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National Security
3:07 am
Mon October 8, 2012

Predicting The Future: Fantasy Or A Good Algorithm?

Originally published on Mon October 8, 2012 11:47 am

After failing to predict the Arab Spring, intelligence officials are now exploring whether Big Data, the combing of billions of pieces of disparate electronic information, can help them identify hot spots before they explode. The intelligence community has always been in the business of forecasting the future. The question is whether tapping into publicly available data — Twitter and news feeds and blogs among other things — can help them do that faster and more precisely.

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World
3:07 am
Mon October 8, 2012

Piecing Together 'The World's Largest Jigsaw Puzzle'

Roland Jahn, a former East German dissident, is now Germany's federal commissioner of the Stasi archives. His agency is painstakingly piecing together the shredded documents of the former East German secret police. Jahn is shown here in March 2011 at a former Stasi prison at Berlin-Hohenschoenhausen.
Johannes Eisele AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon October 8, 2012 4:35 am

When the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, East Germany's secret police, the Stasi, frantically tore up millions of files gathered during decades of spying on its own citizens.

More than two decades later, the vast array of secret papers collected by the Stasi is still in huge demand. So far this year, 70,000 people have applied for access to the Stasi archives.

Many are young Germans — some searching for information about relatives, others just eager to know more about their country's past.

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Shots - Health Blog
3:06 am
Mon October 8, 2012

When Should Seniors Hang Up The Car Keys?

More elderly drivers will hit the road in the next decade, but family members wonder: When is it time for elderly loved ones to move to the passenger seat?
Martin Novak iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon October 8, 2012 4:35 am

With a growing population of baby boomers, officials are bracing for a surge in senior drivers. Statistics tell us that accidents increase after the age of 65, and fatal accidents are more likely after the age of 75.

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Music Interviews
2:03 am
Mon October 8, 2012

Kenny Rogers: 'I Take Great Pride In Not Writing Hits'

Kenny Rogers performs at the Stagecoach Country Music Festival in Indio, Calif., earlier this year.
Robyn Beck AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon October 8, 2012 4:35 am

In the mid-1970s, a man approached singer Kenny Rogers after a performance in the lounge at the Las Vegas Hilton. The mysterious stranger simply said, "Hey, man, I really like your music." Rogers learned later that the fan at the dressing-room door had been Elvis Presley.

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Presidential Race
7:44 pm
Sun October 7, 2012

Presidential Politics: Does Likeability Matter?

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign event in St. Petersburg, Fla. Slate Magazine's John Dickerson says likeability doesn't matter as much in a presidential campaign as you might think.
Jewel Samad AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue October 9, 2012 7:32 am

William Lowndes was a congressman from South Carolina who served in the early part of the 19th century. He was once asked to describe who should serve as chief executive.

"The presidency is not an office to be either solicited or declined," he said.

In 1876, Rutherford B. Hayes didn't even vote for himself. He saw it as unseemly. And in 1916, Woodrow Wilson called campaigning "a great interruption to the rational consideration of public questions."

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Games & Humor
7:34 pm
Sun October 7, 2012

Three-Minute Fiction: 'No Down Time'

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Sun October 7, 2012 8:11 pm

Round 9 of Three-Minute Fiction. The new judge this round is thriller writer Brad Meltzer. And the new challenge this round, participants had to write a story in 600 words or less that revolved around a U.S. President--fictional or real. Nearly 4,000 storied were submitted. Host Guy Raz presents one of the favorites selected by our readers, "No Down Time" by Fiona Von Siemens of Los Angeles, Calif. You can read the full stories below along with other stories at www.npr.org/threeminutefiction.

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Music Interviews
7:34 pm
Sun October 7, 2012

Anat Cohen Bends The Spectrum On 'Claroscuro'

Anat Cohen's new album, her sixth as a bandleader, is called Claroscuro.
Jimmy Katz

Originally published on Tue October 9, 2012 10:57 am

Born in Tel Aviv, Anat Cohen came to New York two decades ago to study the masters of jazz. In so doing, the clarinetist and saxophonist started a bit of a stampede: Today, Israel is exporting some of the most vital jazz out there.

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World
4:51 pm
Sun October 7, 2012

Cricket Star Imran Khan Leads Anti-Drone March Into Volatile Pakistan Region

Originally published on Sun October 7, 2012 7:43 pm

Transcript

GUY RAZ, HOST:

We turn now to Pakistan where a big motor convoy has been snaking across the map. It was led by Imran Khan, a former cricket star who is now a top politician. Khan and his supporters set out yesterday from the capital Islamabad and headed for South Waziristan in the tribal belt bordering Afghanistan. The plan was to hold a demonstration there against U.S. drones. But as NPR's Philip Reeves reports, it didn't work out that way.

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Latin America
4:51 pm
Sun October 7, 2012

Venezuela Election Critical Test For Divided Nation And President Chavez

Originally published on Sun October 7, 2012 7:43 pm

Transcript

GUY RAZ, HOST:

It's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz.

Thousands of Venezuelans turned out to vote today in a presidential election that pits longtime leader Hugo Chavez against a younger, more moderate rival in Enrique Capriles. Chavez, the fiery left-wing leader, has irritated Washington with his anti-American rhetoric, but he's also won support among many poor Venezuelans for his social programs.

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Science
4:14 pm
Sun October 7, 2012

New Dinosaur Was A Small, Fanged Vegetarian

Pegomastax africanus stood less than two feet tall and sported sharp fangs and a beak.
Todd Marshall

Originally published on Sun October 7, 2012 11:10 pm

A small, fanged dinosaur called Pegomastax africanus was identified this week, more than half a century after its skeleton was dug up in South Africa. The dinosaur looked like a fierce cross between a chicken and a porcupine, and had long fangs which it used to eat plants and compete for mates. Pegomastax was a diminutive beast, standing less than two feet tall and weighing no more than a small house cat.

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Movies I've Seen A Million Times
2:52 pm
Sun October 7, 2012

The Movie Queen Latifah Has 'Seen A Million Times'

Sally Field and Julia Roberts in Steel Magnolias.
The Kobal Collection

Originally published on Sun October 7, 2012 10:21 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.

For actress Queen Latifah, whose credits include Living Out Loud, Chicago, Beauty Shop and the new Lifetime TV remake of Steel Magnolias, the movie she could watch a million times is 1989's Steel Magnolias.

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Author Interviews
2:38 pm
Sun October 7, 2012

The Wild Adventure Continues In 'Under Wildwood'

Precocious seventh grader Prue McKeel looks over a City of Moles under siege in a scene from Under Wildwood.
Carson Ellis Balzer & Bray

Originally published on Tue October 9, 2012 2:04 pm

Colin Meloy is best known as the front man for the band the Decemberists. His music is praised for its lyrical quality and the stories the songs tell, so it may not be a surprise to learn Meloy is also a writer.

His newest book is a collaboration with his wife, illustrator Carson Ellis. The book is intended for young readers, the second in a series called Wildwood Chronicles.

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Music Interviews
2:36 pm
Sun October 7, 2012

Anat Cohen Bends The Spectrum On 'Claroscuro'

Anat Cohen's new album, her sixth as a bandleader, is called Claroscuro.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sun October 7, 2012 4:58 pm

Born in Tel Aviv, Anat Cohen came to New York two decades ago to study the masters of jazz. In so doing, the clarinetist and saxophonist started a bit of a stampede: Today, Israel is exporting some of the most vital jazz out there.

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World
2:22 pm
Sun October 7, 2012

Stateless And Stranded On American Samoa

Mikhail Sebastian lived in Los Angeles before his fateful trip to American Samoa.
Courtesy Mikhail Sebastian

Originally published on Sun October 14, 2012 10:14 am

For many of us, no matter where we go, we'll always have a home. We'll always be from somewhere. But what if that somewhere no longer existed?

That is the strange position in which Mikhail Sebastian finds himself. Officially, he is from nowhere and has nowhere to go. The 39-year-old is stateless and stranded on American Samoa, a U.S. territory in the South Pacific.

Sebastian is an ethnic Armenian born in what is now Azerbaijan, but back then was part of the Soviet Union. When war broke out in the late 1980s, Sebastian says his aunt was stoned to death and he fled.

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It's All Politics
12:34 pm
Sun October 7, 2012

What If They Held A Debate And Nobody Won?

President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney greet one another before Wednesday's debate in Denver.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Sun October 7, 2012 2:06 pm

For most people reacting to last week's presidential debate, their first thought was probably not about who made the best arguments or told the most truths. Rather it was likely deciding who won.

The answer this time around was unusually definitive: Mitt Romney, by virtually every account and measure.

But in presidential debates — and the vice presidential version, which takes place on Thursday — does there need to be a winner?

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Shots - Health Blog
11:22 am
Sun October 7, 2012

Spinal Surgery Company To Give Tissue Proceeds To Charity

The maker of a new product for spine surgeons wants to make a splash by donating proceeds to two charities.
Spinal Elements

When a California company developed a product to be used in spinal fusion surgeries, the firm's president said he knew it faced a new "ethical dilemma," even noting a recent NPR news investigation questioning the high profits some firms were making from donated human tissue.

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The Two-Way
6:50 am
Sun October 7, 2012

The U.N.'s 'Superhero Man': A Rocking Tribute To A Humanitarian

A Norwegian comedy duo managed something rare: to get concert goers cheering for a U.N. official.
YouTube.com

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Environment
6:10 am
Sun October 7, 2012

Restore California Delta! To What, Exactly?

Wetlands are returning naturally at Liberty Island in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in California. The state plans to restore more than 100,000 acres of habitat in the area.
Lauren Sommer for NPR

Originally published on Tue October 9, 2012 1:24 pm

In California, state officials are planning a multibillion-dollar environmental restoration of the inland delta near San Francisco Bay. There's only one problem: No one knows what the landscape used to look like. Ninety-seven percent of the original wetlands are gone, so the state is turning to historians for help.

This detective story begins on a sunny day in a dry field of corn, about an hour east of San Francisco.

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Solve This
6:06 am
Sun October 7, 2012

Afghanistan Deadline Awaits Next U.S. President

Afghan children run to school on Sept. 24. Whoever takes over as the next U.S. president will have to determine how many troops will remain after the December 2014 deadline to help with long-term security.
Jeff Pachoud AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue October 9, 2012 1:24 pm

How does a president bring the war in Afghanistan to an end? There are 68,000 American troops serving in the country as the war enters its 12th year.

The war hasn't been a major issue in the presidential campaign, and polls show American voters are tiring of the war. But the next commander in chief will find the Afghan war among the most difficult of many foreign policy challenges.

Both President Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney appear to agree on a date: the last day of December 2014. That's when the Afghan security forces are scheduled to takeover.

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It's All Politics
6:06 am
Sun October 7, 2012

Massachusetts Senate Race Gives New Meaning To Gender Politics

Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown (left) answers a question during a debate against Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren on Monday at the University of Massachusetts in Lowell, Mass.
Matt Stone AP

Originally published on Tue October 9, 2012 1:24 pm

Despite its liberal reputation, the home of Jack Kennedy and Tip O'Neill has never elected a woman as governor or senator. And in Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown's tight re-election race with Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren, gender could prove the difference.

When Brown won his Senate seat in a special election in 2010, he came away unscathed by something his female opponent at the time would have had a much harder time explaining away. He posed nude for Cosmopolitan when he was 22 to help pay for law school.

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