy would fail," as NPR's Steve Inskeep said on Friday's Morning Edition.

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