NPR News

First it's the GPS router of doom, now the robots are just going to be driving the cars?

The New York Times had a piece over the weekend that outlined yet another Google-cum-robot plan for world domination. Robot cars. No, really, I'm serious.

I cheat on books regularly. Were I to write my confessions, I would have to admit to buying books for purely aesthetic reasons. Some I bought for their covers, some for the feel of the paper, and some I had a genuine interest in -- until a newer, glossier novel caught my eye. My first encounter with Gayle Forman's If I Stay began like most of my romances -- for purely physical reasons. But something told me this book was "the one." And sometimes you just can't let a special book go.

The sad story of the whooping cough epidemic that's hit California this year keeps getting sadder.

The state health department now says there have been nine death — all babies.
All the infants were 2 months old or younger when they got sick. Eight were Hispanic.

Overall, more than 4,000 cases of whooping cough, or pertussis, have been reported this year. That's the most since nearly 5,000 cases were reported in 1955, and the year is far from over.

Mavis Staples is a legend, but she's not stuck in the past. You probably know her work with her family band, The Staple Singers, which was all over the radio in the '70s with hits like "Respect Yourself," "Let's Do It Again" and "I'll Take You There" (which she excerpts in her performance here).

If you watch this video and don't get to the part where Eugene Hutz is dancing on the desks, then you've missed the most rollicking and insane Tiny Desk Concert of all time.

Widespread vaccination has gone a long way toward curbing whooping cough, a highly contagious infection that can be especially dangerous for babies too young to be immunized.

Several generations of nerds can chart the course of their lives against the career trajectory of "Weird Al" Yankovic. For me, his 1984 album In 3-D was the first record I ever owned, and his appearance at the Wausau County Fair in 1985 was the second concert I ever attended. I spent my 17th birthday being driven to the movie theater — by my mother, of course — to watch UHF, Yankovic's debut as a leading man, by myself.

This segment, from Jan. 18, 2008, is part of our Vintage Cafe series, in which we revisit some of our best studio performances. Here, we remember an Americana legend and drummer for the '60s rock group The Band, Levon Helm, who died in 2012.

Levon Helm first picked up a guitar at age 8, but soon switched to drums. Though best known as the famous drummer for the rock group The Band, Helm continued to influence music with his collaborations and solo works.

With all due respect to its terrific albums and kinetic, frenetic live shows, if The Avett Brothers could put on a three-song acoustic concert at every workplace in America, the band would be a world-beating colossus. For proof, take six minutes to don some headphones and listen to "Laundry Room," which opens this set at the desk of All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen.

Norway has launched a unique construction project on the remote Norwegian island of Svalbard, halfway between the Arctic Circle and the North Pole. It's an underground vault for agricultural seeds, a kind of Noah's Ark for millions of varieties of wheat, rice, and hundreds of other crops that farmers no longer plant in their fields.

For a soft-spoken man from western Tennessee named Cary Fowler, it's the culmination of a lifelong -- and controversial -- campaign.

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