Sam Sanders

Sam has worked at Vermont Public Radio since October 1978 in various capacities â

If you go to HarvardNotFair.org, you'll find yourself on a page that says this: Were You Denied Admission to Harvard? It may be because you're the wrong race.

Tuesday night, Nielsen SoundScan announced that Taylor Swift sold 1.287 million copies of her new album, 1989 in its first week of release. This would be impressive in any year, but in a year like this, you could call it a miracle. So far in 2014, only one album has sold more than a million copies: the soundtrack to the movie Frozen, which actually came out in 2013. No other album released in 2014 has sold one million copies, all year long. So it's not just that Taylor Swift is doing big numbers. She's doing big numbers at a time when no one else is doing big numbers.

Nineteen-year-old college freshman Lauren Hill played her first game Sunday night, for a tiny, Division III college in Cincinnati.

That's not usually big news. But Hill has a rare form of brain cancer, and her first collegiate game might also be her last — which brought an unusual degree of attention to the court at Mount Saint Joseph University.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And now this - President Obama will award a long delayed Medal of Honor to a soldier next month. He'll honor Army First Lt. Alonzo H. Cushing, who fought in the Civil War. NPR's Sam Sanders reports.

Some experimental features have been popping up in movie theaters lately. One of them is a so-called 4-D experience. It's hard to describe in words exactly what a 4-D movie experience feels like, but here's one attempt: it is intense.

During a recent screening of Guardians of the Galaxy in 4-D at the Regal Cinemas LA Live theater, the seat moved up and down and side to side, like a simulator ride. There were strobe lights; fog seemed to come out of the walls and little jets of water sprayed over the seats.

New Law Puts Gloves On California Bartenders

Jan 26, 2014

Bartender Cameron Hall hadn't heard of a new California law that bans culinary workers from touching uncooked food with their bare hands.

The rule applies to bartenders, who are now supposed to wear gloves to put limes in the mojitos and cherries in the Manhattans — even to scoop ice into a glass.

But when a reporter fills him in, Hall stops serving drinks at Rocco's Tavern, a little spot in downtown Culver City, just long enough to rant.

"It'd just be a pain," he says. "It'd be a nuisance. I'm gonna start making my customers wear gloves, in opposition!"

It's a near-perfect morning on Venice Beach in Southern California, temperatures in the 60s, with a breeze. You can hear the waves of the Pacific crash against the sand. Only a layer of clouds mars the scene.

Scott and Sue Nolan, visiting from Houston, play kickball in the sand with their son. They are grateful to be in this mild, if not perfectly sunny weather, but Sue Nolan has noticed something's not right.

"One of the thoughts, when we were driving through town was, how are they sustaining all this with what you see so dry everywhere?" she says.

The giant retailer Target continues to feel the fallout from a massive security breach at its stores. The latest revelation: Hackers who stole credit and debit card numbers this holiday season also collected encrypted personal identification numbers.

But Brigitte Clark had no worries as she left a Target in Los Angeles on Saturday morning, her cart full of groceries.

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

The factory that makes and bottles Sriracha sauce is in trouble - for the second time this year. First, one of the company's Southern California plants faced a shutdown after neighbors complained about the pungent odor there, and now a California Department of Public Health has placed a 30-day hold on all new bottles of Sriracha, citing health concerns. NPR's Sam Sanders reports.

Since Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines last week, the largest Filipino community in America has come together to grieve and to help.

Friday night, about 25 miles south of Los Angeles, members of Long Beach's Filipino community gathered at Grace United Methodist Church to hold a vigil for typhoon victims. One by one, attendees came to the microphone and named people who died or remain lost in the storm.

Last week, Coachella Valley High School came under fire for the name of its mascot — the Arab. The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee sent a letter to the school, complaining about the way the mascot depicts people of Arab descent. The complaint made the school national news.

Nearly 1,000 scheduled flights and 100,000 passengers were affected at Los Angeles International Airport, where a gunman on Friday killed a TSA agent and wounded others. On Saturday afternoon, a major terminal in one of the nation's busiest airports finally reopened, FBI agents continued their investigation, and thousands of passengers tried to catch their flights.

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

If you've ever been to Los Angeles, no doubt you've sent a selfie with a Hollywood sign in the background. If that is you, you're not alone. The iconic sign is one of the city's biggest tourist attractions. Over the last few years, social media and GPS have only multiplied the number of visitors. Now, homeowners in the area say that's wreaking havoc in their neighborhood. NPR's Sam Sanders reports.

Los Angeles Unified School District started issuing iPads to its students this school year, as part of a $30 million deal with Apple. The rollout is in the first of three phases, and ultimately, the goal is to distribute more than 600,000 devices.

But less than a week after getting their iPads, almost 200 of the districts' high school students found a way to bypass software blocks on the devices that limit what websites the students can use.

Frank Ocean is set to take a victory lap at this year's Grammys. He's up for six awards for his album Channel Orange, including best new artist, and he'll be performing as well. But just a few months ago, Frank Ocean's music wasn't the story — his sexuality was.

To review: After a listening party for Channel Orange last July, a BBC journalist pointed out that a few of the love songs referenced a "him" where you might have expected to hear "her."