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Parallels
4:34 pm
Tue January 27, 2015

After Father's Death, A Writer Learns How 'The Japanese Say Goodbye'

Marie Mutsuki Mockett says the Japanese tradition of Tōrō nagashi β€” lighting floating paper lanterns in honor of loved ones β€” reminded her that she was not alone in her grief.
Alberto Carrasco Casado Flickr

Originally published on Tue January 27, 2015 6:30 pm

Several years ago, when her father died unexpectedly, writer Marie Mutsuki Mockett became unmoored. Lost in a deep depression, Mockett turned to Japan's rituals of mourning for a way forward.

Mockett's mother's family owns and runs a temple just 25 miles from the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The plant melted down after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Mockett begged her cousin, the temple's priest, to leave, but he refused β€” he said he needed to stay to care for the souls of the ancestors.

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Movies
3:39 am
Tue January 27, 2015

'Stronger Than Ever' Sundance Docs Tackle Scientology, Campus Rape

Alex Gibney's Going Clear is based on a book by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lawrence Wright.
Sam Painter Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Originally published on Tue January 27, 2015 11:27 am

Over in Park City, Utah, the Sundance Film Festival is in full swing. Critic Kenneth Turan tells NPR's Renee Montagne about some of the festival's must-see films, including documentaries about Scientology, rape on college campuses and Nina Simone, and a romantic drama based on a novel by Colm TΓ³ibΓ­n.


Interview Highlights

On the festival's stand-out documentaries

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Code Switch
5:46 pm
Sun January 25, 2015

Black Doll Show Inspires With Wakandan Heroes And Jazz Superstars

For the past 34 years, the William Grant Still Arts Center has held a Black Doll Show to showcase diverse dolls for children. The exhibit features dolls submitted by artists and collectors from around the country.
Priska Neely NPR

Originally published on Sun January 25, 2015 6:38 pm

At The William Grant Still Arts Center in the West Adams neighborhood in Los Angeles, jazz superstars and comic book superheroes are gathered together β€” in miniature, as part of the Black Doll Show.

For the past 34 years, the center has held a doll show to showcase diverse dolls for children. The exhibit features dolls submitted by artists and collectors from around the country. This year's theme is A League Supreme: Jazz Superheroes.

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My Big Break
5:24 pm
Sun January 25, 2015

How'd A Cartoonist Sell His First Drawing? It Only Took 610 Tries

After moving back home, Tom Toro didn't know what to do with his life. But a stack of magazines at a used book sale gave him an idea. "There they were," Toro says. "Cartoons in among the articles."
Courtesy of Tom Toro

Originally published on Mon January 26, 2015 9:43 am

As part of a series called "My Big Break," All Things Considered is collecting stories of triumph, big and small. These are the moments when everything seems to click, and people leap forward into their careers.

Tom Toro didn't always dream of becoming a cartoonist at The New Yorker. Sure, he drew cartoons in college, but he didn't see that as a career path. Instead, he went to film school at NYU.

Then he came to the sudden realization that he was in the wrong field β€” and he had no idea what he was going to do.

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StoryCorps
9:59 am
Sun January 25, 2015

Losing A Soul Mate And A Pillar Of St. Louis' Trans Community

Shane Fairchild (left) tells his friend Sayer Johnson that his late wife, Blue Bauer, was "the only person I ever met that ever treated me like I was me."
StoryCorps

Originally published on Mon January 26, 2015 9:19 am

StoryCorps' OutLoud initiative records stories from the LGBTQ community.

Shane Fairchild's wife, Blue Bauer, was "very rough around the edges," he says: "Blue was 6-foot tall, weighed about 230 pounds, had red hair and brown eyes, had been a trucker all of her life," Fairchild tells their friend Sayer Johnson during a StoryCorps interview in St. Louis, Mo.

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Research News
6:14 pm
Sat January 24, 2015

Study Says Creativity Can Flow From Political Correctness

As the U.S. workforce continues to become more diverse, researchers are now more than ever examining diversity and bias in the work place.
iStockphoto

There is a common belief that requiring the use of "politically correct" language in the workplace stifles creativity.

Michelle Duguid, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis, tells NPR's Arun Rath that, intuitively, that assumption makes sense.

"People should be able to freely think, throw any crazy ideas, and any constraint would actually dampen creativity," Duguid says.

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Code Switch
5:20 pm
Sat January 24, 2015

Between The Laughs, South African Comedian Hopes To Educate

Comedian Trevor Noah was born in South Africa during apartheid β€” "born a crime," as he says.
Byron Keulemans

Originally published on Sat January 24, 2015 7:15 pm

On Thursday, South African comedian Trevor Noah made his second appearance as a senior international correspondent on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

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Author Interviews
12:00 pm
Sat January 24, 2015

Why A Black Man's Murder Often Goes Unpunished In Los Angeles

Originally published on Sat January 24, 2015 12:15 pm

In the State of the Union this week, President Obama noted that crime in America is down. "For the first time in 40 years," he said, "the crime rate and the incarceration rate have come down together."

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Movie Interviews
5:13 pm
Thu January 22, 2015

'Red Army' Explores How The Cold War Played Out On Ice

The documentary Red Army profiles Viacheslav "Slava" Fetisov β€” one of the most decorated athletes in Soviet history.
Slava Fetisov Slava Fetisov/Sony Pictures Classics

Originally published on Fri January 23, 2015 10:14 am

When the U.S. Olympic hockey team upset the Soviet Union in 1980's "Miracle on Ice," President Jimmy Carter called coach Herb Brooks to congratulate him on the win.

"Tell the whole team that we're extremely proud of them," Carter said. "I think it just proves that our way of life is the proper way to continue on."

The other way of life, the Soviet way β€” which produced some of the best hockey players in the world β€” only went on for another decade or so.

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Intelligence Squared U.S.
4:01 pm
Thu January 22, 2015

Debate: Is Amazon The Reader's Friend?

Franklin Foer recently wrote a cover story for The New Republic titled, "Amazon Must Be Stopped." He argued against Amazon at the latest Intelligence Squared U.S. debate β€” and won.
Samuel LaHoz Intelligence Squared U.S.

Amazon owns 41 percent of all book sales and 67 percent of all e-book sales mainly because it offers lower prices. But the e-commerce company came under fire in late 2014 when Amazon and the publishing house Hachette faced off over who should set the price for e-books. The debate raises questions about Amazon's growing place in the market, the changing role of publishers and the value of books in our society.

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It's All Politics
1:13 am
Wed January 21, 2015

State Of The Union Primer: What President Obama Proposed

President Obama delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Jan. 20. Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio listen in the background.
Mandel Ngan AP

Originally published on Wed January 21, 2015 8:56 am

Facing a Republican-controlled Congress in his sixth State of the Union speech, President Obama took credit Tuesday for an improving economy and focused on proposals aimed at advancing the middle class.

After years of recession and war, Obama claimed "the shadow of crisis has passed." In its place, he asserted, is a future marked by "a growing economy, shrinking deficits, bustling industry, and booming energy production."

Here's what Obama proposed on the policy front:

Economy

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Author Interviews
6:24 pm
Mon January 19, 2015

Markets May Stumble Or Skyrocket, But This Economist Says Hold On Tight

Burton Malkiel, author of A Random Walk Down Wall Street, says investors in broadly based index funds do better in the long run than stock pickers.
Toby Richards AP

Originally published on Tue January 20, 2015 10:55 am

In 1973, Burton Malkiel published a very readable guide to investing called A Random Walk Down Wall Street. He didn't rest with the first edition, though. Over the past 42 years β€” as we've lived through bubbles and crashes, scandals and fads β€” Malkiel has returned more than a few times to his seminal Walk.

In fact, this year he plans to release the book's 11th edition.

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History
8:44 pm
Sun January 18, 2015

From Wax Cylinders To Records, Saving The Sounds Of History

Actor, playwright and composer Noel Coward rehearses for a show in 1951. A rare recording of Coward introducing his play Peace in Our Time is just one of the millions of sounds and recordings the British Library is looking to preserve.
Jimmy Sime Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 22, 2015 2:27 pm

History is literally fading away in London right now.

Many of the items in The British Library's vast collection of recorded sound are in danger of disappearing. Some just physically won't last much longer. Others are stored in long-dead formats.

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My Big Break
5:35 pm
Sun January 18, 2015

A Tattooist And A Tweet Take A Band From Tiny Clubs To Tours

Noelle Scaggs and Michael Fitzpatrick provide the vocals for the band Fitz and the Tantrums.
Courtesy of the artist

As part of a series called "My Big Break," All Things Considered is collecting stories of triumph, big and small. These are the moments when everything seems to click, and people leap forward into their careers.

The Los Angeles-based band Fitz and the Tantrums has been called a "genre-smashing" group β€” blending retro soul and R&B with indie pop.

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Shots - Health News
5:22 pm
Sun January 18, 2015

Calif. Strike Highlights Larger Issues With Mental Health System

A Kaiser mental health worker with the National Union of Healthcare Workers looks through a pile of signs Monday during day one of a week-long demonstration outside of a Kaiser Permanente hospital in San Francisco.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

This past week, more than 2,000 mental health workers for the HMO health care giant Kaiser Permanente in California went on strike.

The strike was organized by the National Union of Healthcare Workers. The union says Kaiser Permanente patients have been the victims of "chronic failure to provide its members with timely, quality mental health care."

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Around the Nation
5:22 pm
Sun January 18, 2015

Welcome To Whittier, Alaska, A Community Under One Roof

Begich Towers is located at the edge of town. Photographer Reed Young wanted to capture the dry-docked boat in the foreground. "You see a ton of boats that are just scattered all over," he says.
Reed Young The California Sunday Magazine

Originally published on Mon January 19, 2015 12:22 pm

Whittier, Alaska, is a sleepy town on the west side of Prince William Sound, tucked between picturesque mountains. But if you're picturing a small huddle of houses, think again.

Instead, on the edge of town, there stands a 14-story building called Begich Towers β€” a former Army barracks, resembling an aging hotel, where most of the town's 200 residents live.

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Author Interviews
5:22 pm
Sun January 18, 2015

A Memoir Of A Family's Diaspora, And A Mother's Depression

Cover detail of The Girl from Human Street.
Courtesy of Penguin Random House

Originally published on Mon January 19, 2015 11:25 am

The New York Times columnist Roger Cohen has quite the family history. It starts in Lithuania with his great-grandparents β€” and then the moving begins.

"In each of the past four generations, the family has moved. Lithuania, South Africa, London," Cohen tells NPR's Arun Rath. "My parents were born in South Africa, and [then] they were immigrants in the U.K., where I was born. Then when I was an infant, we went back to South Africa for a couple of years, then moved to Britain, where I mainly grew up."

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Code Switch
10:39 am
Sun January 18, 2015

'Fresh Off The Boat' Repackages The Asian-American Story For TV

Originally published on Sun January 18, 2015 12:57 pm

Eddie Huang is a is a renaissance man with a string of careers: lawyer, TV host, restaurateur and author. His raw, funny and sometimes extremely profane memoir, Fresh Off the Boat, came out two years ago. It's a brutally honest story about his life as an Asian-American kid, reconciling two cultures.

That book is now an ABC sitcom, also called Fresh off the Boat. The show has retained at least some of that raw sensibility, but getting a story so nuanced and intense onto network television was very difficult for Huang.

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Technology
5:27 pm
Sat January 17, 2015

Sit. Stay. Call 911: FIDO Vest Gives Service Dogs An Upgrade

A dog named Sky activates the tug sensor on the FIDO vest. The vest is a piece of wearable technology designed to allow working dogs to perform more tasks and communicate more information.
Rob Felt Courtesy of Georgia Tech

Originally published on Sat January 17, 2015 7:31 pm

Google announced this week they're ending individual sales of the much celebrated, and maligned, Google Glass. And as we reported last week, a recent Fortune study found relatively low interest in wearable gadgets.

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Goats and Soda
5:05 pm
Thu January 15, 2015

14 Takeaways From The 14-Part WHO Report On Ebola

Ebola was out of control in Liberia in August, when this picture was taken.
Dominique Faget AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 16, 2015 2:20 pm

Today, the World Health Organization issued a 14-part report on Ebola, from the moment it started until now.

We asked our team of Ebola correspondents to look at the sections and pull out the points that seemed most interesting β€” that may have been overlooked or forgotten, stories that show how the virus turned into an epidemic.

Where it all began

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All Tech Considered
4:18 pm
Mon January 12, 2015

Bored ... And Brilliant? A Challenge To Disconnect From Your Phone

Illustration by John Hersey Courtesy of WNYC

Originally published on Thu January 15, 2015 4:57 pm

Hey smartphone owners β€” when was the last time you were truly bored? Or even had a moment for mental downtime, unattached to a device?

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Around the Nation
11:34 am
Sun January 11, 2015

Pastor's Gay Brother 'Frustrated That NPR Made This A News Story'

Courtesy of Dexter Edwards

Originally published on Mon January 12, 2015 1:28 pm

Last week, Weekend Edition Sunday brought you the story of Allan Edwards, a Presbyterian minister from Pennsylvania who's attracted to men but married to a woman. He says his attraction puts him in conflict with his faith, so he doesn't act on it.

The interview drew more than 1,500 comments β€” and also prompted a response from Edwards' younger brother, Dexter Edwards, who is openly gay.

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Goats and Soda
10:55 am
Sun January 11, 2015

Death Becomes Disturbingly Routine: The Diary Of An Ebola Doctor

Protective gloves dry out at a treatment center for Ebola patients in Lunsar, Sierra Leone, about 60 miles from the capital of Freetown. Although the Ebola epidemic is leveling off, new cases are still being reported.
Courtesy of Joel Selanikio

Originally published on Sun January 11, 2015 11:26 am

Editor's note: Some audiences may find portions of this content disturbing.

The World Health Organization reports that the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone may be leveling off β€” although nearly 250 new cases were reported there last week.

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The Salt
6:02 am
Sun January 11, 2015

'Tasty': How Flavor Helped Make Us Human

"Flavor is the most important ingredient at the core of what we are. It created us," John McQuaid writes in his book Tasty: The Art and Science of What We Eat.
Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 14, 2015 11:43 am

Our current cultural obsession with food is undeniable. But, while the advent of the foodie may be a 21st century phenomenon, from an evolutionary standpoint, flavor has long helped define who we are as a species, a new book argues.

In Tasty: the Art and Science of What We Eat, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist John McQuaid offers a broad and deep exploration of the human relationship to flavor.

"Flavor is the most important ingredient at the core of what we are. It created us," McQuaid writes.

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Author Interviews
5:48 pm
Sat January 10, 2015

'Blood Of The Tiger': Shedding Light On China's Farmed-Tiger Trade

Joanne Stemberger iStockphoto

Originally published on Sat January 10, 2015 6:47 pm

In 1991, wildlife investigator J. A. Mills went to China to verify rumors about tiger farming. She worked undercover, for the World Wildlife Fund and an organization called Traffic.

"I mainly pretended I was a student of traditional Chinese medicine to try to figure out not only what was being traded, but why it was being traded," Mills tells NPR's Arun Rath.

She says she found China's first tiger farm β€” complete with a hand-written ledgers filling up with orders for tiger bone.

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All Tech Considered
5:19 pm
Sat January 10, 2015

Forget Wearable Tech. People Really Want Better Batteries.

Smart watches based on Qualcomm chipsets are displayed at CES β€” but do consumers want them?
Jae C. Hong AP

Originally published on Thu January 15, 2015 4:58 pm

The International Consumer Electronics Show has wrapped up its showcase of the latest in high-tech, from wearables to curved-screen phones to extremely high-definition 4K televisions.

But according to a survey from the magazine Fortune, many Americans have a simpler wish: better batteries.

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Movie Interviews
6:04 pm
Fri January 9, 2015

'I Was A Dramatic Kid': For Jessica Chastain, Acting Came Naturally

Jessica Chastain says her grandmother has played a key role in her career. "I've taken her to the Oscars both years," Chastain says. "She's really a special lady and has helped me in more ways than I could ever explain."
Rafa Rivas AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon January 12, 2015 5:06 pm

The new movie A Most Violent Year is set in New York City in 1981 β€” a chaotic time of spiraling crime. The story involves corruption in the heating oil industry: the hijacking of fuel tankers, a businessman trying to stay on the straight and narrow, and a prosecutor who has that businessman in his sights. And finally, there's the story of the businessman's wife ... who may hold all the cards.

Jessica Chastain plays Anna Morales, the upwardly mobile daughter of a Brooklyn gangster. She keeps the books for her husband's fuel business β€” as well as a number of secrets.

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Environment
8:54 pm
Sun January 4, 2015

A Shadow Economy Lurks In An Electronics Graveyard

Kwesi Bido, 14, (right) stops to fix 13-year-old Inusa Mohammed's flip flop. Both spend evenings and weekends searching for scrap at Agbogbloshie, an electronic waste dump in Accra, Ghana.
Courtesy of Yepoka Yeebo

Originally published on Wed January 7, 2015 3:51 pm

The average American produces an estimated 66 pounds of electronic waste every year. You can't compost it; it's gotta go somewhere.

Often, in violation of the law, that means a dump in the developing world β€” like the region of Agbogbloshie in the West African nation Ghana.

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Author Interviews
6:25 pm
Sun January 4, 2015

How 'Star Wars' Helped Patton Oswalt Beat His Movie Addiction

Originally published on Sun January 4, 2015 9:37 pm

Before he made it big in Holloywood, actor, writer and comedian Patton Oswalt was a junkie β€” addicted to movies, as he explains in a new memoir, Silver Screen Fiend.

The word addiction gets thrown around a lot, but Oswalt tells NPR's Arun Rath that his relationship to movies was downright pathological.

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Opinion
5:06 pm
Sun January 4, 2015

In This New Year, Is It Time To Nix The Thank-You Letter?

Peter Ormerod argues that parents shouldn't force their children to write thank-you cards β€” it's an exercise in insincerity, he says, and there are better ways to promote gratitude.
Diego Cervo iStockphoto

Originally published on Sun January 4, 2015 10:09 pm

Now that the holidays are over, another season has arrived. It's time for children to put pen to paper and scratch out thank you letters β€” all under the watchful eye of their parents.

In a recent piece for The Guardian, Peter Ormerod argues that it's time to do away with that ritual. He writes that thank you letters "represent arguably the first instance in our lives when insincerity is officially sanctioned, which is particularly sad given that the best thing about children is their honesty."

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