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Parallels
2:02 am
Tue September 17, 2013

Japan's Rice Farmers See Trade Deal As Threat To Tradition

Rice farmers pull a harvest festival cart down country lanes in Narita city, Chiba prefecture. The area is home to Tokyo's main airport, but also has many agricultural areas.
Anthony Kuhn NPR

Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 8:38 am

The Japanese city of Narita is best known to the outside world for its major airport that serves Tokyo, the nation's capital city.

Narita is also a rural area of Chiba Prefecture, however, with a long tradition of rice farming.

Toward the end of the summer, Narita's rice farmers gather to pray for bountiful harvests. They dance, play music and ride elaborate festival carts. From afar, the wagons appear to glide through a sea of lush green paddy fields as villagers pull them down Narita's placid country lanes.

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The Salt
2:01 am
Tue September 17, 2013

American Farmers Say They Feed The World, But Do They?

A cornfield is shrouded in mist at sunrise in rural Springfield, Neb.
Nati Harnik AP

Originally published on Thu September 19, 2013 5:30 pm

When critics of industrial agriculture complain that today's food production is too big and too dependent on pesticides, that it damages the environment and delivers mediocre food, there's a line that farmers offer in response: We're feeding the world.

It's high-tech agriculture's claim to the moral high ground. Farmers say they farm the way they do to produce food as efficiently as possible to feed the world.

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The Two-Way
1:07 am
Tue September 17, 2013

Mission Success: Costa Concordia Is Vertical

The Costa Concordia is seen after it was lifted upright on the Tuscan Island of Giglio, Italy, early Tuesday morning. Officials declared the results of the 19-hour operation "perfect."
Andrew Medichini AP

Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 11:24 am

In an operation that took 19 hours, the luxury cruise ship Costa Concordia is now in an upright position.

The head of Italy's Civil Protection agency, Franco Gabrielli, announced the ship had reached vertical and that the operation to rotate it was complete, according to The Associated Press.

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NPR Ombudsman
8:51 pm
Mon September 16, 2013

The Patriotism Of NPR And Its Sponsor Al Jazeera America

Joie Chen, host of the new Al Jazeera America nightly news program America Tonight, sits at the anchor desk in the network's studio space at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri October 4, 2013 3:54 pm

Al Jazeera America, the new cable news network owned by the Emirate of Qatar, has been running sponsorship ads on NPR for the last month as part of its launch campaign.

Some listeners are upset, accusing NPR of being unpatriotic or naïve. Some add that it also has been unethical. Three NPR stories about the new English-language channel did not mention the sponsorship. Most of the complaints, recalling the coverage by Al Jazeera's Arabic network of American deaths early in the Iraq war, are obviously heartfelt.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
8:46 pm
Mon September 16, 2013

Shovels & Rope: Tiny Desk Concert

Shovels and Rope plays a Tiny Desk Concert in June 2013.
Chloe Coleman NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 5:10 pm

Shovels & Rope's presence in the NPR Music offices attracted plenty of interest; many in attendance had long since fallen in love with the husband-and-wife duo's mix of rowdy folk-rock and rootsy balladeering.

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A Blog Supreme
8:44 pm
Mon September 16, 2013

Educated Guesses At The 2013 Monk Competition

The 2013 finalists pose with Thelonious Monk Institute officials. Left to right: Godwin Louis, Melissa Aldana, institute honorary co-chair Billy Dee Williams, Tivon Pennicott, chairman T.S. Monk.
Steve Mundinger Courtesy of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz

Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 11:19 am

Yesterday's semifinal round of the 2013 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition was, to my ears, predictable.

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The Two-Way
8:43 pm
Mon September 16, 2013

JPMorgan To Get Whale Of A Fine For Trading Losses

JPMorgan Chase will reportedly pay a $700 million fine to settle allegations that it made risky trades out of its London office that led to more than $6 billion in losses.
Mark Lennihan AP

Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 8:38 am

Authorities are set to slap banking giant JPMorgan Chase with a massive fine over the bank's huge trading losses in London last year, confirms NPR's Jim Zarroli.

Though details of the deal are still pending, several reports put the amount at more than $700 million. It comes on the heels of the bank's having recently paid $410 million to settle charges that it manipulated energy markets.

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Microphone Check
8:43 pm
Mon September 16, 2013

Microphone Check Presents: 'Eight Million Stories: Hip-Hop In 1993'

Ronald Croudy

Originally published on Thu September 19, 2013 5:03 pm

Over the 12 months of 1993, the Wu-Tang Clan, Snoop Dogg, A Tribe Called Quest, Queen Latifah, Tupac Shakur and more than a dozen other rap groups all released albums that helped change the sound of America.

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The Two-Way
8:42 pm
Mon September 16, 2013

South Korean Soldiers Kill Man Trying To Cross To North

South Korean soldiers patrol along a military fence near the demilitarized zone dividing the two Koreas in the border city of Paju in April.
Jung Yeon-je AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon September 16, 2013 2:29 pm

Thousands of North Korean defectors have made their way to the South, but it rarely goes in the opposite direction. So, news that South Korean troops at the border shot and killed a man trying to swim north across the Imjin River is unusual.

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Animals
6:52 pm
Mon September 16, 2013

Earwax From Whales Keeps Record Of Ocean Contaminants

A blue whale (and human diver) swimming off the coast of Trincomalee, Sri Lanka, in April 2011.
Amos Nachoun Barcroft Media/Landov

Originally published on Thu March 20, 2014 7:07 am

How often do whales clean their ears? Well, never. And so, year after year, their earwax builds up, layer upon layer. According to a study published Monday, these columns of earwax contain a record of chemical pollution in the oceans.

The study used the earwax extracted from the carcass of a blue whale that washed ashore on a California beach back in 2007. Scientists at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History collected the wax from inside the skull of the dead whale and preserved it. The column of wax was almost a foot long.

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