Ailsa Chang | New Hampshire Public Radio

Ailsa Chang

Questions of how to reform law enforcement in America have dominated Washington this week.

Civil rights attorney Lee Merritt has been a voice in that debate. He represents the family of Ahmaud Arbery, the 25-year-old black man who was pursued by three white men and then fatally shot while jogging in a South Georgia neighborhood in February. He is also co-counsel for the families of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

Over her decades-long career, Tracee Ellis Ross has starred in beloved shows such as Black-ish and Girlfriends. But as she sees it, her latest role is her most daunting one yet. In The High Note, available to stream on Apple TV on May 29, she plays a superstar singer named Grace Davis, who's facing career stagnancy. Meanwhile, Davis' personal assistant Maggie (played by Dakota Johnson) has musical ambitions of her own as an aspiring producer.

"Immunity passports" have been proposed as one way to reboot economies in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The theory is this: The approval of the so-called passports would rely on the positive results from an antibody test of your collected blood sample. If you have antibodies to the coronavirus after recovering from an infection, you might be immune from future infection and therefore could be authorized to work and circulate in society without posing a risk to yourself or others.

At least, that's the idea.

Moses Sumney spent years searching for the sound on his new, double album grae. It began in 2013, when he first tried to break into the Los Angeles music scene — and got interest from record labels almost immediately.

School hasn't ended yet in most places around the country. But educators are already grappling with what the next academic year will look like, as the future spread of the coronavirus in the U.S. remains unclear.

This week, California State University — the largest four-year public college system in the country — announced it plans to suspend in-person classes for its roughly 480,000 students for the semester beginning in August and move most instruction online.

The university system consists of 23 campuses, covering an 800-mile swath of the state.

Coronavirus fatalities in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities account for at least one-third of the deaths in 26 states.

The coronavirus outbreak has thrown hospital systems throughout the U.S. into crisis — both medical and financial. The cost of treating coronavirus patients, combined with the loss of revenue from canceling elective procedures, has left many hospitals in desperate financial straits.

Some estimates suggest hospitals are losing $50 billion a month, says Rick Pollack, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association.

Inspiration can strike at unexpected times. That was the case for Fiona Apple, the celebrated singer and songwriter who released her first album in eight years this month. It's called Fetch the Bolt Cutters and the title comes from a piece of dialogue that struck her while watching a crime drama on Netflix.

In one episode of The Fall, a British show starring Gillian Anderson as a police detective, Anderson and her crew track down and free a girl who had been kidnapped and locked away.

To test for the coronavirus, you need a swab.

But only two companies in the world manufacture the specialized instrument used to collect a sample from noses.

The limited supply has led to a shortage in the U.S. and a scramble by those two manufacturers to produce more.

One of those companies, Puritan Medical Products, based in Guilford, Maine has ramped up its production to more than 1 million swabs per week, according to Timothy Templet, the company's vice president of sales.

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

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

As the U.S. Senate solemnly considers the fate of a president, Twitter has been somewhat less solemn, considering another question. Can you drink milk on the Senate floor?

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

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

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Twenty-four hours over three days - that's how long each side gets to make its case in the Senate impeachment trial.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

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

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Shortly after noon on this cold and bright Tuesday in Washington, President Trump's impeachment trial began. First, some tradition and ceremony - Senate Chaplain Barry Black opened the trial with a prayer.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

The question of how Billboard determines the most popular music in the country has gotten a lot harder in the digital age. It used to be a simple question of which album sold the most physical copies, but now Billboard needs to consider things like Spotify plays and mp3 downloads. Starting Jan. 3, it will also include YouTube streams.

NPR's Ailsa Chang talks to Chris Molanphy, a chart analyst and pop critic at Slate, about the significance of this change. Listen at the audio link and read on for an edited version of their conversation.

Two witnesses testified during the last scheduled day of public impeachment hearings on Thursday. Fiona Hill, a former National Security Council official, and David Holmes, a political counselor in the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, spoke in front of the House Intelligence Committee — wrapping up two weeks of public and closed-door testimonies to Congress about President Trump's actions in the Ukraine affair. Click the audio link to listen to a special broadcast of NPR hosts and reporters offering analysis on the significant moments of the day.

The former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, testified in front of the House Intelligence Committee on Friday in the public phase of the impeachment inquiry. 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.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

As the protests in Hong Kong press on, the clashes have grown increasingly violent. But there are peaceful gatherings too, like this one at a secondary school for boys.

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: Fight for freedom.

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

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

What's it like to be in China as it marks 70 years of communist rule? In Tiananmen Square, facing the famed red outside wall of Beijing's Forbidden City, tanks and missiles rolled past in a military parade today.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

Journalist Harriet Shawcross is fascinated by silence: why we speak, and why we don't.

She's traveled the world seeking answers to those questions, meeting earthquake survivors in Nepal, a silent order of nuns in Paris, a Buddhist retreat in Scotland. She's written a book about it, called Unspeakable: The Things We Cannot Say.

As a kid, Enrique Olvera spent hours in his grandmother's bakery in Mexico City. He loved watching everyday ingredients like flour, sugar and eggs fuse into something entirely different.

For Olvera, even the simple act of baking a cake felt like magic.

He absorbed every detail as his grandmother gently coaxed masa into handmade tortillas. On Sundays, he joined his father in the kitchen, chopping onions and tomatoes for breakfasts of scrambled eggs and dry beef.

Lt. Col. Bree "B" Fram left a doctor's office on April 2. Presenting that day as Bryan, the name given to them at birth, B should have been relieved.

"Overall, it's a good thing," said B. "It just didn't feel great to have to do it on someone else's timeline other than my own."

"It" was an official diagnosis of gender dysphoria. As a transgender member of the military, B had to secure the diagnosis by April 12 in order to continue serving openly.

The new novel Trust Exercise opens with teenagers attending an elite performing arts high school in the 1980s.

There, the theater kids form heartfelt friendships and relationships, and then sabotage them. Their semi-tyrannical drama teacher both inspires and manipulates them — with his "trust exercises."

Midway through, the book leaps forward in time and perspective. One of the students, Karen, is now an adult, re-thinking her past.

Quinn Robinson is only 18 years old, but she has already learned some hard lessons about the world. "It's scary being a trans person because I know there are people out there who just hate me for being myself," she says. "There's been kids who have approached me and say, 'Hey, you should burn in hell.' "

Robinson is a high school senior in Allendale, Mich., a small but growing town about 30 minutes outside Grand Rapids and smack dab in the middle of what's known as the state's "Bible Belt." Drive off the main road and you quickly find yourself in farm country.

The new movie If Beale Street Could Talk is based on a James Baldwin novel of the same title.

Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) adapted and directed the film. And in working with the Baldwin estate, he received a leather notebook filled with Baldwin's handwritten notes about how he would have approached a film version.

Tayari Jones says there are two things to consider as a book matchmaker: "You have to match what you think your friend would like to read, with what you think your friend should read — and you have to make a Venn diagram of that," she says.

As Congress prepares to adjourn for the holidays, one piece of legislation that's still on the table is a bipartisan criminal justice bill known as the First Step Act.

It aims to improve federal prison conditions and reduce some prison sentences, a sticking point for some lawmakers. But the bill also contains a less controversial provision: a ban on shackling pregnant women.

Incarcerated people outside prison walls are considered potential flight risks. That label applies even to pregnant women when they leave prisons for medical care or to give birth.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Cooking is about community. But it can also be about solitude.

That's where chef Anita Lo's latest cookbook, Solo: A Modern Cookbook for a Party of One, comes in.

"Food is culture, food is identity. So it's reaffirming to cook the things that either you grew up with or the things that you love," Lo says — whether it's for your whole family or just yourself.

When "Rooster" Bogle — born Dale Vincent Bogle — used to drive by the Oregon State Correctional Institution with his young sons, he'd gaze out at the prison with nostalgia.

"Look carefully, because when you grow up, you guys are going to end up there," he told his boys.

This wasn't a warning: It was a challenge. And so began the competition for who could be the meanest, baddest Bogle.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

What if — instead of compulsively reaching for your phone — you could reach for a book? A kind of comfort object that could keep you company all day long.

That's exactly what illustrator Jonny Sun says he wanted to do in his new collaboration with Lin-Manuel Miranda (yeah, that Lin-Manuel Miranda).

Pages