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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Everything from the blockbuster National Treasure to the TV series Sleepy Hollow has trafficked in the idea that America might not be exactly what it appears. Similarly, Austin Grossman's new novel, Crooked, imagines a United States founded not only on democracy and independence, but on the murky foundation of dark magic. But rather than handling this premise with a light, pulpy touch, Grossman's vision of the secret history of Richard M. Nixon is as eerie and absorbing as it is fantastically ludicrous.

A court in Tripoli has sentenced the son of Moammar Gadhafi to death in connection with killings during the 2011 uprising that ended Gadhafi's rule.

NPR's Leila Fadel reports from Cairo that because the country is in such disarray, the sentence was handed down in absentia. She filed this report for our Newscast unit:

"A spokesman for Tripoli's self-declared government said Saif Al-Islam Gadhafi is one of nine former regime figures who were sentenced to death today. The rest, including Libya's former spy chief, are all in a prison in Tripoli.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Happy Birthday! Bugs Bunny Turns 75

23 hours ago
Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Virginia Savage lives in a part of north St. Louis, Mo., that's filled with vacant buildings, including Marshall Elementary. It has been closed for years now, and vines crawl into the building's smashed-out windows. The playground is littered with empty liquor bottles.

Savage went to school at Marshall as a young girl, and now she sees bigger problems beyond all those blemishes: "Drug dealers, drug users, eyesore. That's what I see."

In St. Louis, the student enrollment is one-fourth the size it was in the 1960s. That drop has led the district to close 30 or so schools.

Water scarcity is driving California farmers to plant different crops. Growers are switching to more profitable, less-thirsty fruits, vegetables and nuts.

Nowhere is this truer than San Diego County, where water prices are some of the highest in the state.

Grapefruit trees shade the entrance to Triple B Ranches winery in northern San Diego County. The tasting room is a converted kitchen festooned with country knick knacks.

Americans have been intentionally ramming cars into each other for sport for decades. And at this time of year, fans crowd into county fairs to see battered, souped-up cars bash each other to pieces.

This steel equivalent of blood sport draws a passionate following, and the drivers say it is deeply addicting.

"There's nothing better," says John Green, a demolition derby driver at a recent fair in Franklin County, Kan. "A lot of people say they would do it, but until you get in there and do it you never know the real feeling."

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