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Robert Klein And The Golden Age Of Comedy

Aug 3, 2013

When Robert Klein was a busboy in the Catskills, he saw the best Jewish comedians of the day. From Rodney Dangerfield and Mel Brooks, to comedy in its modern form, Klein was there to see the evolution of what makes us laugh. It made him the perfect person to narrate the documentary that opened this week in New York City, When Comedy Went to School. It's a look back at how many famous comedians got their start by spending their summers in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York.

The Thai Elephant Orchestra is, remarkably, just what it sounds like. At a conservation center in Thailand, made for former work animals with nowhere to go, a group of elephants has been assembled and trained to play enormous percussion instruments, holding mallets in their trunks and sometimes trumpeting along.

Back in 2008, Major League Baseball had a problem with broken bats. That season, bats were breaking into multiple pieces at a higher rate than ever before: around once per game.

The problem coincided with a surge in the popularity of maple bats over the traditional ash.

A bat that simply cracks isn't too big a deal. But in 2008, maple bats kept breaking apart. Often, they'd break along the handle, sending the heavier upper barrel of the bat flying.

Last year, researchers at University College London's Institute of Healthy Ageing were looking through their microscopes when they saw something amazing.

The Internal Revenue Service, under attack by congressional Republicans, has been operating without a permanent commissioner. President Obama nominated John Koskinen on Thursday for what might be seen as a thankless job.

The president called his nominee "an expert at turning around institutions in need of reform." But Koskinen will have his work cut out for him, starting with his Senate confirmation hearing.

History With Struggling Agencies

As its last official action before leaving for a five-week summer break, the House today voted — for the 40th time — to block implementation of the federal health law.

But it was something that happened late Thursday night affecting members of Congress and their staffers' own health insurance that attracted more attention around the Capitol.

Tensions are running high in Egypt, as supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi continue their protests. But they aren't the only ones.

Barely two weeks after Morsi was toppled in early July, a new protest movement emerged on the scene in Cairo.

Bick Boyte plops a 1-pound bullfrog in his aluminum canoe, still half alive. He resumes his kneeling position, perched upfront, on the hunt for a big bellower. Boyte hears the "wom, wom, wom" and knows frogs are within reach.

Boyte and Tommy Peebles have been "gigging" Tennessee ponds together since their daddies first taught them. Boyte now owns a truck dealership. Peebles is a real estate lawyer. But in the warm moonlight, they revert to their boyhoods. Peebles does the paddling.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory sent out a plate of cookies to abortion law protesters who had gathered outside the governor's mansion on Tuesday. Audie Cornish speaks with Mary C. Curtis, who writes for the Washington Posts' blog She the People, about the incident and North Carolina politics.

The U.S. women's cross-country ski team has never won an Olympic medal. But that could change in Sochi, Russia, in February. The team has a secret weapon: a pristine glacier high above the mountains of Anchorage.

On the ground, it's summer. But as soon as the helicopter crests the mountain: winter. The snowy white Eagle Glacier stretches out for miles, rimmed by rocky peaks.

Moscow is a city steeped in history — and clogged with traffic. It's among the world's most congested centers, renowned for erratic drivers and dangerous roads.

In an effort to appreciate the history and avoid the gridlock, cyclists have been getting together since 2007 for an annual late-night tour to explore the capital by bike.

Imported food is getting the kind of attention these days that no product wants. Health officials in Iowa and Nebraska are blaming salad greens for making hundreds of people sick with a parasite called cyclospora. That parasite usually comes from the tropics, so it's likely the salad did, too. Earlier this summer, pomegranate seeds from Turkey were linked to an outbreak of hepatitis A.

Ever since Japan's stock market bubble burst in the early 1990s, the country's economy has been stuck in a deflationary spiral. Wages and prices kept going down — and so did consumer spending.

After all, would you buy something today if you knew it was going to be cheaper tomorrow?

But when he came to power last December, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he could fix the problem, after two "lost decades."

Transcript

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In New York City today, a victory for the Securities and Exchange Commission: A federal jury held former Goldman Sachs trader Fabrice Tourre liable on six of the seven counts against him. The SEC had accused Tourre of intentionally misleading investors about a mortgage-backed security just as the housing sector was beginning to collapse. The investment created huge losses.

A new homeless initiative in Hawaii is raising some eyebrows, and the department in charge of implementing it has concerns of its own.

As part of a larger housing bill in July, the state Legislature approved $100,000 per year for a three-year pilot project that would help get some homeless people off the island and back to their families on the mainland. Participants must leave voluntarily.

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