NPR Staff

Pages

The Record
1:18 am
Tue March 17, 2015

Winning In Country Music, With No Help From Nashville

Aaron Watson on stage during the National Finals Rodeo Cowboy Fanfest in Las Vegas in 2014.
Mindy Small Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 17, 2015 10:53 am

There's only one word to describe Aaron Watson's music: country. Watson, from Abilene, Texas, sings about rodeos, fence posts and family with a twang in his voice that would sound like a huge moneymaker if you're the kind of fan who stopped listening to country in the early 1990s, when George Strait and Garth Brooks were selling millions of albums and scoring hits on country radio.

Read more
Fine Art
3:36 pm
Mon March 16, 2015

In Detroit's Rivera And Kahlo Exhibit, A Portrait Of A Resilient City

A detail from the north wall of Diego Rivera's Detroit Industry murals shows workers on the automobile assembly line. After Detroit declared bankruptcy, the murals were at risk of being sold. Click here for a larger view.
Detroit Institute of Arts

Originally published on Mon March 16, 2015 6:01 pm

This weekend, visitors to the Detroit Institute of Arts buzzed with excitement over a new exhibit — it was a big moment for the once-troubled museum. The DIA spent much of the last two years under threat as its owner, the city of Detroit, looked for ways to emerge from bankruptcy.

Finally, in November, a "grand bargain" was struck. Foundations, private donors and the state of Michigan together raised more than $800 million to help rescue public employee pensions. In return, ownership of the DIA was transferred to a trust — thereby securing its future.

Read more
National Security
5:31 pm
Sun March 15, 2015

An 'Upstream' Battle As Wikimedia Challenges NSA Surveillance

The lawsuit by Wikimedia and other plaintiffs challenges the National Security Agency's use of upstream surveillance, which collects the content of communications, instead of just the metadata.
Patrick Semansky AP

Originally published on Mon March 16, 2015 5:52 am

Earlier this week, Wikimedia, the parent company of Wikipedia, filed a lawsuit against the National Security Agency, saying that the NSA's use of "upstream" mass surveillance violates the First and Fourth Amendments.

Read more
Author Interviews
3:17 pm
Sun March 15, 2015

'State Of Terror': Where ISIS Came From And How To Fight It

Heavy smoke rises following an airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition aircraft in Kobani, Syria, during fighting between Syrian Kurds and the militants of the self-declared Islamic State in October 2014.
Gokhan Sahin Getty Images

Originally published on Mon March 16, 2015 10:34 am

There have been mixed results in the fight against the self-proclaimed Islamic State, or ISIS. Iraqi government forces and their Iranian allies are fighting to retake the central city of Tikrit, but it's unclear how much longer this will take.

Meanwhile, ISIS has established a foothold in Libya. They also recently accepted the allegiance of Boko Haram, a Nigerian terrorist organization.

Read more
U.S.
5:09 pm
Sat March 14, 2015

When Police Are Given Body Cameras, Do They Use Them?

Body cameras, like this one shown at a 2014 press conference in Washington, D.C., are small enough to be clipped to an officer's chest. Washington and Denver are among U.S. cities trying the cameras.
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon March 16, 2015 4:55 am

Back in December, following the fatal shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., President Obama called for $75 million in funding for 50,000 body cameras to be used by police around the United States. The cameras record police activity, and their use is intended to boost accountability.

Read more
Poetry
3:19 pm
Sat March 14, 2015

'Windows' That Transform The World: Jane Hirshfield On Poetry

Originally published on Sat March 14, 2015 7:23 pm

Jane Hirshfield is one of our country's most celebrated poets. She's been a Guggenheim fellow. The Academy of American Poets bestowed her a fellowship for her "distinguished poetic achievement," an honor shared with Robert Frost and Ezra Pound.

Oh, and she's an ordained lay practitioner of Zen.

"I'm [also] a Universal Life minister, but that was just so I could marry some friends," she laughs.

Read more
Music
3:19 pm
Sat March 14, 2015

Albert 'Tootie' Heath, Drummer Extraordinaire, Turns The Tables

Albert Heath
Michael Perez Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sat March 14, 2015 4:36 pm

Albert "Tootie" Heath is one of the most accomplished jazz drummers of the past 60 years. The 79-year-old has played with everyone from John Coltrane to Ethan Iverson, the piano player for The Bad Plus. Iverson and bassist Ben Street join Tootie Heath for his new album, Philadelphia Beat, named for the fertile jazz city of Heath's upbringing — where, as a young man starting out, he once piloted a group consisting only of the drums and two horns.

Read more
Movies
3:19 pm
Sat March 14, 2015

People With Disabilities, On Screen And Sans Clichés

From left, Bastian Wurbs (as Titus), Joel Basman (as Valentin) and Nikki Rappl (as Lukas) star in Keep Rollin', a coming-of-age drama featured in the seventh annual Reelabilities film festival.
Courtesy of EastWest Film Distribution

Originally published on Sat March 14, 2015 8:43 pm

Read more
Shots - Health News
6:25 am
Sat March 14, 2015

From Freud To Possession, A Doctor Faces Psychiatry's Demons

Benjamin Rush, a physician and one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, invented the rotational chair as a treatment for psychotic patients. He believed the chair helped improve circulation to the mentally ill brain.
U.S. National Library of Medicine Courtesy of Little Brown and Company

Originally published on Tue March 17, 2015 7:58 am

People don't talk about psychiatrists the way they talk about neurologists, dentists or vets. In fact, there are those who call psychiatry voodoo or pseudoscience; and, to be fair, the specialty does have a history of claims and practices that are now considered weird and destructive.

Read more
Books
6:25 am
Sat March 14, 2015

Murder City Earns Its Name In 'Blood Runs Green'

Originally published on Sat March 14, 2015 3:20 pm

Chicago's reputation for dramatic crime and corruption predates Al Capone and Prohibition — by decades. In May, 1889, Dr. P.H. Cronin, an esteemed physician, was found in a sewer. He was naked, dead, and savagely beaten.

The investigation and trial caused an international sensation, and one of the world's first media circuses, over a story that involved Irish revolutionaries and reactionaries, secret societies, and even a French spy. Or was he British? All at a time when Chicago had been burned down, and was reborn as the fast-growing city in America.

Read more
Author Interviews
2:54 pm
Fri March 13, 2015

If Drugs Could Talk: In 'Delicious Foods' They Do

person cover detail

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 6:00 pm

There's a certain type of supporting character that author James Hannaham has always wanted to put into the spotlight. Critics call this character the "Magical Negro" — and you may recognize him from movies or TV shows. He's someone who "has incredible abilities and has been through some kind of hardship but it's usually a little vague ..." Hannaham tells NPR's Audie Cornish. "Whenever I see that character, I want the book or the movie or the TV show to take a detour and tell me that story."

Read more
The Salt
4:11 pm
Tue March 10, 2015

Tea Tuesdays: The Scottish Spy Who Stole China's Tea Empire

Robert Fortune was a 19th-century Scottish botanist who helped the East India Trading Company swipe the secrets of tea production from China.
Apic/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 9:44 am

Editor's Note: A version of this story originally ran in March 2010.

In the mid-19th century, Britain was an almost unchallenged empire. It controlled about a fifth of the world's surface, and yet its weakness had everything to do with tiny leaves soaked in hot water: tea. By 1800, it was easily the most popular drink among Britons.

The problem? All the tea in the world came from China, and Britain couldn't control the quality or the price. So around 1850, a group of British businessmen set out to create a tea industry in a place they did control: India.

Read more
Latin America
2:19 am
Tue March 10, 2015

Explorers Discover Ancient Lost City In Honduran Jungle

A view of part of the vast Mosquitia jungle in Honduras. A team of explorers, guided by scans made from airplanes, recently discovered an important ancient city in the region.
Courtesy of UTL Productions

Originally published on Tue March 10, 2015 11:43 am

For almost a century, explorers have searched the jungles of Honduras for a legendary lost city known as the White City, or the City of the Monkey God.

A team of explorers — including archaeologists and a documentary filmmaker — have just returned from an expedition in person, after using a new technology to search for evidence of ruins by plane.

Read more
Author Interviews
3:24 pm
Mon March 9, 2015

Forget Big Sky And Cowboys: 'Crow Fair' Is Set In An Unidealized Montana

Emily Jan NPR

Originally published on Mon March 9, 2015 6:07 pm

"I think there's only one interesting story ... and that's struggle," says writer Thomas McGuane. Loners, outcasts and malcontents fill the pages of McGuane's latest book — a collection of short stories titled Crow Fair. There's a divorced dad who takes his young son out for an ill-fated day of ice fishing; A restless cattle breeder who takes a gamble on a more lucrative and dangerous line of works; A guy who abandons his blind grandmother by the side of a river to go get drunk, and chase after a corpse he's spotted floating by.

Read more
Author Interviews
4:27 pm
Sun March 8, 2015

Author Explores The Ripple Effects Of A Kidnapping In Mexico

Emily Jan NPR

Originally published on Mon March 9, 2015 7:52 am

Antonio Ruiz-Camacho's new book Barefoot Dogs is billed as a collection of short stories, but it could easily be called a novel. Each piece provides a perspective on one horrific event: the abduction of the patriarch of a wealthy Mexican family by a drug gang.

Throughout the book, readers see how this affects children, grandchildren, mistresses and others, as the tragedy follows the family through exile in the United States and Europe

Read more
Movie Interviews
3:27 pm
Sun March 8, 2015

No Joke: Hollywood Comedy Producer Finds Career In Prison Reform

Scott Budnick (second from left) stands with (from left) Jimmy Wu, who served 16 years in prison and is now a mentor; Jesse Aguiar, former gang member and now a counselor; and Franky Carrillo, who was freed by the Innocence Project after 21 years in prison.
Reed Saxon AP

Originally published on Sun March 8, 2015 8:03 pm

Los Angeles has been good to Scott Budnick. He arrived more than 15 years ago as an aspiring film producer. He found a home in comedy, and eventually became the executive producer of the Hangover trilogy — the wildly popular, profane buddy movies that are still the highest grossing comedy franchise ever made.

Now, he lives in the Hollywood Hills. He drives a fancy car, lives in a beautiful house and has lots of famous friends.

But in 2013, Budnick decided to leave Hollywood for a very different field: prison reform.

Read more
Television
3:01 pm
Sun March 8, 2015

Cyberpsychologist: Online, 'Every Contact Leaves A Trace'

The Avery Ryan character is based on Mary Aiken (above) a real-life cyber psychologist and director of the RCSI CyberPsychology Research Centre.
Courtesy of CBS

Originally published on Sun March 8, 2015 6:25 pm

The CSI franchise has a new lead investigator: Special Agent Avery Ryan.

Oscar-winning actress Patricia Arquette plays the head of the FBI's Cyber Crime Division on CSI: Cyber, which premiered this week on CBS.

The unit is called in on cyber stalking, identity theft, even cases involving hacked baby cams and ride-sharing services.

Agent Ryan's character is based on real-life cyber psychologist Mary Aiken, the director of the RCSI CyberPsychology Research Centre in Dublin, Ireland. She's also a producer on the show.

Read more
Music
3:01 pm
Sun March 8, 2015

A Jazz Pianist Taps Armenian Folk, Metal Riffs And A Sense Of History

"Sometimes the music that I write doesn't need to have lyrics, it just needs vowels," says jazz artist Tigran Hamaysan.
Maeve Stam Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sun March 8, 2015 6:25 pm

Musicians arrive at their signature sounds through all sorts of influences. For jazz pianist Tigran Hamaysan, that collection of sounds comes from far afield — he's a fan of progressive metal bands like Tool and Meshuggah — as well as from his backyard.

Read more
All Tech Considered
3:36 pm
Sat March 7, 2015

Grace Hopper, 'The Queen Of Code,' Would Have Hated That Title

Grace Hopper joined the Navy during World War II and served on and off until 1986.
Courtesy of ESPN Films

Originally published on Sun March 8, 2015 6:45 pm

In today's male-dominated computer programming industry, it's easy to forget that a woman — Grace Hopper — helped usher in the computer revolution.

During World War II, Hopper left a teaching job at Vassar College to join the Navy Reserve. That's when she went to Harvard to work on the first programmable computer in the United States: the Mark I.

Gillian Jacobs, best known for her role as Britta Perry in the comedy television show Community, has directed a short documentary about Grace Hopper titled The Queen of Code.

Read more
Television
3:13 pm
Sat March 7, 2015

'Kimmy Schmidt' Finds Optimism (And Jokes) In Dark Premise

Ellie Kemper, right, stars alongside Tituss Burgess in Netflix's Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, which follows a former doomsday cult member as she adjusts to life in New York.
Eric Liebowitz Courtesy of Netflix

Originally published on Sun March 8, 2015 6:45 pm

Two of the comedic minds behind 30 Rock, Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, have returned to the world of half-hour comedies — this time, on Netflix.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, a new 13-episode series originally developed by Fey and Carlock for NBC, debuted on the streaming service on March 6.

Actress Ellie Kemper plays the title character in the show, which shares 30 Rock's energy, but mines comedy out of a much darker premise: A group of young women escape from 15 years of captivity in an underground bunker run by a doomsday cult leader in Indiana.

Read more
StoryCorps
6:25 am
Sat March 7, 2015

After Explosion, A Soldier And His Squad Leader Find Peace

Former Lance Cpl. Erik Galvan (right) and Sgt. Daniel Wheeler had a professional friendship that was nearly destroyed by an IED — but, with time, they reconciled.
StoryCorps

Originally published on Sat March 7, 2015 8:29 am

StoryCorps' Military Voices Initiative records stories from members of the U.S. military who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Lance Cpl. Erik Galvan, 19, was walking ahead of his squad looking for improvised explosive devices. It was 2011, and he was three months into his deployment to Afghanistan.

The group approached an ominous wooded area; Galvan felt uneasy. His squad leader, Sgt. Daniel Wheeler, was several feet behind him.

Read more
Animals
6:25 am
Sat March 7, 2015

These Tunes Are Music To Your Cats' Furry Ears

Could this cat be enjoying "Spook's Ditty"?
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Sat March 7, 2015 10:18 am

When you leave the house, do you ever turn on some music to keep your cat company?

What kind do you choose? Tom Jones crooning "What's New Pussycat?" A ballad by Cat Stevens? Perhaps Al Stewart's "The Year of the Cat"?

Nonsense. Cats don't to want to hear humans singing about them, says composer and University of Maryland music professor David Teie.

Researchers at U.Md. and the University of Wisconsin have teamed up with Teie to make music that was more feline friendly.

Read more
Author Interviews
3:48 am
Sat March 7, 2015

The Lusitania Mystery: Why British Codebreakers Didn't Try To Save It

A German U-boat sank the luxury ocean liner Lusitania, seen here in 1907, on May 7, 1915.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Sat March 7, 2015 8:29 am

One hundred years ago, 128 Americans died among more than a thousand in the sinking of what was then the greatest ocean liner in the world. In response, the U.S. entered World War I.

That's the story of the Lusitania, right? But Erik Larson, one of this country's most successful narrators of nonfiction, now retells the story a lot of people think they know. His new book, Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, has an appreciation for the lives that were lost and the impact the ship had on history.

Read more
Performing Arts
3:29 am
Sat March 7, 2015

After 60 Years Of Fabulousness, Dame Edna Embarks On Her Farewell Tour

Dame Edna Everage — a character created by Australian comedian Barry Humphries — models a hat based on the Sydney Opera House. She is currently performing Dame Edna's Glorious Goodbye: The Farewell Tour.
Wesley Getty Images

Originally published on Sat March 7, 2015 8:29 am

Dame Edna Everage says she's approaching 60 — but from the wrong direction. The housewife and superstar — a creation of Australian comedian Barry Humphries — has been making audiences laugh, weep, have acid reflux, and ruminate deeply on the human experience for six decades.

Now, she's embarked on Dame Edna's Glorious Goodbye: The Farewell Tour, which concludes in Washington, D.C., in April. Dame Edna tells NPR's Scott Simon that she's a "restless sprit" and it's not entirely clear what "retirement" will look like for her.

Read more
It's All Politics
11:33 am
Fri March 6, 2015

Chat Recap: Justice Department's Ferguson Policing Report

A Ferguson police officer listens to a protester outside the Ferguson Police Department on Wednesday.
Michael B. Thomas Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 6, 2015 9:16 pm

This post was last updated at 10 pm E.T.

On Wednesday, the Department of Justice issued a scathing report about the Ferguson, Mo. police department, citing evidence of "clear racial disparities that adversely impact African-Americans." These disparities in arrests, vehicle stops and the use of force, the report contends, led to a lack of trust in police and courts in the city.

Read more
First Reads
8:03 am
Thu March 5, 2015

Exclusive First Read: Erik Larson's 'Dead Wake'

It took just 18 minutes for the Lusitania to sink after it was hit by a German torpedo.
Charles Dixon/Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 6, 2015 12:30 pm

The luxury liner Lusitania departed New York City en route for Liverpool on May 1, 1915. World War I was raging in Europe, but the passengers on the world's fastest liner were sure they were in no danger — despite a warning from the German Embassy in Washington that "travellers sailing in the war zone on the ships of Great Britain or her allies do so at their own risk." Even the Lusitania's captain, William Turner, said his vessel was too fast for submarines to pose a threat.

Read more
Television
3:06 am
Thu March 5, 2015

'It Is About Truths': John Ridley On His New TV Show, 'American Crime'

Felicity Huffman and Timothy Hutton play two estranged parents whose son is murdered during a home invasion in ABC's American Crime.
Felicia Graham ABC

Originally published on Thu March 5, 2015 8:15 am

Writer and producer John Ridley has spent a lot of his career telling stories about the history of race in America. He won an Oscar for his screenplay for 12 Years a Slave, he's written movies about the Tuskegee Airmen and Jimi Hendrix, and now he's created American Crime, a new TV series about the events surrounding a racially charged home invasion in modern-day California.

Read more
Parallels
1:44 am
Thu March 5, 2015

Boris Nemtsov: 'He Directed His Words Against Putin Himself'

Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who was shot dead last Friday, was one of the most outspoken critics of President Vladimir Putin. No arrests have been made in his killing.
Ivan Sekretarev AP

Originally published on Thu March 5, 2015 8:11 am

Boris Nemtsov was just 37 when Russian President Boris Yeltsin named him deputy prime minister in 1997. Trained as a physicist, Nemtsov symbolized a new generation of young leaders who rose to power in the chaotic aftermath of the Soviet breakup.

But after Vladimir Putin became president, Nemtsov joined the liberal opposition and became an outspoken critic. He was arrested on several occasions, but continued his attacks on the Russian leader.

Read more
Intelligence Squared U.S.
11:27 am
Tue March 3, 2015

Debate: Do Liberals Stifle Intellectual Diversity On The College Campus?

Two teams face off over the motion, "Liberals Are Stifling Intellectual Diversity On Campus," at the latest Intelligence Squared U.S. debate.
Chris Zarconi Intelligence Squared U.S.

There is agreement on both the political left and right that a majority of college professors in the United States are liberal or left-of-center. But do liberals stifle free speech — particularly that of political and social conservatives — on college campuses?

Read more
Shots - Health News
2:03 am
Tue March 3, 2015

What Shapes Health? Webcast Explores Social And Economic Factors

Mitchell Funk/Getty Images/Harvard

Originally published on Wed March 4, 2015 10:14 am

Health is more than the sum of its parts. Sometimes in surprising ways, factors such as childhood experiences, housing conditions, poor diets and health care access drive who ends up sick — and who does not.

Read more

Pages