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NPR Staff

British comedian John Oliver made a name for himself as a correspondent for Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, where he spent his time lampooning the media and the politicians on it.

Now, as sometimes happens with an actual star reporter, Oliver has his own show. It's called Last Week Tonight and it premieres Sunday on HBO.

He joins NPR Steve Inskeep to discuss mocking the U.S. with an English accent and why the White House Correspondents' Dinner is where jokes go to die.

In the opening pages of Daphne du Maurier's 1938 novel Rebecca, the narrator lays out a feast for the imagination: "Those dripping crumpets, I can see them now. Tiny crisp wedges of toast, and piping-hot, flaky scones. Sandwiches of unknown nature, mysteriously flavoured and quite delectable, and that very special gingerbread." Of course, the reader can't actually see these treats — and that's where graphic designer Dinah Fried comes in.

This week in Seattle, Bill and Melinda Gates are attending a meeting of the minds.

Five hundred of the world's top innovators in global health have gathered for the Global Health Product Development Forum, an annual event in which scientists, engineers, policymakers and activists work to develop new tools for fighting diseases.

At some schools, the admissions process itself can work against low-income students, according to Georgia Nugent, former president of Kenyon College and a senior fellow at the Council of Independent Colleges.

Nugent says during her tenure at Kenyon, there were low-income students at the bottom of the admissions list who sometimes weren't accepted so the school could make room for more affluent students.

President Obama kicked off the first leg of his tour of Asia on Wednesday with some sushi diplomacy.

He dined with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a revered and tiny temple of sushi in Tokyo called Sukiyabashi Jiro. The subterranean restaurant, with just 10 seats at the counter, was made famous by the 2011 documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi.

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From his home base in Shanghai, Frank Langfitt keeps track of a wide swath of North and East Asia. He's recently back from Myanmar, where he went for (mostly) fun.

No one knows the exact date of William Shakespeare's birth, but devotees have adopted April 23 as the day to celebrate — and this year, the man from Stratford turns 450.

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In the annals of great first lines, The Noble Hustle's ranks near the top: "I have a good poker face," Colson Whitehead writes, "because I am half dead inside." Hustle is a gritty, grimly funny — and seriously self-deprecating — account of Whitehead's adventures in poker, from home games to seedy $2 tables in Atlantic City and finally a trip to Las Vegas to play in the World Series of Poker — with a few detours for beef jerky, and a discourse on Anhedonia, his gloomy spiritual homeland.

Here's a stumper: How many parts can you divide a line into?

It seems like a simple question. You can cut it in half. Then you can cut those lines in half, then cut those lines in half again. Just how many parts can you make? A hundred? A billion? Why not more?

You can keep on dividing forever, so every line has an infinite amount of parts. But how long are those parts? If they're anything greater than zero, then the line would seem to be infinitely long. And if they're zero, well, then no matter how many parts there are, the length of the line would still be zero.

Cannon Michael runs an 11,000-acre farm in California's Central Valley. His family has been farming in the state for six generations.

Michael's multimillion-dollar operation usually provides a wealth of crops including tomatoes, onions and melons. But recently, he's pretty pessimistic about work.

"It is going to be a year that's probably, at best, maybe break even. Or maybe lose some money," Michael tells NPR's Arun Rath.

In the middle of the Mojave Desert, between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, there is a place that looks just like Afghanistan.

There are villages with houses, shops, a mosque and a marketplace. But it is all a facade. The area is actually a U.S. Army installation, the Fort Irwin National Training Center. If you want to see how a decade of fighting has profoundly changed the way the U.S. prepares its soldiers for war, this is where you come.

Douglas Coupland's latest book, Worst. Person. Ever., is a profane, shocking novel that centers around an awful guy named Raymond Gunt.

"Imagine there's this really bitter English guy who has Tourette's and swore all the time, except he doesn't have Tourette's, he just swears a lot. Like, a lot — to the point where it almost becomes like performance art," Coupland tells NPR's Arun Rath.

Lisa Robinson has done just about every kind of music writing there is.

John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men — about George and Lennie, two laborers and unlikely friends during the Great Depression — may seem like a quintessentially American story. But Irish actor Chris O'Dowd, who plays Lennie in a new Broadway production the novella, says Steinbeck is "quite oddly" very popular in Ireland.

There's something about Of Mice and Men that appeals to the Irish people, O'Dowd tells NPR's Wade Goodwyn. "All of us have chased the American dream so there's something very universal about it," he says.

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Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren became an unlikely media star following the 2008 financial crisis.

She was a plainspoken law professor from Harvard who advocated on behalf of families and consumers affected by the Wall Street meltdown.

Warren was brought to Washington to help monitor the multibillion-dollar bank bailout package.

As part of that work, Warren helped to create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — a watchdog agency that oversees and enforces consumer finance laws.

Cristina Peña was born in 1984 with HIV. Her father died from AIDS, and her mother is still living with HIV. Cristina was told she had HIV when she was 9, but she and her family kept it a secret from her schoolmates and friends.

In high school, she started dating Chris Ondaatje. One day, Chris decided to tell Cristina that he was in love with her.

That's when Cristina sat him down for a revelation of her own.

The investigative journalism group ProPublica, with reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones, has just completed a yearlong project, Segregation Now, exploring the re-segregation of schools in the U.S., with a particular look at Tuscaloosa, Ala.

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The "millennial generation" has been getting a bad rap in popular culture in recent years. Millennials, roughly defined as people born in the 1980s and '90s, frequently see themselves depicted as entitled, coddled and narcissistic.

But many — including millennials themselves — dispute those characterizations. Young adults today are tolerant, civic-minded and entrepreneurial, they note, and are thriving despite entering into a tight job market, often with significant amounts of student loan debt.

Paying for college presents a tremendous hurdle to many families, from wading through paperwork and navigating financial aid to understanding the long-term implications of college debt.

In 1893, in the bustling seaside city of Durban, South Africa — then under British colonial rule — a young lawyer stepped off a ship from India, eager to try his professional luck far away from home. His name was Mohandas Gandhi, and he stayed in that country for more than 20 years before returning home, where he'd make a name for himself as an anti-colonial agitator and social reformer.

As Nancy Shute reported in 2012, Ukrainians have for centuries practiced an ancient form of art, drawing intricate patterns on eggs using a traditional method that involves a stylus and wax.

It's called pysanky, and it's alive and well in Ukraine and Ukrainian immigrant communities around the world.

The war in Syria, now in its fourth year, has created a massive humanitarian crisis. More than 2 million Syrians have left the country in an attempt to escape the conflict. Millions more have been displaced inside Syria, forced to leave their homes to survive.

In March, the United Nations World Food Programme reported that a potential drought in the area could significantly hurt food production in Syria:

Since Fidel Castro ceded authority to his brother Raul in 2006, life in Cuba has slowly been changing. Young Cubans are more comfortable talking about their government and cellphones have begun to open up the island more, connecting it in a small way to the outside world.

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.

Ever since Autumn Erhard was a kid, she spent her evenings on the couch solving word puzzles on Wheel of Fortune.

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