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After Andrew Rannells pitched himself for a starring role in NBC's The New Normal, the show's creator didn't call for a month.

"I was like, 'Oh my God, I've completely overstepped — I've over-Oprah-ed this,' " Rannells tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "I've ruined my chances of working with this man because I was too bold."

On a recent day in the northern Syrian town of Azaz, there's an edgy energy when a pickup truck armed with a heavy machine gun screeches to a halt.

Wild-eyed and high-flving, the young rebels in the truck are happy to be alive after they hit a government helicopter landing at an air base 8 miles outside Azaz.

This rebel-held town is under nightly attack. This lightly armed rebel crew races out to the air base every day to target regime aircraft from hidden sites in the olive groves.

The FBI arrested the mayor of New Jersey's capital city today, accusing him of corruption related to a bribery scandal.

The FBI alleges Tony Mack, the mayor of Trenton, accepted thousands of dollars in exchange for influence over a parking garage project. Federal authorities also arrested Mack's brother and a supporter.

NPR's Carrie Johnson filed this report for our Newscast unit:

"Federal prosecutors accuse all three men of taking part in a conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Memphis has been a music town since anyone can remember, and it's had places to record that music since there have been records. Some of its studios — Sun, Stax and Hi — are well-known, but American Studios produced its share of hits, and yet it remains obscure. But that's all likely to change with Memphis Boys: The Story of American Studios, both a book and a CD out now.

This past weekend was an odd one on the campaign trail. First, as NPR's Don Gonyea reported on Morning Edition, a muscled pizza man was so excited to see President Obama, he hugged him and picked him up a full foot off the ground.

Then there's Vice President Joe Biden who, um, canoodled with a biker lady at a Seaman, Ohio, diner.

The picture captured by Carolyn Kaster of The Associated Press is priceless:

Former Aides Talk Strategy For Homestretch

Sep 10, 2012

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I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, we'll talk about how a master violin maker holds onto his art form in this struggling economy. Talk about that in just a few minutes.

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This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Now it's time to go behind closed doors. That's the part of the program where we talk about difficult issues that are often kept hidden.

Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula's second-in-command has been killed in Yemen, a government website reports.

Saudi national Saeed al-Shehri was killed in the Hadramawt area of southern Yemen along with six other militants, according to the website and ministry of defense officials quoted by the BBC.

Remember the dark days of 2008 when insurer American International Group Inc., better known as AIG, nearly collapsed under the weight of the mortgage crisis before Washington rode to the rescue to the tune of $182 billion?

Then there was the public outrage when AIG executives got millions in bonuses after receiving the largest of all of the Wall Street bailouts.

Since then, the New York-based insurance giant has been essentially a government-owned enterprise, with Uncle Sam holding a controlling share.

Teachers in Chicago walked off the job Monday after contract negotiations fell through, leaving 400,000 students in the nation's third-largest district shut out of their classrooms.

Contract talks broke down late last night, and by Monday morning Chicago public school teachers, many wearing red T-shirts and carrying signs, were picketing around the city for the first time in a quarter-century.

Surfing Goes To The Dogs In Del Mar, Calif.

Sep 10, 2012

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It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

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Chicago Teachers On Strike After Talks Fail

Sep 10, 2012

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And I'm Steve Inskeep.

In South Africa, striking mineworkers are still locked in a deadly dispute over pay.

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Now that the Democratic convention is over, polls show President Obama pulling ahead of Mitt Romney, not by so much, but the change did show up in several surveys. Let's talk about that and more with Cokie Roberts, who joins us most Mondays.

Cokie, good morning.

U.S. To Sell $18 Billion In Shares Of AIG

Sep 10, 2012

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NPR's business news starts with the USG selling some AIG.

The owners of the Star Princess cruise ship say that they have new video evidence that proves they are not responsible for ignoring a stranded fishing vessel 100 miles off the coast of South America in March.

Women have fought tirelessly to establish equal footing for themselves in relationships, politics and the workplace, and according to writer Hanna Rosin, they've finally arrived.

In her new book, The End of Men: And The Rise of Women, Rosin argues that the U.S. has entered an era of female dominance.


Interview Highlights

On how the rise of women is largely an economic story

In the southwestern Indiana town of Evansville, people are a bit baffled after hearing that the town's Museum of Arts, History and Science has had a rare Pablo Picasso piece in storage for almost half a century. Curator Mary Bower says the work went unnoticed because of a clerical error.

"All the documentation associated with the gift indicated that this was by an artist named Gemmaux," she says, "which really happens to be the plural of the artistic technique."

If you're dieting, you know you've got to count calories, carbs and fats. But if you really want to take off the weight and keep it off, you might want to pay more attention to the glycemic index, which is essentially a measure of how quickly foods are digested.

Most Los Angeles residents only know the Veterans Affairs medical center in West Los Angeles as something they glimpse from their cars when they're on traffic-choked Wilshire Boulevard. From the road it looks like a park, but within the grounds is the largest medical facility in the VA's health care system.

The nation is in the midst of a kidney stone epidemic.

New research shows 1 in 10 American men and 1 in 14 women has had one. And prevalence of kidney stones has shot up in recent years.

Foreign policy has not been a major focus of this election campaign, but whoever wins in November will have a messy inbox when it comes to the delicate tangle of issues in the Middle East.

For decades, the U.S. relied on authoritarian regimes to provide stability in the region. Now, it must deal with a new government in Egypt, an intensifying conflict in Syria, nervous allies in the Persian Gulf — and a major decision about Iran.

There's a new stimulus plan underway in America: $5.8 billion is being injected into the U.S. economy, particularly in states like Ohio, Virginia, Colorado and Florida.

We're talking of course about campaign spending, and this year's elections will be the most expensive in history. In fact, by the time we all head to the voting booth on Election Day, nearly $6 billion will have been spent on campaigns — big and small — all across America.

Much of that money will come from superPACs and other outside groups free to spend as much as they want, mostly on Obama and Romney ads.

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And if you're just joining us, this is WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz. There was a time when the Senate would, every once in a while, use a special tool to protect the rights of the minority party.

Parsing The 2012 Party Platforms

Sep 9, 2012

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It's The Perfect Music For A Funeral

Sep 9, 2012

Musician David Young is a new-age artist who records the sort of atmospheric music you'd hear in spas or doctor's offices.

For 25 years, he's made a decent living at it. Young says he's sold over a million CDs.

And while you might hear his music getting a massage or in your doctor's waiting room, there's one place you might not expect to hear it. Young tells this story:

The debate over states' rights versus federal power is as old as our country. The latest brush-up comes in a doubly-sticky challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, which defines marriage as being between one man and one woman.

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