Robert Siegel

Robert Siegel is senior host of NPR's award-winning evening newsmagazine All Things Considered. With 40 years of experience working in radio news, Siegel is still at it hosting the country's most-listened-to, afternoon-drive-time news radio program and reporting on stories and happenings all over the globe. As a host, Siegel has reported from a variety of locations across Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Asia.

In 2010, Siegel was recognized by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism with the John Chancellor Award. Siegel has been honored with three Silver Batons from Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University, first in 1984 forAll Things Considered's coverage of peace movements in East and West Germany. He shared in NPR's 1996 Silver Baton Award for "The Changing of the Guard: The Republican Revolution," for coverage of the first 100 days of the 104th Congress. He was part of the NPR team that won a Silver Baton for the network's coverage of the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan Province, China.

The first Dutch investigators have reached the crash site of the Malaysian airliner shot down in eastern Ukraine. Meanwhile, fighting broke out in the outskirts of Donetsk between separatists and armed groups supporting the government in Kiev.

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According to a statement from the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Defense Force has been instructed to begin a ground offensive into the Gaza Strip. The move comes 10 days after violence renewed between Hamas and Israel.

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A Malaysia Airlines flight carrying nearly 300 people has crashed in eastern Ukraine, near the Russian border. In the immediate aftermath, it is not clear whether the plane was shot down, but Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is calling for a swift investigation.

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Federal officials have announced that a young Mississippi girl, once thought to have been cured of HIV, now once again has detectable levels of the virus. This is a setback not just for the child, but also for hope of eradicating HIV in infants with a potent mix of drugs at birth.

After a meeting with Texas Gov. Rick Perry, President Obama addressed the influx of migrant children on the U.S.-Mexico border. He signaled his openness to Perry's solutions, saying he'd consider deploying the National Guard, but also called on Congress to offer solutions of its own.

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Israel stepped up its air assault on the Gaza Strip, following the killings of Israeli and Palestinian teens. Unlike air strikes in the past, Israel has tempered its initial show of force for several reasons, but the situation appears to be steadily intensifying.

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This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

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From NPR news, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

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House Republicans voted Thursday on leadership positions in the party's caucus. While House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy stepped up to the role of majority leader, Rep. Steve Scalise overcame a more crowded competition to replace McCarthy.

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At an unveiling in Seattle, online retail giant Amazon announced its entry into the smartphone market with a new device called "Fire." NPR's Martin Kaste was at the unveiling in Seattle, and he offers his take on the event.

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There's a new queen of Broadway. Audra McDonald won her sixth Tony award last night for her betrayal of Billie Holiday in "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, CRAZY HE CALLS ME")

In a recent Nippon Professional Baseball game in Japan, Kazuhito Tadano threw a slow, arcing pitch that caught the batter by surprise. Video of the play quickly went viral on the Internet, but the pitch has a history — and a name: the eephus pitch. Paul Dickson, author of the Dickson Baseball Dictionary, offers more details.

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Time now for your letters, and this correction. This week Alan Cheuse reviewed a Western novel for us called "The Last Kind Words Saloon" by Larry McMurtry. The book features the famous gamblers from the old West, Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday.

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It's not all politics here in Washington. On Pennsylvania Avenue, there used to be a hotel called the Roger Smith. The top of the hotel's stationery proclaimed it was just one block from the White House. And it's under that heading that one of rock 'n roll's most important figures scribbled out the lyrics to one of his biggest songs.

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BOB DYLAN: (Singing) Once upon a time you dressed so fine, you threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn't you?

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A true mad man has died. Al Feldstein steered MAD Magazine to the height of its madness as its editor. It's a role he held for nearly 30 years, developing the iconic image of the magazine's mascot, Alfred E. Neuman.

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There was a time when cell phones were used to make calls and many of the calls were defined by this.

(SOUNDBITE OF NOKIA RINGTONE)

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Time now for your letters. First, two corrections. On Monday, we took you to the South by Southwest Festival in Austin to tell you about something called Oculus Rift. It is a virtual reality headset. And in our story, we mistakenly said that it would be available to consumers in 18 to 20 months. In fact, there is no release date yet for a consumer model. Only the development kit is currently available.

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Long-time fans of the comedy website, "Funny or Die," know this already. But for the rest of you, this is the theme song of "Between Two Ferns." The Web series mimics a low-budget, cable-access interview program.

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Now, health and electrical lighting. Last month, Mariana Figueiro showed me something she has developed to help seniors avoid falls in the night. Figueiro researches health applications at the Lighting Research Center at Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. Her project is a nightlight. But it's not just a single bulb. It's a string of yellow lights that border the darkened entrance to, say, a bathroom.

It's a doorway and around the frame of the doorway are the yellow LEDs?

MARIANA FIGUEIRO: That's correct.

This is the time of year when one man's work is widely - if indirectly - celebrated. His name used to be hugely famous, but nowadays, it draws blank stares, even from people who know that work. E.T.A. Hoffman, who lived from 1776 to 1822 in the Kingdom of Prussia, was responsible for a work that is a staple the holiday season, the original author of The Nutcracker. You can read more about the story, which aired last Christmas, here.

In Qatar's rapid race to modernity, the emirate has created a distinctive approach to educating its young: It has effectively imported a host of American universities.

Dr. Sheikha Aisha bint Faleh bin Nasser Al-Thani, a member of Qatar's ruling family, sits on the Supreme Education Council and owns a few independent schools. For her own children, she wanted a top-flight college education. Her sons were educated in Britain.

Over the past decade, Qatar's population has soared from 660,000 to more than 2 million. Here's the catch: Qataris themselves number only around 260,000.

The rest, more than 85 percent of the population, are not citizens. As Professor Mehran Kamrava, an American scholar at Georgetown University's campus in Qatar, says, they are all migrant workers of varying types.

People who are uninsured now have one more day to sign up for health coverage that start on the first of 2014. On Monday, the White House extended the deadline to sign up for plans under the Affordable Care Act from midnight on Dec. 23 to Christmas Eve at midnight, describing the move as a way to accommodate people in different time zones.

Qatar is a tiny place that insists on being heard.

The Arab nation just off the coast of Saudi Arabia has made itself a major diplomatic player, a generous donor of foreign aid, and a leader in modernizing education in the region. The ultra-modern capital Doha is full of skyscrapers, museums and history, much of it dating as far back as ... the 1990s.

Qatar is also a commercial capital that aims to become a cultural, sports and tourist center for the Gulf region despite having just 260,000 citizens.

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The big broadcast networks are rolling out their new fall shows right now. And how many do you count, Eric Deggans?

ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: I count about 26 new shows debuting in the next few weeks.

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