All Things Considered

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In-depth reporting has transformed the way listeners understand current events and view the world. Every weekday, hear two hours of breaking news mixed with compelling analysis, insightful commentaries, interviews, and special - sometimes quirky - features.

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The first big race of the NASCAR season is on Sunday, and Brad Keselowski, the sport's brash, young champion, will begin defending his title.

It's looking increasingly likely that $85 billion of automatic federal budget cuts known as a sequester will come to pass if Congress doesn't act by March 1.

If you've been behind the wheel recently, you already know gasoline prices are up.

The national average price for regular gas rose to nearly $3.75 a gallon Tuesday, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report.

"Retail prices have gone up for each of the last 33 or so days — dating back to about Jan. 17," says Denton Cinquegrana, executive editor at the Oil Price Information Service.

There's an underground bunker at a radio station in Charlotte, N.C., where time has stopped. Built decades ago to provide safety and vital communications in the event of a nuclear attack, it's now a perfectly preserved relic of Cold War fear that's gained new relevance.

The secret bunker is part of the office lore that old-timers at WBT Radio whisper to the newbies. That's how radio host Mike Collins learned of it back in the 1980s.

Developers in Pakistan will soon break ground on a new amusement park and outdoor activity center, a private, $30 million project billed as a state-of-the-art facility that will bring jobs to a hard-hit area.

But there's one issue that's raising some eyebrows: the site is in Abbottabad, not far from the place where Osama Bin Laden secretly lived until American forces killed him.

This does not trouble Sheikh Kaleemuddin, the project director, who is effusive about the picturesque spot where he plans to build.

U.S. Army Spc. Tyler Jeffries spent most of last year in Afghanistan, on dusty, hot patrols in the villages outside Kandahar. Last fall, on Oct. 6, his tour ended three months early.

"I was clearing an area and I had the metal detector. Then we had word that there was two guys coming toward our position," Jeffries recalled later that month.

"Buying a car sucks," Scott Painter says. "It's something that most consumers fear."

Back in the '90s, Painter started a company to try to change this. "The name of the company was Cars Direct," he says. "The mission was to sell cars directly."

Painter wanted his company to build virtual dealerships that would let people go online and buy cars. But after talking with a few car execs, he realized nobody would even consider his idea.

A new surge of Syrian refugees is swamping humanitarian aid agencies in southern Turkey, where official refugee camps are full.

But the newcomers may be just the tip of the iceberg. In central Syria, civilians under attack by combat jets, tanks and artillery have fled towns and villages north of the city of Hama, and thousands are on the move.

"What they do now, they burn everything ahead of them. They bomb this area with everything they've got," says Hossan Hamadah, a Syrian-American from Texas.

If you usually wait until April to file your taxes, you might want to hurry up — before identity thieves beat you to it. Using stolen names and Social Security numbers, these criminals file fake tax returns with false wage and withholding information. This generates big — and fraudulent — refunds, before the real taxpayer gets around to filing.

The Internal Revenue Service says it's busy working to combat what prosecutors call a fraud epidemic.

Most taxpayers don't have any idea something is wrong until they hit the send button on their taxes and get an error message.

Quvenzhane Wallis was just 5 years old when she auditioned for a role in the Oscar-nominated film Beasts of the Southern Wild, and 6 when she shot the movie. Now, at age 9, she is the youngest ever to receive a best actress Oscar nomination.

In the film, Quvenzhane plays a wild child named Hushpuppy, who lives with her sick father in a ramshackle, isolated community called the Bathtub, on the fringes of the Louisiana coast.

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Three years of spiraling economic crisis in Greece have devastated every sector of the economy. The Greek media are among the hardest hit. Many newspapers and TV outlets have closed or are on the verge, and some 4,000 journalists have lost their jobs.

Many people believe the country's news media have failed to cover the crisis — and lost credibility along the way. And many Greek journalists acknowledge that a massive conflict of interest sooner or later had to explode.

When Superstorm Sandy crashed ashore in October, thousands of residents of nursing homes, assisted living centers and adult homes evacuated to various facilities, many of them overcrowded and ill-prepared for the influx.

The evacuees have slowly trickled back to those homes that can be repaired.

One group recently returned to an adult home for the mentally ill and physically disabled in Queens, but many residents weren't happy with what awaited them.

It used to be a truism among critics of British poetry that Keats and most of his fellow Romantic poets worked in the shadow of John Milton. I'm not making a perfect analogy when I suggest that most contemporary Japanese writers seem to be working under the shadow of Haruki Murakami, but I hope it highlights the spirit of the situation.

Happy Birthday To Income Taxes

Feb 17, 2013

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JACKI LYDEN, HOST:

Well, it may not be the happiest of anniversaries, but get out the candles anyway. This month marks the 100th anniversary of the American income tax.

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It's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden.

It sounds like something out of a spy movie: A new app called Silent Circle allows users to "burn" sensitive messages sent on their phones.

Jon Callas, one of the people who developed the app, says the idea is pretty simple.

"It's a timer. So you can say, one hour; seven minutes. Whatever," Callas tells Jacki Lyden, host of weekends on All Things Considered.

It's called a "burn notice." When the time's up, the text is erased from both the sender and receiver's phones.

Days With John And Yoko: A Writer Remembers

Feb 17, 2013

As the European editor of Rolling Stone, Jonathan Cott spent his time interviewing legendary musicians like Mick Jagger and Pete Townshend. But in 1968, he finally got the opportunity to meet his hero, John Lennon. Cott was nervous.

"He said, 'There's nothing to be nervous about,'" Cott recalls. "'It's going to be OK, and we're doing it together, and that's what really matters.'"

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.

Let's make this perfectly clear at the outset: I don't work for NPR, and what I'm about to say doesn't represent NPR. I'm but a lowly freelancer they're dumb enough to publish a bunch, and what I say now I say as me, which is to say:

1. An inveterate Superman nerd, and

2. A gay dude.

DC Comics has hired Orson Scott Card to write the first two issues of a new digital-first Superman comic. I won't be reading it.

Glen Weldon is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Monkey See.

Let's make this perfectly clear at the outset: I don't work for NPR, and what I'm about to say doesn't represent NPR. I'm but a lowly freelancer they're dumb enough to publish a bunch, and what I say now I say as me, which is to say:

1. An inveterate Superman nerd, and

2. A gay dude.

DC Comics has hired Orson Scott Card to write the first two issues of a new digital-first Superman comic. I won't be reading it.

This year is the bicentennial of Richard Wagner's birth. The man widely called the greatest living Wagnerian tenor is marking the occasion in style — and asking listeners who may have turned away from the German composer to give his music another chance.

From the steam engine to visions of a national high-speed rail system, railroads have made their mark on American culture.

In his first term, President Obama promised to create a national system of high-speed rail, though he was scarcely the first politician to have done so. The January 2010 stimulus bill allocated $8 billion for high-speed rail projects, but Congress rejected federal funding for it.

In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, the president reiterated the goal of having passenger rail rise again.

This summer on the South Side of Chicago, thousands are expected to gather for an outdoor festival sponsored by the Inner-City Muslim Action Network, or IMAN.

The festival, Takin' It to the Streets, attracts well-known musicians, like hip-hop artist Mos Def in 2010 and Chicago native Lupe Fiasco. The goal of the festival's organizers is to promote cooperation between the city's residents, regardless of their backgrounds.

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JACKI LYDEN, HOST:

It's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden.

In one of the eight stories in Karen Russell's new collection, a group of dead presidents has been reincarnated as horses. Rutherford B. Hayes, a skewbald pinto, frantically licks the palm of a girl in a secret code that he's worked out, revealing his true identity and asking her to alert the authorities. "Ha-ha!" the girl laughs. "That tickles."

I know, you're probably thinking: "Dead presidents reincarnated as horses? Oh, come on, Meg, that sounds like the plot of so many short stories."

When Superstorm Sandy hit Island Beach State Park — one of the last remnants of New Jersey's barrier island ecosystem — it flattened the dunes, pushing all that sand hundreds of feet inland.

Richard Kessinger loves to hit the gym. But some days he needs a little something to get him pumped up for his weightlifting routine.

"You might be a little bit sore. You might be tired. You might have had too many beers the day before," says Kessinger, 23, of Arlington, Va. "So you might start putting up a set and you get a few reps in and you're like, 'I'm not feeling this. I can't keep going.' "

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