All Things Considered

Weekdays, 4pm to 7pm and Weekends 4pm to 5pm

All Things Considered is a NPR radio newsmagazine that delivers in-depth reporting and transforms the way listeners understand current events and view the world. The program presents breaking news mixed with compelling analysis, insightful commentaries, interviews, and special -- sometimes quirky -- features.

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Afghanistan
1:12 pm
Mon July 2, 2012

Lack Of Electricity Dims Afghan Economic Prospects

Afghanistan produces about half the power it currently uses and imports the other half from neighboring countries. But that total still doesn't meet the country's demands. This photo shows Kabul at night in January.
Jawad Jalali EPA/Landov

Originally published on Thu July 5, 2012 3:38 pm

Afghanistan desperately needs to jump-start its economy if it hopes to stand on its own after NATO's drawdown in 2014. But there's a major constraint for a country trying to build a modern economy: electricity shortages.

Afghanistan ranks among the countries with the lowest electricity production per capita in the world. Despite billions of dollars in projects over the past decade, at best one-third of the population has access to regular power.

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The Two-Way
7:37 am
Mon July 2, 2012

Word Of The Day: 'Derecho'

Where you're most likely to be in the path of a derecho, and how often.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Originally published on Mon July 2, 2012 4:35 pm

We learned a new word on Saturday, thanks to Korva's post about the devastating storm that has left millions without power from Ohio east through the mid-Atlantic states:

Derecho.

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Business
3:05 pm
Sun July 1, 2012

An Abbey's Run-In With Law On Who Can Sell Caskets

Deacon Mark Coudrain, bottom left, Rev. Charles Benoit, top left, Abbot Justin Brown, top right, and attorney Evans Schmidt carry a casket built by Benedictine monks down the steps of the U.S. federal district courthouse on Aug. 12, 2010.
Patrick Semansky AP

Originally published on Sun July 1, 2012 3:53 pm

Monks set up St. Joseph Abbey in Louisiana more than 100 years ago. They've been there so long, they have 1,100 acres and their own town, St. Benedict.

For all those years, when one of the brothers died, the monks would painstakingly craft a flawless pine casket in their woodwork shop.

Over the years, many clergy members and high-ranking church officials would request the the beautiful caskets. Soon, members of the public wanted see if they might be able to buy one.

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Why Music Matters
3:05 pm
Sun July 1, 2012

Breaking Records To A Velvet Underground Beat

Christian Niccum and Dan Joye at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Whistler, Canada.
Shaun Botterill Getty Images

Weekends on All Things Considered continues its "Why Music Matters" series with Olympic luger Christian Niccum. Niccum says music was the key to one of his first accomplishments in the sport.

"I was 15 years old, in Berchtesgaden in Germany," he says. "It's the oldest artificial luge track in the world, and it's also the most difficult."

Daunted by the course's many sharp turns, Niccum turned to something borrowed for inspiration.

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Music Interviews
2:30 pm
Sun July 1, 2012

Bobby Womack: 'God Must Still Have A Purpose For Me'

Bobby Womack's latest album, The Bravest Man in the Universe, came out June 12.
Jamie-James Medina Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sun July 1, 2012 3:05 pm

"We had two shows that night," says Bobby Womack, recounting a recent concert in Houston. "It was a small theater, about 5- or 6,000 people. The second show, I was just out of it; they had to take me to the hospital."

It was a serious scare for the 68-year-old singer-songwriter — who has also lived through drug addiction and the deaths of two sons — and it didn't end that night.

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Author Interviews
2:03 pm
Sun July 1, 2012

The Complex 'Tapestry' of Michelle Obama's Ancestry

Fraser and Marian Shields Robinson raised their children, Craig and Michelle, in Chicago, but their family's ancestry can be traced back to pre-abolition Georgia.
Barack Obama Campaign

Originally published on Mon July 2, 2012 8:17 am

When Michelle Obama's great-great-great grandmother was 8 years old, her life underwent a dramatic change.

Melvinia Shields was a slave who grew up at a South Carolina estate with a relatively large community of slaves she knew well. But then she was moved to a small farm in northern Georgia where she was one of only three slaves; most white people in the area didn't own any.

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Pop Culture
12:08 pm
Sun July 1, 2012

Fans Restore Luke Skywalker's Boyhood Home

Construction Begins at the Lars Homestead
Mark Dermul

Originally published on Mon July 2, 2012 9:28 am

Mark Dermul is a serious Star Wars fan. He was just 7 years old in 1977 when the original movie hit the theaters. As soon as the huge Star Destroyer flew across the opening scene, he was hooked.

"It hasn't left me," he says. At 42, Dermul now guides tours throughout North Africa, visiting sites that were featured in the blockbuster films.

On one 2010 trip back to planet Tatooine — OK, Tunisia — he and his tour group noticed that Luke Skywalker's boyhood home was decaying. They jumped into hyperspace — OK, the Internet — to save it.

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Movies I've Seen A Million Times
10:47 am
Sun July 1, 2012

The Movie Elizabeth Banks Has 'Seen A Million Times'

John Travolta and Samuel Jackson in Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction [THE KOBAL COLLECTION/MIRAMAX/BUENA VISTA].
The Kobal Collection

Originally published on Sun July 1, 2012 3:05 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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Sports
3:56 pm
Sat June 30, 2012

For Italy's Balotelli, Racism On And Off The Field

Transcript

LAURA SULLIVAN, HOST:

This past week, a star was born.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Oh, Balotelli. Mario's moment to shine.

SULLIVAN: That was the call on ESPN of the heroics of 21-year-old Mario Balotelli. He scored both of Italy's goals in their win over Germany in the Euro 2012 soccer tournament. The Italians now advance to the final tomorrow.

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Environment
3:56 pm
Sat June 30, 2012

The Trickiness Of Tracking Severe Weather

Weekends on All Things Considered guest host Laura Sullivan talks with Heidi Cullen, chief climatologist at Climate Central, a non-profit science journalism organization in Princeton, New Jersey. They discuss wildfires and extreme heat in the Midwest this week and how these climate conditions are tracked by Earth-observing satellites.

Around the Nation
3:44 pm
Sat June 30, 2012

Synthetic 'Bath Salts' An Evolving Problem For DEA

Use of synthetic "bath salts," compounds sold legally but used as a controlled substance, has been on the rise since 2010.
Brian Peterson Minneapolis Star Tribune

Originally published on Mon July 2, 2012 5:22 am

One night a little more than two years ago, a 24-year-old man was rushed into the emergency room at Tulane University Medical Center in Louisiana. He was extremely agitated and hallucinating.

Dr. Corey Hebert figured the man was on drugs, probably PCP or a stimulant. But a few minutes later, the man became paranoid.

"He started doing some self-mutilating actions [and] was pulling out his eyebrows and eyelashes," Hebert tells weekends on All Things Considered host Laura Sullivan.

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Author Interviews
3:14 pm
Sat June 30, 2012

'Billy Lynn' A Full-Bore Tale Of Wartime Iraq

Ben Fountain sets his new novel in Texas Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys from 1971 to 2008.
Al Messerschmidt Getty Images

Originally published on Mon July 2, 2012 8:19 am

Billy Lynn is a 19-year-old college dropout living in the small Texas town where he grew up. After he's arrested for trashing the car of his sister's ex, he's given two choices: face jail time or enlist in the Army.

He chooses the Army. And Iraq.

Author Ben Fountain's debut novel, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, is the story of what happens to Lynn after he joins Bravo Company in the early years of the Iraq war.

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NPR Story
3:13 pm
Sat June 30, 2012

Week In News: Rounding Up The Health Care Ruling

Originally published on Sat June 30, 2012 3:56 pm

Weekends on All Things Considered guest host Laura Sullivan talks with James Fallows, national correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly. They discuss the decision of the Supreme Court to uphold the Affordable Health Care act, Chief Justice John Roberts' role on the court and what the decision means in this election year.

NPR Story
3:13 pm
Sat June 30, 2012

Watergate: All The President's Men, But Women Too

Originally published on Sat June 30, 2012 3:56 pm

Transcript

LAURA SULLIVAN, HOST:

A story now about women overlooked by history. This month marks the 40th anniversary of the Watergate break-in, dramatized in the 1976 movie "All the President's Men."

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (as Character) Woodward.

ROBERT REDFORD: (as Bob Woodward) Yeah?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (as Character) There's been a break-in at the Democratic headquarters. There's been an arrest.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (as Character) Local Democratic headquarters, yeah.

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Music Interviews
10:03 am
Sat June 30, 2012

Metric: A Rock Band Declares Independence

Metric's new album, its second on the band's own label, is titled Synthetica. Left to right: Joshua Winstead, Emily Haines, James Shaw, Joules Scott-Key.
Brantley Gutierrez

Originally published on Sat June 30, 2012 3:56 pm

Metric has long been identified as an indie-rock band, but it recently embraced the "indie" part of that descriptor in a big way.

For their last album together, the band's members formed their own company — Metric Music International — to distribute the record, organize a tour and handle promotion without a label's support. The result was the biggest album of Metric's career: Fantasies sold half a million copies worldwide.

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Shots - Health Blog
4:28 pm
Fri June 29, 2012

The Day After A Health Care Crescendo, Each Side Plays A Familiar Refrain

Joy Reynolds of San Diego, Calif., looks over Friday's front pages on display at the Newseum in Washington, the day after the Supreme Court ruling on President Barack Obama's health care law.
David Goldman AP

Originally published on Fri June 29, 2012 8:26 pm

On the day after the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of President Obama's health care law, Washington returned to business as usual.

In other words, supporters of the law were busy praising its virtues, and opponents calling for its demise.

Over at Georgetown University Law Center, several health law experts got together to dissect the court's ruling and what it might mean down the line.

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Judging The Health Care Law
3:53 pm
Fri June 29, 2012

Court's Recent Rulings Shake Up Partisan Narrative

The U.S. Supreme Court justices — (first row, from left) Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, (back row) Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Samuel Alito and Elena Kagan — pose at the Supreme Court in 2010.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Fri June 29, 2012 8:26 pm

It's a bit less likely now than a week ago that you'll hear people accuse the Supreme Court of being politicized.

That's because this week, the court ended its session with two controversial decisions — neither one of which was decided on the usual and predictable split between the five justices appointed by Republican presidents and the four appointed by Democrats.

But that doesn't make the court any less of a political animal.

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Politics
3:29 pm
Fri June 29, 2012

Tea Party Sees Ruling As New Rallying Cry

The Supreme Court is reflected in the sunglasses of Susan Clark on Thursday as she demonstrates against President Obama's health care law.
David Goldman AP

Originally published on Fri June 29, 2012 8:26 pm

Some of the earliest and most vocal opponents of President Obama's health care law were members of the Tea Party. In fact, health care quickly became the issue fueling the rise of the movement.

Anger over the Affordable Care Act drove the Tea Party and Republicans to big gains in the 2010 elections, but since then the movement has seen its prominence and influence wane.

Now, Tea Party activists say the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the law will reignite that original passion in time for this fall's election.

Call For Repeal Continues

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Youth Radio
2:44 pm
Fri June 29, 2012

Juvenile Sentencing Ruling May Affect Michigan Case

Originally published on Fri June 29, 2012 8:26 pm

This week, the Supreme Court struck down mandatory sentences of life without parole for juveniles. Youth Radio's Sayre Quevedo looks at one case in Michigan that may be affected by the court's decision.

Around the Nation
2:25 pm
Fri June 29, 2012

Obama Visits Colorado In Wake Of Fires

Originally published on Fri June 29, 2012 8:26 pm

President Obama visited Colorado Springs on Friday to survey the damage caused by the Waldo Canyon fire, which burned more than 300 homes.

NPR's Backseat Book Club
2:17 pm
Fri June 29, 2012

Gross-Out Gags AND Life Lessons In 'Wimpy Kid'

Jeff Kinney Abrams

Originally published on Fri June 29, 2012 8:26 pm

We've chosen some popular books for our monthly Backseat Book Club selections, but nothing quite like the boffo best-sellers in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.

How popular are these books? Consider the numbers: There are six books, and a seventh is on the way. They've been translated into 40 languages and there are 75 million copies in print worldwide. And it was our 2009 interview with author Jeff Kinney that originally inspired us to start a book club just for kids.

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Health Care
2:17 pm
Fri June 29, 2012

How Health Law's Taxes, Penalties Will Be Enforced

Originally published on Fri June 29, 2012 8:26 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

We're going to try to break down now just what those penalties will be for those who don't buy health insurance. The Congressional Budget Office projects in the year 2016 four million people will pay the penalty. I'm joined now by Timothy Jost. He's law professor at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, and he's been looking into these numbers. We should say, Professor Jost, first off, you are also a supporter of the Affordable Care Act, right?

TIMOTHY JOST: That's correct, yes.

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Health
1:44 pm
Fri June 29, 2012

Sole Abortion Clinic In Miss. Fights Law To Stay Open

Abortion opponents demonstrate outside Mississippi's only abortion clinic in Jackson.
Rogelio V. Solis AP

Originally published on Fri June 29, 2012 8:26 pm

A new Mississippi law requires doctors who perform abortions in the state to be board-certified OB-GYNs. They also must have privileges to admit patients at a local hospital.

The law is regulatory in nature, but at a bill-signing ceremony in April, Mississippi Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves was clear about the intent.

"We have an opportunity today with the signing of this bill to end abortion in Mississippi," he said.

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World
10:52 am
Fri June 29, 2012

Will Reforms End Myanmar Monks' Spiritual Strike?

Buddhists donate food and other necessities to monks as a way of earning merit for future lives. Monks have refused donations of alms from the military as a political protest in 1990 and 2007, a boycott that some monks insist is still in effect.
Ye Aung Thu AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri June 29, 2012 8:26 pm

In response to political reforms in Myanmar — also known as Burma — the U.S. and other Western countries have eased some sanctions targeting the country's former military rulers.

But so far, one of the most powerful institutions inside the country has kept its sanctions in place. For some time, Myanmar's Buddhist clergy have effectively been on a spiritual strike by refusing to take donations from the military — a serious blow to the former regime's legitimacy.

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Movie Reviews
7:37 am
Fri June 29, 2012

A Boy And His Bear, At Large In A Man's World

Ted (voiced by writer-director Seth MacFarlane) and Johnny (Mark Wahlberg) share a laugh in Ted. The talking teddy bear got his powers when 8-year-old Johnny wished upon a falling star for Ted to speak.
Universal Pictures/Tippett Studio

Originally published on Fri June 29, 2012 8:26 pm

Seth MacFarlane is known mostly for creating, writing and directing the animated TV show Family Guy. In the show, he also voices Peter and Stewie Griffin, and their dog, Brian.

With his new movie, Ted, he has moved to the big screen for the first time, again creating, writing and directing. And though it's a live-action picture, he has again voiced one of the characters — the titular teddy bear, whom I tried to resist but couldn't.

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Judging The Health Care Law
4:09 pm
Thu June 28, 2012

The Reaction In Florida: From Protesting To Partying

Todd Long, a conservative activist, is running for the GOP nomination in Florida's 9th Congressional District.
Art Silverman NPR

Originally published on Thu June 28, 2012 5:32 pm

Just after 10 a.m. on Thursday, a cheer went up at Hispanic Health Initiatives, a nonprofit in Casselberry, Fla., just north of Orlando.

The enthusiasm for the Supreme Court's decision to uphold nearly all of the federal health care law was unmistakable at the nonprofit, which advocates for health care for the local Latino population.

The news took Josephine Mercado, the nonprofit's founder and executive director, by surprise — and changed her plans for Friday.

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Law
4:09 pm
Thu June 28, 2012

Tight Court Decision Produces Explosion Of Emotion

This artist's rendering shows Chief Justice John Roberts (center) speaking at the Supreme Court on Thursday. From left are Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Samuel Alito and Elena Kagan. The court voted 5-4 to uphold President Obama's health care law.
Dana Verkouteren AP

Originally published on Fri June 29, 2012 8:45 am

  • NPR Special Coverage: The Health Care Decision

Shock, dismay, relief, confusion — all those emotions played out Thursday when the U.S. Supreme Court announced its 5-to-4 decision to uphold almost all of President Obama's health care overhaul.

The ruling, with shifting majorities on different provisions and multiple dissents, covered close to 200 pages and provoked initial confusion. Both Fox News and CNN got it wrong, reporting at first that the individual mandate had been struck down. But when the dust cleared, the law labeled derisively by Republicans as "Obamacare" was largely intact.

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The Salt
2:34 pm
Thu June 28, 2012

How the Taste Of Tomatoes Went Bad (And Kept On Going)

Notice how some of these tomatoes have unripe-looking tops? Those "green shoulders" are actually the keys to flavor.
pocius Flickr.com

Originally published on Thu June 28, 2012 5:32 pm

The tomato is the vegetable (or fruit, if you must) that we love to hate. We know how good it can be and how bad it usually is. And everybody just wants to know: How did it get that way?

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NPR Story
2:13 pm
Thu June 28, 2012

Insurance Industry Tries To Swallow Health Care Law

Originally published on Thu June 28, 2012 5:32 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

For more now on the political impact of the Supreme Court ruling, we're joined by NPR's national political correspondent Mara Liasson. Mara, hi.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Hi, Melissa.

BLOCK: We heard jubilation from Democrats, some shock from Republicans there. This is clearly a very important legal win for the president and for his policy on health care. But until this point, health care has not always been a winning issue for the president. Let's listen to some of what he said today addressing that question.

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NPR Story
2:13 pm
Thu June 28, 2012

Media Get Health Care Ruling Wrong, At First

Originally published on Thu June 28, 2012 5:32 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. On the biggest story of the day, one of the biggest of the year, two leading television news channels got it wrong. CNN and Fox News mistakenly and repeatedly told viewers that the linchpin of the health care law had just been struck down by the Supreme Court. NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik breaks down the reporting breakdown.

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