NPR Staff

It's like the start of a bad joke: a vegan, a gluten-free and a paleo walk into a bar — except it's your house, and they're gathered around your Thanksgiving table.

More and more Americans are passing on gluten — some for medical reasons, most by choice. Others are adopting diets that exclude meat, or insisting on the kinds of unprocessed foods that early man would have hunted and gathered.

All of this is a challenge to the traditional Thanksgiving feast.

Karl Wildman was the hero of his family — he escaped Vienna at the start of World War II and became a successful doctor in the United States. When Karl died, his granddaughter Sarah Wildman found a hidden trove of love letters from a woman Karl left behind in Vienna.

Ferguson, Mo., continues to watch and wait as a grand jury decides whether to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Brown's death was the spark for mass protests in Ferguson, but many of the city's black population say the problems go deeper, and that blacks are unfairly singled out by police.

Ferguson police statistics show the department does arrest blacks at a higher rate than other racial groups. But that disparity is true for police departments across the country.

Former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry Dies

Nov 23, 2014

Marion Barry, the fiery Washington, D.C., politician who was famously re-elected after going to jail for crack cocaine possession, has died after months of battling health issues. He was 78.

The four-term mayor, who was still serving his third term on the D.C. Council, was famous for fighting for the District's disenfranchised, but won national notoriety after he was caught on FBI video with an ex-girlfriend and crack cocaine in 1990.

He was considered by many to be the district's most charismatic and controversial politician.

The United States has seen many fundraisers headlined by an Obama in recent years, but this week it won't be the president or the first lady — it will be his step-grandmother, Sarah Obama, who is raising funds to build a school and hospital in her hometown, Kogelo, Kenya.

Since Oregon legalized physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill in 1997, more than 700 people have taken their lives with prescribed medication — including Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old with an incurable brain tumor, who ended her life earlier this month.

In the Dutch town of Eindhoven, artist Daan Roosegaarde has paid homage to its most famous resident, Vincent Van Gogh, by creating a glowing bike path that relies on solar-powered LED lights and interprets his classic painting Starry Night.

Protecting young people from sexual predators would seem to be a universally-held value in this country: No state has an age of consent lower than 16.

But in some courtrooms, attorneys argue that children can make decisions about whom they have sex with — and in some cases, those attorneys are winning.

One of those cases is currently under appeal in California. In 2010, a 28-year old middle-school math teacher began a six-month sexual relationship with a 14-year-old female student at his school.

When you think philanthropy, Facebook and Google don't usually come to mind.

But maybe in your travels across the Internet this week, you notice that both companies placed banners ads on their pages asking you to help end the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

Google pledged to match every dollar donated by its users with $2. The company has already reached its limit of $7.5 million — $5 million from Google and $2.5 million from donors.

A lot of popular musicians in the 1960s and '70s showed a passionate interest in getting extremely high — higher than any human had ever been.

We're talking, of course, about space exploration. David Bowie, Pink Floyd, Sun Ra, Funkadelic; all contributed to our shared space mythology. That doesn't happen so much these days.

But a new record from London band The Heliocentrics is a welcome, and trippy, exception.

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.

Apple pie isn't American in the way people often mean. Every ingredient, from apples to butter to nutmeg and cinnamon, came from somewhere else.

But then, so do most Americans.

A new book traces the roots of American tastes from pemmican to Coca-Cola to what are now called "molecularly modified" foods. Libby O'Connell, the chief historian and a senior vice president for the History Channel and A&E networks, wrote The American Plate: A Culinary History in 100 Bites.

The imprint Ron Riveira's grandparents made on his life has been indelible. Ron, a hospice nurse in California, served as a Navy corpsman and a medic in the Marines. His grandmother and grandfather — a Korean War vet — helped raise him.

Ron remembers that his grandfather may not have said much, but his love for his wife was obvious. "They were a phenomenal couple," Ron tells his friend Jason Deitch at StoryCorps in Concord, Calif.

Filmmaker Gina Prince-Bythewood is tired of hearing about "black films." In fact: "It is one of my goals in life to obliterate the term 'black film,' " she tells NPR's David Greene.

Prince-Bythewood tells love stories. She created the films Love and Basketball, The Secret Life of Bees, and most recently, Beyond the Lights.

"For me it's just about putting people of color in every genre and making it become normal," she says.

As you may be aware, there's a hot new space movie now in theaters — Interstellar. Here's the premise: It's just a little bit in the future, conditions have become pretty horrible on Earth and some astronauts head out in search of a new planet for humans to inhabit.

Claudia Lucero has a special power: she can make cheese in one hour. Mozzarella, ricotta, paneer, goat cheese, queso blanco and more.

Those are simple cheeses that are relatively easy to make, says Lucero, who runs Urban Cheesecraft in Portland, Ore. To do it, she says, you just need practice, not superpowers.

The Federal Communications Commission says it's writing rules for the Internet to preserve the status quo.

Young people are being chased out of the labor market. Though the national unemployment rate has fallen steadily in recent months, youth unemployment remains stubbornly high, and the jobless rate is even higher among young minorities. For young people between the ages of 16 and 24, unemployment is more than twice the national rate, at 14.2 percent. For African-Americans, that rate jumps to 21.4 percent.

This January, after the driest calendar year in California history, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency. He called on residents to reduce their water intake by 20 percent.

But downtown Los Angeles doesn't look like a city devastated by the state's worst drought in decades. The city is green with landscaping, and fountains are running. People still water their lawns, wash their cars and fill their pools.

(July 24, 2014: See the editor's note at the bottom of this page for an explanation of the story's new headline.)

When 12-year-old Lauren Arrington heard about her sixth-grade science project, she knew she wanted to study lionfish. Growing up in Jupiter, Fla., she saw them in the ocean while snorkeling and fishing with her dad.

Tim Bomba is a tall, rangy guy with a quick smile. He's a marathoner, a triathlete (he's done two Ironman races), and every Wednesday morning for the last decade, Bomba has taught a ocean swimming course in Santa Monica, Calif.

The course, called Ocean 101, isn't for accomplished swimmers like Bomba. It's for people who are new to the ocean, and many participants are afraid of the water when they arrive. Bomba knows what they're going through. He himself was terrified of swimming until he was in his 50s.

Zach Braff is currently performing on Broadway, and for a time he starred in the TV comedy Scrubs. But he's also known for directing and starring in the 2004 film Garden State, a model of 20-something angst.

It is the season of state fairs, when you may have a chance to expand your palate or test your gag reflex at the concession stands. (Once you're stuffed, maybe you'll get to admire a butter sculpture.)

Not long ago, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Paul Salopek traveled through Israel and the West Bank as part of his journey walking from Africa to South America. He was there this spring, before the current violence erupted. Talking recently from Cyprus to Morning Edition's Steve Inskeep, he says the long-standing conflict was part of daily life.


Interview Highlights

On coming under fire from Israeli soldiers

Part of losing weight boils down to making tweaks to the simple equation of calories in versus calories out.

Americans spend over $60 billion a year on diet and weight loss products, according to market research, but the weight often comes right back. That may be because it's such a hassle to count calories — tracking everything you order or cook at home.

This story is part of All Things Considered's "Men in America" series.

It's rare that a man makes it through life without being told, at least once, "Be a man." To Joe Ehrmann, a former NFL defensive lineman and now a pastor, those are the three scariest words that a boy can hear.

Hey, remember Hilary Banks from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air?

She's back, but in a different light. Actress Karyn Parsons has started a new organization — Sweet Blackberry — that makes short, animated films about influential, yet lesser-known African-Americans.

She still loves acting, she told Kelly McEvers of Weekend All Things Considered, but her priorities have changed since she became a mom.

Parson says being pregnant with her daughter got her thinking about her responsibility, as a parent, to add to her kids' formal education.

Many Americans are swamped with stress, but there may be ways to ease the tension without changing the circumstances.

Almost half of all adults say they've experienced a major stressful event in the past year, according to a poll conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health.

Meditation can help people cope, says author Sharon Salzberg, co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Mass.

Sure, it's tough to earn a living as an artist. But it helps if your materials don't cost a lot. At the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, several of the Kenyan craftspeople work wonders with discarded beer bottles and flip-flops.

Jonathan Lento: He Fashions Flip-Flops Into Funky Fauna

Jonathan Lento grips a slender knife in one hand and a colorful block made of glued-together flip-flops in the other.

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