Robert Siegel

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Long-time fans of the comedy website, "Funny or Die," know this already. But for the rest of you, this is the theme song of "Between Two Ferns." The Web series mimics a low-budget, cable-access interview program.

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It's the brainchild of actor and comedian Zach Galifinakis. He plays an unprepared host who fumbles through awkward conversations with celebrities. But the guest of his latest episode, released today, was a little different.

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Now, health and electrical lighting. Last month, Mariana Figueiro showed me something she has developed to help seniors avoid falls in the night. Figueiro researches health applications at the Lighting Research Center at Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. Her project is a nightlight. But it's not just a single bulb. It's a string of yellow lights that border the darkened entrance to, say, a bathroom.

It's a doorway and around the frame of the doorway are the yellow LEDs?

MARIANA FIGUEIRO: That's correct.

In Qatar's rapid race to modernity, the emirate has created a distinctive approach to educating its young: It has effectively imported a host of American universities.

Dr. Sheikha Aisha bint Faleh bin Nasser Al-Thani, a member of Qatar's ruling family, sits on the Supreme Education Council and owns a few independent schools. For her own children, she wanted a top-flight college education. Her sons were educated in Britain.

Over the past decade, Qatar's population has soared from 660,000 to more than 2 million. Here's the catch: Qataris themselves number only around 260,000.

The rest, more than 85 percent of the population, are not citizens. As Professor Mehran Kamrava, an American scholar at Georgetown University's campus in Qatar, says, they are all migrant workers of varying types.

Qatar is a tiny place that insists on being heard.

The Arab nation just off the coast of Saudi Arabia has made itself a major diplomatic player, a generous donor of foreign aid, and a leader in modernizing education in the region. The ultra-modern capital Doha is full of skyscrapers, museums and history, much of it dating as far back as ... the 1990s.

Qatar is also a commercial capital that aims to become a cultural, sports and tourist center for the Gulf region despite having just 260,000 citizens.

The digital currency Bitcoin is becoming more prevalent, both for benign purchases and as a way for criminals to conduct illicit transactions. Bitcoins have been used on underground websites to facilitate sales of narcotics and child pornography. But even those most concerned about criminal activity agree that the emerging digital currency has arrived and can have beneficial uses.

An undercover NYPD officer was arraigned Wednesday in connection with a road rage incident that's been viewed thousands of times on YouTube. Det. Wojciech Braszczok is one of several motorcycle riders who've been arrested for their roles in an attack on Alexian Lien, an SUV driver who led bikers on a high-speed chase last month and that ended in his beating.

President Obama, scheduled to address the nation from the White House on Tuesday evening, trekked to the Capitol in the afternoon to address the Democratic and Republican Senate luncheons.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

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The NFL has agreed to a $765 million settlement with more than 4,500 former players and families over concussions. The money will fund medical exams and treatment and provide compensation to players and families.

A jury has sentenced Nidal Hasan to the death penalty for a shooting rampage at Fort Hood that left 13 people dead and 31 others injured.

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I'm Robert Siegel and we begin this hour in California, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, not far from Yosemite National Park. That's where fire crews are starting to make some progress in their fight against the massive Rim Fire that's been burning for nine days now. It has scorched nearly 150,000 acres. Relatively few structures have been lost so far, but thousands of people remain under evacuation orders.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel. One criticism of baseball is that it's too prone to long stretches of inaction, players sitting around not doing much. Well, if that's what baseball is, then Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees has been Mr. Baseball this season. He's been on the disabled list, but he claims he's healthy enough to play. His team begs to differ. Here to talk about the confusion is NPR's Mike Pesca, who joins us from New York. Hi, Mike.

MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Hello.

In addition to Georgia, a handful of other states — Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, North Dakota, and Alabama — have dropped out of or scaled back their participation in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness in College and Career (PARCC) consortium. Florida's education commissioner is mulling a similar decision. We discuss what it could mean for the success of the standards.

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This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

In all the current talk about helping 11 million undocumented immigrants come out of the shadows, there's typically broad agreement about who shouldn't get a path to legal residence: law breakers. There are lists of offenses that rule people out, whether it's under existing immigration law or under the immigration bill the Senate passed, or under President Obama's program to help the so-called Dreamers - the ones who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

House lawmakers will have their first chance today to vote on the government's phone surveillance program, since news of it was leaked by Edward Snowden. The House is considering an amendment that would limit the authority of the National Security Agency. It's an amendment the White House and top intelligence officials have urged lawmakers to vote down.

For more, we're joined from the Capitol by Tamara Keith. Hi, Tamara.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Hi, Robert.

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NPR has learned that the U.S. Department of Justice has prepared the documents to formally charge Edward Snowden with espionage. Snowden is the former contractor who has publicized details of two U.S. surveillance programs through the British newspaper The Guardian. NPR's Carrie Johnson joins us now with the latest, and Carrie, everyone's been waiting for this shoe to drop. What do we know about the government's plans to proceed?

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In Congress this week, there's a lot of action related to the federal budget. Today, the Senate approved a measure known as the continuing resolution. It would avoid a shutdown, keeping government operations funded through September. The House is expected to sign off on the same measure quickly. Also this week, both the House and Senate are expected to pass budget resolutions.

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It appears the American Airlines and US Airways are going to merge. There are multiple reports that late today the boards of the two companies approved the merger, which will create the country's largest carrier. The deal, if it survives regulators' antitrust review, will allow American to emerge from bankruptcy.

NPR's Wade Goodwyn joins us from Dallas with more on the merger. And Wade, what will the airline be called and what else can you tell us about the makeup of the newly merged company?

The House made good on a promise from Speaker John Boehner to pass stalled federal aid for those hit by Hurricane Sandy. Tamara Keith talks to Robert Siegel to explain the politics surrounding the $51 billion package.

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And I'm Robert Siegel.

A $60 billion federal aid package for states affected by Hurricane Sandy is moving forward, but it hasn't been an easy political process. There's been hot debate about it within the Republican Party. Last night, the GOP-controlled House of Representatives declined to vote on an aid package, and that infuriated lawmakers across New York and New Jersey.

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Many residents of Newtown are gathered this evening at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church for a prayer vigil. NPR's Quil Lawrence is outside the church and he joins us now. And, Quil, what's going on inside the church this evening?

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And we turn now to NPR's Robert Smith. He has been outside the home of Adam Lanza's mother on the outskirts of Newtown, Connecticut. And, Robert, has the home also been a crime scene today?

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North Korea appears to have taken a step forward in its long-range missile program. The country has fired a long-range rocket in spite of warnings from the U.S. and the United Nations.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is seeking $30 billion in federal disaster aid to help the state recover from Superstorm Sandy. Robert Siegel talks to Joel Rose.

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And I'm Robert Siegel.

In New York City, the lights are coming back on and the race has been called off. For details, I'm joined now by NPR's Margot Adler in New York. And, Margot, first, where has the electricity been restored?

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

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And I'm Audie Cornish.

The most populous city in the country is drying out, and beginning a long and complicated recovery. One positive sign: Tomorrow, some New York City subway routes are scheduled to reopen. But today, gridlock ruled as people took to their cars. And that means it's carpool time.

Robert Siegel and Audie Cornish check in with Jeff Brady, who monitored coastal conditions and official briefings in Cape May, N.J. They also talk to Margot Adler in New York City. Science Correspondent Joe Palca talks about the storm's strength and direction, as well as some of the unusual characteristics that have inspired the nickname "Frankenstorm."

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