NPR Staff

Investigative journalist and author Matt Taibbi has long reported on American politics and business. With an old-school muckraker's nose for corruption, he examined the events leading up to the 2008 financial crisis in Griftopia. With Gonzo zeal, he described a two-party political system splintered into extreme factions in The Great Derangement.

And in his newest book, Taibbi sets out to explain what he thinks is a strange state of affairs:

Jamika lives in a two-story apartment complex surrounded by a 10-foot-high security gate in San Bernardino, Calif. The yellow paint on the buildings' outside walls is peeling.

She doesn't want to use her full name. She doesn't want too many people to know about her situation.

Jamika and her siblings had to leave the house her family was renting in South Central L.A. when the property went into foreclosure. With money so tight, Jamika moved to San Bernardino, along with three of her siblings.

Paul Rusesabagina is a figure from history — a terrible history.

He was the manager of the Diplomat Hotel in Kigali, Rwanda, 20 years ago, when the genocide of Rwanda's Tutsi people began. More than 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus would be killed in just three months.

In the next few days, the last four teams play for the NCAA men's basketball championship, a hugely profitable event for college sports.

In Wes Anderson's latest film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, a writer relates the long and twisting life story of a hotel owner. It's about youthful love and lifelong obsession, and while the story is original, there's a credit at the end that reads: "Inspired by the Writings of Stefan Zweig."

As part of a series called "My Big Break," All Things Considered is collecting stories of triumph, big and small. These are the moments when everything seems to click, and people leap forward into their careers.

Long before Cesar Millan became the "Dog Whisperer," with TV shows and a best-selling series of books, he had to learn how to ask for a job in English.

The video uploaded to Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell's YouTube channel on March 11 is no ordinary campaign ad:

Thirty-nine year old widower A.J. Fikry is an unlikely romantic hero: He's cranky, he drinks too much, his bookstore is failing and don't get him started on the state of publishing. He's also at the center of Gabrielle Zevin's new novel, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry.

Have you ever had a sentence stop you in your tracks? Editors at The American Scholar magazine have put out their list of the "Ten Best Sentences" in fiction and nonfiction. Associate editor Margaret Foster says the inspiration came from water cooler talk around the office.

"We're sometimes struck by a beautiful sentence or maybe a lousy sentence, and we'll just say, 'Hey, listen to this,' " she says.

It's been said you can judge the quality of a civilization by the way it treats its prisoners. If that's true, California in 2011 was in poor condition, at least according to the Supreme Court.

As part of a series called "My Big Break," All Things Considered is collecting stories of triumph, big and small. These are the moments when everything seems to click, and people leap forward into their careers.

Hari Kondabolu is an Indian-American comedian whose "Konda Bulletins" you might have seen on the FXX show Totally Biased.

Kondabolu's new comedy album is Waiting For 2042 — the year when white people will be the statistical minority in the United States. On the cover, Kondabolu stands proudly perched on a rickshaw, pulled by a white guy in a suit.

There's growing concern in Hollywood over film crews' safety, as crews feel mounting pressure to push their limits on set. The call for attention to the issue amplified after the death of 27-year-old Sarah Jones.

On Feb. 20, the camera assistant was killed in an accident on the set of the film Midnight Rider, a biopic about the musician Gregg Allman.

Ask award-winning chef John Currence for a comfort food recipe, and you may hear him tell a story filled with a hefty share of discomfort. In his cookbook, Pickles, Pigs & Whiskey, he shares a simple, hearty soup that he's taken to calling "my purgatory on Earth — I love to hate it, and I hate to love it." For short, he calls it Punish Stew.

For a jazz trumpet player, you couldn't be more on top of the world than Ambrose Akinmusire. The 32-year-old is looking good on the cover of this month's DownBeat, and he's managed to please the jazz critics and connect with audiences.

Monday, 105 lawmakers from both parties sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, urging him to change a relatively obscure uniform requirement for the U.S. armed forces that some argue infringes on religious beliefs.

People who observe religions that require specific hair or dress traditions have to seek an accommodation from a superior to break the Defense Department's uniform requirements.

This is the conclusion to an All Things Considered series that imagines a counterfactual history of World War I.

This is part of an All Things Considered series that imagines a counterfactual history of World War I.

This summer marks 100 years since the start of World War I. Many argue that the conflict was inevitable — but what if it wasn't?

This is part of an All Things Considered series that imagines a counterfactual history of World War I.

This summer marks 100 years since the start of World War I. Many argue that the conflict was inevitable — but what if it wasn't?

In 1966, psychedelic drug advocate and former Harvard professor Timothy Leary appeared on the Merv Griffin Show.

"I'm in the unfortunate situation of being about 20 years ahead of my time," Leary said. When asked how many times he'd taken LSD, he answered 311. The audience gasped.

Leary was fired for experimenting with psychedelics on undergraduates, and before long, LSD was classified as a Schedule I drug, meaning it had "no known medical use." Research on the medical uses of LSD and other psychedelics came to a halt.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has made it a priority to eliminate corruption within the Chinese Communist Party.

"The [Communist Party] desperately wants the appearance of cracking down hard on corruption because they understand that rampant corruption is threatening the party's legitimacy," says Associated Press reporter Gillian Wong.

In a story published Sunday, Wong uncovers how that crackdown on corruption has led to another problem: abuse and torture of party officials.

In 2009, a major corruption scandal dubbed "Kids for Cash" hit the juvenile justice system of northeast Pennsylvania.

Two local judges had been enforcing a zero-tolerance policy for bad behavior by kids. Even minor offenses, like fighting in school or underage drinking, could mean hard time in a juvenile detention facility.

Federal prosecutors alleged the judges were actually getting kickbacks from those private detention facilities. They said the judges kept the juvenile detention centers full, and received cash in return.

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