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All Things Considered

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Hear KUOW and NPR award-winning hosts and reporters from around the globe present some of the nation's best reporting  of the day's events, interviews, analysis and reviews on All Things Considered.

In the early '90s, Ben Folds Five achieved underground success by playing the college circuit, selling out small clubs all across the country.

That all changed with the success of its 1997 album Whatever and Ever Amen. Its hit single "Brick" went to No. 6 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks list, only the second single in the band's history to chart.

The western Afghan city of Herat has become a thriving hub for the money exchange business, a consequence of geography and politics. Money-changers throng the currency market carrying thick stacks of Iranian currency, much of it brought in by the hundreds of thousands of Afghan workers who earn their living in Iran.

While the stacks of crisp 100,000 rial notes that money-changers bring to the market might look like a small fortune, the 10 million rials in each of these stacks is worth less than $400, because the Iranian currency recently lost more than half of its value.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

According to Bloomberg, President Obama and Mitt Romney have aired nearly 30,000 TV spots addressing the issue of trade with China, and that's just in the past month. Many of those ads aired in Ohio where both candidates are spending a lot of time. NPR's Sonari Glinton explains the Ohio-China nexus.

SONARI GLINTON, BYLINE: If there's a boogeyman in the Ohio presidential sweepstakes, it's China.

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There may be international sanctions against Iran, but not in Afghanistan's border provinces with the Islamic Republic where trade and money-laundering are thriving. Every day, millions in Iranian currency are brought in by taxis ferrying passengers. The Iranian money is exchanged for dollars, which are then shipped back to Iran. American officials recently ordered the Afghan banks to crack down on this phenomenon and it appears to be having some effect.

In an attempt to put down the insurgency in Afghanistan, the international community has spent millions to try to reintegrate former Taliban fighters and other militants back into society.

So how well has it worked?

Critics like Kate Clark of the Afghanistan Analysts Network say many militants use these programs to gain access to arms and money, without necessarily changing their ways.

Today at All Things Considered, we continue a project we're calling NewsPoet. Each month, we bring in a poet to spend time in the newsroom — and at the end of the day, to compose a poem reflecting on the day's stories.

Despite international condemnation, Pakistan's railways minister says he isn't backing down from his $100,000 bounty offer to anyone who kills the maker of the anti-Islam film Innocence of Muslims.

Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, the slight, silver-haired minister, says he was angry when he saw the video and that he's a man of great faith, passionately devoted to the Prophet Muhammad.

It might seem counterintuitive, but the man running against Republican Linda McMahon in her second attempt at becoming Connecticut's first female senator wants this race to be all about women.

Democratic Rep. Chris Murphy released an ad this week, hammering McMahon's stance on women's health and reminding voters of McMahon's former role as CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment.

This Sunday, a landmark composition of the 20th century will be webcast by NPR, and led by the quintessential 21st century conductor: 31-year-old Gustavo Dudamel, who will conduct the Los Angeles Philharmonic in Igor Stravinsky's Le Sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring). Dudamel spoke about his experience of this earthshaking piece with All Things Considered host Robert Siegel.

For More: Pork, Helium, Maple Syrup: Our Favorite Strategic Reserves

Back in the 1920s, the U.S. government thought blimps might be the next big thing in warfare. So the government started producing helium. And they created the Federal Helium Reserve, a vast store of helium that sits underground in the Texas panhandle.

'Innocence Of Muslims' Filmmaker Arrested

Sep 28, 2012

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Federal authorities in Southern California have arrested the man who produced the now infamous anti-Islam video, the one that recently sparked unrest in many Muslim countries. Nakoula Basseley Nakoula was arrested for violating his probation from a previous bank fraud conviction. The judge at his hearing this afternoon denied Mr. Nakoula bail, calling him a flight risk, that's according to news agency reports. We now go to NPR West, and we're joined by NPR's Carrie Kahn, who has the latest on Nakoula's arrest.

When Laura Kate Whitney enrolled her 4-year-old, Grey, at Avondale Elementary, a public school in Birmingham, Ala., she and her husband were bucking a trend. Whitney and her husband are white, middle-class professionals. Public schools in Birmingham are 95 percent black, and 90 percent of the students are on free or reduced lunch.

Whitney's is one of about two-dozen similar families who are not buying into the conventional tradeoff that if you live within city limits and have means, you send your kids to private schools.

One Last Strike is Tony La Russa's memoir of the 2011 major league baseball season and, in passing, a memoir of his very successful career as a big league manager. Last season, La Russa led the St. Louis Cardinals out of nowhere to win the National League wildcard slot, and then, improbably, advanced to the League Championship Series and the World Series. The Cards won the title in what was one of the great World Series of all time.

Aurora, Colo., became a familiar name this summer, in the wake of a mass shooting at a local movie theater.

But there's much more to this Denver suburb than the recent tragedy. Just ask Ethiopian immigrant Fekade Balcha. Balcha's apartment, on Aurora's north side, sits in a dense neighborhood of squat brick apartment buildings and tiny homes.

"You see, in our apartment, there are Russians, Mexicans, Africans," Balcha says. "From Ethiopia, Somalia, Nigeria, and something like that."

After one of the driest summers on record, recent rains have helped in some parts of the country. But overall, the drought has still intensified. The latest tracking classifies more than a fifth of the contiguous United States in "extreme or exceptional" drought, the worst ratings.

In some parts of the Lower Midwest, water-starved crops have collapsed, but the farmers have not. Farmers across the country are surviving, and many are even thriving. This year, despite the dismal season, farmers stand to make exceptionally good money, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Two weeks after the attacks that killed the U.S. Ambassador to Libya and three other Americans, there is still confusion about what exactly happened and whether the United States might have prevented the tragedy. Critics of the Obama administration accuse the White House of dissembling about the attack. NPR's Dina Temple-Raston talks to Melissa Block.

The idea that milk may diminish the potential heart-health benefits of tea has been a topic of some debate. Lots of us can't imagine black tea without a little dairy to cut the bitterness. But, according to this research going back to 2007, we might want to at least consider trying, say, a nice cup of green tea sans sugar or cream.

Pat Henneberry is an airline's dream customer. She flies all week, every week, and buying an $800 ticket so that she can have full flexibility is standard operating procedure. She's an American Airlines platinum customer. But she is fed up with the endless delays and cancellations.

NASA's Curiosity rover has found definitive proof that water once ran across the surface of Mars, the agency announced today. NASA scientists say new photos from the rover show rocks that were smoothed and rounded by water. The rocks are in a large canyon and nearby channels that were cut by flowing water, making up an alluvial fan.

"You had water transporting these gravels to the downslope of the fan," NASA researchers say. The gravel then formed into a conglomerate rock, which was in turn likely covered before being exposed again.

The Zurich-based Mona Lisa Foundation said today that it has evidence that a painting that first came to light in the late 1800s is an early "Mona Lisa" also done by Leonard Da Vinci.

A battle is under way in Iowa over whether a state Supreme Court justice can keep his job.

Critics have launched an all-out campaign to throw him off the bench because of his ruling three years ago clearing the way for same-sex marriage. The judge's supporters are fighting back, but they may need to get over their reluctance to mix politics and the judiciary.

She doesn't know what's about to happen, but this is a moment high school junior Maddy Powell has been waiting for.

She's sitting in her Advanced Placement biology class, and her boyfriend, Andrew Forsyth, is finally going to pop the question.

Don't worry — he's not asking for Maddy's hand in marriage. But what Andrew has planned is perhaps as elaborate as a marriage proposal.

Homeless Mom: It Costs $700 A Month To Live In A Van

Sep 13, 2012
The back of Elizabeth Jay's Dodge Ram minivan is cluttered with her clothes and supplies because the van is her living room and bedroom.
KUOW Photo/Sarah Rosenthal

When Elizabeth Jay tallies up her living expenses each month, they come to about $700. That doesn't include rent, because Jay is homeless: she lives in her van.

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