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Goats and Soda
1:33 am
Wed April 15, 2015

From Horses To High-Rises: An Insider 'Unmasks' China's Economic Rise

As China continues its massive economic growth, especially in cities, the government continues to severely limit people's rights. Is that system sustainable?
Johannes Eisele AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun May 3, 2015 6:26 pm

When Henry Paulson first visited Beijing in 1991 as a banker, cars still shared major roads with horses.

"I remember getting into a taxi that drove too fast on a two-lane highway ... [that was] clogged with bicycles and horses pulling carts," says the former secretary of treasury under George W. Bush. "You still saw the hutongs — the old neighborhoods [with narrow streets] — which were very, very colorful and an important part of life."

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Movie Interviews
3:38 pm
Tue April 14, 2015

More Fear Of Human Intelligence Than Artificial Intelligence In 'Ex Machina'

In Ex Machina, the world's first artificial intelligence, played by Alicia Vikander, possesses more emotional intelligence than originally intended.
Courtesy of A24 Films

Originally published on Tue April 14, 2015 5:45 pm

Unlike most films about artificial intelligence, Ex Machina isn't about technological anxiety. "The anxiety in this film is much more directed at the humans," director Alex Garland tells NPR's Audie Cornish. "It was more in defense of artificial intelligence."

Garland tackled the zombie apocalypse as the writer behind the film 28 Days Later. In Ex Machina — his first film as director — he introduces us to Ava, a creation that is part woman and part machine. There's no hiding that Ava is a machine — but a very, very smart one.

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Author Interviews
4:27 pm
Mon April 13, 2015

Take It From David Brooks: Career Success 'Doesn't Make You Happy'

Originally published on Tue April 28, 2015 12:13 pm

The day after Japan surrendered in 1945, and World War II ended, singer Bing Crosby appeared on the radio program Command Performance. "Well it looks like this is it," he said. "What can you say at a time like this? You can't throw your skimmer in the air — that's for a run-of-the-mill holiday. I guess all anybody can do is thank God it's over."

New York Times columnist David Brooks cites this and other aspects of that 70-year-old radio program as evidence that America once marked triumph without boasting.

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Author Interviews
4:05 pm
Sun April 12, 2015

From Harpies To Heroines: How Shakespeare's Women Evolved

Originally published on Sun April 12, 2015 4:43 pm

Tina Packer has spent a lifetime researching Shakespeare and his plays, both as an actress and as a director. And as she focused on the role that women play in his works, she noticed a progression.

Consider Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew, one of his earliest plays, which centers on a man breaking a defiant woman's spirit. Strong-willed Kate is a harridan; her compliant sister, meanwhile, says things like, "Sir, to your pleasure humbly I subscribe."

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History
3:25 pm
Sun April 12, 2015

Discovery Gives New Ending To A Death At The Civil War's Close

An engraving depicts Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's surrender to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant in Appomattox, Va.
Library Of Congress

Originally published on Mon April 13, 2015 6:02 pm

For decades, the story of Hannah Reynolds' death read like a tragedy of historical circumstance.

In 1865, Reynolds was a slave in the household of Samuel Coleman in the Virginia village of Appomattox Court House. And as Union and Confederate troops fought the Battle of Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865, a cannonball tore through the Coleman house.

The Coleman family had left the day before, but Reynolds had stayed behind. The cannonball struck her in the arm and, it was thought, she died that same day, as the battle's only civilian casualty.

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Author Interviews
5:25 am
Sun April 12, 2015

In 'Distant Marvels,' A Witness To Revolutions Tells Cuba's Story

Originally published on Sun April 12, 2015 9:01 am

It's 1963 Cuba and a woman named Maria Sirena is taking shelter from a hurricane inside the former governor's mansion, along with a small group of other Cuban women. Maria distracts the women at their request by recounting stories of her childhood — personal stories that trace the history of Cuba's long fight for independence.

That's the premise of Chantel Acevedo's latest novel, The Distant Marvels. Acevedo, herself the daughter of Cuban immigrants, tells NPR's Rachel Martin that she intentionally made Maria part of a unique generation in Cuba.

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The Salt
3:27 am
Sun April 12, 2015

Adventures In Vietnam — Street Food, Love And Taking Chances

Courtesy of Ecco Publishing

Originally published on Sun April 12, 2015 9:01 am

When English journalist Graham Holliday got tired of his office job in the U.K., he knew he wanted a change — a big one.

So he packed up and moved to Asia, first to Korea to teach English and ultimately, to the place that would be his home for nine years: Vietnam. As soon as he arrived, he was determined to immerse himself in Vietnamese culture — and for him, that meant food.

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Television
4:56 pm
Sat April 11, 2015

'American Odyssey': Three Ordinary People, One Thrill-Filled Plot

In American Odyssey, Anna Friel plays Sgt. Odelle Ballard, who is stationed in Mali. After her team is killed, she finds herself running for her life — which includes disguising herself as a man.
Keith Bernstein NBC

Originally published on Sat April 11, 2015 8:47 pm

Action, espionage and secrets fill the new NBC show American Odyssey.

But Peter Horton, the show's co-creator and executive producer, says it's easiest to describe the show by saying what it's not. "It's not a police show, it's not an FBI show, it's not a CIA show," he tell's NPR's Arun Rath. "It's a modern-day thriller told in three story bubbles, basically, about three very ordinary people."

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Author Interviews
4:09 pm
Sat April 11, 2015

A Dark, Funny — And Vietnamese — Look At The Vietnam War

Originally published on Sat April 11, 2015 7:04 pm

The Captain, a Communist sympathizer who's risen through the ranks of the South Vietnamese Army, has a confession:

I am a spy, a sleeper, a spook, a man of two faces. Perhaps not surprisingly, I am also a man of two minds. I am not some misunderstood mutant from a comic book or a horror movie, although some have treated me as such. I am simply able to see any issue from both sides.

So begins Viet Thanh Nguyen's new novel, The Sympathizer.

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Middle East
4:09 pm
Sat April 11, 2015

Trapped In Yemen's 'Armageddon,' An American Made A Dangerous Escape

A "getaway selfie," as Mokhtar Alkhanshali calls it: Alkhanshali (left) makes his way across the Red Sea with this boat driver — and without navigation equipment.
Mokhtar Alkhanshali

Originally published on Sat April 11, 2015 7:04 pm

Businessman Mokhtar Alkhanshali was used to the complications of traveling to Yemen. He'd been traveling there and back for years; sometimes the American Embassy would close for a few days amid turmoil, but it always opened back up.

But on March 27, the situation changed dramatically. "Overnight, the country went to war," he says.

The Yemeni-American coffee importer had been in Sana'a, Yemen's capital, on business when the city was rocked by explosions. He stepped outside at 2 a.m. to find anti-aircraft guns lighting up the night sky.

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Law
6:06 am
Sat April 11, 2015

Colorado Deals Inmates A New Deck Of Cards

Colorado is the latest state to produce the cold case cards.
Colorado Bureau of Investigation

Originally published on Sat April 11, 2015 8:54 am

There's not a whole lot to do in prison, so inmates spend a fair amount of time playing cards.

For several years, law enforcement officials around the country have been putting that prisoners' pastime to good use. They've been putting facts and photos from unsolved crimes in front of prisoners' eyes by printing them on decks of cards, hoping to generate leads.

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Author Interviews
4:17 am
Sat April 11, 2015

'Born With Teeth,' Actress Kate Mulgrew On A Life Lived With Abandon

Mulgrew starred as Captain Kathryn Janeway, the first woman to command a Federation Starship, in Star Trek: Voyager.
CBS Photo Archive/Delivered By Online USA Getty Images

Originally published on Sat April 11, 2015 5:22 pm

Even if you don't know Kate Mulgrew's name, you know her work. She currently plays Red, the formidable prison kitchen manager in the series Orange Is the New Black. And for seven seasons she was Captain Janeway on Star Trek: Voyager.

"Nothing could be more challenging, more arduous, or more rewarding than that part on that series," Mulgrew tells NPR's Tamara Keith, referring to the role of Janeway.

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Author Interviews
3:07 am
Fri April 10, 2015

Meet The 'Capital Dames,' Civil War Washington's Secret Power Brokers

According to Roberts, Mary Todd Lincoln could have "tremendous flare-ups of temper," but she was also smart and politically savvy.
Library of Congress AP

Originally published on Fri April 10, 2015 8:52 am

It's an overcast morning outside President Lincoln's Cottage, a national historic site in Washington, D.C., and Erin Carlson Mast is struggling to open a pair of huge, historic wooden pocket doors.

"When we began the restoration these had been closed for over 100 years," Carlson Mast, the site's executive director, tells NPR's Steve Inskeep.

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Intelligence Squared U.S.
10:30 am
Tue April 7, 2015

Debate: Has The President Exceeded His War Powers Authority?

Two teams face off in a debate over the extent of the president's war powers at the latest debate from Intelligence Squared U.S.
Samuel LaHoz Intelligence Squared U.S.

President Obama has launched a sustained, long-term military campaign against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. But did he have constitutional power to do so?

Article I of the Constitution gives some war powers to the Congress — namely, the power to declare war — while Article II gives the president the power of commander-in-chief. But the U.S. Congress has not declared war since World War II, even as the nation has engaged in numerous military actions across the globe in the intervening decades.

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Food
1:26 am
Tue April 7, 2015

Busy Chef Strives For Balanced Mix Of Home Life, Culinary Ambitions

Voltaggio sprinkles sugar on granola pancakes, a dish from his new cookbook, Home.
Emily Jan NPR

Originally published on Tue April 7, 2015 4:24 pm

Breakfast is Bryan Voltaggio's favorite meal because it's the only time he gets to eat with his family. Most other times, the Top Chef and Top Chef Masters finalist is at one of his restaurants. That's why the recipes in his new book, Home: Recipes to Cook with Family and Friends, are centered on family and family gatherings, from Thanksgiving to Super Bowl Sunday.

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All Tech Considered
2:20 am
Mon April 6, 2015

Is Cash-Free Really The Way To Be? Maybe Not For Millennials

More Americans are ditching traditional cash and plastic, opting instead for new mobile payment applications. But new research indicates cash isn't completely dead.
Amy Sancetta AP

Originally published on Tue April 7, 2015 4:20 pm

Smartphones have new, seamless ways to purchase stuff lightning fast, with just a tap. With these new digital technologies available for mobile payment, many young people are ditching cash and plastic altogether.

But is traditional payment dead? According to Doug Conover, an analyst with the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, not exactly.

"The perception that young people rarely use cash is just not correct," he says.

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U.S.
5:17 pm
Sun April 5, 2015

Utah Brings Back Firing Squad Executions; Witnesses Recall The Last One

The firing squad execution chamber at the Utah State Prison in Draper, Utah, is shown in June 2010.
Trent Nelson AP

Originally published on Mon April 6, 2015 12:46 pm

Last month, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed a bill bringing back the firing squad as a method of execution. The state abandoned firing squads in 2004 but now, it has returned as the backup option — partly because of a shortage of lethal injection drugs, the state's default execution method.

Utah is now the only state in the U.S. that authorizes execution by firing squad.

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Environment
4:28 pm
Sun April 5, 2015

Will Turning Seawater Into Drinking Water Help Drought-Hit California?

Joshua Haggmark, Santa Barbara's water resources manager, is in charge of getting the city's desalination plant back online.
Becky Sullivan

Originally published on Thu April 16, 2015 3:42 am

Last week, Governor Jerry Brown made water conservation mandatory in the drought-stricken state of California. "As Californians, we have to pull together and save water in every way we can," he said.

But if the four-year drought continues, conservation alone — at least what's required by the governor's plan — won't fix the problem.

Across California, communities are examining all options to avoid running out of water. Some, like the coastal city of Santa Barbara, are looking to the past for inspiration.

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Author Interviews
3:06 pm
Sun April 5, 2015

Explosive Protests: U.S. Bombings During 'Days Of Rage'

New York City firefighters work to put out a fire caused by explosions at 18 W. 11th St. on March 6, 1970. It was later discovered that the Weathermen, a radical left-wing organization, had been building bombs in the building's basement.
Marty Lederhandler AP

Originally published on Tue April 28, 2015 12:32 pm

In the early 1970s thousands of bombings were taking place throughout the country — sometimes up to five a day. They were targeted protests, carried out by a multitude of radical activist groups: The Weather Underground, the Symbionese Liberation Army, the FALN, the Black Liberation Army.

According to author Bryan Burrough, there were at least a dozen underground organizations carrying out these attacks at the time. He writes that the bombings functioned as "exploding press releases."

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Strange News
6:38 am
Sun April 5, 2015

Man Retires, Moves, Discovers His Doppelganger

Neil Richardson (left) and John Jemison even fold their arms the same way.
Toby Van de Velde Courtesy of Neil Richardson

Originally published on Sun April 5, 2015 9:19 am

This story starts when Neil Richardson retired and moved to Braintree, a small town in Essex, northeast of London. Richardson didn't know his new neighbors, but strangely, they knew him.

"[As] I walked through the streets," he tells NPR's Rachel Martin, "I was really surprised at how many people waved to me and said, 'Hello, John!' 'Hello, John!' "

One person in a cafe even said to him, "You're John Jemison, aren't you?"

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Book News & Features
6:00 am
Sun April 5, 2015

Brattling After The Pacifire: 'That Should Be A Word'

Emily Jan NPR

Originally published on Sun April 5, 2015 9:19 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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Shots - Health News
4:25 pm
Sat April 4, 2015

When It Comes To Insurance, Mental Health Parity In Name Only?

Mental health care advocates say patients face challenges in insurance coverage.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon April 6, 2015 2:02 pm

By law, many U.S. insurance providers that offer mental health care are required to cover it just as they would cancer or diabetes care. But advocates say achieving this mental health parity can be a challenge.

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Author Interviews
3:27 pm
Sat April 4, 2015

Florida Teen, War Criminal: The Life Of An 'American Warlord'

Chuckie Taylor in Liberia at an unknown date and location.
Courtesy of Johnny Dwyer and Lynn Henderson

Originally published on Wed April 8, 2015 1:33 pm

Only one American in history has ever been convicted of torture committed abroad: Chuckie Taylor, the son of former Liberian President Charles Taylor.

His father led militants to take control of Liberia in the late '90s, went in exile after Liberia's Second Civil War and was found guilty of abetting war crimes in Sierra Leone. But young Chuckie Taylor seemed far removed from that warlord life — he lived in America with his mother and stepfather, just another teenager listening to hip-hop and watching TV in his room.

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My Big Break
3:20 pm
Sat April 4, 2015

Salad Ties And Breadsticks: Star Chef Started At The Olive Garden

Stephanie Izard says the Olive Garden helped to reignite a childhood passion for food. She went to Scottsdale Culinary Institute in Arizona and later moved to Chicago where she opened up her first restaurant.
Jonathan Robert Willis Courtesy of Stephanie Izard

Originally published on Mon May 11, 2015 6:14 am

As part of a series called My Big Break, All Things Considered is collecting stories of triumph, big and small. These are the moments when everything seems to click, and people leap forward into their careers.

Stephanie Izard is the rock-star chef behind Chicago's award-winning Girl and the Goat restaurant, as well as Little Goat.

But the chain of events that brought her there started at, well, a chain.

"I got my first job at the Olive Garden," Izard says.

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Strange News
6:42 am
Sat April 4, 2015

Pondering The Popularity Of The Pet Rock — And Other Fads

Pet Rock creator Gary Ross Dahl became a millionaire from his rock sales in the 1970s. Each rock came in a special box (bottom left) with a detailed instruction manual.
San Francisco Chronicle AP

Originally published on Sat April 4, 2015 8:30 am

The Hula Hoop. The pogo stick. The Tamagotchi.

Fads, crazes and must-have toys all sweep the country from time to time. But in the annals of faddish toys, one achievement stands tall — or rather, sits small: the Pet Rock.

It was exactly what it sounds like: a rock (a Mexican beach stone, to be precise) marketed in the mid-'70s as a pet. Each came in its own box with air holes and a detailed owner's manual.

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Author Interviews
3:13 am
Sat April 4, 2015

Just 'Between You & Me,' Here Are Some Handy Grammar Tips

Originally published on Fri May 8, 2015 4:22 pm

In radio, we don't punctuate — at least, not on the air. Nevertheless, we're honored to meet a woman who is at the pinnacle of punctuation. Mary Norris is a copy editor at The New Yorker, a magazine justly famous for the care it takes with words. The work of very well-known authors has felt the authoritative pressure of her pencil since 1978 — and after a lifetime of improving the words of others, she has written her own book, Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen.

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The Salt
5:07 pm
Fri April 3, 2015

Straight Out Of Brooklyn: 'Encyclofoodia' Pokes Fun At Foodies

Bloomsbury Publishing

Originally published on Fri May 8, 2015 4:21 pm

If you're trying to feed some of the lumberjack hipsters of Brooklyn, you might try serving up some Huevos Machismos. And if you're seeking the next cleanse trend, look no further than the Ultimate Gushy Protein Sewage Blast. Like any balanced smoothie, it incorporates one ounce of "pure, uncut cocaine (for the boost)."

These are the recipes and advice you'd receive from the Mizretti brothers, two fictional restaurateurs who just published an "encyclofoodia" and cookbook called FUDS.

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The Salt
9:41 am
Fri April 3, 2015

Celebrating Passover: The History And Symbolism Of Matzo Balls

Matzo ball soup with dill. Matzo represents the unleavened bread the Jews ate while fleeing Egypt.
Jessica and Lon Binder/Flickr

Originally published on Fri April 3, 2015 1:21 pm

Nothing says Passover like a good bowl of matzo ball soup. That's according to Joan Nathan, chef and grande-dame of Jewish cooking, who spoke to Steve Inskeep of NPR's Morning Edition about the importance of the tradition.

The Jewish holiday of Passover celebrates the Biblical story of the Exodus, or the freeing of Hebrew slaves from Egypt.

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Author Interviews
2:00 am
Thu April 2, 2015

In Bhutto's 'Crescent Moon,' Pakistan 'Demands A Sacrifice From Its People'

Fatima Bhutto is also the author of Whispers of the Desert, Songs of Blood and Sword and 8.50 a.m. 8 October 2005.
Paul Wetherell Courtesy of Penguin Press

Originally published on Thu April 2, 2015 8:22 am

Fatima Bhutto is a member of one of the most famous families in Pakistan — a family that produced two prime ministers, her aunt Benazir Bhutto and her grandfather Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. And yet her latest book explores the lives of people who feel alienated from her country.

The Shadow of the Crescent Moon is about Pakistan's remote tribal regions. The country's national flag includes a white crescent moon against a green background.

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Remembrances
3:12 pm
Wed April 1, 2015

Centenarian Poet Was A Fearless Guide To 'The Country Of Old Age'

Margaret Howe Freydburg — seen here at 104 — was still writing and publishing well past her 100th birthday.
Mark Lovewell Vineyard Gazette

Originally published on Wed April 1, 2015 6:00 pm

Old age is in the news today — very old age. According to media reports, a 117-year-old Japanese woman has died; she was said to be the world's oldest person.

So we're going to take a moment to remember poet and author Margaret Howe Freydberg, who died last week at the age of 107. She was was young at heart — but also very honest about her thoughts on aging. "I think growing old, I think old age is disgusting," she told a historian in 2009.

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