All Things Considered for Thursday, January 16, 2014

Veterans Groups Speak Out Against Pension Cuts

Veterans groups are upset about the cut to military pensions in the proposed budget deal. They see it as a broken promise and a sign that veterans are considered politically expendable.
The Pentagon responds to backlash about the veterans pension cuts included in the proposed congressional budget deal. The cuts, which extend to survivors' benefits and special compensation for combat, have riled veterans groups and several lawmakers.

Snubs And Surprises Abound In Oscar Nominations

Oscar nominations were announced on Thursday morning, and some notable names went missing. But, as NPR film critic Bob Mondello observes, in such a strong year for movies and performances, there were bound to be a few deserving ones that got snubbed.

Letters: Beethoven's Ninth Symphony

Melissa Block and Audie Cornish read emails from listeners about the effect that Beethoven's Ninth Symphony has had on them.
President Obama met on Thursday with over 140 college presidents from across the nation to discuss ways of helping lower-income students enroll in college. Tuition costs, student-loan debt and admissions policies were on the agenda.

The Obamas Hope To Ease Path For Low-Income Students

President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama hosted a meeting with college presidents and organizations involved in raising the number of low-income students who pursue a college degree. No more than half of low income high school graduates apply to college right after graduation, compared to 82 percent for high-income students. The administration says it's intent on closing that gap.
The 2014 Australian Open is breaking records for heat. High temperatures are being recorded in Melbourne, making this year's Australian Open one of the hottest ever. For more on the oppressive heat, Melissa Block speaks with Jon Wertheim, an executive editor with Sports Illustrated who is covering the tournament in Melbourne.
The chemical spill from the Freedom Industries tank farm has raised questions around chemical regulatory procedures. For more information, Melissa Block speaks with Ken Ward, a reporter with The Charleston Gazette.

An Unusual Twist In Recent West Bank Clash

In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, near-daily incidents between Jewish settlers and Palestinians keep tensions at a constant simmer. Olive trees are destroyed, tires are slashed, mosques are defaced. But Palestinians defused further violence in a confrontation last week when they protected Jewish settlers.

A Taste Of South Texas In A 9x13 Dish

Sandy Pollock and Crystal Cook, aka the Casserole Queens, pass along a recipe for King Ranch Casserole. Sandy grew up with the cheesy Tex-Mex dish and says the traditional quick-fix doesn't need updating. Never mind if the casserole's origins have gotten mixed up along the way: This one's a keeper.
On Thursday, Lockheed Martin and the sporting goods company Under Armour unveiled long-awaited photos of the new U.S. speedskating uniform they're calling "Mach 39." Unlike other suits, it's not made entirely of smooth, slippery fabric to reduce air drag.
Husband and wife duo Lucky Diaz and Alisha Gaddis are the act behind Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band. The Latin Grammy winners have released a new album, and it comes in the form of a radio show. Kids music reviewer Stefan Shepherd says that this couple has demonstrated they're not afraid to reinvent their sound.
Audie talks with Richard Clarke, a former U.S. cybersecurity adviser and member of President Obama's Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies. On the day before the president is set to announce reforms to the government's surveillance activities, Clarke drops by to discuss the group's recommendations.
Republican hopes of picking up the six seats needed to capture the U.S. Senate include a suddenly interesting race. Ed Gillespie, former chairman of the Republican National Committee and a top White House aide to President George W. Bush, announced that he'll challenge popular Democratic Sen. Mark Warner.
Scientists hunting for planets that could support life have been too focused on finding places that resemble Earth, according to a report in the journal Astrobiology. The authors have come up with a list of traits that might make a planet "superhabitable."
Lanny and Tracy Barnes competed on the U.S. Olympic team in 2006, and Lanny competed in 2010. This year, Tracy gave her spot on the team to Lanny, who was ill during the selection races and just missed qualifying. "The Olympics are about more than just competing," Tracy says.

'Stringer': Finding Your Feet In The Chaos Of Congo

Anjan Sundaram's new memoir Stringer chronicles his adventures as a budding journalist in one of the world's most chaotic spots: the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Reviewer and veteran journalist Ted Koppel says Stringer "is a book about a young journalist's coming of age, and a wonderful book it is, too."

To Save Threatened Owl, Another Species Is Shot

The rare northern spotted owl species faces habitat loss and, now, intruding barred owls. A biologist, and the federal government, have made a difficult decision — killing one owl to ward off the extinction of another.
Pipelines conveying natural gas in Washington, D.C., are old and wearing out, with approximately four leaks per mile, a recent scientific survey of the pipes suggests. Researchers say the average amount of methane lost to leaks in Washington seems to be more than twice the national average for cities.

Sweet 16 And Barreling Toward Cowgirl Racing Fame

High schooler Megan Yurko won more than $21,000 last year in cowgirl barrel races. The sport requires circling three barrels in a cloverleaf pattern at top speed, and Yurko hopes she'll leave this weekend's world championship competition as the top ranked racer.

What Makes globalFEST So Interesting?

Even when your smartphone can bring you music instantly from any country, it's great to spend a night sampling international acts live from Europe, Africa, Asia and beyond. Now in its second decade, the New York festival attracted a dizzying variety of music, personalities and wacky hats. Hear some of the most buzzed-about artists from this year's edition.
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