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Music Interviews
4:04 pm
Fri April 13, 2012

The Magnetic Fields: 'Out Late At A Bar, Writing A Song'

Stephin Merritt (far left) has led The Magnetic Fields since the early 1990s, with a songwriting style that ranges from sincere to bitter to ironic.
Marcelo Krasilcic

For more than 20 years, the indie-pop group The Magnetic Fields has been singing songs about love, though not always in the traditional sense. With a style that ranges from bitter to sincere to ironic, Stephin Merritt — the group's frontman, writer and producer — has created a growing cast of characters surviving love's vicissitudes.

In his characteristic deadpan, Merritt tells NPR's Linda Wertheimer that he owes the inspiration for many of those characters to a particular ritual of his.

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It's All Politics
3:52 pm
Fri April 13, 2012

Romney Wins Some Votes, If Not All Hearts, At NRA Meeting

Chris Patrie looks at the Benelli display of shotguns during the NRA annual meetings and exhibits Friday in St. Louis.
Whitney Curtis Getty Images

Originally published on Fri April 13, 2012 4:27 pm

Some 70,000 people are attending the National Rifle Association's annual convention in St. Louis this weekend. It's hard to find any who support Barack Obama.

But that doesn't mean gun owners are completely sold on Mitt Romney. He may be the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, but many NRA members still harbor some doubts.

"I'd really like to see someone more pro-gun, but if he's all we got, he's all we got," said Kenny Hoehgesang, a retired power plant worker from Schnellville, Ind.

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Jazz
3:32 pm
Fri April 13, 2012

Alfredo Rodriguez: 'Crossing The Border' To Meet A Legend

Alfredo Rodriguez's new album is titled Sounds of Space.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri April 20, 2012 5:06 pm

In 2009, jazz pianist Alfredo Rodriguez showed up in Laredo, Texas, with only a suitcase, some sheet music and one aim: to collaborate with Quincy Jones. A Cuban seeking amnesty in the U.S., Rodriguez ended up arrested by Mexican border officials. He says they questioned him for hours and demanded money.

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Making Babies: 21st Century Families
3:29 pm
Fri April 13, 2012

Legal Debate Over Surrogacy Asks, Who Is A Parent?

William Stern holds his daughter, then known as Baby M, in 1987. The Sterns' surrogate tried to keep the baby after she was born. Their court battle became the first public debate about surrogacy.
M. Elizabeth Fulford AP

Third in a four-part report

These days it can take a village to create a child. Technology means someone who never thought they'd be able to conceive can use a sperm donor, an egg donor and a surrogate — a woman who bears a child for someone else. But the law has not kept pace with technology, and with so many people involved, a key question remains: Who is a legal parent?

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Europe
3:27 pm
Fri April 13, 2012

Tough Cuts In Portugal May Be Exacting High Toll

Retiree Alfredo Silva, 67, wore a skeleton costume to an anti-austerity protest in Lisbon, Portugal, last month.
Lauren Frayer for NPR

After a financial bailout earlier this year, fees in Portugal's health system have risen substantially. As a result, nongovernmental organizations say, the poor and elderly in Western Europe's poorest country can no longer afford essential care. Some Portuguese fear that austerity measures are threatening not only their livelihoods, but their lives.

Alfredo Silva, 67, showed up at an anti-austerity protest in Lisbon last month dressed as a skeleton. He says the costume shows the effect of Portugal's $100 billion bailout on retirees like him.

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Technology
3:15 pm
Fri April 13, 2012

It's Called 'As Hard As Rocket Science' For A Reason

An Atlas missile is launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla., in October 1964. Cape Canaveral has been the site of numerous launch failures as the United States developed missile and rocket technology.
Fox Photos Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 7:14 am

North Korea this week quite literally demonstrated an old truism, with the world as an anxious witness. It turns out that reaching space is, as the saying goes, as tough as rocket science.

The much hyped launch of the Unha-3 rocket, which North Korea said was meant to place a satellite into orbit to celebrate the centenary of the country's "Great Leader" Kim Il Sung, apparently failed Friday shortly after launch. It was the fourth time North Korea had tried and failed to do it, adding to the growing worldwide history of failed rocket launches.

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Animals
3:05 pm
Fri April 13, 2012

Searching For Nature's Time Machines in 'Relics'

In a new book, Relics: Travels in Nature's Time Machine, Harvard entomologist and photographer Piotr Naskrecki documents his travels, from New Guinea to New Zealand and beyond, looking for organisms whose genes can tell us something about conditions on Earth millions of years ago.

Television
3:04 pm
Fri April 13, 2012

'Airbender' Creators Reclaim Their World In 'Korra'

Korra demonstrates fire- and water-bending in The Legend of Korra, a new series from the creators of Avatar: The Last Airbender. It premieres April 14 on Nickelodeon.
Nickelodeon

Originally published on Tue January 29, 2013 4:55 pm

When M. Night Shyamalan's fantasy film The Last Airbender — panned by both critics and fans of the wildly popular TV series on which it was based — flopped majestically at the box office, it looked like the end of a valuable franchise.

But now, with The Legend of Korra, which premieres Saturday on Nickelodeon, the creators of Avatar: The Last Airbender have been given a rare chance to rebuild a world that was taken away from them.

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The Record
3:00 pm
Fri April 13, 2012

Kraftwerk In New York: Decades Of Influence On Display

Ralf Hutter (left) and the other members of Kraftwerk in performance at the Museum of Modern Art in New York on Tuesday.
Peter Boettcher Courtesy of MoMA

Imagine an era when mainstream music wasn't filled with synthesizers. When electronic music wasn't a force propelling everything from pop and hip-hop to music from the underground. There was a time when this world existed. Then Kraftwerk emerged, and the world we knew changed.

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The Two-Way
2:25 pm
Fri April 13, 2012

Cheney Expected At Wyoming GOP Convention Saturday

Former Vice President and Lynne Cheney at home after his release from Inova Fairfax Hospital in Northern Virginia, where he received the heart transplant.
Courtesy of Dick Cheney

Three weeks after a heart transplant, former Vice President Dick Cheney is expected to make his first public appearance on Saturday at the Wyoming Republican Party's annual convention.

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It's All Politics
2:20 pm
Fri April 13, 2012

Beyond The Call Of Duty: A Short List Of Heroic Acts By Politicians

Sen. Bill Frist (left) gives a mock smallpox vaccine during a training session in 2003. Frist, a surgeon, once gave CPR to a visitor who collapsed in a Senate office building.
Susan Walsh AP

After rescuing his neighbor from a burning building, Newark Mayor Cory Booker joins an elite list of politicians who have performed heroic acts while in office. While it's inspiring anytime a stranger reaches out to help someone, it's not often that the person risking his or her life happens to be an elected official.

We've compiled a partial list of past heroic feats performed by pols.

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World
2:19 pm
Fri April 13, 2012

In Balancing Act, Turkey Hosts Iranian Nuclear Talks

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan meets Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran, Iran, in March. Relations between the two countries have deteriorated over Iran's continued support of the Syrian regime.
Vahid Salemi AP

Originally published on Tue January 29, 2013 4:55 pm

Iran's suspect nuclear program will again be in the spotlight this weekend when negotiators from Iran and six international powers meet in Istanbul.

Iran was reluctant to have Turkey host the meeting, reflecting Iran's growing unhappiness with Turkish foreign policy moves, especially its call for regime change in Syria, Iran's key ally in the Arab world.

Analyst and columnist Yavuz Baydar says Turkey has stuck its neck out for Iran in the past, defending what it calls Iran's peaceful nuclear energy program and even voting against U.N. sanctions on Iran two years ago.

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The Two-Way
2:05 pm
Fri April 13, 2012

Tornadoes, Severe Weather Likely Saturday Across Nation's Midsection

The darker areas are being warned about what's coming. They're where tornadoes could occur on Saturday and into Sunday.
Storm Prediction Center

Dangerously strong storms and tornadoes are possible Saturday and into Sunday from north central Texas up through Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri and Iowa and as far east as Wisconsin, the National Weather Services's Storm Prediction Center is warning.

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The Salt
2:03 pm
Fri April 13, 2012

Dining With Disaster: Reviving The Last Meal On The Titanic

Wikimedia Commons

Originally published on Fri October 26, 2012 11:19 am

Before the iceberg, before the lifeboats, before the sinking, there was the dinner.

On the evening of April 14, 1912, the first-class passengers aboard the Titanic sat down for a sumptuous 10-course meal. The menu included oysters, filet mignon, poached salmon, chicken Lyonnaise, foie gras, roasted pigeon, lamb with mint sauce and Punch Romaine, a palate-cleansing ice flavored with oranges and drenched in champagne.

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It's All Politics
1:24 pm
Fri April 13, 2012

GOP's Rightward Shift, Higher Polarization, Fills Political Scientist With Dread

This graph shows the ideological movement for both parties in the House. Note the steady shift towards conservatism among Republicans.
voteview.com

When President Obama recently complained to news media executives about their ostensibly even-handed "pox on both of your houses" coverage of the partisan battles in Washington, it might have seemed like, well, a partisan shot from a Democratic president.

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The Two-Way
1:05 pm
Fri April 13, 2012

Vermont Governor Has Bear Encounter

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin.
Toby Talbot AP

Bears are in the news again.

Tuesday, there was the guy in Los Angeles who was texting-while-walking and almost bumped into a 400-pound black bear. The close encounter with an ursine was caught on video.

Now there's this:

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The Two-Way
12:10 pm
Fri April 13, 2012

Murder, Hate Crime Charges Filed Against Tulsa Suspects

The two suspects in last Friday's killings in Tulsa of three African-Americans and wounding of two others were formally charged today with "three counts each of first-degree murder, two counts of shooting with intent to kill and five counts of malicious intimidation or harassment," the Tulsa World repo

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The Two-Way
12:00 pm
Fri April 13, 2012

Trayvon's Mother: Encounter Was An Accident, Shooting Was Not

Trayvon Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

After saying Thursday morning on The Today Show that she thought her son's death "was an accident," Trayvon Martin's mother went on other news broadcasts later in the day to say she only thinks the encounter between her son and George Zimmerman was accidental.

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NPR Story
12:00 pm
Fri April 13, 2012

Living It Up In Space

How do astronauts take a bath in space? What happens to their sense of smell in a weightless environment? Two NASA astronauts aboard the International Space Station discuss the challenges of life in low Earth orbit and how their research is a stepping stone for future space exploration.

NPR Story
12:00 pm
Fri April 13, 2012

Engineering For Success By Building on Failure

In a new book, To Forgive Design: Understanding Failure, engineer Henry Petroski chronicles disasters from the sinking of the Titanic to the destruction of space shuttles Challenger and Columbia. Petroski discusses why these accidents are often caused by factors other than a design flaw.

Science
12:00 pm
Fri April 13, 2012

Marc Abrahams Makes Science Improbably Funny

Originally published on Fri April 13, 2012 3:05 pm

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

Up next, some improbable humor. If you're a loyal listener, you know my next guest. He's been a SCIENCE FRIDAY regular for, oh, 20 years. Wow. Every year on the Friday after Thanksgiving. You know that. We play the first annual Ig Nobel Awards. They awards given to science that makes you laugh and then makes you think. Marc Abrahams is the co-founder and the emcee of the Ig Nobels. He's also the editor and founder of the Annals of Improbable Research, and he writes a weekly column for The Guardian. Welcome, Marc.

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Science
12:00 pm
Fri April 13, 2012

How Humans And Insects Conquered The Earth

Originally published on Fri April 13, 2012 3:05 pm

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. It's easy to assume that we humans rule the Earth. After all, we can clear-cut forests, we can chop the tops off mountains. We can harvest anything we want from the land or the sea. But before we get too cocky, let's not forget about those other titans of the Earth, the bugs.

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All Tech Considered
11:38 am
Fri April 13, 2012

Instagram Seen Adding 10 Million Users In Past 10 Days

Originally published on Fri April 13, 2012 1:17 pm

Days after it was acquired by Facebook for $1 billion, reports have emerged that Instagram now has more than 40 million users in its photo-sharing community. The gain, which was derived from the service's API, represents a spike of 10 million Instagram users added in the past 10 days, according to Venture Beat.

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The Two-Way
11:25 am
Fri April 13, 2012

Tax Procrastinators Have Until Tuesday

Originally published on Fri April 13, 2012 11:26 am

Still haven't filed your federal income tax return?

Since you may be a procrastinator, you may not have looked at the calendar lately. So we want to make sure you know that Sunday is April 15th.

But you also might not have realized that this year the deadline is the 17th.

Why?

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Around the Nation
11:00 am
Fri April 13, 2012

Newark Mayor Enters Fire In 'Come To Jesus Moment'

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Switching gears now, often, stories about politicians in their off hours take on kind of a scandalous turn. Not this one. When Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker went home last night, his neighbor's house was on fire. A woman who had escaped the inferno told him that her daughter was trapped inside and what happened next is something really out of an action movie, with Cory Booker in the starring role.

Here's Newark Fire Director Fateen Ziyad describing the scene to New York station WABC.

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Politics
11:00 am
Fri April 13, 2012

Who Has Upper-Hand In Battle For Women Voters?

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Coming up, we will hear the latest entry in our Muses and Metaphor series for National Poetry Month. Those are our tweet-length poems. We'll have another one in just a few minutes.

But first, we turn to election news and a controversy that's keeping the battle for women voters in the spotlight. Polls show women voters strongly favor President Barack Obama over presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

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Your Money
10:25 am
Fri April 13, 2012

Why Tax Day Falls On April 17 This Year

Tax day falls on April 17 this year, due to a little-known holiday in the District of Columbia.
iStockphoto.com

Every year, millions of Americans scramble to file their income taxes before the filing deadline — ordinarily April 15.

But procrastinators get a reprieve this year: The 2012 deadline falls on Tuesday, April 17.

This year, April 15 falls on a Sunday. One might expect that would make Monday, April 16, the 2012 filing deadline.

But not so this year. Monday is the District of Columbia's Emancipation Day — a local holiday unfamiliar to most Americans.

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Planet Money
10:21 am
Fri April 13, 2012

What America Pays In Taxes

Lam Thuy Vo / NPR

Originally published on Mon May 7, 2012 3:26 pm

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Shots - Health Blog
10:19 am
Fri April 13, 2012

Port-Au-Prince: A City Of Millions, With No Sewer System

A makeshift latrine hangs over the water at the edge of Cite de Dieu, a slum in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
John W. Poole / NPR

Originally published on Tue January 29, 2013 4:55 pm

Port-au-Prince is about the size of Chicago. But it doesn't have a sewer system. It's one of the largest cities in the world without one.

That's a big problem, but never more so than during a time of cholera.

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The Two-Way
9:58 am
Fri April 13, 2012

Obamas And Bidens Release 2011 Tax Returns

The White House just posted word that President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama filed 2011 tax returns showing an "adjusted gross income of $789,674" and that they paid "$162,074 in total [federal] tax." That works out to about 20.5 percent of the AGI.

About half of the first family's income was from the president's salary. The rest came from royalties generated by his books. According to the White House:

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