BackStory

BackStory is a public radio program & podcast that brings historical perspective to the events happening around us today. On each show, renowned U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Peter Onuf, and Brian Balogh tear a topic from the headlines and plumb its historical depths. Over the course of the hour, they are joined by fellow historians, people in the news, and callers interested in exploring the roots of what’s going on today. Together, they drill down to colonial times and earlier, revealing the connections between past and present.

11:03 am
Fri March 29, 2013

Poll: Michiganders divided on "right to work" law

Lead in text: 
The poll finds that the number of people who believe it will help is roughly equal to the number who say it will hurt the economy.
East Lansing - Michigan became the nation's 24th right-to-work state Thursday, but its residents remain deeply divided over whether the law will help or hinder the economy, according to a Michigan State University survey released Thursday.
10:58 am
Fri March 29, 2013

Snyder moves forward on "right to work"

Lead in text: 
The head of the Michigan Nurses Association says, "The People will outlast the law", as union leaders vow to continue fighting "right to work".
Gov. Rick Snyder called for "a chance to move forward" Thursday as union officials held a series of protests in Metro Detroit and Lansing as the traditional labor stronghold became the nation's 24th right-to-work state. Republicans and conservative supporters said giving employees the legal right not to pay dues to unions for collectively bargained wages and benefits would strengthen unions and benefit workers.
10:54 am
Fri March 29, 2013

Kildee: Sequester will hurt Michigan for years

Lead in text: 
Kildee says the problem could be offset by raising $500 billion over the next decade by closing tax loopholes and ending some tax breaks.
Michigan families will continue to feel the effects of $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts for years if Congress doesn't act to repeal them, U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint, said Thursday. "These cuts are wrong for America and they're wrong for Michigan," Kildee said.
Media
10:50 am
Fri March 29, 2013

NPR To Drop Call-In Show 'Talk Of The Nation'

Originally published on Fri March 29, 2013 11:14 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm David Greene.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne. This morning we have news about our own network, word that TALK OF THE NATION, the daily call-in show broadcast by NPR for the last 21 years, will go off the air this summer. TALK OF THE NATION will be replaced by an expanded version of the news magazine HERE AND NOW. That's currently produced by member station WBUR in Boston, which will continue to produce it in partnership with NPR.

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Movie Interviews
10:36 am
Fri March 29, 2013

Frank Langella: A Career 'Like A Chekhov Play'

Frank Langella, who earned an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Richard Nixon in Frost/Nixon, stars in the film Robot & Frank, about an aging ex-burglar. He says he was drawn to the unsentimental role.
Joe Fornabaio

Originally published on Fri March 29, 2013 2:03 pm

This interview was originally broadcast on Aug. 16, 2012.

Frank Langella's career has not been an upward trajectory of success — and he likes it that way. He's had memorable roles on stage and screen, and times when he couldn't find work, or even an agent.

Now 75, Langella tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies, he's never been hungrier to act.

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WMUK News
8:11 am
Fri March 29, 2013

Upton: immigration reform this summer

Immigration reform rally in Miami, Jan. 2013
Credit Alan Diaz / AP Photo

A bi-partisan group of senators in Washington called the “Gang of Eight” is expected to unveil an immigration reform plan early next month. Immigrant advocates hope it will include a “pathway to citizenship” for many of those in the country without documents. Some of those advocates rallied outside the Kalamazoo office of Congressman Fred Upton (R-Saint Joseph) on Good Friday.

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Europe
7:51 am
Fri March 29, 2013

Belgian Post Office Sells Chocolate-Flavored Stamps

Originally published on Fri March 29, 2013 11:14 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne. The Belgian post office released chocolate-flavored stamps just in time for Easter. The glue in the stamps is infused with cacao oil. A celebratory touch that makes sense, given Belgium is famous for its chocolate. One stamp collector sniffed the chocolate flavor was disappointing, but come on, wouldn't anything taste better than regular stamps? We on this morning show are now hoping for Belgian waffle-flavored envelopes. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Around the Nation
7:26 am
Fri March 29, 2013

Disc Jockey Gets Tattoo After Florida Gulf Coast Win

Originally published on Fri March 29, 2013 11:14 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Good morning, I'm David Greene.

March Madness is a fixture in the United States and now on one radio host's upper arm. Florida DJ Big Mama wanted the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles to win so badly, he promised on air to get a tattoo if they beat Georgetown. Big Mama is a man of his word. He posted photos of his Eagles tattoo online.

I'll tell you what: If Florida Gulf Coast wins again tonight, I'll sing their fight song on air Monday. Steve Inskeep will be back - maybe a duet?

7:11 am
Fri March 29, 2013

FBI probe of Battle Creek police sought

Lead in text: 
Commissioner Jeffrey Domenico has not released details of his allegations of wrongdoing by the police department.
Battle Creek Police Chief Jackie Hampton said Thursday he is seeking an FBI probe of his department in light of allegations of wrongdoing made by a city commissioner. Commissioner Jeffrey Domenico formally requested an investigation of corruption in the department by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette; when the request was denied, Domenico went to Michigan State Police, who have not responded to his complaint.
7:08 am
Fri March 29, 2013

KPS Board OKs school replacement contract

Lead in text: 
The building that houses the Washington Writer's Academy was built nearly a century ago. The much-newer gym will stay after the rest is demolished this summer.
KALAMAZOO, MI -- Contracts totaling $9.9 million to demolish Washington Writers' Academy and build a replacement school on the same site were approved Thursday by the Kalamazoo Public Schools Board of Education. The board also approved $1.8 million in renovations for Woodward Schools for Technology and Research, $1.2 million for new K-5 English language-arts curriculum and almost $70,000 for new computers for Milwood Magnet School.
7:04 am
Fri March 29, 2013

Michigan car insurance rates rise again

Lead in text: 
The increase is a lot smaller than the 30 percent hike vehicle owners faced in 2012.
Lansing - Michigan motorists will see a modest increase in their auto insurance premiums starting in July to pay for rising costs associated with the state's catastrophic accident fund. The Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association's board Wednesday hiked its annual assessment $11 to $186 for each insured vehicle in the state to cover major medical claims and chip away at an estimated $2 billion deficit in the fund.
7:01 am
Fri March 29, 2013

K College prize draws global interest

Lead in text: 
The winners of the global and regional prizes will be announced on May 11th.
KALAMAZOO, MI -- Some 188 organizations have applied for the first-ever Kalamazoo College Global Prize for Collaborative Social Justice. Applicants representing 23 countries, as well as 25 states and the District of Columbia, are competing for the $25,000 prize, Kalamazoo College said in a press release.
Business
4:43 am
Fri March 29, 2013

The Last Word In Business

Originally published on Fri March 29, 2013 11:14 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And our last word in business today is a takedown of everyone's favorite giant radioactive reptile.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "GODZILLA")

MONTAGNE: That pop-culture monster, Godzilla, hatched nearly 60 years ago in a Japanese movie production studio.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

He stomped through cities battling other giant creatures, from Mothra to King Kong. Well, now The Wall Street Journal reports that Godzilla has been vanquished. His box office attendance records, at least, has been beaten.

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Movie Reviews
4:43 am
Fri March 29, 2013

Movie Review: 'Gimme The Loot'

Originally published on Fri March 29, 2013 11:14 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

"Gimme The Loot" is a new independent film that's had a charmed life, including winning the Best Narrative prize at South by Southwest and an appearance at the Cannes Film Festival. Los Angeles Times and Morning Edition film critic Kenneth Turan says it's worth the fuss.

KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: We meet Malcolm and Sofia as they're stealing spray paint from a hardware store.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "GIMME THE LOOT")

TASHIANA WASHINGTON: (Unintelligible)

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Business
4:43 am
Fri March 29, 2013

Business News

Originally published on Fri March 29, 2013 11:14 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with a good read.

The social website Goodreads, where readers share reviews and book picks, got picked up yesterday by online retail giant Amazon. The price hasn't been disclosed. The co-founder of Goodreads says after the sale closes next quarter, the site will be integrated with Amazon's Kindle eReader. Goodreads has about 16 million members. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

StoryCorps
3:09 am
Fri March 29, 2013

Tattoo Removal Artist Helps Clients With Emotional Scars

Dawn Maestas has removed tattoos from women who have been branded as a result of domestic violence. She recorded an interview with one of her clients, who wanted to remain anonymous.
StoryCorps

Originally published on Fri March 29, 2013 11:14 am

Dawn Maestas runs a tattoo-removal business in Albuquerque, N.M., and her clients include women who want the names of abusive partners removed.

Some of them have been tattooed forcibly, like the 22-year-old client who visited StoryCorps with Maestas.

"I was with a guy for five years. He was much older. He was really abusive toward me. After a while when I tried to finally end it, he kidnapped me, held me hostage and tattooed his name all over my body against my will," says the woman, who did not want to be named.

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Shots - Health News
3:08 am
Fri March 29, 2013

Number Of Early Childhood Vaccines Not Linked To Autism

A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds no link between the number of vaccinations a young child receives and the risk of developing autism spectrum disorders.
Jeff J. Mitchell Getty Images

Originally published on Thu March 20, 2014 4:33 pm

A large new government study should reassure parents who are afraid that kids are getting autism because they receive too many vaccines too early in life.

The study, by researchers at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, found no connection between the number of vaccines a child received and his or her risk of autism spectrum disorder. It also found that even though kids are getting more vaccines these days, those vaccines contain many fewer of the substances that provoke an immune response.

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Planet Money
3:07 am
Fri March 29, 2013

The Trick To Selling Fancy Wine From New Jersey: Don't Say It's From New Jersey

A sign outside Lou Caracciolo's winery, Amalthea Cellars
Courtesy Amalthea Cellars

Originally published on Fri March 29, 2013 11:14 am

Halfway between the New Jersey Turnpike and the Atlantic City casinos is a little slice of France: Amalthea Cellars. There's an old farmhouse, and a field full of grapevines.

Lou Caracciolo, who founded Amalthea, is walking through the field. "Here's something I put in the ground in 1976," he says. "You have to have a feel for it, and after 30 years I have a pretty good feel for it."

Caracciolo calls himself a hopeless romantic. And, really, you have to be a romantic to try to make a $33 bottle of cabernet sauvignon blend in New Jersey.

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Economy
3:07 am
Fri March 29, 2013

Cyprus' Crisis Frames Eurozone As 'Work In Progress'

Banks in Cyprus reopened to customers for the first time in nearly two weeks Thursday, albeit with strict restrictions.
Petros Giannakouris AP

Originally published on Fri March 29, 2013 11:14 am

On the second day since Cyprus reopened its banks, depositors continue to face restrictions on getting at their money. ATM withdrawals are limited to 300 euros a day, and there are limits on how much cash travelers can take abroad.

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Shots - Health News
3:06 am
Fri March 29, 2013

Obamacare Won't Affect Most 2012 Taxes, Despite Firm's Claim

Taxes this year will be as much of a drag as ever. But not because of the Affordable Care Act.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri March 29, 2013 10:22 pm

If you haven't done your taxes yet, this ad from H&R Block might make you feel even more anxious.

"The Affordable Care Act means big changes this year when you file your taxes," says the young woman in the ad, with a smug smile. She then claims to have read "all 900 pages" of the law so she can offer you a "solution."

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Research News
3:05 am
Fri March 29, 2013

Tiny DNA Switches Aim To Revolutionize 'Cellular' Computing

NPR Illustration

Originally published on Fri March 29, 2013 11:14 am

If you think programming a clock radio is hard, try reprogramming life itself. That's the goal of Drew Endy, a synthetic biologist at Stanford University.

Endy has been working with a laboratory strain of E. coli bacteria. He sees the microbes as more than just single-cell organisms. They're little computers.

"Any system that's receiving information, processing information and then using that activity to control what happens next, you can think of as a computing system," Endy says.

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Business
5:33 pm
Thu March 28, 2013

Farm Bill's Sugar Subsidy More Taxing Than Sweet, Critics Say

While many people enjoy sweet treats — like these chocolate bunnies — the price of a key ingredient has some people bitter. A government subsidy program is criticized for keeping sugar prices too high. But as prices fall, the government may buy sugar to help processors.
Toby Talbot AP

Originally published on Thu March 28, 2013 11:55 pm

While you indulge in some Easter Peeps and chocolates this weekend, you might want to think about all that sugar. No, this isn't a calorie warning. In the U.S., raw sugar can cost twice the world average.

Critics say U.S. sugar policy artificially inflates sugar prices to benefit an exclusive group of processors — even though it leads to higher food prices. But this year, prices fell anyway. Now, the government could be poised to use taxpayer dollars to buy up the excess sugar.

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Local Music
4:43 pm
Thu March 28, 2013

A new season unveiled by Kalamazoo Symphony maestro Harvey

Raymond Harvey
Credit Kalamazoo Symphony

The new season of the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra was announced this week. Music director Raymond Harvey chose a personal favorite, Rachmaninoff's second symphony, to start his fifteenth year as maestro of the KSO. 

He shares his admiration for the season's guest artists, violinist Midori and pianist Leon Fleisher, and looks forward to helming a semi-staged production of Verdi's opera Otello

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Ashley Lopez is a reporter for WGCU News. A native of Miami, she graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a journalism degree. 

Previously, Lopez was a reporter for

Animals
4:15 pm
Thu March 28, 2013

Algae Bloom Kills Record Number Of Florida Manatees

A rescued manatee suffering from exposure to an algae bloom called red tide in southwest Florida comes up for air as it swims into a critical care tank at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo.
Steve Nesius Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu March 28, 2013 6:38 pm

More than 200 manatees have died in Florida's waterways since January from an algae bloom called red tide, just as wildlife officials try to remove the marine mammal from the endangered species list.

It used to be boat propellers that were the biggest killer of manatees, but red tide has been especially bad this year.

Florida Fish and Wildlife officer Steve Rice routinely scours the Caloosahatchee River in southwest Florida for dead manatees. He has found more than 20 in the past few weeks.

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Latin America
3:59 pm
Thu March 28, 2013

From The Stone Age To The Digital Age In One Big Leap

Chief Almir of Brazil's Surui tribe attends a press conference with Google representatives in Rio de Janeiro last year. Chief Almir has brought technology to his previously isolated people, who now use smartphones to send photos of illegal logging in the Amazon.
Vanderlei Almeida AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu March 28, 2013 6:38 pm

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U.S.
3:29 pm
Thu March 28, 2013

Pennsylvania Tightens Abortion Rules Following Clinic Deaths

A police car is posted outside the Women's Medical Society in Philadelphia, on Jan. 20, 2011. Dr. Kermit Gosnell, accused of murder, performed abortions in the clinic.
Matt Rourke AP

Originally published on Thu March 28, 2013 6:38 pm

A Philadelphia doctor who performed abortions is on trial for murder. Kermit Gosnell, 72, is accused in the deaths of a female patient and seven babies who the prosecutor says were born alive. District Attorney R. Seth Williams laid out the case in disturbing detail in a grand jury report last year.

When authorities raided Gosnell's clinic in 2010 they found squalid conditions: blood on the floor, the stench of urine and a flea-infested cat wandering through the facility.

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NPR Story
2:28 pm
Thu March 28, 2013

Catching Up With The World's Youngest Female Cannonball

Elliana Grace Hentoff-Killian is on tour with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey show Built to Amaze!
Feld Entertainment

Originally published on Tue April 9, 2013 3:00 pm

Elliana Grace Hentoff-Killian grew up in the circus.

She made her circus debut at age 2 and mastered her first circus act at 6, when she learned the Spanish web — an aerial act performed on a rope. Now, at 20, she is currently the youngest female human cannonball in the world.

"I never thought I was going to be doing the cannon. I was always the one sitting there saying, 'You've got to be insane to get shot out of a cannon,' " she tells NPR's Celeste Headlee. "And, of course, that's what I'm doing now."

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Law
2:14 pm
Thu March 28, 2013

The Road To The Supreme Court Arguments On Gay Marriage

Originally published on Fri March 29, 2013 11:27 am

Transcript

CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Celeste Headlee in Washington. Yesterday the Supreme Court heard the last of two cases involving the issue of same-sex marriage, one case on the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8. That proposition banned same-sex marriage in the state of California. The other case is on the Defense of Marriage Act.

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