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Business
3:05 pm
Sun July 1, 2012

An Abbey's Run-In With Law On Who Can Sell Caskets

Deacon Mark Coudrain, bottom left, Rev. Charles Benoit, top left, Abbot Justin Brown, top right, and attorney Evans Schmidt carry a casket built by Benedictine monks down the steps of the U.S. federal district courthouse on Aug. 12, 2010.
Patrick Semansky AP

Originally published on Sun July 1, 2012 3:53 pm

Monks set up St. Joseph Abbey in Louisiana more than 100 years ago. They've been there so long, they have 1,100 acres and their own town, St. Benedict.

For all those years, when one of the brothers died, the monks would painstakingly craft a flawless pine casket in their woodwork shop.

Over the years, many clergy members and high-ranking church officials would request the the beautiful caskets. Soon, members of the public wanted see if they might be able to buy one.

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Why Music Matters
3:05 pm
Sun July 1, 2012

Breaking Records To A Velvet Underground Beat

Christian Niccum and Dan Joye at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Whistler, Canada.
Shaun Botterill Getty Images

Weekends on All Things Considered continues its "Why Music Matters" series with Olympic luger Christian Niccum. Niccum says music was the key to one of his first accomplishments in the sport.

"I was 15 years old, in Berchtesgaden in Germany," he says. "It's the oldest artificial luge track in the world, and it's also the most difficult."

Daunted by the course's many sharp turns, Niccum turned to something borrowed for inspiration.

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NPR Story
3:00 pm
Sun July 1, 2012

A New Reality For Rural Post Offices

Originally published on Sun July 1, 2012 3:05 pm

Residents of Sugar Hill, N.H., are adjusting to a big change in postal services. Their local post office is now open only half an hour a day, and it only sells stamps. It's one of thousands of rural post offices reducing its hours because of the U.S. Postal Service's financial struggles.

Music Interviews
2:30 pm
Sun July 1, 2012

Bobby Womack: 'God Must Still Have A Purpose For Me'

Bobby Womack's latest album, The Bravest Man in the Universe, came out June 12.
Jamie-James Medina Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sun July 1, 2012 3:05 pm

"We had two shows that night," says Bobby Womack, recounting a recent concert in Houston. "It was a small theater, about 5- or 6,000 people. The second show, I was just out of it; they had to take me to the hospital."

It was a serious scare for the 68-year-old singer-songwriter — who has also lived through drug addiction and the deaths of two sons — and it didn't end that night.

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Author Interviews
2:03 pm
Sun July 1, 2012

The Complex 'Tapestry' of Michelle Obama's Ancestry

Fraser and Marian Shields Robinson raised their children, Craig and Michelle, in Chicago, but their family's ancestry can be traced back to pre-abolition Georgia.
Barack Obama Campaign

Originally published on Mon July 2, 2012 8:17 am

When Michelle Obama's great-great-great grandmother was 8 years old, her life underwent a dramatic change.

Melvinia Shields was a slave who grew up at a South Carolina estate with a relatively large community of slaves she knew well. But then she was moved to a small farm in northern Georgia where she was one of only three slaves; most white people in the area didn't own any.

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The Two-Way
1:23 pm
Sun July 1, 2012

From Our Readers: Alien Vs. Internet Memes

Meme Maker

On a week monopolized by important political news, many of you still took time out to comment on our National Geographic inspired poll, which asked "Which president, would-be president or movie president would do the best job if extraterrestrials come to visit?"

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Pop Culture
12:08 pm
Sun July 1, 2012

Fans Restore Luke Skywalker's Boyhood Home

Construction Begins at the Lars Homestead
Mark Dermul

Originally published on Mon July 2, 2012 9:28 am

Mark Dermul is a serious Star Wars fan. He was just 7 years old in 1977 when the original movie hit the theaters. As soon as the huge Star Destroyer flew across the opening scene, he was hooked.

"It hasn't left me," he says. At 42, Dermul now guides tours throughout North Africa, visiting sites that were featured in the blockbuster films.

On one 2010 trip back to planet Tatooine — OK, Tunisia — he and his tour group noticed that Luke Skywalker's boyhood home was decaying. They jumped into hyperspace — OK, the Internet — to save it.

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Movies I've Seen A Million Times
10:47 am
Sun July 1, 2012

The Movie Elizabeth Banks Has 'Seen A Million Times'

John Travolta and Samuel Jackson in Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction [THE KOBAL COLLECTION/MIRAMAX/BUENA VISTA].
The Kobal Collection

Originally published on Sun July 1, 2012 3:05 pm

The weekends on All Things Considered series Movies I've Seen a Million Times features filmmakers, actors, writers and directors talking about the movies that they never get tired of watching.

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Latin America
5:55 am
Sun July 1, 2012

Mexicans Vote With Drug War As Backdrop

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.

Mexico, a country so scarred by drug violence, is electing a new president today. And voters appear ready to reject the ruling party led by outgoing President Felipe Calderon. In the eyes of many Mexicans, his anti-drug campaign has done more harm than good, claiming the lives of more than 50,000 people over the last six years. But the candidate who appears on the verge of victory is from a party that ruled Mexico with an iron fist for decades.

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Latin America
5:55 am
Sun July 1, 2012

Election Gives Little Hope To Embattled Juarez

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

As Carrie said, the war on drugs is not the primary campaign issue in Mexico. But it has been at the heart of outgoing President Felipe Calderon's agenda. The bloodiest battlefield in that war has been Ciudad Juarez, which is right across the border from El Paso, Texas. And the presidential election has not put residents there in a hopeful mood.

As Monica Ortiz Uribe, of member station KJZZ reports, many in Juarez have little faith that a new president can bring peace.

(SOUNDBITE OF VEHICLES)

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Around the Nation
5:55 am
Sun July 1, 2012

Colorado Fire Victims Switch To Recovery Mode

Everyone who lost a home to the Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado seems to have a story about stuff: the stuff they grabbed as they fled, the treasures they forgot to pack. Colorado Public Radio's Megan Verlee reports on what it means to start over.

Around the Nation
5:55 am
Sun July 1, 2012

Fast Food Hoax In Alaska Leads To A Feast

Recently, people in the small western town of Bethel, Alaska, got very excited when they saw flyers announcing the opening of a Taco Bell. But then, residents got the sad news: the flyers were a hoax. But the people of Bethel will not go taco-less.

Politics
5:55 am
Sun July 1, 2012

Obamacare, Romneycare And The Politics In Between

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene. Since the Supreme Court's ruling that upheld President Obama's signature health care law, it has been hard to separate substance from rhetoric. This has been one important theme coming from the White House.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I know there will be a lot of discussion today about the politics about all of this, about who won and who lost. That's how these things tend to be viewed here in Washington. But that discussion completely misses the point.

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Sports
5:55 am
Sun July 1, 2012

Euro Finals Kick Up Age-Old Rivalries

About 250 million people will tune in Sunday to watch Italy and Spain duke it out in the Euro 2012 final in Kiev. As always with European soccer, this battle has laid bare more than just skills on the field. Guest host David Greene talks with ESPN's Roger Bennett about the national undercurrents.

Around the Nation
5:55 am
Sun July 1, 2012

A Musical Interlude On The Campaign Trail

Originally published on Sun July 1, 2012 8:19 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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Sports
5:55 am
Sun July 1, 2012

College Playoffs Could Be 'Festival Of Football'

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

OK. Well, let's turn now to the kind of football that is truly American.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LIFE IS A BALLGAME")

SISTER WYNONA CARR: Life is a ballgame, being played each day. Life is a ballgame...

GREENE: That is the jingle that we play every week when we bring on NPR's Mike Pesca. And, Mike, do you like this song?

MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Yeah, like it? I suggested it. What's not to like? It's a gospel song that is an extended metaphor about batting against Satan.

GREENE: Does that lyric come in somewhere?

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Middle East
5:55 am
Sun July 1, 2012

Clinton: 'Everyone' Is Worried About Syria

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene. The United States reached an agreement with Russia and other world powers yesterday to try to create a transitional government in Syria after months of bloodshed. But Russia, a close ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, opposed U.S. insistence that the Syrian leader should go. The deal was quickly dismissed by the Syrian rebels. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton came back from Geneva last night but before she got on her plane, she sat down with NPR's Michele Kelemen.

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Europe
5:55 am
Sun July 1, 2012

'There Is No Austerity In Fashion,' Or In Paris

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

So much of the news out of Europe these days is about debt and countries struggling to pay their bills. Well, there is a bit of calm in that storm, and, of course, it's in Paris. There's no Greek-style austerity in France. And as Eleanor Beardsley tells us, in the City of Light, people are still enjoying the good life.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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It's All Politics
3:54 am
Sun July 1, 2012

Defeated Democrats Find 'Vindication In Spades' In High Court's Health Care Ruling

Back in October 2010, Democrat Jim Oberstar was running for his 19th term in the U.S. House. But he'd voted for the Affordable Care Act and was beaten that November. Today, he says the Supreme Court's ruling that upheld the act is "vindication in spades."
Julia Cheng AP

James L. Oberstar was riding pretty high in Congress. Over the course of 18 elections, the Democrat had never received less than 59 percent of the vote in his northeastern Minnesota district, and he had finally realized a longstanding ambition by chairing the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Then, he voted for the big health care bill in 2010. Oberstar soon lost his seat, along with 63 other House Democrats.

He doesn't regret it.

"The Supreme Court decision is vindication in spades for me and I hope for others who voted for it," he says.

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Energy
3:49 am
Sun July 1, 2012

Ahead Of Alaska Drilling, Shell Practices Cleaning Up

Trainees with Royal Dutch Shell learn to deploy oil spill booms in the waters near the port of Valdez in Alaska. The company is training about 200 spill responders.
Richard Harris NPR

Originally published on Mon July 2, 2012 11:02 am

Royal Dutch Shell could drill several exploratory oil wells into the waters off the north shore of Alaska this summer. The potential prize is huge, but so is the risk, should there be an oil spill in this pristine and remote region. And that risk is on everyone's mind since the BP blowout in the Gulf of Mexico two years ago.

Shell is now training hundreds of workers to confront oil in icy waters. But for now, the training is taking place in the calm, ice-free waters far to the south, near the port of Valdez.

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Americandy: Sweet Land Of Liberty
3:44 am
Sun July 1, 2012

In 'Sponge Candy Crescent,' Addicts Hoard 'Heaven'

To get their summertime fix, sponge candy lovers on the shore of Lake Erie have to plan in advance.
Melisa Goh NPR

Originally published on Fri July 13, 2012 9:09 am

The eastern shore of Lake Erie is known as the "Sponge Candy Crescent." During the region's long winter months, this crunchy, chocolatey candy is a mainstay — especially for large gatherings and holidays. But come hot weather, you can't get the temperamental treat.

Ko-Ed Candies sells a lot of chocolate Easter bunnies, candy bars and other sweets, but co-owner Sandy Whitt says her customers mostly crave sponge candy.

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Politics
3:44 am
Sun July 1, 2012

Asian And All-American: A Political Star Rises In N.Y.

The seat Grace Meng holds on the New York Assembly was once held by her father, Jimmy Meng.
Bebeto Matthews AP

Originally published on Sun July 1, 2012 11:58 am

Earlier this week, Taiwanese-American attorney Grace Meng won the Democratic primary for New York's newly redrawn 6th Congressional District. She says she thinks of herself as an all-American kid, even if others didn't always see her that way.

"Growing up as a kid in Queens, there weren't really many Asians at all," Meng says. "I remember one day, my mom gave me dumplings to bring to school, and people were all like, 'What is that?'"

Meng says she would have preferred peanut butter and jelly.

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Middle East
4:25 pm
Sat June 30, 2012

Sanctions May Squeeze Iran ... And Raise Oil Prices

European countries have agreed to stop importing Iranian oil as of Sunday. This could make it harder for Iran to find markets for its crude. Iran has been filling up tankers off its coast, but analysts say it could run out of storage capacity. This photo shows oil tankers off Iran's coast in January.
Kamran Jebreili AP

The sanctions noose around Iran is set to tighten Sunday as the European Union imposes a total embargo on all purchases of Iranian oil.

The new sanctions are aimed at putting pressure on the Islamic Republic to make concessions on its nuclear program. Iran insists the program is limited to peaceful, civilian purposes, but many Western nations believe Iran has nuclear weapons ambitions.

The move against Iran comes at a time when oil prices have been dropping for the past couple of months.

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Environment
3:56 pm
Sat June 30, 2012

The Trickiness Of Tracking Severe Weather

Weekends on All Things Considered guest host Laura Sullivan talks with Heidi Cullen, chief climatologist at Climate Central, a non-profit science journalism organization in Princeton, New Jersey. They discuss wildfires and extreme heat in the Midwest this week and how these climate conditions are tracked by Earth-observing satellites.

Sports
3:56 pm
Sat June 30, 2012

For Italy's Balotelli, Racism On And Off The Field

Transcript

LAURA SULLIVAN, HOST:

This past week, a star was born.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Oh, Balotelli. Mario's moment to shine.

SULLIVAN: That was the call on ESPN of the heroics of 21-year-old Mario Balotelli. He scored both of Italy's goals in their win over Germany in the Euro 2012 soccer tournament. The Italians now advance to the final tomorrow.

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Author Interviews
3:14 pm
Sat June 30, 2012

'Billy Lynn' A Full-Bore Tale Of Wartime Iraq

Ben Fountain sets his new novel in Texas Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys from 1971 to 2008.
Al Messerschmidt Getty Images

Originally published on Mon July 2, 2012 8:19 am

Billy Lynn is a 19-year-old college dropout living in the small Texas town where he grew up. After he's arrested for trashing the car of his sister's ex, he's given two choices: face jail time or enlist in the Army.

He chooses the Army. And Iraq.

Author Ben Fountain's debut novel, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, is the story of what happens to Lynn after he joins Bravo Company in the early years of the Iraq war.

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Around the Nation
3:13 pm
Sat June 30, 2012

Synthetic 'Bath Salts' An Evolving Problem For DEA

Use of synthetic "bath salts," compounds sold legally but used as a controlled substance, has been on the rise since 2010.
Brian Peterson Minneapolis Star Tribune

Originally published on Mon July 2, 2012 5:22 am

One night a little more than two years ago, a 24-year-old man was rushed into the emergency room at Tulane University Medical Center in Louisiana. He was extremely agitated and hallucinating.

Dr. Corey Hebert figured the man was on drugs, probably PCP or a stimulant. But a few minutes later, the man became paranoid.

"He started doing some self-mutilating actions [and] was pulling out his eyebrows and eyelashes," Hebert tells weekends on All Things Considered host Laura Sullivan.

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Analysis
3:13 pm
Sat June 30, 2012

Week In News: Rounding Up The Health Care Ruling

Originally published on Sat June 30, 2012 3:56 pm

Weekends on All Things Considered guest host Laura Sullivan talks with James Fallows, national correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly. They discuss the decision of the Supreme Court to uphold the Affordable Health Care act, Chief Justice John Roberts' role on the court and what the decision means in this election year.

Middle East
1:30 pm
Sat June 30, 2012

The Challenge For President Morsi: Unite Egypt

The Egyptian Presidency released this image of Mohammed Morsi giving a speech to tens of thousands of people in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday. Morsi was sworn in as Egypt's president on Saturday.
Sherif Abdel Monaem EPA /Landov

Originally published on Sun July 1, 2012 7:05 am

Egypt's newly elected president, Mohammed Morsi, was sworn into office Saturday before the Supreme Constitutional Court in Cairo. Morsi is the first freely elected president of Egypt and its first Islamist head of state.

The day before his inauguration, Morsi addressed a huge crowd in Cairo's Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the revolution that ousted his predecessor, Hosni Mubarak.

"I'm standing before you, Egyptian people, those who voted for me, those who opposed me," he said. "I am yours."

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Music Interviews
10:03 am
Sat June 30, 2012

Metric: A Rock Band Declares Independence

Metric's new album, its second on the band's own label, is titled Synthetica. Left to right: Joshua Winstead, Emily Haines, James Shaw, Joules Scott-Key.
Brantley Gutierrez

Originally published on Sat June 30, 2012 3:56 pm

Metric has long been identified as an indie-rock band, but it recently embraced the "indie" part of that descriptor in a big way.

For their last album together, the band's members formed their own company — Metric Music International — to distribute the record, organize a tour and handle promotion without a label's support. The result was the biggest album of Metric's career: Fantasies sold half a million copies worldwide.

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