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It's still three months until the Academy Awards, but there's already Oscar buzz around movies like "12 Years A Slave," "Gravity," "Fruitvale Station" and "American Hustle," just to name a few. We talk about Oscar contenders, indie favorites and holiday blockbusters with Leonard Maltin and other film critics.
We discuss the latest monthly jobs report, President Obama's recent speech about the economic inequality in America and the fast food workers striking nationwide to demand a higher minimum wage.
The holidays are supposed to be about merriment and good cheer, but navigating the etiquette of exchanging gifts and getting together with family can be tricky. What if you can't afford to buy a gift? Or don't like the gift you got? And what do you say if your daughter wants to bring her husband and her boyfriend to Christmas dinner this year? We explore the do's and don'ts of holiday etiquette.
Anti-apartheid activist and former South African president Nelson Mandela has died. He was 95 years old. In the 1960s, Mandela was convicted of sabotage and conspiracy against the government and spent 27 years in prison. He emerged to become the first black president of South Africa, and won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts against apartheid, racism and poverty. We discuss his life and legacy.
Beat Generation poet Gary Snyder spent 40 years on "Mountains and Rivers Without End," his epic poem about Zen Buddhism, Native American mythology and man's connection with nature. "I have found that if you let a poem sit around long enough, you come to see and hear it better," Snyder says. A longtime environmentalist who has worked as a fire lookout and meditated with Japanese monks, Snyder has lived off the grid in the Sierra Nevada for over four decades. He joins us to talk about the release of the newest edition of "Mountains and Rivers," and how nature, politics and religion shape his poetry.
Fewer than 40 percent of Americans approve of President Obama's performance in office, based on an average of eight prominent polls. It's Obama's lowest approval rating so far, and it comes amid continuing problems with the Affordable Care Act. If the experience of other second term presidents is any guide, it will be very hard for him to bounce back. What does the president's falling popularity bode for his effectiveness in the remainder of his term? And how much are Obama's current problems likely to tarnish his legacy?
For more than four decades, award-winning filmmaker Frederick Wiseman has been producing verite-style documentaries that offer an in-depth, unvarnished look at American institutions. Previous films have examined a mental hospital, a police precinct and the fashion industry. His latest, "At Berkeley," is a four-hour exploration of public higher education set on the UC Berkeley campus. Wiseman and former UC Berkeley chancellor Robert Birgeneau join us to talk about the film.
As a public radio reporter, editor and host, Neal Conan covered many of the most significant news events of the past several decades. While reporting on the first Gulf War, he was held captive by Iraqi soldiers. But most public radio listeners know Conan as the final host of NPR's daily call-in show, "Talk of the Nation." We'll talk to him about the future of public broadcasting and his current projects -- including his ongoing multimedia collaboration with Celtic Folk chamber group Ensemble Galilei.
Best-selling author Amy Tan's latest novel was partly inspired by a photo of her grandmother. After looking through old pictures of Chinese courtesans, she was struck by the fact that their clothes were similar to those worn by her grandmother. The story behind her grandmother's clothing remains a mystery, but led Tan to her latest project, "The Valley of Amazement." In it, Tan uncovers the hidden lives of high-class courtesans in 20th century Shanghai. She joins us in the studio.
The federal food stamp program, known as SNAP, supports one in seven Americans at a cost of around $80 billion each year. With almost 70 percent of adult Americans overweight, some nutrition advocates want to prohibit SNAP recipients from using food stamps to purchase junk food such as soda and chips. Opponents say that such restrictions would unfairly target the poor and limit their food options. We discuss the issue.