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Fiona Apple: 'I Don't Really Have A Plan'

Jun 10, 2012

It's been seven years since Fiona Apple has released a new album. The singer-songwriter, who broke out in 1996 with Tidal, says the delay is a quirk of her creative process.

On Jan. 1, trillions of dollars in spending cuts and tax increases — called Taxmageddon — will take effect unless Congress and the White House can agree on a new plan. Many economists say the country will fall back into a recession if it happens. Former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin says Congress may actually be "forced to make a decision that affects taxes and spending."




Support for Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad, may be further deteriorating. That's after Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, said his country would be glad to see Assad step down if most Syrians agreed. Russia's been one of the Syrian regime's staunchest supporters.

In Syria itself, another night of gunfire and explosions, some of it in the capital, Damascus. NPR's Deborah Amos is there and with me now.

The Justice Department has launched an investigation to determine the source of a series of leaks about sensitive intelligence matters. President Obama denied his administration authorized the leaks, but some Senate Republicans accused the White House of deliberately leaking the stories in order to boost the president's national security credentials.

Steve Guttenberg Writes His Own 'Bible'

Jun 9, 2012

When Steve Guttenberg was 16, he went to see an agent about starting his acting career.

That agent told him: "You are the last guy I would pick to be a movie star."

Guttenberg decided to become an actor anyway.

The summer before he was supposed to start the University of Albany, he moved from Long Island to Los Angeles to try his luck. Once there, he tells weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz, he snuck onto the Paramount Studios lot, set up his own office, and started making phone calls to agents and producers.

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 actor Jared Harris, whose credits include The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, and AMC's TV drama Mad Men, the movie he can't get enough of is Sydney Pollack's Tootsie. "It's just so brilliant," says Harris.

"It's happened a few times, yes," Carly Rae Jepsen says. "And they usually think that they're the first person to do it."

NPR correspondent Deborah Amos joined U.N. monitors and a small group of journalists Friday who were able to enter the Syrian village of Mazraat al-Qubair, where 78 people, including women and children, were killed on Wednesday by pro-government forces, according to opposition activists.

Disastrous S.D. Flood Caused National Wake Up Call

Jun 8, 2012

Survivors say the wall of water was like a tsunami that destroyed nearly everything in its path as it roared through a Black Hills canyon and into town. The flash flood that hit Rapid City, S.D., on June 9, 1972, was one of the worst floods in U.S. history. It killed 238 people and damaged or washed away more than 1,300 homes.

On Saturday, the city will read the names of those who died and reflect on how the flood changed the way the city and others towns across the country built themselves.

'It Was Hell'

With recent news that even Paris has one, food trucks are certainly in vogue these days. In the U.S., they're now spreading from the hot scenes in Los Angeles and New York to smaller cities, like Milwaukee and Madison. Even school systems are jumping on the food truck bandwagon.

Second of two parts

Mexicans select a new president on July 1, and they want a leader who can reduce the rampant violence in their country. Warring drug cartels have killed more than 50,000 people in the past 5 1/2 years, while thousands have disappeared and some cities have been turned into lawless zones.

A bizarre event has drawn scientists to a beach in Oregon — a floating concrete dock from Japan has washed ashore. It had been ripped from its moorings by last year's tsunami and floated across the Pacific.

The dock is encrusted with mussels, barnacles and other marine life from Asia. Scientists are amazed these organisms survived the 14-month voyage, but they're also worried some of these organisms could become pests in U.S. waters.

Lizzie Skurnick writes the "That Should Be a Word" column for the New York Times Magazine.

England has always reveled in its drawing-room dramas, from Jane Austen's social minefields to E.M. Forster's Howards End to Upstairs, Downstairs — and yes, the blockbuster Downton Abbey.

Music Review: 'Can You Canoe'

Jun 7, 2012
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Federal election law has required the public disclosure of campaign donors for nearly 40 years.

But this year, outside groups are playing a powerful role in the presidential election. And some of them disclose nothing about their donors. That's despite what the Supreme Court said in its controversial Citizens United ruling two years ago.

The United States named its 19th poet laureate today: Natasha Trethewey, a professor of English and creative writing at Emory University in Atlanta. She is the nation's first poet laureate to hail from the South since the initial laureate — Robert Penn Warren — was named by the Library of Congress in 1986.

First of two parts

As Mexico approaches its election day on July 1, polls indicate the candidate for the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, is well ahead and appears likely to return his party to power.

The PRI governed Mexico for seven decades until 2000, when it was tossed out by an electorate tired of a corrupt political machine. Now, discontent with the current leadership and the rampant drug-related violence has created an opening for the PRI to come back. Still, some Mexicans are queasy about the prospect of the party's resurgence.

Damon Lindelof was a producer on the 2009 reboot of Star Trek, which seemed to win over loyal Trekkies. And this weekend Lindelof will earn the devotion — or wrath — of Alien fans. He helped write the screenplay for the new film Prometheus, an origin story for Ridley Scott's 1979 sci-fi classic.

The state of Idaho's Liquor Division has changed its mind about Five Wives vodka.

The vodka, which as we said last week had been banned from Idaho's liquor stores because its name and label might offend women and Mormons, is going to be allowed to be sold in the state.

The Philadelphia Orchestra has just wrapped up a 10-day visit to China, its seventh trip to the country over the past four decades.

But this trip was different.

The orchestra is preparing to come out of bankruptcy, and this tour was about its survival. It hopes to balance its books by building new audiences and new revenues in the world's second-largest economy.



New research out today indicates that a popular medical test may increase the risk for some forms of cancer. A large international study found that CAT scans, which are also known as CT scans, can increase the risk for leukemia and brain cancer in children.

NPR's Rob Stein joins us now to talk about the new findings. And, Rob, I understand the concerns about these scans have been building for a long time. So what's the specific source of worry here?

Republican Gov. Scott Walker triumphantly returned to the Wisconsin Capitol Wednesday, fresh off of his decisive victory in Tuesday's bitter recall election.

The governor appears to be emerging from the tough recall fight stronger, and with his national profile rising.

Spain's banks are struggling and the country's leaders are sending mixed signals about whether they can afford to rescue them, or whether they'll need to ask for outside help.

But one thing is clear: Spanish leaders are trying to avoid calling any potential rescue plan a bailout.

Spain's Economy Minister Luis de Guindos dismisses talk of a bailout for Spanish banks.

"We'll make whatever decisions we need in the future," De Guindos told reporters in Brussels. And that won't be for weeks, after audits of Spanish banks, he said.

The rest of the economy may not be doing great, but airlines are expecting a banner year. Profitability is up and fuel prices are declining, but that's not necessarily great news for consumers.

When Robert Herbst, a former pilot and industry consultant for many years, says the skies are blue, it sounds pretty convincing. And from Herbst's projections, this may be a historic year for the airline industry.