Originally published on Tue April 1, 2014 11:16 am
LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:
An album out this week is drawing international attention to a hidden gem of the indie Arab music scene, Lebanese singer-songwriter Yasmine Hamdan. Her second album is called "Ya Nass." It showcases her hypnotic phrasing and modern take on traditional Middle Eastern sounds. And it's caught the ears of cultural taste-makers worldwide, from filmmaker Jim Jarmusch to NPR's Bob Boilen and Anastasia Tsioulcas.
NPR's business news begins with the incredible shrinking box office.
Americans are not heading to the movies as much as they used to. The Motion Picture Association of America says ticket sales fell off slightly in 2013. To boost audience numbers, theater owners are talking to move the chains and studios about cutting ticket great prices one day a week.
Now, while Americans seem less eager to head to the movies, worldwide box office sales are up by about four percent. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Parents and educators have long assumed that peers matter. If you are at a high school or college where you are surrounded by serious students, you're more likely to take your studies seriously. If your friends are party animals, you're more likely to want to party, too.
NPR's social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam, who joins us regularly on this program, recently heard about an unusual social engineering experiment that tried to apply what's known about peer effects to the real world.
Earlier this year, a chemical spill in West Virginia forced officials to put a ban on drinking water that affected some 300,000 people. This also highlighted an unsettling truth: While officials test our drinking supply, they're only targeting a few chemicals. Many contaminants go undetected.
Here's NPR's Elizabeth Shogren.
ELIZABETH SHOGREN, BYLINE: Toxic chemicals can make it into tap water for years without experts knowing it. That's because of a basic fact about how treatment plants test their water.
Columbus, N.M., is all about the border. It's an official border crossing. Its history centers on a cross-border raid. In more recent years, it was a transit point for illegal weapons heading south into Mexico.
It's also the destination for children heading north to a U.S. school.
All the different strands of Columbus came together when we spent the day with the new mayor of the village. Phillip Skinner, former real estate developer and maquiladora owner-turned politician and school bus driver, was inaugurated early this month, on the morning we rolled into town.
For all the campaigning and schmoozing members of Congress have to do, the truth is that the vast majority of Americans will never actually meet their lawmakers.
To be fair, not everyone wants to. But among those who do, there's serious competition for a lawmaker's time. So, how does an average citizen get access on Capitol Hill? The quick answer: It's not easy.
First, do the math. When it comes to face time with a member of Congress, there are 535 of them, and 314 million of you.
In California, severe drought has imperiled millions of juvenile salmon who now face waters too dry to let them make their usual spawning trip to the ocean. So state and federal officials have embarked on a drastic plan to save them – by letting them hitch a ride on tanker trucks.
Over the next two and a half months, some 30 million Chinook salmon will be trucked from five hatcheries in the state's Central Valley to waters where they can make their way to the ocean.
One great mystery of sport is why they call the place that the general manager rules over the front office. Obviously, it's the box office that's out front. What they call the front office is really the "office office."
Ever since the Watergate era, taxpayers have been able to check a box on their federal tax returns and designate a little bit of their tax payment to help finance the presidential campaigns and wean politicians away from big donors.
The public financing program has had its ups and downs. But now President Obama is prepared to sign legislation that, for the first time, takes taxpayer money out of the fund.
First of all, let's pause to reflect on some of the great moments of American political conventions brought to you by presidential matching funds.
Originally published on Thu March 27, 2014 9:26 am
I grew up thinking of nuts as junk food: full of fat and calories, a guilty treat for holidays and special occasions. I remember bowls of salty cocktail mix, nut-covered cheese logs, sweet buttery honey-roasted peanuts and cashews, or Jordan almonds in their strangely addictive sugary coating. They were in the same category as potato chips and candy: irresistible, but not good for you at all.