All Things Considered

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The Two-Way
5:00 pm
Mon January 30, 2012

Report Prompts Calls To End Freddie Mac's Conflict Of Interest

A sign for Freddie Mac in front of its headquarters in McLean, Va.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Several U.S. lawmakers and prominent economists on Monday said Congress and the White House should end a financial conflict of interest at the taxpayer-owned mortgage company Freddie Mac.

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Economy
3:08 pm
Mon January 30, 2012

Mortgage Giant Places Bets Against Homeowners

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Freddie Mac is a gatekeeper in the mortgage market. In many cases, the taxpayer-owned mortgage company controls who qualifies to refinance a mortgage and who doesn't. Well, NPR has learned that Freddie Mac has been making financial wagers, betting against American homeowners being able to refinance. And now some lawmakers want to put a stop to it. NPR's Chris Arnold has been reporting this story in partnership with ProPublica.org. He has this report.

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Politics
1:00 pm
Sun January 29, 2012

Bilingualism A Political Liability?

Originally published on Sun January 29, 2012 7:48 pm

Transcript

GUY RAZ, HOST:

And sticking with presidential politics for a moment, speaking a second language has recently become something of a liability for those aspiring to live in the White House. It turns out very few American presidents have had a strong command of a second language, most of them in the early days of the Republic, and that language, it was French.

John McWhorter wrote about this recently in The New Republic, and he's with me now. John, bonjour.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

JOHN MCWHORTER: Bonjour, Guy. How are you doing?

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Africa
1:00 pm
Sun January 29, 2012

Attacks By Nigerian Muslim Group Stirs Fear

A radical Islamist group in northern Nigeria has claimed responsibility for a series of deadly bombing attacks last week that left more than 200 people dead. Boko Haram's campaign of violence has left minority Christians on edge in the city of Kano.

Politics
1:00 pm
Sun January 29, 2012

Gingrich Attacks Front-Runner Romney

Originally published on Sun January 29, 2012 7:48 pm

Transcript

GUY RAZ, HOST:

Just a little more than a day left before voters in Florida have their say in the GOP primary. The latest polls by the Miami Herald and the Tampa Bay Times show Mitt Romney with an 11-point lead over Newt Gingrich, with Rick Santorum and Ron Paul trailing far behind. Newt Gingrich, who's had trouble getting support from establishment Republicans, picked up a nod from a decidedly non-establishment figure - one of his former rivals, Herman Cain.

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Europe
1:00 pm
Sun January 29, 2012

French Town Says Non To "Mademoiselle"

Originally published on Sun January 29, 2012 7:48 pm

Transcript

GUY RAZ, HOST:

And speaking of French, a small French revolution is underway in the town of Cesson - sorry. How do you say it?

LAUREN: Cesson-Sevigne.

RAZ: Thankfully, our intern Lauren Benichou is French. Anyway, as I was saying, in that town, the mayor, Michel Bihan, has banned the use of the word mademoiselle.

MAYOR MICHEL BIHAN: (Through translator) In France, mademoiselle is a condescending term. We believe that it's more natural and fair to call women madame.

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Music Interviews
12:32 pm
Sun January 29, 2012

Air: Scoring A Cinematic Marvel, 100 Years Later

Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel pose at a January screening of Le Voyage Dans La Lune at New York's Museum of Modern Art.
Gabi Porter Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue January 31, 2012 9:00 pm

In 1902, director Georges Melies released his magnum opus: Le Voyage Dans La Lune (A Trip To the Moon), often considered the first science-fiction movie ever. Even if you've never heard of Melies, you've probably seen the film's most famous shot: a moon with a human face, wincing at the spaceship that has just crashed into its eye.

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Business
3:16 pm
Sat January 28, 2012

Made In The USA: Saving The American Brand

General Motors, headquartered in Detroit, recovered from near disaster after a financial bailout from the federal government.
Bill Pugliano Getty Images

A majestic building still dominates the skyline of Rochester, N.Y., the word "Kodak" shining brightly from the top. It's the legacy of George Eastman — the founder of the Eastman Kodak Co. — a company that helped Rochester thrive and gave it the nickname "Kodak Town."

In 1976, Kodak sold 90 percent of the film around the world. The company basically invented digital photography, but it couldn't figure out how to make the transition from film quickly enough to out-compete its Asian rivals. Of the 20 best-selling digital cameras in the U.S., not a single one is from Kodak.

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Books
2:29 pm
Sat January 28, 2012

'The Snowy Day': Breaking Color Barriers, Quietly

With special permission from The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation

Originally published on Tue January 31, 2012 8:13 am

One morning many years ago, a little boy in Brooklyn named Peter woke up to an amazing sight: fresh snow.

Peter is the hero of the classic children's book by Ezra Jack Keats, The Snowy Day, which turns 50 this year. Peter has a red snowsuit, a stick just right for knocking snow off of trees, and a snowball in his pocket. And, though this is never mentioned in the text, Peter is African-American.

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Art & Design
11:55 am
Sat January 28, 2012

At 100, Pollock's Legend Still Splattered On Art World

Influenced by Mexican and Native American art, Pollock popularized action-painting and drip style, as seen in Number 7, 1951.
Pollock-Krasner Foundation, National Gallery of Art/Artists Rights Society

Even a century since his birth, American "splatter artist" Jackson Pollock still provokes heated debate about the very definition of art.

Was a man who placed a canvas on the floor and dripped paint straight from the can actually creating a work of art?

"It's very hard if you try to build the paint up to this extent with this many colors and not achieve mud," says National Gallery of Art curator Harry Cooper.

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Presidential Race
4:18 pm
Fri January 27, 2012

GOP Candidates Wrangle Over Reagan's Legacy

President Ronald Reagan rides his horse at his Rancho del Cielo, "Ranch in the Sky," located outside Santa Barbara, Calif., in April 1985.
Pete Souza AP

As he campaigns for the Republican presidential nomination, Newt Gingrich almost always works the name of Ronald Reagan into his speeches.

In fact, it's become so common that Gingrich's name-dropping has become an issue itself.

Sometimes Gingrich invokes the name of Ronald Reagan to associate himself with the policies of the former president.

"When I worked with President Reagan, we adopted a lower tax, less regulation, more American energy policy, and it led to 16 million new jobs," Gingrich said at a speech in St. Petersburg, Fla., this week.

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Poetry
3:54 pm
Fri January 27, 2012

NewsPoet: Tracy K. Smith Writes The Day In Verse

Tracy K. Smith poses for a portrait outside of NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Friday.
Mito Habe-Evans NPR

Originally published on Wed July 25, 2012 1:40 pm

Today marks the start of an exciting project at All Things Considered called NewsPoet. Each month we'll be bringing in a poet to spend time in the newsroom — and at the end, to compose a poem reflecting on the day's news.

The first poet to participate is Tracy K. Smith. She has received degrees in English and creative writing from Harvard College, Columbia University, and was a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University. Her latest book of poems is titled Life on Mars.

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Education
3:22 pm
Fri January 27, 2012

Higher Dropout Age May Not Lead To More Diplomas

President Obama delivers the commencement address for Kalamazoo Central High School's class of 2007 in Kalamazoo, Mich. The state requires students to stay in school until they turn 18.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Fri January 27, 2012 4:19 pm

In his State of the Union address, President Obama called on every state to require students to stay in school until they graduate or turn 18. "When students don't walk away from their education, more of them walk the stage to get their diploma," he said.

The White House cited studies that showed how raising the compulsory schooling age helps prevent kids from leaving school. And while some of that is true, some of it is also wishful thinking.

For New Hampshire Deputy Commissioner of Education Paul Leather, the president made the right call in his address.

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Shots - Health Blog
3:22 pm
Fri January 27, 2012

Romney's Unlikely And Persuasive Defense Of The 'Individual Mandate'

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney offered a spirited defense of the individual mandate during Thursday night's GOP presidential candidate debate in Jacksonville, Fla.
Matt Rourke AP

For a candidate who keeps vowing to repeal the 2010 federal Affordable Care Act, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney sure can make a convincing argument on its behalf.

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Planet Money
2:58 pm
Fri January 27, 2012

Rethinking The Oreo For Chinese Consumers

Kraft Foods has reinvented the Oreo for Chinese consumers. It's latest offering in China: straw-shaped wafers with vanilla-flavored cream filling.
Kraft Foods

Everyone knows what an Oreo cookie is supposed to be like. It's round, black and white, and intensely sweet. Has been for 100 years. But sometimes, in order to succeed in the world, even the most iconic product has to adapt.

In China, that meant totally reconsidering what gives an Oreo its Oreoness.

At first, though, Kraft Foods thought that the Chinese would love the Oreo. Who doesn't? They launched the product there in 1996 as a clone of the American version.

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Movies
1:42 pm
Fri January 27, 2012

Movie Titles That Might Have Been

'Tonight' Show: Playing an alcoholic, unpopular superhero, Will Smith rouses himself from a park bench pass-out to stare down a curious kid in 2008's Hancock — a movie almost titled Tonight, He Comes.
Relativity Media The Kobal Collection

Originally published on Fri January 27, 2012 4:19 pm

Shrek, Hitch, Gattaca: What's in a name? Shakespeare said a rose by any other name would smell as sweet — but for Hollywood the question is more like, "Would that rose, by any other name, sell as many tickets?"

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Winter Songs
1:19 pm
Fri January 27, 2012

Shredding To Metallica, Dancing To 'Jump'

Daron Rahlves of the U.S. competes during the Men's Freestyle Ski Cross qualification at Cypress Mountain during the Vancouver Winter Olympics.
Adrian Dennis AFP/Getty Images

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NPR's Backseat Book Club
3:04 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

'Birmingham': A Family Tale In The Civil Rights Era

Originally published on Fri January 27, 2012 11:40 am

Welcome to the fourth installment of NPR's Backseat Book Club, where we select a book for young readers — and invite them to read along with us and share their thoughts and questions with the author.

Our selection for January — The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis — describes the civil rights era from the perspective of a young (and extremely mischievous) boy and his family.

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Presidential Race
2:44 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

Republican Debates Become Must-See TV

This election cycle, one factor stands above all others in driving the dynamics of the race for the Republican presidential nomination: televised debates.

It's All Politics
2:29 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

Candidates Campaign On An Economic Silver Bullet: Worker Retraining

President Barack Obama waves after speaking at a UPS facility in Las Vegas on Thursday. Nevada is one stop on the president's latest road trip focusing on the economy.
Julie Jacobson AP

There are not many things that Barack Obama, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney agree on, but when it comes to job training there is common ground.

"It is time to turn our unemployment system into a reemployment system that puts people to work," President Obama said during his State of the Union address Tuesday.

Earlier in the week, Newt Gingrich offered a similar solution for helping those facing long-term unemployment.

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Theater
1:33 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

In Broadway's 'Wit,' A Documentary Of Our Demise

In a revival of Wit on Broadway, Cynthia Nixon plays Vivan Bearing, a brilliant John Donne scholar forced to consider her own mortality when she's diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
Manhattan Theatre Club

Originally published on Thu January 26, 2012 4:35 pm

In her dressing room at the Friedman Theatre, Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon has a nightly ritual: She rubs Nivea cream all over her scalp to soothe the razor burns.

Being completely bald is just one of the many demands of the character she plays in Wit -- a brilliant college professor named Vivian Bearing, who's battling ovarian cancer.

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Presidential Race
1:00 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

Republicans Prepare To Debate In Florida

Melissa Block talks with NPR's Mara Liasson about Thursday night's Republican debate in Jacksonville, Fla.

From Our Listeners
1:00 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

Letters: In-Sourcing; John Hawkes

Originally published on Thu January 26, 2012 4:21 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Time now for some of your responses to our program.

And first, my interview yesterday with the CEO of Keen. The company is based in Portland, Oregon. It makes shoes. And we talked with CEO James Curleigh because Keen illustrates something President Obama advocated in his State of the Union Address. It recently opened a factory in the U.S. instead of China. President Obama called it insourcing.

Curleigh told us it not only makes financial sense, it's good marketing.

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Shots - Health Blog
3:35 pm
Wed January 25, 2012

Start Early To Curb Heart Risks For A Lifetime

Yvan Dub iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed January 25, 2012 5:03 pm

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the U.S. But who's at the most risk?

A study in the lastest New England Journal of Medicine offers a simple way to predict the risk of a fatal or debilitating heart attack or stroke for a middle-aged person over the rest of his or her life.

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It's All Politics
3:04 pm
Wed January 25, 2012

Taking His Economic Message On The Road, Obama Touts Factory Jobs In Iowa

President Obama tours Conveyor Engineering and Manufacturing in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Wednesday.
Jewel Samad AFP/Getty Images

A day after delivering his State of the Union address to Congress, President Obama took his message on the road. Obama hoped that stops at manufacturing sites in Iowa and Arizona would drive home his point that the government should do more to encourage factory jobs.

The three-day trip also includes stops in Colorado, Nevada and Michigan. Those are all states likely to be important in the November election.

Obama kicked off his road trip at Conveyor Engineering and Manufacturing, a factory in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

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NPR Story
1:00 pm
Wed January 25, 2012

Egypt Marks Anniversary Of Revolution

Originally published on Wed January 25, 2012 5:03 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

Cairo's Tahrir Square overflowed with Egyptians today. Traffic was snarled for miles as people jammed bridges and streets. The crowd marked the first anniversary of the popular uprising that drove Hosni Mubarak from power.

And as NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports from Cairo, many people did not come to celebrate.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

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Around the Nation
1:00 pm
Wed January 25, 2012

Illinois' Quinn Pressured To Roll Back Tax Increase

Last year this time, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn was pushing a big income tax increase to help balance the state's budget. This year, Quinn is being pressured to roll part of that increase back. But the state is still months behind in paying its bills, with a pension shortfall looming.

Presidential Race
4:04 pm
Tue January 24, 2012

Gingrich Campaign Rides A Financial Roller Coaster

Casino owner Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, at the Marina Bay Sands complex in Singapore in June. The Adelsons have donated $5 million each to the pro-Gingrich superPAC Winning Our Future.
Roslan Rahman AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue January 24, 2012 5:43 pm

Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign celebrated his win in the South Carolina Republican primary with a so-called money bomb, a fundraising push to raise as much as possible.

It was a success. But its importance also shows the precarious financial state of Gingrich's campaign.

Spokesman R.C. Hammond says the campaign first set a target of $1 million, then doubled it and met it, all within 48 hours.

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Opinion
2:03 pm
Tue January 24, 2012

It's At The 20! The 10! Can The Flu Go All The Way?

Yes, H1N1 has been known to cause panic. But commentator Laura Lorson isn't afraid. With this powerful player, her fantasy flu team will be nearly unstoppable.
iStockphoto.com

Laura Lorson is an All Things Considered host for Kansas Public Radio as well as a director, producer and editor.

Another football season is winding down, college basketball is uninteresting until the tournament, pro basketball is rather dull. It will be a while before pitchers and catchers show up for spring training. But fortunately for all of us, we are smack in the middle of cold and flu season.

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Politics
1:00 pm
Tue January 24, 2012

After Last Year's Defeat, Kasich Pushes Forward

In just one year in office, Ohio Gov. John Kasich made some big changes in his state, based on his conservative, business-backed ideas. But he also suffered a massive defeat when the collective bargaining reform law he supported was overwhelmingly rejected by voters. But that's not stopping him from pushing forward with new ideas in his second year.

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