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7:43am

Sat April 18, 2015
Fine Art

Wordless Ads Speak Volumes In 'Unbranded' Images Of Women

Originally published on Sat April 18, 2015 11:00 am

Come out of the Bone Age, darling....1955
Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

Advertisements don't need any words to say a lot about a culture.

That's one of the messages that shines through in the work of artist Hank Willis Thomas. In 2008, Thomas removed the text and branding from ads featuring African-Americans, creating a series he called Unbranded, which illustrated how America has seen and continues to see black people.

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3:43am

Fri April 17, 2015
Goats and Soda

When The World Bank Does More Harm Than Good

Originally published on Fri April 17, 2015 8:17 am

In the 1950s, the World Bank funded the creation of the world's largest man-made dam, the Kariba Dam, which sits on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia. The construction of such dams can have dire consequences for poor people living near a river, an investigation found.
Jekesai Njikizana AFP/Getty Images

The World Bank's goal is to end extreme poverty and to grow income for the poorest people on the planet.

The bank does this by lending money and giving grants to governments and private corporations in some of the least developed places on the planet. For example, money goes to preserving land, building dams and creating health care systems.

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3:46am

Thu April 16, 2015
Parallels

An American Journalist Explains Why He Had To Flee Iraq

Originally published on Thu April 16, 2015 12:05 pm

American journalist Ned Parker (foreground) is the Reuters bureau chief in Baghdad. He fled Iraq last week after receiving threats in response to reports on human rights abuses by Shiite militias allied with Iraq's government. He's shown here at Iraq's Foreign Ministry in 2007.
Courtesy of Ned Parker

When the U.S. withdrew its troops from Iraq in 2011, many American news organizations followed suit, scaling back or shutting down their bureaus. Ned Parker was among a handful of American journalists who continued to report from the country.

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3:34am

Wed April 15, 2015
History

Who Was John Wilkes Booth Before He Became Lincoln's Assassin?

Originally published on Wed April 15, 2015 12:33 pm

John Wilkes Booth was the son of prominent, wealthy actors. He, too, became an actor and was so popular, he was one of the first to have his clothes ripped off by fans.
Hulton Archive Getty

John Wilkes Booth was the man who pulled the trigger, capping off a coordinated plot to murder President Abraham Lincoln.

But historian Terry Alford, an expert on all things Booth, says that there's much more to Booth's life. His new biography, Fortune's Fool: The Life of John Wilkes Booth, delves deep into his life — before Booth went down in history as the man who assassinated a president.

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3:33am

Wed April 15, 2015
Goats and Soda

From Horses To High-Rises: An Insider 'Unmasks' China's Economic Rise

Originally published on Wed April 15, 2015 8:11 am

As China continues its massive economic growth, especially in cities, the government continues to severely limit people's rights. Is that system sustainable?
Johannes Eisele AFP/Getty Images

When Henry Paulson first visited Beijing in 1991 as a banker, cars still shared major roads with horses.

"I remember getting into a taxi that drove too fast on a two-lane highway ... [that was] clogged with bicycles and horses pulling carts," says the former secretary of treasury under George W. Bush. "You still saw the hutongs — the old neighborhoods [with narrow streets] — which were very, very colorful and an important part of life."

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5:26pm

Tue April 14, 2015
Movie Interviews

More Fear Of Human Intelligence Than Artificial Intelligence In 'Ex Machina'

Originally published on Tue April 14, 2015 7:45 pm

In Ex Machina, the world's first artificial intelligence, played by Alicia Vikander, possesses more emotional intelligence than originally intended.
Courtesy of A24 Films

Unlike most films about artificial intelligence, Ex Machina isn't about technological anxiety. "The anxiety in this film is much more directed at the humans," director Alex Garland tells NPR's Audie Cornish. "It was more in defense of artificial intelligence."

Garland tackled the zombie apocalypse as the writer behind the film 28 Days Later. In Ex Machina — his first film as director — he introduces us to Ava, a creation that is part woman and part machine. There's no hiding that Ava is a machine — but a very, very smart one.

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5:40pm

Mon April 13, 2015
Author Interviews

Take It From David Brooks: Career Success 'Doesn't Make You Happy'

Originally published on Tue April 14, 2015 11:38 am

The day after Japan surrendered in 1945, and World War II ended, singer Bing Crosby appeared on the radio program Command Performance. "Well it looks like this is it," he said. "What can you say at a time like this? You can't throw your skimmer in the air — that's for a run-of-the-mill holiday. I guess all anybody can do is thank God it's over."

New York Times columnist David Brooks cites this and other aspects of that 70-year-old radio program as evidence that America once marked triumph without boasting.

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5:53pm

Sun April 12, 2015
Author Interviews

From Harpies To Heroines: How Shakespeare's Women Evolved

Originally published on Sun April 12, 2015 6:43 pm

Tina Packer has spent a lifetime researching Shakespeare and his plays, both as an actress and as a director. And as she focused on the role that women play in his works, she noticed a progression.

Consider Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew, one of his earliest plays, which centers on a man breaking a defiant woman's spirit. Strong-willed Kate is a harridan; her compliant sister, meanwhile, says things like, "Sir, to your pleasure humbly I subscribe."

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5:52pm

Sun April 12, 2015
History

Discovery Gives New Ending To A Death At The Civil War's Close

Originally published on Mon April 13, 2015 8:02 pm

An engraving depicts Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's surrender to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant in Appomattox, Va.
Library Of Congress

For decades, the story of Hannah Reynolds' death read like a tragedy of historical circumstance.

In 1865, Reynolds was a slave in the household of Samuel Coleman in the Virginia village of Appomattox Court House. And as Union and Confederate troops fought the Battle of Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865, a cannonball tore through the Coleman house.

The Coleman family had left the day before, but Reynolds had stayed behind. The cannonball struck her in the arm and, it was thought, she died that same day, as the battle's only civilian casualty.

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7:25am

Sun April 12, 2015
Author Interviews

In 'Distant Marvels,' A Witness To Revolutions Tells Cuba's Story

Originally published on Sun April 12, 2015 11:01 am

It's 1963 Cuba and a woman named Maria Sirena is taking shelter from a hurricane inside the former governor's mansion, along with a small group of other Cuban women. Maria distracts the women at their request by recounting stories of her childhood — personal stories that trace the history of Cuba's long fight for independence.

That's the premise of Chantel Acevedo's latest novel, The Distant Marvels. Acevedo, herself the daughter of Cuban immigrants, tells NPR's Rachel Martin that she intentionally made Maria part of a unique generation in Cuba.

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