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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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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

Jonathan Cott is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone.

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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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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Syria's war has thrown ordinary citizens into situations they never could have imagined and changed them in ways they never would have dreamed. It's turned carpenters, engineers and doctors into armed rebels. And in Aleppo, it has turned a young female teacher into a war photographer.

We first met Nour Kelze back in October, on our first trip to Aleppo. We asked her to work with us as an interpreter. She agreed but said she also would be shooting pictures.

Kelze, 25, had been teaching English and only recently became a war photographer.

People around the world want the same thing from their doctors. First, do no harm. Second, take a look at this weird bump and tell me if I should get worried.

The job is basically the same in many countries around the world. But the pay is wildly different. The median salary for U.S. doctors is about $250,000 a year. In Western Europe, it's less than half that. In developing countries, the salaries are even lower.

In 1988, Chile's brutal military dictator, Augusto Pinochet, was facing international pressure to legitimize his regime. Confident that the opposition was splintered, and that state-run media could control the political dialogue, his administration agreed to a simple yes-or-no vote on extending his rule.

It was a vote that even Pinochet's opponents expected to go his way — but it didn't, for reasons made both compelling and instructive in Pablo Larrain's rousing Oscar-nominated drama, No.

Senate Democrats offered an alternative Thursday to the sequester, the automatic, across-the-board spending cuts set to hit March 1.

Despite dire warnings in congressional hearings this week, many on Capitol Hill seem resigned to the sequester.

The operator of Florida's Crystal River nuclear plant sent shockwaves through the state when it announced recently that it was shutting down the facility for good.

When nuclear plants have closed elsewhere, locals have cheered. But in Citrus County, it's been more like a death in the family.

At Fat Boy's Bar-B-Q restaurant in Crystal River, owner Bubba Keller says he's worried about what's going to happen to the community. "I mean, things are already tough," Keller says. "If this makes it worse, don't know if I can hang in there."

The massively popular Nigerian film industry known as Nollywood started humbly about 20 years ago. Nollywood movies were shot as cheaply and as quickly as possible, then released straight to VHS.

Nollywood caught on globally, and piracy was a major factor in the industry's growth, as copies of copies of Nollywood tapes sold on street corners from Lagos to Harlem. In the early 2000s, Nollywood distribution shifted from VHS to discs — and now, the movies are also beginning to stream online.

There are roughly half a million people behind bars for nonviolent drug crimes in America. But no one really knows how many people have been sentenced to long prison bids since the laws known as Rockefeller drug laws first passed 40 years ago.

What's clear is that tough sentencing laws, even for low-level drug dealers and addicts, shaped a generation of young men, especially black and Hispanic men.

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