All Things Considered

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Catch up on events of the day with this drive-time mix of news, reviews, and offbeat features.

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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.

The Los Angeles-based band Fitz and the Tantrums has been called a "genre-smashing" group — blending retro soul and R&B with indie pop.

Popular media often treats fraternity culture as comedy, but what's been going on at the University of Virginia is serious. Last semester, Rolling Stone put U.Va. at the epicenter of national concerns about sexual assault on campus.

Whittier, Alaska, is a sleepy town on the west side of Prince William Sound, tucked between picturesque mountains. But if you're picturing a small huddle of houses, think again.

Instead, on the edge of town, there stands a 14-story building called Begich Towers — a former Army barracks, resembling an aging hotel, where most of the town's 200 residents live.

The war in Syria has been raging for nearly four years and it's been challenging for diplomats to get warring sides to agree on even temporary truces.

The U.N. envoy is pressing ahead on that front, while Russia tries to play peacemaker. Russia is inviting the parties to Moscow this month, but some opposition groups won't go to a country that has been backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

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Almost as soon as the Oscar nominations were announced this week, many people were pointing out an uncomfortable fact. Every director nominated is a white male. All the nominees for lead and supporting actor are white.

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French Jews, often with roots in North Africa, have been immigrating to Israel since that country's founding. The community has changed with the times, and after last week's attacks in Paris, is expected to grow — and change — again.

Samuela Mass left Paris in October last year. The 28-year-old French Jew came to Israel for a better life for him and his future family — and to escape violence.

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Packers and Seahawks, Patriots and Colts. It's Championship Sunday this weekend in the NFL. The winners will head to the Super Bowl on February 1. Jane McManus, of ESPN, joins us now for a preview. Hey, Jane.

JANE MCMANUS: Hi, how are you?

Audie Cornish talks to former NPR reporter Sarah Chayes about how corruption can create the fertile ground for religious extremism. Chayes is a senior associate in the Democracy and Rule of Law Program and the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment. Her new book is Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security.

The Silk Road was an online anonymous black market for buying and selling illegal drugs. The FBI shut it down in 2013 and now the man accused of running that billion-dollar drug market is on trial. Audie Cornish speaks with Wired reporter Andy Greenberg.

The "Lone Genius" character is hot right now in television and movies. Sometimes the genius is real (think Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game), and sometimes he's fictional (think Benedict Cumberbatch in Sherlock). But one thing is almost always certain: He's a guy.

Now one researcher says that gender stereotype in art may have a real impact on women in academia.

Dennie Wright lives in Indian Valley, a tiny alpine community at the northern end of the Sierra, close to the border with Nevada.

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If you've traveled outside the U.S. recently, or sent your U.S.-made products abroad, you've probably noticed that the dollar is getting stronger. The stronger dollar is the sign of a healthier U.S. economy, but its strength has the potential to erode growth.

There are a number of factors behind the dollar's rise, says economist Jens Nordvig, a currency expert at Nomura Securities. The main one is the health of the U.S. economy.

Among those hoping for an Academy Award nomination on Thursday are the producers of the Fox Studios thriller Gone Girl. The film centers on marital strife, a mysterious disappearance and the murder investigation that ensues.

Last week's shootings in Paris shocked the French. Many received another jolt when they learned that some Muslim students refused to join in the minute of national silence observed across the country following the Charlie Hebdo attacks.

The newspaper Le Figaro quoted one teacher in a heavily Muslim neighborhood in the eastern city of Strasbourg as saying that 80 percent of her students did not participate.

Audie Cornish talks to Jeh Johnson, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), about what the effects would be on DHS if Congress did not vote to fund it.

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A year ago, as part of our series on the Great Plains oil rush, we brought you the story of a 36-year-old father who had recently lost his job when one of the last major timber mills in the Northwest shut down. After several years struggling to find steady work and even after going back to school, Rory Richardson decided to commute 550 miles from his home in far western Montana, to a place where jobs are plentiful - the oil fields of North Dakota. But after a little more than a year, he and his family have decided the toll is just too great.

The city of Dubuque, Iowa, is the latest city to pass a ban on sledding. It affects all but two hills in town. City Council members say they've passed the ban to protect tax payers from lawsuits and are now asking local legislators to add sledding to the list of activities that cities are protected from being sued for, like skateboarding and biking accidents.

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