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The Salt
5:03 pm
Tue March 10, 2015

Tea Tuesdays: The Scottish Spy Who Stole China's Tea Empire

Robert Fortune was a 19th-century Scottish botanist who helped the East India Trading Company swipe the secrets of tea production from China.
Apic/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 11:44 am

Editor's Note: A version of this story originally ran in March 2010.

In the mid-19th century, Britain was an almost unchallenged empire. It controlled about a fifth of the world's surface, and yet its weakness had everything to do with tiny leaves soaked in hot water: tea. By 1800, it was easily the most popular drink among Britons.

The problem? All the tea in the world came from China, and Britain couldn't control the quality or the price. So around 1850, a group of British businessmen set out to create a tea industry in a place they did control: India.

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Latin America
4:19 am
Tue March 10, 2015

Explorers Discover Ancient Lost City In Honduran Jungle

A view of part of the vast Mosquitia jungle in Honduras. A team of explorers, guided by scans made from airplanes, recently discovered an important ancient city in the region.
Courtesy of UTL Productions

Originally published on Tue March 10, 2015 1:43 pm

For almost a century, explorers have searched the jungles of Honduras for a legendary lost city known as the White City, or the City of the Monkey God.

A team of explorers — including archaeologists and a documentary filmmaker — have just returned from an expedition in person, after using a new technology to search for evidence of ruins by plane.

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Author Interviews
5:24 pm
Mon March 9, 2015

Forget Big Sky And Cowboys: 'Crow Fair' Is Set In An Unidealized Montana

Emily Jan NPR

Originally published on Mon March 9, 2015 8:07 pm

"I think there's only one interesting story ... and that's struggle," says writer Thomas McGuane. Loners, outcasts and malcontents fill the pages of McGuane's latest book — a collection of short stories titled Crow Fair. There's a divorced dad who takes his young son out for an ill-fated day of ice fishing; A restless cattle breeder who takes a gamble on a more lucrative and dangerous line of works; A guy who abandons his blind grandmother by the side of a river to go get drunk, and chase after a corpse he's spotted floating by.

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Author Interviews
6:27 pm
Sun March 8, 2015

Author Explores The Ripple Effects Of A Kidnapping In Mexico

Emily Jan NPR

Originally published on Mon March 9, 2015 9:52 am

Antonio Ruiz-Camacho's new book Barefoot Dogs is billed as a collection of short stories, but it could easily be called a novel. Each piece provides a perspective on one horrific event: the abduction of the patriarch of a wealthy Mexican family by a drug gang.

Throughout the book, readers see how this affects children, grandchildren, mistresses and others, as the tragedy follows the family through exile in the United States and Europe

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Movie Interviews
5:29 pm
Sun March 8, 2015

No Joke: Hollywood Comedy Producer Finds Career In Prison Reform

Scott Budnick (second from left) stands with (from left) Jimmy Wu, who served 16 years in prison and is now a mentor; Jesse Aguiar, former gang member and now a counselor; and Franky Carrillo, who was freed by the Innocence Project after 21 years in prison.
Reed Saxon AP

Originally published on Sun March 8, 2015 10:03 pm

Los Angeles has been good to Scott Budnick. He arrived more than 15 years ago as an aspiring film producer. He found a home in comedy, and eventually became the executive producer of the Hangover trilogy — the wildly popular, profane buddy movies that are still the highest grossing comedy franchise ever made.

Now, he lives in the Hollywood Hills. He drives a fancy car, lives in a beautiful house and has lots of famous friends.

But in 2013, Budnick decided to leave Hollywood for a very different field: prison reform.

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Music
5:01 pm
Sun March 8, 2015

A Jazz Pianist Taps Armenian Folk, Metal Riffs And A Sense Of History

"Sometimes the music that I write doesn't need to have lyrics, it just needs vowels," says jazz artist Tigran Hamaysan.
Maeve Stam Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sun March 8, 2015 8:25 pm

Musicians arrive at their signature sounds through all sorts of influences. For jazz pianist Tigran Hamaysan, that collection of sounds comes from far afield — he's a fan of progressive metal bands like Tool and Meshuggah — as well as from his backyard.

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Television
5:01 pm
Sun March 8, 2015

Cyberpsychologist: Online, 'Every Contact Leaves A Trace'

The Avery Ryan character is based on Mary Aiken (above) a real-life cyber psychologist and director of the RCSI CyberPsychology Research Centre.
Courtesy of CBS

Originally published on Sun March 8, 2015 8:25 pm

The CSI franchise has a new lead investigator: Special Agent Avery Ryan.

Oscar-winning actress Patricia Arquette plays the head of the FBI's Cyber Crime Division on CSI: Cyber, which premiered this week on CBS.

The unit is called in on cyber stalking, identity theft, even cases involving hacked baby cams and ride-sharing services.

Agent Ryan's character is based on real-life cyber psychologist Mary Aiken, the director of the RCSI CyberPsychology Research Centre in Dublin, Ireland. She's also a producer on the show.

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The Howard Project
9:41 am
Sun March 8, 2015

Education May Be Priceless, But A College Degree Isn't

"The Howard Project" participants Kevin Peterman (top left), Leighton Watson, Ariel Alford (bottom left) and Taylor Davis, shown in the Howard University library, are offering insights into their thoughts and fears as they approach the end of the senior year.
Emily Jan NPR

Originally published on Sun March 8, 2015 1:08 pm

Paying for college gets more expensive every year.

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Americans owe more than a trillion dollars in outstanding student loan payments.

The result can be a lot of pressure for college grads. The four seniors participating in our Howard Project — Ariel Alford, Taylor Davis, Leighton Watson and Kevin Peterman — talk to us about finances.

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All Tech Considered
5:36 pm
Sat March 7, 2015

Grace Hopper, 'The Queen Of Code,' Would Have Hated That Title

Grace Hopper joined the Navy during World War II and served on and off until 1986.
Courtesy of ESPN Films

Originally published on Sun March 8, 2015 8:45 pm

In today's male-dominated computer programming industry, it's easy to forget that a woman — Grace Hopper — helped usher in the computer revolution.

During World War II, Hopper left a teaching job at Vassar College to join the Navy Reserve. That's when she went to Harvard to work on the first programmable computer in the United States: the Mark I.

Gillian Jacobs, best known for her role as Britta Perry in the comedy television show Community, has directed a short documentary about Grace Hopper titled The Queen of Code.

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Television
5:13 pm
Sat March 7, 2015

'Kimmy Schmidt' Finds Optimism (And Jokes) In Dark Premise

Ellie Kemper, right, stars alongside Tituss Burgess in Netflix's Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, which follows a former doomsday cult member as she adjusts to life in New York.
Eric Liebowitz Courtesy of Netflix

Originally published on Sun March 8, 2015 8:45 pm

Two of the comedic minds behind 30 Rock, Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, have returned to the world of half-hour comedies — this time, on Netflix.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, a new 13-episode series originally developed by Fey and Carlock for NBC, debuted on the streaming service on March 6.

Actress Ellie Kemper plays the title character in the show, which shares 30 Rock's energy, but mines comedy out of a much darker premise: A group of young women escape from 15 years of captivity in an underground bunker run by a doomsday cult leader in Indiana.

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Music Interviews
5:13 pm
Sat March 7, 2015

Making Records Is 'Not A Race' For Modest Mouse

Isaac Brock performs with Modest Mouse.
Jennifer Baniszewski Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sun March 8, 2015 8:45 pm

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StoryCorps
8:26 am
Sat March 7, 2015

After Explosion, A Soldier And His Squad Leader Find Peace

Former Lance Cpl. Erik Galvan (right) and Sgt. Daniel Wheeler had a professional friendship that was nearly destroyed by an IED — but, with time, they reconciled.
StoryCorps

Originally published on Sat March 7, 2015 10:29 am

StoryCorps' Military Voices Initiative records stories from members of the U.S. military who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Lance Cpl. Erik Galvan, 19, was walking ahead of his squad looking for improvised explosive devices. It was 2011, and he was three months into his deployment to Afghanistan.

The group approached an ominous wooded area; Galvan felt uneasy. His squad leader, Sgt. Daniel Wheeler, was several feet behind him.

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Music
6:18 am
Sat March 7, 2015

From The Shadows Of Apartheid, Three Singers Bring Their Voices To The States

Bala Brothers.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sat March 7, 2015 10:29 am

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Author Interviews
5:48 am
Sat March 7, 2015

The Lusitania Mystery: Why British Codebreakers Didn't Try To Save It

A German U-boat sank the luxury ocean liner Lusitania, seen here in 1907, on May 7, 1915.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Sat March 7, 2015 10:29 am

One hundred years ago, 128 Americans died among more than a thousand in the sinking of what was then the greatest ocean liner in the world. In response, the U.S. entered World War I.

That's the story of the Lusitania, right? But Erik Larson, one of this country's most successful narrators of nonfiction, now retells the story a lot of people think they know. His new book, Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, has an appreciation for the lives that were lost and the impact the ship had on history.

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Performing Arts
5:29 am
Sat March 7, 2015

After 60 Years Of Fabulousness, Dame Edna Embarks On Her Farewell Tour

Dame Edna Everage — a character created by Australian comedian Barry Humphries — models a hat based on the Sydney Opera House. She is currently performing Dame Edna's Glorious Goodbye: The Farewell Tour.
Wesley Getty Images

Originally published on Sat March 7, 2015 10:29 am

Dame Edna Everage says she's approaching 60 — but from the wrong direction. The housewife and superstar — a creation of Australian comedian Barry Humphries — has been making audiences laugh, weep, have acid reflux, and ruminate deeply on the human experience for six decades.

Now, she's embarked on Dame Edna's Glorious Goodbye: The Farewell Tour, which concludes in Washington, D.C., in April. Dame Edna tells NPR's Scott Simon that she's a "restless sprit" and it's not entirely clear what "retirement" will look like for her.

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It's All Politics
2:19 pm
Fri March 6, 2015

Chat Recap: Justice Department's Ferguson Policing Report

A Ferguson police officer listens to a protester outside the Ferguson Police Department on Wednesday.
Michael B. Thomas Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 6, 2015 11:16 pm

This post was last updated at 10 pm E.T.

On Wednesday, the Department of Justice issued a scathing report about the Ferguson, Mo. police department, citing evidence of "clear racial disparities that adversely impact African-Americans." These disparities in arrests, vehicle stops and the use of force, the report contends, led to a lack of trust in police and courts in the city.

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First Reads
10:03 am
Thu March 5, 2015

Exclusive First Read: Erik Larson's 'Dead Wake'

It took just 18 minutes for the Lusitania to sink after it was hit by a German torpedo.
Charles Dixon/Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 6, 2015 2:30 pm

The luxury liner Lusitania departed New York City en route for Liverpool on May 1, 1915. World War I was raging in Europe, but the passengers on the world's fastest liner were sure they were in no danger — despite a warning from the German Embassy in Washington that "travellers sailing in the war zone on the ships of Great Britain or her allies do so at their own risk." Even the Lusitania's captain, William Turner, said his vessel was too fast for submarines to pose a threat.

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Television
5:06 am
Thu March 5, 2015

'It Is About Truths': John Ridley On His New TV Show, 'American Crime'

Felicity Huffman and Timothy Hutton play two estranged parents whose son is murdered during a home invasion in ABC's American Crime.
Felicia Graham ABC

Originally published on Thu March 5, 2015 10:15 am

Writer and producer John Ridley has spent a lot of his career telling stories about the history of race in America. He won an Oscar for his screenplay for 12 Years a Slave, he's written movies about the Tuskegee Airmen and Jimi Hendrix, and now he's created American Crime, a new TV series about the events surrounding a racially charged home invasion in modern-day California.

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Parallels
3:44 am
Thu March 5, 2015

Boris Nemtsov: 'He Directed His Words Against Putin Himself'

Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who was shot dead last Friday, was one of the most outspoken critics of President Vladimir Putin. No arrests have been made in his killing.
Ivan Sekretarev AP

Originally published on Thu March 5, 2015 10:11 am

Boris Nemtsov was just 37 when Russian President Boris Yeltsin named him deputy prime minister in 1997. Trained as a physicist, Nemtsov symbolized a new generation of young leaders who rose to power in the chaotic aftermath of the Soviet breakup.

But after Vladimir Putin became president, Nemtsov joined the liberal opposition and became an outspoken critic. He was arrested on several occasions, but continued his attacks on the Russian leader.

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Intelligence Squared U.S.
1:27 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

Debate: Do Liberals Stifle Intellectual Diversity On The College Campus?

Two teams face off over the motion, "Liberals Are Stifling Intellectual Diversity On Campus," at the latest Intelligence Squared U.S. debate.
Chris Zarconi Intelligence Squared U.S.

There is agreement on both the political left and right that a majority of college professors in the United States are liberal or left-of-center. But do liberals stifle free speech — particularly that of political and social conservatives — on college campuses?

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