All Things Considered

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  • Hosted by Peter Biello, Melissa Block, Robert Siegel and Audie Cornish

Every weekday, local host, Peter Biello, and national hosts Melissa Block, Michele Norris, and Robert Siegel present two hours of breaking news mixed with compelling analysis, insightful commentaries, interviews, and special -- sometimes quirky -- features from NHPR and NPR.

If you've been digging out of snowbanks lately, as many people in the East have been after a record-setting blizzard, blame the oceans.

Scientists have been doing some forensic work to figure out what set this megastorm in motion. And they think they've found a trail that starts with the weather pattern called El Niño.

El Niño starts in the tropical Pacific. Every few years, the ocean there gets unusually warm. This year is one of the biggest El Niños ever. Heat and moisture from it have been swept up into the tropical jet stream and carried eastward.

Ray's Sporting Goods in Dallas' Oak Cliff is a neighborhood firearm dreamland.

It's stocked with the latest pistols, shotguns and AR-15 military-style rifles. Chuck Payne, the store's manager, says he has sold to a lot more women recently.

"A lot of married ladies with their husbands, some without, but they've decided that their husband's not home, they need to be able to do something and they need a different gun than what their husband had," Payne says.

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The outbreak of Zika virus in Brazil and other countries has raised concern that the pathogen could start spreading widely in the United States, as well. But federal health officials and other infectious disease specialists say so far that seems unlikely.

If you want to meet some of the newest Chinese immigrants of New York City, don't go to Chinatown in Manhattan.

Take the train to the Queens neighborhood of Flushing, where you'll find newcomers who are reshaping the largest Chinese community of any city outside of Asia.

For decades, most Chinese immigrants in the U.S. have come from China's southern provinces. But in recent years, more immigrants are coming from the north and landing in Flushing — including Geng Lei, an immigrant from the northern province of Shandong.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is on a goodwill tour through Italy and France this week, trying to drum up investment for his country's sanctions-battered economy.

But Iran still faces challenges that make it hard for companies to do business with Tehran.

In a move that was loudly celebrated in Iran, the United States and other countries earlier this month agreed to lift an economic embargo that had been imposed in 2012 in an effort to curb Iran's nuclear program.

Standing on the bank of the Passaic River where it meets the Newark Bay in New Jersey, Oswaldo Avad reels in a small bluefish and a piece of a grocery bag.

"One piece plastic and one fish," Avad says in broken English.

According to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, children, pregnant women and women who might one day want to be pregnant should not eat any fish from most of the waters in New Jersey. It's safe for men to eat a small amount: about one catfish or one eel per year.

The Obama administration took another step to try to reform the country's prisons this week, banning the use of solitary confinement for juveniles and charging the Bureau of Prisons with finding alternatives to that punishment for the mentally ill.

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Oscar-winning film producer Harvey Weinstein may be best-known for producing movies like Pulp Fiction, The English Patient and Shakespeare in Love. But the indie film mogul has also been busy producing TV. His latest project is a version of War and Peace, a co-production with the BBC and Lifetime.

The miniseries — which airs simultaneously on A+E, Lifetime and History — is an updated retelling of Leo Tolstoy's classic Russian novel. And it's a passion project for Weinstein.

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Five years ago today, the Arab Spring came to Egypt. Protesters took to Cairo's streets to demand more political and economic freedoms, as demonstrator Adel al-Sharif (ph) told NPR at the time.

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On Nov. 24, the sun set in the tiny Greenlandic town of Ittoqqortoormiit. When I arrived in mid-January, it had yet to rise again.

Even for Greenland, Ittoqqortoormiit is isolated. It's considerably colder and darker than the capital, Nuuk.

"I remember my first Christmas on the west coast [of Greenland]," says Mette Barselajsen, who was born here and is raising her four kids in town. "I remember I was surprised we had the sun at Christmas. Like, too light!"

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It's something we hear in every election season. Don't obsess over polls. Go tell it to Donald Trump.

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DONALD TRUMP: So CNN came out 33 for Trump; 20 for Cruz. That's good.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Yeah.

Tracing your genealogy has become a popular hobby in the United States. More than 1 million people around the country have taken these tests. Shows like PBS's Finding Your Roots have shown the public how much information you can find out about your family tree with a simple DNA test.

The latest films in the Star Wars and Hunger Games franchises were not just box office smashes. They also shared something else in common: Both tapped into a widespread debate about casting.

On Friday, Puerto Rico suffered the latest setback in the island's ongoing debt crisis. Talks on restructuring the nearly $9 billion debt of its power company, a government-owned utility, reached an impasse. While the utility, PREPA, said Sunday that it had reached a forbearance agreement with lenders, negotiations on its debt restructuring still have not reached a resolution since the last deal expired Friday night.

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On campuses across the country, millions of students have an app called Yik Yak on their phones.

It's like an anonymous version of Twitter. But because it's anonymous, it can get ugly and be a breeding ground for hate speech.

Black student leaders across the country have held sit-ins and protests asking college officials to block the app.

Yik Yak, an Atlanta-based social media app, has a presence on more than 2,000 college campuses. Users of the app post comments anonymously, and anyone in within a radius of a few miles can see, share and rate the comment.

The Los Angeles Unified School District welcomed a new superintendent who represents a first for the nation's second-largest school district on Jan.11.

Michelle King is the first African-American woman chosen for the job, heading more than 900 schools in the district. She is also an insider — she has worked in the system for three decades — unlike the string of outsiders who held the job before her.

Forgive us if you've heard this (and heard it, and heard it) already: The East Coast is getting its fair share of snow this weekend.

If you have, chances are you've also heard another little anecdote. When folks get snowed in for a couple of days — the urban legend goes — the population in that area is likely to see a boost in births just nine months later. In other words: Blizzards might be prime baby-making time.

Keene State College

The Bookshelf is NHPR's series on authors and books with ties to the Granite State. All Things Considered features authors, covers literary events and publishing trends, and gets recommendations from each guest on what books listeners might want to add to their own bookshelves. 

If you have an author or book you think we should profile on The Bookshelf, send us an email. The address is books@nhpr.org.

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