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Around the Nation
3:22 pm
Sun January 18, 2015

Welcome To Whittier, Alaska, A Community Under One Roof

Begich Towers is located at the edge of town. Photographer Reed Young wanted to capture the dry-docked boat in the foreground. "You see a ton of boats that are just scattered all over," he says.
Reed Young The California Sunday Magazine

Originally published on Mon January 19, 2015 10:22 am

Whittier, Alaska, is a sleepy town on the west side of Prince William Sound, tucked between picturesque mountains. But if you're picturing a small huddle of houses, think again.

Instead, on the edge of town, there stands a 14-story building called Begich Towers — a former Army barracks, resembling an aging hotel, where most of the town's 200 residents live.

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Author Interviews
2:59 pm
Sun January 18, 2015

A Memoir Of A Family's Diaspora, And A Mother's Depression

Cover detail of The Girl from Human Street.
Courtesy of Penguin Random House

Originally published on Mon January 19, 2015 9:25 am

The New York Times columnist Roger Cohen has quite the family history. It starts in Lithuania with his great-grandparents — and then the moving begins.

"In each of the past four generations, the family has moved. Lithuania, South Africa, London," Cohen tells NPR's Arun Rath. "My parents were born in South Africa, and [then] they were immigrants in the U.K., where I was born. Then when I was an infant, we went back to South Africa for a couple of years, then moved to Britain, where I mainly grew up."

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Shots - Health News
2:59 pm
Sun January 18, 2015

Calif. Strike Highlights Larger Issues With Mental Health System

A Kaiser mental health worker with the National Union of Healthcare Workers looks through a pile of signs Monday during day one of a week-long demonstration outside of a Kaiser Permanente hospital in San Francisco.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Sun January 18, 2015 3:22 pm

This past week, more than 2,000 mental health workers for the HMO health care giant Kaiser Permanente in California went on strike.

The strike was organized by the National Union of Healthcare Workers. The union says Kaiser Permanente patients have been the victims of "chronic failure to provide its members with timely, quality mental health care."

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Code Switch
8:21 am
Sun January 18, 2015

'Fresh Off The Boat' Repackages The Asian-American Story For TV

Originally published on Sun January 18, 2015 10:57 am

Eddie Huang is a is a renaissance man with a string of careers: lawyer, TV host, restaurateur and author. His raw, funny and sometimes extremely profane memoir, Fresh Off the Boat, came out two years ago. It's a brutally honest story about his life as an Asian-American kid, reconciling two cultures.

That book is now an ABC sitcom, also called Fresh off the Boat. The show has retained at least some of that raw sensibility, but getting a story so nuanced and intense onto network television was very difficult for Huang.

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Author Interviews
5:41 am
Sun January 18, 2015

Finding A Childhood Bully, And So Much More, In 'Whipping Boy'

Allen Kurzweil's previous books include The Grand Complication and A Case of Curiosities.
Ferrante Ferranti

Originally published on Tue January 20, 2015 10:27 am

In 1971, 10-year-old Allen Kurzweil was a new student — the youngest — at a boarding school in Switzerland. He had a problem. A problem named Cesar Augustus.

"Almost at once, he dominated my life," Kurzweil says.

Augustus was Kurzweil's 12-year-old-bully. Kurzweil says Augustus started tormenting him emotionally and physically soon after they met. It culminated in one particularly brutal incident.

"He tied me up to a bed post, and whipped me to a song in Jesus Christ Superstar," he tells NPR's Rachel Martin.

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Movie Interviews
3:22 pm
Sat January 17, 2015

'Blackhat': A Classic Detective Story For A Brave New World

Chris Hemsworth plays hacker and furloughed convict Nicholas Hathaway in Blackhat.
Frank Connor Legendary Pictures and Universal Pictures

Originally published on Tue January 20, 2015 5:07 pm

Screenwriter, producer and director Michael Mann is a master of the crime story. From his work on Miami Vice in the '80s to films like Heat, The Insider and Public Enemies, it seems he's drawn to plots that revolve around illicit activity.

"I like dramatic conflict. I like things in high relief," Mann tells NPR's Arun Rath. "I like people who are faced with important questions and have to make critical decisions."

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Author Interviews
3:22 pm
Sat January 17, 2015

Illustrated Memoir Recalls Marching In Selma At Just 15

Originally published on Sat January 17, 2015 4:59 pm

At age 15, Lynda Blackmon Lowery was the youngest person to march all the way from Selma to Montgomery in 1965.

Lowery, who still lives in Selma today, has written a book for young readers about her experience: Turning 15 On The Road To Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March, an illustrated memoir.

"I would like for young people to know that each day of your life is a journey into history," Lowery tells NPR's Arun Rath. "You have the ability to change something each day of your life. Believe it or not, people, it can't happen without you."

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Technology
3:22 pm
Sat January 17, 2015

Sit. Stay. Call 911: FIDO Vest Gives Service Dogs An Upgrade

A dog named Sky activates the tug sensor on the FIDO vest. The vest is a piece of wearable technology designed to allow working dogs to perform more tasks and communicate more information.
Rob Felt Courtesy of Georgia Tech

Originally published on Sat January 17, 2015 5:31 pm

Google announced this week they're ending individual sales of the much celebrated, and maligned, Google Glass. And as we reported last week, a recent Fortune study found relatively low interest in wearable gadgets.

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Author Interviews
5:41 am
Sat January 17, 2015

A 'Down-To-Earth Diva' Confronts Her Flaws And Good Fortune

Deborah Voigt regularly hosts and performs in the Metropolitan Opera's The Met: Live in HD series.
Heidi Gutman HarperCollinsPublishers

Originally published on Sat January 17, 2015 9:57 am

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Movie Interviews
3:02 pm
Fri January 16, 2015

Julianne Moore: Alzheimer's Makes Us Question 'Our Essential Selves'

Alice Howland (Julianne Moore) is a linguistics professor who gets diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's. "Who can take us seriously when we are so far from who we once were?" she asks. "We become ridiculous, incapable, comic. But this is not who we are. This is our disease."
Jojo Whilden Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Originally published on Fri January 16, 2015 4:44 pm

In the new movie Still Alice, Julianne Moore plays Alice Howland, a 50-year-old linguistics professor at Columbia with a razor-sharp intellect. She's at the prime of her career, but gradually she starts to forget things. She loses her way, she gets fuzzy — and she is soon diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease. The movie charts her rapid decline and her struggle to hold on to her sense of self.

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Goats and Soda
3:05 pm
Thu January 15, 2015

14 Takeaways From The 14-Part WHO Report On Ebola

Ebola was out of control in Liberia in August, when this picture was taken.
Dominique Faget AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 16, 2015 12:20 pm

Today, the World Health Organization issued a 14-part report on Ebola, from the moment it started until now.

We asked our team of Ebola correspondents to look at the sections and pull out the points that seemed most interesting — that may have been overlooked or forgotten, stories that show how the virus turned into an epidemic.

Where it all began

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Author Interviews
2:16 pm
Tue January 13, 2015

'Girl On The Train' Is A Journey Into The Lives Of Familiar Strangers

Bart Sadowski iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue January 13, 2015 4:45 pm

If you have a long commute, you may have found yourself wondering about the familiar strangers you pass each day on the way to and from work — that woman on the bus who is always lost in thought, or that man in the second floor apartment.

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All Tech Considered
2:18 pm
Mon January 12, 2015

Bored ... And Brilliant? A Challenge To Disconnect From Your Phone

Illustration by John Hersey Courtesy of WNYC

Originally published on Thu January 15, 2015 2:57 pm

Hey smartphone owners — when was the last time you were truly bored? Or even had a moment for mental downtime, unattached to a device?

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Author Interviews
3:11 pm
Sun January 11, 2015

Miranda July Balances Weirdness And Reality In Debut Novel

Originally published on Sun January 11, 2015 4:45 pm

Cheryl is odd — just a little off, somehow. She's obsessive, and delusional, living in a world that feels like reality twisted a few degrees off kilter.

So it may come as no great surprise that she's an invention of Miranda July, the screenwriter, actor, artist and writer who is famous for her quirky creations. Her movie Me and You and Everyone We Know — which July wrote, directed and starred in — won the 2005 Camera d'Or award. Her 2008 short story collection No One Belongs Here More Than You established her as a writer outside film.

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Around the Nation
9:51 am
Sun January 11, 2015

Pastor's Gay Brother 'Frustrated That NPR Made This A News Story'

Courtesy of Dexter Edwards

Originally published on Mon January 12, 2015 11:28 am

Last week, Weekend Edition Sunday brought you the story of Allan Edwards, a Presbyterian minister from Pennsylvania who's attracted to men but married to a woman. He says his attraction puts him in conflict with his faith, so he doesn't act on it.

The interview drew more than 1,500 comments — and also prompted a response from Edwards' younger brother, Dexter Edwards, who is openly gay.

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Goats and Soda
9:11 am
Sun January 11, 2015

Death Becomes Disturbingly Routine: The Diary Of An Ebola Doctor

Protective gloves dry out at a treatment center for Ebola patients in Lunsar, Sierra Leone, about 60 miles from the capital of Freetown. Although the Ebola epidemic is leveling off, new cases are still being reported.
Courtesy of Joel Selanikio

Originally published on Sun January 11, 2015 9:26 am

Editor's note: Some audiences may find portions of this content disturbing.

The World Health Organization reports that the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone may be leveling off — although nearly 250 new cases were reported there last week.

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Book News & Features
5:50 am
Sun January 11, 2015

This Weekend, Visit San Francisco's Famed Forbidden City In 'China Dolls'

Originally published on Sun January 11, 2015 9:26 am

The "Chop Suey Circuit" was the name given to vaudeville shows that starred all-Asian casts, popular from the 1930s through to the 1960s. One of the most famous venues was the Forbidden City club in San Francisco — which serves as the setting for Lisa See's novel China Dolls.

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Author Interviews
5:50 am
Sun January 11, 2015

After Silence, An 'Outline' Of A Life In Fragments

Originally published on Sun January 11, 2015 9:26 am

What's left when a family falls apart? Rachel Cusk's new novel Outline explores that question, following a writer on a short summer teaching trip to Greece as she comes to terms with the dissolution of her marriage.

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The Salt
4:02 am
Sun January 11, 2015

'Tasty': How Flavor Helped Make Us Human

"Flavor is the most important ingredient at the core of what we are. It created us," John McQuaid writes in his book Tasty: The Art and Science of What We Eat.
Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 14, 2015 9:43 am

Our current cultural obsession with food is undeniable. But, while the advent of the foodie may be a 21st century phenomenon, from an evolutionary standpoint, flavor has long helped define who we are as a species, a new book argues.

In Tasty: the Art and Science of What We Eat, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist John McQuaid offers a broad and deep exploration of the human relationship to flavor.

"Flavor is the most important ingredient at the core of what we are. It created us," McQuaid writes.

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Arts & Life
3:37 pm
Sat January 10, 2015

'Holy Smokes!': Rare Baseball Card Collection Hits Home Run

Even Leila Dunbar (right), Antiques Roadshow appraiser, was overwhelmed by the collection. "It is the greatest archive that I have ever had at the Roadshow," she says.
Meredith Nierman WGBH

Originally published on Sat January 10, 2015 4:47 pm

This week on Antiques Roadshow on PBS, a woman brought in a set of old baseball memorabilia that she had found in a desk drawer — and received a big surprise.

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All Tech Considered
3:37 pm
Sat January 10, 2015

Forget Wearable Tech. People Really Want Better Batteries.

Smart watches based on Qualcomm chipsets are displayed at CES — but do consumers want them?
Jae C. Hong AP

Originally published on Thu January 15, 2015 2:58 pm

The International Consumer Electronics Show has wrapped up its showcase of the latest in high-tech, from wearables to curved-screen phones to extremely high-definition 4K televisions.

But according to a survey from the magazine Fortune, many Americans have a simpler wish: better batteries.

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Author Interviews
3:37 pm
Sat January 10, 2015

'Blood Of The Tiger': Shedding Light On China's Farmed-Tiger Trade

Joanne Stemberger iStockphoto

Originally published on Sat January 10, 2015 4:47 pm

In 1991, wildlife investigator J. A. Mills went to China to verify rumors about tiger farming. She worked undercover, for the World Wildlife Fund and an organization called Traffic.

"I mainly pretended I was a student of traditional Chinese medicine to try to figure out not only what was being traded, but why it was being traded," Mills tells NPR's Arun Rath.

She says she found China's first tiger farm — complete with a hand-written ledgers filling up with orders for tiger bone.

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Author Interviews
5:50 am
Sat January 10, 2015

Australian Cyberthriller 'Amnesia' Echoes Julian Assange Story

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange appears at a 2012 press conference in London. Author Peter Carey says he was drawn to Assange's story because of their shared Australian history.
Kirsty Wigglesworth AP

Originally published on Sat January 10, 2015 9:31 am

Peter Carey's new novel, Amnesia, opens just as a computer virus is unlocking the cells of Australian prisons from Alice Springs to Woomera. And because those computer systems were designed by an American company, the virus also worms its way into thousands of U.S. prisons, from dusty towns in Texas to dusty towns in Afghanistan. Around the world, security monitors flash with this message: "The corporation is under our control. The Angel declares you free."

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Author Interviews
3:57 am
Sat January 10, 2015

'West Of Sunset' Imagines F. Scott Fitzgerald's Last Years In Hollywood

This portrait of F. Scott Fitzgerald was done in 1925, back when things were going well for the young writer. "Everything was golden for him early on," says writer Stewart O'Nan, "and then things started going against him ... it's a spiral."
Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Sat January 10, 2015 9:31 am

In West of Sunset, novelist Stewart O' Nan imagines F. Scott Fitzgerald's final years, which he spent in Hollywood. It's a time when the glow of The Great Gatsby has dimmed, and he's trying to punch up scripts — most of which will never be produced — with a few lines of dialog for $200 a day. Holed up in the Garden of Allah apartments on Sunset Boulevard, he's supporting his daughter and the lost love of his life, Zelda, who is in a North Carolina sanitarium.

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Movie Interviews
3:24 pm
Fri January 9, 2015

'I Was A Dramatic Kid': For Jessica Chastain, Acting Came Naturally

Jessica Chastain says her grandmother has played a key role in her career. "I've taken her to the Oscars both years," Chastain says. "She's really a special lady and has helped me in more ways than I could ever explain."
Rafa Rivas AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon January 12, 2015 3:06 pm

The new movie A Most Violent Year is set in New York City in 1981 — a chaotic time of spiraling crime. The story involves corruption in the heating oil industry: the hijacking of fuel tankers, a businessman trying to stay on the straight and narrow, and a prosecutor who has that businessman in his sights. And finally, there's the story of the businessman's wife ... who may hold all the cards.

Jessica Chastain plays Anna Morales, the upwardly mobile daughter of a Brooklyn gangster. She keeps the books for her husband's fuel business — as well as a number of secrets.

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Environment
6:54 pm
Sun January 4, 2015

A Shadow Economy Lurks In An Electronics Graveyard

Kwesi Bido, 14, (right) stops to fix 13-year-old Inusa Mohammed's flip flop. Both spend evenings and weekends searching for scrap at Agbogbloshie, an electronic waste dump in Accra, Ghana.
Courtesy of Yepoka Yeebo

Originally published on Wed January 7, 2015 1:51 pm

The average American produces an estimated 66 pounds of electronic waste every year. You can't compost it; it's gotta go somewhere.

Often, in violation of the law, that means a dump in the developing world — like the region of Agbogbloshie in the West African nation Ghana.

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Author Interviews
4:42 pm
Sun January 4, 2015

How 'Star Wars' Helped Patton Oswalt Beat His Movie Addiction

Originally published on Sun January 4, 2015 7:37 pm

Before he made it big in Holloywood, actor, writer and comedian Patton Oswalt was a junkie — addicted to movies, as he explains in a new memoir, Silver Screen Fiend.

The word addiction gets thrown around a lot, but Oswalt tells NPR's Arun Rath that his relationship to movies was downright pathological.

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Opinion
3:45 pm
Sun January 4, 2015

In This New Year, Is It Time To Nix The Thank-You Letter?

Peter Ormerod argues that parents shouldn't force their children to write thank-you cards — it's an exercise in insincerity, he says, and there are better ways to promote gratitude.
Diego Cervo iStockphoto

Originally published on Sun January 4, 2015 8:09 pm

Now that the holidays are over, another season has arrived. It's time for children to put pen to paper and scratch out thank you letters — all under the watchful eye of their parents.

In a recent piece for The Guardian, Peter Ormerod argues that it's time to do away with that ritual. He writes that thank you letters "represent arguably the first instance in our lives when insincerity is officially sanctioned, which is particularly sad given that the best thing about children is their honesty."

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Music
10:44 am
Sun January 4, 2015

From Marling To Modest Mouse, A Look At 2015's New Music

Laura Marling's Short Movie comes out March 24.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sun January 4, 2015 10:18 pm

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The Sunday Conversation
10:43 am
Sun January 4, 2015

Attracted To Men, Pastor Feels Called To Marriage With A Woman

Allan and Leeanne Edwards are expecting a baby in July. They met at summer camp, but he was a "raging fundamentalist nerd" at the time and they didn't get together until years later.
Courtesy Allan and Leeanne Edwards

Originally published on Mon January 5, 2015 12:42 pm

In The Sunday Conversation, Weekend Edition Sunday brings listeners an unexpected side of the news by talking with someone personally affected by the stories making headlines.

Allan Edwards is the pastor of Kiski Valley Presbyterian Church in western Pennsylvania, a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America. He's attracted to men, but he considers acting on that attraction a sin. Accordingly, Edwards has chosen not to act on it.

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