Of all the cable comedies returning with new episodes Sunday, Girls is the most ambitious — as well as the most unpredictable, and occasionally unsettling.
When thirtysomething premiered on ABC more than 25 years ago — yes, it's been that long — that drama series was both embraced and attacked for focusing so intently on the problems of self-obsessed people in their 30s. What that drama did for that generation, Girls does for a new one — and for an even younger demographic, by presenting a quartet of young women in their mid-20s.
Nearly seven decades ago, a young soldier from Indiana left his green duffel bag on a French battlefield in World War II. This week, William Kadar's granddaughter, also an Army veteran, presented him with the bag still stenciled with his name and serial number. A teenager in France had found it in his own grandfather's house. Kadar was captured by the Germans, and has said: It's a miracle I came home.
It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.
Originally published on Fri January 11, 2013 11:05 am
Update at 9:42 a.m. ET. Review Ordered:
Saying that "we are confident about the safety of this aircraft, but we are concerned about these incidents," Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Michael Huerta confirmed Friday morning that his agency has ordered a review of Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner after a series of problems in recent days, including fuel leaks and an electrical fire.
The planes are not being grounded. Boeing says it welcomes the review and is confident in the aircraft's safety.
Humboldt State University invited Jimmy Kimmel to come see for himself. The TV host mocked the university for its marijuana research program. He ran a fake commercial, saying graduates could enjoy careers like dog walking or Occupying Wall Street. The university and student body presidents wrote a letter saying the skit was funny, but unfair. And now the school has invited Kimmel to deliver its commencement address. No word if he'll bring a match.
Let's hear another perspective on President Obama's choice for Defense secretary. Chuck Hagel faces sharp questions at the least on his way to Senate confirmation. Earlier this week on this program, the analyst Danielle Pletka argued that the former Republican senator has omnidirectionally offended everyone, with his views on Israel, talking to Iran, the war in Iraq, and much more.
And today's last word in business is being set to music. Truth really is stranger than fiction, which is how a TV interview with President Richard Nixon could become a famous play, and how The New Yorker writer Lawrence Wright could create a forthcoming play on the Camp David accords. Now, an international Twitter war is becoming an opera.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
Last summer, The New York Times columnist Paul Krugman criticized the economic austerity of Estonia.
One of Spain's most troubled banks announced, this week, that it's laying off half of its staff - after being sold to a competitor for just one euro. Crippled by the housing market's collapse, Spanish banks are living off bailout loans from Europe. Those loans come with strings attached, including massive layoffs and strict new regulatory measures by Spain's central bank.
Ford announced today, that it plans to hire more than 2,200 white collar workers here in the U.S. The jobs will center around product development, manufacturing and IT. This continues an upswing in hiring at Ford. It added over 8,000 U.S. jobs last year. And yesterday, the automaker doubled its quarterly dividend to the highest level in seven years. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.
That big consumer electronics show in Las Vegas ends today. And while big tech firms like Google and Apple did not attend, an increasingly diverse range of companies took their place. With more and more devices connecting to the Internet, many companies are flocking to this festival of gadgets, hoping to bring all the appliances in your home online. NPR's Steve Henn reports.
Five years ago today, Bank of America announced it was buying the troubled subprime mortgage lender Countrywide Financial for $40 billion. At the time, the financial crisis had not fully revealed itself, and many people thought Bank of America was getting a good deal. Instead, the acquisition has turned into a never-ending legal and financial nightmare. NPR's Jim Zarroli reports.
A man buys the latest edition of <em>Southern Weekly </em>at a newsstand near the newspaper's headquarters in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, China, on Thursday. The staff at the influential weekly rebelled to protest censorship by government officials; the newspaper was published Thursday after a compromise that called for relaxing some intrusive controls.
Credit Vincent Yu / AP
A policeman points to a supporter of <em>Southern Weekly</em> before taking him away during a protest near the newspaper's headquarters Thursday.
In China, one struggle over censorship has been defused — for the moment, at least.
Journalists at one of the country's boldest newspapers have published a new issue after a weeklong standoff that started when censors replaced a New Year's editorial. Now the week's events are being parsed for signals about the direction of China's new Communist leadership.
Another soldier has died on the disputed border between India and Pakistan, the so-called "line of control" in Kashmir. At least four soldiers have died in a series of shooting and infiltration incidents that began last Sunday. The region has been a flashpoint between the two countries since they gained independence in 1947.
Major League Baseball has enacted new anti-doping policies that are being described as unprecedented in American professional sports. Yesterday, Major League Baseball and its Players Union said that starting next year they will be fighting the use of human growth hormone and testosterone - two allegedly popular banned substances.
NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman has been covering this story. Tom, good morning.
Evidence of loss remains even three years after a massive earthquake claimed the lives of as many as 200,000 people in Haiti. In the middle of Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, there is a cathedral whose sun-washed walls reach into the sky where a roof used to be.
A lone flagpole marks the spot where the National Palace, a symbol of Haiti's government, once proudly stood.
And on a downtown street that once bustled with storefronts, there is now a row of vendors who sell their wares under tent poles and umbrellas.
Part of the nation's physical landscape is changing. Nature writer and commentator Craig Childs has been watching the dramatic transformation of a mighty river that is running dry.
Small porpoises once swam in the brackish estuaries of the Colorado River delta. Jaguars stalked the river channels and marshes. It's not like that any more, though. The Colorado River no longer reaches the sea in Northern Mexico. It hasn't since 1983.
An apparent feud between two black market pharmacies has shed light on a shady global industry.
"Rx-Promotion and SpamIt probably are responsible for upward of 50 or 60 percent of spam that you and I got in our inboxes over the last five years," said Brian Krebs, a cyber-security reporter who chronicled the alleged feud on his website. "It's just a ridiculous amount of problems that these two guys cause for everybody."
A traveler stands at the check-in lobby at Havana's Jose Marti International Airport last year. On Jan. 14, Cuba scraps a much-reviled, decades-old exit permit requirement, easing most Cubans' exit and return.
For the first time in five decades, Cubans will no longer need an "exit permit" to travel. The change, which takes effect Monday, is part of a broader immigration reform by President Raul Castro making it easier for Cubans to go abroad — and also to return.
But critics say the communist government continues to treat travel as a privilege, not a right, and a useful tool to punish dissent.
The second season of HBO's critically acclaimed series Girls begins Sunday night, but the show about 20-something girls navigating their social and work lives in New York has itself been criticized for not being diverse enough.
By now, most of you have heard the buzz about Girls: It's written by 26-year-old Lena Dunham, and stars a quartet of young women whose plans sometimes crash face-first into life's nasty realities.
The show's smart dialogue attracted writer Allison Samuels, a cultural critic for Newsweek/The Daily Beast.
As businesses face more complex regulations and heightened scrutiny by prosecutors, companies are turning to investigative firms to help keep watch over their employees.
The idea behind the "corporate monitoring" business is to nip misconduct in the bud before law enforcement catches a whiff of it. These corporate detectives-for-hire are seeing good business these days, and finding new ways to snoop.
We all know our employers have access to tons of data about us. They can see every person we email from our company email account, every phone number we dial from our desk.
When the rumored rebellion against House Speaker John Boehner's bid for a second term played out last week, the very first Republican to not vote for Boehner was Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., just three names into the alphabetical roll call.
Mark Gagliardi and Autumn Reeser, as aviator Amelia Earhart, perform in<em> The Thrilling Adventure Hour.</em> <strong></strong>Actors dress up and read scripts onstage in front of a live nightclub audience.
Credit Jonathan Reilly / The Thrilling Adventure Hour
Ben Blacker (left) and Ben Acker are the co-creators of <em>The Thrilling Adventure Hour</em>. They first met while waiting in line at college.
Credit Mindy Tucker / The Thrilling Adventure Hour
Mike Phirman and Chris Hardwick perform in <em>The Thrilling Adventure Hour</em>.
Credit Jonathan Reilly / The Thrilling Adventure Hour
The creators of The Thrilling Adventure Hour proudly call it "fake radio." It's less an homage to old-time radio and more of a clever update. A live monthly performance at Largo, a 200-seat, scruffy-chic Hollywood nightclub is also available as a popular podcast through Nerdist.
Decked out in impeccable suits and a fedora so crisply brimmed it could cut through drywall, Josh Brolin stars in Gangster Squad as a square-jawed policeman of the first order, an Eliot Ness type who would sooner burn a pile of dirty money than pocket a single dollar.
In 1949 Los Angeles, Brolin's Sgt. John O'Mara has been trusted with the task of rebuffing the threat posed by Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn), an East Coast gangster working quickly and ruthlessly to set up shop.
During The Baytown Outlaws prologue — a bloody massacre scene that doubles as a credit sequence — director Barry Battles interrupts the carnage with comic-book-style panels. It's a gambit he uses again later, and an appropriate one. This Deep South odyssey is a pulp fantasy and knows it.
If Tolstoy was right about every unhappy family being unhappy in its own way, the cinema of domestic dysfunction will likely never die. But it has gotten awfully droopy, mired in familiar plotting, quasi-wise psychobabble, or — in the case of so many comedies — a knowing prankishness (I'm looking at you, Judd Apatow) that wearies the soul.