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.

Ah, 'tis the season to be indulgent. Another glass of champagne? Please, have some homemade cookies. Does anyone want to go to the movies instead of the gym? As far as I'm concerned, December is Guilty Pleasures Time.

Early in her career, Glenn Close was often cast in the "good girl" role: the idyllic muse in The Natural; the understanding friend, wife and mother in The Big Chill.

Things took a sharp turn for her when she played an evil manipulator in Dangerous Liaisons and then created one of film's greatest villains in Fatal Attraction.

The range of her roles alone would make Close one of the great actors of her generation. Now, she adds another remarkable character to the list, playing the title role in the new movie Albert Nobbs.

Ken Harbaugh is a former Navy pilot and an NPR commentator.

Our Christmas tree gets uglier every year. It's not the tree's fault. This year we sprung for a Fraser fir, cut fresh at a local farm. It has soft needles, that ideal pine-cone shape, and a pointy top perfect for holding a star. But when we got home, I felt like apologizing. This tree did not deserve what we were about to do. We re-cut the bottom, mounted it in its holder, and gave it water. For about five minutes, our tree looked beautiful. Then came the decorations.

Is it pure whimsy that makes something like "Callin' Oates" appealing?

If you pick up your phone and call 719-26-OATES — at least as of this writing — you'll get a computerized woman's voice telling you what numbers to press to hear one of four Hall & Oates songs.

The question, of course, is ... why?

After being force-fed a steady diet of Oscar hopefuls for almost a month, I may just be ready for empty-calorie time at the cineplex. But I have to confess a sense of relief this week, as I watched entertainments that didn't seem to want to do anything other than show an audience a good time.

The body of Kim Jong Il, the deceased leader of North Korea, now lies in state in the capital, Pyongyang. His sudden death has raised concerns about possible power struggles. But so far, all outward signs suggest that the North Korean leadership is lining up behind his son, Kim Jong Un.

Eric Weiner's most recent book is Man Seeks God: My Flirtations with the Divine.

Surveys show religious people are happier than the secular. Why is this? Is it — as an atheist friend quipped — that "ignorance is bliss?" Not long ago, that's what I would have concluded. Like many people of my ilk — cerebral East Coaster, highly skeptical and, yes, latte drinking — I reflexively viewed the religious as less sophisticated. And, if I'm brutally honest here, somehow less intelligent, or at least more narrow-minded. I don't feel that way anymore.

In Cairo, Women Protest Recent Crackdowns

Dec 20, 2011

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has condemned the Egyptian army's use of force against protesters, especially women. Clinton's remarks, in a speech at Georgetown University Monday night, were the strongest criticism yet of the Egyptian military, which has been ruling the country since ousted president Hosni Mubarak stepped down last February.

With three weeks to go before the New Hampshire primary, presidential campaigns are working at full speed to reach out to voters.

Political strategists say a good ground game — a campaign's ability to identify voters and get them to the polls — is worth 3 points at the ballot box. That's a boost any candidate would want.

Prominent Iowa Conservative Backs Santorum

Dec 20, 2011

The Family Leader, an influential social conservative organization based in Iowa, has decided to remain neutral in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. But the group's founder, Bob Vander Plaats, surprised many political observers Tuesday by throwing his support to former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

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The Montreal Canadiens hockey team has lost more games than it's won this season. It's in last place in its division and so, as often happens when a sports teams does poorly, the Canadiens coach, Jacques Martin, was fired. In his place, the Canadiens, who are owned by Geoff Molson of Molson Beer fame, promoted the assistant coach, Ontario-born Randy Cunneyworth. Mr. Cunneyworth instantly encountered a serious objection, though. He may know hockey, but he doesn't know French.

Robert Siegel speaks with California Republican Rep. David Dreier for the latest on the payroll tax cut and the House vote.

The airwaves in Iowa are filled with a lot of people saying some not very nice things about Newt Gingrich.

Margaret Thatcher's policies as British prime minister earned her the nickname "The Iron Lady," and now that's also the title of a new film about her life.

Thatcher was famously tough on British labor unions, IRA hunger strikers, the Soviet Union and the war with Argentina over the Falkland Islands. So in the film, when visiting U.S. Secretary of State Alexander Haig questions Thatcher's knowledge of war, the then-prime minister's response is predictably unyielding.

AT&T Drops T-Mobile Bid

Dec 19, 2011

AT&T shuttered proposed plans to buy T-Mobile. For more, Robert Siegel talks to NPR's Joel Rose.

Perhaps Kim Jong Il's most enduring legacy was to turn North Korea into a nuclear weapons state. The country successfully tested a nuclear bomb underground in 2006, and a second test followed in 2009.

With Kim's death, which was announced Monday, his presumed successor is his son, Kim Jong Un. But little is known about him or his thinking on the country's nuclear program.

In this age of bland romantic comedy leads, when the feminine ideal seems to mix two parts sweetly smiling Jennifer Aniston with three parts saucer-eyed Rapunzel, nothing can bring more satisfaction than the antiheroine.

House Poised To Reject Budget Deal

Dec 19, 2011

Days after it seemed Congress had struck a budget, tax cut and unemployment deal that would get it through the holidays, it is clear that they did not. House Speaker John Boehner Monday must deal with a restive House GOP caucus that signaled over the weekend that it had no interest in going along with the Senate's two-month plan. NPR congressional correspondent David Welna joins Lynn Neary with the latest.

Christmas tree growers are frustrated that politics are delaying a marketing campaign to promote real trees over artificial. Following four years of work to get it passed, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved the industry-sponsored real Christmas tree campaign in November. But conservatives quickly branded it as "President Obama's Christmas tree tax" and the program was delayed within days of its approval. There are 18 other commodities — like pork and eggs — with similar generic advertising programs. They show anywhere from a two-to-one to a ten-to-one return on investment.

After Kim's Death, Anxiety Among Neighbors

Dec 19, 2011

As North Korea mourns the death of its leader Kim Jong Il, both South Korea and China have reacted to the risk of instability on their borders. The South Korean military has been placed on alert, and there are reports that the Chinese have closed their border with North Korea. Robert Siegel talks to NPR's Louisa Lim, who is watching events from the South Korean capital, Seoul.

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Many Koreans who live in the United States are following the situation in North Korea closely. Southern California is home to a huge Korean community.

And as NPR's Carrie Kahn reports, news of Kim Jong Il's death has been greeted there with shock and anxiety.

Lynn Neary and Robert Siegel read emails from listeners.

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And now to the spreading influence of apps and tablets in the business world. As NPR's Sonari Glinton reports, many small businesses are using tablets to replace everything from the menu to the timecard to the cash register.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: That is ceroni, so the green is like a pistachio.

As War Ends, Iraqi Exile Looks Back

Dec 18, 2011

As troops withdraw from Iraq, it's a bittersweet day for Brandeis University Professor Kanan Makiya. On April 9, 2003, Makiya watched the fall of Baghdad on television from the Oval Office, alongside President George W. Bush. The former Iraqi exile was an outspoken critic of Saddam Hussein's crimes against the Iraqi people and had advised the President on the invasion of Iraq. Makiya tells weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz he believes the war was worth it for the Iraqi people — but perhaps not for the Americans.

With just a few weeks to go before the Iowa caucuses, Newt Gingrich is leading the pack for the Republican presidential nomination.

Given the possibility that President Obama could be facing Gingrich in the campaign next fall, it seemed like a good time to check in with someone who has experience running against the former speaker of the House.

A TV Singing Star Champions The Pop Standard

Dec 18, 2011

Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr. caught a lot of people off guard when he opened his mouth to sing at his televised audition for America's Got Talent. The dreadlocked former car-washer is 6'4" and in his late 30s, but when he belted the first notes of the pop standard "I've Got You Under My Skin" like a certain blue-eyed crooner, audiences and judges alike delightedly voiced their surprise.

Murphy's own social circle was harder to win over. He tells NPR's Guy Raz that at first, his family members laughed at the thought of him singing Sinatra.

Dessa is best known as a member of Doomtree, a hip-hop collective based in Minneapolis. But there's much more singing than rapping on her latest album, Castor, the Twin, which puts a jazzy, melodic spin on some of her previous work.

Dessa says the title refers to the brothers Castor and Pollux from Greek and Roman mythology. Castor, she explains, is the milder of the two.

Today, the Senate approved a $1 trillion bill to fund the government and a two-month payroll tax cut extension. Weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz speaks with James Fallows of The Atlantic about the last minute deal and other top stories from the past week.

When William F. Buckley burst onto the national scene in 1955, conservatism was a dead letter in American politics.

"Lots of people thought that it was outdated, anachronistic, prehistoric, foolish, not very intelligent," Carl Bogus tells weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz.

Bogus is the author of a new biography, called Buckley: William F. Buckley and the Rise of American Conservatism. He says that back in the 1950s and 1960s, there really was an established liberal elite in America, which controlled both political parties.

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