India's Bollywood film industry is known for romantic, over-the-top musicals that increasingly are reaching a world-wide audience. To highlight the international appeal, the industry holds its annual awards ceremony every year outside of India.
This year, Bollywood, its glittering stars and its legions of fans, have come to Tampa, Fla. It's the first time the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Awards have ever been held in the U.S.
At nearly all of the events held this week in downtown Tampa, the soundtrack has been throbbing Indian pop. At an outdoor dance concert, several thousand people — mostly Indian-Americans — gathered at a park on Tampa's waterfront.
DJs provided the music and there were food vendors, families on blankets and even a flash mob courtesy of a couple of dozen young people breaking out into a choreographed dance routine.
In the past, these Bollywood awards have been held in international cities like Bangkok, Amsterdam and Singapore. Tampa, although on one of Florida's most beautiful bays and experienced with hosting large gatherings, isn't exactly an international capital.
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn says one selling point for IIFA was how well the city did two years ago hosting the Republican National Convention.
"They wanted to introduce the Bollywood brand to the United States," Buckhorn says. "It had never been here before, so they picked a city where there's a big Indian-American community, with the biggest media market in the state of Florida. So it made sense for a lot of reasons, and one thing we know how to do is put on a big show."
But even the mayor concedes, Bollywood awards are nothing like a GOP convention.
"The Republican convention looked like me: a bunch of stuffy old white guys in suits," he says. "This is nothing but glitz and glam and lights and music and beautiful people."
Indian-Americans and some non-Indian fans have flocked to the Bollywood events this week. Tickets to Saturday night's awards spectacular at Tampa's baseball stadium go from a hundred dollars into the thousands. More than 20,000 people are expected, and IIFA estimates the worldwide TV audience in the hundreds of millions.
But there are also red carpet events this week, where fans can see their favorite stars up close. One of those stars is Anil Kapoor. He is well known even to Western audiences for his role in Slumdog Millionaire, emphatically not a Bollywood musical. Kapoor was everywhere in downtown Tampa this week; dancing, cutting ribbons and doing his best to charm fans and the media.
"Congratulations to all the people of Tampa Bay. Tampa Bay, we love you, you're the best," he said to excited fans.
To attract the stars of India's film industry to Tampa, it takes more than charm — it takes money. The city and IIFA got significant financial help from a local philanthropist, Kirwan Patel. Patel is a Tampa cardiologist who admits he's not a huge fan of Bollywood films, but he says he jumped at the chance to help bring a wellspring of Indian culture to his hometown.
"Culture and art is a great medium to cross barriers of race, religion [and] ethnicity," Patel says. "And I felt that this is a good way of promoting a cultural spirit of India and introducing it to the United States."
At all the Bollywood events this week, the cultural spirit of India was irrepressible.
Yousef al-Khattab helped change the way young Muslims were radicalized by spewing extreme Islamic propaganda on a YouTube channel.
Now al-Khattab, who was born Joseph Leonard Cohen and brought up in New Jersey and in Brooklyn in a Jewish home, tells NPR he made a big mistake and describes himself as a "failure." He's scheduled to appear in a federal court in Alexandria, Va., on Friday to be sentenced on terrorism charges.
The case is significant because Al-Khattab, now in his mid-40s, is one of the founders of a radical Islamist group called Revolution Muslim, which became a gateway for young jihadists in the U.S. looking to join violent Islamist groups overseas.
Back in October, al-Khattab pleaded guilty to using the RevMuslim website to "place persons affiliated with Jewish organizations ... in reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury." And for doing so, he faces up to five years in prison.
"I pleaded, I don't know the exact wording of it, but it was dissemminating a threat on the Internet," al-Khattab said in an interview with NPR ahead of his court appearance. "What I did was stupid and it was wrong and I am paying the price for that now, period."
What al-Khattab did was post a video in 2009 of violence in the Gaza Strip. He then encouraged RevMuslim followers to seek out Jewish leaders in the U.S. and, in his words, "deal with them directly in their homes."
Then he posted a photo of a Jewish organization in Brooklyn, with directions on how to get there adding that it tended to be full at prayer time.
"They interpreted me giving the message of Islam as being a threat to the Jewish community, which it wasn't," he began explaining.
When asked how providing addresses and pictures of people in the Jewish community after an anti-Semitic screed could possibly be misinterpreted, he bowed his head.
"Okay, okay," he said, "I am not defending that."
Launching The Site In 2007
After growing up in New Jersey, he converted to Islam in his late 20s, when he was living in the Middle East, and then helped start Revolution Muslim when he returned to the U.S. in 2007.
He says he "fell in" with people who were more radical than he was, but law enforcement officials say al-Khattab spearheaded the group's radicalization efforts.
Mitch Silber used to be the New York Police Department's highest ranking terrorism expert and ran its Terrorism Analysis Division. Now he runs K2 Intelligence's Data Analytics Practice. He said for a time after 2007, Revolution Muslim appeared to have some connection to almost every formal terrorism investigation they opened.
"RevMuslim became very proactive in the New York City area," Silber said. "Both publicly doing demonstrations on the streets on New York City as well as online, having a pretty significant Internet component to their efforts. Al-Khattab was one of the two leaders of the group, he was a chief propagandist, he was an organizer, he was a provocateur."
A New Era of Radicalization
Revolution Muslim and al-Khattab ushered in a new era of jihadi radicalization.
It used to be that young Muslims traveled to terrorist training camps in Pakistan, Afghanistan, or Yemen after being radicalized by recruiters from terrorist groups.
Revolution Muslim's YouTube channel and website made one-on-one recruitment unnecessary. The group could goad young Muslims to action with provocative posts on the web.
They put up videos of a radical cleric known as Sheikh Abdullah Faisal who, among other things, preached that it was good to kill those who don't believe in Islam. Faisal is now in Jamaica where local Muslim groups have shunned him and his radical message.
Revolution Muslim posted a video that championed Osama bin Laden and the 911 terrorists as heroes. After the 2009 Fort Hood shooting, in which Army Major Nidal Hassan killed 13, al-Khattab publicly lauded his actions. He and other members of Revolution Muslim demonstrated in support of Hassan and put the video of their protest up on the Web.
All this provocation seemed to work - RevMuslim followers prone to violence began coming out of the woodwork. Between 2008 and last year, nearly every violent Islamist arrested in this country on terrorism charges seemed to have some connection to the group.
The Philadelphia woman known as Jihad Jane, arrested in 2009 for plotting to kill a cartoonist who had drawn the Prophet Mohammed, was a RevMuslim follower.
Samir Khan, the North Carolina man who edited an al-Qaida magazine and was killed by a drone while riding in the same vehicle as radical American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen, was a frequent visitor to the group's chatrooms.
Zack Chesser, a Virginia man who blogged for RevMuslim, was arrested boarding a flight to Somalia. He was traveling to join al-Shabab, a group linked to al-Qaida.
'We Were Wrong'
Al-Khattab was the last of the group's core leadership to have evaded authorities, until he pleaded guilty last fall.
"I thought we had stayed on the right side of the line with regard to free speech," he said. "But it appears we went over it, we went too far and, I'll say it, we were wrong."
Al-Khattab said now his concern is that his prison sentence will raise a rallying cry in the very radical forums that he helped create. He says he doesn't want to be lionized as a religious warrior — a mujahadid.
"This was stupidity and this is what happens when you hang out with the wrong people," he said. "So it is my fault. I know when I go to jail, they will be, 'Allah, Allah, he's a mujahadid.' I am not a mujahadid, I am a failure."
It's easy to find goat milk and goat cheese in Vermont. Goat meat, not so much.
That's frustrating for the refugees, immigrants and others who've settled in the state and are accustomed to eating fresh goat meat. Though it's not so common in the U.S., it's a mainstay in many African, Asian and Caribbean diets.
But there's a movement afoot to meet the demand for goat meat throughout New England.
A project called the Vermont Goat Collaborative is providing new Americans with the opportunity to raise and sell goats to members of their community. Now in its second year, the collaborative makes use of an abundant — and often unwanted - class of animal: male baby goats from goat dairy farms.
But first, a bit of terminology: Baby goats are called kids. Male baby goats are called bucklings.
On a recent clear, frigid afternoon, Theoneste Rwayitare helped shuttle 57 bucklings in and out of a pen with a small milking station. The kids, some as young as a week old, only stopped bleating when they found the plastic nipples that yielded warm, powdered milk.
Rwayitare is a Rwandan refugee. He arrived in Vermont just a year ago; he joined his brother, Theogene Mataro, who had been resettled there several years prior.
In February, the brothers joined Chuda Dhaurali, a Bhutanese refugee, at the Vermont Goat Collaborative's Pine Island Farm in Colchester.
All three have experience in the goat market. Dhaurali spent nearly 20 years working more or less as a goat trader in a refugee camp in Nepal. And Rwayitare says goats were one of many animals that his family raised in Rwanda.
"The goat are not complicated to farm [in Kenya]," he says. "[It's not] hard work."
Before Dhaurali became the first farmer at the Vermont Goat Collaborative, he would drive all the way to Boston to find goat meat.
Now it's just a matter of traveling a few miles outside of town, says Karen Freudenberger, the brains behind the operation.
Before Freudenberger got this project off the ground, most goat consumed in Vermont was coming from much further away than Boston. She says that every year, Vermont businesses import 3,000 goats from Australia and New Zealand.
"That seemed, on the one hand, a travesty in a state that's trying to maintain its working landscape, but on the other hand a huge opportunity," she says.
There's already a good supply of bucklings in Vermont. They're born on the dairies that produce cheese and yogurt. Those farms only raise up females — male goats are essentially useless on these operations, since they can't be milked.
That means that bucklings born on dairy farms often meet an unfortunate end.
"Especially on the very large farms, they would just tend to compost the babies at birth," Freudenberger says. "And many other farms just felt so uncomfortable doing that that they took huge amounts of time to go around and find people who wanted a pet goat."
The collaborative is still a tiny operation, catering to a small market immigrants and refugees. But Shirley Richardson has much grander designs for the goat meat industry.
In 2011, Richardson started Vermont Chevon. Chevon is another word for goat meat. And the organization is devoted to scaling up the dairy goat meat model until Vermont is a major regional exporter.
"We used to be a main exporter of goat meat, but right now we're a main importer. It's a significant economic opportunity for the state of Vermont to become a center where the animals are raised," she says.
At least part of Richardson's plan for a Vermont goat boom is contingent upon a broader market for the meat.
For the uninitiated, Theoneste Rwayitare recommends a delicacy called brochette.
"You put [the meat] on a stick," he says. "And you prepare with barbecue. When you eat brochette with barbecue, it really, really tastes good."
Good, and good for you, with as much protein as beef.
Mid State Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Center is hard to miss. The practice's new, 30,000-square-foot building is marked with an enormous sign along one of the main roads in Alexandria, a central Louisiana city of about 48,000 people.
In the elegant, high-ceilinged interior, the medical practice's 11 doctors see about 300 patients daily to bring in $10 million in revenue each year. It's a highly successful operation. But when practice administrator Spencer Michael started here two years ago, the business was struggling with a common problem: collecting payments from patients.
The recent economic downturn and the increasing use of high-deductible insurance plans "has driven patients to want to put off paying their bills," Michael explains. Whether it's for a hip replacement or a broken bone, he frequently sees patients on the hook for a $3,000 to $5,000 deductible.
"We have to be able to be the creditor," says Michael. "We're essentially a bank at that point."
Between 2008 and 2012, multi-specialty practices saw their bad debt go up 14 percent, according to a survey by the Medical Group Management Association, a trade organization for doctor practices. That's money that practices were owed but couldn't collect. Some of them have begun to change their billing strategies to combat those debts, says Ken Hertz, a principal consultant with the MGMA Health Care Consulting Group.
"In the past, someone at the front desk would say, 'Would you like to pay today?' Because the simple answer to that is 'Well, no! If I can walk out without paying, I'm walking out without paying!' " Hertz says. "Today, it's more of, 'Mr. Smith you have an outstanding balance. How would you like to pay for that?' "
One option for the doctors is to send patients who don't pay their bills to collection agencies faster. In the past, doctors tended to wait a full 180 days before taking action. But that could mean that patients who were well past the treatments didn't feel the import of settling the debt, according to Hertz . "That's six months. I'm feeling a lot better. Six months? Beat me up, try to collect from me," says Hertz. He is encouraging practices to send patients to collections after six to eight weeks instead.
Another option is to collect the payments before a procedure even happens - an approach that Hertz says has proved particularly effective at Mid State Orthopaedic.
On a recent morning, Gayle Jackson-Pryce, 63, who pays her bills on time, stopped by the practice as a patient — to have her shoulder checked.
"I was on a business trip and I picked up my luggage and immediately thought, 'Ooh, did I tear something?" she recalls.
Dr. Michael Leddy tells her she needs surgery on her shoulder. As she leaves the exam room, she passes by the billing desk, where she pays her $50 copay for the office visit.
Then, as she heads out of the building, she passes a second payment desk, where Deanna Tharp sits — one of two employees at Mid State Orthopaedic whose sole job is to collect payments from patients, often even before they have surgery. Tharp has an incentive to do it well; the more she collects, the bigger her bonus will be.
Tharp starts with the practice's electronic record system. "This is the rotary cuff repair code, this is the price for it, this is Dr. Leddy's price," she explains to Jackson-Price.
The system can access a patient's insurance details to find out exactly how much she'll owe. The total for the orthopedist's portion of Jackson-Price's surgery comes to $1,917.90. Once the insurance company's portion is deducted, Jackson-Price will owe the doctor a total of $831.
Jackson-Pryce says she'll be able to pay the total amount up-front, although the practice recommended she wait a few days so they could double-check her deductible. For those who can't pay upfront, Tharp can help them set up a payment plan.
Patients who still can't make it work are advised to seek treatment instead at the local safety-net hospital. Hospitals usually offer some sort of charity program to help low-income patients pay for care but that's not the case for most private physicians' practices.
The doctors at Mid State do offer some free care when they can, says practice administrator Michael, "but at the end of the day, this is still a business, and still we do have to keep the lights on."
Soon, patients will be offered an even faster payment option. In the waiting room, they'll be handed a tablet computer that's attached to a device that takes credit cards, and given the option to store their payment inforomation for future bills. The upfront payment model is working well for the medical practice; bad debt at Mid State Orthopaedic has gone down by 25 percent over the past two years.
But when patients hand over that kind of cash, Michael says they expect to get what they paid for. Like the fancy new building, which, he acknowledges, drives up the cost of care. "But that's the expectation of patients these days. And if we can't make that happen, they're going to go where they can get that," he says.
Jackson-Price says it's the quality of the doctors she cares about, not the amenities.
"I'm old, don't you know that? Old people don't get concerned about buildings. We figure we're paying for it. Oh boy, I gotta pay more 'cause the building is nice!" she says with a laugh.
After nine surgeries across the course of her life, she says she's used to paying a portion of her medical bills. So she always sets $1,000 aside for unexpected expenses. But, she says, that kind of money can cramp your style.
"I never thought I would look forward to Medicare, but I do," she says. "Yes I do."
British comedian John Oliver made a name for himself as a correspondent for Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, where he spent his time lampooning the media and the politicians on it.
Now, as sometimes happens with an actual star reporter, Oliver has his own show. It's called Last Week Tonight and it premieres Sunday on HBO.
He joins NPR Steve Inskeep to discuss mocking the U.S. with an English accent and why the White House Correspondents' Dinner is where jokes go to die.
On Daily Show segments in which he seems to get genuinely angry about a story
I think if there's real anger, it's provoked. Anger cannot be your default setting 'cause it's draining to perform and it's draining to watch. But there are some times that what you're talking about is so frustrating that the whole day has been a process of trying to channel that anger into something funny.
On whether his jokes would still be funny without his English accent
Well, let's hope so because that's basically been my business model for a decade. ... I'm telling you, the kryptonite is if the jokes I tell — if you see them written down, that is no good. ... I am exposed in script form.
On whether he feels the need to differentiate himself from The Daily Show and The Colbert Report
For sure. You know, if a story happens early in the week and they cover it, we probably won't touch it. So, I think we'll end up looking slightly off the regular radar.
On whether it ever feels strange to mock the U.S. as someone who isn't from here
I don't think so. I mean, I've lived here for nearly eight years now and I love it here and, you know, I've married an American. ... And also, I think sometimes it helps to have a slight outsider's voice in comedy, whatever that voice is. And as it happens my voice sounds like I don't belong here. Or at least, I haven't belonged here post-1770.
On whether an outsider's perspective is good for journalism
It would be if journalists were more outsider than they were, but there is a coziness. You see something like the warmth of response ... at the White House Correspondents' Dinner [where] everyone is so comfortable being in the same room as people that they are supposed to be the check and balance on. If the system worked right, you would think that would be the most excruciatingly awkward room to be in, and it's pretty comfy and that comfort is a problem.
On whether he would accept an invitation to perform at the White House Correspondents' Dinner
Oh, definitely. ... Of course, because as a comedian you're attracted to sometimes doing the things that are the most difficult. That room is not a good room for comedy. The people in it and the way it's laid out — that is where jokes go to die. But the challenge — when you see something like the speech that Stephen Colbert gave, when he did it, is just — it's a master class in comedy.
On what concerns him about America's engagement with its wars
You know, this comes from — I have a slightly closer perspective on this because I married an Iraq War veteran, and this does not feel like a country at war.
And I went to Afghanistan to do a USO tour for a couple of weeks ... and it was a fantastic experience, but the disconnect between America and what we are asking young Americans to do is incredible. I honestly think if you ask people in this country whether we were at war, lots of them would forget.