NPR Staff

Ferrante Fever goes something like this: You pick up one of Elena Ferrante's books because a friend told you that you had to read it. You read a few pages, and then before you know it, it's 3:00 o'clock in the morning, you've finished the book, and you're on the hunt for the other three titles in the Neapolitan series.

The world wasn't prepared for Zika to fly across continents in the span of a few months. In 2015, when the virus began rapidly spreading across the Americas, health workers were surprised, and researchers were caught flat-footed when it came time to provide information to protecting the public's health.

Joshua Myers, 29, has Down syndrome. These days, he considers it a gift — but he didn't always.

"At first," he says, "I thought it was a curse."

In fact, the condition proved so overwhelming for Myers that, once, he even walked out into the middle of a busy intersection, hoping that a car would hit him and end his life. But a stranger stopped for him. She brought him into her car to talk things through.

Myers hasn't seen her since.

The NPR Politics Podcast team has its weekly roundup a day early as it looks ahead to the upcoming Republican primary in South Carolina, the Democratic caucuses in Nevada, and all the political attacks that accompany them.

The team also takes a listener question and, as always, they end the show with their personal political obsessions of the week.

On the podcast:

  • Political Editor Domenico Montanaro
  • White House Correspondent Tamara Keith

The showdown between the FBI and Apple could result in huge changes for security and privacy, but one thing it may not do is deliver a big break in the San Bernardino case.

One of the leading figures in the government's bailout of banks deemed "too big to fail" after the 2008 financial crisis says major banks are still at risk.

Neel Kashkari, now the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, tells NPR's Steve Inskeep that despite changes to Wall Street made as part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank law, big banks are still too big to fail.

Sarah Parcak is a space archaeologist. She uses satellite imagery to track looted ancient burial sites and find pyramids hidden under Egyptian cities. Now, she has bigger plans: to launch a worldwide campaign to make all of us space archaeologists.

Here's a puzzle: Put two quarters side by side so the ridges mesh like gears, then hold one still and roll the other all the way around it. How many revolutions will George Washington make?

That's a riddle from Ethan Canin's new novel, A Doubter's Almanac. The book follows Milo Andret, a troubled math genius, through three generations of his family. Canin tells NPR's Ari Shapiro about his protagonist's Michigan childhood, and the answer to the book's two quarter puzzle.

Author Ruta Sepetys likes to look for what she calls "hidden chapters of history." She writes historical fiction for teens, and judging by the success of her debut novel, Between Shades of Gray, adults are also reading her.

When Franz Liszt wrote The Fountains of the Villa d'Este, he added a Latin quotation from the Gospel of St. John. It says: "But the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up into eternal life." That composition is featured on the newest album by French pianist Helene Grimaud, called Water.

In the movie Mad Max: Fury Road, a renegade, played by Charlize Theron, races away from a dictator through a hellish desert.

It's essentially a two-hour post-apocalyptic car chase.

The film isn't your typical Oscar bait, yet it has 10 nominations. One of those is for editor Margaret Sixel. Her job began with hundreds of hours of footage.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia defined "originalism" this way:

"The Constitution that I interpret and apply is not living but dead, or as I prefer to call it, enduring. It means today not what current society, much less the court, thinks it ought to mean, but what it meant when it was adopted."

Terry Farley remembers her first boyfriend: Steve Downey. The year was 1971. She was 14, he was 16.

"He was my first love, the first boy I ever kissed, the first boy I ever held hands with and he was hard to forget," Farley tells NPR's Rachel Martin in the Valentine's Day edition of For the Record.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Let's finish up today talking about last year's box office juggernaut. You know you saw it, maybe more than once.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "STAR WARS MAIN THEME")

Last week, a historic trial began in Guatemala.

It's believed to be the first time any national court has held a trial to prosecute sex slavery during an armed conflict. Two former military officers stand accused of murder, kidnapping and keeping nearly a dozen indigenous women as domestic laborers and sex slaves during the country's 36-year civil war.

The Justice Department slapped the city of Ferguson, Mo., with a civil rights lawsuit this week after the City Council voted to change a proposed settlement agreement to reform the police and courts.

When Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the suit on Wednesday, she said Ferguson police disproportionately targeted black people for traffic stops, use of force and jail sentences.

In September of last year, a Flint pediatrician released stark findings about her city: The percentage of children age 5 and under with elevated levels of lead in their blood had nearly doubled since the city switched its water source a year and a half earlier.

The superintendent of Flint Community Schools, Bilal Tawwab, was listening. Even small amounts of lead can affect children's behavior and intelligence over time. With that in mind, he decided to keep the city's water out of his schools.

Dr. Paul Kalanithi was preparing to wrap up his medical residency in neurosurgery when, in 2013, a CT scan revealed tumors throughout his body. He had stage 4 lung cancer.

In his last two years of life, he continued caring for patients. He and his wife became parents. And Kalanithi, a gifted writer, wrote a book, When Breath Becomes Air, a reflection on being a doctor with a terminal illness.

He died March 9, 2015. He was 37 years old.

Ready for a quick game of true or false?

In 1987 Donald Trump wrote a business advice book called The Art of the Deal. [TRUE]

That book was a best-seller. [TRUE]

Trump made a TV movie based on the book that was supposed to air but didn't because a football game went into overtime. Years later, director Ron Howard found the movie at a yard sale in Phoenix. [FALSE]

Comedian Samantha Bee made her name on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and now her name is on her own show. Full Frontal with Samantha Bee is a weekly, half-hour show that riffs on the news. It premiered Monday on TBS.

Bee is currently the only late night TV host who's a woman, something the show took on from the very beginning:

A new novel takes young readers inside the mind of a 5-year-old fox. Abandoned as a kit, Pax is taken in by Peter, a boy whose mother has died. When Peter's dad joins the military, Peter is forced to send Pax into the wild for the first time. The story — set during wartime in an unidentified time and place — is told from both Peter and Pax's perspectives.

Shortly after arriving in Washington for diplomatic meetings this week, Egypt's foreign minister, Sameh Hassan Shoukry, stopped by NPR to speak with Morning Edition's David Greene.

Shoukry, a veteran diplomat and former ambassador to Washington, represents the government of Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who led a military coup in 2013 and became president in 2014.

The new novel from Mexican writer Álvaro Enrigue is full of characters you'd recognize, among them Mary Magdalene, the painter Caravaggio and Henry VIII's wife, Anne Boleyn. The book, Sudden Death, begins with a tennis match between Caravaggio and Spanish poet Francisco de Quevedo, played with a ball made from Boleyn's hair. The match is a metaphor for history's imperial forces.

"That's the privilege of the novelist," Enrigue tells NPR's Ari Shapiro. "You can do whatever you want with historical characters."

If you watched Sunday's Super Bowl, how did you get it? Over cable? Rabbit ears? (Yes, those still work.) Or did you stream it online?

In 1999, Jhumpa Lahiri won a Pulitzer Prize for her very first book, Interpreter of Maladies. Her 2003 novel, Namesake, was turned into a movie, and she went on to publish Unaccustomed Earth and The Lowland. But Lahiri wasn't satisfied.

"I've always been searching to arrive at a certain voice that will probably elude me forever," she tells NPR's Ari Shapiro.

So Lahiri is trying something new — very new. She wrote her new memoir, In Other Words, in Italian.

Primary season has officially begun. And as the presidential candidates campaign ahead of Tuesday's New Hampshire primary, both Republicans and Democrats are making big arguments in response to some big questions about their party's future.

Is there such a thing as an "establishment lane" that can win the GOP contest? Can a Democrat be both moderate and a progressive? Is it better to be pragmatic or idealistic?

Not that long ago, being a woman in the workplace was different. Just watch any episode of Mad Men.

That was just the way things were back then. It wasn't until 1986 that the Supreme Court acknowledged that there's something called sexual harassment and it's a violation of federal civil rights law.

In 2009, one of the founders of the online eyeglass maker Warby Parker approached management consultant Adam Grant about becoming an early investor. Grant says he declined because the company's founders weren't working at their startup full time; he also says it was the worst financial decision he's ever made.

Pages