On Its Latest Album, Foxygen Keeps A California State Of Mind

Foxygen is Sam France (left) and Jonathan Rado; the duo’s latest album is called Hang.

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Cara Robbins/Courtesy of the artist

Jonathan Rado and Sam France were in eighth grade when they first met and began making music together. Their tastes were simple at first — straight-ahead rock songs banged out on drums and guitars in a garage. But a dramatic shift happened when they decided to take a less linear approach to recording their work.

“I got really into buying cheap, cheap instruments on eBay — lots of xylophones and melodicas and kind of useless junk — and that was kind of everywhere,” Rado says. “We’d just kind of play for like 30 minutes, and then chop the best bits down to a three-minute song.”

“We would just get some idea and be like, ‘What if we did that?’ And it sounds insane at the time,” France adds. “We don’t always hit the exact vision that we have. Whatever we get is what ends up being Foxygen.”

Foxygen, as the two are now known, released its psychedelic breakthrough album, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic, in 2013 — and had a hit with the song “San Francisco.” On their latest project, they’re still focused on California — but this time, on its dark side.

Rado and France spoke with weekends on All Things Considered about how the new album Hang, was inspired by a book about Hollywood scandals and murders. Hear the full conversation at the audio link.

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The Early 2000s Are Calling: New Nokia 3310 Phones Revealed

The new 3310s will be available in four colors, and come with a headphone jack. The phones are not yet available for sale.

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In an era of ever-advancing phone technology, can nostalgia give a boost to a not-so-smartphone?

The Nokia 3310 — a beloved phone model that’s been out of date for a decade — has been relaunched as a new, colorful, pared-down phone for sale by HMD Global.

The new phone, which costs just more than $50, debuted at an expo in Barcelona. It’s a “feature phone,” the industry term for a device that doesn’t have the capabilities of a smartphone. But it’s definitely been upgraded since the early 2000s; this model has a camera, a color screen and an mp3 player.

Not everyone was impressed. Chris Smith of BGR wrote that the new phone “feels light and cheap” and called the use of the Nokia 3310 name a “marketing trick” to bring attention to HMD Global’s new Android smartphones — also under the Nokia brand.

The company purchased the right to make Nokia phones last year. Rumors have recently been percolating that among the offerings would be a throwback phone, reviving the 3310. As we reported earlier this month, that model was technically “retired” in 2005, with some 126 million units sold, according to Nokia:

“But a few die-hard fans refused to retire their devices, noting the convenience of a battery that lasts for days. And even those who moved on to shinier smartphones still fondly remembered the 3310 — and as touchscreen after touchscreen shattered, they thought back wistfully to the old phone’s near-indestructibility.

“The phone eventually gained a legendary reputation on the internet as the ‘Chuck Norris’ of phones, with an everlasting battery and supernatural strength, destined to survive the apocalypse and capable of standing in for hammers when necessary.”

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Time will tell if the new model has the original phone’s legendary durability.

As for battery life, HMD Global boasts that the phone will last for up to a monthon standby. But the company says if you’re using it to talk, you’ll get about 22 hours — which is hardly unprecedented, even for smartphones.

But there’s one trait from the original phone that’s definitely still available: Snake.

Each phone comes loaded with the classic game, now in color.

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NPR News Nuggets: A Plea To Texans, Eat Your Veggies & Chris Christie's Next Move

Members of Alpha Phi Omega handle the world’s largest Texas flag before University of Texas football games. Like the flag, it’s a big deal.

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Here’s a quick roundup of some of the mini-moments you may have missed on this week’s Morning Edition.

C’mon, Texans.

The Texas Legislature never disappoints — especially when it comes to serious Texan matters, like our flag. We have a lot, and I mean a lot, of pride behind that tricolor flag emblazoned with our lone star, and sometimes we just get a little carried away. Case in point: emojis. Adding all the countries’ flag was an excellent move, but Texans just wish that Texas was still a country. It’s not, but the flag of Chile does bare some resemblance to that of the Lone Star State and a lot of people are using it in their texts and tweets. As Morning Edition host Rachel Martin said on Tuesday, Texas State Rep. Tom Oliverson wants to pass a resolution saying the Chilean flag is “nice, but not a stand-in when texting or tweeting.” Honestly, I agree. So here are some alternatives, the longhorn, the Hook ’em hand sign, the cactus, the taco or even the football. Texas Independence Day is March 2. I’m begging you, please don’t use the Chilean flag for Texas.

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Texas Lawmaker Riled Over Emoji Chilean Flag Mixup

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Meat may turnip at this veggie festival

In Germany, you apparently can’t have your veggies and eat them, too — unless they come with a side of meat. That’s at least what some members of one town’s city council are saying. As Morning Edition host David Greene said on Thursday, an environmental group planned a festival in April and made it all vegetarian, which is a bit counter to the German culture. So despite the focus of the this festival on Earth Day being veggie-centric, the members want the region’s famous pork sausage sold as well. One politician who supports the festival did admit that the veggie them was a bit of a kick in the guts. Basically, there was a point. They council members missed it.

An environmental group is holding a vegetarian festival on Earth Day. But members of the German city’s council want the group to serve local meat at the event. Lettuce discuss.

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What comes next for Chris Christie?

As Obama’s time in the White House drew closer to the end there was a lot of speculation as to what he would do next. Spotify even posted a job for a “president of playlists” that seemed to match up with the former president’s experience. Well, Obama didn’t take that job — at least not that we know of — but now another politician is looking for his next step. As Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep said on Friday New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie leaves office at the end of the year, and so far he doesn’t have a new gig lined up. Christie missed out on being vice president, wasn’t named to President Donald Trump’s cabinet, and he won’t be participating in a talk show on radio station WFAN. So we’ll just have to wait and see.

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After Kansas Shooting, More Than $1 Million Donated For Victims' Families

A man shows a cellphone picture of Alok Madasani, an engineer who was injured in Wednesday’s shooting, in front of Madasani’s father, Jaganmohan Reddy, in the Indian city of Hyderabad.

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Less than a week after a man opened fire in a crowded Kansas bar, killing one man and injuring two others, thousands of strangers from around the world have opened up their wallets to comfort the victims’ families.

Three separate GoFundMe accounts have between them raised more than $1 million in donations, which they pledge to help with the families’ medical expenses.

Wednesday’s shooting, allegedly carried out by 51-year-old Adam Purinton, targeted two Indian men in Olathe, Kan., a suburb of the Kansas City metro area. Purinton has been arrested and charged with murder and attempted murder for the attack, which witnesses say he opened by shouting racial slurs and yelling, “Get out of my country!”

One of the survivors, Alok Madasani, told The New York Times that before the shooting, the man sitting near Madasani and his friend Srinivas Kuchibhotla began addressing them with pointed questions.

“He asked us what visa are we currently on and whether we are staying here illegally,” Madasani told the paper on Friday. The Times notes Madasani and his friend were educated in the U.S. and working legally at Garmin, which has an office in town. “We didn’t react. People do stupid things all the time. This guy took it to the next level.”

The shooting that followed claimed Kuchibhotla’s life and left Ian Grillot, who sought to stop it, hospitalized with gunshot wounds in his hand and chest. The FBI is now investigating whether the shooting should also be considered a hate crime.

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“We’ve set up this fund to help them with the funeral expenses and other ongoing grief / recovery support costs,” reads the GoFundMe page that pledges to send the donations to Kuchibhotla’s family. “This includes the very expensive process of carrying his mortal remains back to India, so his parents can say goodbye one last time to their beloved son.”

As of this posting, that campaign has drawn more than $600,000, well above its $150,000 goal. A fundraising campaigns pledging contributions for both Indian men has also raised roughly $89,000, while another for Grillot — created by his sisters — has raked in more than $375,000.

Citing GoFundMe, The Kansas City Star reports that as of Friday donations had come from “all 50 states, 25 nations and from some 18,000 donors so far.”

Meanwhile in India, NPR’s Julie McCarthy reports that compassion has been mixed with concern that the Trump administration’s stance on immigration is making the U.S. a dangerous place for Indian immigrants.

“There’s been an outpouring of anger and dismay on Twitter. Some Indians have characterized the United States as a place to be avoided,” Julie reports for our Newscast unit.

“Indians make up the second largest immigrant group in the United States after Mexicans,” Julie adds. “And they hold more than 70 percent of the visas issued for high-skilled workers. The two American-educated Indians (injured in the attack) held such visas.”

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Across The Divide, Identity Politics Unites The Base At Both CPAC And DNC

President Donald Trump departs after speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday, Feb. 24, 2017, in Oxon Hill, Md.

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It’s a fascinating thing to watch activists in both American political parties grapple with a way forward in the Trump era.

Conservatives gathered outside Washington last week at a convention, the Conservative Political Action Conference, which had been a home for libertarians in recent years. The CPAC annual presidential straw poll has been dominated by people with the last name Paul over the last decade.

Former congressman Ron Paul and his son, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, won five of six CPAC straw polls from 2010-2015. Rand Paul didn’t even attend this year. And many of his libertarian followers may have stayed home with him, because CPAC this year was very different.

Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway predicted on day one of the conference that it was going to be more like “TPAC.” And she was right.

Trump was greeted as a conquering hero — after a couple of days of CPAC that had been, to borrow a Trump phrase, low energy. But when this president spoke, the room, dotted with red “Make America Great Again” hats, lit up and roared with approval.

“Trump! Build the wall! Dishonest media!” came random Trump talking points in shouts from one college-age Trump supporter in the back of the packed room.

No, there weren’t lines six blocks long to get in, as Trump asserted from the dais, but there was lots of enthusiasm in that room for him.

A day later, in Atlanta, Democrats gathered to pick a new party chairman. They did – Tom Perez, President Obama’s former labor secretary and a finalist for Hillary Clinton’s vice-presidential pick. But his election — and the response to it — did more to highlight the continuing rift within the Democratic Party.

When Perez took the stage after the results of the close election were announced – he won by just 35 votes out of more than 400 — supporters of Perez’s chief rival, Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, who was endorsed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, stood and voiced their disapproval.

“Not big money! Party for the people!” they chanted over and over and over again. The proceedings were briefly stopped, as Donna Brazile, the interim party chair – with ties to Clinton – tried to gavel the group to order.

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“Shut up!” one Perez supporter eventually yelled from across the room at the irritated Ellison supporters.

In reality, it was only about a dozen Ellison supporters who were chanting, and the room erupted in applause when, in his first act as party chair, Perez named Ellison his deputy. Ellison warmly accepted, pledged to work together and told his supporters to support “our” chairman. And most Ellison supporters NPR chatted with said they were disappointed, but fine with Perez. They said they liked his labor background.

Newly-elected Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, right, and Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., who was named deputy chairman at the DNC winter meeting in Atlanta, Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017.

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And that’s what’s amazing – that Perez has been targeted by activists as something of a corporate sellout, when he was a former civil-rights attorney and was arguably the most progressive Obama Cabinet member.

Perez is also the first Hispanic chairman of the committee, something that was largely ignored, because of the intra-party bickering and because of another potential first – the possibility of the first Muslim chairman.

Ellison is the first Muslim elected to Congress, and many of his supporters wanted to send a message in the era of Trump — one of inclusivity that the party stands for.

And that was another thread that ran through both conferences – CPAC and the Democratic National Committee chairman’s race: Identity politics.

It’s something that seems to animate both bases – and Ellison’s religion was something that was greeted very differently at both events.

At CPAC, when conservative talk show host Mark Levin introduced Sen. Ted Cruz, he predicted Ellison would win the DNC race. Levin obliquely alluded to Ellison’s religion when he mentioned Ellison’s ties to “Farrakhan.”

Cruz picked up on it and said, “If they name Keith Ellison, we can commend them for truth in advertising.”

At the DNC event, an Imam led the invocation and the “black national anthem” was sung.

At CPAC, like with most conservative events, immigration was the glue. If there were disagreements – about how the U.S. should approach Russia, for example – they agreed a hard line on immigration.

Democrats picked a Latino chairman, whose parents were born in the Dominican Republic.

These aren’t just two different parties – they’re two different worlds.

Bernice King, daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., urged Democrats to not only work together, but to try to understand the other side.

After all, she said, “If we don’t learn to live together as brothers and sisters — yes, together — we’re going to perish as fools.”

But that’s not where American politics is right now.

Hours after Perez’s election, Donald Trump tweeted faux congratulations:

Congratulations to Thomas Perez, who has just been named Chairman of the DNC. I could not be happier for him, or for the Republican Party!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 25, 2017

Perez responded hotly:

Call me Tom. And don’t get too happy. @keithellison and I, and Democrats united across the country, will be your worst nightmare. https://t.co/fu7WvLofrD

— Tom Perez (@TomPerez) February 25, 2017

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Indonesia Wakes And Up And Smells Its Own Coffee — Then Drinks It

Mirza Luqman Effendy of Brewphobia in South Jakarta prepares coffee for a cupping session.

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The Indonesian island of Java has long been synonymous with coffee. But it’s only in the past decade or so that Indonesians have begun to wake up and smell the coffee — their own, that is.

Big changes are brewing in the country’s coffee industry, as demand from a rising middle class fuels entrepreneurship and connoisseurship.

The trend is clear at places like the Anomali Coffee shop in South Jakarta. It roasts its coffee just inside the entrance on the ground floor.

If you walk into the roasting room at just the right moment, as the heat caramelizes the sugars in the coffee beans, it smells like someone is baking cookies.

Get close to the roasting machine, and you can hear the beans snap and pop. “It is the bean expanding because of the heat of the core,” explains Anomali’s founder Irvan Helmi.

Freshly roasted Indonesian coffee beans at the Anomali Coffee shop in South Jakarta.

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Anomali Coffee includes a trading company that wholesales to hotels and other businesses. It also has a barista training academy.

And upstairs from the roasting ovens is one of its seven cafes. On a table, bags of beans from a half-dozen single origins are on sale. A blackboard ranks the beans in terms of their acidity and body.

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“In Toraja, you also have a medium body, chocolaty and caramel, herbs,” Irvan says, picking up a bag of beans from Sulawesi Island.

Indonesia’s more than 17,000 islands teem with cultural diversity, and more plant and animal species than researchers can catalog.

Little wonder, then, that from Aceh in the west to Papua in the east, the archipelago has more coffees than Irvan’s tasters can get around to tasting.

“From Aceh alone, we have more than 100 samples each season,” Irvan says. “Can you imagine?”

Packaged Indonesian coffee beans for sale at the Anomali Coffee shop in South Jakarta.

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Anomali sells coffees from nine single origins at a time. Irvan reckons he has sourced coffee from about 100 single origins since founding his company a decade ago.

“We put a score on it for each season,” he says, “and we select which coffee we want to bring for our customers.”

Then comes a slew of different procedures and techniques, from the way the beans are dried and hulled to the time and temperature at which the they’re roasted, and the way they are ground and brewed to bring out their characteristic flavors.

Irvan notes that Indonesian coffees are known for their “earthiness” and body. Indonesians often drink these coffees black, and therefore, he says, they don’t need the dark roast and acidity needed to be tasted above all the milk and syrup added to them in Western-style cafes.

Colonialists started growing coffee in what was then the Dutch East Indies in the 17th century. After parasites decimated plantations of Arabica beans in the 1880s, the Dutch introduced the hardier Robusta variety, which continues to account for most of Indonesia’s crop today.

Indonesia is the world’s fourth-largest producer of coffee after Brazil, Vietnam and Colombia, and it exports more than it consumes.

Irvan Helmi, founder of Anomali Coffee, stands outside his South Jakarta shop, which specializes in single-source coffees from around the Indonesian archipelago.

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But Irvan explains that this has been changing in recent years, as demand from Indonesia’s growing middle class has taken off, and improved logistics have helped build a thriving, archipelago-wide market.

And that’s where Irvan saw his chance.

“The mission becomes clear,” he declares, “to promote Indonesian coffee as a curator.”

Irvan acknowledges the contribution of Starbucks to the Indonesian market. He jokingly calls the Seattle-based chain his “marketing department,” as it has the financial muscle to penetrate new and remote cities and give local consumers an introduction to authentic espressos, cappuccinos and the like.

Irvan says most coffee companies blend different coffees together to make a consistent product. But each of Anomali’s coffees comes from a single origin.

“We don’t care about consistency,” he sniffs. “If it’s a high quality, we want it.”

So you could say that each of their coffees is, well, an anomaly. “That’s the big difference between Anomali and the mass market,” he says. “And we’re very proud of it.”

Mirza Luqman Effendy, a friend and colleague of Irvan’s who runs a café called Brewphobia (something he got over a long time ago), explains to me that younger Indonesians have different tastes in coffee from their parents’ generation.

Mirza Luqman Effendy, founder of the Brewphobia coffee shop in South Jakarta, is seen through the window in his shop.

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“The fact is, my father is a coffee addict,” Mirza says. “He really likes very intense coffee, like Robusta, roasted very dark, and then basically he drinks coffee with putting some sugar and ginger.”

He says that recipe is way too old-school for him: “My father’s coffee is just like … coffee. You cannot taste any attributes besides the coffee taste.”

But Mirza tastes so much more in a cup than just coffee. He hones in on the attributes of each bean, the notes of citrus and spice, the feel on his palate and the lingering aftertaste.

Of course, it’s young people like Irvan and Mirza, sharing their passion for coffee, that drives the coffee scene in many countries.

But with its rich variety of beans and long history of cultivation, Indonesia is building a coffee culture — and a pride in it — that is truly homegrown.

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Bill Paxton, Prolific Actor And Star Of 'Titanic' And 'Apollo 13,' Dies At 61

Bill Paxton attends the People’s Choice Awards in Los Angeles last month.

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Bill Paxton, prolific actor and big-screen fixture for decades, has died at the age of 61. In a statement released to media outlets Sunday, a family representative says Paxton died of complications from surgery.

“A loving husband and father, Bill began his career in Hollywood working on films in the art department and went on to have an illustrious career spanning four decades as a beloved and prolific actor and filmmaker,” the statement reads.

“Bill’s passion for the arts was felt by all who knew him, and his warmth and tireless energy were undeniable.”

Statement on Bill Paxton’s death from a representative for his family pic.twitter.com/V2zlnK7F91

— NBC News (@NBCNews) February 26, 2017

Paxton was perhaps best known for his marquee roles in Hollywood blockbusters. From below the sea, as in Titanic, to out of this world, as in Aliens and Apollo 13, Paxton starred in dozens of films and even directed a handful himself.

Most recently, Paxton played the lead in the television spin-off of the film Training Day. That series, which recently launched, stars Paxton as a corrupt LAPD detective, tackling the kind of moral ambiguity that characterized some of Paxton’s most memorable roles.

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Based on the reaction from many of his colleagues, those who worked with the beloved actor felt no such ambivalence about the man himself.

What a lovely, warm and kind human. So sad to hear of Bill Paxton’s passing.

— Elijah Wood (@elijahwood) February 26, 2017

Devastated by the sudden loss of my close friend and one of the finest actors in the business, Bill Paxton. Renaissance man, raconteur and

— Rob Lowe (@RobLowe) February 26, 2017

This post will be updated with more information.

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Banned Nerve Agent Killed Kim Jong Nam Within 20 Minutes, Malaysia Says

Members of Malaysia’s hazardous materials team conduct a decontamination operation at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Sunday.

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The nerve agent smeared onto the face of Kim Jong Nam, estranged half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jon Un, was administered in such a high dose it killed him within 20 minutes, according Malaysia’s health minister.

“The doses were so high and it did it so fast and all over the body, so it would have affected his heart, it would have affected his lungs, it would have affected everything,” Subramaniam Sathasivam said at a news conference Sunday.

Since Kim Jong Nam’s death at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Feb. 13, speculation has swirled that the eldest Kim brother, who was exiled more than a decade ago, was assassinated by the North Korean government — a charge North Korea has denied. Suspicions were only stoked further with last week’s revelation by Malaysian police that the poison used to kill him was VX nerve agent, which is classified as a weapon of mass destruction and banned by the international Chemical Weapons Convention.

North Korea is not a signatory to the treaty, though, and NPR’s Elise Hu reports the country is believed to have stockpiles of the chemical, along with up to 5,000 tons of various other agents.

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NPR’s Geoff Brumfiel explains what makes the rare VX nerve agent so dangerous:

“VX is among the deadliest chemical weapons ever devised. A colorless, odorless liquid, similar in consistency to motor oil, it kills in tiny quantities that can be absorbed through the skin. A relative of the nerve agent Sarin, VX disrupts communications between nerves and muscles. Victims of VX initially experience nausea and dizziness. Without an antidote, the chemical eventually paralyzes the diaphragm, causing suffocation.”

Sathasivam said Sunday that VX requires only a 10-milligram dose to be lethal, and that he believes the dose applied to Kim’s face was much more than that. The hospital’s autopsy result revealed Kim suffered “very serious paralysis” before his death, the health minister said.

He added that it may be that not even an antidote, had it been administered in time, would have saved Kim.

Elise notes that Malaysia, one of the few countries that has remained friendly with North Korea, may be reevaluating its relationship with the hermit kingdom in the wake of the high-profile poisoning. “Malaysia’s tourism minister says he no longer sees any gains from maintaining diplomatic relations with Pyongyang,” Elise reports.

On Sunday, authorities in hazardous-materials suits swept the airport terminal where the apparent attack was carried out. After the two-hour sweep, a police official said the terminal is “free from any form of contamination of hazardous material” and declared it a “safe zone,” according to The Associated Press.

Among the suspects in the apparent killing is a North Korean diplomat, along with at least four other people. The two women who appear to accost Kim in closed-circuit footage of the incident have both asserted they believed they were part of a prank show.

Citing Indonesia’s deputy ambassador to Malaysia, the AP says that one of the suspects, an Indonesian woman named Siti Aisyah, claims she was paid the equivalent of $90 to take part.

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