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This Week's Must Read
6:27 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

As Zamata Joins 'SNL,' A Look At — And Beyond — The Prism Of Race

iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 7:19 pm

This week the long-running comedy show Saturday Night Live hired Sasheer Zamata as a new cast member. The show had come under criticism for its lack of diversity, especially its lack of black women; Zamata will be the show's first female African-American cast member in six years.

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U.S.
5:32 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Marijuana 'Hash Oil' Explodes In Popularity, And Kitchens

Jim Andersen displays butane hash oil at a marijuana growing facility in Seattle in April 2013. The state's licensed producers will be required to use professional-grade equipment when making the extracts.
Elaine Thompson AP

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 7:19 pm

If you think the recent liberalization of marijuana laws around the country is only about smoking leaves and buds, think again. For users younger than 25, "hash oil" is where it's really at. This concentrated resin of marijuana is creating new public safety headaches — even in places where it's legal.

There have always been forms of the substance, but the resins available today are much stronger than in years past. That's due in part to the expertise developed by medical marijuana producers, who have learned how to make more potent versions of the oil.

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Planet Money
5:31 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

How A Community Bank Tripped On Footnote 1,861 Of The Volcker Rule

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 12:05 pm

When people talk about the Volcker Rule, they often mention JPMorgan Chase, the giant bank where a trader recently made a bad bet that lost $6 billion. The Volcker Rule is supposed to put an end to that sort of thing, by prohibiting banks from trading with their own money.

But some banks that are very, very different from JPMorgan Chase are struggling with an obscure provision in the rule. Specifically, footnote 1,861, which bars banks from investing in something called trust-preferred securities — a rather obscure investment favored by lots of small, community banks invest

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Parallels
5:31 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

An Execution In North Korea Has A Chilling Effect In China

The Chinese and North Korean flags are seen attached to a railing as trucks carrying Chinese-made goods cross into North Korea on the Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge at the Chinese border town of Dandong on Dec. 18, 2013. Ties between the two longtime allies are strained after the execution of the North Korean official in charge of economic relations with China.
Mark Ralston AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 7:48 pm

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shocked the world last month when he accused his uncle and mentor of treason and had Jang Song Thaek executed.

The consequences of that purge are reaching beyond North Korea's border. Jang had been in charge of trade with China, and his death has had a chilling effect on ties with North Korea's neighbor and longtime ally.

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The Salt
5:09 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

American Beer Fans, Praise The Heavens: A Trappist Brewery In U.S.

Spencer Trappist Ale, made by the first official Trappist brewery outside Europe, will go on sale next week in Massachusetts.
Nick Hiller The Spencer Brewery

Originally published on Mon January 13, 2014 4:27 pm

The town of Spencer, in central Massachusetts, isn't well known for ... well, anything, really. But it's about to become internationally famous — at least in beer-drinking circles.

Spencer is home to St. Joseph's Abbey, where robed monks are busy brewing the first American Trappist beer. If all goes as planned, Spencer Trappist Ale will be available in Massachusetts retail stores by the middle of next week.

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Movie Interviews
5:09 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Cate Blanchett Finds Humor In The Painfully Absurd

Laugh Riot: Blanchett, pictured here at a Hollywood screening of Blue Jasmine on Jan. 9, tells NPR's Robert Siegel that she read the film as a black comedy. It wasn't until three weeks into filming that director Woody Allen told her it was meant to be a serious drama.
Valerie Macon Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 7:19 pm

The actress Cate Blanchett is in the States this week; it's summer vacation time for her kids in Australia, where she and her husband are artistic directors of the Sydney Theatre Company.

It's also awards season, and Blanchett makes a compelling claim for one: She plays the title role in Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine, for which she's earned near-unanimous acclaim.

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The Two-Way
5:09 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Dying Stars Write Their Own Swan Songs

This composite image shows new details of the aftermath of a massive star that exploded and was visible from Earth over 1,000 years ago.
Chandra X-ray Observatory Center NASA

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 7:48 pm

Alicia Soderberg studies the death of stars. Often, these final moments come as violent explosions known as supernovae. They're spectacular events, but catching one as it unfolds can be tricky.

"You have to be in the right place at the right time, and often we're not," says the professor in Harvard's astronomy department. "So all you can do is do a stellar autopsy and go back and try to pick up the pieces and try to figure out what happened."

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Sports
5:09 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

A Story Of The Boston Marathon Bombing, As Told On Skates

Ross Miner skates during the men's short program at the 2013 Skate Canada International last year. He hopes to qualify for the upcoming Winter Olympics.
Dave Sandford Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 7:48 pm

Ross Miner is among those competing for a spot on the U.S. Men's figure skating team Friday night in Boston. He is a hometown favorite who is bringing some local flavor to his performance — he's going to tell the story of last year's Boston Marathon bombing.

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World Cafe
4:07 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Rosanne Cash On World Cafe

Rosanne Cash's The River & The Thread comes out Jan. 14.
Clay Patrick McBride Courtesy of the artist

Two things have come together for Rosanne Cash in recent years: her deepening understanding of her place in her father Johnny Cash's legacy, and her desire to only make albums that expand on a theme.

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All Tech Considered
3:11 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Tech Week That Was: CES, T-Mobile CEO And Predictions For 2014

John Legere, CEO and president of T-Mobile USA, crashed rival AT&T's Consumer Electronics Show party and won a slew of free publicity as a result.
John Moore Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 5:12 pm

It's 2014 and we're back to full team strength, which means we've returned with your guide to the week's previous tech coverage on NPR (in case you missed it) and from our friends at what seems like an ever-growing crop of tech journalism organizations.

ICYMI

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