Alejandra Marquez Janse

"The South."

It's not a neutral term for most Americans. But love it or hate it, a new book says you must appreciate its good, bad and ugly sides to understand the country.

The book is South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation.

Its author, Imani Perry, says, "We can't deny parts of who we are, particularly when those parts are the ones that set the stage for what the nation would become."

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Is it inevitable that everyone's going to get COVID? Here's acting FDA commissioner Janet Woodcock.

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Imagine you're moving to a new country on the other side of the world.

Besides the geographical and cultural changes, you will find a key difference will be the language. But will your pets notice the difference?

It was a question that nagged at Laura Cuaya, a brain researcher at the Neuroethology of Communication Lab at at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest.

From her shop in eastern Mexico City, Tania Hernandez begins making piñatas for the holiday season as early as October.

That's because piñatas are essential to celebrating Christmas in Mexico. Specifically, traditional ones in the form of a seven-point star.

The reason why goes back years, and continents.

The Posadas tradition

Hernandez says her favorite piñata to make is that traditional one.

When Deqa Dhalac was writing her inaugural speech after being elected as mayor of South Portland, Maine, she went searching for an inspirational quote for the end. She considered Barack Obama, Desmond Tutu, Mother Teresa – and then her mom called from Mogadishu, Somalia.

"She reminded me of a poem or prayer that she recited for me when I entered high school," Dhalac said.

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When Deqa Dhalac was writing her first speech as the mayor of South Portland, Maine, she went looking for an inspirational quote from Desmond Tutu or Mother Teresa. And then her mom called her from Mogadishu.

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Three days and one hour into the 2021-22 school year, the internet went out at Owhyhee Combined School in northern Nevada.

Teachers scrambled to recreate their lesson plans and presentations, and could not log attendance.

"We don't have a way to ensure that students are in the right classes at the right moment," said Lynn Manning-John, vice principal at the K-12 school.

"We did have a student exhibiting COVID symptoms this morning, so finding that student's data in order to reach their family is also something we can't do because we don't have the internet."

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Six-year-old Naomi Pascal of Jackson, Wyo., has a dear friend who's been with her for most of her life, a little bear whom she calls Teddy.

NAOMI PASCAL: I first got Teddy in the orphanage. That with my first gift from my parents.

COVID-19 has claimed the lives of millions since the pandemic began, and the death toll has continued to rise this year. Over the holidays, those absences will be deeply felt. That's why this holiday season, NPR's All Things Considered is inviting you to share memories of your lost loved ones with us, so that we might honor them with a remembrance.

Thousands of workers across the U.S. are on strike, demanding better wages, better working conditions and more benefits.

In what some have called "Striketober," workers in factories as well as the health care and food industries have either started or authorized strikes in the past month.

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There's a term floating around to refer to this month.

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UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #1: Striketober (ph).

CHANG: Striketober.

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Wildlife biologist Greg LeClair has been obsessed with amphibians since he was a kid, when one rainy day, a black and yellow spotted salamander stumbled into his driveway in Maine.

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This year would have been the 40th wedding anniversary of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

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As climate change makes fire seasons hotter and longer in the U.S., about 20,000 firefighters are currently working to contain blazes across the country. For decades now, some of California's incarcerated population have been among those doing this lifesaving work, at great risk to their own lives.

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All month long, we've been celebrating 50 years of NPR and how it all started on May 3, 1971 with the first broadcast of All Things Considered.

We asked you, our listeners, what stories have captivated you over the decades. Your responses included stories from each decade that brought you laughter, gave you a chance to connect with your family and made you see the world in a different way. Even NPR Special Correspondent Susan Stamberg shared two of her favorite stories from the show's first two decades.

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This week, ALL THINGS CONSIDERED turns 50. Joel Abrams of Boston recalls making dinner one night in 1991 and listening to a story about Haitian cane cutters in the Dominican Republic. Here is an unnamed cutter heard through an interpreter.

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With this program marking 50 years on the air today, listeners shared moments they heard here that stuck with them.

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For Canice Flanagan of San Francisco, one such moment was in May 2008.

A new pandemic shortage in the U.S. could upend the habits of some bubble tea lovers.

It's a shortage of boba — the dark, chewy pearls made of tapioca that are typically found in the tea-based beverage.