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All Things Considered is a NPR radio newsmagazine that delivers in-depth reporting and transforms the way listeners understand current events and view the world. The program presents breaking news mixed with compelling analysis, insightful commentaries, interviews, and special -- sometimes quirky -- features.

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Charles Townes, a physicist who won the Nobel Prize for his part in the invention of the laser died Tuesday at 99.

Townes is best remembered for thinking up the basic principles of the laser while sitting on a park bench. Later in life he helped advise the U.S. government and helped uncover the secrets of our Milky Way galaxy.

All around the country, computer hackers, artists and other do-it-yourselfers are meeting up in "maker spaces," to share tools and build cool stuff together, such as robots or musical instruments. Maker spaces are popping up in all sorts of places: school auditoriums, libraries, under tents at community festivals, and now, even at the hospital.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The FDA is considering whether to approve the experimental use of genetically modified mosquitoes in the Florida Keys to help stop the spread of dengue fever and other diseases. Mosquito control officials in the region say they hope to get approval to begin releasing the insects in the Keys as soon as this spring.

There are few places in the United States where mosquito control is as critical as the Florida Keys. In this southernmost county of the continental U.S., mosquitoes are a year-round public health problem and controlling them is a top priority.

As war rages in eastern Ukraine, European Union foreign ministers are preparing to meet Thursday to consider drastic new sanctions against Russia.

The EU and the United States say Moscow's troops and weapons are directly involved in an offensive by anti-government militias in Ukraine's eastern provinces.

The offensive is the latest phase in a war that has racked the region since last April — and it's grinding hard on the civilians who are caught in the middle.

In 2014, the South Dakota State Historical Society published the annotated autobiography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the "Little House" books. Her memoir, titled Pioneer Girl, sold like hotcakes. The initial print run of 15,000 was snapped up in just a few weeks. So was an additional run of 15,000 more copies. Now, the historical society is waiting on a third run of 45,000 books — enough to fill current demand and have some leftovers.

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Southern California gets the vast majority of its water from four aqueducts that flow from the north, but all of them cross the San Andreas Fault.

That means millions of people are just one major earthquake away from drying out for a year or more.

"It's a really concerning issue for the city of Los Angeles," says Craig Davis, an engineer with the LA Department of Water and Power, which oversees the LA aqueduct.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Several years ago, when her father died unexpectedly, writer Marie Mutsuki Mockett became unmoored. Lost in a deep depression, Mockett turned to Japan's rituals of mourning for a way forward.

Mockett's mother's family owns and runs a temple just 25 miles from the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The plant melted down after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Mockett begged her cousin, the temple's priest, to leave, but he refused — he said he needed to stay to care for the souls of the ancestors.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The Mysterious Life Of India's First Lady

Jan 27, 2015

This week President Obama traveled to India with his wife Michelle to meet with the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. But Mr. Modi's wife was nowhere to be seen. In fact she has never appeared in public with her husband and Mr. Modi only admitted her existence last year. Melissa Block talks with Annie Gowen of the Washington Post, who has interviewed Mrs. Modi.

Tuesday is the first day of a public inquiry into the death of former KGB agent and whistleblower Alexander Litvinenko. He was poisoned in London in 2006 with Polonium 210, a rare radioactive isotope. On his deathbed, Litvinenko claimed Russian President Vladimir Putin was responsible for the murder. Alan Cowell of the New York Times talks to Robert Siegel.

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President Obama says he will ask Congress to give wilderness status to protect more than 12 million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The president announced his intention Sunday in a video, describing the area as a pristine habitat with abundant wildlife.

The search for jurors in the case of accused Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is taking longer than expected.

Defense attorneys say it's nearly impossible to find open-minded, unbiased jurors around Boston. They're asking yet again for the judge to move the trial somewhere else.

From the beginning, defense attorneys have argued the entire jury pool has been poisoned by what they call "a narrative of guilt" from a "tidal wave" of media coverage. Now, Tsarnaev's lawyers say jurors' own comments on a court questionnaire prove widespread bias.

A team of Indian physicists has made a mathematical model that purports to explain why ants don't have traffic jams. NPR's Joe Palca explains as part of his series, Joe's Big Idea.

This story originally aired on Morning Edition on January 19, 2015.

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Putting #Deflategate To The Test

Jan 25, 2015
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New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick held a surprise press conference yesterday, not to talk about next week's Super Bowl, but about, well, you know, deflated footballs.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

At The William Grant Still Arts Center in the West Adams neighborhood in Los Angeles, jazz superstars and comic book superheroes are gathered together — in miniature, as part of the Black Doll Show.

For the past 34 years, the center has held a doll show to showcase diverse dolls for children. The exhibit features dolls submitted by artists and collectors from around the country. This year's theme is A League Supreme: Jazz Superheroes.

As part of a series called "My Big Break," All Things Considered is collecting stories of triumph, big and small. These are the moments when everything seems to click, and people leap forward into their careers.

Tom Toro didn't always dream of becoming a cartoonist at The New Yorker. Sure, he drew cartoons in college, but he didn't see that as a career path. Instead, he went to film school at NYU.

Then he came to the sudden realization that he was in the wrong field — and he had no idea what he was going to do.

Have you ever tried to organize a reunion for some of your old school friends? Everybody's scattered to various parts of the world, busy with their own lives; it makes you wonder if it's all worth it. The seven solo artists who sometimes get together as Doomtree can relate.

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There is a common belief that requiring the use of "politically correct" language in the workplace stifles creativity.

Michelle Duguid, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis, tells NPR's Arun Rath that, intuitively, that assumption makes sense.

"People should be able to freely think, throw any crazy ideas, and any constraint would actually dampen creativity," Duguid says.

This is the first in a series, "Inside Alzheimer's," about the experience of being diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease.

In 2009, 59-year-old Greg O'Brien was a successful journalist and writer living in Cape Cod. He was healthy and happy — he exercised every day, made a good living, spent time with his three children and wife.

But he had also started to notice changes in himself. He was forgetting things, and his judgment sometimes seemed to fail him. Meanwhile, his own mother was dying of Alzheimer's disease.

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