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Europe
3:00 am
Sat January 21, 2012

New U.S. Ambassador Already Facing Critics In Russia

Michael McFaul, the architect of the reset of relations with Russia, is now the U.S. ambassador to Moscow as the countries work through a series of difficult issues. Here, McFaul is shown at his Jan. 10 swearing-in at the Sate Department, a ceremony presided over by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Astrid Riecken Getty images

Originally published on Sat January 21, 2012 8:31 am

In the early days of the Obama administration, Michael McFaul made his mark as the architect of the so-called reset of relations with Russia.

Now, as the new U.S. ambassador to Moscow, McFaul may need to reset relations once again as the two countries go through another rough patch.

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Law
3:00 am
Sat January 21, 2012

Privacy Lawyers Process Megaupload Copyright Case

The Justice Department's massive copyright case against the file-sharing website Megaupload.com had the Internet world hopping this week. But it also got lawyers talking, about the scope of a criminal investigation that spanned eight countries and the hard-nosed tactics that the government deployed.

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Fresh Air Weekend
10:50 pm
Fri January 20, 2012

Fresh Air Weekend: Michael Fassbender, Mushrooms

Uncomfortably Numb: For Brandon (Michael Fassbender), the endless pursuit of sex doesn't involve any particular pleasure — only a driving obsession.
Fox Searchlight Pictures

Originally published on Sat January 21, 2012 9:17 am

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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It's All Politics
10:31 pm
Fri January 20, 2012

Iowa GOP Officially Declares Santorum The Iowa Caucus Winner

Rick Santorum is officially the winner of the Jan. 3 Iowa Republican presidential caucus. The state Republican Party reversed itself from a previous assertion that it would not declare one, given problems at eight precincts, as The Des Moines Register reported.

In a news release late Friday, the party said it called the race "in order to clarify conflicting reports and to affirm the results released Jan. 18 by the Republican Party of Iowa."

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The Record
5:00 pm
Fri January 20, 2012

Four Views On Megaupload

Bram van der Kolk, Finn Batato, Mathias Ortmann and Kim Schmitz, also known as Kim Dotcom, (from left to right) are remanded in custody in New Zealand on Friday.
David Rowland EPA /Landov

Originally published on Fri January 20, 2012 5:08 pm

When the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI shut down the web site Megaupload yesterday, there were many responses, from outrage to confusion to applause, and nearly as many questions. One that stood out was simple: If Megaupload provides a service that can be used for legal pursuits, are they legally responsible for the users who use it to illegally share copyrighted material?

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Music Interviews
5:00 pm
Fri January 20, 2012

Jessie Baylin: Searching For A Certain 'Spark'

Jessie Baylin says she wanted her new album, Little Spark, "to be nostalgic but still fresh and modern."
Mike Hallock

Originally published on Sat January 21, 2012 4:42 pm

The album Little Spark evokes a sound you might have heard 40 years ago, piercing through the static of your AM radio. The big string sections and angelic choruses are all there, echoing the hallmarks of classic orchestral pop. But Little Spark is the work of a modern singer-songwriter named Jessie Baylin.

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Music News
4:51 pm
Fri January 20, 2012

Artists React To Mexico's Drug War With Music And Poetry

Astrid Hadad performs in Mexico.
Betto Arcos

Javier Sicilia is a novelist and a poet. In 2009, he was awarded Mexico's prestigious Aguascalientes National Poetry Prize. This September, he read a poem dedicated to his son, Juan Francisco, at a rally:

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Latin America
3:46 pm
Fri January 20, 2012

Amid Scandal, Colombia Dismantles Spy Agency

A member of Colombia's secret police, or Administrative Department of Security, listens to intercepted telephone calls in 2009. Reports of illegal wiretapping by secret police contributed to President Juan Manuel Santos' 2011 decision to close the agency.
William Fernando Martinez AP

President Juan Manuel Santos announced late last year that he was liquidating Colombia's troubled intelligence agency, and the country, he said, knew exactly why.

The Administrative Department of Security, or DAS, had been mired in scandal by reports of agents illegally wiretapping government critics and selling classified information to drug lords.

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Shots - Health Blog
3:23 pm
Fri January 20, 2012

Administration Stands Firm On Birth Control Coverage

Archbishop Timothy Dolan, of New York, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, called the contraceptive rule "unconscionable."
Patrick Semansky AP

Originally published on Fri January 20, 2012 5:08 pm

Despite a furious lobbying effort by the Catholic Church, the Obama administration today said it won't weaken new rules that will require most health insurance plans to offer women prescription contraceptives at no additional out-of-pocket cost.

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Election 2012
3:03 pm
Fri January 20, 2012

How Does South Carolina Work Its GOP Crystal Ball?

Republican presidential candidates, left to right: former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and Texas Rep. Ron Paul at a debate Thursday in Charleston, S.C.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Saturday's South Carolina Republican primary may be the last good chance for Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's challengers to stop his march to the nomination. Every election year since 1980, the winner of South Carolina's Republican primary has gone on to win the nomination.

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The Salt
2:50 pm
Fri January 20, 2012

Feeding The World Gets Short Shrift In Climate Change Debate

Families displaced by drought line up for food this week in Mogadishu, Somalia.
AFP AFP/Getty Images

Food is getting elbowed out of the discussion on climate change, which could spell disaster for the 1 billion people who will be added to the world's population in the next 15 years. That's the word today from scientists wondering why food and sustainability get such short shrift when it comes to thinking about how humans will adapt to climate change.

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The Two-Way
2:23 pm
Fri January 20, 2012

Late Tuskegee Airman Gets Arlington Honors As 'Red Tails' Film Opens

Family, friends and admirers salute the casket of Luke Weathers, Jr., one of the original Tuskegee airmen, at his burial ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

A member of the famed Tuskegee Airmen was buried in Arlington National Cemetery this morning, the same day that Red Tails, a film dramatizing the pilots' heroic feats, was released in U.S. theaters.

During World War II, Luke Weathers Jr. "shot down two German fighter planes while escorting a damaged bomber to its base," the AP reports.

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Books
2:18 pm
Fri January 20, 2012

Talk Nerdy To Me: Three Reads For Your Inner Geek

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri January 20, 2012 5:08 pm

If you're seriously into reading, chances are, if you're not a nerd, then you've at least got some nerdy DNA somewhere in your intellectual genome. I know I do. But as a reader I sometimes feel like I'm being asked to identify with a hero who isn't nearly geeky enough — a hero with uncorrected vision and excellent orthodontics and really good hair. Sure, he's nice, but I doubt I would have wanted to sit at his table in the cafeteria in high school.

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Election 2012
2:05 pm
Fri January 20, 2012

In Backing Romney, Haley Seen As Political Enigma

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney and his wife Ann wish a happy birthday to South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (left) at Romney's campaign headquarters in Charleston, S.C., on Thursday.
Emmanuel Dunand AFP/Getty Images

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, one of the Tea Party's early superstars, has seen her approval ratings fall, and some of her core supporters are baffled by Haley's endorsement of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Haley won election in 2010 as a true fiscal conservative, capturing the endorsement of Sarah Palin, who said Haley was willing to challenge the good old boys of the state's politics.

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Presidential Race
2:04 pm
Fri January 20, 2012

GOP Candidates Appeal To An Adversary And Lose

Joseph Nixon, attorney for the Rick Perry campaign, speaks to the media outside federal court in Richmond, Va., on Jan. 13. A federal judge refused Perry and other candidates' request to be added to the Virginia ballot.
Steve Helber ASSOCIATED PRESS

Federal judges have been getting hammered pretty hard in this Republican presidential campaign.

Rick Santorum has joked about banishing liberal, federal judges to Guam. Erstwhile candidate Rick Perry has been a longtime advocate for states' rights, calling himself a "tenth amendment believing governor." And Newt Gingrich has repeatedly criticized the country's judicial system, targeting what he calls quote "activist judges."

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Presidential Race
1:22 pm
Fri January 20, 2012

Does Regionalism Matter Anymore, Y'all?

The presidential election brings out the media's obsession with regional differences. Reporters and politicians do stand-ups from cornfields in the Midwest, beaches in California, honky-tonks in Texas — and in front of this sand sculpture of the GOP candidates in Myrtle Beach, S.C., last weekend.
Emmanuel Dunand AFP/Getty Images

The race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination is fixing to get, as we Southerners tongue-in-cheekly say, about as slippery as a greased pig in a hog wallow. Nasty as a old possum in a croaker sack. Murky as South Carolina swamp mud.

The Republican primary focus is shifting to the South, where folks talk and act different from the rest of the country. And where they look for different characteristics in candidates than other regions of the ...

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Election 2012
1:22 pm
Fri January 20, 2012

For South Carolina Voters, Jobs May Matter Most

Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign stop at Seven Oaks Park this week in Irmol, S.C. Jobs are likely to be an important issue for South Carolina voters in Saturday's primary, with the state's unemployment rate at 9.9 percent.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 20, 2012 5:08 pm

In a presidential election that most expect will be all about the economy, South Carolina is a state where economic issues are front and center. The state's unemployment rate is 9.9 percent, well above the national rate. But even that number is deceptive. There are pockets around the state where the conditions are much more severe. In Lancaster County, for example, the rate is above 12 percent.

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Law
1:21 pm
Fri January 20, 2012

5 Questions, Answers About The Megaupload Case

Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom, also known as Kim Schmitz, in an Auckland, New Zealand, court Friday.
TV3 AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 20, 2012 2:30 pm

The arrests of four executives of Megaupload, a major Internet file-sharing site, have triggered an online backlash, and raised fresh questions about electronic piracy and copyright violations. What's behind the controversy? NPR asked two experts to help clarify the facts behind the arrests.

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The Two-Way
12:35 pm
Fri January 20, 2012

Wisconsin 'RecallCam': Boring, Beautiful Or Both?

Watch if you dare. You may get hooked.
State of Wisconsin Government Accountability Board

As our friend Micki Maynard at Changing Gears says, "forget live streams watching the giant panda in Edinburgh, or the weather in Chicago. The newest Internet plaything is the Wisconsin Web Cam."

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The Two-Way
12:30 pm
Fri January 20, 2012

Palestinian Women Behind The Wheel, And Ahead Of The Pack

Noor Daoud holds a trophy after she won third place in the first day of Formula Israel's women's race, in Eilat, Israel. Daoud went on to take the women's title at the event.
Uriel Sinai Getty Images

Palestine might not seem like a breeding ground for race car drivers. After all, the area is dotted with checkpoints and roadblocks, hundreds of obstacles that can cramp a driver's ability to explore a car's limits.

But that hasn't stopped a group of Palestinian women from driving very fast, winning races and making a name for themselves along the way.

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Shots - Health Blog
12:08 pm
Fri January 20, 2012

Researchers Agree To Temporary Halt For Bird Flu Experiments

H5N1 avian flu viruses (seen in gold) grow inside canine kidney cells (seen in green).
Cynthia Goldsmith CDC

Originally published on Mon January 23, 2012 1:41 pm

Scientists have said that they are voluntarily putting some controversial bird flu research on hold.

The move to suspend the work for 60 days comes in response to critics who say their work is dangerous.

People rarely get sick with bird flu, caused by the H5N1 virus, and when they do, they're generally not contagious.

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Shots - Health Blog
11:27 am
Fri January 20, 2012

How Tears Go 'Pac-Man' To Beat Bacteria

Tears contain an enzyme that eats bacteria the way Pac-Man eats Power Pellets.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon January 23, 2012 1:39 pm

The mystical healing properties of tears are invoked in fairy tales and fantasies from Rapunzel to Harry Potter. So it may surprise you to hear that tears really are pretty powerful, on the microbial level at least.

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The Two-Way
11:25 am
Fri January 20, 2012

Not A Record, But Audubon Set Still Sells For A Tidy $7.9 Million

We wouldn't want to say that $7,922,500 isn't an awful lot to pay for one set of four books.

But we do have to point out that it's not a record.

Thursday, we previewed the Christie's New York auction of a rare set of John James Audubon's Birds of America. As we reported, there was talk that it might fetch more than the record $11.5 million paid for another full set of the books in 2010.

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The Two-Way
11:10 am
Fri January 20, 2012

Megaupload Is Trying To Go Back Online Even As Execs Sit In Jail

Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom, also known as Kim Schmitz, in an Auckland, New Zealand, court today.
TV3/ AFP/Getty Images

A judge in New Zealand today ordered that Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom (a.k.a. Kim Schmitz) and three others remain in custody at least until a bail hearing on Monday as the legal process of possibly extraditing them to the U.S. to face copyright infringement and conspiracy charges got underway.

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The Two-Way
10:50 am
Fri January 20, 2012

Search Of Stricken Italian Cruise Ship Resumes After Third Delay

A coast guard boat passes the Costa Concordia, as the cruise liner lies aground in front of the harbor of Giglio Island.
Vincenzo Pinto AFP/Getty Images

Search and rescue operations at the wreck of the Costa Concordia have resumed, after being halted for a third time, due to choppy waters and the partially submerged vessel's tendency to shift on the rocks near Italy's coast.

BBC correspondent Luisa Baldini says the search has resumed, after being called off early Friday.

Here's a roundup of recent developments in the story:

From Italy, Sylvia Poggioli report for NPR's Newscast unit:

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Middle East
10:49 am
Fri January 20, 2012

Israeli And Arab Hackers Square Off In Cyberbattle

The websites of Israel's El Al airline and the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange were knocked offline Monday, just hours after a Saudi Arabian hacker threatened to act against them. Israeli hackers responded by crashing the Saudi stock exchange. Here, a man walks past an El Al office in Tel Aviv on Monday.
Jack Guez AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue April 17, 2012 11:16 am

An online battle is raging between Israelis and Arabs, with each side unveiling credit card and other personal information of thousands of private citizens, as well as temporarily disabling high-profile websites, like the Tel Aviv and Saudi Arabian stock exchanges.

So far, the recent Web assaults seem to be the work of bored young people venting frustration. But others worry that these actions could easily escalate into a much larger online fight.

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Music Interviews
10:14 am
Fri January 20, 2012

Remembering Bandleader And Producer Johnny Otis

Johnny Otis (center), shown playing with his band The Johnny Otis Revue.
Charlie Gillett Collection Redferns Via Getty Images

Bandleader and producer Johnny Otis, who launched and then nurtured the careers of many of R&B's greatest singers, died Tuesday at his home near Los Angeles. He was 90.

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Movie Interviews
10:11 am
Fri January 20, 2012

Brad Pitt: On Life, Movies And 'Moneyball'

Brad Pitt, left, plays Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland A's, in the movie Moneyball. His assistant Peter Brand is played by Jonah Hill.
Melinda Sue Gordon Sony Pictures

Originally published on Fri January 20, 2012 10:16 am

This interview was originally broadcast on September 22, 2011.

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Planet Money
9:55 am
Fri January 20, 2012

The Secret Document That Transformed China

Yen Jingchang was one of the signers of the secret document.
Jacob Goldstein NPR

Originally published on Fri January 20, 2012 7:03 pm

In 1978, the farmers in a small Chinese village called Xiaogang gathered in a mud hut to sign a secret contract. They thought it might get them executed. Instead, it wound up transforming China's economy in ways that are still reverberating today.

The contract was so risky — and such a big deal — because it was created at the height of communism in China. Everyone worked on the village's collective farm; there was no personal property.

"Back then, even one straw belonged to the group," says Yen Jingchang, who was a farmer in Xiaogang in 1978. "No one owned anything."

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Remembrances
9:54 am
Fri January 20, 2012

Etta James: The 1994 Fresh Air Interview

Etta James onstage at the 2009 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
Rick Diamond Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 27, 2012 8:54 am

Etta James, the legendary vocalist who is perhaps best known for her version of the song "At Last," has died. She was 73.

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