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There are over 21 million refugees around the world, according to the United Nations, and the musical A Man of Good Hope tells the story of one of them: Somali refugee Asad Abdullahi. Several years ago, author Jonny Steinberg interviewed Abdullahi in a rough and tumble township outside Cape Town, South Africa. He was working on a book about South African history.

Book Review: '300 Arguments,' Sarah Manguso

Feb 16, 2017

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A new book by Sarah Manguso is tough to pin down. It claims to be a book of essays, but that label isn't exactly right, says our poetry reviewer Tess Taylor. She has this take on "300 Arguments."

Nikki Lane On World Cafe

Feb 16, 2017

Nikki Lane's new album, Highway Queen, showcases her husky voice, soaring country twang and killer attitude. She grew up in South Carolina and now calls Nashville home. But it was by no means a direct trip to Music City; Lane's interest in fashion took her to Los Angeles and New York before her music career took over.

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It's been almost 20 years since Barbara Ehrenreich published Fear of Falling, her brilliant book on the anxious "inner life" of the American middle class. The book's title, "fear of falling," has become a catchphrase to refer to the cosmic jitters that afflict anyone whose lifestyle and sense of identity can be wiped out by the loss of a job or a plunge in the stock market.

In the recent film, Moonlight, Mahershala Ali plays an unlikely father figure to a quiet young African-American boy named Chiron. At school, Chiron is bullied. At home, he is neglected by a mother who is addicted to crack. Ali's character, Juan, is a drug dealer who takes Chiron under his wing in an attempt to provide him with some stability.

Ali, whose performance earned him an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor, tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that he knew men like Juan growing up.

"Nobody Hangs Out Anymore" begins in a golden room of golden dunes as the submerged London O'Connor stares into a submerged TV screen. Our hero, who also directed the video, pours a jug of golden sand onto his golden cereal and sings: "All my friends are on the net / and all my friends are in the net / and all of us are out of it / and none of us are into it."

Before Martin Shkreli's event at Harvard could even get started Wednesday night, it was set briefly on ice. The controversial former pharmaceutical executive had to wait as university police officers evacuated the building where he was speaking, after someone falsely pulled the fire alarm.

Things didn't go much smoother from there.

In the last decade, Democrats have attempted to repeal Colorado's death penalty four times. Their latest attempt on Feb. 15 was amid contentious debate. Senate Minority Leader Lucia Guzman (D-Denver)  was behind the effort. She knew the odds were against her, but even before the hearing, she said she wanted to raise awareness to the moral and social issues surrounding the death penalty.

“There are a lot of people willing and wanting to learn more and more about the problems with it, the challenges of it, and we need to keep that message going,” she said. “I don’t think we’ll lose the battle, because the battle is long-term.”

Fire-Toolz's hyper-digitalia sounds like a row of belching slot machines expectorating into a pachinko machine in Hades. The glowstick noise that Angel Marcloid makes as Fire-Toolz is an oblong step past The Soft Pink Truth's electronic black-metal covers project in 2014, but far more unhinged — and that's saying something — and far more fluid in how it simultaneously dismantles and celebrates its own click-and-drag melange.

Jim James' second solo album, Eternally Even, is his most overtly political musical statement yet. The outspoken My Morning Jacket frontman turns the turmoil of our current times into a contemplative set of songs with his signature psychedelic soulfulness. He performed "Here In Spirit" live in our studio.

Set List

  • "Here In Spirit"

Photo: Larry Hirshowitz/KCRW.

"It is not an accident that there is a blackout on the Black man's contributions in America."
Dr. Melvin Chapman (1928-2015), educator, Detroit, Mich.

You know that voice we tend to use when speaking to babies?

It's a sing-song voice, one with higher pitch, shorter phrases with simpler grammar, slower speech rate, more repetitions, and greater contrast in our vowels. It's called "motherese" or, more accurately, IDS (for infant-directed speech).

Perhaps nobody cares about their clothes anymore.

Back in 2013, Monkey See brought you an exclusive interview — "exclusive" in the sense that it happened only in our minds and we therefore were the only ones who knew about it — with the iron, just after Monopoly announced it was being retired from the game. During that interview, the iron darkly alluded to a difficult history with another game piece: the thimble.

The profoundly personal side of tragedy often gets lost when stories of horrendous events become a sort of public property, taken up by reporters, bloggers, tweeters and talk-show hosts, even claimed as fodder for sensationalized television documentaries. Flesh-and-blood people whose ordeals are broadcast far and wide can easily get reduced to one-dimensional characters and their suffering abstracted.

Author of the monumental multivolume novel In Search of Lost Time. High modernist of the first order and reclusive titan of French letters. And, if one Canadian scholar is correct, quite the dapper attendee of a wedding in 1904.

In the more than a century since Marcel Proust was first published, the name of the great French novelist has come to be associated with many things, but film footage is not one of them. Despite a handful of photographs depicting Proust, no one living claimed to have seen the man actually move -- until earlier this month.

Wind power is the largest source of renewable energy in the United States. But a broad swath of the country has had no large, commercial wind farms — until now. A new one with 104 towers is up and running near Elizabeth City, N.C., where it spans 22,000 acres.

You know those nasty brown spots that can ruin an otherwise perfectly delicious apple? Those spots and other problems — like blossom blight and yellow leaves — are often caused by fungi. Apple growers usually fight back with fungicides, but a new study has found that those fungicides could be hurting honey bees.

"The long-standing assumption is that fungicides won't be toxic to insects," says May Berenbaum, an entomologist at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Peter S. Beagle Finds Magic In 'Calabria'

Feb 16, 2017

Peter Beagle owes much of his career to a unicorn — specifically, the protagonist of his 1968 novel The Last Unicorn, the lyrical, tragic, wryly funny bestseller that inspired a cult-hit animated movie and earned him a permanent spot on virtually every knowledgably curated best-fantasy-of-all-time list.

On a sidewalk in Los Angeles' bustling piñata district, Enrique is using tongs to dip long, rosy strips of pig skin into a vat of boiling oil. When they're blistering, crispy and slightly cool, he lays the chicharrones on the table for hungry passersby. This is the taste of his native Mexico and it is delicious. But, technically, that chicharrón is also illegal.

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Jeanette Vizguerra walked into a Colorado church on Wednesday — and into the forefront of a possible clash between Donald Trump and sanctuary churches across the country.

Vizguerra has lived in the U.S. since 1997. She has four children, three of them born here. Vizguerra was due to check in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Instead, she took sanctuary inside the First Unitarian Society of Denver.

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President Trump told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday that he is not committed to a state for the Palestinians. Trump said he isn't opposed either. NPR's Joanna Kakissis has been listening to reaction in Jerusalem.

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The FX show Baskets stars comedian Zach Galifianakis as a French clown school dropout who has moved back home to Bakersfield, Calif. There, he finds work as a rodeo clown and competes with his twin brother for his mother's affection.

"I was young, but not for long," sings Rhiannon Giddens in the voice of one of the characters she brings to bloody life on her second solo album, Freedom Highway. Actually, she wails the line – in grief, in defiance, and with the laser-deadly accuracy of a singer whose art is steeped in the subversive theatrics of Paul Robeson, the prophetic folk of Odetta and the psychological inquiries of Stephen Sondheim.

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