All Things Considered

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

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.

For any Ani DiFranco fan amazed by her one fine album a year between 1995 and 1999, the many albums she put out in the '00s just weren't up to par. So her new record, Which Side Are You On?, comes as a surprise and a tremendous relief.

The first words out of her mouth are the most striking she's uttered on record in over a decade. The opening track, "Life Boat," is sung in the voice of a homeless woman who's pretty jaunty, considering:

The path to international fame as a poet generally doesn't involve writing short poems about sea cucumbers. Yet for the Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska, who won the Nobel Prize in 1996 and died Wednesday, the little things — onions, cats, monkeys, and yes, sea cucumbers — turned out to be very big indeed.

A popular writer in Poland for many years, Szymborska became a reluctant international literary celebrity after her Nobel win.

S'il-Vous-Plait: Raising Your 'Bebe' The French Way

Feb 1, 2012

When her first child was born, Pamela Druckerman expected to spend the next several years frantically meeting her daughter's demands. In the U.S., after all, mealtimes, living rooms and sleep schedules typically turn to chaos as soon as a baby arrives. That's the reason one friend of mine used to refer to his child as a "destroying angel."

At 75, many people imagine they'll be retired and spending their time playing cards or on a golf course. But according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of working seniors is actually on the rise. In fact, it's more than doubled since 1990.

Ella Washington decided to go back to work at 83. Today, she's a receptionist in training at a senior living home outside Washington, D.C. She's hoping it will be a stepping stone to a real job, which she's been looking for since 2005.

Rachel Gotbaum / NHPR

New Hampshire has one of the worst prescription drug abuse problems in the country. The state now ranks 5th in the nation for percentage of residents who abuse medications such as percocet, vicodin, and oxycodone, according to the Federal Centers for Disease Control. The problem is especially alarming among young people. New Hampshire has the second highest rate of 18-25 year olds who abuse prescription drugs in the nation.

Danielle Fiore , 24, says she was addicted to painkillers for most of her childhood.

"I had fractured my ankle and I was prescribed vicodin and it felt good. I was ten or eleven," she says. "As time went on I would get something else hurt or a toothache or something and I would get more painkillers. I have a bunch of teeth missing because I would complain and get them pulled so I would get pain killers."

Currently New Hampshire has no prescription drug monitoring program. The program, which is up and running in 48 other states, is initially funded through federal grants. The proposal to create a centralized prescription database that doctors and law enforcement could check to track so called "doctor shoppers" has been defeated several times in the state Legislature. A new bill is now being considered this session and its sponsor Senator Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, is hopeful that there is enough support for a statewide prescription monitoring program this time. He cites the growing number of overdose deaths in the state from prescription drugs. In the last decade overdose deaths from these medications have more than tripled.

Powered by Tableau

Data source: NH Office of the Chief Medical Examiner

"There are more people dying because of abuse of prescription drugs that are legal than automobile accidents, he says. "We ought to have a tool to try to sort out the legal use of these drugs and the appropriate use and those that aren’t."

For those who oppose a statewide prescription drug database privacy is a major issue. Rep. Neal Kurk, R-Weare, says such a program goes against the Granite State's core philosophy.

 "This is New Hampshire, this is the 'Live Free or Die' state, " says Kurk.  "One of the major reasons this bill has not been adopted is because most people feel it’s the independent philosophy,  personal responsibility philosophy that prevails and that government should be small and not interfere with people’s lives."

Many of the state's independent pharmacists are also against a monitoring program because they worry they will end up footing the bill. The database would be drawn from pharmacy records. Rick Newman, a lobbyist for the New Hampshire Independent Pharmacy Association, says the small business people he represents will be end up carrying the burden of the costs of such a database.

"I can’t sit here as anyone with any kind of intelligence and disagree that’s there's a problem with people abusing prescription drugs in this country, of course there is," says Newman. "The question becomes whose burden is that? We can’t pass laws to put the burden on the small business person because they happen to be one part of the pipeline."

Emergency room doctors and those that treat pain say they are often confronted by patients who may be faking symptoms to get narcotics for their addiction or to sell on the street.

"I want people who have legitimate pain to get the proper pain medications that they need," say Dr. David Heller, an emergency room physician at Portsmouth Hospital.  "But I don’t want to feed somebody’s addiction and I don’t want to write a prescription for drugs that are going to be sold to my kids or my kid's friends."

When Joshua Bell was 21, he recorded an iconic piece of chamber music for piano and violin — the Sonata in A major by Cesar Franck. Today, Bell is 44 and he's recorded it again. It's on his new album, French Impressions, with pianist Jeremy Denk.

All Things Considered host Robert Siegel invited Bell to listen to his old recording for a little session of compare-and-contrast.

"Do you hear the same violinist?" Siegel asks, after playing for Bell the opening bars of his 1989 recording.

courtesy New Hampshire High Tech Council

A planetarium on your flat-screen monitor. Streaming music from an iPad all over the house. And a germ-fighting mask for health care first responders dealing with an outbreak of disease.

Those are some a few of the finalists in the New Hampshire High Tech Council’s Product of the Year award, which will be presented tonight at an event in Manchester.

Sara Plourde/NHPR

"If I would've finished that flight I would have come home to sell war bonds," says Herman "Herk" Streitburger of Bedford.  That last flight did not go as planned; instead, the B24 Liberator Bomber on which he served as gunner was shot down, and as he puts it, Herk became a guest of the German government for about a year.

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/auvet/4864672208/in/photostream/" target="blank">jimmywayne</a> via Flickr/Creative Commons

The phrase “first in the nation” is the shorthand we use for talking about the New Hampshire presidential primary coming before any other.

New Hampshire is first among states in other ways, too. Some are good – like having the lowest rate of child poverty among states. Some are not so good – like having the highest student debt load in America.

Herman Cain and Mitt Romney, the two current front-runners in the Republican presidential race, spoke in Washington on Friday at a conference for the conservative group Americans for Prosperity.

Their speeches came as a new Washington Post-ABC poll found they're running almost even among Republican voters. And on Friday, the two candidates underscored the differences in their appeal to activists.

timsackton / Flickr/Creative Commons

It takes a lot of effort, determination, and bravery to come to a new country as a refugee and learn not only a new language but a new culture.

One could compare it to climbing a mountain.

A Manchester resident is going to climb a few mountains himself to raise money for the city’s refugees.

Starting tomorrow, Dan Szczesny aims to climb New Hampshire’s 4000 foot peaks… all 48 of them… in a month.

But first he joins us in the studio to talk about the project.

[Spoiler alert: This review gives away some elements of the story.]

When a friend gave me Merce Rodoreda's Death in Spring, he told me it would blow my mind. Ten pages in, I doubted his claim.

The book begins when the narrator, a 14-year-old boy from a small mountain village, slips into a cold, sometimes savage river to escape a bee. His swim is interspersed with descriptions of his isolated community, with its pink painted homes and wisteria vines that "over the years, upwrenched houses."

Pages