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My Big Break
4:35 pm
Sun January 18, 2015

A Tattooist And A Tweet Take A Band From Tiny Clubs To Tours

Noelle Scaggs and Michael Fitzpatrick provide the vocals for the band Fitz and the Tantrums.
Courtesy of the artist

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.

The Los Angeles-based band Fitz and the Tantrums has been called a "genre-smashing" group — blending retro soul and R&B with indie pop.

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Around the Nation
4:22 pm
Sun January 18, 2015

Welcome To Whittier, Alaska, A Community Under One Roof

Begich Towers is located at the edge of town. Photographer Reed Young wanted to capture the dry-docked boat in the foreground. "You see a ton of boats that are just scattered all over," he says.
Reed Young The California Sunday Magazine

Originally published on Mon January 19, 2015 11:22 am

Whittier, Alaska, is a sleepy town on the west side of Prince William Sound, tucked between picturesque mountains. But if you're picturing a small huddle of houses, think again.

Instead, on the edge of town, there stands a 14-story building called Begich Towers — a former Army barracks, resembling an aging hotel, where most of the town's 200 residents live.

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Shots - Health News
3:59 pm
Sun January 18, 2015

Calif. Strike Highlights Larger Issues With Mental Health System

A Kaiser mental health worker with the National Union of Healthcare Workers looks through a pile of signs Monday during day one of a week-long demonstration outside of a Kaiser Permanente hospital in San Francisco.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Sun January 18, 2015 4:22 pm

This past week, more than 2,000 mental health workers for the HMO health care giant Kaiser Permanente in California went on strike.

The strike was organized by the National Union of Healthcare Workers. The union says Kaiser Permanente patients have been the victims of "chronic failure to provide its members with timely, quality mental health care."

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All Tech Considered
3:18 pm
Mon January 12, 2015

Bored ... And Brilliant? A Challenge To Disconnect From Your Phone

Illustration by John Hersey Courtesy of WNYC

Originally published on Thu January 15, 2015 3:57 pm

Hey smartphone owners — when was the last time you were truly bored? Or even had a moment for mental downtime, unattached to a device?

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Author Interviews
4:48 pm
Sat January 10, 2015

'Blood Of The Tiger': Shedding Light On China's Farmed-Tiger Trade

Joanne Stemberger iStockphoto

Originally published on Sat January 10, 2015 5:47 pm

In 1991, wildlife investigator J. A. Mills went to China to verify rumors about tiger farming. She worked undercover, for the World Wildlife Fund and an organization called Traffic.

"I mainly pretended I was a student of traditional Chinese medicine to try to figure out not only what was being traded, but why it was being traded," Mills tells NPR's Arun Rath.

She says she found China's first tiger farm — complete with a hand-written ledgers filling up with orders for tiger bone.

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Movie Interviews
4:52 pm
Fri January 9, 2015

'I Was A Dramatic Kid': For Jessica Chastain, Acting Came Naturally

Jessica Chastain says her grandmother has played a key role in her career. "I've taken her to the Oscars both years," Chastain says. "She's really a special lady and has helped me in more ways than I could ever explain."
Rafa Rivas AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon January 12, 2015 4:06 pm

The new movie A Most Violent Year is set in New York City in 1981 — a chaotic time of spiraling crime. The story involves corruption in the heating oil industry: the hijacking of fuel tankers, a businessman trying to stay on the straight and narrow, and a prosecutor who has that businessman in his sights. And finally, there's the story of the businessman's wife ... who may hold all the cards.

Jessica Chastain plays Anna Morales, the upwardly mobile daughter of a Brooklyn gangster. She keeps the books for her husband's fuel business — as well as a number of secrets.

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Environment
7:54 pm
Sun January 4, 2015

A Shadow Economy Lurks In An Electronics Graveyard

Kwesi Bido, 14, (right) stops to fix 13-year-old Inusa Mohammed's flip flop. Both spend evenings and weekends searching for scrap at Agbogbloshie, an electronic waste dump in Accra, Ghana.
Courtesy of Yepoka Yeebo

Originally published on Wed January 7, 2015 2:51 pm

The average American produces an estimated 66 pounds of electronic waste every year. You can't compost it; it's gotta go somewhere.

Often, in violation of the law, that means a dump in the developing world — like the region of Agbogbloshie in the West African nation Ghana.

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Author Interviews
5:25 pm
Sun January 4, 2015

How 'Star Wars' Helped Patton Oswalt Beat His Movie Addiction

Originally published on Sun January 4, 2015 8:37 pm

Before he made it big in Holloywood, actor, writer and comedian Patton Oswalt was a junkie — addicted to movies, as he explains in a new memoir, Silver Screen Fiend.

The word addiction gets thrown around a lot, but Oswalt tells NPR's Arun Rath that his relationship to movies was downright pathological.

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Opinion
4:06 pm
Sun January 4, 2015

In This New Year, Is It Time To Nix The Thank-You Letter?

Peter Ormerod argues that parents shouldn't force their children to write thank-you cards — it's an exercise in insincerity, he says, and there are better ways to promote gratitude.
Diego Cervo iStockphoto

Originally published on Sun January 4, 2015 9:09 pm

Now that the holidays are over, another season has arrived. It's time for children to put pen to paper and scratch out thank you letters — all under the watchful eye of their parents.

In a recent piece for The Guardian, Peter Ormerod argues that it's time to do away with that ritual. He writes that thank you letters "represent arguably the first instance in our lives when insincerity is officially sanctioned, which is particularly sad given that the best thing about children is their honesty."

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The Salt
6:01 pm
Sat January 3, 2015

Marketers Turn To Memories Of Sweeter Times To Sell Cereal

General Mills is bringing back the popular '90s cereal in a nod to nostalgia and in the hopes of boosting its weak cereal sales.
General Mills AP

Originally published on Sun January 4, 2015 9:54 am

The taste of foods from our childhood can trigger intense emotional reactions. It's a fact well known to students of French literature and marketing executives.

And it's changing the make-up of the cereal aisle. Thanks to the power of food nostalgia, General Mills is bringing back the sugary cereal French Toast Crunch.

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