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The third stage in Egypt's parliamentary elections got underway Tuesday. In upper Egypt, tensions between Muslims and Christians have intensified in the aftermath of the ouster of Hosni Mubarak. Qena is a stronghold of the ultra-conservative Salafi movement, and its members have clashed repeatedly with local Coptic Christians over the past year.

American Idol, The Sing-Off, The Voice — there's no shortage of over-the-top, glitzy, ratings-driven music competitions on TV. And now Aretha Franklin is getting in on the singing contest circuit, but she's turning her searchlight on the world of classical music. That's right — the Queen of Soul is searching for the next great opera singer.

Robert Siegel talks with Sidney Milkis, author of Theodore Roosevelt, the Progressive Party, and the Transformation of American Democracy, about the U.S. presidential election of 1912 — when there was a viable third party on the ballot: the Bull Moose Party.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

South Korea's president delivered this message yesterday to North Korea: It will respond strongly to any provocations under North Korea's new leader, Kim Jong-un. However, in a televised speech, Lee Myung-bak also promised that North-South relations could improve if Pyongyang halts its nuclear weapons program.

Reporter Doualy Xaykaothao recently hit the streets of Seoul, to find out what South Koreans think of the power shift in the north. And for many the answer is simple: They don't care.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block. In Iowa today, a final opportunity to win over voters before tomorrow's caucuses.

RICK SANTORUM: We need your help. I know all the candidates say they need your help and support. They're lying. I do.

Remembering Designer Eva Zeisel

Jan 2, 2012

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This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

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The killing of Osama bin Laden was one of last year's biggest news stories. Now, a writer has crafted a novel based on the event. Alan Cheuse has this review of John Weisman's "KBL."

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This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

Alex Gilvarry is the author of From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant.

I was a college student in New York City when security checks became the norm. Being half-Filipino with a Scottish last name, I wasn't easy to profile. And since I was always carrying a big backpack of textbooks in and out of the subway on my way to class, I came to expect that I would be stopped once or twice each week.

There's a handful of people — roughly 10 percent of the global population — that has something in common.

Many mysteries and misconceptions surround this group. Its members have been called artistically gifted and self-reliant, but also untrustworthy and insincere. Most recently, several of them have been called the president of the United States.

The new Broadway production of the musical On a Clear Day You Can See Forever has been billed as a "reincarnation" rather than a revival. The premise is the same as before: A psychiatrist, Mark Bruckner, falls in love with the "past life" of one of his hypnotized patients. But this version replaces Daisy, the charming young patient first played in the 1960s by Barbara Harris, with Davey — a gay man harboring a female alter ego deep in his subconscious.

2011: A Big Year For Space Exploration

Dec 31, 2011

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When scientists want to test new therapies for cancer or heart disease, they frequently turn to mice for help. For most mice, this isn't the best thing that could happen to them. Being a research subject has definite disadvantages, at least for mice.

But most people prefer a new therapy be tested in a rodent rather than making a human patient the guinea pig — if you'll forgive the twisted metaphor.

Robert Siegel speaks with Gary Johnson, former governor of New Mexico. He tells Robert why he decided to end his GOP presidential bid and instead seek the Libertarian nomination for president.

Wizards, transformers and vampires did their best, but they couldn't transform 2011 into a magical year for Hollywood: Despite all the 3-D and IMAX screenings and the premium prices that come with them, industry box office sagged by half a billion dollars compared with last year. But quality? That's another story.

The Frozen Tale Of 'Lord Franklin'

Dec 30, 2011

We continue our Winter Song series with a lament for a 19th century British Arctic explorer. It's the choice of Andrew Revkin, who writes the Dot Earth blog for the New York Times.

South Carolina has an unemployment rate of 9.9 percent, above the current national figure.

But that's not the message you'll get if you call Republican Gov. Nikki Haley's office, where you'll be greeted with a cheery message: "It's a great day in South Carolina ..."

And that's the same message you'll receive when calling any other state agency. Or attend any recent event with the governor, like one last month in Columbia where TD Bank announced its plans to create a regional hub.

Singer-songwriter Guy Clark is a key figure in alternative country music. In the 1970s, his Nashville home was an axis of creativity, a hangout where musicians assembled to trade songs and stories, and where Clark mentored young songwriters at the time, like Steve Earle and Rodney Crowell.

The opening moments of A Separation lay out the story you'd expect to see in a film about a wife who is leaving her husband: Simin (Leila Hatami) and her bank-clerk spouse, Nader (Peyman Moadi), are explaining heatedly to a judge why they want a separation. Or actually, why they don't want it.

First in a series

Visiting a metal fabrication plant in Sioux City this December, Mitt Romney touted his successful business background, saying those qualifications are what America needs right now.

"I want to use the experience I have in the world of the free enterprise system to make sure that America gets working again. ... These are tough times," said the Republican presidential candidate. "You guys have jobs. Hope your spouses do. But I know these are tough times."

But not as tough in Iowa as in many other parts of the country.

When the new film Pariah opens nationally, it's safe to say it will not be competing with any other movies about a black teenager coming of age as a lesbian in Brooklyn.

"It's not so much coming out, but coming into," clarifies director Dee Rees. "Alike, the main character, knows she loves women. That's not her struggle. Her struggle's more how to be in the world."

In Greece, caroling season runs through the Orthodox Christian holiday known as the Epiphany, celebrated on Jan. 6. Traditionally, children go door-to-door, playing the triangle and singing songs of the season. In return, people give them a few euros for presents.

But this Christmas, Greek retailers say sales fell 30 percent from last year. The unemployment rate is at record levels, crime is rising and austerity is dampening everyone's spirits.

Flame On: Protest Songs From Greece

Dec 28, 2011

Mitt Romney's campaign stops Tuesday in New Hampshire, at small restaurants with largely invited crowds, featured lofty patriotic themes and seemed designed to help him lock down his current base of support in the Granite State.

"America the Beautiful," the Founding Fathers, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were referenced by the GOP presidential contender during his last bit of stumping in New Hampshire before heading off for a three-day bus tour of Iowa, which holds its caucuses in a week.

Investors from Asia are taking advantage of housing prices that have plummeted in recent years, buying foreclosures and short sales at below what it would cost to build them.

Kevin Chu's Hong-Kong investment firm owns property in Las Vegas, but he's never seen any of it. So his first visit to the U.S. is to inspect the houses in Las Vegas.

In the past 18 months, the firm he works for, The Creations Group, bought up distressed homes all over the U.S. — including 13 Las Vegas houses at fire sale prices.

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