Rachel Martin | WYPR

Rachel Martin

It can be helpful to focus on the wonder of the natural world when so much of what is happening around us feels out of our control.

Poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil's new book aims to help introduce readers to nature's marvels — it's called World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks and Other Astonishments.

It was Memorial Day, May 25th, 2020. The coronavirus had locked down the country for weeks. Tens of thousands had died. Millions were out of work. And in Minneapolis, a 46-year-old Black man named George Floyd went to buy a pack of cigarettes.

Floyd's stop ended with a police officer's knee dug into his neck for nearly nine minutes. Floyd begged for his life, called for his mother and repeatedly told the police, "I can't breathe." His cries went unanswered and he died in police custody.

Diego Luna wants you to start talking.

The star of Y Tu Mamá También, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, Narcos: Mexico and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has a new series that he hopes will compel audiences to do that. It's called Pan y Circo, or "Bread and Circus," out Friday on Amazon Prime Video.

The title is a reference to the poem "Satire X" by Roman poet Juvenal, who wrote in the second century that bread and circuses — food and entertainment — are all that's needed to convince Romans to give up their political freedoms.

"In a battle for facts, in a battle for truth, journalism is activism," says Philippine journalist Maria Ressa.

Ressa, who is internationally known and lauded for standing up to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's escalating attacks on the press, tells NPR that circumstances in the Philippines have forced her to evolve as a journalist.

Gwinnett County Public Schools in Georgia is one of a growing number of K-12 school districts around the country deeming it too dangerous to teach students in person when classes restart this fall.

The school district — the state's largest — announced earlier this week that it would transition to all-virtual learning, reversing its previous plan to hold a mix of in-person and virtual classes.

Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks said the change came down to prioritizing safety – and that will guide any decision to revert to in-person learning.

Dana Canedy has spent her career working with the written word.

"My son calls me 'word nerd,' because I'm obsessed with words and books," she says. "I've been writing since I was 12 years old. And my mother asked me in high school, 'If you don't become a writer, what's your Plan B?' And I said 'There is no Plan B.'"

Plan A worked.

Mark Shaver hadn't seen his 96-year-old mother, Betty, in months when he hit a breaking point and decided he had to see her.

Shaver lived in South Carolina and Betty was in a nursing home in Morgantown, W.Va., when COVID-19 outbreaks began sweeping across the nation. By early March, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice requested that nursing homes in the state restrict visitors, blocking any real chance Shaver would have to see his mom in person.

Former Defense Secretary and CIA chief Robert Gates said Thursday that it was "misguided" and "a bad mistake" to push away peaceful protesters at St. John's Church in Washington, D.C., where they had congregated on June 1 after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.

The area was cleared with chemical irritants before President Trump took a photo with the Bible in front of the church.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

More than 100,000 Americans have now died from COVID-19.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The world's top health officials are warning that there could be a "second peak" of coronavirus infections during the current outbreak, separate from a second wave expected in the fall. As cases decline, officials worry that some countries are lifting restrictions too quickly — the U.S. among them.

What's key to understanding the different patterns emerging around the globe is recognizing that "this coronavirus is not the flu," said Dr. Margaret Harris, a member of the World Health Organization's coronavirus response team.

After the death of Ahmaud Arbery, Morning Edition asked for your reactions to the killing in the shape of a poem. The 25-year-old black man was shot and killed by two white men while he was out for a jog in February in Glynn County, Ga.

The coronavirus spread rapidly throughout crowded cities in the country. But one rural area has more COVID-19 cases per capita than nearly any other place in the United States: the Navajo Nation.

When Dr. Vivek Murthy was surgeon general of the United States during the Obama administration, he went on a listening tour of America: He wanted to hear firsthand about people's health concerns.

That meant addressing opioid addiction, diabetes and heart disease. And one more thing — something he wasn't really prepared for — the number of Americans suffering from a lack of human connection. Loneliness, he learned, was impacting them not only mentally but also physically.

Earlier this month, NPR issued a poetry challenge: submit lines describing how you've been affected by the global coronavirus pandemic.

NPR's poet-in-residence Kwame Alexander pointed to Nancy Cross Dunham's poem, "What I'm Learning About Grief," and asked that submissions begin with those same words.

The responses were deeply emotional and vividly captured some of the ways you are coping with uncertainty and crisis.

Vinton County, Ohio, has been on the front lines of the opioid crisis in the U.S. for several years. The drugs may have changed over the years — from opioids to meth — but the devastating effects on families have not. And even though the county hasn't had high infection rates of the coronavirus, the necessary social restrictions have made it harder to keep people addicted to drugs and their children safe.

For nearly three years, Mark Green led the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in delivering foreign aid to countries in need during times of crisis, including the coronavirus pandemic.

In this time of uncertainty and crisis, poetry can bring positivity, insight and comfort. Morning Edition wants to hear from those whose lives have been affected by COVID-19 — in the form of a poem.

We want to hear your poems on mourning, on resilience, on your hopes and dreams in the midst of the global pandemic. Here is an example posted to our poetry Facebook group by Nancy Cross Dunham:

Now more than ever we are looking for ways to feel less alone — and poetry can be one way to bring people together.

Last month NPR asked listeners to respond to art with a poem — a style of poetry called ekphrastic. For inspiration, Kwame Alexander, NPR's poet in residence, selected two paintings: Kadir Nelson's Heatwave and Salvador Dali's Young Woman At A Window. Both show women inside looking longingly out into the world.

I just constantly felt as if there was nothing I could do to get ahead, or to have anyone take me seriously. - Victoria James

Victoria James discovered the book Wine for Dummies during her bartending days in New York, and she was hooked.

Updated at 8:50 p.m. ET

In 1979, Jane Whaley and her husband, Sam, started the Word of Faith Fellowship church in North Carolina.

In recent years, the organization has been investigated for alleged abuse of its congregants — and has faced other charges ranging from fraud to human trafficking.

Davenport, Iowa, faced some of the worst flooding in its history last year.

Flooding isn't uncommon to Iowa's third-biggest city. For years, Davenport has resisted efforts to build a flood wall on its banks of the Mississippi River.

But last spring, businesses along the riverfront scrambled to save their spaces when floodwaters breached temporary barriers.

"It didn't get as bad as it could have got," says Dan Bush, a co-owner of multiple bars near the river. "The last big event was in 1993. I don't expect it to be another 25, 27-odd years before it happens again."

With the New Year comes new promises, new goals and new rules. There are the inevitable promises to eat better, go to the gym, be more organized, read more books and save more money.

But some rules are destined to be broken.

At the start of 2020, we asked you to send us couplets of your abandoned New Year's resolutions. We collected more than 500 entries, and Kwame Alexander, NPR's poet-in-residence, combined some of these lines into an epic (and guilt-free) community poem.


There's a book you might have heard of by now. It's called American Dirt, and it's the much-hyped new novel from author Jeanine Cummins that was released this week.

The writer Ada Calhoun has talked to a lot of Generation X women about the angst they might be feeling as they hit midlife.

"Being middle-aged in America right now as a middle-class American woman is different than it was for our mothers and grandmothers," she says, "and for a lot of women — not for all of them, but for a lot of them — it is incredibly hard."

She's not talking about poor women or rich women, but middle-class women. And in her new book, Why We Can't Sleep, Calhoun lays out what makes the burdens heavier on Gen X than other generations.

Joe Biden is dismissing calls from President Trump and his allies that Biden testify during an impeachment trial in the Senate, saying any effort to compel his testimony should be viewed as part of a strategy to distract from the president's conduct.

"No, I'm not going to let you take the eye off the ball here. Everybody knows what this is about," the former vice president told NPR when asked whether he would cooperate with a subpoena. "This is a Trump gambit he plays. Whenever he's in trouble he tries to find someone else to divert attention to."

Former Vice President Joe Biden is defending himself against criticism over a heated town hall earlier this week in which he called a voter a "damn liar" and challenged him to a pushup contest and IQ test. The voter, an 83-year-old retired farmer, asked about Biden's and his son Hunter's work in Ukraine, making some false accusations about it. He also said Biden was too old to run for president.

The Showtime series The L Word depicted the multi-layered lives of a tight-knit group of LGBTQ women in LA. Groundbreaking in its day, it tackled issues of love and relationships — and sex — between women in a way that TV had rarely before seen.

When the series went off the air in 2009, thoughts of a reboot periodically resurfaced. But it was President Donald Trump's election in 2016 that lit a fire in one of the original stars, Jennifer Beals.

Until Ambassador Gordon Sondland's public testimony on Wednesday, Vice President Pence had managed to keep out of the center of the impeachment inquiry.

For the first time during the public phase of the impeachment hearings, a witness connected Pence to a possible quid pro quo. Sondland said that just ahead of a Sept. 1 meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, he conferred with Pence about a link between U.S. military aid for Ukraine and the investigation that President Trump sought into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

Matt Saincome and Bill Conway are co-founders of The Hard Times, a satirical punk rock website established in 2014. Together with colleague Krissy Howard, they published a book of their favorite articles and some new material called The Hard Times: The First 40 Years.

Punk rock can mean different things to different people, but there are some ideas that are central to the genre. Punk is anti-establishment. Punk is emotional. It is raw and for the most part, it's pretty serious, which makes it ripe for a good comedic grilling.

A bit of Latin has been on the lips of many lately: quid pro quo.

The phrase has been broadly invoked in the House impeachment inquiry into President Trump and his interactions with the leader of Ukraine.

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