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Weekdays 4:00-6:00 PM
Robert Seigel & Melissa Block

Live news from National Public Radio.

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Parallels
2:52 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

In China, Customer Service And Efficiency Begin To Blossom

A couple waits for a high-speed train in the Chinese city of Qinhuangdao. Modern infrastructure and the expanding private sector have greatly increased efficiency and customer service in many parts of Chinese life.
Ed Jones AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 6:56 pm

China's infamous bureaucracy has bedeviled people for ages, but in recent years, daily life in some major Chinese cities has become far more efficient.

For instance, when I worked in Beijing in the 1990s, many reporters had drivers. It wasn't because they didn't drive, but because they needed someone to deal with China's crippling bureaucracy.

I had a man named Old Zhao, who would drive around for days to pay our office bills at various government utility offices. Zhao would sit in line for hours, often only to be abused by functionaries.

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Business
2:21 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

What's Under Youngstown May Help What's On Top

By leasing land for drilling, city leaders in Youngstown, Ohio, hope to generate funds to demolish vacant buildings.
M.L. Schultze for NPR

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 6:18 pm

A century ago, when fiery steel mills were roaring to life in Youngstown, Ohio, builders were racing to put up homes, storefronts, barbershops and more.

Today, many of those buildings sit empty and rotting. With the mills mostly gone and the population down 60 percent from 1960, to just 67,000, the city needs millions of dollars to tear down roughly 4,000 vacant structures.

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Asia
12:35 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

For China's Youth, A Life Of 'Darkness Outside The Night'

A small, child-like creature in a cone hat peers into a toy shop, happy at the sight of a snow globe, in a vignette called "Tininess" in Darkness Outside the Night, a graphic novel illustrated by Xie Peng. Find out what happens in the excerpt below.
Xie Peng and Duncan Jepson, with permission to reproduce the panels from Tabella Publishing LLP

Originally published on Sat July 20, 2013 3:48 pm

Xie Peng, a 36-year-old Chinese graphic novelist, spent six years working on his first book, Darkness Outside the Night. It's been praised by China's first Nobel laureate for literature, Mo Yan, as inspiring people on how to deal with life.

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Book Reviews
6:03 am
Wed May 29, 2013

The Courage To Cross An Ocean, Explored In 'TransAtlantic'

Originally published on Sun June 9, 2013 5:36 pm

In 1845, Frederick Douglass sailed to Ireland on a speaking tour to raise money for the abolitionist cause back home. About 75 years later, two airmen, Jack Alcock and Teddy Brown, performed the first nonstop trans-Atlantic flight, flying 16 hours from Newfoundland to land in an Irish bog. And 79 years after that, George J. Mitchell, the former senator from Maine, repeatedly crisscrossed the ocean — New York, Belfast, New York, Belfast — to steer the Northern Ireland peace process on behalf of President Clinton.

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Author Interviews
5:38 pm
Tue May 28, 2013

Novel Examines Afghanistan War From A Pakistani Perspective

The sun sets just east of Chaman, Pakistan, near the Afghan border, on Nov. 8, 2001.
Laura Rauch AP

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 7:43 am

Two young men — foster brothers in love with the same woman — leave their small Pakistani town for Afghanistan in late 2001. Jeo, a medical student, wants to help wounded civilians and Mikal is there to look after Jeo, but their good intentions aren't enough to keep them safe in an increasingly dangerous war zone.

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