All Things Considered

In-depth reporting and transformed the way listeners understand current events and view the world. Every weekday, hear two hours of breaking news mixed with compelling analysis, insightful commentaries, interviews, and special - sometimes quirky - features.

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Here's a new mantra you might consider adding to your list of daily kitchen chants: "It takes patience to perpetuate pickles."

One of the primary issues at the heart of the the Chicago teachers' strike is whether student test scores should be used to evaluate teachers and determine their pay. Mayor Rahm Emanuel is pushing that approach, as are other officials around the nation.

But many teachers insist that it's inherently unfair to grade their teaching based on their students' learning.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

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Fast food giant McDonald's announced a big move yesterday to begin posting calories on menu boards. It's also making smaller changes designed to help Americans make healthier choices; smaller changes you might not even notice.

But NPR's Allison Aubrey reports they can make a real difference.

ZZ Top: Taking The Blues Back To The Future

Sep 13, 2012

Over the years, ZZ Top has stayed contemporary: dabbling in new wave, flirting with grunge and techno, making goofy music videos, even using a drum machine. But the band has never strayed too far from its classic amalgam of electric blues, garage rock and greasy grooves. On their new album, La Futura, the members sound like their old selves.

Republican hopes of capturing the Senate in November rest on a handful of tossup races in states like Montana, Missouri and Virginia.

Surprisingly, some analysts also are putting Hawaii in the tossup column.

Hawaii is the bluest of blue states; it hasn't elected a Republican to the Senate since 1970. But with the retirement of 22-year incumbent Daniel Akaka, Republicans believe they have a chance.

And regardless of who wins, the state will have its first female senator come January.

In Hawaii, the language of politics is a little different.

Hundreds packed the Washington National Cathedral today to pay their respects to Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon.

Perhaps the most amazing tribute came from Eugene Cernan, the man who followed in Armstrong's footsteps and became the last man to walk on the moon during the 1972 Apollo 17 mission.

When crossing from Uganda into Congo at the shabby border town of Bunagana, I encountered a broadly smiling man in a black leather jacket named Hamid Kashaisha.

He asked if I wanted to see the gorillas. I replied that it's guerrillas — with guns, that is — that I wanted to see: the M23 rebels who, for the past two months, had occupied a piece of real estate in eastern Congo larger than Delaware.

That was no deterrence to the pitchman.

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In this hour of the program, we remember Christopher Stevens, the first sitting U.S. ambassador killed in more than 30 years. And we'll explore how the attacks in Libya and Egypt have become fodder for political debate.

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The eurozone crisis has weighed heavily on the global economy and it will remain a central foreign-policy challenge for President Obama or Mitt Romney, whichever man wins in November. The Obama administration has repeatedly urged eurozone countries to shift their focus from austerity to growth. This week, we're focusing on foreign policy issues facing the next administration.

And NPR's Sylvia Poggioli has this story on the eurozone.

At the center of the Chicago teachers' strike are Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the head of the teachers' union, Karen Lewis. To learn more about Lewis and the relationship between the teachers' union and the mayor's office, Audie Cornish talks to Joel Hood, education reporter at the Chicago Tribune.

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We're going to hear more now about the film that was, at least in part, the catalyst for the violence in Libya, as well as protests in Egypt. Some news outlets are saying the filmmaker has gone into hiding.

As NPR's Elizabeth Blair reports, very few people have actually seen the supposed two-hour movie, if it exists at all.

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It didn't take long for the attacks in Benghazi and Cairo to become part of the presidential campaign. Mitt Romney jumped in first. In a statement last night before Ambassador Stevens' death had been announced, Romney accused President Obama of sympathizing with those who waged the assault. The Obama campaign responded, saying it was shocked that Romney would launch a, quote, "political attack" at this moment. And the politics have continued today as NPR's Mara Liasson reports.

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Every election season Republicans and Democrats tried to rally their base and to go after undecided voters. They're increasingly using the Internet in Get Out The Vote efforts.

NPR correspondent Shankar Vedantam, who reports on social science research, joins me now to talk about how Facebook could become a potent weapon in going after the biggest untapped voting bloc in the nation. Shankar, welcome.

SHANKAR VEDANTAM, BYLINE: Hi, Melissa.

BLOCK: Who are these mystery voters, this untapped voting bloc that we mentioned?

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Apple introduced its newest iPhone today, and it's thinner and larger than the last. The company also introduced a new line of iPods. NPR's Laura Sydell has more.

LAURA SYDELL, BYLINE: The new iPhone has a four-inch screen, and it's about 20 percent lighter. Apple CEO Tim Cook engaged in typical Apple boosting as he spoke about the iPhone 5.

TIM COOK: The thinnest, lightest and best iPhone we have ever shipped.

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Europe's debt crisis has caused havoc, toppling governments, breaking banks, leaving a multitude of young people without jobs. Now there's a glimmer of hope.

As NPR's Philip Reeves reports, today, Germany's highest court cleared the way for the next big step in the eurozone's grand plan to save itself.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken)

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We'll hear more from Secretary Clinton in a moment, but first to Benghazi and to Reuters' Middle East correspondent, Hadeel Al-Shalchi, who's been trying to piece together what happened.

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We turn now to Washington for more reaction to this brazen attack. The Obama administration is sending a Marine anti-terrorism unit to bolster security in Libya. It's also taking precautions elsewhere. The stepped up security comes as the State Department mourns its losses. NPR's Michele Kelemen has that story.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: Shock and sadness hovered over the State Department as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke of the devastating losses of four foreign service personnel.

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This morning, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said this about the slain ambassador, Christopher Stevens.

SECRETARY HILLARY CLINTON: He risked his life to stop a tyrant, then gave his life trying to help build a better Libya. The world needs more Chris Stevenses.

BLOCK: Earlier this year, before Chris Stevens assumed his position as ambassador to Libya, he made a video, subtitled in Arabic, directed to the Libyan people. It was posted on the U.S. Embassy's website and on YouTube.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO CLIP)

Portland, Ore., Becomes Latest Fluoride Battleground

Sep 12, 2012

Over jeers and cheers from the audience, commissioners on the Portland, Ore., City Council voted Wednesday to add fluoride to the city's drinking water starting in 2014.

Portland is the largest American city that doesn't add fluoride to its drinking water. But some groups have raised questions about the possible risks from fluoridation and oppose its use.

Same-Sex Marriage Finds New Support In NFL

Sep 12, 2012

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And I'm Melissa Block. Support for same-sex marriage has come from what seems an unlikely corner - the NFL. Two NFL players have been vocal in urging support for same-sex marriage in ballot initiatives this fall. Well, that position from linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo of the Baltimore Ravens drew the ire of a Maryland delegate, Emmett Burns, who urged the Ravens to silence their player.

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SECRETARY HILLARY CLINTON: This is an attack that should shock the conscience of people of all faiths around the world.

City Life Snapshot: Music In Austin, Texas

Sep 11, 2012

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A different take on city as melting pot now, in this City Life Snapshot from Austin, Texas.

BALDOMERO FRANK ALVAREZ CUELLAR: I'm Baldomero Frank Alvarez Cuellar, and that's a mouthful. And I am one-half of the owners of Rancho Alegre Radio.

BLOCK: Back in the '70s and '80s, Conjunto music was everywhere in Austin, and Alvarez is trying to bring it back.

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Now, to the potential political implications of the strike and how it might shake up the presidential race. Here's NPR's Brian Naylor.

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Thousands gathered today at the World Trade Center site in New York. They marked the 11th anniversary of the September 11th terror attacks. Family members of the victims took turns reading the names of the nearly 3,000 people who died in New York, Washington and Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Janice Marie Ashley.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Thomas J. Ashton.

For many years — perhaps even decades — Detroit has been the poster child for economic malaise. Adjusting for inflation, per capita income in metro Detroit dropped more than 20 percent between 1999 and 2010.

Some analysts say regional cooperation might have helped keep Detroit above water when the car industry sank, but that entrenched divisions that pit the city against its suburbs, and blacks against whites, have hindered that.

A Deeply Entrenched Regional Divide

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Here are some descriptions of a foul smell that has stunk its way across a huge stretch of Southern California.

PAT STEVENS: Rotting fish, sewage, you know.

JOYCE THATCHER: It smells exactly like somebody's septic system overflowed.

SEAN NEALON: Like an old banana under the seat for, like, a week, and it just turns all black and gooey and, like, something's rotting.

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The eyes of Hollywood are focused north of the border right now on the Toronto International Film Festival. More than 300 movies from 60 countries are on offer. Many of those titles are headed to theaters and possible Oscar bids later this year. Our film critic, Bob Mondello, is in Toronto, trying to see as many of them as he can. And, Bob, apparently, I'm hearing this is your first festival in almost 20 years. Please tell me how a film critic has managed to avoid film festivals.

(LAUGHTER)

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AUDIE CORNISH: Now a correction. Followed by your letters about we made you cry. Correction first. On Friday's program, in a story about Amazon's latest Kindle device, we said that Apple does not offer an iPad with a 4G wireless connection. In fact, some iPad models do include a 4G connection.

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And now, on to those tears. They were shed over a connection of a different type.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AMERICAN PIE")

DON MCLEAN: I met who girl who sang the blues, and I asked her for some happy news.

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And I'm Melissa Block. Now to the 16th Century and the Spanish port of Cadiz. It's the setting for "God Carlos," a new novel by Jamaican-born writer Anthony Winkler, who takes us on a voyage to the New World. Alan Cheuse has this review.

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The bailout of AIG four years ago, was a defining moment in the U.S. economic crisis. Tomorrow brings a defining moment for Europe as it grapples with its own financial crisis. As NPR's Philip Reeves reports, a court in Germany will deliver a verdict in a case that goes to the very heart of Europe's strategy to save the eurozone.

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