Parallels
2:52 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

In China, Customer Service And Efficiency Begin To Blossom

A couple waits for a high-speed train in the Chinese city of Qinhuangdao. Modern infrastructure and the expanding private sector have greatly increased efficiency and customer service in many parts of Chinese life.
Ed Jones AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 6:56 pm

China's infamous bureaucracy has bedeviled people for ages, but in recent years, daily life in some major Chinese cities has become far more efficient.

For instance, when I worked in Beijing in the 1990s, many reporters had drivers. It wasn't because they didn't drive, but because they needed someone to deal with China's crippling bureaucracy.

I had a man named Old Zhao, who would drive around for days to pay our office bills at various government utility offices. Zhao would sit in line for hours, often only to be abused by functionaries.

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The Two-Way
2:32 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

What's The Meaning Of This? A New Twist In The Spelling Bee

Minka Gill of Kokomo, Ind., participates in Round 2 of the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee on Wednesday.
Alex Wong Getty Images

If Snigdha Nandipati, the 14-year-old who won last year's Scripps National Spelling Bee, had been asked to define her winning word, "guetapens," things might have turned out differently.

This year, a vocabulary test with word definitions is, for the first time in the bee's 86-year history, part of the competition. Preliminary and semifinal contestants must pass the test to get to the finals of the grueling competition.

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Shots - Health News
2:24 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

Middle East Coronavirus Called 'Threat To The Entire World'

A nurse walks towards the Roger Salengro Hospital in Lille, France, where two patients were diagnosed with a coronavirus related to SARS.
Michel Spingler AP

Originally published on Mon June 3, 2013 10:43 am

If you've been following the news out of China about the latest bird flu and its threats to humans, may we direct your attention toward the Middle East for a minute?

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Business
2:21 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

What's Under Youngstown May Help What's On Top

By leasing land for drilling, city leaders in Youngstown, Ohio, hope to generate funds to demolish vacant buildings.
M.L. Schultze for NPR

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 6:18 pm

A century ago, when fiery steel mills were roaring to life in Youngstown, Ohio, builders were racing to put up homes, storefronts, barbershops and more.

Today, many of those buildings sit empty and rotting. With the mills mostly gone and the population down 60 percent from 1960, to just 67,000, the city needs millions of dollars to tear down roughly 4,000 vacant structures.

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Bluegrass/Americana
2:19 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

The Stray Birds On Mountain Stage

The Stray Birds.
Brian Blauser Mountain Stage

Originally published on Wed July 2, 2014 9:34 am

The Stray Birds' members make their first appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live on the campus of West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon. The trio, based in rural Lancaster Penn., features fiddlers Maya de Vitry and Oliver Craven, with Charles Muench on bass — and all three sing lead.

The band's own original songs include "My Brother's Hill," which Craven wrote for bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley. The Stray Birds' set also includes de Vitry's "Railroad Man," which was not heard in the radio broadcast. The group's self-titled debut came out last year.

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Deceptive Cadence
1:48 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

We Asked, You Created: Your 'Rite Of Spring' Videos

A still from Ann Robideaux' choreography for the last minute of The Rite of Spring.
courtesy of Ann Robideaux

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 8:35 pm

A few weeks ago, we asked you to take the last minute of Stravinsky's famous music for The Rite of Spring, transform it into something new and post your creations to YouTube. And boy, did you guys deliver, just in time to mark the ballet's 100th anniversary — it premiered May 29, 1913 — in brilliant fashion.

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Monkey See
1:23 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

Kerfuffle Politics: The Statement Adam Levine Shouldn't Need To Make

Adam Levine made a very unnecessary statement after Tuesday night's The Voice.
Trae Patton NBC

Tuesday night on The Voice, Adam Levine — who's the lead singer of Maroon 5 when he's not judging reality television — had two of the singers on his team eliminated. To understand this, just know that each of the four judge-coaches (Levine, Shakira, Usher and Blake Shelton) starts out with a team of singers they're mentoring, and as they go through the competition, the coaches get pretty attached to the folks on their team and try to help them win. If one of your singers wins, you're sort of the "winning" coach for that season.

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Research News
1:21 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

Public Opinion On The Record Number Of Female Breadwinners

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

A new Pew study finds that in a record 40 percent of all households with kids under 18, mothers are either the sole or primary source of income. In 1960, that share was just over 10 percent. These breadwinner moms number in the millions, but about three-quarters of all adults say that the prominence of women's economic role makes it harder to raise children. Half say it's made marriage harder to succeed. If you're one of these breadwinner moms, call, tell us what we don't know about the tradeoffs.

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Environment
1:15 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

Colorado Crisis: America's Great River Dwindles in Drought

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 3:15 pm

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan.

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Politics
1:13 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

The Role Of The Attorney General Throughout History

Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 2:39 pm

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan, in Washington. The president throws footballs with Chris Christie on the Jersey Shore. Michele Bachmann throws in the towel in Minnesota. And Scott Gomez throws shade at Ed Markey in Massachusetts. It's Wednesday and time for a...

GABRIEL GOMEZ: Pond scum...

CONAN: Edition of the Political Junkie.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDINGS)

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: There you go again.

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