National

Middle East
3:13 pm
Tue February 14, 2012

Iran Can Disrupt Key Waterway, But For How Long?

The USS Abraham Lincoln sailed from the Persian Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday. This photo was taken from the bridge of the aircraft carrier and shows U.S. aircraft parked on its flight deck. In the background, a U.S. destroyer patrols.
Hassan Ammar AP

The dispute over Iran's nuclear program has again rocked oil markets. And Iran is threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz, which is just 34 miles wide yet serves as the passageway for 20 percent of the world's oil.

This is not a new drama. In fact, it was a recurring issue in the 1980s. Still, there's been relatively little activity among Gulf oil producers to find alternative routes to get their oil to market.

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Election 2012
12:05 am
Tue February 14, 2012

Study: 1.8 Million Dead People Still Registered To Vote

A sign at the Feb. 4 Nevada caucuses in Las Vegas.
Ethan Miller Getty Images

Originally published on Tue February 14, 2012 8:46 am

Democrats and Republicans don't agree on much. But they do agree that voter registration lists across the country are a mess.

A new report by the Pew Center on the States finds that more than 1.8 million dead people are currently registered to vote. And 24 million registrations are either invalid or inaccurate.

There's little evidence that this has led to widespread voter fraud, but it has raised concerns that the system is vulnerable.

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Africa
12:01 am
Tue February 14, 2012

At 85, Senegal's Defiant President Seeks A New Term

Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, 85, greets supporters during a campaign rally in Dakar last week. He is seeking a third term. Critics say he is violating the constitution and should step down.
Gabriela Barnuevo AP

Originally published on Tue February 14, 2012 10:54 am

The Senegalese are known for campaigning loudly, musically and enthusiastically, yet the country's reputation for democracy and stability in turbulent West Africa has taken a knock as it prepares for elections on Feb. 26.

When Senegal's top court gave its blessing last month to President Abdoulaye Wade's third-term ambitions, his opponents angrily took to the streets to demonstrate their disapproval.

Senegal was tense as police clashed with protesters demanding that the president withdraw his candidacy.

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The Picture Show
12:01 am
Tue February 14, 2012

A Brother And Sister Get Married (And Later, Their Son Tweets It)

Peggy and John Fugelsang kiss on their wedding day.
Courtesy of John Fugelsang

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

As comedian John Fugelsang recalls, all in life was dandy until one fateful day, at age 6, he noticed an odd motif in some photos: "In every family picture ... my mother was wearing a habit."

Last August, he tweeted his parents' unusual love story — with photos — on the first anniversary of his father's death. In a series of blurbs 140 characters or less, he tells it better than I ever could:

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The Impact of War
12:01 am
Tue February 14, 2012

Building Better Houses For Wounded Soldiers

The Wounded Warrior Home Project is an inventive approach to military housing, serving the needs of wounded soldiers and their families as they continue to serve on active duty at Fort Belvoir, Va.
Kainaz Amaria NPR

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

All wars bring innovations — in weapons, and also in ways to repair the damage done. Penicillin is one of the more famous examples: It came into use as a treatment for troops in World War II.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have brought their own breakthroughs, none more dramatic than the prosthetics that come close to giving back what has been lost. And big advances in treating grievous injuries have meant many more troops coming home alive.

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Author Interviews
12:01 am
Tue February 14, 2012

Networking Tips From The Ultimate Networker

Random House

Originally published on Tue February 14, 2012 8:36 am

"Relatively few people should start companies," Reid Hoffman says bluntly. And he should know. As a co-founder of popular social networking website LinkedIn and an influential Silicon Valley angel investor, he has engineered several startup success stories — and now he has distilled his business wisdom into a book, The Start-up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career.

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Music Interviews
12:01 am
Tue February 14, 2012

The Chieftains: For 50 Years, Irish Music For The World

Barry McCall

Originally published on Tue February 14, 2012 8:53 am

Paul McCartney, Madonna, Doc Watson and Luciano Pavarotti have at least one thing in common: They've all collaborated with Irish folk band

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Music News
6:10 pm
Mon February 13, 2012

The Ballad Of The Tearful: Why Some Songs Make You Cry

Adele won the song of the year category at this year's Grammy Awards for her tear-jerker "Someone Like You."
Kevin Winter Getty Images

Originally published on Tue February 14, 2012 5:45 pm

Note: A number of listeners responded to this story and said the definition of appoggiatura was incorrect. Music commentator Rob Kapilow has a second opinion here.

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NPR News
4:27 pm
Mon February 13, 2012

For Komen, Walks Will Be Fundraising Test

Several thousand people participated in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Tyler, Texas, in 2007. Some walkers for this year's races, including the 3-Day walk, are worried that they might have trouble raising money because of the Planned Parenthood controversy.
Scott M. Lieberman AP

Originally published on Tue February 14, 2012 12:30 pm

Over the weekend, the Susan G. Komen foundation held meetings in 15 cities around the country for people who have registered for this summer's 3-Day walks.

The annual events are key fundraisers for the breast cancer research and treatment organization. But after the recent controversy over Komen's grants to Planned Parenthood, some walkers are worried it might be harder to get donations this year.

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U.S.
4:24 pm
Mon February 13, 2012

U.S. Watches Closely As Oil Drilling Begins Off Cuba

Fishermen work near the Scarabeo-9 oil rig off the coast of Cuba. U.S. officials are concerned about the potential impact in the case of a spill.
Javier Galeano AP

There are big plans for oil exploration in the Caribbean, not far off the coast of Florida. A Spanish company recently began drilling in Cuban waters — just 55 miles from Key West.

The well is the first of several exploratory wells planned in Cuba and the Bahamas. The drilling has officials and researchers in Florida scrambling to make plans for how they'll respond in case of a spill.

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Energy
4:03 pm
Mon February 13, 2012

Natural Gas Boom Energizing The Chemical Industry

A Shell-owned ethylene cracker plant on Pulau Bukom, Singapore. Several U.S. states are competing for a similar plant the company plans to build in northern Appalachia.
Courtesy of Shell Chemicals

Originally published on Mon February 13, 2012 8:19 pm

Just outside of West Virginia's capital city, Charleston, on the banks of the Kanawha River, sits the Institute Industrial Park. Chemical plants have operated here continuously since World War II, when the local factories cranked out synthetic rubber. Today there are industrial pipes, tanks and buildings stretching in just about every direction.

Soon, there could be more.

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Law
3:00 pm
Mon February 13, 2012

Mendocino Snuffing Medical Marijuana Experiment

George Hanamoto inspects some marijuana plants he's growing as his wife, Jean, looks on at their home in Mendocino County, Calif., in 2008.
Rich Pedroncelli AP

This story is part of a collaboration between member station KQED and the Center for Investigative Reporting's California Watch.

Mendocino County in Northern California is expected Tuesday to end an unusual program that put pot growing under supervision of the local sheriff. It was the first effort of its kind in the nation and proved a success, at least in the eyes of many locals. But federal officials had a different view.

'Finally Part Of The County'

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Three Books...
1:32 pm
Mon February 13, 2012

3 Biting Books For Those Bitter On Valentine's Day

Nate iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue February 14, 2012 10:54 am

For those who find themselves alone this Valentine's Day, or who reject the holiday altogether, you might not want to read about star-crossed lovers pining for each other and — even worse — winding up together in the end. So here are three alternatives to comfort you this Feb 14. Each novel is just the right length to read in a single night with a box of drugstore-bought chocolates. And although these tales are indeed reflections on love, the characters they follow are skeptics.

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All Tech Considered
12:47 pm
Mon February 13, 2012

Braille Under Siege As Blind Turn To Smartphones

The National Federation of the Blind estimates that today only one in 10 blind people can read Braille. That's down dramatically from the 1900s.
Steve Mitchell AP

Originally published on Tue February 14, 2012 1:15 pm

Like a lot of smartphone users, Rolando Terrazas, 19, uses his iPhone for email, text messages and finding a decent coffee shop. But Terrazas' phone also sometimes serves as his eyes: When he waves a bill under its camera, for instance, the phone tells him how much it's worth.

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Monkey See
5:33 pm
Sun February 12, 2012

Live-Blogging The Grammy Awards

Singer Adele performs onstage during the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards on August 28, 2011.
Kevin Winter Getty Images

Originally published on Mon February 13, 2012 10:24 am

Tonight at 7:45 p.m., I'll be joined by Stephen Thompson of NPR Music, where we will live-blog the Grammy Awards.

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The Record
6:20 am
Sun February 12, 2012

One Grammy Award You Won't See On TV

Syl Johnson poses for a portrait circa 1972. A box set collecting much of his work has been nominated for two Grammys.
Michael Ochs Archives Getty Images

The 54th Grammy Awards will be handed out Sunday — not all of them during the evening telecast. The winners of the lower-profile categories are announced earlier in the day, and Weekend Edition host Rachel Martin spoke to Ken Shipley, who's nominated for two of those: Best Historical Album and Best Album Notes.

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The Record
9:15 pm
Sat February 11, 2012

Whitney Houston: Her Life Played Out Like An Opera

Whitney Houston performs in 1988.
David Corio Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 8, 2012 4:32 pm

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Shots - Health Blog
12:01 am
Fri February 10, 2012

Rules Requiring Contraceptive Coverage Have Been In Force For Years

In 2002, state lawmakers in Massachusetts approved legislation requiring most employers to provide contraceptive coverage to their employees. One of the groups pushing for the law was the Coalition for Choice, led by Melissa Kogut (center).
Lawrence Jackson AP

Originally published on Fri February 10, 2012 8:31 am

There's been no let-up in the debate about the Obama administration's rule requiring most employers to provide prescription birth control to their workers without additional cost.

Here's the rub: The only truly novel part of the plan is the "no cost" bit.

The rule would mean, for the first time, that women won't have to pay a deductible or copayment to get prescription contraceptives.

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Around the Nation
12:01 am
Fri February 10, 2012

Nuclear Safety, Cost Issues Loom As U.S. OKs Reactor

Steam rises from the cooling towers of nuclear reactors at Georgia Power's Plant Vogtle in Waynesboro, Ga. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved Southern Co.'s application to begin full construction of the nation's first new nuclear units since 1978 at Plant Vogtle.
Mary Ann Chastain AP

Originally published on Fri February 10, 2012 11:56 am

The nuclear industry is celebrating the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission's decision to give the go-ahead for a utility company to build two new nuclear reactors in Georgia, the first license to be granted for a new reactor in the U.S. since 1978. But last year's accident at reactors in Fukushima, Japan, still clouds the future of nuclear power, as does the cost of new power plants.

Southern Co. will build the reactors at its Vogtle site in Georgia, where two older reactors already operate.

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The Salt
12:01 am
Fri February 10, 2012

How Two Bitter Adversaries Hatched A Plan To Change The Egg Business

At the JS West egg farm, south of Modesto, Calif., one chicken house has the new, spacious cages that egg producers and animal welfare advocates say keep chickens happier.
Big Dutchman

Gene Gregory and Wayne Pacelle are the odd couple of American agriculture.

"We were adversaries. Some might say bitter adversaries,"
says Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States.

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Monkey See
12:01 am
Fri February 10, 2012

How One George Lucas Fan Takes Fan Filmmaking Into His Own Hands

One of the posters promoting Jamie Benning's latest fan documentary, Raiding The Lost Ark.
Jamie Benning

Originally published on Fri February 10, 2012 9:09 am

Blame Jar Jar Binks.

If George Lucas had never created that annoying, slapstick-prone CGI character in The Phantom Menace, history would be different. No amount of "meesa so sorry" can make up for this abomination. And to add insult to injury, Lucas is sending a 3D Jar Jar Binks into theaters on February 10th.

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The Record
12:00 am
Fri February 10, 2012

What The Grammys Say About Pop Music Now

Skrillex at the Sasquatch Music Festival in May.
C Flanigan FilmMagic

Originally published on Fri February 10, 2012 9:34 am

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Presidential Race
5:00 pm
Thu February 9, 2012

The GOP Elixir: Candidates Campaign On Tax Cuts

GOP presidential candidates (from left) Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul place their hands over their hearts during the national anthem at the start of a debate in Florida last month.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Cutting taxes is part of the DNA of the modern Republican Party. All four of the remaining GOP candidates for president have proposed steep cuts in business and personal taxes, and it sometimes seems like Republicans are competing to show the most enthusiasm for tax cuts.

At a debate last month, former Sen. Rick Santorum said tax cuts were needed to get the economy thriving again — even if they benefit the wealthy.

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The Salt
4:46 pm
Thu February 9, 2012

More Than Miso: Food Writer In Japan Records Struggling Region's Cuisine

Peeled persimmon is a traditional food of Tohoku.
Kyodo /Landov

If there was a Julia Child of Japanese cooking — a witty and passionate interpreter of the cuisine — Elizabeth Andoh would fit the bill nicely.

As an exchange student back in the 1960s, Andoh came to Japan from New York to pursue anthropology. She fell in love, but not just with a local businessman. She is also devoted to parsing and explaining the finer points of Japanese cuisine to the rest of the world, as a writer for Gourmet, cookbook author and culinary teacher in suburban Tokyo.

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Movie Reviews
4:30 pm
Thu February 9, 2012

'Chico And Rita' And All That Jazz

Havana Heat: The title characters meet cute and swing hard in Chico and Rita, an animated love story with an infectious Latin groove.
GKIDS

In the 11 years since the Oscars introduced an award for Best Animated Feature, the category has been dominated by children's movies, often with computer-animated pandas, penguins and ogres at their center. This year's a little different. Two of the animated films are subtitled, and one is definitely aimed at adults: the Spanish film Chico and Rita, an animated love story steeped in jazz.

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Winter Songs
4:01 pm
Thu February 9, 2012

Winter Songs: Paul Simon, The Bard Of Bad Weather

Paul Simon.
Mark Seliger

Originally published on Tue February 14, 2012 3:22 pm

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U.S.
2:19 pm
Thu February 9, 2012

Gang Signs And A Sticker: Chicago Pulls Teen's Design

Chicago teen Herbie Pulgar won the city's art contest for vehicle stickers with this design. But the city, concerned that the design depicts gang signs, has decided not to use it.
City of Chicago Clerk's Office

It's one of the few politician-sponsored activities that should be free of controversy: a high school art contest.

But an annual citywide competition to design the stickers affixed to every windshield in Chicago has suddenly become a public relations nightmare.

The sticker, designed by 15-year-old Herbie Pulgar, depicts Chicago's famous skyline inside of a heart, with a backdrop of the city's blue and white flag. Extending up from the heart are four hands, and above them, symbols representing police officers, firefighters and paramedics.

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Asia
12:01 am
Thu February 9, 2012

China Laces Up Its Chuck Taylors

Chuck Taylor All Stars are common on the streets of Shanghai. Xuan Zhihui, 62, a retiree from a state-owned factory, wears her daughter's hand-me-down sneakers, which are 15 years old. She says they're really comfortable.
Frank Langfitt NPR

Stroll along a street in downtown Shanghai for very long, and you're likely to run into someone wearing Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars. One recent afternoon, Xu Jing was heading back from lunch to her job at an ad company in a pair of raspberry-colored Chuck Taylors.

"They have a young image, upbeat and outdoorsy, sporty," said Xu, 27, explaining the appeal. "Young people with an artistic sense prefer Converse."

Xu was accompanied by Chen Xiaolei, a co-worker who owns three pairs of Chuck Taylor high-tops.

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Middle East
12:01 am
Thu February 9, 2012

What Do Democracy Promoters Actually Do?

Members of the Egyptian military stand guard as officials raid the offices of a nongovernmental organization in Cairo. Egyptian investigating judges referred international NGO workers to trial for allegedly being involved in banned activities and illegally receiving foreign funds, security officials said.
Mohammed Asad AP

Originally published on Thu February 9, 2012 10:33 am

American lawmakers are furious about a mounting diplomatic crisis in Egypt, where dozens of nongovernmental workers, including 19 Americans, could face trial.

The United States says Egypt needs to let pro-democracy groups continue their work to help the country's transition, but Egypt accuses them of operating illegally.

The work of democracy promotion groups has raised suspicions in many countries, but Lorne Craner, who runs the International Republican Institute, says he has never seen anything like what's going on now in Egypt.

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Planet Money
12:01 am
Thu February 9, 2012

What Do The Dow's Daily Swings Mean? Not Much.

Mario Tama Getty Images

Originally published on Thu February 9, 2012 5:22 pm

Turn on the news on any given day, and you're likely to hear about the Dow Jones industrial average. It is the most frequently checked, and cited, proxy of U.S. economic health. But a lot of people — maybe most — don't even know what it is. It's just the stock prices of 30 big companies, summed up and roughly averaged. That's it.

And what does the daily movement of this number have to do with the lives of most Americans? Not much.

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