NPR Staff

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When Sunil Yapa's laptop was stolen, he didn't just lose his computer — he also lost the 600-page novel saved on it. Yapa summoned the will to write it all over again — but a little shorter this time. This second version has turned into a newly published novel about recurring themes in American history.

Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist was inspired by a real-life event; in 1999, thousands of demonstrators disrupted a meeting of the World Trade Organization in Seattle. Badly outnumbered police resorted to using tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets.

Featuring teams in Boston, Buffalo, Connecticut and New York City, the National Women's Hockey League has become home to some of the best players in the world. Meghan Duggan, for example, who was the U.S. Olympic Team captain in the gold-medal game in 2014 in Sochi, plays for the Buffalo Beauts.

It was that hockey final that inspired the league's commissioner and founder, Dani Rylan, to start it. The pro league launched in October. Its first all-star game is scheduled Jan. 24.

In their book published this month, In a Different Key: The Story of Autism, journalists John Donvan and Caren Zucker delve into the history of the good and bad intentions, sometimes wrongheaded science and shifting definitions that can cloud our understanding of what has come to be called the autism spectrum.

Ever scratch your head over political polls that seem to be looking at similar questions — say, how a candidate might do in Iowa — but predict wildly different outcomes?

Polls drive so much of the political news coverage you see and hear. Lots of politics and media reporters follow those polls and report on them — but they don't always explain where they came from, how they were conducted, or why exactly they're so important in the first place.

At one high school in Maryland, fears of deportation are playing out in the classroom.

In Prince George's County, a suburb of Washington, D.C., about 70 percent of the students at High Point High School are Latino. It's a student population that's prompted the school's principal, Sandra Jimenez, to term it "Central American Ellis Island."

Principal Jimenez says the fear of deportation raids is making many immigrant students scared to come to school, despite assurances from government officials that there are no raids happening at schools.

The country remembers the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday. More than four decades after his death, many people see the Black Lives Matter movement as the modern incarnation of the drive for human dignity and legal standing that Dr. King embodied.

But others, including members of an earlier generation of activists, find fault with the group, seeing it as an aimless, formless group that still lacks direction and follow-through. Meanwhile, younger activists sometimes see their seniors as too narrow in their focus and rigid in their methods.

Across the country, tens of thousands of rape kits are sitting in police evidence rooms — waiting to be tested.

Raising kids is rewarding and raising kids is hard. That work is compounded when you have a child with autism. And each of these families experiences the disorder differently.

On Saturday, we heard four parents share the moment they learned their children had autism, and the signs that led them to seek a doctor's opinion. Now, we learn their experience following the diagnoses, the resources they found and help they still need.

The FBI will now track animal abuse the way it tracks arson or assault.

This could help save more animals — and, perhaps, people: Research has shown that animal abuse is often a precursor to other acts of violence. And tracking acts of violence against animals may help law enforcement intervene before that develops into violence against people.

John Thompson, deputy executive director of the National Sheriffs' Association, has been instrumental in moving this idea forward.

The Sesame Street of your childhood has changed. Elmo has moved into a new apartment, Big Bird has a new nest and Oscar the Grouch is hanging out in recycling and compost bins, alongside his usual trash can.

But the biggest change may be how you watch Sesame Street. The 46th season of the classic children's show premieres Saturday on HBO, the subscription-based network that's home to provocative shows like Game of Thrones and Girls. New episodes of Sesame Street will air on its traditional home, PBS, nine months later.

A quartet of siblings and assorted spouses, lovers and friends all spend a holiday in the English family summer house they'll have to sell. Do you think everything will go just swell for those three weeks? Or will tensions simmer, and secrets break out of storage as quarrels, tears and fatal attractions roil the old house in the summer heat? Tessa Hadley's novel The Past has already been praised in Britain, and now it's out in the U.S. She tells NPR's Scott Simon that she loves to set stories in old houses. "A house is like a metaphor.

In the mid-1960s, Tom Houck left high school to join the civil rights movement. After meeting Martin Luther King Jr. at an event, Houck decided to volunteer for King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

So, Houck made his way to Atlanta.

"I was standing outside waiting for somebody to come pick me up," Houck says, remembering the day he arrived in Atlanta. "All of a sudden, Dr. King drove down the street. He said, 'Tom, you're here.' "

Investigative reporter Dawn Anahid MacKeen's latest story is one her mother always wanted her to tell. It's about her grandfather and how he survived the 1915 Armenian genocide in which 1.5 million Armenians living in modern-day Turkey were killed. (Turkey doesn't recognize the slaughter as a genocide, but says they were the result of widespread conflict across the region.) In journals that became the seeds of MacKeen's new book, The Hundred-Year Walk: An Armenian Odyssey, her grandfather told the story of how he escaped a forced march through the desert.

Many Americans know Dame Maggie Smith as the elegant and formidable Dowager Countess of Grantham. But at 81, Smith is now starring in a role that's a long way from Downton Abbey. In The Lady in the Van, Smith is Mary Shepherd — a homeless woman who lived in a derelict van parked in playwright Alan Bennett's driveway for 15 years.

"She was quite happy on the street," Smith tells NPR's Renee Montagne. "But I think Alan was so distressed watching her outside his window all the time that he thought he just had to help."

We don't always act like we're supposed to. We don't save enough for retirement. We order dessert when we're supposed to be dieting. We use the tickets we bought to a concert even though we're sick. In other words: We misbehave.

Our cars are getting smarter and smarter: They may help you park or switch lanes, dictate directions if you need them, link up with your phone to play your calls and music or make sure you stop before it's too late.

America Ferrera first gained attention from her role as the quirky, spirited Betty Suarez in ABC's Ugly Betty, a role that earned her a 2007 Emmy for outstanding lead actress in a comedy — a first for a Latina.

When Eric Weiner sat down to write his new book he had to tackle a big question first: How do you define genius?

"That's not as easy as it sounds," he tells NPR's Rachel Martin. "I have a slightly unusual definition ... that a genius is someone we all agree on is a genius. It's a social verdict."

Weiner traveled all over the world — to Greece, Italy, Scotland and Silicon Valley — to investigate how genius takes root and grows. His book The Geography of Genius is an exploration of how great thinkers are affected by the places and times in which they live.

Western music may have been changing the world in the 1950s, but if you happened to be in Russia you were out of luck. State censorship was in full effect in the Soviet Union, and sneaking in, say, an American rock record was close to impossible. But a few industrious music fans managed to find another way.

Stephen Coates, the leader of a British band called The Real Tuesday Weld, happened on this secret history by accident. Several years ago on a tour stop in St. Petersburg, he was strolling through a flea market when a strange item caught his eye.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Kelly McEvers.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM TRAILER, "STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS")

At around 10 in the morning, five years ago, Emma McMahon pulled up in the parking lot of a Safeway grocery store in Tucson, Ariz. The high schooler was there with her mother, Mary Reed, excited to attend an event held by then-U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

There was a line, probably 15 people ahead of them, but luckily, McMahon already had some work to keep her busy — a clipboard stacked with college applications, Reed recalls on a recent visit with StoryCorps.

The era of the real-life whodunit series is upon us. The podcast Serial first attracted legions of listeners drawn to the question of whether a young man should have been put in prison for the murder of his former high school girlfriend. HBO's documentary The Jinx focused on a trail of murdered and missing intimates of a troubled scion of a wealthy family.

Our food-obsessed media landscape has proven fertile ground for wordplay. There are now new words to describe every food niche or gastronomical preference.

Can't stand little kids running amok in your favorite Korean fusion restaurant? You might have bratophobia. And you could be a gastrosexual if you use your cooking prowess to attract that new special someone.

In his new book, Eatymology, humorist and food writer Josh Friedland has collected many of these neologisms in a 21st century food dictionary.

The beginning of a new year is a busy time for new singles. According to the websites Match.com and PlentyOfFish, Jan. 3 is the busiest day of the year for new signups to their sites.

As part of a series called My Big Break, All Things Considered is collecting stories of triumph, big and small. These are the moments when everything seems to click, and people leap forward into their careers.

We often hear about school districts that struggle with high poverty, low test scores and budget problems. But one district has faced all of these and achieved remarkable results.

In just over three years, Superintendent Tiffany Anderson, who oversees the Jennings School District in Jennings, a small city just outside St. Louis, has led a dramatic turnaround in one of the worst-performing systems in Missouri.

Medical researchers are in a constant search for truth. Each study is supposed to be another step toward that goal. But it's pretty obvious that many studies just don't hold up. Think about the contradictory advice about what you should eat or drink. We've heard that coffee is bad for you, then sometimes it's good for you. Same goes for soy and even eggs, which have been in and out of favor. Scott Hensley, host of NPR's Shots blog, talked with Rachel Martin about the year in health and medical research.

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