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Around the Nation
3:27 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

Instead Of Surgery, Man Pedals Off The Pounds

Ernest Gagnon weighed 570 pounds before he decided to lose weight by taking up cyclocross racing. Forgoing surgery, Gagnon lost more than 200 pounds and recently competed in his first cyclocross race.
Courtesy of Ernest Gagnon

Originally published on Tue October 9, 2012 10:02 pm

A lot of Americans are struggling to lose a whole lot of weight, and they try all kinds of crazy things.

Ernest Gagnon — a man from Billerica, Mass. — decided to shed pounds by getting into the often intense, high-adrenaline sport of cyclocross: racing road bikes on obstacle courses.

Two years ago, Gagnon tipped the scales at 570 pounds. He was depressed and embarrassed to leave the house.

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World Cafe
3:21 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

Field Report On World Cafe

Field Report.
Travis Whitty

Originally published on Wed February 20, 2013 12:41 pm

Field Report founder and frontman Chris Porterfield assumed his music career was over after he left the Wisconsin band DeYarmond Edison, which also featured Justin Vernon of Bon Iver and several current members of Megafaun. Following the band's 2006 breakup, Porterfield started writing music for the first time, taking years to hone his skills.

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Music Reviews
2:24 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

Shemekia Copeland Embodies The Blues On '33 1/3'

Shemekia Copeland's new album is titled 33 1/3.
Sandrine Lee Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu October 11, 2012 2:25 pm

Shemekia Copeland says she didn't really find her singing voice until her teen years, when her father, the late blues guitarist Johnny Copeland, began suffering from health issues. On her new album, 33 1/3, she finds a different kind of voice — one that's eager to participate in a national dialogue.

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Europe
1:58 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

German Catholics' Path To Heaven Comes With Taxes

Bavarian bishops walk in a procession to the Basilica of the Fourteen Holy Helpers near Bad Staffelstein, Germany, in May. A decree by the German bishops' conference warns that German Catholics who do not pay a state church tax will be denied sacraments.
Daniel Karmann EPA/Landov

Originally published on Tue October 9, 2012 10:02 pm

Germany's bishops have a clear message for the country's 25 million Catholics: The road to heaven requires more than faith and good intentions; it requires tax payments, too.

Last month, German bishops warned that if members of the Catholic Church don't pay the country's church tax, they'll be denied the sacraments — including baptisms, weddings and funerals.

In increasingly secular Europe, Germany is one of the few countries where the state collects a special levy from tax-registered believers and hands it over to three organized faiths.

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Studio Sessions
1:44 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

Gregoire Maret Makes His Way On The Harmonica

On his self-titled debut, Gregoire Maret collaborates with Raul Midon, Marcus Miller and Cassandra Wilson.
Ingrid C. Hertfelder Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri October 12, 2012 10:23 am

Over the past decade, Swiss musician Gregoire Maret has redefined the role of the harmonica in modern jazz. After cutting his teeth as a sideman for some the biggest names in jazz, he's now taken center stage as a bandleader.

Here, Maret talks with NPR's Neal Conan about recording his self-titled debut album, building a following for the jazz harmonica and making the transition from sideman to headliner.


Interview Highlights

On how he got his start

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U.S.
1:41 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

Getting To Yes On Gay Marriage, One Voter At A Time

Rion Tucker is a canvasser for Equality Maine. The organization is working to get supporters to the polls on Election Day, to vote for a ballot initiative legalizing same-sex marriage.
Michael May for NPR

Originally published on Tue October 9, 2012 6:10 pm

Rion Tucker is covering a lot of ground in his home state of Maine these days. The 20-year-old is a canvasser for Equality Maine, and he's been knocking on lots of doors in an effort to make sure that voters in his state pass a ballot initiative in November legalizing same-sex marriage.

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Health
1:23 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

When Prolonging Death Seems Worse Than Death

Rudyanto Wijaya iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu October 11, 2012 3:18 pm

Many of us think of death as the worst possible outcome for a terminally ill patient, but Judith Schwarz disagrees.

Schwarz, a patient supporter at the nonprofit Compassion & Choices, says prolonging death can be a far worse fate. For many patients, good palliative or hospice care can alleviate suffering, yet "a small but significant proportion of dying patients suffer intolerably," Schwarz writes.

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Education
1:03 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

Weighing Alternatives To Affirmative Action

Originally published on Wed October 10, 2012 8:47 am

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Tomorrow the Supreme Court revisits the decades-long debate on the use of affirmative action in college admissions. In the latest case, Fisher versus University of Texas at Austin, a white student argues that she was denied admission on account of her race.

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From Our Listeners
1:03 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

Letters: Helping Kids Handle Grief

Originally published on Wed October 10, 2012 8:47 am

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

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Strange News
1:03 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

Casting Hopes And Dreams To Sea In A Bottle

Originally published on Wed October 10, 2012 11:37 am

Capt. Sean Bercaw has thrown hundreds of messages in bottles into the ocean, and received dozens of responses. It started when he was just a child.

"I was born into a family with this crazy dream of sailing around the world," he tells NPR's Neal Conan. At age 10, he and his family set off on a three-and-a-half-year voyage around the world. It was on that trip that he got the idea to put notes in bottles.

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