This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. This year's flu season started early. Eight states already report widespread flu activity, and doctors say it's a nasty strain this year, too. The good news is this year's vaccine is a good match. But even so, the flu will kill thousands more, probably tens of thousands of Americans, before it runs its course. Why? And what more can we do to reduce that number?
As you probably heard by now, the great sitar player Ravi Shankar died yesterday at the age of 92. His music arrived in most American ears thanks to George Harrison and the Beatles, whose interest triggered something of a sitar craze back in the late '60s. Harrison played the exotic instrument on a couple of tracks. The Rolling Stones followed suit on "Paint It Black." The electric sitar soon followed. But Ravi Shankar remained the unchallenged master. But what do I know? He's the only Indian-born sitar player I ever heard.
Ke$ha uses a dollar-sign instead of an "s" in the middle of her stage name. It's one of those gestures that's meant to bait her detractors — suggesting before anyone else does that she's only in it for the money. It turns out, though, that like pop stars ranging from Madonna on back to Chuck Berry, Ke$ha wants it both ways: mass-audience success and artistic acknowledgment. For Ke$ha, that's what her album title Warrior means: She's fighting a war on multiple fronts.
By the time he turned 40, Joseph Kennedy was a millionaire many times over and the head of what would soon become one of America's greatest political dynasties. In his new biography of the senior Kennedy, The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy, David Nasaw charts Kennedy's life and trajectory from Boston society boy to Hollywood bigwig to controversial ambassador to Great Britain as World War II unfolded on the European stage.
It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.
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Late today a federal bankruptcy judge gave the nod to a Chinese firm to buy a Massachusetts technology company. A123 Systems makes batteries for electric cars, but some in Congress are fighting to block the deal. Curt Nickisch reports from member station WBUR in Boston.