Music Interviews
4:04 pm
Fri April 13, 2012

The Magnetic Fields: 'Out Late At A Bar, Writing A Song'

Stephin Merritt (far left) has led The Magnetic Fields since the early 1990s, with a songwriting style that ranges from sincere to bitter to ironic.
Marcelo Krasilcic

For more than 20 years, the indie-pop group The Magnetic Fields has been singing songs about love, though not always in the traditional sense. With a style that ranges from bitter to sincere to ironic, Stephin Merritt — the group's frontman, writer and producer — has created a growing cast of characters surviving love's vicissitudes.

In his characteristic deadpan, Merritt tells NPR's Linda Wertheimer that he owes the inspiration for many of those characters to a particular ritual of his.

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It's All Politics
3:52 pm
Fri April 13, 2012

Romney Wins Some Votes, If Not All Hearts, At NRA Meeting

Chris Patrie looks at the Benelli display of shotguns during the NRA annual meetings and exhibits Friday in St. Louis.
Whitney Curtis Getty Images

Originally published on Fri April 13, 2012 4:27 pm

Some 70,000 people are attending the National Rifle Association's annual convention in St. Louis this weekend. It's hard to find any who support Barack Obama.

But that doesn't mean gun owners are completely sold on Mitt Romney. He may be the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, but many NRA members still harbor some doubts.

"I'd really like to see someone more pro-gun, but if he's all we got, he's all we got," said Kenny Hoehgesang, a retired power plant worker from Schnellville, Ind.

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Severe Weather
3:32 pm
Fri April 13, 2012

Storms Brewing This Weekend

National Weather Service Prediction Of Affected Areas on Saturday
National Weather Service, Ft. Worth

A severe weather system is expected to reach Northeast Texas late this weekend, bringing the potential for strong storms and heavy rainfall.

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Jazz
3:32 pm
Fri April 13, 2012

Alfredo Rodriguez: 'Crossing The Border' To Meet A Legend

Alfredo Rodriguez's new album is titled Sounds of Space.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri April 20, 2012 5:06 pm

In 2009, jazz pianist Alfredo Rodriguez showed up in Laredo, Texas, with only a suitcase, some sheet music and one aim: to collaborate with Quincy Jones. A Cuban seeking amnesty in the U.S., Rodriguez ended up arrested by Mexican border officials. He says they questioned him for hours and demanded money.

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Making Babies: 21st Century Families
3:29 pm
Fri April 13, 2012

Legal Debate Over Surrogacy Asks, Who Is A Parent?

William Stern holds his daughter, then known as Baby M, in 1987. The Sterns' surrogate tried to keep the baby after she was born. Their court battle became the first public debate about surrogacy.
M. Elizabeth Fulford AP

Third in a four-part report

These days it can take a village to create a child. Technology means someone who never thought they'd be able to conceive can use a sperm donor, an egg donor and a surrogate — a woman who bears a child for someone else. But the law has not kept pace with technology, and with so many people involved, a key question remains: Who is a legal parent?

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Europe
3:27 pm
Fri April 13, 2012

Tough Cuts In Portugal May Be Exacting High Toll

Retiree Alfredo Silva, 67, wore a skeleton costume to an anti-austerity protest in Lisbon, Portugal, last month.
Lauren Frayer for NPR

After a financial bailout earlier this year, fees in Portugal's health system have risen substantially. As a result, nongovernmental organizations say, the poor and elderly in Western Europe's poorest country can no longer afford essential care. Some Portuguese fear that austerity measures are threatening not only their livelihoods, but their lives.

Alfredo Silva, 67, showed up at an anti-austerity protest in Lisbon last month dressed as a skeleton. He says the costume shows the effect of Portugal's $100 billion bailout on retirees like him.

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Technology
3:15 pm
Fri April 13, 2012

It's Called 'As Hard As Rocket Science' For A Reason

An Atlas missile is launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla., in October 1964. Cape Canaveral has been the site of numerous launch failures as the United States developed missile and rocket technology.
Fox Photos Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 7:14 am

North Korea this week quite literally demonstrated an old truism, with the world as an anxious witness. It turns out that reaching space is, as the saying goes, as tough as rocket science.

The much hyped launch of the Unha-3 rocket, which North Korea said was meant to place a satellite into orbit to celebrate the centenary of the country's "Great Leader" Kim Il Sung, apparently failed Friday shortly after launch. It was the fourth time North Korea had tried and failed to do it, adding to the growing worldwide history of failed rocket launches.

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Television
3:04 pm
Fri April 13, 2012

'Airbender' Creators Reclaim Their World In 'Korra'

Korra demonstrates fire- and water-bending in The Legend of Korra, a new series from the creators of Avatar: The Last Airbender. It premieres April 14 on Nickelodeon.
Nickelodeon

Originally published on Tue January 29, 2013 4:55 pm

When M. Night Shyamalan's fantasy film The Last Airbender — panned by both critics and fans of the wildly popular TV series on which it was based — flopped majestically at the box office, it looked like the end of a valuable franchise.

But now, with The Legend of Korra, which premieres Saturday on Nickelodeon, the creators of Avatar: The Last Airbender have been given a rare chance to rebuild a world that was taken away from them.

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The Record
3:00 pm
Fri April 13, 2012

Kraftwerk In New York: Decades Of Influence On Display

Ralf Hutter (left) and the other members of Kraftwerk in performance at the Museum of Modern Art in New York on Tuesday.
Peter Boettcher Courtesy of MoMA

Imagine an era when mainstream music wasn't filled with synthesizers. When electronic music wasn't a force propelling everything from pop and hip-hop to music from the underground. There was a time when this world existed. Then Kraftwerk emerged, and the world we knew changed.

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The Two-Way
2:25 pm
Fri April 13, 2012

Cheney Expected At Wyoming GOP Convention Saturday

Former Vice President and Lynne Cheney at home after his release from Inova Fairfax Hospital in Northern Virginia, where he received the heart transplant.
Courtesy of Dick Cheney

Three weeks after a heart transplant, former Vice President Dick Cheney is expected to make his first public appearance on Saturday at the Wyoming Republican Party's annual convention.

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