The Salt
3:55 am
Sun November 6, 2011

A Food Security Expert On When 200,000 Tons Of Rice Went Missing

A farmer carries harvested rice on his shoulders in a paddy field in India.
Anupam Nath AP

Originally published on Sun November 6, 2011 3:58 am

In 2008, food prices around the world surged and awakened fears – which continue to this day — that the world could re-live the disastrous food shortages of the early 1970s.

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3:25 am
Sun November 6, 2011

Blindness Not Enough To Sideline California Teen

Taylor Howell told Vasquez High's football coach that if he wasn't blind he sure would love to play football. The coach told him he'd have to come up with a better excuse than that. The sophomore now plays center on the junior varsity team.
Gloria Hillard for NPR

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 10:19 am

It's afternoon practice for the junior varsity football team at Vasquez High in Acton, Calif. A high desert wind somersaults a discarded paper plate across the line of scrimmage just before it becomes a pile of white jerseys and purple helmets.

"You were offsides," the coach yells after blowing his whistle.

The players dust themselves off and line up for the next play. At center, is Taylor, a lean 15-year-old. His quarterback, Bryan McCauley, is a few yards behind him in shotgun formation.

"Down, set, hike, good," Bryan says.

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3:08 am
Sun November 6, 2011

Custom Cycle Ferries Sperm To Fertility Clinics

Alan Dowden, lab scientist and occasional courier, works at the Seattle Sperm Bank.
Keith Seinfeld for NPR

Originally published on Sun November 6, 2011 5:58 pm

Sometimes, couples need help getting pregnant. In Seattle, that help may arrive by bicycle.

To be more specific, a bicycle with a giant sperm cell replica on it.

"It's a delivery bike, purpose-built delivery bike, and inside the front of the sperm we can store one of our cryogenic shipping containers," says Alan Dowden, lab scientist and occasional courier.

Dowden works at the Seattle Sperm Bank. The front of the bike is the bulbous head of a sperm, about the size of very large beach ball, with a long tail stretching behind. It's framed in electric blue.

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2:44 am
Sun November 6, 2011

'Cake Theory' Has Chinese Eating Up Political Debate

Chinese children celebrate the Communist Party in Chongqing municipality in March. Bo Xilai, the region's party secretary who is vying for a place in the Politburo Standing Committee, espouses a government-intervention model to economics.
STR AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun November 6, 2011 5:58 pm

What goes on inside China's leadership is usually played out behind the closed oxblood doors of the compound where the top leaders live. This year, though, a political debate has sprung out in the open — and it has leaders and constituents considering how to move forward politically.

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Around the Nation
5:30 pm
Sat November 5, 2011

Who Benefits When A Private Prison Comes To Town?

The entrance to the Two Rivers Regional Detention Facility in Hardin, Mont. The 464-bed detention facility was built with the promise of bringing jobs and stimulating the economy, but it has sat empty since it was completed in 2007.
Matthew Brown AP

Originally published on Sun November 6, 2011 7:24 am

Federal and state officials are increasingly contracting private companies to run prisons and immigration detention centers.

Critics have long questioned the quality of private prisons and the promises of economic benefits where they are built. But proponents say private prisons not only save taxpayers money, but they also generate income for the surrounding community.

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3:48 pm
Sat November 5, 2011

From Samba To Flamenco, A Latin Grammy Preview

The Los Angeles band La Santa Cecilia is nominated in the Best Tropical Song category at this year's Latin Grammys.
Rene Miranda Courtesy of the artist

The 2011 Latin Grammy Awards will take place this Thursday in Las Vegas. For those unfamiliar with the categories and nominees, Betto Arcos of KPFK's Global Village returns to weekends on All Things Considered to play songs from a few of his favorite nominated performers. Included are a samba artist best known for his film role as a singing sailor, the reigning king of flamenco, one of Mexico's biggest bands and an L.A. ensemble that channels the various sounds of its city.

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Around the Nation
3:28 pm
Sat November 5, 2011

Unlikely Advocates Fight For Gay Rights In Mich. City

The Rev. Bill Freeman reads from a copy of the U.S. Constitution during a public hearing before the Holland City Council in June. Despite appeals from Freeman and others, the council decided not to expand its anti-discrimination laws to include gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Lindsey Smith

Originally published on Sat November 5, 2011 9:33 pm

Last June, the city council in Holland, Mich., voted against adding sexual orientation and gender identity to its local anti-discrimination laws. Now an unlikely coalition is pressuring the city council to change that vote.

On Wednesday nights, Pastor Bill Freeman turns the podium of the city council meeting into a pulpit. He wants Holland to adopt local laws that would protect people from getting fired or kicked out of their homes because they are gay, bisexual or transgender.

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Author Interviews
2:29 pm
Sat November 5, 2011

A Tale Of Forgiveness From The Tragedy Of Masada

Alice Hoffman is the author of more than 30 books.
Deborah Feingold

Originally published on Sat November 5, 2011 5:33 pm

When Jerusalem fell in 70 AD, hundreds of Jews journeyed through the desert and settled in the haven of Masada. In what is now southern Israel, Masada was an old fortress of King Herod's that sits atop an enormous rock plateau surrounded by steep cliffs.

"When I was there, I felt so moved and so connected," author Alice Hoffman tells Laura Sullivan, guest host of weekends on All Things Considered.

Hoffman was so struck by the beauty of Masada's rocky terrain, she says, that she chose to make it the backdrop in her new novel, The Dovekeepers.

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2:00 pm
Sat November 5, 2011

'Darkhorse' Battalion And The Afghan War

This past week, All Things Considered has been sharing stories about the Darkhorse Battalion — that's the Marine unit that suffered the highest casualty rate of any Marine unit during the 10-year Afghan war. NPR Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman wraps up the series today, as he tells weekends on All Things Considered guest host Laura Sullivan about some of the people he met — both on the battlefield and on the home front.