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Fast-food restaurants were a little bit slower Thursday in New York City. Hundreds of workers staged a one-day strike in what organizers are calling the biggest job action ever in that industry. It's a growing segment of the economy, but workers complain that fast-food jobs don't pay enough to survive in New York City.

Here is some distraction from the serious news of the day. It's a video of Kid President — yes, he of the viral "pep-talk" video — on a visit to the Oval Office. His tour guide is none other than President Obama:

It's life, but not as we know it. Researchers in the Netherlands have found that a microbe from deep beneath the ocean can breathe a major ingredient in rocket fuel. The discovery suggests that early life may have used many different kinds of chemicals besides oxygen to survive and thrive.

Hewlett-Packard's chairman Raymond Lane will give up his position, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters and Bloomberg are reporting.

A Simple Chinese Twist On Young Soybeans

Apr 4, 2013

What comes to mind when you think of Chinese food? Is it takeout, thick sauces or deep-fried meat? Cookbook author Fuchsia Dunlop wants to change that.

"Really, the traditional diet is all about vegetables," she says. "In the past, most people couldn't afford to eat much meat, so they had to concentrate on making their everyday vegetarian produce taste sensational."

A team of American researchers is on a treasure hunt for jewels — of both artistic and historic value.

This month, researchers from Denver were in Russia to document the work of Vasily Konovalenko, a former ballet set designer turned sculptor, who created scenes from Russian folk life in semiprecious stones.

In the 1980s, Konovalenko emigrated from what was then the Soviet Union in search of artistic freedom. Now, his legacy is divided between the U.S. and Russia.

He won a Pulitzer Prize for his writing, but just as influential as his print essays were his "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" movie reviews. Film critic Roger Ebert died Thursday after struggling for years with cancer. He was 70 years old.

His thumb may have made him famous on TV, but Ebert was first and foremost a print journalist. He worked on newspapers in grade school, high school and college. With his acumen for writing came a love of movies — and on July 12, 2005, proclaimed Roger Ebert Day by the city of Chicago, he told a crowd of admirers why movies matter.

Oregon state lawmakers have scheduled a marathon public hearing Friday on four gun control bills. The proposals include a ban on guns in schools and criminal background checks for private gun sales.

Opponents are lining up against the measures, but some gun control advocates say the proposals don't go far enough.

Roger Ebert, the legendary film critic, died today, his long-time employer, The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

For the first time in four decades of polling, a majority of Americans support legalizing the use of marijuana.

A Pew poll released today found that 52 percent of those polled said marijuana should be legal. Forty-five percent said it should be illegal.

Pew reports:

Pork's most popular cuts don't have snazzy names. At least, not until now.

Coming soon to a grocery store near you are the New York chop, the porterhouse chop and the sirloin chop. Yes, pork is borrowing some of the nomenclature of beef cuts. Why?

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.

Jeffrey Skilling, the former Enron executive serving a 24-year prison sentence for his role in the energy company's collapse, may receive a shorter prison term.

According to Reuters, the United States Department of Justice notified victims of Enron's fraud that they are currently in negotiation with Skilling.

Reuters adds:

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.

Facebook is going to "turn things around," CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Thursday, by turning "your Android phone into a great, simple social device" that is "designed around people."

He came on stage just after 1 p.m. ET at Facebook's Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters to talk about a very poorly kept secret — the so-called Facebook phone.

But, Zuckerberg said at the start of his talk, "we're not building a phone and we're not building an operating system."

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.

Almost every day, there's some new threat out of North Korea.

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.

Even before the Food and Drug Administration's latest safety warning to men about dietary supplements that claim to enhance sexual performance, there were clues of trouble.

The label for Ninja Mojo, for instance, misspells herbal as "harbal" and says buyers of it should "keep out of reach form [sic] children."

Hotels Hiding The Homeless

Apr 4, 2013

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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.

For Mosaad el Dabe, it's a disaster.

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.

Two weeks after being embarrassed by the news that some of its yoga pants were way too sheer, there's word from Lululemon that chief product officer Sheree Waterson will be leaving the company April 15.

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

There were 385,000 first-time claims for unemployment insurance last week, up by 28,000 from the week before, the Employment and Training Administration says.

The news follows Wednesday's report of slower-than-expected job growth in the private sector: The ADP National Employment Report estimated that businesses added just 158,000 jobs last month.

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:

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."

More than a week after Susan Patton's letter to the editor of The Daily Princetonian prompted heated criticism, the 1977 Princeton alumna says she still stands by her words.

"I have never had a problem voicing an unpopular opinion if it's heartfelt," Patton tells NPR.

In her letter, Patton wrote to young women attending her alma mater, "Find a husband on campus before you graduate."

Amber Bartlett was waiting last Friday for her kids to come home from school. One of them called from the entrance to the upscale subdivision near Little Rock, Ark., to tell her the community was being evacuated because of an oil spill. Bartlett was amazed by what she saw out her front door.

"I mean, just rolling oil. I mean, it was like a river," she says. "It had little waves in it."

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