All Things Considered
The upcoming sequel to the 2004 film has been running a veritable marketing blitz between viral videos, car commercials and even an in-character appearance by star Will Ferrell on a local newscast.
Can non-belief in God become a belief system itself? NPR's John Burnett has the story of the Texas indie band Quiet Company, who made a splash with a surprisingly positive album about frontman Taylor Muse's crisis of faith.
From his childhood as a herd boy, Nelson Mandela went on to lead the African National Congress' struggle against South Africa's racially oppressive apartheid regime. For his efforts, he spent 27 years behind bars as a political prisoner. In 1994, he became his country's first elected black leader. Mandela died on Thursday. He was 95.
Multi-music hyphenate Pharrell Williams hit it big earlier this year with the song, "Blurred Lines," which he co-wrote. Now Williams has blurred the lines of what makes a music video. The 24-hour-long music video for his new single, "Happy," has people dancing and lip-synching down Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles as the song loops over and over. Mimi Valdes, Williams' creative director, was on set for every day of the 11-day shoot, and she tells Robert Siegel and Melissa Block about the process.
Amid growing fears of a potential genocide, the U.N. has approved military intervention in the former French colony. Muslim fighters staged a coup in March in the majority Christian nation. The fighting has displaced an estimated 400,000 people.
Railroads are increasingly becoming the preferred means of shipping the masses of oil being produced in North Dakota and surrounding states. The railroad industry is eager to fill in for the lack of pipeline capacity. But some say the train growth needs to slow down.
Actor Oscar Isaac disappears into the title role of the new Coen brothers film, Inside Llewyn Davis, a black comedy about a '60s folk singer who just can't make it, no matter what he does. He speaks with NPR's Melissa Block about playing the less-than-likable character.
Every year, as a gift to the American people, the Norwegian Embassy decorates the Christmas tree at Washington, D.C.'s Union Station. This year's tree is decorated with 700 reflective ornaments featuring the man from the painting The Scream by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch. This month marks the 150th anniversary of Munch's birth.
In a new poll, parents complain that their children are not getting nearly enough time for a basic school ritual: eating lunch. And that's worrying parents and administrators, given that about one-third of American kids are overweight or obese.
Colorado ski resorts are ramping up efforts to draw skiers from emerging markets like China. About 12 percent of skier visits to the state's ski areas come from overseas. And, with China's growing middle class, Colorado resorts are looking to profit. At one resort, employees are decked in headsets, learning Mandarin Chinese in an effort to improve customer service.
Robert Siegel talks with Peter Wallsten of The Washington Post about the story of Alan Gross, a USAID contractor held in a Cuban prison for the last four years. Gross had been working on a covert project installing internet in a Jewish community in Cuba.
Nigerian authorities have increased security patrols around the northeastern city of Maiduguri after Islamist militants attacked military bases there. The unrest comes after Nigerian troops reportedly had pushed the militants, Boko Haram, out of the the city. This comes as the U.S. undersecretary for Africa is in Nigeria to discuss security concerns, and Nigeria's president is attending a security conference in Europe.
Dozens of whales are stranded in shallow waters of the Everglades National Park.
The labor advocacy organization Committee for Better Banks just released a report that looks at the low, low wages that bank tellers and customer service reps receive, and how that is costing the public money. For more on the report, Robert Siegel speaks with Brigid Flaherty, organizing director of the Alliance for a Greater New York, one of the coalition members of the committee.
After two months in a defensive crouch over the botched roll out of his signature health care law, President Obama turned to another topic Wednesday that has preoccupied his administration: the income gap. It has grown wider during Obama's tenure as the country has emerged from the Great Recession. Reversing that trend is a priority for Obama's final three years in office.
Brown tree snakes are causing a problem in Guam. And now, efforts being used to reduce the brown tree snake population by using dead mice, a common pain killer and aerial drops. Robert Siegel speaks with Dan Vice, a wildlife biologist with the USDA, for more on this process.
The World Cup draw happens Friday in Brazil, but the host nation faces a number of challenges before the games start next year. The World Cup body FIFA says three stadia will not be ready by the year-end deadline, a Sao Paulo prosecutor has opened an investigation into possible FIFA racism, and Brazil is facing security concerns in Rio de Janeiro.
The deadline for Syria to be cleared of its chemical weapons stockpiles is fast approaching, and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which is in charge of destroying the arsenal, is laying out a plan to get the weapons out of the country so they can be neutralized on ships. Melissa Block talks with Julian Borger, The Guardian's diplomatic editor, about the plan, which he's called a "delicate and unprecedented operation."
Banks have granted tens of billions of dollars in mortgage relief through settlements, the latest being JPMorgan Chase, which agreed to provide an additional $4 billion for troubled homeowners. But housing counselors around the country say that not enough has changed, and that the settlements, while a good template, aren't what is making a difference in communities hard-hit by foreclosure.
The First Amendment loomed large at the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, as the justices considered a case testing the rights of protesters in public areas that are part of large military installations. But the justices seemed more comfortable focusing on property easement issues than big constitutional questions.