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The Two-Way
2:55 pm
Wed April 17, 2013

On Independence Day, A Subdued Syrian Capital

Pro-Assad, flag-painted Hummers are often seen driving throughout Damascus blasting patriotic songs and regime slogans. These two vehicles were photographed at the site of blasts earlier this month near Syria's central bank.
NPR

The writer is a Syrian citizen living in Damascus who is not being further identified out of safety concerns.

On this day in 1946, Syria celebrated the withdrawal of the last French soldier from its soil, and announced itself as an independent, 20th century-style nation-state.

It was a day of hope and jubilation, which over the years my older relatives would periodically recollect from memory.

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Movie Reviews
2:26 pm
Wed April 17, 2013

Digging Into Ricky Jay's 'Deceptive' Card Tricks

Veteran magician Ricky Jay reveals much about himself in a new documentary on his life of deception. His card-trick techniques? That may be another story.
Kino Lorber

Originally published on Wed April 17, 2013 7:37 pm

When people talk about movie magic, they rarely mean card tricks. They're talking about digital wizardry and special effects.

But a new documentary called Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay is all about card tricks — and a man who has devoted his life to them.

Card artist Ricky Jay keeps up a constant stream of chatter in his act onstage — everything from gambling poems to stories about The Great Cardini — and it's all very entertaining, but the patter is designed to distract you from what he's doing.

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Deceptive Cadence
2:13 pm
Wed April 17, 2013

The Conductor Who Gained Power By Giving It Up

Colin Davis found power in humility later in his career — and one astonished music journalist.
Alberto Venzago

Originally published on Wed April 17, 2013 2:09 pm

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The Two-Way
2:13 pm
Wed April 17, 2013

Iconic Gospel Singer George Beverly Shea Dies

George Beverly Shea talks at his home in Montreat, N.C. in Jan., 2009.
Chuck Burton AP

Originally published on Wed April 17, 2013 10:01 am

Grammy-winning gospel singer George Beverly Shea died in Asheville, North Carolina last night after a brief illness. He was 104.

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The Two-Way
2:13 pm
Wed April 17, 2013

New Zealand Lawmakers Pass Same-Sex Marriage Law

Jills Angus Burney, left, and Deborah Hambly, right, who hope to marry in New Zealand, watch lawmakers ahead of the vote on same-sex marriage on Thursday, April 17, 2013.
Nick Perry AP

Originally published on Wed April 17, 2013 8:41 am

By a vote of 77 to 44, lawmakers in New Zealand have passed a new law permitting same-sex marriage. The bill was adopted after its third reading and is to take effect in August, according to the New Zealand Herald.

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All Songs Considered
2:12 pm
Wed April 17, 2013

Glenn Jones' Bittersweet 'Farewell' To A Family Home

Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed April 17, 2013 7:03 am

It's incredibly calming to watch Glenn Jones play acoustic guitar. Whether he's appearing by the train tracks or in one of our Tiny Desk Concerts, there's nothing flashy about his style, only careful consideration as he gently hops over the frets like a lily-padding frog.

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From The NPR Bookshelves
2:10 pm
Wed April 17, 2013

Meet America's Poets Laureate, Past And Present

Originally published on Wed April 17, 2013 6:03 am

To celebrate National Poetry Month this April, NPR Books reached into the archives for some interviews with the nation's official poets. Poets Laureate past and present have revealed their eloquence and insight in these interviews, where they discuss their inspirations, their heart-breaking memories, their confrontations with aging — and, in the case of Ted Kooser, how his wife felt about his thousands of Valentines.

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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
2:10 pm
Wed April 17, 2013

There's Trouble Brewing At The Birth Of The Universe

as observed by Planck. The CMB is a snapshot of the oldest light in our Universe, imprinted on the sky when the Universe was just 380,000 years old." href="/post/theres-trouble-brewing-birth-universe" class="noexit lightbox">
Cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB) as observed by Planck. The CMB is a snapshot of the oldest light in our Universe, imprinted on the sky when the Universe was just 380,000 years old.
Planck Collaboration ESA

Originally published on Tue April 16, 2013 4:59 pm

Scientists can't just agree to disagree. It's not because we are stubborn or ornery (OK, maybe we are). It's because the whole point of science is to establish "public knowledge" — an understanding of the cosmos on which we can all agree. That is why there is trouble brewing at the beginning of the Universe.

There is a number, the Hubble Constant, that's fundamental to the study of the cosmos. The problem is, different folks are finding different values for that number and no one yet knows what that means.

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The Salt
1:59 pm
Wed April 17, 2013

Science In A Scoop: Making Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream

The store uses a patented machine to keep ingredients churning and mix in the liquid nitrogen in a safe, controlled manner.
Alan Greenblatt NPR

Originally published on Thu April 18, 2013 11:14 am

Robyn Sue Fisher's ice cream shop, Smitten, in San Francisco's Hayes Valley, may at moments resemble a high school chemistry lab, but that's because Fisher uses liquid nitrogen to freeze her product.

Nitrogen is "a natural element," she notes. "It's all around us."

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Wisdom Watch
1:58 pm
Wed April 17, 2013

Jazz Great Hugh Masekela, Fresh Because He's Fascinated

Mark Shoul Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed April 17, 2013 6:58 pm

"I was a good boy," South African jazz legend Hugh Masekela assures NPR's Michel Martin. But still, he says, "as a kid, I was whipped on a slow day at least three times."

Eventually, Masekela told his chaplain, "If I can get a trumpet, Father, I won't bother anybody."

His wish came true.

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