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Book News & Features
5:03 am
Sun July 5, 2015

Baldwin And Bridges: Two Artists, Two Debuts, One Fire

Every so often, an artist comes along who simply resonates. They show up and fill a particular void in our cultural consciousness, whether in prose, song or film. They tap into something that feels especially new, and at times transcendent.

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Goats and Soda
5:03 am
Sun July 5, 2015

Want A Taste Of Virtual Reality? Step One: Find Some Cardboard

Put all these pieces together — they're part of a Google Cardboard viewer from DoDoCase.com — and you'll be ready for virtual reality.
Ben de la Cruz NPR

Filmmakers are using virtual reality to make the problems of the developing world seem more ... real.

But how can you see their work?

You could buy a headset, but you might end up in virtual debt. Prices range from $200 to $500 for devices from big players like Oculus Rift, Sony and Samsung. And forking over that much cash is a problem since there's not a lot of content yet.

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Goats and Soda
5:03 am
Sun July 5, 2015

You Haven't Left The Building But Your Brain's On A Virtual Reality Trip

Cardboard Google goggles whisk viewers into a virtual reality world.
Bloomberg Bloomberg via Getty Images

For just a few minutes, I'm standing in the streets of Kathmandu. Families pick through the rubble left behind by April's devastating earthquake. I take in the sounds of metal clanking, of footsteps and chattering. A few people walk by, staring straight at me.

I want to help — but can't.

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The Two-Way
5:03 am
Sun July 5, 2015

U.S. Women Head Into World Cup Finals With Dominant Defense

U.S. players run drills during a practice for the Women's World Cup soccer final under the open roof of BC Place in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on Saturday. The U.S. is scheduled to play Japan on Sunday.
Elaine Thompson AP

It's here. It's today. It's the game the United States Women's National Soccer Team has dreamed about for four years. A return to the finals of the World Cup.

And, oh by the way, the team that beat the U.S. in the last World Cup is the same one they'll face today: Japan.

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It's All Politics
3:46 am
Sun July 5, 2015

Trump's Campaign Theme Song Headache? Blame Michael Jackson, Sort Of

Republican presidential candidate and TV personality Donald Trump arrives by escalator to the tune of "Rockin' In The Free World." Musician Neil Young did not approve of his song choice.
Brendan McDermid Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Sun July 5, 2015 5:44 am

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Parallels
3:43 am
Sun July 5, 2015

Israel And The West Bank Through Fresh Eyes

The Weinfeld Family, 2009. Photographer Frederic Brenner, who took this photo, was the creator of This Place, an exhibit that features the work of 12 internationally acclaimed photographers in Israel and the West Bank.
Frederic Brenner/Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery

A dozen internationally acclaimed photographers were set loose in Israel and the West Bank. Most had never been in either place before. The aim was to try to see anew a part of the world that's been thoroughly photographed, long mythologized and often fought over.

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Around the Nation
3:24 pm
Sat July 4, 2015

'Firework, Not Fire Fun': The Serious Jobs Of Pyrotechnic Pros

Fireworks light up the sky above the Brooklyn Bridge during Macy's 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular in 2014.
Mark Lennihan AP

Originally published on Sat July 4, 2015 4:46 pm

Designing a vast fireworks show is a bit like composing music. There's the opening to think about, of course, and the grand finale — and all the intricacies with which the colors and displays intermingle in between.

For Jim Souza, the president of Pyro Spectaculars, this is his art.

"The sky is the canvas," he says, lending another metaphor, "and fire's my paint."

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The Salt
3:17 pm
Sat July 4, 2015

Aphrodisiacs Can Spark Sexual Imagination, But Probably Not Libido

The Birth of Venus, by Sandro Botticelli, depicts the goddess of love floating on a giant scallop shell. The word aphrodisiac derives from her Greek name, Aphrodite.
Sandro Botticelli Wikimedia

Originally published on Sat July 4, 2015 4:33 pm

What do we know about the power of food to rev up sex drive? Not much.

"Really, science has not figured out what determines sexual motivation and sexual attraction. If we knew the answer to that, we'd probably be richer than Pfizer after they invented Viagra," says Dolores Lamb, director of the Center for Reproductive Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.

She hasn't seen any compelling evidence that any particular food can intensify desire.

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News
3:14 pm
Sat July 4, 2015

Charleston Reporters Tell The National Story Of Local Violence

Crowds gather to pay their respects outside Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., in a photo by the Post and Courier.
Pool Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Sat July 4, 2015 4:42 pm

For the The Post and Courier, the newspaper in Charleston, S.C., it's been a crazy three months. The regional paper has been driving the coverage of the shootings at the Emanuel AME Church.

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Religion
3:06 pm
Sat July 4, 2015

In A Time Of Grief And Recovery, A Sunday Sermon Foretold

Originally published on Sat July 4, 2015 4:42 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

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Europe
3:04 pm
Sat July 4, 2015

As Greece Stares Down Its Money Troubles, A Decisive Vote Looms

Originally published on Sat July 4, 2015 4:42 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

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The Two-Way
1:34 pm
Sat July 4, 2015

U.N.: Report On Iran's Atomic Program Possible By Year's End

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (not pictured) at a hotel in Vienna on Friday.
Carlos Barria Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Sat July 4, 2015 3:20 pm

Yukio Amano, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, says that if Iran cooperates, the agency could issue a report on the country's past atomic research by the end of the year.

NPR's Peter Kenyon, reporting from Vienna, says that progress is also being reported on sanctions relief for Tehran — but a deal has yet to be finalized.

"With cooperation from Iran, I think we can issue a report by the end of the year," Amano, the head of the U.N. agency, says.

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The Two-Way
12:38 pm
Sat July 4, 2015

Matt Stonie Downs 62 Hot Dogs For Coney Island Title

Matt Stonie (right) is crowned winner of the annual Fourth of July Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest in Brooklyn, N.Y., Saturday. Stonie defeated eight-time champion Joey Chestnut 62-60.
Andrew Kelly Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Sat July 4, 2015 3:24 pm

Sixty-two dogs (and buns) after sitting down for the annual Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, Matt Stonie had snatched the title from "Jaws" Chestnut, the reigning eight-time champ, in a competition held each July 4 for nearly a century at New York's Coney Island.

Stonie finished second last year but says he'd been training hard for the rematch. Ultimately, he beat Chestnut by two hot dogs. Coincidentally, both men are from San Jose, Calif.

The Associated Press says: "Afterward, Stonie, holding his fist in the air in victory, said it felt amazing to win."

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The Two-Way
10:25 am
Sat July 4, 2015

Week After Beach Attack, Tunisia Declares State Of Emergency

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi speaks during a forum on strategic planning, in Tunis, in June. Essebsi has declared a state of emergency his office says is aimed at dealing with the threat of Islamist extremists.
Mohamed Messara EPA/Landov

Originally published on Sat July 4, 2015 11:21 am

More than a week after a deadly attack by an Islamic extremist at a Tunisian beachfront resort that killed 38 foreign tourists, the president of the North African country has declared a state of emergency.

President Beji Caid Essebsi's office says in a statement that he needed the powers that come with the declaration to more effectively deal with the threat from extremists.

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Interviews
9:38 am
Sat July 4, 2015

Fresh Air Weekend: 'Loving Day'; Cable's Faux Newsmen; 'Dope' Director

Mat Johnson is the author of Pym, Drop, Hunting in Harlem and The Great Negro Plot as well as several graphic novels including Incognegro, Dark Rain and Right State.
Meera Bowman Johnson

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

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StoryCorps
9:24 am
Sat July 4, 2015

Two Marines, One Deployment And The End Of A Marriage

Anny Pena, 30, and Jonny Pena, 32, met when they were both stationed in Arizona.
StoryCorps

Originally published on Sat July 4, 2015 10:21 am

StoryCorps' Military Voices Initiative records stories from members of the U.S. military who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

When Marine Staff Sgt. Jonny Pena came back from Afghanistan, he wasn't the same man who had left for the war.

He and his wife, Marine Sgt. Anny Pena, met when they were stationed in Arizona. Two years later, in 2007, they got married; then they had a son.

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The Two-Way
8:36 am
Sat July 4, 2015

Lawrence Herkimer, The Father Of Modern Cheerleading, Dies At 89

Originally published on Sat July 4, 2015 11:20 am

Three cheers for Lawrence Herkimer, who did more than anyone to transform cheerleading into an art, a science and a multi-million dollar business.

He died of heart failure on Wednesday in Dallas at age 89, according to his family.

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NPR History Dept.
8:25 am
Sat July 4, 2015

When America's Librarians Went To War

American Library Association volunteers in Paris on Feb. 27, 1919.
Courtesy of the University of Illinois Archives

Originally published on Sat July 4, 2015 3:55 pm

Looking back at the nationwide support for American troops in the two world wars, we see Americans of all stripes making patriotic contributions and sacrifices — including farmers, factory workers and librarians.

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NPR Ed
7:25 am
Sat July 4, 2015

At Age 3 — Transitioning From Jack To Jackie

Sisters Jackie Carter Christian (left) and Chloe Marie Christian at the beach.
Courtesy of the Christian family

Originally published on Sat July 4, 2015 9:04 am

It's controlled after-school anarchy at the Christian-Carter household. Seven-year-old Chloe has rolled herself up in an exercise mat in the living room of the family's lovely Oakland, Calif., home.

"Look I'm a burrito," Chloe shouts.

Her 4-year-old sister, Jackie, swoops in for a bite — and a hard push.

"Ow!" Chloe shouts. "Mom! Jackie pushed me!"

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Parallels
7:07 am
Sat July 4, 2015

A Reopened Embassy In Havana Could Be A Boon For U.S. Businesses

A fisherman cycles past the U.S. Interests Section building, behind right, in Havana in May.
Desmond Boylan AP

Originally published on Sat July 4, 2015 9:33 am

When Secretary of State John Kerry goes to Havana to raise a flag over the soon to be reopened embassy this summer, it won't be just an important symbolic moment.

The administration says the U.S. will be able to station more American personnel in Cuba, and that should be a big help in practical terms as more Americans travel to and trade with the Cold War-era foe.

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Around the Nation
6:25 am
Sat July 4, 2015

'Chasing Memories' In Their Refugee Camp 40 Years After Fleeing Vietnam

Former refugee Kuo Nam Lo, the reporter's mother, stands outside an old army barracks that's been converted into the Pennsylvania National Guard Military Museum at Fort Indiantown Gap.
Hansi Lo Wang NPR

Originally published on Sat July 4, 2015 9:04 am

My mother's family fled communism twice.

The first time was from China. Then, after Saigon fell in 1975, they left Vietnam.

My mother, Kuo Nam Lo, was 24 when she spent her first few months in the U.S. at a refugee camp at a military base along a stretch of the Appalachian Mountains in central Pennsylvania.

"I've always wanted to come back here," my mother told me in Cantonese on a recent drive through Fort Indiantown Gap. "Son, you've made my dream come true."

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Science
5:54 am
Sat July 4, 2015

Strontium Nitrate And Barium Nitrate, The Fuel In Fireworks

Originally published on Sat July 4, 2015 9:04 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ERIC WESTERVELT, HOST:

Ladies and gentlemen, light your fuses.

(SOUNDBITE OF FIREWORKS)

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Law
5:54 am
Sat July 4, 2015

Of All U.S. Police Shootings, One-Quarter Reportedly Involve The Mentally Ill

Lavall Hall's mother, Catherine Daniels, is comforted by her cousin Alfonzo Hill as she speaks with the media in February. Hall, who was schizophrenic, was fatally shot by police officers earlier this year.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Sat July 4, 2015 1:48 pm

At least 125 people with signs of mental illness have died in police encounters in the U.S. so far this year, according to the latest accounting from The Washington Post.

This week, the Post published a database with information on every fatal shooting by a police officer in the line of duty in the U.S. And they took the extra step of identifying — when they could — details about the mental health of the deceased.

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National Security
5:54 am
Sat July 4, 2015

The White House Invites Tourists To Use Their Cameras

Originally published on Sat July 4, 2015 9:04 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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ERIC WESTERVELT, HOST:

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Middle East
5:54 am
Sat July 4, 2015

Fuel Is Crucial In The Battle Over Syria

Originally published on Sat July 4, 2015 9:56 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Europe
5:54 am
Sat July 4, 2015

Greeks Divided Ahead Of Eurozone Vote

Originally published on Sat July 4, 2015 9:04 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ERIC WESTERVELT, HOST:

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Shots - Health News
5:54 am
Sat July 4, 2015

LA Police Unit Intervenes To Get Mentally Ill Treatment, Not Jail Time

Officer Ted Simola, a member of the LAPD mental evaluation unit, responds to a call in February.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Originally published on Sat July 4, 2015 2:07 pm

The Los Angeles Police Department's mental evaluation unit is the largest mental health policing program of its kind in the nation, with 61 sworn officers and 28 mental health workers from the county.

The unit has become a vital resource for the 10,000-person police force in Los Angeles.

Officer Ted Simola and his colleagues in the unit work with county mental health workers to provide crisis intervention when people with mental illness come into contact with police.

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The Two-Way
5:54 am
Sat July 4, 2015

Just A Few Important Words About The 'Declaration Of Independence'

Artist John Trumbull's "Declaration of Independence." It can be seen in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol.
Library of Congress

Originally published on Sat July 4, 2015 9:04 am

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

It's Independence Day. Let's take a break from parades, patriotic songs and pyrotechnics to think about the Declaration of Independence, which was adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776.

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Remembrances
5:54 am
Sat July 4, 2015

Remembering 'Britain's Schindler'

Originally published on Sat July 4, 2015 9:04 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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ERIC WESTERVELT, HOST:

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Around the Nation
3:46 am
Sat July 4, 2015

A Bird Of Courage And A Bash In Denmark: The July 4 You Didn't Know

Benjamin Franklin thought the turkey was a much more respectable bird than the eagle.
Kairon Gnothi (Opportunity Knocks) Flickr

Independence Day is typically filled with revelry — many people drink American beer, shoot explosives into the sky and rock red, white and blue apparel that may not be appropriate for everyday wear. It's also a day full of interesting, quirky history that people usually don't talk about between filling their mouths with hot dogs and singing The Star Spangled Banner off-key.

But if you're destined to spend your holiday at, say, a company cookout, here are five things you may not have known about Independence Day that you can use as conversation starters:

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