Browsing articles from "December, 2015"

Stuck In A Brooklyn Shelter, Mother Of 3 Struggles To Find A Home

Dec 28, 2015   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Stuck In A Brooklyn Shelter, Mother Of 3 Struggles To Find A Home



MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Finally today, we look at a complicated journey from a homeless shelter to a permanent home. Shakira Crawford is a homeless single mother of three searching for an apartment in New York City. The city has agreed to pay three-quarters of her rent, but months into her search, Crawford and her children are still living in a shelter in Brooklyn. Mirela Iverac from member station WNYC reports.

MIRELA IVERAC, BYLINE: Shakira Crawford has only seen two apartments, and she didn’t get either of them. She’s learning that landlords don’t want to accept a city voucher to pay the rent. Now she’s in Brooklyn’s East New York to see a third apartment. After the previous disappointments, she’s doing her best to keep her emotions in check, but for a woman who easily breaks into a smile that shows her perfect teeth, it’s hard.

SHAKIRA CRAWFORD: I want – I’m excited, but I don’t want to be too, too excited. But it’s like I can’t hold back my excitement (laughter).

IVERAC: She stops on the sidewalk to take off her sneakers, puts on black suede heels…

CRAWFORD: Sort of professional Shakira (laughter).

IVERAC: …And enters the building.

(SOUNDBITE OF BUZZING)

CRAWFORD: Wow.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: How are you doing?

CRAWFORD: I’m in Shakira Crawford.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I’m (inaudible).

CRAWFORD: Hi. Nice to meet you.

IVERAC: It’s a two bedroom with a large living room. There’s a pass-through in the kitchen wall that lets Crawford see into the dining area. The apartment is clean, quiet.

CRAWFORD: I saw the building last night on the internet. I knew it. And coming all day, I had, like, this good feeling that I’m going to love it, and I do.

IVERAC: She already sees her bright-eyed, eight-year-old girl Julia and her two boys here.

CRAWFORD: Hear myself calling Joshua and Jordan – make sure you clean your room up (laughter) ’cause they know I don’t like messy room.

IVERAC: She know how she’ll furnish the place.

CRAWFORD: Picture frames ’cause I like paintings and a IKEA vibe (laughter). And I’ll have my little table where they can sit and eat. And I’ll have a little couch here and a little TV. I see them having their room. Their beds could be bunk beds. It’s fine. Have my curtains up – you know, nice colorful, like, calming colors – blue, a little orange over there or pink. Yeah.

IVERAC: The city would pay $1,100 out of the $1,500 rent for this apartment with four months up front. But a few days later, Crawford gets an e-mail from the management company.

CRAWFORD: I teary-eyed a little. Yeah, I did. I cried a little.

IVERAC: She still got turned down. The e-mail says every tenant has to earn 40 times the rent – $60,000 – and have a credit score of 700. She doesn’t satisfy any of those requirements. In New York City, it’s illegal to reject someone for an apartment just because they have a voucher.

STEVEN BANKS: And there are already 85 investigations proceeding with respect to violations of our strong local law that prohibits source of income discrimination.

IVERAC: Steven Banks is commissioner of the city’s largest welfare agency.

BANKS: In Ms. Crawford’s case, there is a concern clearly that there were – there are other pretexts that are being applied that are essentially source of income discrimination. We’re certainly going to be pursuing action against the particular brokers and landlords that she would like us to take when we reach out to her and follow up with her.

IVERAC: Yuco Management, the company that rejected her – they declined to comment.

CRAWFORD: It’s part of life, too, right? You can’t give up, right? I can’t give up at all. I have three, you know, wonderful people in my life that’s looking up to me, you know, so I have to do my best for them, too.

IVERAC: In this case, her best wasn’t good enough.

JOSHUA: I was really sad because I wanted the apartment.

IVERAC: Thirteen-year-old Joshua has seen some of his friends move out of the shelter.

JOSHUA: And next time, that’s going to be me.

IVERAC: Crawford calls and knocks on more brokers’ doors – 60 in total – but Joshua’s prediction doesn’t come true. Ten months after she and her children started looking for a home, they’re still stuck in the shelter system.

CRAWFORD: Gosh, the year’s about to finish, and I’m still here. Am I ever going to find a place?

IVERAC: Crawford wishes she had more time to search. She also wishes people at her shelter had helped her more. Most family shelters have housing specialists. Crawford’s doesn’t, but the woman who runs it, Robin Brown, says her staff has done its part. She thinks the city needs to step up and convince landlords to participate.

ROBIN BROWN: If there was more buy-in from the landlords and the brokers and there were more apartments available for low income housing for families – you know, those things help.

IVERAC: Thirty-eight-hundred households have moved out of shelters using the voucher, but more than 7,000 are still stuck in the system. City officials say it’ll take time for the inflated housing market to absorb them. That’s how they explain Crawford’s year of disappointment and turmoil.

CRAWFORD: I feel like I’ve been through so much, you know? And then my kids, too – I don’t want them to go through the same thing.

IVERAC: For now, the only home they have is the shelter in Brooklyn. Like thousands of other families, they continue looking for a way out. For NPR News, I’m Mirela Iverac.

MARTIN: This story was produced in partnership with WNYC.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Artist Ellsworth Kelly, Master Of Colorful Abstraction, Dies At 92

Dec 28, 2015   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Artist Ellsworth Kelly, Master Of Colorful Abstraction, Dies At 92

Ellsworth Kelly, shown before one of his huge pieces at Peter Carlson Enterprises, Sun Valley, in 1996, has died at the age of 92.i

Ellsworth Kelly, shown before one of his huge pieces at Peter Carlson Enterprises, Sun Valley, in 1996, has died at the age of 92.

Clarence Williams/LA Times via Getty Images


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Clarence Williams/LA Times via Getty Images

Ellsworth Kelly, shown before one of his huge pieces at Peter Carlson Enterprises, Sun Valley, in 1996, has died at the age of 92.

Ellsworth Kelly, shown before one of his huge pieces at Peter Carlson Enterprises, Sun Valley, in 1996, has died at the age of 92.

Clarence Williams/LA Times via Getty Images

Ellsworth Kelly, one of the greatest American artists of the past century, has died at 92.

Kelly died at his home in Spencertown, N.Y., says gallery owner Matthew Marks, who has represented the artist for two decades. Kelly is survived by his longtime partner Jack Shear.

For seven decades, Kelly created pure, strong shapes and colors, immersive and brilliant. His vivid geometric blocks, in sculpture and paintings, are displayed at modern art museums from Paris to Houston to Boston to Berlin.

He started his artistic career in France — but not by wearing a beret and standing behind an easel. He was in a U.S. Army uniform during World War II, serving in a special unit made mostly of artists. Their job was to fool the Germans into thinking there were more Allied forces than there actually were.

Kelly told NPR in 2007 they did it partly by building fake tanks and trucks from wood and burlap.

“But later they were made in rubber — inflatable and they looked like the real thing,” he said.

A visitor looks at the artwork Two Panels - Blue-Yellow(1970) by Ellsworth Kelly as part of the exhibition J'aime les panoramas (I love the panoramas) at the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations in Marseille, southern France, on November 2, 2015.i

A visitor looks at the artwork “Two Panels – Blue-Yellow”(1970) by Ellsworth Kelly as part of the exhibition “J’aime les panoramas” (I love the panoramas) at the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations in Marseille, southern France, on November 2, 2015.

Bertrand Langlois/AFP/Getty Images


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Bertrand Langlois/AFP/Getty Images

A visitor looks at the artwork Two Panels - Blue-Yellow(1970) by Ellsworth Kelly as part of the exhibition J'aime les panoramas (I love the panoramas) at the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations in Marseille, southern France, on November 2, 2015.

A visitor looks at the artwork “Two Panels – Blue-Yellow”(1970) by Ellsworth Kelly as part of the exhibition “J’aime les panoramas” (I love the panoramas) at the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations in Marseille, southern France, on November 2, 2015.

Bertrand Langlois/AFP/Getty Images

After the war, Kelly lived in Paris. Art historian Sarah Rich says he’d walk around snapping photographs.

“And not photographs of famous places, like the Eiffel Tower, but photos of an alleyway” — or a plain old window, or the side of an unassuming building.

In that photograph, Kelly would see a square. And he would use that black square as the basis of a painting.

Of course, you don’t need a photo to paint a black square. You just need a ruler. But Ellsworth Kelly wanted to bring scraps of the world almost mystically onto his canvas.

In this 2007 Ellsworth Kelly piece, four separate oil-painted canvases combine to form a single work, Green Blue Black Red.i

In this 2007 Ellsworth Kelly piece, four separate oil-painted canvases combine to form a single work, Green Blue Black Red.

Jerry L. Thompson/Courtesy of Ellsworth Kelly


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Jerry L. Thompson/Courtesy of Ellsworth Kelly

In this 2007 Ellsworth Kelly piece, four separate oil-painted canvases combine to form a single work, Green Blue Black Red.

In this 2007 Ellsworth Kelly piece, four separate oil-painted canvases combine to form a single work, Green Blue Black Red.

Jerry L. Thompson/Courtesy of Ellsworth Kelly

He boiled shadows and shapes down into abstractions — monochromes, just one strong, pure, bright color. Kelly said that came from his boyhood in New Jersey surrounded by nature.

“I’ve always been a colorist,” he said. “I think I started when I was very young, being a birdwatcher fascinated by the bird colors.”

The way Kelly used colors made them feel almost alive. Just to face a giant red rectangle by Ellsworth Kelly is to come to red in a fresh and profound way.

In this 2007 Ellsworth Kelly piece, four separate oil-painted canvases combine to form a single work, Green Blue Black Red.

“I feel that I like color in its strongest sense,” Kelly told NPR in 2013. “I don’t like mixed colors that much, like plum color or deep, deep colors that are hard to define. I liked red, yellow, blue, black and white — [that] was what I started with.”

When Kelly moved to New York in the 1950s, abstract expressionism was all the rage. He did not fit in, says Sarah Rich, with all the cooler-than-cool artists flinging paint at canvases — or dripping it, or standing in it.

“He was really not interested in their corny expressionism and epic self-importance,” she says. “All of that stuff just seemed burdensome and dull.”

Forging a new aesthetic language in that environment was not easy, Kelly said.

“It was a very hard job doing it all by myself, getting to where I am,” he told NPR.

A visitor looks an installation by artist Ellsworth Kelly on June 18, 2010, as part of an exhibition at Villa Medici, the headquarters of the French Academy in Rome.i

A visitor looks an installation by artist Ellsworth Kelly on June 18, 2010, as part of an exhibition at Villa Medici, the headquarters of the French Academy in Rome.

Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images


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A visitor looks an installation by artist Ellsworth Kelly on June 18, 2010, as part of an exhibition at Villa Medici, the headquarters of the French Academy in Rome.

A visitor looks an installation by artist Ellsworth Kelly on June 18, 2010, as part of an exhibition at Villa Medici, the headquarters of the French Academy in Rome.

Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images

Where Ellsworth Kelly was, when he died, was the position of a universally recognized master of contemporary art. He influenced minimalism and pop art with his bold, spare paintings, drawings and sculptures, which are in virtually every major museum of modern art.

When Kelly was 90, NPR asked what he enjoyed most about being very old.

“I feel like I’m 20 in my head,” he said. “My painting makes me feel good and I just feel like I can live on.

“If you just keep working, maybe that’s possible.”

Ellsworth Kelly came about as close any anyone could to making that possibility real.

Monument Or Eyesore? Weighing The Legacy Of A Pittsburgh Playwright

Dec 27, 2015   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Monument Or Eyesore? Weighing The Legacy Of A Pittsburgh Playwright



MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Every writer is from somewhere. But then there are writers whose work is rooted in a place, it’s hard to imagine their words without it. That’s true for the late playwright August Wilson and Pittsburgh’s Hill District. A decade after Wilson’s death, the Pulitzer Prize-winner’s plays continued to tell the story of the Hill District whenever they’re performed. But the home he grew up in is in terrible shape. From member station WESA, Erika Beras has this story.

ERIKA BERAS, BYLINE: The most chronologically recent play in August Wilson’s cycle is “Radio Golf,” set in the 1990s. In this Pittsburgh Playwrights Theater production, one man rebukes an up-and-comer with plans to redevelop their childhood neighborhood.

(SOUNDBITE OF PLAY, “RADIO GOLF”)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (As character) How you going to bring it back? It’s dead. It’d take Jesus Christ to bring it back. What you mean is, you going to put something else in its place. Say that, but don’t talk about bringing the Hill back. The Hill District’s dead.

BERAS: The house August Wilson grew up in blends with the rest of a neighborhood that lags behind Pittsburgh’s economic resurgence. It’s a three-story building that used to have a grocery store on the first floor. These days, the interior is gutted. A neighboring lot is full of trash. If it weren’t for a historical marker, you’d never know it’s a place of pilgrimage for theater lovers. Terri Baltimore often leads visitors there on her Hill District tours.

TERRI BALTIMORE: It’s important that we make sure that people understand the things that influenced him as a child, and the family home is a big part of that story.

BERAS: So is the rest of the Hill, she says. But many of the landmark settings of Wilson’s 10-play cycle have fallen to the wrecking ball or to slow deterioration.

IRMA COY: We have so very little left of the Hill. The hill wasn’t – I mean, what you see now is a shadow of itself

BERAS: Irma Coy, who frequents the Hill District’s Senior Center, grew up in the area.

COY: We have very little community left that I knew and loved.

BERAS: She has never seen an August Wilson play, but she’s heard of him. Wilson spent the first 13 years of his life in the Hill District. As a young man, he was in and out, honing his craft, says senior center regular Lester McKoy.

LESTER MCKOY: I thought he was going to be a bum all of his life. He surprised the hell out of me.

BERAS: McKoy says he appreciates Wilson’ legacy. When it comes to the house, though, he says…

MCKOY: Tear it down.

BERAS: Why?

MCKOY: Because it looks bad down there.

BERAS: After Wilson became famous, he bought that house – a brick structure built in the mid-1800s. He willed it to his nephew, an attorney. The National Register of Historic Places installed the plaque, but the money for upkeep has to come from somewhere else. As a young painter, Norman Battle used to run in the same artistic circles as Wilson.

NORMAN BATTLE: He really never spoke, you know? He would just observe a lot of things. And he’d pull out his little pencil and pad, and he’d more-or-less stay to himself.

BERAS: With his little pencil, the playwright recorded the cadences of the neighborhood in plays like “Jitney,” and “The Piano Lesson,” Battle says.

BATTLE: Because here on the Hill, the people – they are, like, kind of – I want to say aggressive but not really aggressive – they’re outspoken, you know? He wasn’t one of them people, at least vocally. He could do it on a piece of paper.

BERAS: Now Battle lives in a house around the corner from the August Wilson home.

BATTLE: That place has been like that – oh, my, I moved down there in ’83 – it was like that then. And this is what – 2000 – about to be 2016 and there’s no change? It’s kind of sad, especially when you walk by and see the plaque up there and you look around, you know, for something to be there, and it’s just, like, a shell.

BERAS: Wilson’s nephew has raised thousands of dollars from grants and other donations to stabilize the roof. The hope is to turn it into an artist space that could host residencies and performances. Supporters of that vision figure it would cost about $2 million to make that happen. For NPR News, I’m Erika Beras in Pittsburgh.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Barbershop: Political Dust-ups And Advocacy In The NBA

Dec 27, 2015   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Barbershop: Political Dust-ups And Advocacy In The NBA



MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And now it’s time for our trip to the Barbershop – that’s our weekly conversation about what’s in the news and whatever else is on our minds. Sitting in the chairs for a shapeup this week are Dru Ealons, a political blogger, former Obama appointee at the Environmental Protection Agency. Hi, Dru.

DRU EALONS: Hey there.

MARTIN: NPR’s own Morning Edition editor Ammad Omar. Hi, Ammad.

AMMAD OMAR, BYLINE: Hey, how are you?

MARTIN: And Wesley Lowery, reporter for The Washington Post. Hi, Wesley.

WESLEY LOWERY: Hello.

MARTIN: Thanks for coming in, happy holidays to everybody. I hope…

LOWERY: Merry Christmas.

MARTIN: …Everybody had a pleasant day, whether you observe the holiday or not. But we see that not everyone is feeling the love and joy of the season. For example, Donald Trump has not taken time off from slinging the rhetoric. Hillary Clinton was the target on Monday of this week – what a surprise. Trump used what I think a lot of people heard as a Yiddish slur, saying that she got schlonged in the 2008 Democratic primaries. You know, Ammad, I just have to ask, as a person who sort of sees all of the traffic around these stories when they come in, is it even worth asking anymore whether he’s crossed the line?

OMAR: It’s funny because, you know, if you go back to the earlier parts of this campaign, we heard his comments about Mexican immigrants; we heard his comments about Megyn Kelly, the Fox News anchor – he said there was blood coming out of her you-know-where, something along those lines. At all of these moments, people were saying that he must have gone too far now. This has got to be it for Donald Trump because we’re not used to hearing candidates use that sort of language I guess. But this one, it just seems like – it’s like oh, he said something again. I think the surprise if he were to stop using this kind of language because now it’s par for the course for him. And he’s doing great in the polls, so it seems like maybe it’s working.

MARTIN: Dru, what about his comment about – Hillary Clinton – he had a lot to say about her this week. He said that her – remember, Saturday night was the last Democratic debate of the year. And there was a point at which the cameras came back to the stage and Hillary Clinton was not yet back from what we assume was a stop. And, you know, he said it was too disgusting to talk about. I’m just wondering how do you hear that as a person who’s kind of done campaigns, been involved and sort of knows what it’s all like to be involved. And she was the only woman on the stage, of course. How do you hear that?

EALONS: What I – what – you know, I guess from the political perspective of what I hear is he’s just playing right into her game. Like, he – she wants the conversation between him and her to be around the sexism that he automatically already puts out. But now he has focused it towards her, so it gives her something that she can actually poke at and peel back at and that – honestly, I feel like he fell into her own trap. So now he has all week, unlike how he has before been a little bit more apologetic. He’s been more apologetic this time than he really has the last time, or he’s been explaining himself more than he has beforehand, usually as a matter fact. So yeah, it was stupid on his part. But…

MARTIN: Interesting…

EALONS: …He fell into her playbook.

MARTIN: That’s interesting. Wesley, what do you think? This is funny because you’re big into social media, too, and you sort of follow this stuff. What do you think about it?

LOWERY: Well, of course, I mean, it’s never surprising when Donald Trump does one of these things. You know, every single – tomorrow, we’ll be talking about something completely new that he’s said and done. It’ll be the new worst thing he’s said or the new, you know, most hyperbolic thing he’s said. But again, you know, I think that that was right. It does really play into kind of where Hillary Clinton wants the conversation to be, but it also doubles down on what Donald Trump supporters want to hear. You know, people who like Donald Trump like these things. They like this kind of hyperbolic celebrity, not afraid to say whatever’s on his mind no matter who knows what that is. And so it’s interesting to see how that cuts both ways.

MARTIN: Interesting. You know, there’s another interesting dustup I wanted to talk about this week, and that’s between Ted Cruz and The Washington Post. It started with this holiday-themed campaign ad featuring his family. And it’s supposed to be a spoof infomercial of Cruz reading re-imagined classic Christmas stories but with a snarky political twist. I’ll just play a little bit of that.

(SOUNDBITE OF POLITICAL AD)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The whole family will enjoy reading stories like “The Grinch Who Lost Her Emails.”

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #1: I know just what I’ll do, she said with a snicker. I’ll use my own server and no one will be the wiser.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: And if you act now, we’ll throw in the inspiring new Christmas story soon to be an instant classic

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #2: Please read this when daddy.

TED CRUZ: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: “The Senator Who Saved Christmas.”

MARTIN: So then there was this political cartoon mocking the ad. It shows Sen. Cruz in a Santa outfit with a grinder and two monkeys on leashes – presumably, the monkeys representing the two little girls. So this was not appreciated by the Trump campaign. The Post then pulled the cartoon. So Wesley, you work for The Post.

LOWERY: I do.

MARTIN: I don’t want to put you on the spot, but I kind of do. So, I don’t…

LOWERY: The Washington Post is right always – period.

MARTIN: Well, exactly…

LOWERY: Are the bosses listening?

MARTIN: But, you know, The Post featured the famous political cartoonist Herblock for decades, and he made a lot of people angry but particularly political leaders. I don’t remember them ever pulling a cartoon.

LOWERY: Well, you know, the conventional wisdom or the rule of thumb is always that, you know, you keep children out of it. No matter who the politician is, you don’t go after the children. Now, that rule is always broken. We’ve seen – whether it be the Palin children or George W. Bush’s children or even Michelle and Barack Obama’s children be attacked previously. But I think that – and so it feels as if, you know, this may have been over the line because it invoked his children. That said, when you – you know, Ted Cruz is one of the smartest people in the campaign. You know, a very book smart – a debater, Ivy League-educated. You know that when you involve your children in something like a political ad, you’re potentially drawing fire to them so that you can then take the high ground of saying don’t attack my kids and raise money off of it, which he did.

MARTIN: He is raising money. But you talked to the Cruz campaign, Ammad. What did they say?

OMAR: Right, so we were talking before about how the Hillary Clinton bit – the Donald Trump bit played into Hillary Clinton’s hands – throughout this campaign, Ted Cruz has been kind of playing this – this theme about how the mainstream media is attacking him and the liberal media is out to get him. And they’ve been pounding this over and over and over again. And like Wesley mentioned, they immediately turned around and launched a fundraising appeal off of this…

MARTIN: Saying what?

OMAR: Saying that – again, look at the liberal media…

MARTIN: They’re trying to get me, so you need to help me to…

OMAR: Exactly.

MARTIN: …Defend myself.

OMAR: And so I asked the campaign if they’ve been getting more money from that. They didn’t really want to go into specifics about whether or not the fundraising is showing any immediate impact, but they went into it. They said look, this is just another example of how the mainstream media is out to get us. And they’re saying they’re using this – they’re very open – they’re saying they’re using this as a way to energize their supporters and keep playing this theme that they’ve been hitting over and over again. And I really – I think it played into their hands perfectly.

MARTIN: Dru, what do you have to say about this? As a mom and also as a person who saw how there are some just vicious things said about the Obama girls in – on the other hand, people say well, you know, it’s one thing for a politician to use – your people – just a picture of your kids and say look at my beautiful family; I’m a good person. And to actually put them in a political ad in a very particular way – I don’t know, where…

EALONS: Right.

MARTIN: …Do you come out on this?

EALONS: Exactly. I think one – the way that I look at it is he opened the door. Now, we can debate on whether The Washington Post should have walked through that door and actually put that picture – but the actual ad really depicted that whole sentiment of just bringing your children into a conversation around a particular person and taking that story and having them being a part of the politics versus saying oh, here’s my beautiful family…

MARTIN: OK, but the monkey thing – that’s exactly the kind of thing that has…

EALONS: Right.

MARTIN: …Really infuriated Obama supporters over the years…

EALONS: Oh, yes.

MARTIN: …Is depicting him as a monkey and so forth.

EALONS: Oh, no, no.

MARTIN: So just on that basis, they’re not the same ethnic group. And so, of course, there are particular issues around, you know, depicting African-Americans in a certain subhuman light, which is infuriating. But given that…

EALONS: Oh, yeah, I – again – if I was the mother, of course I’d be very upset. And as a mother, I would not want my child, an African-American son, depicted as a monkey. I think that was inappropriate on The Washington Post’s part. But I also say when you bring your children into the debate – not about just showing your family but having them talking about the Grinch who used emails or tried to get away – I mean, they have them in what I call the messiness of politics versus just saying here, as a prop, my beautiful family and wouldn’t you want to see them in the White House?

MARTIN: I see, so you think they stirred – OK.

EALONS: They opened the door. We shouldn’t have walked through it as the media, but they opened the door.

MARTIN: OK. Well, speaking of TV commercials, one more commercial. Another one making headlines this week is from the NBA with basketball stars Steph Curry, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul speaking out about gun violence along with the families of some victims. And, you know, Ammad, just is this something new? I mean, it seems as though the league is getting involved or at least embracing something that is a polarizing political issue. Does that seem like a new thing to you, the way – yeah.

OMAR: It’s interesting because it does seem like a new thing. And I chatted with some folks over at the NBA just today asking them about this. And they were very careful about how they’re kind of framing this. They’re saying this is nothing new. We have been doing community outreach for a long time. And they made it very clear – they’re very precise about – and careful about their language. They were saying we’re not advocating for any new gun laws. We’re not calling for gun control. We just want to stop gun violence and make safer communities. And who can be against that? Everyone’s for that, so they’re trying to make this a non-controversial thing. But obviously, that’s a very fine line to walk.

MARTIN: Wesley, you get the last word on this.

LOWERY: Of course, I mean, I thought it was really interesting. I mean, I thought it was really interesting. Now, it’s not the first time. You know, we’ve seen after Sandy Hook, there were some similar PSAs involving a lot of celebrities, including some NBA players. But one thing that’s really fastening is the NBA players tend to be the most outspoken about social issues, whether it was LeBron James wearing the I Can’t Breathe shirts after the Eric Garner – it seems to be – they are some of the athletes who are the most human. And for me, as a basketball fan, as an NBA fan, it’s very attractive to me to see them engaging, no matter what side of some of these issues you’re on.

MARTIN: All right, we have to leave it there for now. That’s Wesley Lowery of The Washington Post, Ammad Omar from NPR’s Morning Edition and blogger Dru Ealons. Thank you all so much for joining us.

OMAR: Thank you.

EALONS: Thank you.

LOWERY: Merry Christmas, happy New Year.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

From #Squadgoals To Schlonged, Contenders For 2015’s Word Of The Year

Dec 27, 2015   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on From #Squadgoals To Schlonged, Contenders For 2015’s Word Of The Year

Major #squadgoals? Taylor Swift (center) — with, from left, actress and singer Zendaya, models Martha Hunt and Lily Aldridge, and actresses Hailee Steinfeld and Ellen Pompeo at the 2015 Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas this May — refers to her posse as her squad, which has prompted an aspirational hashtag.i

Major #squadgoals? Taylor Swift (center) — with, from left, actress and singer Zendaya, models Martha Hunt and Lily Aldridge, and actresses Hailee Steinfeld and Ellen Pompeo at the 2015 Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas this May — refers to her posse as her “squad,” which has prompted an aspirational hashtag.

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Major #squadgoals? Taylor Swift (center) — with, from left, actress and singer Zendaya, models Martha Hunt and Lily Aldridge, and actresses Hailee Steinfeld and Ellen Pompeo at the 2015 Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas this May — refers to her posse as her squad, which has prompted an aspirational hashtag.

Major #squadgoals? Taylor Swift (center) — with, from left, actress and singer Zendaya, models Martha Hunt and Lily Aldridge, and actresses Hailee Steinfeld and Ellen Pompeo at the 2015 Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas this May — refers to her posse as her “squad,” which has prompted an aspirational hashtag.

Kevin Mazur/WireImage/Getty Images

In two weeks, the American Dialect Society will gather and decide: Of all the words we read, wrote, spoke and heard in 2015, which one deserves the title Word of the Year?

Presiding over that conference will be linguist Ben Zimmer, executive editor for Vocabulary.com and a language columnist for the Wall Street Journal.

In a recurring segment called Words You’ll Hear, All Things Considered explores stories by parsing some of the words associated with them. Today’s special edition of that series: Words You’ve Heard.

The ADS has been picking a word of the year since 1990, Zimmer tells NPR’s Michel Martin.

“The idea was to select a word that was new or notable, said something about the past year,” he says. “It was really modeled after Times‘ Person of the Year. So we take it very seriously.

“At the same time, we like to have a lot of fun with the process,” he says.

Here are a few candidates for this year’s pick — with definitions and explanations from Zimmer.

Deconfliction

“That’s a bit of military jargon that we started hearing, especially a few months ago, when things started heating up in Syria and Russia was starting to launch air strikes and Secretary of State John Kerry said that there had to be ‘deconfliction.’ What that meant was we had to avoid airspace conflicts. But that’s an example where very often if there’s a conflict, that kind of military jargon can be thrust into the public eye.”

Unicorns

“That was a term that actually started back in 2013 — this idea that a company, a startup, that is valued at a billion dollars or more could be called a ‘unicorn’ because these things, at least at the time, were so rare. But the unicorn club keeps growing and growing, so now we have herds of unicorns and these unicorn startups very often can get gobbled up by larger companies, or their valuation may dip below that magic billion-dollar mark. … You become a dead unicorn, or another term is ‘unicorpse.’ “

#Squadgoals

“If you hear [‘Bad Blood,’] you might just visualize Taylor Swift walking along with her squad — that’s her posse. Taylor Swift kind of commandeered that term ‘squad,’ and we see it being used in all sorts of combinations — like #squadgoals, that’s often hashtagged on Instagram and other social media. Kind of an aspirational statement about what you and your squad would like to achieve.”

Schlonged

“The year was almost over and Donald Trump graced us with this word. … He was speaking about Hillary Clinton and her defeat in the 2008 primaries, and he said that she got ‘schlonged.’ …

“[A Yiddish vulgarity] is ultimately where it comes from, but Donald Trump claims that this is not vulgar at all, he simply meant that she was beaten in the polls and it’s created, obviously, a lot of controversy. So it may not be the most presidential of words but it was certainly one that entered into the political discourse right at the end of the year.”

Capitol Hill Political Staffers Find Their Zen

Dec 27, 2015   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Capitol Hill Political Staffers Find Their Zen

Capitol Hill staffers meditate.i

Capitol Hill staffers meditate.

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Capitol Hill staffers meditate.

Capitol Hill staffers meditate.

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Behind every lawmaker on Capitol Hill are dozens of young, ambitious staff members. Frequently pale from exhaustion, they work frenetically, touting the demanding work culture like a badge of honor.

Despite the sense of glory they ascribe to this exhausting pace, there is at least one place where staffers aren’t judged for taking a moment to breathe.

Once a week or so, 25 to 50 staff members come together, not for happy hours or Crossfit sessions, but to practice the more reflective art of meditation. This group is casually referred to as the “Quiet Time Caucus.” They gather in a ratty-looking meeting room in one of the Capitol’s office buildings.

On a recent Tuesday afternoon, Stephanie Sheridan, a local yoga instructor, was leading the meditation. “Try and sit up tall, so you can shrug your shoulders up towards your ears, as you inhale,” she says, breathing in. “And then exhale. Go ahead and release the shoulders back down.”

Rather than tell colleagues where they’re headed each week, many in this group keep their meditation practice secret.

“The fear is that you’re going to be judged as weird,” says Denise Fleming, a senior legislative assistant. “Or the worst stigma on Capitol Hill is for people to think you’re not working. And so a lot of us here try to avoid that and we just don’t tell anyone.”

Being a congressional staffer is young people’s work, says Fleming, who describes herself as “older,” even though she’s just 27. The work is “soul-sucking,” she says, so she started looking for new ways to bring down her stress. Around the same time, she heard about the meditation group in a “Dear Colleague” email.

Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, meditates on Capitol Hill.i

Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, meditates on Capitol Hill.

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Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, meditates on Capitol Hill.

Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, meditates on Capitol Hill.

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“I think now people would describe me as centered and calm,” she says. Today, for instance, Fleming has a very long to-do list to finish before 6 p.m. But during the 30-minute meditation, all that slips away. “I can go back to work calm and refreshed,” she says. “I feel like I’ll make better decisions.”

Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, started the Quiet Time Caucus about three years ago. He participates in the staff group and runs another for senators and congressmen. I talked to him in the House Chapel, where legislative members meet. Unlike the staff meeting room, it has an ornate ceiling and stained glass window with George Washington kneeling in the center.

Ryan, a former athlete, told me how corporations and sports teams now use mindfulness practices to get better results from players and workers.

“It’s the ultimate prevention,” he said, because it can stop people from “doing or saying something stupid.”

This, of course, seems particularly vital when weighing decisions of national importance.

Ryan’s meditation groups are hardly a side project. He believes the federal government should be integrating mindfulness into all of its policies, from veterans affairs to health care to education.

“Why wouldn’t we have an education policy, for example, that would teach kids to regulate their emotional state?” asks Ryan. “Because I know that if you can’t do that, we’re gonna be paying for you big time down the road.”

Ryan hopes to gain an ally in new Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who does yoga and works out for more than an hour each morning. But for the meantime, Tim Ryan’s mindfulness policies are having a more microeffect.

Denise Fleming, the legislative assistant, says meditation and mindfulness have given her a kind of personal insulation from the battle-like conditions of Capitol Hill. I couldn’t help but think she’d discovered some kind of secret.

Often she sees people shouting back and forth at each other, trying to push their ideas or agenda to victory. She approaches these fights differently. “Many times I’ve said to my boss or coworkers, ‘let’s pause and think about this,'” she says. “And that pause has saved a lot of heartbreak or frustration.”

‘New York Times’ Report Finds Most Americans Live Close To Mom

Dec 26, 2015   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on ‘New York Times’ Report Finds Most Americans Live Close To Mom

A new report shows that Americans live surprisingly close to home. According to the new analysis, a person in the U.S. lives on average just 18 miles away from his or her mother. NPR’s Robert Siegel talks with Quoctrung Bui of The New York Times about his research.

Song From Broadway Musical ‘Hamilton’ Celebrates Founding Mothers

Dec 26, 2015   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Song From Broadway Musical ‘Hamilton’ Celebrates Founding Mothers



ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The smash hit Broadway musical “Hamilton” mixes hip-hop with American history and features a multiracial cast. A lot’s been written about the founding fathers in the show – Hamilton, Washington, Jefferson and Aaron Burr among them. But for reporter Jeff Lunden, “The One That Got Away,” a song about the founding mothers, is the emotional heart of the show.

JEFF LUNDEN, BYLINE: I’ll admit it – since the “Hamilton” cast album came out in September, it’s been more or less in constant rotation on my iPhone. And one of the songs I frequently press not only play but repeat is “The Schuyler Sisters,” the exuberant number that introduces three women, two of whom are going to fall madly in love with Alexander Hamilton, as they visit lower Manhattan in 1776. It’s irresistible.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “THE SCHUYLER SISTERS”)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTORS: (As characters, singing) Work, work.

RENEE ELISE GOLDSBERRY: (As Angelica Schuyler, singing) Angelica.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTORS: (As characters, singing) Work, work.

PHILLIPA SOO: (As Eliza Schuyler, singing) Eliza.

JASMINE CEPHAS JONES: (As Peggy Schuyler, singing) And Peggy.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTORS: (As characters, singing) Work, work – the Schuyler sisters.

GOLDSBERRY: (As Angelica Schuyler, singing) Angelica.

JONES: (As Peggy Schuyler, singing) Peggy.

SOO: (As Eliza Schuyler, singing) Eliza.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTORS: (As characters, singing) Work.

LUNDEN: These three women in period dresses strut across the stage heads and fingers popping like a Revolutionary War version of Destiny’s Child. And if it looks and sounds like they’re having fun, Phillipa Soo, who plays Eliza, the women who married Hamilton, says they are.

SOO: We’re so amazingly different from each other and come from very different backgrounds and upbringings. Yet, we come together and it’s just like fireworks.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “THE SCHUYLER SISTERS”)

GOLDSBERRY: (As Angelica Schuyler, singing) Whoa.

RENEE GOLDSBERRY, JASMINE CEPHAS JONES AND PHILLIPA SOO: (As Angelica, Peggy and Eliza Schuyler, singing) Whoa, work.

LUNDEN: “Hamilton’s” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda heard the women singing backstage and tailored the song to showcase their vocal blend.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “THE SCHUYLER SISTERS”)

SOO: (As Eliza Schuyler, singing) Look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now.

PHILLIPA SOO AND JASMINE CEPHAS JONES: (As Eliza and Peggy Schuyler, singing) Look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now.

GOLDSBERRY, JONES AND SOO: (As Angelica, Peggy and Eliza Schuyler, singing) History is happening in Manhattan and we just happen to be in the greatest city in the world.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTORS: (As characters, singing) In the greatest city in the world.

LUNDEN: In addition to the harmony, Renee Elise Goldsberry, who plays cerebral older sister Angelica gets to show off her skills.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “THE SCHUYLER SISTERS”)

GOLDSBERRY: (As Angelica Schuyler, singing) I’ve been reading “Common Sense” by Thomas Payne. So many say that I’m intense or I’m insane. You want a revolution? I want a revelation, so listen to my declaration.

GOLDSBERRY, JONES AND SOO: (As Angelica, Peggy and Eliza Schuyler, singing) We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.

GOLDSBERRY: (As Angelica Schuyler, singing) And when I meet Thomas Jefferson, I’m going to compel him to include women in the sequel.

GOLDSBERRY, JONES AND SOO: (As Angelica, Peggy and Eliza Schuyler, singing) Work.

LUNDEN: For me, the Schuyler sisters become the emotional heart of the show. But in their first song, I find myself swept up in the excitement and belief that history is happening in Manhattan, and we’re all lucky to be alive right now.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “THE SCHUYLER SISTERS”)

GOLDSBERRY, JONES AND SOO: (As Angelica, Peggy and Eliza Schuyler, singing) We’re looking for a mind at work.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTORS: (As characters, singing) Work, work.

GOLDSBERRY, JONES AND SOO: (As Angelica, Peggy and Eliza Schuyler, singing) Hey.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTORS: (Singing) Work, work.

GOLDSBERRY: (As Angelica Schuyler, singing) Whoa.

JONES AND SOO: (As Peggy and Eliza Schuyler, singing) Hey, hey, hey.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTORS: (As characters, singing) Work, work, work, work.

GOLDSBERRY: (As Angelica, Peggy and Eliza Schuyler, singing) In the greatest – in the greatest city in the world.

LUNDEN: For NPR News, I’m Jeff Lunden.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTORS: (Singing) In the greatest city in the world.

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Found Recipes: ‘Wurst Cakes’

Dec 26, 2015   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Found Recipes: ‘Wurst Cakes’

Wurstcakes take their name from the German word for sausage (wurst) because they are rolled into a log that looks like a sausage, before they're sliced and baked.

Writer Diana Abu-Jaber recalls her grandmother’s holiday cookies, which they call “wurst cakes.” This story originally aired on Dec. 12, 2013 on All Things Considered.

‘Our Gang’ Chronicles Lives Of African-American Actors In ‘The Little Rascals’

Dec 26, 2015   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on ‘Our Gang’ Chronicles Lives Of African-American Actors In ‘The Little Rascals’

NPR’s Robert Siegel talks to author Julia Lee about her book Our Gang: A Racial History of The Little Rascals. She chronicles the story of the African-American actors in the films. They were hailed as heroes of the black community for a time but were later reviled for their roles.

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