5:05pm

Sun July 1, 2012
Why Music Matters

Breaking Records To A Velvet Underground Beat

Christian Niccum and Dan Joye at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Whistler, Canada.
Shaun Botterill Getty Images

Weekends on All Things Considered continues its "Why Music Matters" series with Olympic luger Christian Niccum. Niccum says music was the key to one of his first accomplishments in the sport.

"I was 15 years old, in Berchtesgaden in Germany," he says. "It's the oldest artificial luge track in the world, and it's also the most difficult."

Daunted by the course's many sharp turns, Niccum turned to something borrowed for inspiration.

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5:05pm

Sun July 1, 2012
Business

An Abbey's Run-In With Law On Who Can Sell Caskets

Originally published on Sun July 1, 2012 5:53 pm

Deacon Mark Coudrain, bottom left, Rev. Charles Benoit, top left, Abbot Justin Brown, top right, and attorney Evans Schmidt carry a casket built by Benedictine monks down the steps of the U.S. federal district courthouse on Aug. 12, 2010.
Patrick Semansky AP

Monks set up St. Joseph Abbey in Louisiana more than 100 years ago. They've been there so long, they have 1,100 acres and their own town, St. Benedict.

For all those years, when one of the brothers died, the monks would painstakingly craft a flawless pine casket in their woodwork shop.

Over the years, many clergy members and high-ranking church officials would request the the beautiful caskets. Soon, members of the public wanted see if they might be able to buy one.

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4:30pm

Sun July 1, 2012
Music Interviews

Bobby Womack: 'God Must Still Have A Purpose For Me'

Originally published on Sun July 1, 2012 5:05 pm

Bobby Womack's latest album, The Bravest Man in the Universe, came out June 12.
Jamie-James Medina Courtesy of the artist

"We had two shows that night," says Bobby Womack, recounting a recent concert in Houston. "It was a small theater, about 5- or 6,000 people. The second show, I was just out of it; they had to take me to the hospital."

It was a serious scare for the 68-year-old singer-songwriter — who has also lived through drug addiction and the deaths of two sons — and it didn't end that night.

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4:03pm

Sun July 1, 2012
Author Interviews

The Complex 'Tapestry' of Michelle Obama's Ancestry

Originally published on Mon July 2, 2012 10:17 am

Fraser and Marian Shields Robinson raised their children, Craig and Michelle, in Chicago, but their family's ancestry can be traced back to pre-abolition Georgia.
Barack Obama Campaign

When Michelle Obama's great-great-great grandmother was 8 years old, her life underwent a dramatic change.

Melvinia Shields was a slave who grew up at a South Carolina estate with a relatively large community of slaves she knew well. But then she was moved to a small farm in northern Georgia where she was one of only three slaves; most white people in the area didn't own any.

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3:23pm

Sun July 1, 2012
The Two-Way

From Our Readers: Alien Vs. Internet Memes

Meme Maker

On a week monopolized by important political news, many of you still took time out to comment on our National Geographic inspired poll, which asked "Which president, would-be president or movie president would do the best job if extraterrestrials come to visit?"

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1:50pm

Sun July 1, 2012
Pop Culture

Fans Restore Luke Skywalker's Boyhood Home

Originally published on Mon July 2, 2012 11:28 am

Construction Begins at the Lars Homestead
Mark Dermul

Mark Dermul is a serious Star Wars fan. He was just 7 years old in 1977 when the original movie hit the theaters. As soon as the huge Star Destroyer flew across the opening scene, he was hooked.

"It hasn't left me," he says. At 42, Dermul now guides tours throughout North Africa, visiting sites that were featured in the blockbuster films.

On one 2010 trip back to planet Tatooine — OK, Tunisia — he and his tour group noticed that Luke Skywalker's boyhood home was decaying. They jumped into hyperspace — OK, the Internet — to save it.

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12:47pm

Sun July 1, 2012
Movies I've Seen A Million Times

The Movie Elizabeth Banks Has 'Seen A Million Times'

Originally published on Sun July 1, 2012 5:05 pm

John Travolta and Samuel Jackson in Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction [THE KOBAL COLLECTION/MIRAMAX/BUENA VISTA].
The Kobal Collection

7:55am

Sun July 1, 2012
Sports

Euro Finals Kick Up Age-Old Rivalries

About 250 million people will tune in Sunday to watch Italy and Spain duke it out in the Euro 2012 final in Kiev. As always with European soccer, this battle has laid bare more than just skills on the field. Guest host David Greene talks with ESPN's Roger Bennett about the national undercurrents.

7:55am

Sun July 1, 2012
Politics

Obamacare, Romneycare And The Politics In Between

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene. Since the Supreme Court's ruling that upheld President Obama's signature health care law, it has been hard to separate substance from rhetoric. This has been one important theme coming from the White House.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I know there will be a lot of discussion today about the politics about all of this, about who won and who lost. That's how these things tend to be viewed here in Washington. But that discussion completely misses the point.

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7:55am

Sun July 1, 2012
Around the Nation

Fast Food Hoax In Alaska Leads To A Feast

Recently, people in the small western town of Bethel, Alaska, got very excited when they saw flyers announcing the opening of a Taco Bell. But then, residents got the sad news: the flyers were a hoax. But the people of Bethel will not go taco-less.

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