National

Books News & Features
12:01 am
Mon February 20, 2012

Forget Lincoln Logs: A Tower Of Books To Honor Abe

A tower of books about Abraham Lincoln as seen from the top down.
Maxell MacKenzie

This President's Day, a group of historians in Washington, D.C., decided they wanted to do something different to recognize the legacy of Abraham Lincoln. But how do you memorialize someone who is already one of the most memorialized people in history?

Their solution: to physically illustrate Lincoln's importance by creating a tower of books written about him. The tower measures about eight feet around and 34 feet — that's three and a half stories tall.

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Europe
12:01 am
Mon February 20, 2012

Signs Of A Media Crackdown Emerge In Russia

Alexei Venediktov, then editor-in-chief of Moscow Echo radio station, talks with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin during an awards ceremony in Moscow, Jan. 13. Venediktov's ouster this month is seen as a sign that the Russian government may be cracking down on the independent media.
Yana Lapikova AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon February 20, 2012 6:56 am

With less than two weeks to go before Russia's presidential elections, the country's independent journalists are in a state of anxiety. Government-run media seem more open than ever to divergent viewpoints — but officials may be cracking down on independent outlets that go too far.

Two incidents last week suggest that the Russian government is prepared to lean on journalists — both domestic and foreign.

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Media
12:01 am
Mon February 20, 2012

Russian Accuses Voice Of America Of Fake Interview

Voice of America was criticized after the veracity of its interview with a Russian anti-corruption activist was questioned. In this photo provided by the network, a control room is seen during a Russian-language Web show.
Voice of America

Originally published on Mon February 20, 2012 6:56 am

NPR's Michele Kelemen is a former employee of Voice of America.

Russian anti-corruption crusader Alexei Navalny has been the victim of many dirty tricks by pro-Kremlin media.

But when the U.S. government-funded Voice of America published an online interview that had him criticizing other Russian opposition figures, Navalny quickly tweeted that the interview was a fake.

"It seems the VOA has gone nuts," he wrote to his Twitter followers.

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U.S.
12:01 am
Mon February 20, 2012

Pounding Pavement In Search Of A Smoother Drive

The University of California Pavement Research Center in Davis works on creating longer lasting, quieter and more fuel-efficient pavement. Above, samples of asphalt being tested at the center.
Lauren Sommer KQED

A sweeping transportation bill being debated in Congress addresses how to prop up dwindling funds for the nation's aging highways. States with their own budget shortfalls are facing the same challenge. In California, researchers are trying to stretch those resources by developing next-generation pavements that are quieter and more fuel-efficient to drive on.

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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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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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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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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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Business
8:43 am
Thu February 16, 2012

Retirement Communities Find Niche With Gay Seniors

Michael Stotts (left) and Rod Dolan, together since 1977, settled at the Rose Villa retirement community in Portland, Ore.
Chris Lehman for NPR

Originally published on Thu February 16, 2012 10:53 am

When Pat Matthews turned 65, her declining health led her in search of a place that could offer increasing levels of care as she grew older.

And Matthews had one other requirement: She wanted to bring Carol Bosworth, her partner of nearly 20 years. At the very first place they visited, that was a problem.

"They didn't say we couldn't come. But they said that we would be best off if we were sisters," Matthews says. "We crossed them off our list, because that's not the way we want to live."

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Shots - Health Blog
12:01 am
Thu February 16, 2012

Latest Drug Shortage Threatens Children With Leukemia

Many hospitals are perilously close to running out of a form of methotrexate that's necessary to inject in high doses to treat certain forms of cancer.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue February 21, 2012 5:55 pm

It's a new kind of brinksmanship for U.S. doctors: caring for patients with life-threatening diseases when the supply of critical drugs threatens to disappear.

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Medical Treatments
12:01 am
Thu February 16, 2012

Military Pokes Holes In Acupuncture Skeptics' Theory

iStockphoto.com

In a fluorescent-lit exam room, Col. Rochelle Wasserman sticks ballpoint-size pins in the ears of Sgt. Rick Remalia.

Remalia broke his back, hip and pelvis during a rollover caused by a pair of rocket-propelled grenades in Afghanistan. He still walks with a cane and suffers from mild traumatic brain injury. Pain is an everyday occurrence, which is where the needles come in.

"I've had a lot of treatment, and this is the first treatment that I've had where I've been like, OK, wow, I've actually seen a really big difference," he says.

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The Two-Way
6:03 pm
Wed February 15, 2012

Audits Are Under Way At Apple Supplier Foxconn's Plants

A group of protesters demonstrate outside Foxconn's annual meeting in Hong Kong last year. Working conditions at the company's plants have brought criticism on Apple.
Mike Clarke AFP/Getty Images

Audits of working conditions are under way at Foxconn's manufacturing plants in China, a key link in Apple's supply chain of iPhones, iPads and other devices. The effort will include visits to at least three sites, "each with more than 100,000 workers," says Auret Van Heerden, president of the Fair Labor Association.

"So we've taken a representative sample of over 35,000 workers," Van Heerden tells All Things Considered co-host Robert Siegel, in an interview airing Wednesday.

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Europe
5:55 pm
Wed February 15, 2012

Europe Wants Assurances For Latest Greek Bailout

In Athens on Tuesday, Greek pensioners marched in protest against new austerity cuts. The eurozone insists Greece must stick to hugely unpopular austerity measures agreed to in return for a 130 billion euro debt bailout.
Louisa Gouliamaki AFP/Getty Images

The European Union says Greece has made some progress, but not enough, to merit the new bailout it desperately needs to avoid default and keep the euro as its currency.

Greeks are increasingly bitter about the austerity measures the EU is imposing on them. And Greece's EU partners are losing trust that the Greeks will implement them.

Now, talk is growing about contingency planning if Greece fails to meet the bailout conditions and defaults.

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Shots - Health Blog
5:52 pm
Wed February 15, 2012

Scientists Debate How To Conduct Bird Flu Research

H5N1 avian flu viruses (seen in gold) grow inside canine kidney cells (seen in green).
Cynthia Goldsmith CDC

Originally published on Tue February 21, 2012 5:58 pm

Scientists working with bird flu recently called a 60-day halt on some controversial experiments, and the unusual move has been compared to a famous moratorium on genetic engineering in the 1970s.

But key scientists involved in that event disagree on whether history is repeating itself.

"I see an amazing similarity," says Nobel Prize winner Paul Berg, of Stanford University.

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Middle East
4:31 pm
Wed February 15, 2012

Iran Ups The Ante With More Nuclear Moves

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (right) listens to a nuclear expert during a tour of the Tehran Research Reactor on Wednesday. Iran announced that for the first time it has produced the fuel plates that power that reactor.
Iranian Presidency AFP/Getty Images

Iran has unveiled significant developments on two important components of its nuclear program: the centrifuges used to enrich uranium and the uranium used to fuel a research reactor.

The country has made no secret of its work in these areas. But the news on Wednesday suggests that Iran may be making progress in its nuclear program.

Iran also announced that it is cutting off oil sales to several European nations, only to reverse itself hours later.

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Middle East
3:20 pm
Wed February 15, 2012

Syria's Neighbors Fear That Fighting Could Spread

The fighting in Syria was seen as a spark for clashes in the Lebanese city of Tripoli last week. Here a Lebanese woman and her daughter look out the window of their bullet-pocked home in Tripoli on Sunday, Feb. 12.
Adel Karroum EPA /Landov

Originally published on Wed February 15, 2012 7:55 pm

Now that the uprising in Syria has turned into a heavily armed conflict, many in the region are worried that the violence will spread beyond its territory.

Syria borders Iraq, Turkey, Jordan and Israel, as well as Lebanon, where clashes erupted last Friday in the northern coastal city of Tripoli.

Sunni Muslims in one Tripoli neighborhood began protesting against Syrian President Bashar Assad. They put up a huge banner on the side of a mosque that had a picture of Assad, wearing a military uniform, with a big red X across his face.

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Asia
3:00 am
Wed February 15, 2012

For China's Likely Premier, A Western Influence

Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang, shown here delivering a speech at a Canada-China business forum in Beijing, on Feb. 9, 2012, is expected to become the country's next premier. In contrast to most other Chinese leaders, Li speaks English and has had considerable exposure to Western ideas.
Diego Azubel AP

Originally published on Wed February 15, 2012 1:31 pm

Third of three parts

The man who's expected to become China's president next year, Xi Jinping, is considered a princeling, the son of a prominent Chinese political figure. But the man who's likely to become premier, Li Keqiang, comes from very different stock.

The son of a minor party official, Li worked as a farmer for four years, before studying law at university.

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Asia
12:01 am
Wed February 15, 2012

Opposition Leader Bets On Myanmar Reforms

Ethnic Karen women welcome opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to War Thein Kha village. The area is in Kawhmu Township, which Suu Kyi is campaigning to represent in Myanmar's parliament.
Anthony Kuhn NPR

Originally published on Wed February 15, 2012 1:31 pm

The military-backed government of Myanmar, also known as Burma, has surprised many skeptics with the pace of its political reforms — releasing political prisoners, easing censorship and making peace with ethnic insurgents.

But none of these reforms have won it as much praise as its efforts to mend fences with opposition leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. After nearly two decades under house arrest, Suu Kyi is now aiming to work for democracy within the system by running for a seat in parliament.

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Middle East
12:01 am
Wed February 15, 2012

Syrian Activists Live Stream Their Revolution

Activists say this image, taken from a video uploaded to YouTube, shows Syrians outside a field hospital in Homs last week.
AFP/Getty Images

Syrian troops have fired rockets and mortars at neighborhoods in the city of Homs that have most fiercely resisted the government throughout the uprising.

Mainstream journalists are barred from entering Homs, so a team of activists decided to record the offensive themselves. The activists positioned their cameras atop buildings in the city. Each morning the view is blue sky, a minaret, a sea of rooftops. Then come the booms.

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The Salt
12:01 am
Wed February 15, 2012

Coming Soon To Your Grocery Aisle: Organic Food From Europe

Edgar Jaime (right) and his brother Jose Luis unload organic vegetables from their farm in Santa Monica, Calif. Now that U.S. and European organic standards are equivalent, more American organic farmers will be able to export to Europe.
Damian Dovarganes AP

Originally published on Wed February 15, 2012 7:46 pm

If you buy organic products, your options may be about to expand. The U.S. and the European Union are announcing that they will soon treat each other's organic standards as equivalent. In other words, if it's organic here, it's also organic in Europe, and vice versa. Organic food companies are cheering because their potential markets just doubled.

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Art & Design
12:01 am
Wed February 15, 2012

Fashion Week 2012: Coats Make A Comeback

A model presents an outfit during the Marc Jacobs show Monday at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York.
Stan Honda AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 11:02 am

New York Fashion Week may be coming to a close on Thursday, but a cycle of fashion shows in cities around the world is just about to begin. Fashion editors and store buyers will descend upon London, Milan and Paris to inspect clothes that may appear in stores next fall. Sally Singer — editor-in-chief of T: The New York Times Style Magazine — is one of those tastemaking jet-setters, and she joins NPR's Renee Montagne to talk about 2012's trends.

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Sweetness And Light
12:00 am
Wed February 15, 2012

Looking For Lin In All The Wrong Places

Jeremy Lin chases the loose ball in the first half of an NBA basketball game in Minneapolis. Lin is one of the few Asian-Americans in NBA history.
Jim Mone AP

By now, most everybody knows Michael Lewis' story of Moneyball — best-selling book or Oscar-nominated film — about the poor little franchise in Oakland that learned how to compete against the big-city rich teams by discovering overlooked players.

The maestro of this policy, Billy Beane, is an endearing character, but I've never been all that charmed by the story, because Beane was just employing cold statistics. Oh, he was right, but it was like rooting for a guy at the blackjack tables who counts cards.

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The Two-Way
6:04 pm
Tue February 14, 2012

Pro Basketball's First Asian-American Player Looks At Lin, And Applauds

Wat Misaka dribbles the ball in a gym at the University of Utah, where he helped the Utes win the NIT in 1947. The victory drew the attention of the New York Knicks, who chose him in the draft.
The Misaka Family

Linsanity is buzzing through the sports world, as New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin has come off the bench to emerge as a star. The unlikely story of an NBA player of Taiwanese descent who attended Harvard — and who, at 6 feet 3 inches, outscored Kobe Bryant to beat the Lakers — has won him many admirers.

There aren't many players like Lin. But in Utah, there's a man who knows something about what he's experiencing. Like Lin, Wat (for Wataru) Misaka is an Asian-American who became an unlikely star and played basketball for the Knicks. But he did it in the 1940s.

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The Salt
5:51 pm
Tue February 14, 2012

Why California Almonds Need North Dakota Flowers (And A Few Billion Bees)

Almond trees rely on bees to pollinate during their brief bloom for a few weeks in February.
Winfried Rothermel APN

Originally published on Wed February 15, 2012 12:27 pm

This is one of those stories that reminds us that everything really is connected to everything else.

Here's the web of connections: a threat to California's booming almond business; hard times for honeybees in North Dakota; and high corn prices.

Confused?

OK, let's start with the almonds. They come from an old-world tree that migrated to California and prospered in the hands of farmers like James McFarlane, who lives right outside the city of Clovis.

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Space
5:48 pm
Tue February 14, 2012

New Telescope To Make 10-Year Time Lapse Of Sky

The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, seen in this artist's rendering, will be built on the peak of the Cerro Pachon mountain in Chile and will survey every patch of the night sky. The data the telescope will collect will allow researchers to "answer fundamentally different questions about the universe," says one astronomer.
Todd Mason LSST Corp.

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 5:30 pm

Every 10 years, about two dozen of this country's top astronomers and astrophysicists get together under the auspices of the National Research Council and make a wish list. The list has on it the new telescopes these astronomers would most like to see built. At the last gathering, they said, in essence, "We most want the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope."

Here's why. A synoptic survey is a comprehensive map of every square inch of the night sky. The Large Synoptic Survey — LSST — will do that multiple times.

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Middle East
4:56 pm
Tue February 14, 2012

Egyptians Harbor Suspicions About U.S. Aid Groups

An Egyptian soldier on an armored vehicle guards an exchange office in Cairo on Monday. Tensions between the U.S. and Egypt are rising over Cairo's investigation of aid workers, many of them American. An Egyptian Cabinet minister, Faiza Aboul Naga, recently accused the U.S. of directly funding pro-democracy groups in order to create chaos in Egypt.
Amr Nabil AP

Originally published on Tue February 14, 2012 6:16 pm

The Egyptian government has further escalated tensions with Washington by accusing U.S. officials of directly funding nonprofit groups to create chaos in the Arab country.

The latest comments were made by an Egyptian Cabinet member to prosecutors conducting a criminal probe into the activities of 43 aid workers, many of them American.

Such claims anger U.S. officials, who have threatened to hold back more than $1 billion in military aid if the crackdown on private, pro-democracy organizations doesn't end.

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The Salt
4:55 pm
Tue February 14, 2012

Why The Best Chocolate Is The One You Eat Last

If that Hershey's Kiss is your last, researchers say it's likely to taste better.
John Rose NPR

It's predictable, and hokey, to bring up chocolate and romance in one Valentine's Day post, but hang on — this is fascinating.

A study suggests that your preferences in chocolate may help explain how you pick out or judge potential romantic partners.

No, it's not that people who love dark chocolate are simpatico with others who love dark chocolate. That would be far too pat.

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Music Reviews
4:09 pm
Tue February 14, 2012

Dr. Dog: A Standout Among Stereotypes

Dr. Dog's sixth studio album is titled Be the Void.
Chris Crisman

Originally published on Tue February 14, 2012 6:16 pm

Sometimes I wonder: Do the members of young indie-rock bands know that they're walking stereotypes? There's the scruffy dude who's obsessed with everything vintage and analog, the Pavement-worshiping, whiny-voiced lead singer, the rhythm section that knows its way around every oddity recorded by The Kinks. That's pretty much how I pegged the Philadelphia sextet Dr.

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Europe
3:56 pm
Tue February 14, 2012

In Russia, A Debate Over How To Set The Clock

Moscow's city center at dawn. Some Russians are upset that President Dmitry Medvedev put the country on daylight saving time year-round, which means it doesn't get light until 9 a.m. or later in winter.
Alexander Zemlianichenko AP

Originally published on Tue February 14, 2012 6:16 pm

In just a few weeks, most of the United States will shift back to daylight saving time — and Americans will lose an hour of sleep but gain an extra hour of light in the evening.

That won't be happening in Russia, though, where President Dmitry Medvedev has put the country on permanent summer time.

Medvedev's decree, issued last fall, means that it doesn't get light in Moscow now until around 9 a.m. Back in January, it was dark until 10 in the morning.

This has become an issue in Russia's presidential election next month.

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