Ari Shapiro

This year, Bill and Melinda Gates are doing something a little different with their annual letter. They are answering what they call some of the "toughest questions" from their foundation's critics.

On the list: Is it fair that you have the influence you do? Why don't you give more to the United States? Why do you give your money away?

Since its inception, the Gates Foundation has given $41.3 billion in grants, including a grant to NPR.

Read this story in English.

Se suponía que iba a ser un día perfecto.

Alex pensaba levantarse a las 6:30 a.m., alistar a sus hermanos para ir a la escuela y tomar el autobús a las 7:00 a.m. Después de clases, el muchacho de 14 años iba a jugar su primer partido de futbol americano, un evento que había esperado durante semanas.

The stock market swung dramatically up and down on Wednesday, ending about where it started the day — after record losses earlier in the week. President Trump's top economic adviser says it's important to keep the volatility in context.

"The fact is that the fundamentals for the economy are very sound," Kevin Hassett says in an interview with NPR. "Wages are going up a lot. Even in the employment report that came out last week, we saw the highest rate of wage growth in about a decade."

Justin Timberlake has had an eventful week: He turned 37 on Wednesday, dropped a new album Friday and danced his shoes off Sunday as part of football's biggest night.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Last night at the Grammys, a few musicians won big - Bruno Mars, Kendrick Lamar and Chris Stapleton.

(SOUNDBITE OF 60TH ANNUAL GRAMMY AWARDS)

Twenty years ago, in 1997, a bizarre story hit the national news: Thirty-nine people had killed themselves by ingesting poison in a mansion near San Diego. All 39 were dressed identically and had the same haircuts — and they were all members of the Heaven's Gate cult.

Lea Berman and Jeremy Bernard have organized state dinners and congressional picnics, each serving as White House social secretary for different administrations. Bernard worked for President Obama; Berman for President George W. Bush. And they've collaborated on a new book that uses their White House experiences to draw out lessons in how to handle crises, defuse awkward moments and manage expectations. It's called Treating People Well: The Extraordinary Power Of Civility At Work And In Life.

It's the second week of 2018, and if you are still resolved to improve your life in this new year, Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer may be able to help. They host a podcast called By The Book, and for each episode, they choose one self-help book and live by its rules for a couple of weeks. So they're well-equipped to tell us which of these books has actually improved their lives — and which ones to avoid.

In the early 1970s, with a countercultural revolution in full swing, an unlikely figure became the No. 1 enemy of the state — Timothy Leary, the so called "High Priest of LSD." Leary was a former Harvard psychologist who left the ivory tower behind to spread the gospel of psychedelics. After breaking out of a California prison, he went on the run, sparking a madcap manhunt for a bumbling fugitive.

Goran Bregović is one of the Balkans' most beloved musicians and composers. He grew up in the Bosnian town of Sarajevo and witnessed the atrocities of war in the 1990s. But he channeled his home region's pain, as well as its endless humor, into his music, and got his big break composing for films like Emir Kusturica's Time of the Gypsies.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

At the White House this afternoon, President Trump celebrated the final passage of Republicans' massive tax legislation. He spoke surrounded by dozens of GOP lawmakers, basking in the glow of a major legislative victory.

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If you were alive in 1994, you probably remember hearing a lot about Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding. A media frenzy erupted when Harding's ex-husband was implicated in an attack on her chief competitor, Nancy Kerrigan. The movie I, Tonya explores Harding's story, with special emphasis on her ferocious mom, LaVona Golden, played by Allison Janney. It's a role that screenwriter Steven Rogers wrote specifically for her.

For the longest time, people in Nashville knew Chris Stapleton as a songwriter who wrote hits for some of the biggest names in country music: Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Dierks Bentley and more.

The new movie Call Me By Your Name is based on a beloved novel of the same title by André Aciman. It tells the story of two young American men who fall in love one summer in Northern Italy. Elio, 17, is played by Timothée Chalamet (Lady Bird), and Oliver, 24, is played by Armie Hammer (The Social Network, The Lone Ranger).

Indonesia is the fourth-largest country in the world, and its population very young. The median age is about a decade younger than in the U.S. or China. Half of Indonesians are under the age of 30.

Dan Rather's career has entered a new phase. At age 86, he's again speaking to millions of people every day.

It's not at CBS, where he anchored the Evening News for decades — instead, Facebook has given him a new audience. That's where he writes essays about the news of the day.

Here's an excerpt of what he posted this past Monday, when members of the Trump campaign were indicted.

Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world, and its population is young — the median age there is 29, nearly a decade younger than the U.S. or China.

People in the capital city of Jakarta also tweet more than in almost any city in the world. Social media is, in fact, one of the threads that ties this country of more than 17,000 islands together.

One of those social media celebrities is 29-year-old food blogger and Instagram enthusiast Prawnche Ngaditowo, who is known online as "foodventurer."

It's a late Saturday morning and a dozen men are hanging out in a scraggly playing field in Borobudur, Indonesia. There's a shaded dugout along one edge, and a worn patch of dirt in the center that makes this look like a lopsided baseball diamond.

It's training day at the Lapak Netral pigeon racer club.

To race, you must have a pair of birds. Pigeons, it turns out, mate for life. The male bird is the racer, and returning to the female provides his motivation.

The males are piled into a cage and ferried by motorbike to a release spot about 2 miles away.

Below a highway overpass in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, college students eat fried noodles and spicy chicken stew from brightly lit food stalls that fill this gritty space. The noise of cars and trucks rumbling overhead mingles with the sound of jets landing at the nearby airport.

A singer's voice begins to pierce this dense cacophony. She has woven palm fronds into her hair to create a headpiece that crowns her sparkly pink outfit. Diners tip her before turning back to their meals.

The city of Bogor, on the outskirts of greater Jakarta, is a conservative Muslim area with a strong Christian minority. To open a church here, Christian groups must meet a lot of requirements, including getting permission from Muslim authorities.

Starting in 2003, the Taman Yasmin Indonesia Christian Church, also known as the GKI Yasmin Church, got all the necessary legal permits. But vocal Muslim citizens opposed construction of the church and pressured the local government to cancel the permits.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

The slow ferry churns over the waves between Bali and Lombok, two islands of the 17,000 or so that make up Indonesia. The public ferries of Indonesia are part of the connective tissue that keeps this diverse country together. Religious and ethnic tensions have no place here.

"I serve all the people. It doesn't matter if they come from another religion or another tribe, we serve all the people. It's equal," says ferry Capt. Mulyono, steering the Jemla ferry from majority-Hindu Bali to majority-Muslim Lombok.

As home to 250 million people speaking hundreds of languages and spanning some 17,000 islands in an area as wide as the continental U.S., Indonesia is one of the most populous and diverse countries in the world.

The actress and comedian Amy Sedaris has become famous for her roles in shows like Strangers With Candy and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. At the same time, she has always harbored a not-so-secret love of home crafting projects.

She's written books about it — Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People, and I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence — and now, she has a program on Tru TV, At Home With Amy Sedaris, inspired by the shows she loved as a kid.


Interview Highlights

On her inspirations

Rasika, an Indian restaurant in Washington, D.C., has won just about every recognition possible. The Washington Post called it the No. 1 restaurant in the city. The chef has won a James Beard award — basically the Oscars of the food world. President Obama celebrated his birthday there — twice. And though the place has been open for more than a decade, it is only just now coming out with a cookbook.

In 2011, Jennifer Egan won the Pulitzer Prize for her novel, A Visit From The Goon Squad. Years before that book came out, Egan had begun researching the 1930s and '40s in New York City. Her new novel, Manhattan Beach, is the result of that research. It follows a father, his daughter and a gangster whose lives intersect in New York around World War II.

Journalist Franklin Foer worries that we're all losing our minds as big tech companies infiltrate every aspect of our lives.

In his new book, World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech, Foer compares the way we feel about technology now to the way people felt about pre-made foods, like TV dinners, when they were first invented.

The author Salman Rushdie has set his books all over the world. His most famous novels — Midnight's Children and The Satanic Verses — take place in India and the United Kingom, both countries where Rushdie has lived. His latest, The Golden House, is set in the city he now calls home, New York, and its themes are deeply American.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

A decade ago, Nguyen Tran ran a small private company producing independent films, while his wife Thi Tran worked in advertising. When the economy crashed in 2008, Nguyen's projects began to run dry and Thi lost her job the following year. Out of desperation, they started an illegal underground restaurant in their North Hollywood apartment. They called it "Starry Kitchen," named after Thi's favorite Cantonese cooking show from Hong Kong.

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