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Fresh Air Weekend
6:02 am
Sat January 11, 2014

Fresh Air Weekend: Emma Thompson, Gary Shteyngart, 'Babylon' And 'Detective'

In Saving Mr. Banks, Emma Thompson plays Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers, who, Thompson says, hated the whole idea of having her book made into a film.
Francois Duhamel Disney Enterprises

Originally published on Sat January 11, 2014 9:25 am

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors, and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

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Middle East
5:30 am
Sat January 11, 2014

Ariel Sharon, Whose Life And Career Shaped Israeli History, Dies

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon speaks during a news conference in his offices on Nov. 21, 2005, in Jerusalem. Sharon announced his split from his right-wing Likud party to form a new political party, Kadima. He was on the way to re-election in 2006 when he suffered a stroke and fell into a coma from which he never awoke.
David Silverman Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 9:09 am

Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, a towering figure in the history of Israel as a soldier and politician, died on Saturday. He was 85.

His death was announced by Shlomo Noy, the director of Sheba Medical Center where Sharon was being treated. Sharon had been in a coma since he suffered a massive stroke in January 2006 during the last Israeli election campaign, in which he was assured of re-election.

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The Two-Way
5:28 am
Sat January 11, 2014

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon Dies At 85

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2001.
Philippe Desmazes AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat January 11, 2014 11:21 am

Ariel Sharon, the former prime minister of Israel, has died, Shlomo Noy, the director of the Sheba Medical Center, where Sharon was being treated, said during a televised press conference.

The AP reports that during earlier statements, Sharon's son Gilad Sharon said, "He has gone. He went when he decided to go."

Haaretz reports that Sharon died Saturday after spending eight years in a coma.

He was 85.

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Architecture
2:25 am
Sat January 11, 2014

Historic House Is Yours Free, But There's A Catch

Architects at Paolasquare International are giving away this historic house in Arlington, Va. for free.
Sarah L. Voisin The Washington Post/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat January 11, 2014 9:53 am

This little house is looking for a home.

In the past five years, 600 single-family homes have been demolished in Arlington, Va., many to make way for larger houses, according to a preservation group. One architectural firm is so determined to save one 1920s Sears kit house from demolition, it's giving the house away for free. But there's a catch: the buyer would need to pay to move it to a new location.

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It's All Politics
4:27 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Will Bad Jobless Data Spur Action On Unemployment Insurance?

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., cited the bad December jobless numbers as a reason Congress should extend federal unemployment insurance.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Just as the Senate seemed to descend into another round of partisan gridlock, this time over extending emergency jobless benefits, the arrival of a surprisingly weak December jobs report raised the pressure on Congress to act.

The question is whether news that the economy created a mere 74,000 jobs last month — far fewer than the 200,000 forecasters predicted — delivered enough of a jolt to Capitol Hill, where what seemed like bipartisan progress on the issue early in the week had reverted to partisan nastiness.

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Environment
4:19 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

The Upside Of The Bitter Cold: It Kills Bugs That Kill Trees

Tom Tiddens, supervisor of plant health care at the Chicago Botanic Garden, displays bark with beetle larvae.
David Schaper NPR

While many of us may prefer to never again see temperatures drop below zero like they did earlier this week across the country, the deep freeze is putting warm smiles on the faces of many entomologists.

That's because it may have been cold enough in some areas to freeze and kill some damaging invasive species of insects, including the tree-killing emerald ash borer.

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Planet Money
3:35 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

How A Community Bank Tripped On Footnote 1,861 Of The Volcker Rule

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 9:05 am

When people talk about the Volcker Rule, they often mention JPMorgan Chase, the giant bank where a trader recently made a bad bet that lost $6 billion. The Volcker Rule is supposed to put an end to that sort of thing, by prohibiting banks from trading with their own money.

But some banks that are very, very different from JPMorgan Chase are struggling with an obscure provision in the rule. Specifically, footnote 1,861, which bars banks from investing in something called trust-preferred securities — a rather obscure investment favored by lots of small, community banks invest

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The Two-Way
3:28 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

N.J. Bridge Scandal: New Emails And Documents Are Released

Newly released documents depict officials discussing the controversial September closure of several lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge from Fort Lee, N.J. Here, the New Jersey side of the bridge, which leads to New York City, is seen Thursday.
Andrew Burton Getty Images

A New Jersey State Assembly committee released a trove of documents Friday that shed more light on the bridge lane-closure scandal that is embroiling Republican Gov. Chris Christie's administration. The panel is seeking details on what's seen as an act of political retribution, which targeted the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, N.J. It obtained the documents under a subpoena.

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This Week's Must Read
3:27 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

As Zamata Joins 'SNL,' A Look At — And Beyond — The Prism Of Race

iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 4:19 pm

This week the long-running comedy show Saturday Night Live hired Sasheer Zamata as a new cast member. The show had come under criticism for its lack of diversity, especially its lack of black women; Zamata will be the show's first female African-American cast member in six years.

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The Salt
2:02 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

American Beer Fans, Praise The Heavens: A Trappist Brewery In U.S.

Spencer Trappist Ale, made by the first official Trappist brewery outside Europe, will go on sale next week in Massachusetts.
Nick Hiller The Spencer Brewery

Originally published on Mon January 13, 2014 1:27 pm

The town of Spencer, in central Massachusetts, isn't well known for ... well, anything, really. But it's about to become internationally famous — at least in beer-drinking circles.

Spencer is home to St. Joseph's Abbey, where robed monks are busy brewing the first American Trappist beer. If all goes as planned, Spencer Trappist Ale will be available in Massachusetts retail stores by the middle of next week.

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U.S.
2:01 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Marijuana 'Hash Oil' Explodes In Popularity, And Kitchens

Jim Andersen displays butane hash oil at a marijuana growing facility in Seattle in April 2013. The state's licensed producers will be required to use professional-grade equipment when making the extracts.
Elaine Thompson AP

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 4:19 pm

If you think the recent liberalization of marijuana laws around the country is only about smoking leaves and buds, think again. For users younger than 25, "hash oil" is where it's really at. This concentrated resin of marijuana is creating new public safety headaches — even in places where it's legal.

There have always been forms of the substance, but the resins available today are much stronger than in years past. That's due in part to the expertise developed by medical marijuana producers, who have learned how to make more potent versions of the oil.

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Sports
2:01 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

A Story Of The Boston Marathon Bombing, As Told On Skates

Ross Miner skates during the men's short program at the 2013 Skate Canada International last year. He hopes to qualify for the upcoming Winter Olympics.
Dave Sandford Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 4:48 pm

Ross Miner is among those competing for a spot on the U.S. Men's figure skating team Friday night in Boston. He is a hometown favorite who is bringing some local flavor to his performance — he's going to tell the story of last year's Boston Marathon bombing.

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The Two-Way
2:01 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Dying Stars Write Their Own Swan Songs

This composite image shows new details of the aftermath of a massive star that exploded and was visible from Earth over 1,000 years ago.
Chandra X-ray Observatory Center NASA

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 4:48 pm

Alicia Soderberg studies the death of stars. Often, these final moments come as violent explosions known as supernovae. They're spectacular events, but catching one as it unfolds can be tricky.

"You have to be in the right place at the right time, and often we're not," says the professor in Harvard's astronomy department. "So all you can do is do a stellar autopsy and go back and try to pick up the pieces and try to figure out what happened."

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Parallels
2:01 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

An Execution In North Korea Has A Chilling Effect In China

The Chinese and North Korean flags are seen attached to a railing as trucks carrying Chinese-made goods cross into North Korea on the Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge at the Chinese border town of Dandong on Dec. 18, 2013. Ties between the two longtime allies are strained after the execution of the North Korean official in charge of economic relations with China.
Mark Ralston AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 4:48 pm

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shocked the world last month when he accused his uncle and mentor of treason and had Jang Song Thaek executed.

The consequences of that purge are reaching beyond North Korea's border. Jang had been in charge of trade with China, and his death has had a chilling effect on ties with North Korea's neighbor and longtime ally.

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NPR Story
1:42 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Israeli Troubadour Uses Music To Bridge Divides

Israeli musician, David Broza, performs in the Here & Now studios. (Jesse Costa/Here & Now)

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 2:13 pm

Singer-songwriter David Broza is an icon in his native Israel.

His first song “Yihye Tov,” written more than 30 years ago during the Arab-Israel peace talks, became the anthem of the peace movement. He has toured all over the world and has recorded more than 30 albums since.

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