All Things Considered

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Law
5:35 pm
Sun March 10, 2013

Once On Death Row, He Now Fights To Defeat The Death Penalty

Kirk Bloodsworth was the first person in the U.S. to be exonerated by DNA evidence after receiving the death sentence. Convicted in 1985 of the rape and murder of a young girl, he was released in 1993.
Mladen Antonov AFP/Getty Images

Maryland is about to become the 18th state to abolish the death penalty.

A bill has passed the state Senate and is expected to pass the House of Delegates easily with the governor's ardent support. The strongest advocate to end the death penalty in Maryland is Kirk Bloodsworth, who was convicted of murder in that state in 1985 and was the first person in the U.S. to be sentenced to death row then exonerated by DNA evidence.

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Around the Nation
3:01 pm
Sun March 10, 2013

Solitary Confinement: Punishment Or Cruelty?

A hallway at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. The prison, opened in 1829 and closed in 1970, pioneered the use of solitary confinement.
Jacki Lyden NPR

An estimated 80,000 American prisoners spend 23 hours a day in closed isolation units for 10, 20 or even more than 30 years.

Now, amid growing evidence that it causes mental breakdown, the Federal Bureau of Prisons has decided for the first time to review its policies on solitary confinement.

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Theater
3:01 pm
Sun March 10, 2013

'The Last Five Years' Returns To New York

Adam Kantor and Betsy Woolfe star in the current off-Broadway revival of Jason Robert Brown's The Last Five Years.
The Hartman Group / Second Stage Theatre

The Last Five Years originally ran off-Broadway in 2002. Cited as one of Time magazine's "Ten Best of 2001," it won Drama Desk awards for Best Music and Best Lyrics.

There are only two characters in the musical, Jamie and Cathy. Jamie is a young novelist and Cathy is a struggling actress. Told in reverse chronological order, the drama shows what happens when an artistic couple's romance fizzles out.

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Environment
3:01 pm
Sun March 10, 2013

Remembering Aldo Leopold, Visionary Conservationist And Writer

Originally published on Wed March 13, 2013 8:13 am

"There are some who can live without wild things, and some who cannot. These essays are the delights and dilemmas of one who cannot. Like winds and sunsets, wild things were taken for granted until progress began to do away with them. Now, we face the question whether a still higher 'standard of living' is worth its cost in things natural, wild and free." — A Sand County Almanac

A Sand County Almanac, a collection of essays and observations, was written decades ago by Aldo Leopold, the father of the American conservation movement.

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Author Interviews
3:01 pm
Sun March 10, 2013

A Twin Carries On Alone In 'Her: A Memoir'

Christa and Cara Parravani were identical twins. When they were 28, Cara died of a drug overdose, and Christa spiraled into depression.

In her new book, Her: A Memoir, Christa explores their bond of sisterhood, which went beyond blood into the elliptical world of twinhood.

Both were artists, one a writer and the other a photographer. Both married young. Both lived through a hardscrabble childhood with a troubled mother. But Cara's path diverged after she was attacked and raped at age 24.

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Three-Minute Fiction
4:49 pm
Sat March 9, 2013

Three-Minute Fiction: The Round 10 Winner Is ...

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Lisa Rubenson of Charlotte, N.C., wrote our Round 10 winning story, "Sorry for Your Loss."
Courtesy of Lisa Rubenson

Originally published on Sun March 10, 2013 4:26 am

Did you leave a message after our prompt? For Round 10 of Three-Minute Fiction, we asked you to submit a short story in the form of a voice mail message. For this contest, the original fiction must be read in about three minutes, no more than 600 words.

After four weeks and more than 4,000 stories, we have a winner.

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Science
3:11 pm
Sat March 9, 2013

Scientists Make Plans To Blast Threatening Asteroids

Originally published on Sat March 9, 2013 5:41 pm

Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "ARMAGEDDON")

STANLEY ANDERSON: (as the President) What is this thing?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It's enormous.

BILLY BOB THORNTON: (as Dan Truman) It's an asteroid, sir.

JACKI LYDEN, HOST:

In the 1998 film "Armageddon," the character played by Bruce Willis saves the Earth by knocking aside an asteroid headed straight for us. Pure fiction, right? Well, maybe not.

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Movies I've Seen A Million Times
2:56 pm
Sat March 9, 2013

The Movie Emily Spivey Has 'Seen A Million Times'

Dolly Parton in a scene from the film 9 to 5.
Archive Photos Getty Images

Originally published on Sat March 9, 2013 4:04 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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Jazz
1:22 pm
Sat March 9, 2013

Tadd Dameron, A Jazz Master With A 'Lyrical Grace'

Tadd Dameron (smiling at center) was an important figure in American jazz and bebop. He is shown here with Fats Navarro on trumpet, and Charlie Rouse and Ernie Henry on saxophone.
William Gottlieb Library of Congress

Originally published on Sun March 10, 2013 4:30 am

In the 1940s and '50s, Tadd Dameron worked with everyone who was anyone in jazz, from Miles Davis to Artie Shaw, Count Basie to John Coltrane. Everything Dameron touched had one thing in common, says Paul Combs, author of Dameronia: The Life and Work of Tadd Dameron.

"A penchant for lyricism," Combs says. "Almost everything that he writes has a very lyrical grace to it."

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Music Interviews
4:00 pm
Fri March 8, 2013

Dave Grohl Finds Music's Human Element — In A Machine

Dave Grohl reunited with his old friend Butch Vig (at console), the producer of Nirvana's Nevermind, for the making of Sound City: Real to Reel.
Sami Ansari Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri March 8, 2013 4:09 pm

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Around the Nation
3:59 pm
Fri March 8, 2013

Death Cafes Breathe Life Into Conversations About Dying

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue March 12, 2013 11:20 am

We live knowing that everything dies. Like the sun, it's a fact of life. And like the sun, we tend not to look right at it. Unless you've experienced a recent death, it's probably not something you discuss. But a new movement is trying to change that, with a serving of tea and cake.

The fear of death haunts us like nothing else. And it makes sense. All other fears — such as public speaking, centipedes and heights — pale in comparison. So we don't really talk about it.

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Music
3:16 pm
Fri March 8, 2013

Can You Make Sad Songs Sound Happy (And Vice-Versa)?

Michael Stipe broods on the cover of R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion" single. Earlier this year, a remarkably cheery-sounding major-key version of the song appeared online.
Album cover

Originally published on Fri March 8, 2013 5:15 pm

Oleg Berg, an engineer and musician in the Ukraine, had a dream as a kid. He wanted to be able to take popular songs, the recordings of which were instantly recognizable, and invert their sound: making major keys minor and vice versa.

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Around the Nation
3:16 pm
Fri March 8, 2013

In Chicago, Dueling Ads Over The Meaning Of 'Jihad'

Originally published on Fri March 8, 2013 4:03 pm

There is an advertising battle going on over the Arabic term jihad. In Chicago, a group has launched a bus and subway ad campaign meant to reclaim the term jihad from another series of ads that presents jihadists as violent.

Sports
2:23 pm
Fri March 8, 2013

Chicago Blackhawks Continue Remarkable NHL Winning Streak

Originally published on Fri March 8, 2013 4:03 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. The Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League have done something remarkable. They've gone half of the current season, 24 games, without losing in regulation time. Here to talk about that feat and other hockey news is sportswriter Stephen Fatsis. Hey there, Stephen.

STEPHEN FATSIS, BYLINE: Hey, Audie.

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Africa
2:23 pm
Fri March 8, 2013

Police Officers Caught In The Middle Go On Strike In Egypt

Originally published on Fri March 8, 2013 4:03 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. Now to Egypt, where police officers are on strike.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTESTERS)

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Commentary
2:23 pm
Fri March 8, 2013

Week In Politics: Unemployment, Rand Paul's Filibuster

Originally published on Fri March 8, 2013 4:03 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And now for some political reaction to those jobs numbers and other events of the week, we turn to columnist E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post and the Brookings Institution. E.J., welcome back.

E.J. DIONNE: Good to be here.

BLOCK: And sitting in for David Brooks this week, we have Mary Kate Cary. She's a former speech writer for President George H.W. Bush, a columnist with U.S. News & World Report and she's also a regular political analyst on NPR's Tell Me More. Mary Kate, welcome to you.

MARY KATE CARY: Thank you.

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U.S.
12:38 pm
Fri March 8, 2013

Does Crime Drop When Immigrants Move In?

The diverse neighborhood of Sunset Park, Brooklyn, has experienced a dramatic drop in crime over the past two decades.
Joel Rose NPR

Originally published on Fri March 8, 2013 4:03 pm

As lawmakers in Washington continue to negotiate over immigration policies, they'll have to grapple with a fundamental disagreement about the link between immigrants and crime.

Elected officials from Pennsylvania to Arizona have argued that undocumented immigrants contribute to higher crime rates, but some social scientists tell a different story. They argue that first-generation immigrants actually make their communities safer — and they point to some of the nation's biggest cities as proof.

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Theater
4:13 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

August Wilson's Words Get New Life In Monologue Contest

Branndin Laramore (from left), Brian Weddington, Lia Miller and Ernesto Moreta pose after a recent rehearsal for the Chicago finals of the August Wilson Monologue Competition.
Cheryl Corley NPR

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 5:40 pm

When the stage lights go up at Chicago's Goodman Theatre on Monday evening, more than 20 high school students will each have a moment to step into the spotlight and perform a monologue from one of the plays written by the late August Wilson. Chicago's contest is one of several regional finals that strives to introduce students to the Pulitzer Prize winner's work. It's also a lead-up to the national August Wilson Monologue Competition that will be held on Broadway later this spring.

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The Record
4:13 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

Stompin' Tom Connors, Canadian Folk Hero, Has Died

Stompin' Tom Connors performs at the 2008 NHL Awards at Elgin Theatre in Toronto, Canada.
Bruce Bennett Getty Images

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 4:18 pm

Stompin' Tom Connors was a Canadian folk legend. He was 77 when he died Wednesday at his home in Ontario. To those of us stateside, his most well-known tune is "The Hockey Song," played at hockey games everywhere. But to Canadians, Stompin' Tom Connors was an inspiration because of his naked nationalist pride.

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Education
3:07 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

Federal Probe Targets Uneven Discipline At Seattle Schools

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 4:13 pm

The Education Department has launched an investigation into discipline rates in Seattle public schools.

Students of color have long been punished in far higher numbers than white students in Seattle, but now the department's Office for Civil Rights is looking at whether black students are disciplined more frequently and more harshly than white students for the same behavior.

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The Salt
3:04 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

If Caffeine Can Boost The Memory Of Bees, Can It Help Us, Too?

Adam Cole/NPR iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 4:13 pm

Who knew that the flower nectar of citrus plants — including some varieties of grapefruit, lemon and oranges — contains caffeine? As does the nectar of coffee plant flowers.

And when honeybees feed on caffeine-containing nectar, it turns out, the caffeine buzz seems to improve their memories — or their motivations for going back for more.

"It is surprising," says Geraldine Wright at Newcastle University in the the U.K., the lead researcher of a new honeybee study published in the journal Science.

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Politics
2:46 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

Senate Confirms Brennan As CIA Director

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 4:13 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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NPR Story
2:36 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

Senate Committee Passes Bill Meant To Reduce 'Straw Purchases' Of Guns

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 4:13 pm

The first major gun bills in nearly two decades had their first hearing in the Senate on Thursday, including an assault weapons ban and a ban on so-called "straw purchases." Still, even in the aftermath of the shootings in Newtown, Conn., the legislation faces an uphill battle. Ailsa Chang talks to Melissa Block.

Asia
2:33 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

Young Chinese Translate America, One Show At A Time

The Newsroom, starring Jeff Daniels, is one of the most popular American TV series in China. It's a favorite among a cadre of young, informal translators who see it as a way to challenge conventional Chinese thinking.

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 7:42 pm

Every week, thousands of young Chinese gather online to translate popular American movies and TV shows into Mandarin. Some do it for fun and to help people learn English, while others see it as a subtle way to introduce new ideas into Chinese society.

Among the more popular American TV shows on China's Internet these days is HBO's The Newsroom. One reason is an exchange between a college student and a news anchor played by Jeff Daniels. The young woman asks the aging newsman why the United States is the greatest country in the world.

The anchor explodes.

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Shots - Health News
12:47 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

To Make Mice Smarter, Add A Few Human Brain Cells

These drawings by Santiago Ramon y Cajal, published in 1899, show cortex neurons.
Santiago Ramon y Cajal Wikimedia Commons

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 4:13 pm

For more than a century, neurons have been the superstars of the brain. Their less glamorous partners, glial cells, can't send electric signals, and so they've been mostly ignored.

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The Two-Way
10:11 am
Thu March 7, 2013

Bin Laden's Son-In-Law Arrested, Brought To U.S.

A man identified as Sulaiman Abu Ghaith appears in this still image taken from an undated video address. A son-in-law of Osama bin Laden who served as al Qaeda's spokesman, Abu Gaith was detained in Jordan and sent to the United States.
HANDOUT Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Fri March 8, 2013 9:22 am

Update at 4:30 p.m. EST. Details Of Capture

Osama bin Laden's son-in-law and a former al-Qaida spokesman, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, is in U.S. custody and is being held in a Manhattan jail. He could appear in a federal court as soon as Friday, U.S. officials familiar with the case say.

His capture is considered important not just because he was so close to bin Laden but also because U.S. officials have decided to try him in a federal court, not Guantanamo Bay.

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Economy
3:58 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Time For The Fed To Take Away The Punch Bowl?

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testifies before the Senate Banking Committee in Washington last month. Some analysts wonder if he and other policymakers have kept interest rates too low for too long.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 9:49 am

The stock market's long climb from its recession bottom has some people concerned it may be a bubble about to burst — a bubble artificially pumped up by the Federal Reserve's easy-money policy. That's led to calls — even from within the Fed — for an end to the central bank's extraordinary efforts to keep interest rates low.

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The Two-Way
3:29 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Fossils Suggest Giant Relatives Of Modern Camels Roamed The Canadian Arctic

Illustration of the High Arctic camel on Ellesmere Island during the Pliocene warm period, aboutthree-and-a-half million years ago. The camels lived in a boreal-type forest. The habitat includeslarch trees and the depiction is based on records of plant fossils found at nearby fossil deposits.
Julius Csotonyi

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 9:49 am

Camels belong in the desert. That's what we've learned since grade school.

Today, NPR's Melissa Block talked to Natalia Rybczynski, a paleobiologist at the Canadian Museum of Nature, who tells Melissa that fossils she has unearthed tell a different story.

The fossils, found on a frigid ridge in Canada's High Arctic, show that modern camels actually come from giant relatives that roamed the forests of Ellesmere Island 3.5 million years ago.

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Latin America
3:09 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Venezuela-U.S. Relations Could Thaw After Chavez

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 9:49 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

We turn now to the last U.S. ambassador stationed in Venezuela. Patrick Duddy represented the U.S. first under the Bush administration then later under the Obama administration. He was once expelled from Caracas. Ambassador Duddy is now a visiting senior lecturer at Duke University's Center for International Studies. When we spoke today, I asked him what it was like for him to be an ambassador to Venezuela under Chavez.

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Shots - Health News
2:30 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Hear That? In A Din Of Voices, Our Brains Can Tune In To One

Scientists say that understanding how the cocktail party effect works could help people who have trouble deciphering sounds in a noisy environment. Guests make it look easy at a Dolce and Gabbana Lounge party in London in 2010.
Paul Jeffers AP

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 9:49 am

Scientists are beginning to understand how people tune in to a single voice in a crowded, noisy room.

This ability, known as the "cocktail party effect," appears to rely on areas of the brain that have completely filtered out unwanted sounds, researchers report in the journal Neuron. So when a person decides to focus on a particular speaker, other speakers "have no representation in those [brain] areas," says Elana Zion Golumbic of Columbia University.

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