From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
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And I'm Melissa Block.
Water officials in West Virginia are gradually lifting do not use orders for customers, after last week's chemical spill into the Elk River. But late yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control advised pregnant women not to drink the tap water still, out of an abundance of caution.
President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama hosted a meeting with college presidents and organizations involved in raising the number of low-income students who pursue a college degree. No more than half of low income high school graduates apply to college right after graduation, compared to 82 percent for high-income students. The administration says it's intent on closing that gap.
Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 12:34 pm
A committee tasked by the White House with reviewing U.S. electronic surveillance has come up with 46 proposed changes to National Security Agency spying practices. Here are arguments for and against five recommendations that President Obama may take up in a speech announcing policy changes Friday:
As recently as 2011, the National Security Agency was collecting almost 200 million text messages each day, according to a new story by The Guardian that cites documents from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The texts were used to develop financial and location data, the newspaper says.
A years-in-the-making, top-secret engineering and design project for a superaerodynamic suit to be worn by U.S. speedskaters at next month's Winter Olympics was finally unveiled Thursday.
Defense contractor Lockheed Martin and sporting goods company Under Armour released photos of the suit they're calling "Mach 39." It has been kept so tightly under wraps that the sport's governing body wouldn't even allow it to be worn at the Olympic trials in Salt Lake City.
A franchise is what we used to call a Burger King or a Shell station, but nowadays the word appears more often in relation to movies: the Star Wars franchise, the Hunger Games franchise, the Jack Ryan franchise — or in the case of Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, the Jack Ryan franchise reboot. I don't know what's more depressing: that what fires up studio execs is the hunt for a new franchise or that critics have adopted this business lingo uncritically.
There's black comedy, and then, in the darkest corner of an airtight box buried deep underground, there's the humor of Big Bad Wolves, a new Israeli thriller from writer-directors Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado.
Tokyo filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda is known for deft work with kids, sometimes in scenarios with little or no adult presence. But the English-language title of his latest movie, Like Father, Like Son, is a little misleading. There's no reference to a child in the Japanese title, which means "And So He Becomes a Father."
Originally published on Thu January 16, 2014 3:44 pm
Given the feel-good themes of the average kids' movie — be yourself, follow the golden rule, love each other, blah blah blah — it's refreshing to see an animated comedy chuck that guck and focus on a real jerk. Not a misunderstood Princess Elsa, or a Wreck-It Ralph with a heart of gold, but an out-and-out, two-bit, sell-you-down-the-river-if-it-would-save-his-own-fur shyster.
For President Obama and Senate Democrats, who gathered in a White House meeting Wednesday, it's all about mutual aid at this point.
If Obama is to maintain any leverage in Congress, he needs Democrats to keep control of the Senate since the House appears likely to remain in Republican hands. And if his second term agenda has any hope of being achieved — such as tackling income inequality, overhauling immigration or reaching a durable nuclear deal with Iran — he'll need a Democratic Senate majority working side-by-side with him.
Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 4:10 am
This post was last updated at 9 p.m. ET.
Authorities have arrested three men on charges of recklessly starting a fire that has swept through more than 1,700 acres in Southern California's San Gabriel Mountains, about 25 miles northeast of Los Angeles. It is currently 30 percent contained. Authorities say they have ordered people evacuated from 1,000 homes.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers took the first step Thursday to patch a gaping hole in the 1965 Voting Rights Act after the Supreme Court eviscerated a key part of the law that allowed for federal oversight of states with a history of ballot box discrimination.
Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 2:39 am
When relocating to a new country, it's important to establish routines and traditions. My ritual here in London is spending an hour on the phone with the bank every day.
It's a strange thing about 2014 — we've got one collective foot planted squarely in the 21st century, while the other is stuck in back in the 19-something-or-others.
My email, Facebook, and Twitter accounts don't care whether I'm in Dublin or Dubai. I can jog along the Seine in Paris to the same music on Spotify that I listen to when I'm running along the Willamette River in Portland.
In their hunt for potentially habitable planets around distant stars, scientists have been so focused on finding Earth-like planets that they're ignoring the possibility that other kinds of planets might be even friendlier to life, a new report says.
So-called superhabitable worlds wouldn't necessarily look like Earth but would nonetheless have conditions that are more suitable for life to emerge and evolve, according to the study published this month in the journal Astrobiology.
Oscar nominations are in. They were announced this morning in Beverly Hills. And "American Hustle" and "Gravity" are the early front-runners. Each of them got 10 Academy Award nominations, including best picture. "12 Years a Slave" was close behind with nine nominations. For more, we're joined now by Linda Holmes, who writes and edits NPR's entertainment and pop culture blog Monkey See. Good morning.
An exceptionally rare flower that is virtually extinct has been stolen from London's Kew Gardens, in a crime that experts say could be the work of an obsessed collector. British newspapers say that stealing the precious Nymphaea thermarum water lily "is like an old master theft."
"There goes the neighborhood." Every so often that cry goes up in San Francisco, announcing a new chapter in American cultural history, as the rest of the country looks on. There were the beats in North Beach, then the hippies in the Haight, then the gays in the Castro. Now it's the turn of the techies who are pouring into my own Mission neighborhood, among other places. Only this time around, the green stuff that's perfuming the air is money, not weed.
When Sandy Pollock and Crystal Cook go to work on a traditional recipe, they usually like to bring it up to date with a modern twist or two. After all, they call themselves the Casserole Queens, specialists in making a classic quick-fix dish fit for today's dinner mat.
But when it came to changing the King Ranch Casserole, Sandy wouldn't hear of it. "There are just some things that you don't mess with," she says. "It's the way Mama made it!"
Fox News CEO and President Roger Ailes has succeeded in turning a television news network into an unprecedented force. Fox News is the most dominant media organization in America, generating more than a billion dollars in profit and earning the highest ratings of any cable news network.
Gabriel Sherman writes about Ailes' success with Fox News in his new book, The Loudest Voice In The Room: How The Brilliant, Bombastic Roger Ailes Built Fox News — And Divided A Country.
Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 9:47 am
In his new memoir, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates heaped scorn on many members of Congress for pushing their parochial interests with him.
But he saved a special dig for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
"With two ongoing wars and all our budget and other issues, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry," Gates writes, describing how the Nevada Democrat urged him to have the Defense Department invest in research into irritable bowel syndrome.
It's an anecdote that drew snickers — and media attention, including here at NPR.
This past Sunday was a frenzied and unforgettable night in New York City: A dozen bands from as far away as Australia and the Congo (and as close as Mississippi), left it all on the stage for globalFEST, one of the most important world music events in North America, held each January at Webster Hall.
Originally published on Thu January 16, 2014 12:19 pm
On Jan. 17, 1961, President Eisenhower used his farewell address to warn Americans that:
"We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."
The trial of four men accused of killing Rafik Hariri and 22 others began Thursday in Leidschendam, Netherlands, on Thursday nearly nine years after the former Lebanese prime minister was assassinated by a massive car bomb in Beirut.
Speaking outside the court, Hariri's son, Saad Hariri, who has also served as a prime minister, said his presence and those of family members is "proof that our stance, since the first moment, and every moment, was and will continue to be: seeking justice, not revenge, punishment and not vengeance."
The Oscar nominations are in! "American Hustle," "Gravity," and "12 Years a Slave" scored big. But did anything really surprise critics? Host Michel Martin speaks with actor and producer Rick Najera about the nods.
Teju Cole's novel Open City may have won him critical acclaim and many fans, but that doesn't mean he can stop thinking about how to connect with his readers. "I actually do have to work hard for whatever attention my work gets," Cole tells NPR's Michel Martin.
And he is using unconventional methods to get that attention.
After a recent, "much needed break from the hectic environment that Twitter sometimes can be," his 120,000-plus followers noticed some activity on his feed.