Nation/World

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Hello Kitty Joins The Space Race

Aug 20, 2014
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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, is under nighttime curfew as that country struggles to contain the Ebola epidemic. On Wednesday, an entire neighborhood in Monrovia was quarantined, sealed off from the rest of the city by the government. The neighborhood is called West Point and it's where a holding center for patients suspected of having Ebola was attacked over the weekend. Patients fled, and looters carried off bloody mattresses and other possibly infected supplies. The NPR team in Liberia visited West Point on Tuesday. We spoke to correspondent Nurith Aizenman about the experience.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

OK, the most important thing in the world is happening right now, that is if you're a Little League baseball player.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Malls Find New Ways To Draw Shoppers

Aug 20, 2014
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Kelly, you grew up in the '80s like I did. You went to the mall a lot, right?

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Yeah, what else are you going to do when you're 13?

Latest Cease-Fire In Gaza Collapses

Aug 20, 2014
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

And our Last Word in business today is Vodquila.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

What?

MCEVERS: Think about it. It's a hybrid. It's exactly what it sounds like.

GREENE: Is this, like, a mix of vodka and tequila?

The tense situation in Ferguson, Mo., following the shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown is another test for President Obama. He has struggled at times over how to navigate long-simmering tensions between police and the African-American community.

Obama says he understands the passions and the anger that have engulfed Ferguson over the past week and a half, but he has carefully avoided taking sides. His warnings against violent confrontation have been directed equally at the protesters and the police.

A Tale Of Two Polls

Aug 20, 2014

Two new polls this week attempt to quantify the public's feelings for the Common Core State Standards. The K-12 benchmarks in English and math were little known this time last year. But they've since become the subject of a high-profile political fight. Now a majority of the public opposes them.

Or do they?

Poll No. 1, out today, puts support for the Core at just 33 percent. But Poll No. 2, released yesterday, puts it at 53 percent. That's a big difference.

Which one is wrong? Or can they both, somehow, be right?

PDK/Gallup

Let's boldly confront the greatest mystery in all of sport: Why do hot dogs always taste better at the ballpark?

Baseball food has, of course, taken on a much greater variety since 1908, when "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" only celebrated peanuts and crackerjack. But it is another enduring mystery of sport why fans eat during a baseball game, while the preferred mode of cuisine for football is before the game, out in the parking lot — tailgating.

Mercedes Ricks may be the perfect candidate to help launch a new cultural push in Magnolia, Miss. The 50-year-old native of Colombia ended up in this tiny south Mississippi town by way of New Orleans nine years ago.

"I met these ladies from here," Ricks says after greeting guests in the barroom next to her Mariposa restaurant. "They invited me to come spend a weekend in Magnolia. We were going to go to the river and drink beer, and Katrina happened that weekend."

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, 58, has resigned from the company's board citing other time consuming commitments including his new ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers.

Tuesday's announcement closes a chapter in Ballmer's 34 years with the software giant. He remains the largest individual shareholder in the company.

Ballmer spent $2 billion of his roughly $20 billion fortune on the Clippers purchase, which a judge confirmed last week.

Attorney General Eric Holder has made a pledge to Ferguson, Mo., where 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer on Aug. 9.

"Our investigation into this matter will be full, it will be fair, and it will be independent," he wrote in an op-ed for the St. Louis Dispatch. He added, "Long after the events of Aug. 9 have receded from the headlines, the Justice Department will continue to stand with this community."

Torrential Rain Swamps Phoenix, Strands Drivers

Aug 19, 2014

Monsoonal rainfall caused massive flash flooding in Phoenix on Tuesday, turning roads into raging torrents and stranding residents and drivers.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry went to a courthouse to be booked after being indicted by an Austin grand jury on Friday for alleged abuse of power.

Christian Gregory On World Cafe

Aug 19, 2014

Christian Gregory is a British singer who immersed himself in the grooves and style of vintage soul and R&B. He and fellow enthusiast Michael Kiwanuka have even formed a label, Movement Records, to release the updated soul music they love. Turns out their first artist is Christian Gregory himself, with an EP called Count On You out on August 18. Recording the album live to tape, Gregory is definitely onto something, as you will hear.

Ebola In The Skies? How The Virus Made It To West Africa

Aug 19, 2014

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the most explosive in history. One reason the virus spread so fast is that West Africa was blindsided. Ebola had never erupted in people anywhere close to West Africa before.

The type of Ebola causing the outbreak — called Zaire — is the deadliest strain. Until this year, it had been seen only in Central Africa, about 2,500 miles away. That's about the distance between Boston and San Francisco.

So how did it spread across this giant swath of land without anybody noticing?

It is early August. A black man is shot by a white policeman. And the effect on the community is of "a lit match in a tin of gasoline."

No, this is not Ferguson, Mo. This was Harlem in August 1943, a period that James Baldwin writes about in the essay that gives its title to his seminal collection, Notes of a Native Son.

The story begins with the death of Baldwin's father, a proud, severe preacher who viewed all white people with suspicion, even the kindly schoolteacher who encouraged his son's writings.

St. Louis Metropolitan Police shot and killed a man about 4 miles from the suburb of Ferguson, where people have been rallying since the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer on Aug. 9.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

With the continuous uptick in the number of cases and deaths in the current Ebola outbreak, the few agencies that are on ground are stretched thin.

That includes Doctors Without Borders, also known as MSF. It's one of the main health care providers in West Africa, where there are more than 2,000 cases of Ebola and 1,200 deaths. Even with roughly 1,000 volunteers spread among the three Ebola-stricken countries, the agency says that still isn't enough.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Chaos and unrest overnight have kept the National Guard in the suburban town of Ferguson, Mo., for a second day, and the local school district has canceled classes for the week. After two nights of violent clashes this week, neighboring Jennings School District is out of class, too.

Most mornings, Sotiris Lymperopoulos walks the craggy shoreline of the western Peloponnese, foraging for salty wild greens.

In his straw hat and shorts, snipping wild chicory, garlic and sea asparagus with a kitchen knife, he hardly looks like a poster boy for Greece's nascent startup culture. But the 35-year-old Athenian, who trained as an economist, found a viable niche in the country's post-crisis economy.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

There's a strange form of communication we're all familiar with, for better or for worse. It's all about us, but we rarely get to read it.

It's the letter of recommendation.

A new novel by Julie Schumacher is filled with these letters, and nothing but. It's appropriately called Dear Committee Members.

All the letters come from the desk of our curmudgeonly narrator, creative writing professor Jason T. Fitger — who's got no problem telling it like it is when it comes to his students' qualifications, or their job prospects in the current economy.

Rachel Swinehart has commandeered her family's living room in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. It's filled with large plastic tubs containing stuff like pink bedding and a coffee maker.

Rachel, 18, is about to head off to Shenandoah College, a small arts school in Virginia, where she'll study harp performance. In many ways, organizing her stuff is the easy part. Talking about the risks of college life — that's a bit harder.

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