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2:59 pm
Sun February 24, 2013

The Language Of Empires Faces Extinction

Esho Joseph stands in front of the Nemo Delale bridge in Zakho, Iraq. Joseph, a former translator, grew up speaking Aramaic.
Jacki Lyden/NPR

Originally published on Sun February 24, 2013 6:40 pm

For centuries, Aramaic was the language of an entire empire. It was the language of Christ, of biblical scholars, and of the Middle East. And for that reason, Esho Joseph, a former translator for the Iraqi regime who now lives in the U.S., is saddened by its slow disappearance.

"This language ... is ... [of] historical importance," says Joseph, who grew up speaking the language. "... And now it ... [is], you know, dying. It is really painful."

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NPR Story
2:59 pm
Sun February 24, 2013

Jimmie Johnson wins Daytona 500

Originally published on Sun February 24, 2013 3:41 pm

Jimmie Johnson has won the Daytona 500, one day after crash during a race there injured fans. Danica Patrick, who was hoping to make history, finished eighth. Jacki Lyden gets the latest from NPR's Mike Pesca.

Author Interviews
1:48 pm
Sun February 24, 2013

Historical Fiction Gets Personal in 'Philida'

Random House

Originally published on Sun February 24, 2013 3:44 pm

André Brink is one of the most well-known anti-apartheid writers in South Africa. His latest novel Philida, which was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, is set in 1832 in the South African Cape, just two years before emancipation.

The title character lodges a complaint against her master, Francois Brink, who is also the father of her four children. He'd promised her freedom, but then backs out and marries a wealthy white woman.

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Music Interviews
1:19 pm
Sun February 24, 2013

In 'Fulton Blues,' Corey Harris Resurrects Memories Of Southern Neighborhood

Corey Harris' new album is titled Fulton Blues.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sun February 24, 2013 7:53 pm

A new album by bluesman Corey Harris pays tribute to one Southern neighborhood with a particularly haunted past.

Fulton Blues is named for a district in Richmond, Va., that was once home to a large number of the city's middle class African-American families. But by the 1960s, Fulton had fallen on hard times. Its scenic views of the James River and easy access to downtown made it a target for "urban renewal," as it was euphemistically called in the Virginia Statehouse. The residents of Fulton were evicted and the neighborhood was razed.

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Europe
11:25 am
Sun February 24, 2013

Irish Women Emerge From Shadows Of 'National Shame'

Candles burn outside grounds of Leinster House, placed by relatives of victims of the Catholic-run work houses known as the Magdalene Laundries in Dublin, Ireland, on Feb. 19.
Peter Morrison AP

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 10:45 am

In post-independence Ireland, thousands of women found themselves incarcerated in church-run laundries. For the first time, the state has apologized for their treatment.

These women were a diverse group: former prostitutes, unwed mothers, orphans, homeless women, convicts and industrial school transfers put in the care of the Catholic Church.

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The Two-Way
10:04 am
Sun February 24, 2013

Auction Halted Of Banksy Mural Removed In London

A man inspects a plastic cover placed over an artwork attributed to Banksy in London. The stencilled image depicts a poor child making Union Jack flags on a sewing machine and is located on the wall of a Poundland discount shop in the Wood Green area of north London.
Peter Macdiarmid Getty Images

Originally published on Sun February 24, 2013 12:18 pm

Last week we told you about the uproar surrounding the auction of a piece of art by mysterious graffiti artist Banksy that disappeared from its home on a wall in north London.

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It's All Politics
9:40 am
Sun February 24, 2013

As Deep Cuts Loom, Continued Appeals For A Deal, Finger-Pointing

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 8:01 am

With less than a week before the across-the-board-spending cuts go into effect, Republicans and Democrats are sounding off about the sequestration.

"There's easy ways [sic] to cut this money that the American people will never feel," Rep. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said on Fox News Sunday. "What you hear is an outrage because nobody wants to cut spending ... and it will be somewhat painful, but not cutting spending is going to be disastrous for our country."

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The Two-Way
9:10 am
Sun February 24, 2013

Karzai Asks U.S. Forces To Leave Key Afghan Province

Originally published on Sun February 24, 2013 11:08 am

We're getting word that Afghan President Hamid Karzai has ordered U.S. special forces to leave Wardak Province within two weeks amid allegation of torture and disappearances centering on Afghans who are part of the U.S. forces.

Update at 1:07 p.m. ET. Order Came After Report

NPR's Sean Carberry is reporting on the move for our Newscast unit. Here's what he says:

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The Two-Way
7:46 am
Sun February 24, 2013

Paul C.P. McIlhenny, CEO Of Company That Makes Tabasco Sauce, Dies

Paul C.P. McIlhenny reigns as Rex as he arrives at Canal Street during Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans on Feb. 28, 2006, six months after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city. McIlhenny, the CEO and chairman of the company that makes Tabasco sauce, died Saturday in New Orleans. He was 68.
Alex Brandon AP

Originally published on Sun February 24, 2013 9:44 am

The CEO and chairman of the company that makes Tabasco sauce has died in New Orleans. Paul C.P. McIlhenny was 68.

McIlhenny died Saturday, according to a Sunday statement from the Avery Island, La.-based McIlhenny Co.

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The Two-Way
6:44 am
Sun February 24, 2013

Pope Benedict XVI Delivers Final Sunday Blessing At Vatican

Pope Benedict XVI delivers his blessing Sunday during his last Angelus noon prayer, from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's Square at the Vatican.
Domenico Stinellis AP

Pope Benedict XVI has given his final blessing before he steps down from the papacy on Thursday.

Here's more from The Associated Press:

"Benedict told the crowd that God is calling him to dedicate himself 'even more to prayer and meditation,' which he will do in a secluded monastery being renovated for him on the grounds behind Vatican City's ancient walls.

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Politics
4:43 am
Sun February 24, 2013

Week In Politics: The Looming Spending Cuts Edge Closer

Originally published on Sun February 24, 2013 5:03 am

Weekend Edition Sunday host Rachel Martin speaks with NPR National Political correspondent Mara Liasson about the week in politics, including the looming spending cuts facing Congress and the administration's urging of the Supreme Court to strike down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Author Interviews
4:43 am
Sun February 24, 2013

Literary Idol Comes To Life in 'Farewell, Dorothy Parker'

Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 10:43 am

What would you do if your literary idol came to life — came into your life — and then you couldn't get rid of her? Violet Epps, heroine of the new novel Farewell, Dorothy Parker discovers being a fan isn't the same as being a roommate when Dorothy Parker's spirit rematerializes from an ancient Algonquin Hotel guestbook — and then follows her home.

Author Ellen Meister tells NPR's Rachel Martin that she first encountered Parker's work as a teenager.

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Oscars 2013: The 85th Annual Academy Awards
4:43 am
Sun February 24, 2013

Real-Life Shipwreck Survivor Helped 'Life Of Pi' Get Lost At Sea

Steven Callahan survived for 76 days adrift in an inflatable life raft. This 2002 photo shows Callahan with an improved life raft he designed after his ordeal. While enduring shark attacks, rain and helpless drifting, Callahan dreamed of a better survival vessel. Once he returned to land, he spent almost two decades designing this one, featuring a rigid exterior, a removable canopy and a sail.
Pat Wellenbach Associated Press

Originally published on Sun February 24, 2013 6:06 am

In Life of Pi, one of the nine Oscar nominees for Best Picture this year, a boy suffers a shipwreck and is lost at sea. It's a fictional story, of course, based on a novel, but director Ang Lee nevertheless wanted the movie to have depth and realism. But how do you add a realistic edge to someone drifting alone in the sea? For most people, even those in the imaginative business of movie-making, it's hard to picture the perils and isolation of months without rescue.

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PG-13: Risky Reads
4:03 am
Sun February 24, 2013

These 'Great Tales Of Terror' Live Up To Their Promise

Duncan P Walker iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 9:40 am

Michael Dirda's latest book is On Conan Doyle.

When I was a boy growing up in the working-class steel town of Lorain, Ohio, I used to ride my beloved Roadmaster bicycle to the branch library. Located in the Plaza Shopping Center, this former storefront was just around the corner from the W.T. Grant's and Merit Shoes. Inside there were perhaps six small tables, a couple of reading chairs, the librarian's checkout desk, and light oak bookshelves along three walls. There can't have been more than one- or two-thousand books.

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Middle East
3:46 am
Sun February 24, 2013

Israel Restores Wetlands; Birds Make It Their Winter Home

Cranes fly at sunset above the Hula Valley of northern Israel in January. Millions of birds pass through the area as they migrate south every winter from Europe and Asia to Africa. Some now stay in the Hula Valley for the entire winter.
Menahem Kahana AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun March 3, 2013 6:45 am

Like many countries, Israel tried to drain many of its swamplands, then realized it was destroying wildlife habitats. So the country reversed course, and has been restoring the wetlands of the Hula Valley in the north.

The effort has had a huge and rather noisy payoff. Unlike many birding sites, where the creatures take off when you approach them, you can practically touch the cranes that inhabit the Hula Valley.

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Europe
3:06 am
Sun February 24, 2013

Greeks Ask Themselves: Who's A Greek?

Stephanos Mwange, a Greek-born citizen of Ugandan descent, says his love for Greek history and mythology have inspired him to act ancient Greek tragedies such as Hecuba. He's a well-known actor, though his positive experience as a naturalized Greek citizen is exceptional. Most from a similar background say they've been made to feel like foreigners.
Courtesy of Sotiria Psarou

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 4:36 am

When it comes to immigration, Greece faces a dilemma: The country needs new, young people because like the rest of Europe, it faces a falling birth rate and an aging population.

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National Security
3:05 am
Sun February 24, 2013

Overseas Trip A Road Test For Secretary Of State Kerry

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks to the press prior to talks with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida at the State Department in Washington on Friday.
Nicholas Kamm AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun February 24, 2013 5:34 am

John Kerry sets off Sunday on his first foreign trip as secretary of state, visiting Europe and the Middle East.

One dominant theme of the trip will be how to resolve the crisis in Syria, where an estimated 70,000 people have been killed over the past two years. Kerry is portraying his trip as a listening tour, and he expects to hear a lot about Syria.

He told reporters recently that he wants to talk with U.S. allies about how to persuade Bashar Assad to agree on peace talks that would end the Syrian leader's bloody rule in Syria.

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Shots - Health News
3:05 am
Sun February 24, 2013

Ancient Chompers Were Healthier Than Ours

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 5:55 am

Prehistoric humans didn't have toothbrushes. They didn't have floss or toothpaste, and they certainly didn't have Listerine. Yet somehow, their mouths were a lot healthier than ours are today.

"Hunter-gatherers had really good teeth," says Alan Cooper, director of the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA. "[But] as soon as you get to farming populations, you see this massive change. Huge amounts of gum disease. And cavities start cropping up."

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The Two-Way
3:04 am
Sun February 24, 2013

In China, Not Everything Has Changed

Shen Lixiu, 58, says she had her front teeth kicked out in a re-education through labor camp. Chinese authorities say they are considering "reforms" to a system that is coming under increasing public criticism.
Frank Langfitt NPR

A lot of journalism about China focuses on the country's rapid and stunning changes, but equally telling are the things that stay the same. I did my first story on China's re-education through labor camps back in 2001.

I met a former inmate named Liu Xiaobo for lunch in Beijing. Liu, soft-spoken and thoughtful, had written an article mourning those who had died in the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown. He had also called for democracy.

So, one day, police took him from his house and charged him with "slandering the Communist Party" and "disrupting social order."

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Sunday Puzzle
2:29 am
Sun February 24, 2013

Rolling R's Into Wise Words

NPR Graphic

Originally published on Sun February 24, 2013 5:03 am

On-air challenge: You will be given some words starting with the letter R. You name a proverb or saying that contains each one.

Last week's challenge from listener Gary Alvstad of Tustin, Calif.: Name a well-known movie in two words with a total of 13 letters. Each of the two words contains the letter C. Drop both C's. The letters that remain in the second word of the title will be in alphabetical order, and the letters that remain in the first word will be in reverse alphabetical order. What movie is it?

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NPR Story
4:40 pm
Sat February 23, 2013

Oscars By The Numbers

Transcript

JACKI LYDEN, HOST:

You're listening to WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden. Anthony Breznican said he can't predict Oscar winners. But here's a guy who says he's done just that. Conor Gaughan is the chief strategy officer for Farsite, and they've been looking at all kinds of data to predict who will take home those little golden men.

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Author Interviews
3:35 pm
Sat February 23, 2013

Craving Solitude In 'Ten White Geese'

Originally published on Sat February 23, 2013 4:40 pm

Gerbrand Bakker's new international best-seller, Ten White Geese, opens with a mysterious woman alone on a Welsh farm. Humiliated by an affair with a student, she turns up alone at the farm, looking for nothing and no one. She answers to the name Emily, but that is actually the first name of the American poet about whom she is writing her doctoral dissertation. Her husband has no idea where she is.

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The Two-Way
3:35 pm
Sat February 23, 2013

Flipping The Switch: What It Takes To Prioritize Electric Cars

A Ford Focus electric concept car with a home charging unit on display at the 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Mich., in January.
Stan Honda AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun February 24, 2013 8:48 am

"Electricity is the most likely out of all of the alternative fuels ... to be the next fuel for the consumer."

That's what Jonathan Strickland of the website HowStuffWorks tells NPR's Jacki Lyden.

But electric vehicles are not without their controversies or challenges. One of the biggest questions is how a transition from gasoline to electric fuel can actually take place.

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It's All Politics
3:01 pm
Sat February 23, 2013

Top GOP Voter ID Crusader Loses Virginia Election Panel Post

Hans Von Spakovsky in his official FEC photo taken during former President George W. Bush's administration.
FEC.gov

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 7:24 am

To those who closely follow the voter ID wars, Hans von Spakovsky is a household name, one of the nation's leading crusaders against voter fraud, and also one of its more controversial. Days before the 2012 election, The New Yorker profiled him as "the man who has stoked fear about imposters at the poll."

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Oscars 2013: The 85th Annual Academy Awards
11:56 am
Sat February 23, 2013

The Four Biggest Best Picture Oscar Upsets, Statistically Speaking

The cast of Crash celebrates after its surprise upset of Brokeback Mountain for best picture, at the 78th Academy Awards in 2006.
Mark J. Terrill AP

Originally published on Sat February 23, 2013 12:28 pm

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It's All Politics
11:37 am
Sat February 23, 2013

Bloomberg's Anti-NRA Message — And Money — Could Sway House Race In Chicago

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's gun control superPAC has poured more than $2 million into a Democratic primary in Chicago for a U.S. House seat.
Brendan McDermid Reuters/Landov

One of the most important events in the national gun violence debate will take place Tuesday — in the snows of Chicago, a thousand miles from Newtown, Conn., or Washington, D.C.

That's where Democratic voters will choose their nominee to replace Jesse Jackson Jr. Because the district is so heavily Democratic, the winner will almost certainly be sworn in at the Capitol following the April general election.

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The Two-Way
10:24 am
Sat February 23, 2013

Obama Administration Urges Supreme Court To Rethink DOMA

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 4:34 am

The Obama administration is following through on its relatively newfound support of gay marriage. On Friday, the administration filed a legal brief with the Justice Department that urges the Supreme Court to strike down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act.

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Fresh Air Weekend
9:36 am
Sat February 23, 2013

Fresh Air Weekend: Blanco And Bazelon

Richard Blanco reads his poem "One Today" during President Obama's second inaugural, on Jan. 21.
Jewel Samad AFP/Getty Images

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

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The Two-Way
9:17 am
Sat February 23, 2013

Syrian Opposition Group Boycotts International Meetings

Government forces patrol a district under their control in Aleppo, Syria, on Friday.
AFP/Getty Images

Syria's main opposition group is declining invitations to international meetings to protest what it calls the "shameful" failure by world leaders to end violence there.

"The international silence on the crimes committed every day against our people amounts to participating in two years of killings," the Syrian National Coalition said in a statement released Friday and reported on by Agence France-Presse and other news organizations.

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The Record
7:57 am
Sat February 23, 2013

Clive Davis: A Life With A 'Soundtrack'

Clive Davis poses with Whitney Houston, then a rising star, shortly after Houston signed a contract with Arista Records in 1983.
AP

Originally published on Sat February 23, 2013 9:55 am

If Columbia Records hadn't signed Bruce Springsteen in the early 1970s, there's a chance The Boss could have just been a small-stakes act, playing gigs around Asbury Park.

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