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Podcast title The latest stories from www.wnyc.org
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Description The latest stories from www.wnyc.org
Updated Wed, 20 Nov 2019 07:10:24 -0500
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Link to this podcast The latest stories from www.wnyc.org

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1. America: Are We Ready?
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With just under a year until Americans elect their next president, let's discuss what’s working and what’s broken; what’s threatened and what’s missing in American democracy? 

America Are We Ready? A November Democracy Big Think.  A three-hour call-in special hosted by Brian Lehrer.

Airs Sunday, November 24 at 11 am on 93.9 FM and AM 820.

(Guests are subject to change.)

Hour One: Impeaching 

The impeachment process now underway flows from the founders’ decision to have a strong presidency. Impeachment was included as a check and balance if all else fails to prevent a president from acting like a monarch. We will examine the presidency itself and its place in American democracy in the context of the impeachment and election campaigns now simultaneously under way.

Guests include: 

Mary Frances Berry, professor of constitutional, legal and African American history at the University of Pennsylvania, former chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and the author of twelve books including, History Teaches Us to Resist: How Progressive Movements Have Succeeded in Challenging TimesJeffrey Engel, founding director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and a co-author of Impeachment: An American History, and author of When the World Seemed New: George H. W. Bush and the End of the Cold War

Hour Two: Including

One of the biggest drivers of our politics today is that so many different groups of Americans feel left out of the decisions made by the people in power. It’s a reason for the popularity of Donald Trump on one end, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders on another, and more. And it reflects a fundamental tension that goes back to the founding of the country - a tug of war between majority rule as one tenet of democracy, and protection from the tyranny of the majority as another.  We’ll examine the roots of today’s epidemic of feeling left out and how democracy can best be responsive to cure it.

Guests include: 

Kai Wright, host of WNYC's The Stakes, a podcast about social change, columnist for The Nation, former host of Indivisible, a live national call-in show that WNYC convened during the Trump administration’s first 100 daysCharlie Sykes, Wisconsin-based editor-at-large of The Bulwark and host of the Bulwark podcast, author of several books, including How the Right Lost Its Mind and A Nation of Victims, a former host of Indivisible, a live national call-in show that WNYC convened during the Trump administration’s first 100 days; and former conservative radio hostSarah Smarsh, Kansas-based journalist and the author of Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth, a National Book Award finalist.

Hour Three: Electing

Electoral democracy is the indispensable expression of government by the people. But the 2016 election exposed controversies and flaws that left many people believing that the system was substantially rigged - by election design elements from superdelegates to voter suppression laws to campaign finance to the electoral college - not to mention fake social media stories and foreign interference. How much has changed for 2020 and how can electoral democracy be as democratic as possible?

Guests include:

Carol Anderson, professor of African American Studies at Emory University in Atlanta and the author of One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our DemocracyLarry Norden, the director of the Election Reform Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU and the lead author of the book, The Machinery of Democracy: Protecting Elections in an Electronic World


 



2. 'They Will Drown' Isn't A Whodunit, It's A Who-Is-It?
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We know that not every mystery is a whodunit. Some are how-did-they-do-its, others why-did-they-do-its, and so on. But in Johannes Anyuru's unusual speculative mystery They Will Drown in Their Mothers' Tears, the question revolves around the very identity of a young woman known as Nour. (The book was translated from the Swedish by Saskia Vogel.)

At first, we want to know why Nour would, wearing a suicide vest, turn her weapon on her co-conspirator Amin in the midst of their attempt to assassinate a political cartoonist at a Swedish bookstore. The resemblance to the 2015 attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo is deliberate, and not simply because it's an unnerving scenario. Anyuru, born in Sweden to a Swedish mother and a Ugandan father, has long been concerned in his poetry with the universality of bigotry and ignorance. This, his fourth work of prose fiction, uses two main characters whose daily lives as Swedish citizens are upended through reactions to the bookstore shooting.

One character, the aforementioned Nour, may also be a Belgian woman named Annika Isagel, or a nameless Swedish-Muslim adolescent girl whose best friend Liat comes from Israel. With these and other details, Anyuru underscores the reality that even parallel worlds involve global connections. As our female protagonist travels through time, her counterpart is a male writer living in a present that predates the bookstore shooting, with a wife named Isra and a very young daughter. He's worried about remaining in Europe as an Islamic family.

Meanwhile, he's been called to interview a young woman interned in Tundra, a criminal psychiatric clinic situated "in the outskirts of the Ravlända district, about an hour's bus ride from Gothenburg." So close to civilization, yet so far: In the two years that have passed — for her — since the attack at the bookstore, Nour/Annika has been behind its walls, suffering from what the doctors claim is schizophrenia combined with psychotic episodes and hallucinations, but that she herself says results from some kind of time anomaly. Although her passport reads "Annika" and says she's from Belgium, she speaks no Flemish or French, only Swedish. Who is she? Where does she come from? Why would she have murdered the man she was aligned with when she could have carried out their deadly purpose?

In the version of Sweden Nour/Annika claims she's from, its onetime Scandinavian socialist strengths have been overtaken by xenophobic hatred. Any citizen can be declared an "Enemy of Sweden" and then confined to urban internment centers like the "Rabbit Yard," where she says she was raised. As the writer grapples with her wish for him to tell her story in some meaningful way, he also confronts the fact that her story cannot be meaningfully told. Yes, that's partially due to the time jumps and folds and collapses; if I can't remember all the language Anyuru uses for how time bends in this speculative world, that's because the speculative aspect is the least compelling part of the novel. Which isn't to say it's poorly done, or unimportant, but that the idea of undoing violence founders when confronted with the specter of hatred.

No matter what Nour/Annika and The Writer (if you will) do, their status as outsiders in Swedish society seems to doom them to suspicion and fear. "We had been born in Sweden without being Swedish, and that made us unreal," says Nour/Annika. "Only by dying would we become real again."

One motif in the book is of moths, those oft-collected and taxonomied insects; being pinned to the page is a form of death, too. When The Writer interviews the wounded cartoonist whose work was the object of the bookstore attack, he hears the man say "If death makes us human, what does art do, art which makes us immortal? ... Does it make us inhuman?"

Not if Johannes Anyuru has anything to say about it. Each of his characters feels real, whether experiencing friendship and delight or torture and death. If Nour/Annika believes that her time travel would have averted future hatred, well, she may or may not be correct. But the story she shares with The Writer unsettles him, moves him to change the course of his own life. It is up to each reader to decide if The Writer's decision will begin the cycle of hatred and violence again, or if it portends hope. They Will Drown in Their Mothers' Tears does its job best in speculating about how humans stuck in chronological time can learn from our own mistakes.

Bethanne Patrick is a freelance writer and critic who tweets @TheBookMaven.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


3. Latest Newscast From the WNYC Newsroom
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4. Oakland Zoo Visitors Noticed Something Wrong With Bears' Enclosure
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Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


5. 2019/11/20 12:00 GMT
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Description: The latest five minute news bulletin from BBC World Service.

6. City Scenes: Inside Milwaukee's Emo Revival
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It's amazing how one band can shape an entire scene's reputation. In the '90s, Milwaukee spawned one of Midwest emo's most celebrated bands, The Promise Ring, whose 1997 classic Nothing Feels Good landed at No. 3 in Rolling Stone's recent ranking of the 40 Greatest Emo Albums of All Time. But despite the outsize impact of one influential act, Milwaukee was never particularly an emo hotbed. Milwaukee emo was a niche scene carried by just a few great bands, most of them uncelebrated.

Twenty years later, it remains that way. Philadelphia it's not: Only a handful of contemporary Milwaukee emo bands have made much of an impact outside of basements and attics. And yet, small as it is, the scene is still among the city's most fertile, and much of the best indie and punk music coming out of Milwaukee right now owes a meaningful debt to emo.

Here are seven Milwaukee acts keeping the city's emo tradition alive.

Telethon

No Milwaukee band has embraced sprawl quite like Telethon. The group's 2017 album The Grand Spontanean was a 90-minute, five-act rock opera that piled one high concept on top of the next, among them a choose-your-own-adventure ending and an album-within-an-album from a fictional ska band. The group hasn't stopped swinging for the fences: This year's ripping Hard Pop is filled with rousing tales of lowered expectations and lapsed American dreams, many of them propelled by an over-sugared barrage of horns, woodwinds, cellos and glockenspiel. It's a funny, geeky record that bends over backward trying to put on a show.

Barely Civil

Barely Civil couldn't have picked a more perfect name. The band sounds like a study in how we suppress our true feelings in the spirit of civility: Frontman Connor Erickson sings in polite pleas, his soft, composed voice outgunned by the band's volcanic guitars. It's an alluring cross between tenderness and agitation, and the group plays to that juxtaposition to heartbreaking effect on its moving 2018 debut We Can Live Here Forever. It's a record about transition, finding a place in the world and the mixed emotions that come from leaving the past behind, even if the past wasn't all that great to begin with.

Holy Pinto

Perhaps nobody believes in Milwaukee's emo tradition more wholeheartedly than Holy Pinto songwriter Aymen Saleh, who was so enamored with the city that he moved here last year from Canterbury, England. His accent is British, but his musical instincts are unmistakably Midwestern: His 2016 debut Congratulations opened with a nod to The Promise Ring's "Stop Playing Guitar," and he cites the Promise Ring offshoot Maritime as one of his all-time favorite bands. Like so many of emo's most distinguished songwriters, there's real wisdom in his droll, verbose prose. This year, he released Adult, a wry and deceptively insightful emo-pop record about the challenge of meeting grown-up expectations.

Dramatic Lovers

Dramatic Lovers' music challenges the conventional wisdom that sequels are never as good as the original. Members of the group have logged time in some of the city's most prominent emo-adjacent bands — The Promise Ring and Decibully chief among them — and, as with those predecessors, Dramatic Lovers' music aches in the best way possible. The band's sound is less a redux, though, than a reinvention. One of the best Milwaukee indie-rock records in recent memory, the group's 2019 full-length debut You Talk Loud cuts BJ Seidel's pleading, soaring voice with crackling synthesizers.

Dreamhouse

Every contemporary emo band's sound is rooted as least a little in nostalgia, but few local acts hearken back to an era quite as specifically as Dreamhouse. With its unmistakable alt-rock crunch, the group pays homage to the commercial heyday of Fueled by Ramen and bands like Fall Out Boy and Paramore, with singer Brianna Jackson frequently channeling Hayley Williams' unflappable wail. It's an empowering sound, all muscle, and a reminder that voicing your emotions doesn't mean having to sound small.

Versio Curs

Versio Curs' is an especially ornery imagining of guitar pop. Singing in the peevish moan of a man twice his age, as if play-acting all the back pain that awaits him in late adulthood, Kyle Halverson delights in sucking the romance out of the band's swooning pop songs. "I think I'm catching your cold," he grumbles in "On Sunday," from the band's mercilessly entertaining 2018 parade of grievances How Are You. Every song is bright and punchy, and hits entirely too close to home.

Live Tetherball Tonight

There's a word that's been tossed around a lot in Milwaukee over the last several years: emo-esque. Newer bands like Vanity Plates, Lifetime Achievement Award and Flat Teeth all make music that brushes shoulders with emo but stops just short of fully committing. Live Tetherball Tonight is the hard exception to that trend. The trio is perhaps the most unabashedly emo act in the city, indebted to Midwestern emo and only Midwestern emo; its latest EP, the open mouth kisses, sounds like the entire Polyvinyl Records discography from 1997-2006 distilled into 17 minutes. There's nothing -esque about it.

Stream NPR Music's Slingshot playlist on Spotify.

Copyright 2019 88Nine Radio Milwaukee. To see more, visit 88Nine Radio Milwaukee.



7. Which Arthur Russell Are We Getting On 'Iowa Dream'?
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"I'm a wonder boy / I can't do nothing," the late avant-pop artist Arthur Russell laments on "Wonder Boy," amid stop-and-go piano and plonky vibraphone. "The poster was nailed to a tree and somebody tore it down / Bits of paper nailed to a tree — that's all I found." In part because his legacy was never fully in his own control, the image — taken from the first song of a new album — lives on as an inwardly critical fantasy, rather than the self-fulfilling prophecy it nearly became.

Russell died a relatively obscure figure — though well-known in Downtown New York's experimental music scene — in 1992, at age 40, of complications related to HIV-AIDS. Ever the perfectionist, Russell's inability to finish songs, and the genre-agnostic strangeness of much of that music, resulted in the release of just a few full-length albums under his own name — Tower of Meaning, Instrumentals (1974 – Vol. 2) and World of Echo— during his lifetime. His rise to celebrated cult musician has largely occurred over the last 16 years, buoyed by a stream of compilation albums assembled from the deep well of partially finished songs he left behind. These posthumous compilations — mostly curated by archivist Steve Knutson and Russell's longtime romantic partner, Tom Lee — present him, prismatically, as a sparse synth-pop auteur, clubby post-disco producer, minimalist composer and mantric folkie. Iowa Dream is the newest addition to Russell's ever-lengthening list of afterlife releases, a characteristically wide-ranging collection, but with a particular focus on an oft-overlooked aspect of Russell: the aspiring '70s pop star.

Nearly half the songs on Iowa Dream are drawn from recording sessions with both Columbia Records' legendary kingmaker John Hammond and Mercury's Paul Nelson. As recounted in Hold Onto Your Dreams: Arthur Russell and the Downtown Music Scene, Hammond believed Russell had the potential to become the next Bob Dylan — one of the many massively successful artists he'd already discovered — but grew frustrated with Russell's unusual musical arrangements and the large backing band he'd brought to the studio. (During one session, an exasperated Hammond introduced a take, snarking, "And the next song will be performed by Arthur Russell and his symphony orchestra.")

Russell believed strongly in the effortless profundity of pop songs, telling poet and close friend Allen Ginsberg that he sought to make "Buddhist bubblegum" music (now the title of a doctoral dissertation on Russell). He saw pop as an arena of aesthetic radicalism — and rankled many an art-music scenester to make his case, booking Jonathan Richman's plainspoken rock and roll while serving as music director at the Kitchen, then New York's marquee experimental music venue, known for highbrow performers like Steve Reich. Perhaps as important, a major label deal was another potential income source outside of the Downtown scene, where the funding was scarce and the competition for it fierce. But as much as he desired to create hummable songs that anyone could enjoy, Russell was dispositionally allergic to many of the requirements — musical and otherwise — usually necessary to make it in the pop world.

"Arthur didn't think in terms of practical things," his former manager Donald Murk recalls in Hold Onto Your Dreams. "The reason for getting money was to record more songs." Still, he spent years traveling up to the record label offices of Midtown with hopes of getting signed.

Unlike Allen Ginsberg's "first thought, best thought" mantra — later repurposed as the title of a compilation of Russell's instrumental compositions — Arthur Russell was always onto another idea or convinced he had a better articulation of the first one. Among friends and collaborators, Russell was notorious for starting a sentence in conversation and then trailing off, his effervescent mind already elsewhere. He was the same way with his music, perpetually reworking songs in different styles and scribbling musical ideas onto score paper he kept in his jacket pockets, instead of finishing one of the countless recordings he'd already begun. "In a way Arthur disliked his records, because he felt that the performance involved was just one of many possible ways of interpreting the song," Murk told Russell's biographer.

Some debilitating perfectionism underlay Russell's behavior: he once spent all day tuning a kick drum while his bandmates waited on the satisfaction of his fastidiousness. But he also seemed to genuinely love the possibilities available to him during the process of creation, and found settling on any one version to be a painful closing off of paths yet to be taken. As Russell sings on "The Dogs Outside are Barking,""I'm just afraid to tell you what I'm thinking / It might take too long."

These habits may have yielded few albums ready for release and no hits, but they did result in an enormous trove of recordings in varying states of completion. Peter Broderick — the producer and musician brought in by Lee and Knutson to finish the material that became Iowa Dream— sometimes found himself daunted by the painstaking process of combing through Russell's many fits and starts. "The sheer amount of it overwhelmed me at times. I would throw my hands up in the air and be like, "What is going on here?" he says, emphasizing that the difficulty of the work never encroached upon his affection for Russell or his material. "I never felt any ill feelings towards him. I feel so, so tender towards Arthur."

Broderick, whose own music touches on many of the minimalist and folk compositional elements present in Russell's music, mixed and restored deteriorated audio, and Frankensteined together incomplete takes into finished songs. For example, the new compilation includes a defiant, recombinant version of "You Did It Yourself," which fans may recognize from an acoustic fragment featured in Matt Wolf's documentaryWild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell.

"I'd have a file that's 15 minutes long and it's just all unfinished takes of one song, almost as if you're listening to the band rehearse trying to get the song down," Broderick says. "No take is complete, but between all of them you can piece together a song." This sort of collage editing has been a part of the production of many of the posthumous Russell compilations. In fact, "That's Us / Wild Combination" — one of Arthur's most-loved songs — was assembled this way, Knutson says.

"It's tricky business going into someone's archival work and doing that. I don't know how I would feel about someone doing that to my own work," Broderick says. "I had to follow my own intuition and assurance of what I feel, but you just never know how close that is to someone's original vision."

Knutson, for his part, seems less worried about the impossible task of trying to appeal to Russell's silent musical wishes. "Arthur is no longer here. So he has to deal with me," he says. "I love Arthur's music. The only reason I'm doing this is because I'm selfish and I want to hear it for myself." Lee, too, has spoken about some of the personal motivations underlying his work on Russell's posthumous compilations. "Because I'm so attached to him, after he died I wanted to get inside his head so badly," Lee toldTheNew York Times in 2016. "But after he died, I thought, who is this guy I lived side by side with? That could be revealed through the books and tapes [in his archive]."

Many other well-received albums released after the death of the artist have involved close collaborators in life handling the finishing touches, such as J Dilla's The Shining, Elliott Smith's From a Basement on the Hill and this month's new Gang Starr album.

To wit, Iowa Dream benefits from the oversight of Lee, who often helped Russell make musical decisions during his life, and who he ultimately entrusted to care for his archives in death. A closer analogue might be Nick Drake's Family Tree, a compilation of home recordings released by his sister in 2007. Like Russell, Drake died young and relatively obscure, and appreciation of his work blossomed after his death. But in the liner notes for Family Tree, Drake's sister admits, "I am endorsing the publication of an album that I am not at all sure you would have sanctioned." It's a sentiment Knutson echoes when asked about Iowa Dream: "Arthur probably wouldn't want any music to be released, to be honest with you."

It's also tempting to view parts of Russell's musical career as evidence of him embracing the release of authorship. Many of his earliest performances in New York experimented with John Cage-influenced elements of chance and audience engagement. Instrumentals, his best known compositional piece, was written without a predetermined order of melodies; instead, players were instructed to improvise through a set of melodies at their will. "It wasn't conducted; we would just feel it," said Peter Gordon, who played keys for a performance of Instrumentals at the Kitchen. "Cage, free jazz, the DJ set — these were parallel energies."

Knutson acknowledges Russell's discomfort with boxes and labels. But he seems to suggest that, to understand Russell as a whole, listeners ought to appreciate his discrete parts as well. "It was very intentional to show these different sides of Arthur," Knutson says. "It was important to me, on First Thought Best Thought, to illuminate Arthur as a composer, on Love Is Overtaking Me and Iowa Dream as a brilliant singer-songwriter. He could be all those things and he is all those things."

Listening to the apologetically beautiful songs included on Iowa Dream from the Hammond sessions, such as "In Love With You for the Last Time," or the acoustic guitar tracks recorded during his time living in Northern California, like "Words of Love," it's not hard to imagine hearing them on the radio amid a breezy block of Laurel Canyon tunes. But many of the songs on here from the Nelson sessions still sound like little else that has followed in the 40 years since, let alone at the time they were recorded. Amazing as they are, it's little surprise they didn't earn a record deal with Mercury or Columbia. "Just Regular People" has the feel of a bunch of instruments sneaking around, attempting to tail Russell down a labyrinthine hallway; "Barefoot in New York" is a spoken-word ramble with a hissing backup chorus that seems to mock his manic vocals.

The fact that songs like these were essentially auditions-as-demo-tapes shows that Russell was either unable or unwilling to distinguish his poppier sensibilities from the rest of his sprawling creativity. Because of this uncompromising polyvalence, his pop star aspirations were probably never going to be much more than a brief dream—or a very carefully-considered one. Still, it's a wonderful dream to behold, even if it's just a piece of the many Arthur Russells that were possible.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


8. New York Bagel Shop Manager Personally Returns Customer's Keys
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9. 2019/11/20 11:00 GMT
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Description: The latest five minute news bulletin from BBC World Service.

10. Watch Live at 9 A.M.: Gordon Sondland Testifies in Impeachment Inquiry
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The witnesses who have testified publicly and privately in the House impeachment inquiry so far have generally told a consistent tale.

Then there’s Gordon Sondland.

The U.S. ambassador to the European Union has said he cannot recall many of the episodes involving him that other witnesses have recounted in vivid and colorful detail. And the conversations he has said he does recall, he sometimes remembers in materially different ways. Those discrepancies matter because they concern some of the most pivotal meetings and conversations in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.

Sondland will almost certainly be pressed on those inconsistencies, as well as a newly revealed conversation he is said to have had last July with Trump, when he testifies Wednesday before impeachment investigators.

A look at how Sondland’s account differs from that of other witnesses:

ON INTERACTIONS WITH MICK MULVANEY

THEM: Multiple witnesses describe a cozy relationship between Sondland and the White House acting chief of staff.

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council official, says Sondland cited a discussion with Mulvaney when pushing Ukrainian officials to open the investigations that Trump wanted into the 2016 U.S. presidential election and into political rival Joe Biden. Fiona Hill, another White House national security official, says Sondland repeatedly talked of meetings with Mulvaney.

In a further link between the two men, she quoted the-then national security adviser, John Bolton, as telling her he didn’t want to be part of “whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up.”

HIM: Sondland suggests he knows Mulvaney well enough to wave and say hello — and that’s about it. He says he may have spoken to him once or twice on the phone, but not about Ukraine. He doesn’t recall any sit-down meeting with him on Ukraine or any other subject. Mulvaney, he says, was “almost impossible to get a hold of,” rarely responding to messages.

____

ABOUT THAT QUID PRO QUO

THEM: William Taylor, the acting ambassador in Ukraine, told lawmakers that Sondland said that “everything” — a White House visit for Ukraine’s new leader and the release of military aid to the former Soviet republic — was contingent on a public announcement of investigations into the 2016 election and into Burisma, the Ukraine gas company on whose board Hunter Biden sat.

HIM: This is where things get complicated.

In his closed-door testimony, Sondland stated that he wouldn’t have withheld military aid for any reason.

Not only that, he said he didn’t recall any conversations with the White House about withholding military assistance in return for Ukraine helping with Trump’s political campaign. Even then, though, he left himself some wiggle room, saying a text message he sent to Taylor reassuring him that there was no quid pro was simply what he had heard from Trump.

Weeks later, after testimony from Taylor and National Security Council official Tim Morrison placed him at the center of key discussions, Sondland revised his account in an extraordinary way. He said he now could recall a September conversation in which he told an aide to Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskiy that military aid likely would not occur until Ukraine made public announcements about corruption investigations.

___

ON HIS ROLE IN UKRAINE POLICY

THEM: Hill describes a “blowup” with Sondland in June when he asserted he was in charge of the administration’s Ukraine policy. Irritated and shocked, she said she responded, “you’re not.” “And I said, ‘Who has said you’re in charge of Ukraine, Gordon?’” Hill said. “And he said, ‘the President.’ Well, that shut me up, because you can’t really argue with that.”

HIM: Sondland says he doesn’t telling any State Department or national security official that he was acting on the president’s authority, or that the president had placed him in charge of Ukraine.

“I don’t recall. I may have; I may not have. Again, I don’t recall,” Sondland says.

Besides, he says now that he viewed his role as one of support rather than leadership.

____

ON PIVOTAL JULY 10 MEETINGS:

THEM: Testimony from multiple witnesses centered on a pair of pivotal, sometimes tense, meetings at the White House on July 10 involving combinations of U.S. and Ukrainian leaders. Several of those present say Sondland, on that day, explicitly connected a coveted White House visit to the country’s public announcement of corruption investigations. It was something he just “blurted out,” Hill said, recalling him saying: “Well, we have an agreement with the Chief of Staff for a meeting if these ’investigations in the energy sector start.” Vindman, too, remembers Sondland saying that day that the Ukrainians would have to deliver an investigation into the Bidens.

HIM: Sondland tells a different version of the day. He said he doesn’t recall mentioning Ukraine investigations or Burisma. The only conflict he describes from that day is a disagreement on whether to promptly schedule a call between Trump and Zelenskiy. He was in favor.

_____

ON RELATIONSHIPS WITH HIS PEERS

THEM: Hill recalls scolding Sondland face-to-face after the July 10 meetings, reminding him of the need for proper procedures and the role of the National Security Council. She says Bolton “stiffened” when Sondland brought up investigations in front of the Ukrainian officials and immediately ended the meeting.

Vindman, too, said he made clear to Sondland his comments were inappropriate “and that we were not going to get involved in investigations.”

HIM: Sondland doesn’t recall a cross word from Hill, Bolton or anyone else about his Ukraine work.

In fact, he says, Bolton signed off on the whole Ukraine strategy. “Indeed, over the spring and summer of 2019, I received nothing but cordial responses from Ambassador Bolton and Dr. Hill. Nothing was ever raised to me about any concerns regarding our Ukrainian policy.” As Hill was leaving her post in government, he recalled, she gave him a big hug and told him to keep in touch.

____

ON ADVICE HE MAY — OR MAY — NOT HAVE GIVEN

THEM: Marie Yovanovitch, who was recalled last spring as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, told lawmakers both in a closed-door deposition and again at a hearing last week that she went to Sondland for advice when she faced public attacks from the president’s oldest son and conservative media figures. She said Sondland encouraged her to tweet in support of Trump, thinking that might help the problem.

“He suggested that I needed to go big or go home, and he said that the best thing to do would be to, you know, send out a tweet, praise the president, that sort of thing,” Yovanovitch said Friday. She said she assumed he meant well but that doing so would be too partisan and political.

HIM: Sondland said “I honestly don’t recall” when asked about that exchange and couldn’t recall any conversation he’d ever had with Yovanovitch about her career. When asked if he’d be surprised if someone else had said that he did that, he replied, “Probably, yeah.”



11. 2019/11/20 10:00 GMT
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12. Snarky Puppy: Tiny Desk Concert
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Seconds before we hit record, Snarky Puppy's bandleader, Michael League leaned in to ask if he could "do a little crowd work." I suspect he waited until the last second on purpose, but it's been easy to trust this band when they have an idea, judging by the three Grammy Awards they get to dust off at home after every tour run.

What resulted was a Tiny Desk first: League divided the audience into two sections, one side clapping out a 3/4 beat and the other half a 4/4 beat, creating a polyrhythm that I'm sure a handful of coworkers didn't feel so confident trying to pull off. But this band pulls you in with simple instruction and a little faith.

Snarky Puppy has been a force for a while now, earning the ears of millions for more than a decade. And their secret sauce? A long-simmered recipe of jazz, funk and gospel. The band started as college friends in the jazz program at the University of North Texas back in 2003. But the formative era came a few years later, after League became a part of the gospel scene in Dallas and eventually brought the jazz students to church, where music plays a different role than it does in the classroom. In the pulpit, it's a channel for spiritual healing, a communal experience between players and congregation. As an experiment, League pulled his jazz friends and his gospel bandmates into one ensemble, where the two groups bonded together and established ground-zero for building the sonic identity of Snarky Puppy.

Thirteen albums later, you can still hear these gospel and jazz orbits crashing into each other. They're masters of theme and variation, offering anyone with a listening ear a place to grab hold. And people do. They're a band whose lyric-less melodies are still yelled (sung back) to them at their concerts around the world, as a shared catharsis for everyone in the room.

SET LIST"Tarova""Xavi"MUSICIANS

Michael League: Bass; "JT" Thomas: drums; Nate Werth: percussion; Shaun Martin: keys; Bobby Sparks: keys; Justin Stanton: keys, trumpet; Jay Jennings: trumpet; Chris Bullock: saxophone, flute; Chris McQueen: guitar; Zach Brock: violin

CREDITS

Producers: Colin Marshall, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Bronson Arcuri, Jack Corbett, CJ Riculan, Morgan Noelle Smith; Associate Producer: Bobby Carter Executive Producer: Lauren Onkey; VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann; Photo: Emily Bogle/NPR

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


13. A Standoff Between Bolivian Forces And Protesters Turns Deadly
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14. 10 Years After She Ran Across The U.S., Katie Visco Took On Australia
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15. Ethiopian Ethnic Group Votes On Whether Its Region Should Secede
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16. News Brief: Impeachment Probe, Rep. Jordan, Torture Accusation
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17. Black Author Discusses Trump With White Conservative Men
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18. Can Any Democratic Candidate Match Obama's Multi-Racial Coalition?
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19. As Oil Prices Drop And Money Dries Up, Is The U.S. Shale Boom Going Bust?
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The shale oil boom that catapulted the U.S. into the world's largest oil producer may be going bust. As oil prices drop amid weakening demand, bankruptcies and layoffs are up and drilling is down, signs of a crisis that's quietly roiling the industry.

Some of the most successful companies in the oil business are household names — think Exxon Mobil or Chevron. But the boom in shale drilling has been driven by smaller, independent operators. These companies have pushed the limits of drilling technology and taken big risks on unproven oil fields.

Today, shale accounts for about two-thirds of U.S. oil production and nearly all of the industry's growth, but many of the companies that made that growth possible are now struggling to stay afloat.

That has a lot to do with the business model of U.S. shale, says David Deckelbaum, an analyst at investment bank Cowen. "This is an industry that for every dollar that they brought in, they would spend two," he says.

For years operators focused on drilling lots of new wells very fast, prioritizing explosive growth over profitability. Until now they've been able to rely on deep-pocketed investors who were willing to pour fresh capital into the industry, despite years of lackluster returns.

It's a story that may be familiar to anyone who's been following the tech industry in recent years. Deckelbaum compares it to a kind of a prospector mentality.

"There's always this idea of this brand new play that's going to have billions of barrels of upside and if you can just get in early, then it'll pay off in the long run," he says.

Oil has always been a boom-and-bust industry. In 2014, for instance, a catastrophic price crash left the industry reeling. But even then, billions in new investment flowed into U.S. shale.

Today, shrinking global demand for oil is driving the price down once again. What's different this time around? Investors no longer seem willing to write the industry a blank check.

"I think now you've seen a lot of pressure of, 'We want you to be a real business. Your cost structure's too high, you have too much debt, I'm not funding your drilling anymore with external capital. You have to live within your own means,' " Deckelbaum says.

Without access to new cash, many producers are pulling back on exploration. The number of rigs drilling for new oil is at its lowest point in two years.

That's bad news for people like Ron Fountain, who works on a drilling rig in the Bakken shale of North Dakota. He thinks back to a few years ago, when the price of oil was over $100 a barrel and companies were drilling with abandon.

"That's when we were still booming," Fountain says. "There was rigs coming out every month. We couldn't keep up, there was so much work going on."

Today though, with more and more rigs sitting idle, life has become uncertain for Fountain and his fellow drillers.

"We went from having 3-year contracts to well-to-well contracts, which means you drill one hole and if you did a good job, then they'll give you another. Or they drop you and you gotta figure it out from there," Fountain says.

He's not the only one feeling the pinch. Halliburton, one of the biggest players in U.S. shale drilling, has laid off nearly 3,000 workers. In the Permian Basin, the country's most prolific oil field, employment has almost completely stalled out — after growing more than 11% last year.

Meanwhile, many of the smaller producers who piled up debt are struggling to pay it back. That has led to a wave of bankruptcies — nearly three-dozen so far this year.

All of this is adding up to slower oil output. Production was flat in the first half of 2019, after growing more than 20% last year, according to Department of Energy data. In theory, as production slows and supply shrinks, the price of oil should go back up, which could provide a much-needed boost. The question, Fountain says, is how many companies will be able to survive until then.

"I think as an industry we're going to be OK," he says. "But I think there's a lot of people that are kinda holding their breath."

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


20. Hong Kong Citizen, Who Worked For U.K. Consulate, Says China Tortured Him
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21. 3 More Witnesses To Appear Before House Impeachment Panel
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22. Chicago Woman Buys Abandoned Villa In Italy
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23. Social Media Mocks South Dakota's 'Meth. We're On It' Campaign
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24. Somali American Family Pays A Price For Cooperation With The FBI
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25. Companies Try To Trademark 'Ok, Boomer' Expression
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26. Get Caught Up: Key Takeaways From Tuesday's Impeachment Hearing
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As House Ukraine hearings opened their second week Tuesday, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said there won't be enough votes to remove President Trump in the Senate if Democrats trigger an impeachment trial.

The Kentucky Republican told reporters he would convene a Senate trial as required by the Constitution if he receives articles of impeachment from the House — but he reiterated that he believes Trump would prevail.

"It's inconceivable to me that there would be 67 to remove the president from office," McConnell said.

House Democrats press forward

Democrats in the House nonetheless convened their latest public hearing on the other side of the Capitol. They heard from three current or former White House insiders who listened firsthand when Trump asked his Ukrainian counterpart for investigations that could help him in the 2020 election.

A fourth witness, Ambassador Kurt Volker, was an instrumental part of the parallel foreign policy for Ukraine run by Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani — although Volker said he didn't know in real time the object of their work was to get the Ukrainians to help Trump politically.

As for the current and former White House officials, each was concerned — but they did not agree on why or what action should result.

Lt. Col. Vindman: "My worst fear"

Lt. Col Alexander Vindman, an Eastern Europe specialist detailed to the National Security Council, said he felt Trump leaned inappropriately on President Volodymyr Zelenskiy because of the power disparity between the two men and because Trump mentioned former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump's political foe.

"Frankly I couldn't believe what I was hearing," Vindman said. "It was probably an element of shock that maybe, in certain regards, my worst fear of how our Ukraine policy could play out, was playing out — and how this was likely to have significant implications for U.S. national security."

Can't see the video? Click here.

Vindman reported his concerns to White House lawyers with whom he already had a channel open from an earlier, related episode, as well as a few other people inside the government — one of whom may have blown the whistle on the whole story.

Jennifer Williams: "Unusual and inappropriate"

Jennifer Williams, a foreign service officer detailed to the staff of Vice President Mike Pence, said she found the call "unusual and inappropriate" but said she didn't hear a "demand" from Trump.

Zelenskiy did broach frozen assistance for Ukraine with Pence at a meeting in Warsaw, Williams said. Although it still isn't clear how or when the Ukrainian side learned about the halt in aid, Williams' testimony underscored that when the Ukrainians learned about it in a news story, it caught their attention at the highest levels.

Tim Morrison: Political consequences

Tim Morrison, a former policy specialist who served as Vindman's supervisor, told lawmakers that what worried him were the political consequences that could result if Trump's remarks became public.

But Morrison, who holds a strong view about Trump's power under the Constitution, has told investigators that no one can tell a president what to do or say and that no one has a higher say over foreign affairs under the Constitution.

Here are other key moments that stood out:

1. Trump was briefed about "corruption" — but didn't mention it

Vindman's duties included helping prepare materials for use by Trump when he speaks to foreign leaders. The ones compiled for Trump's calls with Zelenskiy included mentions about corruption-fighting in Ukraine, Vindman said.

But as Democratic counsel Daniel Goldman established, Trump didn't mention corruption-fighting on either of the phone calls they heard — even though an official account of the first one suggested the two leaders did discuss it.

Trump and supporters have said since the Ukraine affair blew up that the White House froze assistance to Ukraine was about concerns over "corruption," even though the Defense Department and other agencies certified beforehand they were satisfied enough to release the aid.

Vindman's testimony reinforced that although some administration officials focused on corruption in real time this year as key events were playing out — the president then didn't.

2. Trump's Tweets resonated

Democrats slammed Trump last week for criticizing an impeachment witness on Twitter even as she was appearing before the House Intelligence Committee live on TV. But the president was undeterred and, over the weekend, faulted Williams in another tweet.

She was asked about that on Tuesday.

"It certainly surprised me," Williams said. "I was not expecting to be called out by name."

Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., repeated earlier criticisms of the president and echoed the prospect that Democrats might take Trump's posts into consideration when they draft articles of impeachment.

"It looked an awful lot like witness intimidation and tampering, and, in effect, an effort to try to get you to, perhaps, shape your testimony today," Himes said.

3. Lawmakers clashed over testimony about the whistleblower

Vindman had talked with White House attorneys after a July 10 episode involving prospective Ukraine investigations. He returned to the same lawyers after Trump's July 25 call.

Vindman told members of Congress he then communicated with a few other people about what he'd heard, which he called part of his job coordinating policy with the State Department, intelligence community and elsewhere.

Intelligence Community Ranking Member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., asked Vindman to identify those with whom he spoke in the intelligence community, but Vindman's attorney intervened, as did Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif.

Can't see the video? Click here.

The strong implication from the exchange was that Vindman spoke to the person who later filed the complaint to the intelligence community inspector general that animated the Ukraine affair — and which has been largely borne out by subsequent witnesses.

GOP cries foul

Republicans howled — angry at what they called the unfairness of the process and at what they called a broken promise by Schiff to convene a hearing with the whistleblower at which that person could be cross-examined.

Schiff was unmoved and stopped subsequent attempts to ask Vindman the same question. The whistleblower is entitled to remain anonymous, the chairman said.

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said the exchanges exposed that Schiff must know who the person is — as, Jordan suggested, must others — despite their denials.

"The witness has testified in his deposition that he doesn't know who the whistleblower is," Jordan said. "You have said, even though no one believes you, you don't know who the whistleblower is. So how is this outing the whistleblower to find out who this individual is?"

Translation: Schiff and Vindman must know, per Jordan, in order to know not to answer the question.

4. Members tussled over the facts and alleged crimes

Few of the underlying facts in the Ukraine affair are in dispute, including by the White House or its supporters.

And Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y. restated on Tuesday that for all "the hysteria and frenzied media coverage," the frozen aid for Ukraine was ultimately released and no political investigations ultimately were undertaken.

Even so, said Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, Democrats keep changing their allegations against Trump.

What began as an investigation into an ostensible "quid-pro-quo" has changed into one over alleged "bribery," he said, citing press reports that polls showed that phrase tested better with voters.

"It's bad enough that the Democrats have forbidden White House lawyers from participating in this proceeding," Ratcliffe said. "It's hard enough to defend yourself without your lawyers present. But what's even worse is trying to defend yourself against an accusation that keeps changing in the middle of the proceeding."

Chairman: We determine the charges

Schiff used an opening later in the hearing to respond.

"Bribery does involve a quid pro quo," he said. "Bribery involves the conditioning of an official act for something of value."

Schiff said thing of "value" could include a meeting with Trump or the roughly $400 million in U.S. assistance for Ukraine the White House froze for a time this year. The reason for the paucity of the term "bribery" in witness testimony, he said, was that witnesses were there only to say what they know.

"It will be our job to decide whether the impeachable act of bribery has occurred," Schiff said.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


27. WATCH LIVE: Sondland, Key Impeachment Witness, Headlines Wednesday Hearing
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House Democrats are set to resume public impeachment hearings on Wednesday with testimony from a central figure who could be their most important witness yet.

Ambassador Gordon Sondland, scheduled to appear at 9 a.m. ET, was a big donor to President Trump's inauguration and serves today as the United States envoy to the European Union.

Watch the hearing here.

Sondland told House investigators that he delivered a key message to a Ukrainian official this year: Trump would not unfreeze more than $390 million in assistance for Ukraine unless Ukraine made a public statement committing to investigations Trump believed might help him in the 2020 election.

That revelation was included in a three-page addendum filed this month to the first deposition Sondland gave in the earlier, closed-door chapter in the Ukraine affair.

Initially the ambassador didn't discuss that episode, which took place Sept. 1 in Warsaw. But the testimony of others, Sondland said, "refreshed" his recollection and accordingly he amended his testimony.

Indispensable man

The encounter in Poland is one of a number of episodes in the Ukraine affair in which Sondland was a star.

Another was a July 10 meeting at the White House at which a Ukrainian delegation pressed for a meeting between the new president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, and Trump.

Then-national security adviser John Bolton was cool to the idea, witnesses have said. He declined to commit. But Sondland said, according to others, that he already had an agreement with acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney for a meeting with Trump — if the Ukrainians agreed to investigations.

Bolton and the national security professionals within the White House staff objected not only to having been boxed out of the shadow channel to Ukraine, but the merits of Trump's strategy.

Sondland also is one of the actors in the drama who can speak directly about what he heard from Trump.

Witnesses have said that Sondland talked frequently with Trump by phone — even though that went outside the normal policy process — and the ambassador even dialed up the president on his mobile phone from a restaurant table this summer in Kyiv.

Sondland was following up after the previous day's phone call between Trump and Zelenskiy. Another witness has told House investigators that he overheard Trump ask Sondland about the investigations he wanted.

Zelenskiy would do them, Sondland said, according to foreign service officer David Holmes, who was at the table across from Sondland. Holmes, who is posted to U.S. Embassy Kyiv, is scheduled to appear at Thursday's impeachment hearing.

The afternoon panel

The witnesses scheduled to appear on Wednesday afternoon have much lower profiles.

One is Laura Cooper, a deputy assistant secretary at the Defense Department, whose portfolio includes policy for Eastern Europe.

She's expected to describe the Pentagon's opposition to the White House's freeze on Ukraine assistance and her conversations with Ambassador Kurt Volker, who testified on Tuesday, about the anticorruption statement.

The other is David Hale, undersecretary of state for political affairs at the State Department. Hale is expected to give the Washington foreign policy perspective on the events of this year, including the scourging and removal of then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was recalled in an early phase of the saga.

Hale told House investigators that when people were appealing to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to support Yovanovitch — which he ultimately declined to do — he agreed to call Fox News host Sean Hannity and ask about the "evidence" that might be problematic for Yovanovitch.

Hale said he had been beyond the periphery of many of the events in the story. For example, he said he was surprised to read the White House's account of the July 25 phone call in which Trump asked Zelenskiy for a "favor."

"It did surprise me," Hale said. "I didn't know any of that was happening."

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28. Democratic Debate: What You Need To Know About Wednesday's Face-Off
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Amid a slew of public impeachment hearings, Democratic presidential candidates are gathering in Atlanta to debate once again. This round also comes less than three months before the first primaries and caucuses.

Ten candidates made the cut, down from a record of 12 in October's debate.

Here's what you need to know (and here's what to watch for):

How to watch a live stream of the debate

MSNBC and The Washington Post are hosting the debate, which is scheduled to start at 9 p.m. ET and last for two hours.

You will be able to watch the broadcast on MSNBC. It will stream on MSNBC.com and washingtonpost.com, as well as in the NBC News and Post mobile apps. You'll be able to listen to the debate on SiriusXM Channel 118 and TuneIn.

NPR.org will host a live fact check and analysis of the debate to read while you watch. Subscribe to The NPR Politics Podcast for post-debate analysis.

Which candidates will be there?

The Democrats who qualified based on polling and fundraising are:

Joe Biden, former vice president
Cory Booker, senator from New Jersey
Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Ind.
Tulsi Gabbard, representative from Hawaii
Kamala Harris, senator from California
Amy Klobuchar, senator from Minnesota
Bernie Sanders, senator from Vermont
Tom Steyer, billionaire business executive and activist
Elizabeth Warren, senator from Massachusetts
Andrew Yang, founder of Venture for America

Two candidates who debated in October will not be on stage this time. Former housing Secretary Julián Castro did not reach the threshold, and former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke has dropped out of the race.

Read more about the debate requirements.

Who is moderating and what is the format?

Four women will be running the show: Rachel Maddow of MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show; Andrea Mitchell, NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent; Kristen Welker, NBC News White House correspondent; and Ashley Parker, a Post White House reporter.

As NBC News has reported, the hosts will ask a "balanced number of questions" to each candidate. There will be four segments. Candidates will have 75 seconds to answer direct questions and 45 seconds for follow-ups, as allowed by the moderators. In the last debate, Warren ended up with far more speaking time than other candidates.

Get caught up: What's happened since the last round?

Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick entered the race last week. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is reconsidering whether to jump in himself. O'Rourke, as noted above, dropped out; so has Republican primary challenger Mark Sanford and Democratic Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan.

Buttigieg has taken Warren's place as the surging candidate of the moment.

The group of female freshman lawmakers who have come to be called "The Squad" have split when it comes to presidential endorsements. Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts is backing Warren, while Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortze of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan have all endorsed Sanders.

Warren explained how she would pay for "Medicare for All" amid criticism that the candidate with a plan for everything was falling short when it came to health care.

More reporting you don't want to miss

Recent features on the state of the race:

Analysis: Democrats can calm their 2020 election anxiety by accepting there's no one elseButtigieg is on the rise, but has work to do winning over young votersImpeachment could sideline senators in the 2020 raceHow Sanders' revolution is proving resilient

Interviews with the candidates: NPR's Off Script video series puts candidates at a table with an NPR host and two voters; listen back to in-depth interviews from The NPR Politics Podcast's On The Trail series.

Policy fix: Get caught up on where the candidates stand on health care, immigration, the environment, guns, Democratic processes and trade.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


29. 'Frozen II' Lets It Go ... Darker
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Just six years after the Disney film Frozen unleashed upon an unsuspecting populace the soaring power ballad "Let it Go" — a song that proved no mere harmless earworm, but instead a devastatingly memetic musico-epidemiological event, a tuneful tapeworm that proceeded to infect the world's theater auditions, cabaret acts, drag repertoires, and (especially) car rides to and from your kids' swim lessons — its sequel Frozen II now lies in wait, gestating in its bowels another song of similar belty pandemic virulence that, this coming weekend, will secure itself a billion or so fresh hosts.

The new song is called "Into the Unknown," which suggests it speaks to the mysterious, the uncertain, the uncanny. That's certainly the pitch it tries to make, though it must be said there's very little mystery to be mined from a song as clearly and rigorously and calculatingly focus-grouped to target precisely the same brain pleasure-centers that "Let it Go" first burrowed its hooks into, back in 2013.

Like "Let it Go," it's sung by Queen Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel), the ruler of the fairy-tale Scandinavian land of Arandelle. Unlike "Let it Go," which came at that first film's second-act turn, and was at least a defiant if haltingly quasi-feminist anthem about shrugging off society's rigid expectations to claim one's power for oneself (albeit doing so in a pretty sparkly gown, with a waist the circumference of a Swedish krona), "Into the Unknown" comes earlier in the sequel; it's Frozen II's "I Want" song — and what Elsa wants, she sings, is: Something else.

Life in Arandelle, post-Frozen, is going ... fine. Elsa's doing a good job ruling, though between her ice-magic and general otherworldliness she often seems distracted, even aloof. Her more fully blooded, love-drunk, and let's face it comparatively basic sister Anna (Kristen Bell) is happily canoodling with her musk-scented mimbo Kristoff (Jonathan Groff). The animated snowman Olaf (Josh Gad) is also hanging around, providing commentary that often proves meta-, and relief that only intermittently proves comic.

But back to "Into the Unknown." It takes the form of call-and-response — Elsa hears an otherworldly voice calling to her out of the North, and sings back a song of, at once, defiance, and of doubling down on the status quo:

I'm sorry, secret siren, but I'm blocking out your calls

I've had my adventure, I don't need something new

I'm afraid of what I'm risking if I follow you

If she stuck to her guns, there, there'd be no movie. So of course, over the course of the song, she wavers, and accepts that she must venture out once again.

But here's the important thing about "Into the Unknown," the only thing about "Into the Unknown" that truly matters.

The chorus consists of Menzel belting out the title, three times.

First comes:

Into the unknowwwwwwwwn

... and you think, sure. Yes. Good; makes sense.

Then Menzel digs a little deeper, and sends her voice hopping up and down a short staircase:

Into the unknOWWwwwnnn

... and you think, this also. Yes. This as well. Sure.

But then Menzel belts out a melisma that begins on a note so high and pure and loud that it sounds nothing less than ... unhinged:

Into the unKNOWWWWW-OWWWWW-OWWWW-OWWNNNN

Now. You hear that note, and you think — no, you feel, you know, with an inviolate, bedrock conviction:

Karaoke nights just got ... so. Much. Worse.

Let's stipulate: Karaoke's already a pretty miserable affair to begin with, but now? Once this song is out there? There's no turning back. Around the world, drunk tax lawyers and office managers and grocery clerks and grad students and dental hygienists will stumble to the mic and hurl themselves at that crazy, hilarious, ridiculous note like so many starlings at a picture window, and they will promptly, inevitably, faceplant. If we could but harness the ensuing misery, the collective, empathetic cringing that will soon wash over the dingy back rooms and musty dive bars of the world, we could light up the eastern seaboard.

Because face it: Everyone thinks they're Idina Menzel. But most of us are Adele Dazeem.

Your kids will attempt to scream that unreachable, bananapants note, too, on their little moppet playgrounds. They will fail, spectacularly. In a month or two, school nurses searching for "vocal nodes treatment" will strain the Google servers.

And while "Into the Unknown" will shortly be everywhere, I think it unlikely to knock "Let it Go" off of its cultural perch, due to its status as a song about feeling restless and unfinished (a la "How Far I'll Go"), instead of powerful and complete. But then, much of Frozen II seems engineered to give expression to young children's conflicted relationship with the world around them. While "Into the Unknown" articulates a longing for adventure, the unexceptionally catchy ditty "Some Things Never Change," for example, finds the cast expressing a profoundly boring, basic, bougie (and very first-act-of-a-musical, it must be said) yearning for stasis.

The filmmakers keep the songs coming, at least in the early going, loaded up with plenty of jokes for the parents. Olaf's "When I am Older" finds the snowman convinced that the world will start making sense once he reaches adulthood, a sentiment meant to leave kids reassured and parents knowingly wistful. And then there's Kristoff's "Lost in the Woods," an I Love the '80s hair ballad complete with fuzzy guitar riffs and cheap network-variety-show split-screen cinematography that will leave kids — and parents under 40 — scratching their heads.

This shotgun-blast gambit — the themes-for-kids, jokes-for-parents (and showtunes-for-gay-uncles) approach that Dreamworks trafficked in, but that Disney, historically at least, felt beneath it — makes the film feel unfocused. But at least it's bracingly honest that the audience its broadly eager-to-please nature most seeks to please is Disney shareholders, looking to bag another four-quadrant hit.

The storyline of Frozen II falls into the trap too many sequels do these days — a desire to interrogate the first film's unquestioned story points and turn them into fresh fodder that only results in overcomplication: We learn more about Elsa and Anna's parents, and about the source of Elsa's magic, which involves some hand-waving about the four elements, and their attendant spirits. This is all meant to advance Elsa's sense that she hasn't yet found her true home, but in practice it loads down the proceedings with that most hopelessly nerdy of story elements: extra lore to keep track of.

Much more evocative are the story's darker themes of encroaching adulthood, of first brushes with guilt and grief, and of the looming threat of responsibility. There are sins of the past to be redressed, and certain baseline familial assumptions to call into question. There's also, not for nothing, a striking autumnal color palette, and enough jokes, set-pieces and songs to enable this film to justify its existence, above and beyond the needs of the Disney corporation's accounting ledgers.

Also: With Frozen II, Disney seems determined to at least attempt to course-correct for its ignominious role in loosing upon the world the pernicious princess-worship phenomenon that's been the company's stock-and-trade for 82 years now, ever since Snow White first warbled to the local wildlife that the arrival of some doofy prince would somehow complete her.

Yes, Anna is still man-crazy. But like a handful of more recent Disney princesses like Moana, Elsa learns that the thing for which she yearns resides within herself. She learned much this same lesson in the first film, too, of course. But that time, she just switched into another, flashier princess gown, so it didn't take.

This time, the revelation inspires her to magic herself up a smart but eminently practical pantsuit. So now it's bound to sink in.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


30. Homeless Advocates Worry Official's Firing Means Change In Trump Strategy
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Tensions are growing between homeless advocates and the Trump administration, which is in the process of crafting a new strategy to deal with rising homelessness in California and other states.

Advocacy groups are concerned that the plan will rely on more vigorous law enforcement and private market incentives rather than on efforts to house homeless individuals and provide supportive services — a policy known as Housing Firstthat has been embraced across the country over the last decade.

The latest sign that change is afoot came last week with the ouster of Matthew Doherty, executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. The agency, created in 1987, is charged with coordinating the federal government's response to homelessness and working with state and local governments, as well as with the private sector, to find solutions.

Doherty, an appointee of President Obama and supporter of the Housing First philosophy, announced his departure last week in an e-mail to colleagues.

"When I decided to stay in place through the transition in administrations, my commitment was to try to stay and support the team at USICH to do our best work possible together until either: the Administration told me to take my things and go; or I felt like I could not still act and speak with integrity," he wrote. "They have now told me to pack my things up and go."

Doherty was not given a reason for his ouster and a White House spokesman would not comment on the move. However, homeless advocates took it as a sign that the Trump administration is getting ready to move in a new direction.

"The administration fired the highly competent & committed director of the US Interagency Council on Homelessness. What are they planning that they'd want to first push him out?" tweeted Diane Yentel, head of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

At issue is a White House effort to develop a strategy to deal with homelessness, especially in California, which has seen an explosion recently in the number of people living on its streets. President Trump has called homeless encampments in the state "disgusting" and warned that their growth will "destroy" cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles.

During a recent visit to the state, Trump also blamed Democratic leaders for the crisis, warning that "if these Democrat liberal politicians don't straighten it out, the federal government will have to come in."

Shortly after his visit, the Environmental Protection Agency accused the state and the city of San Francisco of violating pollution laws by allowing needles and other waste from homeless encampments to drain into the ocean— something California officials have denied.

The President also deployed a team of top aides to California in September to look for solutions. Among the options the group is considering is moving homeless individuals off the streets and into refurbished federal facilities, although it's unclear how such moves would be accomplished.

Homeless advocates are concerned because the White House effort has excluded experts inside and outside the government who have worked on homeless issues for decades. Even the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, tasked with coordinating the federal response, was not involved in the California trip and has not been part of the administration's deliberations on a new strategy.

After Doherty's ouster, the nonpartisan National Alliance to End Homelessness issued a statement urging the administration to replace him with someone who has a "thorough knowledge of homelessness and its solutions." The group said that homelessness "should not be an ideological issue, but one addressed with evidence and knowledge of what works. This was the approach Matthew Doherty took. He will be missed."

In an interview with NPR, the group's president and CEO, Nan Roman called Doherty's departure "a bit ominous" in light of other signs that the administration wants to reshape homeless policy. "I understand that he's a political appointee and administrations certainly have the right to change their political appointees," but said, "It's a little bit strange that they waited three years to ask him to go."

Roman and other advocates agree with the Trump administration that homelessness is a serious national problem. Last year, more than a half-million people in the United States were homeless. But there are big disagreements over how to handle the issue. Many advocates and state and local officials would like to see more funding for affordable housing, as well as for mental health and other services.

The administration wants to take a much different approach. A report released in September by the White House Council of Economic Advisers blamed the problem on "decades of misguided and faulty policies." It cited restrictive zoning laws for stifling the construction of more affordable housing, questioned the effectiveness of Housing First, and said that a larger supply of shelter space and "tolerable conditions for sleeping on the streets" encouraged homelessness.

The report also suggested that more police enforcement of vagrancy and other laws might alleviate the problem.

In an Oct. 28 letter to Trump, California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters, who heads the House Financial Services Committee, demanded more information about his plans before any action is taken. She said that many of the president's policies so far, such as proposed cuts to housing assistance for low-income families, have only made the problem of homelessness worse. Democrats have accused the president of exploiting the issue for political gain.

"Your shamelessness knows no bounds," Waters wrote. "From day one of your presidency, you have attacked our democracy and now you have set your ire on the 550,000 Americans who on any given night experience homelessness."

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson responded to Waters in a letter this week with some scathing words of his own: "Shamelessness is a career politician of 30 years laying blame. Shamelessness is allowing more than 55,000 Americans to live on the very streets they represent." Waters' congressional district is in Los Angeles County, which has the highest number of unsheltered people in the country. Carson said the administration would be releasing new figures soon that will show the rate of homelessness dropping around the country "with the glaring exception of California."

The HUD secretary ended his letter by saying, "I would love to work with you, in a bipartisan fashion, to solve this crisis."

Waters responded with a statement on Tuesday, calling Carson "a complete failure" at HUD. "If he is sincere in wanting to have a constructive, bipartisan conversation with me, he can start by providing substantive answers to the numerous questions posed in my October 28 letter," she said.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


31. VIDEO: Elon Musk's Next Quest Is A Mind-Machine Meld. Let's Consider The Implications
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Don't see the video? Click here.

We're ever-more reliant on our devices, whether it's mobile phones or voice-powered home assistants, like Amazon Echo.

If today's science continues apace, the future of humanity will likely include further symbiosis with technology. Tech entrepreneurs like Elon Musk are going all-in on brain-machine interfaces; you saw it with Musk's company, Neuralink's announcement about plans for brain chip implants.

But is a more direct connection between our brains and our technology something we want? What are the possibilities and the pitfalls? In this Future You with Elise Hu, tech entrepreneur Bryan Johnson, founder of neural interface company Kernel (a Musk competitor), and technology ethicist Tristan Harris talk about what brain-machine interfaces can offer — and the ethical considerations to make in designing the future you.

Future You's first season is dedicated to the human body and what it will be able to do in 2050. You can find the latest episodes on YouTube or npr.org/futureyou. And send us your ideas about upgrading humans by email at futureyou@npr.org or through Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


32. What The Site Of The Democratic Debate Says About Georgia, Role Of Black Voters
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Atlanta's Tyler Perry Studios has been home to Wakanda, the White House and The Walking Dead, but on Wednesday night it will host its most topical production yet: the next Democratic presidential primary debate, hosted by MSNBC and The Washington Post.

With less than three months before voters begin casting ballots, 10 candidates will walk out onto a sound stage named for Oprah Winfrey.

The decision to stage the debate at Tyler Perry Studios is a sign of the political and economic power of Georgia's growing film industry, an implicit acknowledgment of the space that black voters occupy in the primary electorate and a nod to the state's potential battleground status in 2020.

"It shows how Georgia is ready to present on a national stage," said Kalena Boller, a retired location manager who spent 15 years scouting out locations around Atlanta to film movies, music videos and television shows.

"What's more Southern than that?"

The big, thick gates and tall fences outside the studios in southwest Atlanta resemble a fortress, which the facility once was in its past incarnation as a U.S. Army base, Fort McPherson, which operated from 1885 to 2011.

Filmmaker and producer Tyler Perry purchased part of the property in 2015 from the city of Atlanta to build his eponymous production facilities, larger than any studio in Los Angeles. He's the only African American to own a major film studio.

"It's 330 acres and 12 sound stages," Tyler Perry told late-night host Jimmy Kimmel after the studio's grand opening last month. "And I dedicated them all this weekend to people who paved the way and motivated and inspired me, like Oprah, Whoopi Goldberg, Cicely Tyson, Will Smith, Halle Berry ... ."

Standing in the parking lot of a recent development up the street from Tyler Perry Studios, Boller, the former location scout, said Georgia's booming film economy is increasingly part of the political conversation too.

This year, several Hollywood actors and production companies called for a boycott of the state after Gov. Brian Kemp signed a bill tightening restrictions on abortion.

Shortly before a federal judge temporarily blocked the law from taking effect, Perry voiced his support for film industry workers in the state and said he couldn't just "up and leave" the place he called home.

"I mean, what's more Southern than that?" asked Boller of Perry's decision to stay.

Boller said the choice to locate this debate at Tyler Perry Studios shows where the Democratic Party is headed.

"What it's specifically showing is that you cannot look away from the black Democratic vote," she said. "You cannot discredit and you cannot ignore how much of a contribution we're making to the country as a whole."

Battleground Georgia

Donald Trump won Georgia in 2016 by only a 5-point margin, far tighter than past Republican candidates. In 2018, Kemp squeaked out an even narrower victory over Democrat Stacey Abrams in the gubernatorial race.

In a sign that both parties are preparing to fight for Georgia's 16 electoral votes in 2020, President Trump held a Black Voices for Trump coalition launch in Atlanta this month, while Democratic candidates have made regular stops at historically black colleges in the state, especially this week ahead of the debate.

Georgia will also be a major Senate battleground in 2020, with first-term Republican Sen. David Perdue up for reelection and a special election to replace Sen. Johnny Isakson, a Republican who's resigning at the end of 2019 for health reasons.

"There is this opportunity before Democrats in Georgia that we've not seen and likely won't see again for many years," said Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who lobbied the Democratic National Committee to bring the debate to the city.

"Atlanta is really this crown jewel of the South in so many ways — the diversity that it reflects, our economy and the metro area and just really the prominence of so many African American leaders and African American women who are leading cities throughout the South," said Bottoms.

The debates aren't the only big-ticket item coming to the studios in this corner of southwest Atlanta. Several movies are actively filming there, and the Miss Universe pageant, once owned by Trump, is coming in December.

Copyright 2019 Georgia Public Broadcasting. To see more, visit Georgia Public Broadcasting.


33. America's 'Shame': Medicaid Funding Slashed In U.S. Territories
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Right now, there are dozens of patients — U.S. citizens — in New Zealand hospitals who are fighting the clock. They have only a few weeks to recover and get home to the tiny island of American Samoa, a U.S. territory in the South Pacific.

"We have a cancer patient that is coming back in December," says Sandra King Young, who runs the Medicaid program in American Samoa. "We can only give him six weeks of chemo, radiation and surgery. He has a good chance of survival if he has the full year of treatment, but not six weeks. The patient and family understand, and since they have no money, they have agreed to come back."

The federal money to fully fund the Medicaid program in American Samoa and in all other U.S. territories is about to run out. As a consequence, the off-island referral program to treat conditions that the territory doesn't have the local capacity or facilities to treat — the program that brought these patients to New Zealand — is getting shut down.

"It's devastating for those people who need those lifesaving services," King Young says. "People who need cancer treatment won't get it. Children with rheumatic heart disease won't get the heart surgeries that they need."

All five of the U.S. territories affected — collectively home to more than 3 million Americans — are now desperately trying to figure out how to keep Medicaid running with only a fraction of the money they've had for the last several years. If Congress doesn't increase the amount of designated money by the end of the year, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam say they would need to cut their Medicaid rolls in half; Puerto Rico says it would need to cut back dental and prescription drug services.

This is what people working on the issue have come to call the "Medicaid cliff."

How did we get here?

When it comes to Medicaid, the federal government treats U.S. territories differently from how it treats states.

In U.S. states, the amount that the federal government contributes to Medicaid varies based on a formula in the law that relies on per capita income in each state. For instance, Alabama has a match rate of 72%; what this translates to is that for every dollar Alabama spends on Medicaid, the federal government contributes about $2.57 to the program.

But that's not how it works in the territories, where even though the populations are all low income, the federal government's match rate is set in statute at 55%. What this translates to is that for every dollar a U.S. territory spends on Medicaid, the federal government contributes $1.25.

The other significant difference is that the federal contribution to Medicaid in the territories is capped, with a set allotment of federal funds every year. Federal spending on Medicaid in states is not.

The low matching rate and the annual cap — that's pretty much how it has always been for Medicaid in the territories, says Robin Rudowitz, who co-directs the Program on Medicaid and the Uninsured at the Kaiser Family Foundation. "These particular provisions historically have always been part of how they have been financed," she says.

Here's how the territories found themselves peering over the "Medicaid cliff." For the last few years, the territories have had billions of dollars more in federal funding to run their programs than their usual capped allotments. First, the Affordable Care Act provided a one-time grant of $7.3 billion (which kicked off in 2011) for the territories' Medicaid programs. Then, in 2017, after two Category 5 hurricanes ravaged Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, an extra $4.9 billion designated for their Medicaid programs was added to the 2018 Bipartisan Budget Act.

Now, we've come to the cliff's edge. Most of these two pots of money ran out at the end of September, with just a bit of funding from the ACA still available through the end of 2019.

That leaves, essentially, just the capped allotment of federal dollars for each of the territories — far less than what the territories have come to rely on to provide care to their Medicaid enrollees in recent years.

"The capped financing amounts were low and did not meet all of the needs of the population in the territories," says Rudowitz. If the additional federal contributions are gone for good, she says, "given the share that they represent of the financing for Medicaid in these territories, it would mean major changes and reductions in care."

The territories have known that this funding cliff was coming for years — the end to a major portion of the money was written into the ACA. Island health officials and care providers hoped Congress would have legislated a more permanent solution by now, but it hasn't.

In recent months, Congress has passed continuing resolutions that have allowed the territories' Medicaid programs to keep limping along. But without legislation that appropriates more money, the territories' Medicaid programs all are in serious trouble.

The Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission, known as MACPAC, a nonpartisan government group that advises Congress on Medicaid policy, projected in July that all the territories will have budget shortfalls in 2020. When considered altogether, according to MACPAC's report, their Medicaid programs will be more than $1 billion short.

This is why Medicaid directors in the U.S. territories are all sounding the alarm. King Young, of American Samoa, points to news coverage as far back as the 1960s that described her island as "America's Shame in the South Seas" because of rampant pollution and neglect.

"Right now, this is the United States' shame in the islands," she says. "Tell me if that's acceptable in the United States, to stand by and say, 'Oh, sorry, we can't give you that stent or that pacemaker, so it's likely that you'll have a stroke or heart attack and — that's it.' That's what it means not to have enough Medicaid funding for the territories."

"Full-court press" in Congress

The territories have been lobbying Congress, urging members to appropriate more funds for their Medicaid programs so health officials on the islands can avoid these hard choices — between, for instance, keeping a hospital going and paying for a patient's cancer treatment.

Each territory has a nonvoting delegate in Congress. Puerto Rico also sent an additional delegation from the island last week to make the case to lawmakers that something must be done to stave off disaster.

"I would say that we've been doing a full-court press this entire calendar year," says Jennifer Storipan, executive director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration. "Gov. [Wanda] Vázquez has said that Medicaid funding is her highest priority for the island right now."

A bill to temporarily increase funding to the territories' Medicaid programs was passed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee in July but has yet to make it to the floor for a vote. It would greatly increase the federal match rate for Medicaid in all the territories and allocate a bonus $3 billion a year — but only for the next four years. There is no companion bill in the Senate.

"We're in active negotiations with the Senate, but there is some opposition to our bill in the Senate," says Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., who introduced the House legislation with Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla. Both represent districts in central Florida that have huge Puerto Rican populations, and Soto is of Puerto Rican descent. In the House, the bill has bipartisan support.

Opponents of the bill in the Senate say they worry that the billions of dollars that the territories are requesting could be misspent. Some senators have raised particular concerns about Puerto Rico. During a recent corruption probe, a Puerto Rican Medicaid official was arrested — that news emerged just a few days before a committee hearing on the territories' Medicaid bill in July.

"So that didn't help," Soto says. Integrity provisions were added to the House bill, he says, specifically addressing concerns about Puerto Rico. "We do need to take it seriously and make sure that tax dollars are safeguarded," he says, but adds, "There have been fraud instances in many states too, and we don't take away their Medicaid funding."

Some congressional Republicans note that the funding cliff was created by the Affordable Care Act, which gave extra funding to the territories for a limited time. In a letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar in July, several Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee raised concerns about Puerto Rico's Medicaid spending.

"We are again confronting proposals for what amounts to another extension of boosted funding with no permanence or certainty and without any resolution of the Medicaid funding cliff constructed as part of the ACA," they wrote.

"It is true: Giving these additional funds with a set expiration date, the legislation itself did create the cliff," acknowledges the Kaiser Family Foundation's Rudowitz. However, she says, Congress now should consider "the implications of letting that cliff happen and what that means to the health care systems in these territories."

Planning for the worst

Medicaid program administrators from each of the territories gathered in an impromptu meeting outside the annual Medicaid directors conference last week. They have spent a lot of time together in Washington recently, testifying before congressional committees about the Medicaid funding crisis as it approaches.

"We were here in May. We were here in June," Michal Rhymer-Browne, assistant commissioner with the Virgin Islands' Department of Human Services, told NPR that day. "We pleaded. We shared ourselves — everything that we could."

Despite their pleas, Congress has yet to act.

There are three options for managing a slashed budget for a program like Medicaid: reduce the size of payments to providers, cut the rolls or cover fewer services. All the territories say there's no way to go lower on provider payments — Puerto Rico's struggle with provider flight because of low pay is well known. So cutting the rolls and covered services is where the programs would need to find cuts, representatives of the territories say.

"Guam and [the Northern Mariana Islands] are about to topple over the cliff," Rhymer-Browne says. "And for the Virgin Islands, we are nearing the cliff and seeing the bottom right now."

Many of the territories would like to make improvements in the care they provide — invest in better facilities, recruit great health care providers, improve preventive care. All of that comes with upfront costs, they say, and they've had so much budget uncertainty that it has been impossible to move forward with those kinds of projects.

Right now, they're just trying to keep the lights on.

"The urgency is here for us to let our congressional members know — even going to January is extremely dangerous," Rhymer-Browne says. "It's already catastrophic for our territories. We really need them to make a move."

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


34. 2019/11/20 09:00 GMT
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Description: The latest five minute news bulletin from BBC World Service.

35. 2019/11/20 08:00 GMT
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Description: The latest five minute news bulletin from BBC World Service.

36. Pushed out
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Black girls are being pushed out of school and into jails at alarming rates, but this issue often is overlooked because youth incarceration reform focuses so much on boys. Reporter Ko Bragg explains how the cycle begins and what researchers hope will break it.

Don’t miss out on the next big story. Get the Weekly Reveal newsletter today.



37. 2019/11/20 07:00 GMT
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Description: The latest five minute news bulletin from BBC World Service.

38. Culture Gabfest: Live from Vancouver
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Description: Dana Stevens, Julia Turner, and Stephen Metcalf are live in at the Granville Island Stage in Vancouver to discuss The Irishman, Schitt's Creek, and creepy ads that follow you around. In Slate Plus: Questions from the live audience. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

39. 2019/11/20 06:00 GMT
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40. 2019/11/20 05:00 GMT
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Description: The latest five minute news bulletin from BBC World Service.

41. 215. John Hodgman On Being A Villain Without Really Trying
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This episode contains graphic language is not suitable for children.

John Hodgman has made a career out of playing elitist villains on TV. He later realized he's been a villain in real life, too — including, sometimes, to his own children.

To join the conversation, go to longestshortesttime.com! Sign up for our newsletter. Follow us on Instagram.

This episode is brought to you by Bad With Money, Bayer Crop Science, Lutron Caseta Smart Lighting, Teen Counseling, and Pillsbury Crescent Rolls.



42. 2019/11/20 04:00 GMT
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43. 2019/11/20 03:00 GMT
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44. Special Report: Takeaways From Day 3 Of Testimony In The Public Impeachment Hearings
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Four witnesses testified before the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday in the impeachment inquiry into President Trump: Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Pence; Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council adviser; Kurt Volker, the former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine; and Tim Morrison, a former National Security Council adviser. Click the audio link to listen to a special broadcast of NPR hosts and reporters offering analysis on the significant moments of the day.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


45. California Governor Cracks Down On Fracking, Requires Audits And Scientific Review
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California Gov. Gavin Newsom imposed new regulations Tuesday on hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, and curbed steam-injected oil drilling in his state, extractive methods long opposed by environmentalists.

Under the new initiatives:

New permits for fracking will be subject to independent scientific review by experts at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the permitting process will be audited by the state Department of Finance to study compliance with state law.A moratorium is imposed prohibiting new underground oil-extraction wells from using a high-pressure cyclic steaming process.New rules will be established to protect public safety "including prohibiting oil and gas activities within close proximity of homes, schools, hospitals, and parks."

"These are necessary steps to strengthen oversight of oil and gas extraction as we phase out our dependence on fossil fuels and focus on clean energy sources," Newsom said in statement. "This transition cannot happen overnight; it must advance in a deliberate way to protect people, our environment, and our economy."

The high-pressure cyclic steaming process has come under public scrutiny since July when member station KQED reported a series of uncontrolled releases of crude petroleum and water from Chevron wells in Kern County that started in May and continue today. More than 900,000 gallons of oil and brine have been released from the Chevron facility and the corporation has been fined $2.7 million. The state wants to find out whether the high-pressure cyclic steaming process can be done safely or whether the practice should be prohibited altogether.

The new rules are unnecessary since "California's environmental regulations already lead the world," according to Catherine Reheis-Boyd, president of the Western States Petroleum Association.

"It is disappointing that the state would pursue additional studies when multiple state agencies already validate our protection of health, safety and the environment during production," Reheis-Boyd said in an e-mailed statement. "These agencies should also consider reliability, affordability and resilience of our energy supply, as every barrel delayed or not produced in this state will only increase imports from more costly foreign sources that do not share our environmental and safety standards."

Newsom's initiatives drew praise from environmentalists who had demanded action especially since the revelations about the Kern County oil spills.

"Gov. Newsom's historic action protects Californians from some of the most dangerous and destructive oil-extraction techniques," Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity says in a statement. "This marks the turning of the tide against the oil industry, which has been allowed to drill at will in our state for more than 150 years. This is the kind of leadership necessary to make California the first major oil-producing state to phase out extraction and protect people and our planet from dirty fossil fuels."

In October, Newsom signed a bill renaming the state Department of Conservation's Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources or DOGGR. Effective Jan. 1, 2020, it will be called the Geologic Energy Management Division, or CalGEM.

The move follows the July firing of director Ken Harris after it was revealed that the division had significantly increased fracking permits under Newsom's new administration. There were also allegations that some senior DOGGR officials owned stock in oil companies they regulated.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


46. 2019/11/20 02:00 GMT
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47. 2019/11/20 01:00 GMT
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Description: The latest five minute news bulletin from BBC World Service.

48. 2019/11/20 00:00 GMT
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Description: The latest five minute news bulletin from BBC World Service.

49. Impeachment witness 'concerned' by Trump call
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Description: Lt Col Alexander Vindman told Congress that President Trump made "inappropriate" political demands of his Ukrainian counterpart. Also: Sweden drops Assange alleged rape investigation, and does Marie Kondo's online store spark joy?

50. The view of the trade war from the water
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Like it or not, it’s already holiday shopping season. And while you might not be ready quite yet, the truth is all those potential gifts on store shelves got here months ago. Today, we’re taking a visit to the Port of Los Angeles, which handles about half of all the shipping container trade between the United States and China. You may have heard there’s a trade war on. We’ll talk with the workers at the port about how it’s going. Plus: Why Home Depot is struggling and a new kind of prosperity gospel.