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.
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.
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.
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.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The world often feels full of fading traditions, from drive-in movie theaters to the dying art of good old-fashioned letter writing.
For the British, add brass bands to that list. Traditional brass bands have played an important cultural role in working-class British communities for centuries. But some warn that without funding, they could become a thing of the past.
Take the Grimethorpe Colliery Band in South Yorkshire. The band was originally formed in 1917, and nearly 100 years later, a group of tuba, euphonium and other horn players still bears the band's name.
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.
The death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is an especially tough blow for Cuba, whose feeble state-run economy has been propped up for more than a decade with Venezuelan oil shipments and other subsidies.
The Castro government has declared three days of mourning, calling Chavez "a son" of Cuba, but privately Cubans are quietly fretting about the potential loss of billions in trade and the threat of a new economic crisis.
Economists look at many tea leaves as they try to determine the health of the economy. One of the most important surrounds vehicle sales, and more specifically pickup truck sales, which are tied to the construction industry. And as last month's sales rose 18 percent, the auto industry is betting big on a real estate rebound.
It's arguable that the Ford F-150 is the most important vehicle to come out of Detroit since the Model-T. It's also built where many parts for the old Model-T were made in Dearborn, Mich.
Twenty years ago, theatrical clowns Bill Irwin and David Shiner collaborated on a Broadway show called Fool Moon — a giddy mixture of slapstick, improv and audience participation that proved such a success that it came back to Broadway for two more runs and toured both the U.S. and Europe. Now Irwin and Shiner have put together a new show called Old Hats, and it's been receiving rave reviews off-Broadway.
Irwin and Shiner's rubber-faced, loose-bodied clowning hasn't gotten easier over two decades.
You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR.
Every spring, you hear that almost anyone can win March Madness. Well, this year, it's true. There's no obvious favorite in this month's NCAA men's basketball tournament, at least a dozen contenders from schools big and small. And conference championships began today. So who knows which contender will fall on its face and which dark horse no one considered will emerge in the next two weeks?
A fiery leftist, Hugo Chavez was a steadfast ally of dictators like Cuba's Fidel Castro while loudly opposing the United States. He claimed capitalism was destroying the world and tried to transform Venezuela into a socialist state. Millions of Venezuelans loved him because he showered the poor with social programs.
As Secretary of State John Kerry wraps up his first official trip overseas, he's walking a fine line on Syria. Kerry says the Obama administration has been stepping up assistance to rebels who are trying to topple the Syrian regime. But the U.S. is also worried about how all of this will play out. NPR's Michele Kelemen spoke with the secretary of State today in Doha, Qatar, and he said he's taking this one step at a time.