This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Some of you are sitting in traffic right now, muttering darkly about how it's possible to hit every single red light. Los Angeles, a city that suffers more congestion than most, tried to unclog traffic for years by synchronizing its lights. Earlier this year, it became the first major city to tie all its traffic lights to a computerized system that uses motion sensors and cameras to monitor flows of traffic. They report modest improvements, but do drivers notice any change?
Scientists say they have found a way to get a glimpse of people's dreams.
"Our results show that we can predict what a person's seeing during dreams," says Yukiyasu Kamitani, a researcher at the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto, Japan.
Philosophers, poets and psychologists have long shared a fascination with dreams. But Jack Gallant, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Berkeley says solving the mystery of our dreams is one tough problem.
Like a lot of new movies, "Oz: The Great and Powerful" skips down some familiar pathways. Twenty years before Dorothy, Toto and friends followed the yellow brick road and a couple of witches consider the arrival of one Oscar Diggs who fancies himself a wizard.
(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL")
MILA KUNIS: (as Theodora) I simply want peace. That's all I ever wanted and the wizard can do that. He's a good man.
RACHEL WEISZ: (as Evanora) What do you know about goodness? Deep down you are wicked.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. U.S. officials acknowledge that nearly a quarter of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are on hunger strike. Defense lawyers say the strike includes nearly all the detainees. The International Committee of the Red Cross believes the cause can be traced to uncertainty.
If you've applied for a mortgage recently, you know how hard it can be. The bank demands all kinds of obscure documents and wants proof of almost every asset you own. But an innovative mortgage program halfway around the world will evaluate your application without any extra documentation — and if you're approved, it will give you a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage. There's just one catch: The mortgages are only for low-income people in Cambodia. The program is a throwback to the days when bankers got to know their customers — and trusted them.
It's a funny thing about dictionaries. First we're taught to revere them, then we have to learn to set them aside. Nobody ever went wrong starting a middle-school composition with, "According to Webster's ..." but that's not how you start an op-ed commentary about terrorism or racism. When it comes to the words that do the cultural heavy lifting, we're not about to defer to some lexicographer hunched over a dusty keyboard.
As a Mormon missionary, Ryan McIlvain spent two years ringing strangers' doorbells, even as he experienced doubts about his own faith. McIlvain left the church in his mid-20s. His debut novel, Elders, is based on the experiences he had trying to convert people to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "Elder" is the term used for a young Mormon on his mission.
In this photo released in March by the North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), leader Kim Jong Un is said to be using a pair of binoculars to look south during an inspection of army troops stationed on two islands.
It's hard to determine how seriously to take these threats. War on the Korean Peninsula could be catastrophic, so the bluster can't be dismissed. On the other hand, North Korea has a long history of hyperbole, of making threats it doesn't follow through on.
There's more to Angela Davis than her signature afro. A new documentary, Free Angela Davis and All Political Prisoners, explores the events that turned the philosophy professor into a political icon in the 1960s. Jada Pinkett Smith tells host Michel Martin why she became executive producer of the film.
You may think you know who is homeless and where they live, but think again. Some homeless families are finding shelter in a surprising place: hotels. Host Michel Martin talks with Monica Potts, who's covered this issue for The American Prospect magazine.
Lance Armstrong warms up for the swimming leg of the 2011 Xterra World Championship triathlon in Kapalua, Hawaii (before he was banned from most competitions). This weekend, he'll swim in a Texas meet for masters swimmers.
Originally published on Thu April 4, 2013 11:27 am
Update at 11:15 a.m. ET. Armstrong Pulls Out:
After an objection was raised Thursday by FINA, swimming's international governing body, Lance Armstrong has withdrawn from a masters swim meet being held this weekend in Austin, Texas, The Associated Press and other news outlets are reporting.
On Thursday, a South Korean security guard kept watch as South Korean trucks waited to enter the Kaesong industrial complex in North Korea. For the second day, the North blocked the trucks and workers from the South from entering its territory.
Bear in mind that, as NPR's Louisa Lim has said, North Korea's regime is skilled at making threats. And fortunately, the most ominous of those threats have not been followed by action in recent decades.
With those caveats in mind, here are Thursday's developments in the latest round of provocative moves by the communist state. From Beijing, Louisa tells our Newscast Desk that:
Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep. Here's an old saying: Feed and love a dog, and the dog thinks you must be God. Feed and love a cat, and the cat thinks, hey, I must be God. A cat from the Middle Ages apparently demanded attention. A researcher was recently studying a manuscript from 1445 in Croatia, and that researcher discovered paw prints. Apparently, a scribe was working in 1445 when the cat stepped in ink, and then stood with all four paws on the work in progress. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
The action film "Jack Reacher" hit theaters in December, and it got some favorable reviews. But one New Zealand moviegoer didn't think it was action-packed enough. That's because the trailer featured an explosion that wasn't in the movie. Disappointed, the man complained to the Advertising Standards Authority. He said the explosion was one of the main reasons he went to see the flick in the first place. Paramount Pictures has now offered to refund the money for his ticket.
A Bushmaster rifle, similar to the type used by Adam Lanza during the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and some ammunition magazines. The sale and possession of this type of weapon, and high-capacity magazines, will be severely restricted in Connecticut under new legislation.
Originally published on Thu April 4, 2013 12:27 pm
Saying that on this "profoundly emotional day" he hoped that his state would serve as an example to the rest of the nation, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy sat down Thursday at 12:20 p.m. ET to sign into law what's being described as the most sweeping gun control legislation in the nation since the Dec. 14 school shooting in Newtown, Conn.
Malloy praised lawmakers and those who helped craft the legislation for coming together "as few places in our nation have demonstrated the ability to do."
An Egyptian woman carries a cooking gas canister in Cairo on Tuesday. The government just raised the price of gas as part of an energy package needed to satisfy the conditions of a $4.8 billion IMF loan. Opponents say some of the conditions disproportionately hurt the poor.
Credit Khaled Desouki / AFP/Getty Images
Egyptian protesters hold bread along with fliers reading "Danger, no to loans that lead to poverty" during a rally Wednesday in Cairo. An International Monetary Fund delegation is in Cairo for talks on a loan needed to lift Egypt's economy out of crisis.
Two years after the revolution, Egypt is in a deep economic crisis. It's running out of money to purchase crucial imports like wheat and fuel, both of which are subsidized by the government, and an infusion of cash is desperately needed.
While a delegation from the International Monetary Fund is in Cairo continuing negotiations on a $4.8 billion loan, Egyptians are strained by the rising costs of food — and the gas needed to cook it.
David Greene talks to Muhannad Hadi, the World Food Program's regional emergency coordinator for Syria, about the growing humanitarian crisis in Syria. The civil war there has entered its third year, and last month was its deadliest.
And today's last word in business is space memorabilia.
Heritage Auction house is selling items that have gone to the moon. Astronaut Buzz Aldrin's toothbrush could be yours with the right offer.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
OK. The bidding for this toothbrush - I hope they disinfect it - it's a light blue, Lactona tooth tip brush. The bidding starting at $9,000. The auction house is actually hoping that buyers will offer more than that.