Hay is one of the basic materials on a farm. It's important. But dried grass is not the kind of thing most farmers or ranchers would keep under lock and key until recently. The ongoing drought has meant less hay to go around. Production of alfalfa, for instance, is down 15 percent this year. So hay prices are soaring and so is the number of hay thefts. Grace Hood of member station KUNC reports from Colorado, one of several states where hay rustling is on the rise.
You might know Lizzy Caplan, eternal sidekick, as Jason Segel's girlfriend on television's Freaks and Geeks. Or as the struggling comedienne from Party Down, or the vampire vegan on True Blood, or from the movie The Bachelorette earlier this year?
Using illegal immigration as a frame to explore the slow awakening of a tough-shelled young Texas woman, The Girl is a patient chamber piece about the emotional bruises left by poverty and neglect.
Even before we fully know her circumstances, Ashley (Abbie Cornish) introduces herself as a victim of race and class discrimination. A sullen single mother and minimum-wage drone in a south Texas supermarket, she opens the film with a request for a raise. When denied, she refuses to accept her supervisor's criticism of her attitude.
We're long past the point where, at least among half-sentient beings, we need to make a case for the intelligence and sensitivity of Marilyn Monroe. Even when cast as a dumb blonde, she was never just your stock ditzy dame: She always showed a breezy self-effacement that was too sly to be purely accidental.
And to look at her, of course, is to love her, particularly now that her sad story has become part of the cultural landscape: How can you not want to protect such beauty and vulnerability from the cruelty of the world?
The O'Haras don't talk much about what's wrong, but the members of this biracial Queens family — the central characters of Yelling to the Sky -- are bedeviled by alcoholism (dad), mental illness (mom) and adolescent defiance (the two daughters). Indeed actress-turned-director Victoria Mahoney barely explains her characters' circumstances, which makes the movie obliquely intriguing. But whenever the story comes into focus, it's revealed as fairly conventional.
If this year the single-artist album looks to be on shaky ground — thanks to the EP's rise, the single's continuing dominance and the neither-nor of hip-hop mixtapes and online dance DJ mixes — the officially sanctioned compilation album would seem even wobblier. In the age of Spotify (not to mention the age of iTunes), most listeners make their own multi-artist playlists as a matter of course.
Originally published on Thu December 13, 2012 4:54 pm
When most drivers get a ticket from a speed-zone camera, there's little they can do but pay the fine. After all, the ticket often includes photographic proof that their car was over the limit. But a Maryland driver is fighting his $40 fine precisely because of what the photos show: his car, sitting at a red light.
Federal and state authorities have received criticism after deciding not to indict HSBC on accusations that it laundered money for Mexican drug cartels and conducted prohibited transactions on behalf of countries like Iran and Sudan. Instead, they entered into a $1.9 billion settlement this week with the bank.
There's no question that HSBC is a massive, sprawling operation. It markets itself as the world's local bank. But watchdogs of the banking industry say mere size should never insulate an organization from the law.
This picture received from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency on Wednesday shows an orbit image of the satellite Kwangmyongsong-3, being monitored on a large screen at a satellite control center in Cholsan county, North Pyongan province in North Korea.
Originally published on Thu December 13, 2012 2:51 pm
Sputnik 1 just beeped. China's first satellite, launched more than a decade later, simply radioed a communist anthem back to Earth. So far, North Korea's first satellite appears to be less accomplished.
And that shouldn't be a surprise.
Given the history of first orbital space shots, North Korea's apparent struggle with its mission is fairly typical, says David Akin, an associate professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Maryland.
I went to Toys R Us recently to buy my son a Lego set for Hanukkah. Did you know a small box of Legos costs $60? Sixty bucks for 102 plastic blocks!
In fact, I learned, Lego sets can sell for thousands of dollars. And despite these prices, Lego has about 70 percent of the construction-toy market. Why? Why doesn't some competitor sell plastic blocks for less? Lego's patents expired a while ago. How hard could it be to make a cheap knockoff?
Brothers John and Martin Pizzarelli were born into a family of musicians. Their father is the famed jazz guitarist, Bucky Pizzarelli, who, during the 1960s, performed in the Tonight Show Band and who worked as a session player for rock acts such as Dion and the Belmonts. Musical greats, too, were in and out of the Pizzarelli house in Paterson, New Jersey, as John and Martin were growing up. It makes perfect sense then that, eventually, Martin picked up the upright bass professionally and John found his calling with jazz guitar, singing and songwriting.
Originally published on Thu December 13, 2012 1:44 pm
The energy in the room is palpable, as Wynton Marsalis launches into "Dipper Mouth Blues," a tune named for King Oliver's trumpet player, Louis Armstrong. "New Orleans Bump" features the whimsical clarinet of Victor Goines.
Credit Courtesy of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation
Average life expectancy around the world has ticked up over the past twenty years. Here it's shown for men in 2009. The extremes are in dark green and dark red, which represent 78 to 82 years old and less than 66 years old, respectively.
Credit Courtesy of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation
What killed people around the world in 2010? This graph shows causes of death for each age group.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Many of us may not be able to point to Mali on a map, but this landlocked nation in West Africa has emerged as a crisis. Here's a quick synopsis: A government once hailed as a model of democracy collapses in a coup last March. Three northern provinces, an area the size of Texas, break away and declare themselves independent.
ScuttleButton, of course, is that once-a-week waste of time exercise in which each Monday or Tuesday (or, as they call today, "Thursday") I put up a vertical display of buttons on this site. Your job is to simply take one word (or concept) per button, add 'em up, and, hopefully, you will arrive at a famous name or a familiar expression. (And seriously, by familiar, I mean it's something that more than one person on Earth would recognize.)
2012 has been a very jittery year — what with the presidential election, extreme weather events and the looming "fiscal cliff." In response to these tense times, some readers seek out escape; others look to literature that directly confronts the atmospheric uncertainty of the age. I guess I'm in the latter camp, because many of my favorite books this year told stories, imagined and real, about ordinary people who felt like they didn't have a clue what hit 'em.
When the 20-inch gas pipeline next to Interstate 77 in West Virginia first ruptured on Tuesday, nobody at pipeline operator, Columbia Gas Transmission, knew it.
Now, the National Transportation Safety Board is trying to find out why. NTSB member Robert Sumwalt says no warning went off in the operating company's control center in nearby Charleston, so investigators are going there to interview staffers and review data.
Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 3:50 pm
Here's an experiment you can try. But please be the scientist and not the test subject.
Watch people cross the street and note whether they're yakking on the phone, texting or bopping to tunes while they do it. If you're really ambitious, time how long it takes them to cross.
This past summer researchers from the University of Washington did it. They watched more than 1,100 pedestrians at the 20 intersections in Seattle that racked up the most pedestrian injuries over the last three years.
Zakale Creations is a jewelry-designing operation that employs 30 young people who were previously involved in crime. The Nairobi-based operation is the brainchild of John Mucheru, himself a former mugger.
Credit John Burnett/NPR
John Mucheru of Zakale Creations poses with his jewelry designs in Nairobi's Huruma slum.
After covering East Africa for five months, a profound problem I encountered in every country was what will happen to the continent's exploding cities.
The U.N. predicts that by 2040, six in 10 Africans will live in cities — an estimated 1 billion people. One of the pressing questions for African leaders is how to occupy all the idle young men who turn to crime because there are no jobs.
In Nairobi's Huruma slum, I came across a point of light — one man's attempt to take in thieves and prostitutes and give them honest work, of all things, making jewelry.
Switching gears now, the issues of Palestinians, both in the U.S. and abroad, are often in the news, but not, I think it's fair to say, because of the comedy scene, which is where Maysoon Zayid comes in.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, those apps you've been downloading to keep the kids occupied during car rides and sports practices? It turns out, according to federal regulators, they are collecting all kinds of information that they aren't telling you about. So we will. In a few minutes.
And finally today, we want to take a moment to remember a legend in Indian classical music. Ravi Shankar died this week at the age of 92. He played the sitar, a long six-stringed wood instrument. He used it to communicate Indian music and culture to an American audience, and in fact audiences around the world. Shankar is known both for his own musicianship and his collaborations with Western greats like the Beatles and John Coltrane. Here's a collaboration with American violinist Yehudi Menuhin. The album is called "West Meets East."