All Things Considered

Weekdays at 4 pm
Melissa Block, Michele Norris, Robert Siegel and
Brady Carlson

Every weekday, local host, Brady Carlson, 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.

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Shots - Health Blog
4:53 pm
Wed February 22, 2012

Diet Drug Qnexa Gets Thumbs-Up From FDA Panel

A new weight-loss pill could be coming to the menu.
Luis Pedrosa iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed February 22, 2012 7:29 pm

A key federal panel Wednesday recommended the Food and Drug Administration approve the first new weight-loss drug in more than a decade.

At the conclusion of a day-long hearing, the FDA's Endocrinologic and Metabolic Drugs Advisory Committee voted 20-2 to endorse a request from Vivus to approve the drug Qnexa. The same panel gave a thumbs-down to Qnexa in 2010.

Qnexa is a combination of two generic drugs that are already on the market:

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Reporter's Notebook
3:59 pm
Wed February 22, 2012

'We Crush The Cars': Inside The Monster Truck Arena

The Grave Digger team of monster trucks, considered to be one of the most influential monster trucks of all time, is currently celebrating its 30th anniversary and racing in the United States Hot Rod Association (USHRA) Monster Jam series.
Doriane Raiman NPR

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 11:01 am

It's that time of year again — the time when the sports world starts to zone in on basketball's March Madness, hockey's playoff push, baseball's spring training ... and monster trucks. That's right, it's prime time for four-wheeled contraptions that specialize in crushing each other.

While it may be hard to get past the deafening radio ads, a funny thing can happen on the way to a Monster Jam show. It turns out that young fans' giddiness over the awesome destruction they're about to witness can be pretty contagious.

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The Salt
3:46 pm
Wed February 22, 2012

Panda Express Takes Sweet And Sour Beyond The Food Court

An employee packs a customer's takeout order at a Panda Express restaurant in Los Angeles.
Fred Prouser Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Wed February 22, 2012 7:29 pm

Not all that long ago, many Americans thought of Chinese food as fried rice, chow mein and orange chicken. And one reliable place to find it was at the mall, at places like Panda Express.

But food court mainstay Panda Express is now in the midst of a major transformation. That means moving from mall basements to stand-alone restaurants and keeping pace with an increasingly sophisticated American palate.

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Movie Interviews
3:30 pm
Wed February 22, 2012

A Pirate's Perspective In 'Fishing Without Nets'

A still from Fishing Without Nets. Writer-director Cutter Hodierene cast Somali refugees and militia fighters in his short film about a fisherman who is drawn by need into piracy.
Sundance Film Festival

A battered wooden skiff motors along the horn of East Africa. Onboard are a half-dozen men clutching AK-47s and debating whether they'll need to shoot. They are Somali pirates.

Or rather, they're actors playing Somali pirates in a short feature film titled Fishing Without Nets. It tells the story of piracy off the coast of Somalia — from the perspective of the pirates — and it won the jury prize for short filmmaking at this year's Sundance Film Festival.

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Asia
3:28 pm
Wed February 22, 2012

On Tibetan Plateau, A Sense Of Constant Surveillance

Ethnic Tibetan pilgrims walk on a road during Tibetan New Year in Langmusixiang, Sichuan province, in western China, Feb. 22. Celebrations are subdued in the Tibetan areas of China this year, after a string of self-immolations and protest against Chinese control.
Carlos Barria Reuters /Landov

Wednesday marks the traditional Tibetan New Year, but many Tibetans won't be celebrating. They'll be mourning the almost two-dozen people who set themselves on fire in the past year as a protest against Chinese rule. Eyewitnesses say the town of Aba, site of many of the self-immolations, resembles a Chinese military camp, with soldiers and riot police every few feet. NPR's Louisa Lim traveled elsewhere on the Tibetan plateau to cover the story and sent this dispatch.

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Campaign 2012
3:00 pm
Wed February 22, 2012

Obama Takes New Approach To Black Voters For 2012

President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama listen as a choir performs during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 11:00 am

At Wednesday's groundbreaking ceremony, President Obama said the new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., would be not just a record of tragedy, but a celebration of life.

"It is on this spot — alongside the monuments to those who gave birth to this nation, and those who worked so hard to perfect it — that generations will remember the sometimes difficult, often inspirational, but always central role that African-Americans have played in the life of our country," he said.

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Energy
2:05 pm
Wed February 22, 2012

What's Behind The Recent Hike In Gas Prices?

A gas station in Berlin, Vt., sold gas for $3.72 on Feb. 16. On average, regular gas is going for $3.60 a gallon nationwide.
Toby Talbot AP

Originally published on Wed February 22, 2012 7:29 pm

Oil prices have jumped sharply in the past two weeks, and the price of gasoline is also moving up. Across the country, a gallon of regular costs nearly $3.60 on average, with some areas facing $4 gas. That's causing sticker shock at the pump, and concern that rising prices could derail the economic recovery.

According to Daniel Yergin of Cambridge Energy Research Associates, gas prices are up because of the West's current confrontation with Iran and sanctions over that country's nuclear program.

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Shots - Health Blog
5:19 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

The Big Squeeze: Calif. Weight Loss Clinics Under Investigation

Originally published on Tue February 21, 2012 6:24 pm

A group of weight-loss clinics in Southern California is under fire for an aggressive advertising campaign and the death of five patients.

The 1-800-GET-THIN marketing campaign and its affiliated surgical centers are being investigated by local, state and federal agencies, including Congress.

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Middle East
4:51 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

Israel Agrees To Free Palestinian Hunger Striker

Khader Adnan, a senior member of the radical Islamic Jihad group, has been held by Israel without charge. Israel agreed Tuesday to release Adnan, 33, who was on a hunger strike for more than two months.
AFP/Getty Images

Thousands of Palestinians are in Israeli jails. But one case in particular — that of Khader Adnan, a member of the radical Islamic Jihad group — has been raising tensions between the two sides.

Israel's Justice Ministry agreed Tuesday to free Adnan, who has been on a hunger strike for more than two months and was apparently near death.

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The Picture Show
4:50 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

From Waterfall To Lavafall: Yosemite's Fleeting Phenomenon

Copyright Michael Frye

If you head to Yosemite National Park this time of year and stop by Horsetail Fall at just the right time, you might see something spectacular: As the sun sinks low in the sky, the waterfall glows with streaks of gold and yellow — and it looks just like molten lava.

Photographers like Michael Frye flock to the park every February to try to capture the phenomenon. Frye, author of The Photographer's Guide to Yosemite, describes the sight to NPR's Audie Cornish.

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Europe
4:48 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

Rent-A-Crowds May Be Boosting Pro-Putin Campaign

Russians take part in a pro-Putin rally at a Moscow park on Feb. 4. Pro-Kremlin forces have been accused of paying people to attend campaign events ahead of the presidential election in March.
Alexey Sazonov AFP/Getty Images

With fewer than two weeks remaining before Russia's presidential elections, supporters and opponents of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin are trying to show their strength with rallies and demonstrations.

After being stunned by the size of opposition rallies in December, pro-government forces bounced back with competing events of their own.

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Law
4:14 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

Supreme Court Wades Into Affirmative Action Issue

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote the 2003 Supreme Court opinion on affirmative action in college admissions. The newly energized conservative majority on the court could now change course.
Kevin Lamarque Reuters/Landov

The U.S. Supreme Court said Tuesday that it will revisit the divisive issue of affirmative action in higher education. The court agreed to hear arguments next fall in a case that challenges the affirmative action program at the University of Texas. By re-entering the fray after more than 30 years of settled law on the issue, the newly energized conservative court majority has signaled that it may be willing to unsettle much of that law.

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The Road Back To Work
4:01 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

Even When Employed, Health Care A Challenge

Casaundra Bronner, of Hazelwood, Mo., worked in marketing before being laid off in March 2010. She found a job again in March 2011 but is still uninsured and having trouble getting the health care she needs.
Whitney Curtis for NPR

Originally published on Tue February 21, 2012 6:24 pm

Part of an ongoing series

Zumba is a fitness craze; a high-energy dance and exercise program. You can find it in high-end gyms and even the community center in Hazelwood, Mo., where Casaundra Bronner, 40, lives.

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Music Reviews
3:28 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

A 'Giant Anthology' Of Profile Records, Rap's Early Champion

Profile Records never meant to get into the rap game, but the label launched the careers of rap groups like Run-D.M.C.
Frank Micelotta Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 22, 2012 12:59 am

Before the rise of Def Jam as hip-hop's definitive record label, there was Profile, which helped shepherd in some of the genre's early shifts in sound and style. A new two-CD anthology, Giant Single: The Profile Records Rap Anthology, chronicles the label's 15-year history and legacy.

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Money & Politics
3:00 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

Who Bankrolls Romney? Big Donors, Not Small Ones

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks at a town hall meeting at Eagle Manufacturing Corp. in Shelby Township, Mich., on Tuesday.
Gerald Herbert AP

Originally published on Tue February 21, 2012 10:48 pm

Mitt Romney had the strongest fundraising among the Republican presidential contenders last month. But a deeper look raises questions about just how strong it is in the long run.

The Romney campaign is unusually reliant on big donors — and weak on small donors.

In one sense, big donors are great. It's a lot quicker and cheaper to raise $2,500 from one person than to get $10 from 250 people. But there's a catch: $2,500 is the legal limit for donations to a candidate's campaign. Once that donor maxes out, you need to find another donor.

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Fruit Flies
2:54 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

Cheers! Fruit Flies Drink To Their Health, Literally

Fruit flies will drink alcohol from fermenting fruit to kill off wasp parasites that can grow inside of them.
Jan Polabinski iStockphoto.com

As humans, we sometimes pay a price for drinking alcohol — in hangovers, or worse. But if you happen to be a young fruit fly, it turns out that alcohol can be just what the doctor ordered.

The pesky little fruit flies often show up when apples or bananas are left sitting around for too long on the kitchen counter. Most folks find them annoying, but Todd Schlenke can't get enough of them.

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Presidential Race
2:27 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

In Michigan, Native Son Romney Plays Up Family Ties

Mitt Romney shakes hands with supporters after a town hall meeting at Eagle Manufacturing in Shelby Township, Mich., on Tuesday.
Andre J. Jackson MCT/Landov

Originally published on Tue February 21, 2012 7:04 pm

Everything about Tuesday's campaign event in southeast Michigan's Shelby Township highlighted that Mitt Romney is a local product running for president.

Songs from Motown and Bob Seger blared. A giant deep-blue Michigan state flag hung stage right. An aide passed out paczki (pronounced "punchkey"), jelly-filled Polish pastries that are a Fat Tuesday tradition in Michigan. Then came the candidate.

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You Must Read This
5:50 pm
Mon February 20, 2012

A Depressive Diarist Chronicles His Descent

istockphoto.com

Patrick deWitt is the author of The Sisters Brothers.

"Doesn't the act of noticing matter as much as what's noticed?" So asks the narrator of Harry Mathews' masterpiece of minutia, The Journalist.

On the mend from a nervous breakdown (though it's mentioned only in passing — "the steering wheel came off in my hands," he says), he's been encouraged by his doctor to keep a journal. A seemingly benign idea, and he throws himself into the task with gusto — far too much gusto, it turns out, as the journal soon eclipses his entire life.

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All Tech Considered
5:19 pm
Mon February 20, 2012

Tech Pioneer Channels Hard Lessons Into Silicon Valley Success

Nvidia Chief Executive Officer Jen-Hsun Huang co-founded the graphics chip maker in 1993.
Paul Sakuma AP

Originally published on Tue October 16, 2012 4:31 pm

Modern computer games and their fast-paced graphics require an incredible amount of computing horsepower. So much, in fact, that the kinds of chips commonly used for gaming are now being built into some of the world's fastest supercomputers.

If you're a serious gamer, if realistic, detailed graphics get your pulse racing, you should write Jen-Hsun Huang a thank-you note.

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Europe
2:58 pm
Mon February 20, 2012

Portugal Plays By The Rules, But Economy Slumps

A once-bustling vegetable market in Lisbon is now beyond the reach of many Portuguese — a sign of their country's economic problems.
Sylvia Poggioli NPR

Originally published on Tue February 21, 2012 11:25 am

The eurozone crisis has focused attention on debt-burdened Greece spiraling into decline. Meanwhile, Portugal is seen as the international creditors' poster-child for obediently slashing spending and welfare benefits.

Nevertheless, the Portuguese national debt continues to grow, and the country is mired in recession and soaring unemployment.

The Portuguese national character has long been identified with Fado music. Raquel Freire, an activist with the local Occupy movement, says the melancholy style helps explain decades of resignation.

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Health
3:58 pm
Sun February 19, 2012

What's The Cure In The Race Against Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer survivors stand to form the shape of a pink ribbon at a Susan G. Komen Foundation charity race in Tyler, Texas, in 2004.
Tom Worner AP

Tracy Grant was just 39 when she got the diagnosis.

"They asked me to stay a little bit longer because they saw something a little weird," she remembers. "In my mind I was saying, ... 'Here we go, this doesn't look good.' "

It was breast cancer. As devastating as the news was, it wasn't a surprise. Her mother, Catherine Grant, was diagnosed at age 51.

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Remembrances
6:40 pm
Sat February 18, 2012

Houston Fan: 'We Got Tears Outside The Perimeters'

Fans mourn outside the funeral service for singer Whitney Houston in Newark, N.J., on Saturday. The pop superstar was found dead in a California hotel room a week ago. The cause of death has yet to be determined.
Michael Nagle Getty Images

Originally published on Sat February 18, 2012 7:20 pm

It was at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, N.J., where Whitney Houston first learned to sing, and it was there that friends and family gathered on Saturday to say goodbye to the pop superstar.

The star-studded service lasted more than three hours. Among those in attendance were Dionne Warwick, Kevin Costner and Alicia Keys.

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Middle East
5:35 pm
Sat February 18, 2012

'On The Table': Options For Ending The Iran Standoff

Iran's state-run Press TV showed images of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad touring Tehran's research reactor on Wednesday.
AFP/Getty Images

It was one of the more surreal photo ops this week: Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, live on Iranian TV, visiting a nuclear reactor. Ahmadinejad trumpeted his country's nuclear progress, but denied, once again, that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons.

In Washington, officials weren't buying it.

They rushed to repeat the official U.S. line — a line President Obama himself is fond of delivering.

"Let there be no doubt: America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal," he said.

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Author Interviews
4:15 pm
Sat February 18, 2012

Murder, Corruption And Cover-Ups In 'Bloodland'

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon March 18, 2013 6:11 pm

A troubled starlet dies in a helicopter crash off the Irish coast after sending a series of mysterious text messages. Three years later, a hungry young reporter desperate for work takes an assignment to write a quickie celebrity biography of her — but finds complexity and danger.

That seemingly accidental death is the catalyst for the events in Bloodland, a new thriller by Irish author Alan Glynn.

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Strange News
11:25 am
Sat February 18, 2012

Through RecordSetter, Everyone Can Be World Champ

Dan Rollman, the co-founder of RecordSetter, holds up a microphone to Rob Lathan, who currently holds the world record for completing 81 leg kicks on stilts while singing "New York, New York," at a World Record Appreciation Society event in New York City.
Emily Wilson Courtesy of RecordSetter

What's the record for squeezing open the most ketchup packets in 30 seconds? Seven. The record for the most people simultaneously flossing with the same piece of dental floss? 428.

These records are nowhere to be found in the Guinness World Records book, but rather on the website RecordSetter, where everyone can be a world champion.

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Music Interviews
6:46 pm
Fri February 17, 2012

Gretchen Peters: Personal Pain As Universal Truth

Gretchen Peters' new album is Hello Cruel World.
Gina Binkley

Country Music Award winner Gretchen Peters had an eventful 2010: The BP oil spill washed up on her doorstep, a good friend committed suicide, and her son announced that he's transgender. The last of those in particular, she says, got her thinking about personal conflict.

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The Two-Way
6:41 pm
Fri February 17, 2012

Let Them Eat Funnel Cake: A Napoleon-Based Theme Park for France

A dark cloud passes over a statue of Napoleon in Vienna.
Joe Klamar AFP/Getty Images

No celebrity can be truly world renown unless they have their own theme park. Mickey Mouse and Disney have theirs. Now, Napoleon might get his chance too.

Christian Mantei the head of Atout France, the tourism group supporting the endeavor, once told the The Economist that "bosses at Disneyland Paris once said that only Napoleon had the stature to take on Mickey Mouse".

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Music Interviews
3:32 pm
Fri February 17, 2012

Conor Oberst, Ron Sexsmith Pay Tribute To Leonard Cohen

It's natural for Leonard Cohen to think a lot about mortality near the end of his life, but Ron Sexsmith says Cohen has never sung about "frivolous things."
Dominique Issermann

Originally published on Sun February 19, 2012 6:50 pm

Who'd have thought a 77-year-old Canadian singer-songwriter would be hovering near the top of the pop charts?

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U.S.
2:54 pm
Fri February 17, 2012

For Cash, Murderer Leads Police To Victims' Remains

San Joaquin sheriff detectives sift for human remains that were excavated from an abandoned ranch near Linden, Calif., on Sunday. Authorities say Wesley Shermantine and Loren Herzog wantonly murdered an unknown number of victims before their arrest in 1999. Now, one of the convicted killers is leading investigators to burial sites that have yielded hundreds of bones.
Craig Sanders AP

Originally published on Fri February 17, 2012 6:45 pm

In California's Central Valley, authorities are excavating the gruesome remains of an unknown number of murder victims who were buried many years ago by a pair of convicted murderers and drug users.

The search began last week after one of the convicts agreed to lead authorities to the remains in exchange for cash.

But, the case raises some thorny ethical and legal issues: Should convicted criminals be able to benefit from their wrongdoing?

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Sports
1:17 pm
Fri February 17, 2012

As Ivies Boost Financial Aid, Teams Up Their Game

Harvard University forward Kyle Casey in an NCAA game against Princeton on Saturday. Casey says financial aid from Harvard makes the school more attractive to student athletes.
Mel Evans Getty Images

New York Knicks guard and Harvard University alumnus Jeremy Lin may be a sudden NBA sensation, but the men's basketball team at his alma mater is making its own mark on the national scene.

Harvard is currently on top of the Ivy League basketball standings. And with a 21-3 overall record and some impressive nonconference wins, the Crimson spent part of the season in the Top 25 in national polls for Division I.

There's a palpable buzz about the team, as well — even a late January road game against the struggling squad from Brown University was a sellout.

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