U.S. Experiences A Drop In Millionaires

Jun 1, 2012

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OK, let's turn now to personal wealth. Today's last word in business is disappearing millions.

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NPR's business news starts with a new, multibillion-dollar chemical plant.


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And now to an even bigger battle that's been playing out in the world of video games.


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Three Years Of An Awful Recovery

Jun 1, 2012

The recession ended and the recovery began in June, 2009. It's an ugly third birthday for the labor market

More than 7 million U.S. jobs disappeared during the recession. Fewer than 3 million have been added in the recovery. And the rate of job growth has been falling lately; in May, the economy added just 69,000 jobs. That's not even enough to keep up with population growth.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki recently held one of his traveling Cabinet meetings in the disputed city of Kirkuk in an effort to show Iraqi Arabs on the edge of the Kurdish-controlled north that he's working on their behalf, too.

But the fact that he felt obliged to bring in large numbers of heavily armed troops for the event illustrated the tension plaguing Iraqi politics.

A Front-Row Seat At A Bank Run

Jun 1, 2012

A decade ago, investors thought Greece would flourish on the euro. Money poured in, and banks started lending it out. Thefilos Papacostakis, a bank teller at Alpha Bank in Thessaloniki, got to hand out a lot of that money.

Last month, Thefilos says, his bosses called him in for a meeting. They told him things were about to get worse. When countries are in this kind of trouble, the bosses said, people panic and pull their money out of banks.

The Creative Process

Jun 1, 2012

How are we inspired? How do we get from an initial inkling of idea to a fully formed work of art? It's often challenging to describe the creative process. In this hour we'll hear from some TED speakers — a poet, a novelist, and a singer/songwriter — who explore their craft and the daily challenge of nurturing creativity.

Andrew Garfield is an actor on the verge of superstardom — and he's only 28 years old.

Although Garfield may be best known to American audiences for playing Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin in The Social Network, Garfield started acting in England, where he grew up. There, Garfield made notable turns in the critically acclaimed Red Riding Trilogy as well as in Never Let Me Go, based on the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro.

Meghan McCain: A Grand Old Puzzle Party

May 31, 2012

Meghan McCain approaches her life as a political darling with a sense of humor that's anything but conservative. The self-proclaimed "black sheep of the Republican Party" joins Ask Me Another host Ophira Eisenberg for a chat about family puzzle nights with her famous father, U.S. Senator John McCain, and who among them is most competitive. She also gives us the lowdown on her new book--America, You Sexy Bitch: A Love Letter to Freedom--written alongside comedian Michael Ian Black.

Bring Us To Your Party

May 31, 2012

We could easily introduce this game by saying it's one of our staff favorites. But we could introduce just about every game that way, so please just note that is implied. This week we're offering you the chance to play host of NPR's Ask Me Another and quiz your friends with games we've run on the show. We'll provide the questions and answers; you provide the trivia party. Note: Try this at your next dinner party as an aperitif.


LIVE BLOG: The National Bee Casts Its Spell

May 31, 2012

Snigdha Nandipati, 14, of San Diego has been crowned the champion in the 2012 Scripps National Spelling Bee. Her winning word was "guetapens," a French-derived word for "an ambush, snare or trap."

A very calm Snigdha beat eight other finalists, including her last competitor, Stuti Mishra, 14, of West Melbourne, Fla. Stuti got tripped up on the word "schwarmerei."

The winner got $30,000 in cash, a trophy, a $2,500 savings bond, a $5,000 scholarship, $2,600 in reference works from the Encyclopedia Britannica and an online language course.

With a not guilty verdict on one count and the jury deadlocked on five others, it appears John Edwards' federal trial on campaign-finance charges ended with a whimper, certainly from the Justice Department's point of view.

At first blush, it can be argued that how the trial of the former U.S. senator from North Carolina ended may do little to deter politicians. They'll still be able to go forward and rake in money from supporters and, with some sleight of hand, spend that cash on practically anything.

Judy Blume Loves NPR

May 31, 2012

Author Judy Blume popped over to NPR West in April to talk with Here and Now host Robin Young about 40 years of Fudge, the now-iconic character from her book Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.

"I wouldn't do it if it wasn't true!" she said about joining the 'I Heart NPR' campaign.

Earlier this month, we told you the story of Brian Banks, who served five years in prison and then five years probation for a rape conviction that was thrown out.

As Mark wrote, he had to endure the "shame of being a registered sex offender and "not being able to get a job." And he thought his dream of playing in NFL was destroyed.

It's turning out to be a great year for jazz drummer Jack DeJohnette.

In January, he was named an NEA Jazz Master for lifetime achievement. He began celebrating his 70th birthday early — it's August 9 — by going on a short performance tour this month with his old friends, Chick Corea and Stanley Clarke. The celebration continues this summer, as he tours Europe with the Keith Jarrett trio. As if that's not enough, he also released one of the best albums of the year in any genre, Sound Travels.

In Texas recently there was a grand opening for what is now the largest refinery in the U.S. Shell and Saudi Arabia's national oil company, Saudi Aramco, have more than doubled the capacity of their Port Arthur refinery.

The refinery business has been going through a tough period in recent years. Americans are buying less gasoline and other petroleum products — about 10 percent less than in 2005, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Do you shop around for the best price on a visit to the doctor, a CT scan or surgery at a hospital? If so, it looks like you've got a little more company.

Provocative yet far from definitive, Pink Ribbons, Inc. is a critique of "breast-cancer culture." It could even be called a blitz on pink-ribbon charities and their corporate partners — though to use that term would be to emulate the war and sports metaphors the documentary rejects.

As one woman observes, describing the treatment of cancer as a "fight" or a "battle" suggests that the disease is always beatable if patients make a heroic effort. The implication is that people who die "weren't trying very hard."

The Academy Award for Best Animated Feature was introduced in 2001, and throughout its brief history, it's mostly been a mechanism through which to honor whatever Pixar does every year.

'Found Memories' Revealed With Grace And Patience

May 31, 2012

The minimalist Brazilian drama Found Memories has a running gag, a small chuckle that gradually morphs into something profound: Madalena (Sonia Guedes), an elderly baker in a remote hillside town, walks her fresh goods to the local coffee shop every morning, where she removes the rolls from her basket and stacks them in a cabinet to be sold. The shop owner, Antonio (Luiz Serra), barks at her to stack the bread his way. But every morning, Madalena ignores him.

What Charlize Theron does for Snow White and The Huntsman in her role as the Wicked Queen is a bit like what Godzilla does for a Godzilla movie: She gives you something big and distracting to look at while a lot of thinly defined victims run around frantically trying to avoid a grisly death at her hand.

Drummer Jack DeJohnette was 23 when he made his first recording with The Charles Lloyd Quartet in 1966. Since that time, he's been a driving force in the world of jazz. This year, DeJohnette will celebrate his birthday all year long — the big day is actually August 9 — with special events, including his current tour with his old friends Chick Corea (piano) and Stanley Clarke (bass).

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney picked up two big endorsements this week from GOP foreign policy luminaries: former Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and George Shultz.

At this point in the presidential race, endorsements are pretty routine. But these particular endorsements are important, since Romney has encountered some skepticism from foreign policy experts in his party.

Some Republicans expected the long, bloody wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to alter their party's traditional interventionist view. Those Republicans are disappointed in Romney.

What is it about Brandi Carlile's voice that gets right inside you? The power? Her range? It may be the way she can crack open a note, as she does in her best-known song, "The Story," which was prominently featured on Grey's Anatomy.

This month, NPR's Backseat Book Club hits the high seas for an adventurous novel called Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus. The book begins in 1841, and is based on the sprawling true-life tale of Manjiro, whose destiny was almost determined before birth as a son in a long line of fishermen. But a storm blew his life on a new course, and he became one of the first Japanese to set foot in America.

The next installment in NPR's Backseat Book Club heads back to where this all started: Diary of a Wimpy Kid, by Jeff Kinney. It was our 2009 interview with Kinney that sparked the idea for a special book club dedicated to kids. On the day before Kinney arrived at our studios, we asked our youngest listeners to send us the questions they would put to the author of the blockbuster series. We were floored by the response. An avalanche of emails hit our inbox from kids all over the country.

What a week it was to have been for Mitt Romney.

But what a week it wasn't.

Poised to triumphantly clinch the Republican nomination for president, Romney instead was upstaged Tuesday by supporter Donald Trump's new birther-on-steroids shtick that stole the headlines and the candidate's big moment.

Then on Thursday, ready to embarrass President Obama by holding a "surprise" press event in front of Solyndra, the Obama-touted California solar energy company that failed after getting a $535 million government loan guarantee, Romney was upstaged yet again.

The other day, I had a conversation with Melody Gardot about space. Not outer space, but the space between notes in her music. These days, there's lots of it.