Robert Siegel

At an unveiling in Seattle, online retail giant Amazon announced its entry into the smartphone market with a new device called "Fire." NPR's Martin Kaste was at the unveiling in Seattle, and he offers his take on the event.

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In a recent Nippon Professional Baseball game in Japan, Kazuhito Tadano threw a slow, arcing pitch that caught the batter by surprise. Video of the play quickly went viral on the Internet, but the pitch has a history — and a name: the eephus pitch. Paul Dickson, author of the Dickson Baseball Dictionary, offers more details.

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And I'm Robert Siegel. The State Department has confirmed that a U.S. citizen was involved in the suicide bombing in Syria earlier this week. Today, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki confirmed the man's identity in response to a reporter's question.

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UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you confirm, at least, the name that he went by - as was published - Abu Huraya al-Amriki?

Robert Siegel speaks with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who is in Kiev leading a team of international election observers set to monitor voting in Ukraine on Sunday.

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President Obama, this week, defended one of his cabinet secretaries and did not create a vacancy at the Department of Veterans Affairs when General Eric Shinseki visited the White House. But as for delays, backlogs and allegations of cooking the books at VA facilities, the president sounded adamant.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: If these allegations prove to be true, it is dishonorable. It is disgraceful and I will not tolerate it, period.

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It's not all politics here in Washington. On Pennsylvania Avenue, there used to be a hotel called the Roger Smith. The top of the hotel's stationery proclaimed it was just one block from the White House. And it's under that heading that one of rock 'n roll's most important figures scribbled out the lyrics to one of his biggest songs.

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BOB DYLAN: (Singing) Once upon a time you dressed so fine, you threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn't you?

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There was a time when cell phones were used to make calls and many of the calls were defined by this.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel. We're continuing to follow developments in yesterday's deadly shooting at Fort Hood that left four people dead and 16 wounded. This afternoon, the commander of Fort Hood, Lieutenant General Mark Milley, confirmed the identity of the shooter.

LIEUTENTANT GENERAL MARK MILLEY: We are able to release, his next kin have been notified. The alleged shooter is Specialist Ivan A. Lopez. He is 34 years old, originally from Puerto Rico.

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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.

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And I'm Robert Siegel.

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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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.

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For some context now on the future of the Common Core and why Georgia's decision is important, we're joined by NPR education reporter Cory Turner. Hi, Cory.

CORY TURNER, BYLINE: Hi, Robert.

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

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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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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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