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NPR's All Things Considered paints the bigger picture with reports on the day's news, analysis of world events, and thoughtful commentary.  A perfect mix of local and national news and persons of note to get you through the afternoon.

If you miss the "Live & Local" interview, you can find them all archived here: https://www.kios.org/topic/live-local

Putting On Heirs: 3 Rich And Snooty Reads

Jan 23, 2012

Surely I am not the only one who has harbored secret dreams of being an heiress — not the nouveau riche kind with a reality television crew trailing behind me, but the sort with a full staff, gobs of silver and afternoons spent on the hunt. Though I've come around to my untitled American life, I still adore reading books about drafty old houses and the privileged people who inhabit them.

Humans are complicated genetic jigsaw puzzles. Hundreds of genes are involved in determining something as basic as height.

But man's best friend is a different story. New research shows that almost every physical trait in dogs — from a dachshund's stumpy legs to a shar-pei's wrinkles — is controlled by just a few genes.

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For his directorial debut, actor Ralph Fiennes brings William Shakespeare's work to the big screen with a modern adaptation of Coriolanus. Fiennes also stars as the eponymous Roman general, a role he played on the stage 11 years ago.

The original play, Fiennes tells weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz, is complex.

"I had this feeling that if you were to clear away a lot of the denser passages, and shorten it and edit it, you are left actually with a very visceral, sinewy political thriller," Fiennes says.

Week In News: The Salvo Against SOPA

Jan 21, 2012

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It's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz.

JAY CARNEY: We need to do something about online piracy by foreign websites.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Stop SOPA. Pass on PIPA.

Super Bowl XLVI: Who Will It Be?

Jan 21, 2012

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It's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE HOUSE I LIVE IN")

When the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI shut down the web site Megaupload yesterday, there were many responses, from outrage to confusion to applause, and nearly as many questions. One that stood out was simple: If Megaupload provides a service that can be used for legal pursuits, are they legally responsible for the users who use it to illegally share copyrighted material?

The album Little Spark evokes a sound you might have heard 40 years ago, piercing through the static of your AM radio. The big string sections and angelic choruses are all there, echoing the hallmarks of classic orchestral pop. But Little Spark is the work of a modern singer-songwriter named Jessie Baylin.

If you're seriously into reading, chances are, if you're not a nerd, then you've at least got some nerdy DNA somewhere in your intellectual genome. I know I do. But as a reader I sometimes feel like I'm being asked to identify with a hero who isn't nearly geeky enough — a hero with uncorrected vision and excellent orthodontics and really good hair. Sure, he's nice, but I doubt I would have wanted to sit at his table in the cafeteria in high school.

In a presidential election that most expect will be all about the economy, South Carolina is a state where economic issues are front and center. The state's unemployment rate is 9.9 percent, well above the national rate. But even that number is deceptive. There are pockets around the state where the conditions are much more severe. In Lancaster County, for example, the rate is above 12 percent.

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In 1978, the farmers in a small Chinese village called Xiaogang gathered in a mud hut to sign a secret contract. They thought it might get them executed. Instead, it wound up transforming China's economy in ways that are still reverberating today.

The contract was so risky — and such a big deal — because it was created at the height of communism in China. Everyone worked on the village's collective farm; there was no personal property.

"Back then, even one straw belonged to the group," says Yen Jingchang, who was a farmer in Xiaogang in 1978. "No one owned anything."

Whenever the late New York Times caricaturist Al Hirschfeld sketched Carol Channing — whether picturing her as an indomitable Dolly Levi, swathed in feathers and sequins, or as carbon-crazed Lorelei Lee, eyes sparkling like the diamonds that were that splendid creature's best friends — he always made her appear a creature composed entirely of lipstick, mascara and hairspray.

Rhoda Janzen is the author of Mennonite in a Little Black Dress.

Recently, my friend Peggy and I decided to make a jaunt from my house in southwestern Michigan across the state to Detroit. We took her car. At day's end, we pulled into my remote driveway on Lake Allegan. It was then I realized that I didn't have my keys. They were, in fact, hanging in the little key box in my laundry room.

Oh no.

I had no way of getting into my home.

Remember that movie Sarah's Key? Did you miss it? It was last year's highest grossing foreign-language film, but it made less than eight million dollars. The fact is that selling foreign language films to U.S. audiences is a notorious challenge. Nevertheless, Fox, one of the world's most powerful media conglomerates, is beefing up its investment in foreign films.

Johnny Otis was many things over his career, including a bandleader, producer, radio and TV host and composer. Additionally, Otis launched the careers of many of R&B's finest singers. Otis died on Tuesday at his home near Los Angeles. He was 90 years old.

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Kathleen Edwards is a singer-songwriter from Canada who just released her fourth album, Voyageur. There's a lot of heartache and self-doubt on the record, and that makes sense — much of it was written around the time of Edwards' divorce from her husband and musical collaborator. The song "Pink Champagne" would seem to be a case in point: It takes place at a wedding where a young bride is second-guessing her decision. But Edwards says the message of that song isn't quite so literal.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich is most in his element when he's fighting against social injustice.

Wherever he sees an outrage against the little guy, you'll find the Ohio Democrat railing against it — like at a recent public meeting about a new trash-to-energy facility Cleveland wants to install in a west side neighborhood.

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It's time for your Letters and first, this correction.

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Keystone Proposal Rejected On Technicality

Jan 18, 2012

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There are a lot of photo apps out there for the iPhone. With most of them, you take a picture, put a filter on it and maybe add some lens blur. But many of them don't have a built-in way for you to share the photo.

"When we combined those two key ingredients, we came up with something that became Instagram," says Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom, who is also one if its founders.

I found The Twin, by Gerbrand Bakker, sitting on a coffee table at a writers' colony in 2009. It carried praise from J.M. Coetzee for its "restrained tenderness and laconic humor," which seemed ample justification for using it to avoid my own writing.

I finished it, weeping, a day later, and have been puzzling over its powerful hold on me ever since. I've recommended it again and again, and while I can't say it's entirely undiscovered — it won the 2010 IMPAC Dublin Award — no one I know ever seems to have heard of it.

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