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Jessica Hernandez On Her New Motor City Sound

Jul 24, 2017   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Jessica Hernandez On Her New Motor City Sound

Jessica Hernandez describes her music as “Latin-punk-Motown-soul — it’s a little bit of everything.”

Taylor Bonin/Courtesy of the artist


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Jessica Hernandez describes her music as “Latin-punk-Motown-soul — it’s a little bit of everything.”

Taylor Bonin/Courtesy of the artist

There’s no doubt that music is in the DNA of the city of Detroit. People around the world know this Michigan city for the classic Motown sound; the city also nurtured a vital rock scene and is often cited as the birthplace of techno. But along with Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Iggy Pop and Eminem, an up-to-date roll call of Detroit’s music scene would have to include Jessica Hernandez The Deltas.

Jessica Hernandez  The Deltas: Motor City Grit In Two Languages

Hernandez is a Detroit native, the daughter of a Cuban father and a Mexican-American mother. She and The Deltas have been making gritty, soulful music in their local scene for a while now — but on their latest record, they tried something a little different. The band released two albums simultaneously: Telephone in English and Teléfono in Spanish.

As part of Weekend All Things Considered‘s trip to Detroit for the 50th anniversary of the 1967 riots, NPR’s Michel Martin spoke with Hernandez about the city’s influence on her sound and why she felt it was important to make her new music bilingual. Hear their conversation at the audio link, and read on for highlights.

Interview Highlights

On the many musical influences she drew from her family and her city

I grew up in a household with a father who was Cuban but came to the States in the ’60s when he was really young, so he grew up in the ’70s punk and garage-rock scene that was really flourishing at the time. So he was huge into Alice Cooper and Iggy Pop and MC5 and all the things that you think of when you think of Detroit rock music. … And then my mom’s young — we’re only about 19 years apart — so for her, she was introducing me to The Cure and Joy Division and ’80s new wave. And then my grandmother on my father’s side, who’s Cuban, was introducing me to salsa and merengue … and then my mom’s parents, who are Mexican-American, grew up in Detroit through the ’50s and ’60s, and they had The Four Tops and Temptations [and] Supremes playing at their high-school dances.

On developing her own sound

Because I had so many influences … I had a really hard time deciding what I wanted to be as a person and an artist. And I think once I stopped trying to figure it out and just told myself, “Write whatever you wanna write, whatever you’re feeling that day. Let it happen. If it’s a salsa song, cool; if it’s an RB song, cool.” … Once I let go of trying to define myself and my music, it definitely made it a little all over the place, but it also felt way more natural.

On why she decided to create a double, bilingual album

One of the big things was really my family. I think my grandmother — it was a hard thing for us, with wanting to get closer and with the language barrier. I speak Spanish and she speaks English, but my Spanish isn’t great, her English isn’t great … And she’s always said, “I want you to sing in Spanish so I can understand what you’re singing about … I want to be able to enjoy it in a different way than listening to your music in English.”

And then I think with everything going on today, too — I think it was even more of a reason for me to want to kind of tap into my own heritage, feel more connected with who I am. … A lot of my fans are Hispanic Americans: Puerto Rican Americans, Mexican Americans, Cuban Americans. And they come to concerts, and I’ve had younger girls come up to me and say, like, “You’ve helped me feel comfortable with being Mexican-American. And I’ve wanted to reject being Mexican because I wanna be American, I wanna be accepted as an American. I’m proud to be here and have my citizenship, but I also feel sad that I’m not able to embrace where I’m from, and where my parents are from.” … And so I feel like that was something that really pushed me to want to do something like that.

‘Going There’: 3 Prominent Detroit Natives Reflect On The 1967 Riot

Jul 24, 2017   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on ‘Going There’: 3 Prominent Detroit Natives Reflect On The 1967 Riot

Former Detroit police chief Ike McKinnon (L), Motown musician David Coffey (center), and former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer (R).

Denise Guerra/NPR


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Former Detroit police chief Ike McKinnon (L), Motown musician David Coffey (center), and former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer (R).

Denise Guerra/NPR

Detroit has faced a tumultuous past, but the most painful week in Detroit’s modern history arguably happened exactly 50 years ago. On July 23, 1967, after decades of discrimination, poverty, and mistreatment by police, many black citizens of Detroit erupted in violence. Some call that five-day period of burning and looting the “riots;” others call it the “uprising” or the “rebellion.”

Detroiters have had 50 years to contemplate the reasons for the civil unrest, and at our Going There event at WDET in Detroit, NPR’s Michel Martin spoke with three guests who remember where they were when the five-day rebellion started. They spoke with Michel about how that week of unrest changed their relationship with the city of Detroit, what impact the rebellion had on the city, and what the future holds.

Dennis Archer is former mayor of Detroit and a former Michigan Supreme Court judge. Ike McKinnon was one of the first African-Americans on the Detroit police force, and ultimately became police chief. Dennis Coffey is a former session guitarist for the Motown record label, and was in studio recording an album when someone came running to tell him the city was burning.

Interview Highlights

NPR’s Michel Martin talks with former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer about the conditions that led to Detroit unrest.

Denise Guerra/NPR


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NPR’s Michel Martin talks with former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer about the conditions that led to Detroit unrest.

Denise Guerra/NPR

On how the cops were told to deal with the civil unrest

McKinnon: Go out and lock people up. We were woefully unprepared to handle what occurred. We had received no training. And we could not have handled the situation because at that time we had close to 1,600,000 people [in Detroit]. And if you have 5,500 police officers — and all of us were not on duty at one time — and if we try and stop a rebellion as such, or people looting, it was impossible to do so. So we were undermanned to handle this.

On the roving police squads that terrorized the city

Coffey: Back in the mid-50s, they had two patrolmen in the front and two detectives in the back, and the detectives in the back had shotguns. And so they rolled down the window and said, “What are you guys doing?” Well, we’re walking home from school. And they said, “Do you know there’s an ordinance? You can’t have more than two people in a group.” And we said, “Yes sir.” Because the reputation — when they said do something, you did it.

McKinnon: I’d seen this before of other young men, but never to me. And at this point they grabbed, threw me up against the car, and proceeded to beat me. And I was, “But sir, but sir!” I’m asking — and the more I ask, the more they beat. And the look of anger — extreme anger — on these officers’ face, with the name-calling and beating. And they were good at what they did, I should tell you. They beat me between my neck and my belt. And toward the end of it — I’ll never forget this — they said, “Get your black ass out of here.” And I ran home. And I never told my parents. …[T]he reason being if you told your parents, they would go to the precinct and they would get locked up or beaten also.

Defense Attorney For Police In 'Algiers Motel Shooting': 'Am I A Soulless Person?'

On the cause of the rebellion

In Detroit, A Colorful Mural Stands As A Reminder Of The City's 'Segregation Wall'

Archer: You’ve heard the explanation already, in terms of what people of color and whites as well were subjected to. But let’s talk about economics. The federal government would not allow blacks to have mortgages. You couldn’t live in certain neighborhoods. And when you consider that you couldn’t go into certain restaurants, and certain hotels and businesses if you happened to be black. … When people are able to live and they’re comfortable, and they’re able to do what they pretty much want to do… you take that away, and you strip people of hope or dignity and the like? You set up an environment that can be explosive.

On how white cops brutalized black cops

McKinnon: After about an 18-hour shift, I came off at the Chicago Boulevard and made a left turn, and as I passed the overpass to the freeway, these two white police officers pulled me over. And I was in uniform — had my shield on — people think it’s a badge but it’s a shield. I had my “2” for the precinct I was at. And you could clearly see I was a police officer. I was stopped by these two white police officers — one was an older guy with gray hair – but he got out of the car with his partner. And they said to me, “Get out of the car.”

I said, “Police officer! Police officer!” And I smiled, the way I am right now. And as I stepped out of the car, the officer with the short stub-nosed silver gun, he said, “Tonight you’re gonna die.” And he didn’t stop there; he said the N-word. And I looked at him, and I couldn’t believe this was happening. And as I looked at him, it was as if time froze. And when time freezes — and when there are exceptional circumstances — your senses are heightened. And I could see his finger pulling the trigger. And as I dove back into my car he started shooting at me.

Former Detroit Police Chief Ike McKinnon was beaten by Detroit police officers as a child. That made him want to become an officer when he grew up – so he could treat people the way they should be treated, he said.

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Former Detroit Police Chief Ike McKinnon was beaten by Detroit police officers as a child. That made him want to become an officer when he grew up – so he could treat people the way they should be treated, he said.

Denise Guerra/NPR

Archer: If we could invite in the 100 or so police officers who were African-American who were working in their precincts, you would hear a lot of similar stories, in terms of how guns were pulled on them in the precincts, and how they were fussed at, cussed at, and white officers saying, “I’m not going to ride with that blankity-blank.”

… And then I would just ask us to speed forward for a moment, and then you wonder why there’s a group called “Black Lives Matter.” And why those issues are very relevant today, as they were back then. And then when you start thinking about what we’re hearing in terms of the divisiveness that’s being openly talked about today, it hurts our country, it hurts our cities, it hurts people and it hurts all of us.

NPR’s Stacey Samuel edited this story for Radio. NPR’s Ashley Young produced this for radio. NPR’s Maquita Peters produced this story for the Web.

Barbershop: The Ghosts Of Detroit’s Past

Jul 23, 2017   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Barbershop: The Ghosts Of Detroit’s Past



MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We’re going to close things out today with a special Barbershop. That’s where, every week, we gather a group of interesting folks to talk about what’s in the news and what’s on their minds. Today, as you might imagine, we want to focus on the subject that brought us to Detroit this weekend – the anniversary of the 1967 riots. Many here prefer to call it the uprising or the rebellion. Whatever you call it, we’ve been talking about why it happened, what it meant and if there are any lessons the country can take away from what happened here.

Right now, though, we want to focus on what’s happening in Detroit today. So we’ve called people who follow events in Detroit closely. Here for a shape-up this week are Lester Graham, a reporter for Michigan Radio and co-host of their new show Stateside. Welcome.

LESTER GRAHAM, BYLINE: Thank you.

MARTIN: Also joining us is Aaron Foley. He’s Detroit’s chief storyteller. That’s actually his official position. He was designated by the mayor. He’s also the author of the book – sorry, Mom – it’s called “How To Live In Detroit Without Being A Jackass.” Thank you so much, Aaron, for joining us. You’ll have to let us know if there are a lot of jackasses in Detroit…

AARON FOLEY: Oh, I will.

MARTIN: …That we need to be aware of.

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: Also with us is Rochelle Riley. She’s an award-winning columnist for the Detroit Free Press. Welcome back to you. Thank you so much for joining us once again. We’ve benefited from your insights many times over the years, so thank you.

ROCHELLE RILEY: Thank you.

MARTIN: So I do want to focus on what’s happening now, but I did want to just get a couple of minutes of memories, if we could. And, Aaron, I’m going to start with you because I know you weren’t around then. You probably weren’t even thought of then because you were born in ’84. But I wanted to know if you grew up hearing about the riot, or the uprising, or whatever you call it. Did people talk about it when you were growing up?

FOLEY: People talked about it, but it’s not like we were taught it in schools. And I think that’s a really big shortcoming on our part. And to be honest, there’s a lot of local history that I think should be taught in schools. That’s a whole different subject. But no, I mean, it’s one of those things that was talked about at home a little every now and then. And you just grew up hearing about oh, “a riot,” quote, unquote, but not really. Like, it wasn’t until I became older and I started studying, like, demographics of Detroit and started studying the history of Detroit that I learned about it.

MARTIN: Rochelle, what about you?

RILEY: You know, that’s such a good point because, not only in Detroit, but outside of Detroit, this is not something that was talked about in the way that you saw it on television. There were people who, for years, didn’t understand why it happened or tried to, you know, come up with the reasons why it happened instead of focusing on what people had been talking about. And that’s the fact that this was a city under siege by the police and poverty and discrimination for decades before it was a city under siege for five days. So we really do have to do a better job of the history. And we really have to do a better job of dispelling some of the myths.

MARTIN: Lester, what about you?

GRAHAM: When I first moved to Michigan 14 years ago, I lived in Lansing. And the white folks wanted to tell me about the 1967 riots. That’s the only term they used. And their perspective and what I’ve learned about 1967 are very, very different.

MARTIN: What did they say? What were their – what was their narrative about it?

GRAHAM: Basically that the black folks went crazy, the city went to hell in a handbasket, and it’s never recovered. And that’s the attitude, generally, for folks who aren’t familiar with Detroit.

RILEY: That’s it in a nutshell.

MARTIN: Has any of that changed in recent years, as there’s been more focus on it? Do you think that any of that point of view – it seems like those were very separate narratives about what happened.

GRAHAM: Yeah, we did a poll last year. The Detroit Journalism Cooperative did a poll talking to folks in all-white communities and mixed-race communities and all-black communities. And attitudes have changed a bit. There’s still that 15 percent of white folks who are convinced that’s what happened and that’s what was going on. But I think attitudes have changed slowly.

MARTIN: So, you know, one of the reasons that this whole topic is resonant for many people is not just because of the history but because of what’s happening now and what we’re seeing in a lot of cities around the country, you know, not on the same scale, you know, to be sure. I mean, it’s important for people to know, like, this is – number one, this is a big city, period. And number two, a lot of parts of the city were affected. And you can see it. You can still see where it was affected. So – but, you know, Ferguson comes to mind. Minneapolis comes to mind. I mean, these are places where, you know, police conduct – or Baltimore, for example…

RILEY: Yes.

MARTIN: …You know, comes to mind. And I’m wondering – Rochelle, I’ll go to you on this – does Detroit feel itself to be part of that? Like, does it feel itself to be part of today’s civil rights movement, the Black Lives Matter movement? Because that doesn’t seem to be at the forefront of what’s in the headlines here.

RILEY: Well, it depends on the people that you talk to. There are longtime activists who have been fighting for better equality and fighting against police misbehavior who would say that there should have been a Black Lives Matter movement here decades ago. There are people today who say that we’re a match away from ’67 happening again, which the police chief firmly, firmly, not only denies but says won’t happen. And he was a little boy, 10 years old, in ’67, who, at 20, became a cop who saw the racism firsthand and vowed to one day be chief. And lo and behold, here he is.

But I think the biggest problem is the reason Black Lives Matter resonates is because a single person died. You’re talking about something that’s so big, so large with the discrimination and the police abuse in Detroit, that it wasn’t seen the same way. It’s still not seen the same way, but it should be.

MARTIN: So, Lester, nationally, you know, Detroit is seen as this city on the rise. I mean, it keeps popping up in hot places to live, hot places to work, you know, the food scene, hot places to eat. But it’s compared to, like, in places like Pittsburgh and maybe Asheville, you know, North Carolina. But I take it you don’t think it’s that simple. You’ve talked about Detroit as a tale of two cities. You know, as – I mean, obviously, you’ve spent a lot of time reporting on this, but as briefly as you can, tell us why you think that that’s really not the right – you know, that you don’t think those comparisons are the right ones.

GRAHAM: Well, it’s booming in downtown and midtown. It’s great. It’s really good to see. But when you go to the neighborhoods, you don’t see that. It’s not the same life. There was recently a Wayne State University study that indicated that a lot of people who are living in the neighborhoods are actually doing worse now since the bankruptcy than, you know, the midtown and city – the downtown areas are.

They – jobs are still not there. Poverty’s still a problem. The schools are still a problem. You know, they have street lights now, and they have regular garbage pickup. That’s good. But the rest of their life hasn’t improved like we’ve seen in downtown and midtown.

MARTIN: So what’s the key to that? I mean, what is the issue here? Is there just a job – what’s the issue here?

GRAHAM: There’s always been a – chronically, Detroit’s unemployment level is twice that of the state, and that hasn’t changed at all. Even with the states lower, it’s still really high, pretty darn high in Detroit. The other thing is, you know, the public transportation system is still not good enough for people to go get a job. Auto insurance in Detroit is – it’s the highest in the nation, so people can’t afford auto insurance. So just getting to a job is one of the big hurdles. And that’s just the beginning.

MARTIN: So, Aaron, is that, in part, what your book is about? Which is that if you’re one of the people who’s benefiting from the rise of Detroit, don’t be a – forgive me, Mom – a jackass to the people who aren’t. Is that part of what the deal is for you?

FOLEY: It’s along that line. Like, why I wrote the book was because there – long story short, there were a lot of younger white people moving into Detroit, right? Not just young white people but young people from all backgrounds and who were not familiar with the same kind of Detroit that I knew growing up, the same Detroit I loved growing up. And people kind of moved to downtown and midtown and just sort of surround themselves in that bubble. But downtown and midtown are only 7.2 square miles. They’re a very important 7.2 square miles, don’t get me wrong, but the whole city is a 143.

And people were saying things like, don’t go past, you know, the boulevard – Grand Boulevard. Don’t go past MLK, you know, you’re going to get shot, you’re going to get this, you’re going to get that. And it’s just like, I’ve – I’m still here. I’ve never been shot in my life.

Not to say that crime doesn’t happen, that violence doesn’t happen, but I got tired of people saying things in general about Detroit. And I’m looking around at, like, my friends, my classmates, my aunts, my uncles, my parents, all these people that call Detroit home at some point or another, and we love this city like no other.

MARTIN: Are you mad at these new folks? I mean, just be honest. Are you mad at them?

FOLEY: Oh, no. I mean, well…

MARTIN: Come on.

FOLEY: …Maybe – OK (laughter). Maybe – I’m not mad at them directly. I’m mad at what they were taught. A lot of this is coming, in my opinion, just to keep it all the way real – this goes back to when I was a freshman in college when it clicked for me. Hearing kids from the suburbs say if you go past Alter Road or go past 8 Mile – the movie “8 Mile” came out when I was a freshman. And people were saying that all of Detroit, all 143 square miles of Detroit looked just like the movie “8 Mile” and all of this.

And I’m just, like, look, I grew up in a brick house in an all-brick neighborhood. We had a block club. We had ladies on the street, you know, that would beat you when the street lights came on and all that. And that – you’re going to tell me about my upbringing and all of this? So yeah, I’m not mad at them, but I’m mad about all these discrepancies and all these things that people were taught over the years.

MARTIN: But, you know, Rochelle, you know, we’ve been in a number of cities this year where the issue of the new folks and the folks who’ve been here has come up. You know, gentrification is the term of art for a lot of people. Some people – it’s a dirty word. Some people, like, you know – so just – let’s just use it for shorthand, OK, without sort of claiming the politics of it on either side. Now, we were in Austin, where the mayor told us that there isn’t a city in the country that has figured this out yet.

You know, prices go up. The economy gets healthier. Some people get priced out. New opportunities arise. But a lot of the people – a lot of times, there’s a mismatch between those new opportunities and the people who are already there. Do you think that’s true? Has anybody figured this out? And is that something that people in Detroit are talking about?

RILEY: Well, here’s the thing – not many people try to figure it out. For instance, in Detroit, you’ve got Dan Gilbert buying more than a hundred buildings and literally transforming the 7.2. Well, if he’s going to do that, then the city ought to focus all of its attention on all of that area and the donut around that area. And instead, what people do is they jump on the train to make sure that they – it’s like, all of a sudden, that’s where our public transportation is, this 3-mile train that goes up and down Woodward. And I call it, you know, the second people-mover because our people-mover’s our old train that goes around in a circle.

I think that if you have something that is spurred by business, if the catalyst is business people and corporate types who are trying to make money off of the renaissance, then that’s what you’re going to get. If you have a city that’s decided, we’re going to do more than that, then that’s what will change.

MARTIN: So let me – we only have about three minutes left, and I just want to hear from everybody here. You know, a lot of people are expecting big things from Detroit, and it obviously isn’t that simple. And when you think about the future here – and I understand you’re all journalists, so your job is the what is not necessarily what the should be is. But I would like to hear from you as people who think about this. As briefly as you can, what do you think would make the biggest difference – small things, big things? Lester, do you want to take it?

GRAHAM: I – well, I want to make one quick point. You know, after the ’67 riot, we had the Kerner Commission report which looked at all of the grievances that folks had about why these civil disturbances had. We took a look at all the grievances that they listed in ’68 and looked at Detroit today. And African-Americans in Detroit, living in the city, for the most part, are in worse shape now than they were in 1967. I know that disagrees with what Congressman Conyers said earlier on the program, but that’s the fact. That’s the data.

FOLEY: I think one thing that’s not being talked about is the one thing we’re seeing at the city of Detroit is we can track the number of permits pulled and things like that. And we’re actually seeing – now, wait, I’m not saying that things are great – but we’re actually seeing a lot of people in all the neighborhoods, when you get a contractor and they pull a permit, people are making improvements to their houses. They’re getting new roofs and new porches and things like that. So I think that’s the signal to us that says maybe things are slightly on the upswing. You know, I don’t like to say comeback city, but I – we are seeing that people are making improvements in their neighborhoods through…

MARTIN: What’s the one thing that would make a big difference, though? I mean, you talked about in the book. Do you mind if I kind of spoiler alert? One of the things you say is the schools. I mean, this is not a great place for…

FOLEY: The schools, absolutely.

MARTIN: …Kids at the moment.

FOLEY: Absolutely. And only just now have we gotten a new superintendent – don’t know what he’s going to do yet. But the schools, absolutely. You know, Detroit needs kids. We need families, so.

MARTIN: Rochelle, for people – and you’re doing your part, I hope, soon, eventually. Are you going to…

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: …You going to get there? I mean…

GRAHAM: Not at the moment, but…

(CROSSTALK)

RILEY: If only people could see his face right now.

MARTIN: I know, right? Rochelle, last 30 seconds.

RILEY: You and I talked about this several years ago when I told you there wasn’t a national chain grocery store in Detroit and you were aghast. That has changed. There is a renaissance. It is real. We need transportation as well as families.

MARTIN: That’s Rochelle Riley. She’s an award-winning columnist at the Detroit Free Press. In fact, she’s the recipient of a new honor – the Ida B. Wells Award, which she will be awarded at the National Association of Black Journalists Convention this year. Congratulations on it.

RILEY: Thank you so much.

MARTIN: Thank you for joining us. Aaron Foley is Detroit’s chief storyteller. Aaron, thank you so much for joining us.

FOLEY: Best job in the city.

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: Lester Graham is a reporter from Michigan Radio and host of the show Stateside. Thank you all so much for joining us at WDET studios in Detroit. Thank you all so much.

RILEY: Thank you.

FOLEY: Thank you.

GRAHAM: Thank you.

RILEY: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF BADBADNOTGOOD’S “HEDRON”)

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Critics Say New Poland Law Dissolves Separation Of Judiciary And Ruling Party

Jul 23, 2017   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Critics Say New Poland Law Dissolves Separation Of Judiciary And Ruling Party



MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Early this morning, Poland’s Senate passed legislation that if signed into law would force all of that country’s Supreme Court judges to step down except for those kept on by Poland’s president. Critics fear the move would undermine the independence of the judiciary by giving control to the country’s ruling party, known as the Law and Justice Party. NPR’s Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson has been in Warsaw this week. She’s back in Berlin now. Soraya, thanks so much for speaking with us.

SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON, BYLINE: You’re welcome, Michel.

MARTIN: So you were in Warsaw earlier this week. What did you see when you were there, and how are people reacting to this legislation?

NELSON: Well, there were definitely some of the largest protests against this government since it took office a couple of years ago. People were in front of the Parliament. They were in front of the president’s office and calling for free courts. Today, actually, Lech Walesa, who has been sick recently with some heart issues, was out with protesters urging them to defend Polish democracy.

MARTIN: And remind people of who Lech Walesa is. I mean, he has tremendous moral authority, not just in Poland but around the world because…

NELSON: Lech Walesa is a Nobel laureate who was former president of Poland and also the co-founder of the Solidarity movement, the labor movement which helped bring down Communism across Eastern Europe.

MARTIN: So why would the Parliament move to pass a bill that has caused such an outpouring of protest?

NELSON: Well, Law and Justice, which is a pretty far-right populist party, they dominate the Parliament and the government. And they say that they’re fulfilling campaign promises and also addressing concerns about a judiciary that many people feel is inefficient or doesn’t represent the general Polish public. That is their take on it. They’re completely not accepting of what the opposition in Parliament or what people on the streets are saying. They say these are the elites, and they represent average Polish people.

It’s also something – it’s very interesting to note that the party leader for this group, for the Law and Justice Party, claims the purge is needed to get rid of the vestiges of Communism as well. He’s been the only one who has brought that up, you know, for the judiciary, but it is something that this government has been pursuing in other departments and other parts of the government in Poland.

MARTIN: I mean, what about international reaction to all of this. Has there been any?

NELSON: It’s been interesting because the U.S. actually has come out – the State Department issued a statement warning Warsaw not to violate the Polish Constitution or threaten judicial independence. And the EU has been particularly upset. I mean, Poland is a member of this 28-member bloc. And they’re threatening to sanction Poland under what’s known as Article 7, would be the first time they’d actually impose this if they did. And it would strip Poland or could strip Poland of its right to vote.

But it’s important to note Brussels has been threatening to do this sort of sanctioning against Poland for the past year because Poland has been taking other steps to try and solidify their power. At least, that’s what critics are saying. They think that having, for example, the judges appointed by the populous party or its proponents is going to result in election – future elections being problematic, where you’re going to end up with the party being able to control who actually wins.

MARTIN: So now the bill goes to the Polish president’s desk for a signature. Is he likely to sign it?

NELSON: Well, let me just say President Andrzej Duda’s nickname is Pen because he is somebody who’s pretty much rubber-stamped everything that has come his way from the populist-dominated Parliament. He’s a former member of the Law and Justice Party himself, although as president, he has to be independent. He did resign from the party. But it’s interesting to note that his spokesman this morning said there were a couple of issues that the president has with this new bill that’s coming to his desk, but he didn’t elaborate on what or what he was going to do about it.

MARTIN: That’s NPR’s Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson. We reached her in Berlin, but she’s been spending the week in Warsaw, Poland. Soraya, thank you so much for speaking with us.

NELSON: You’re welcome, Michel.

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Minneapolis Police Chief Resigns In Wake Of Officer Shooting Australian Woman

Jul 22, 2017   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Minneapolis Police Chief Resigns In Wake Of Officer Shooting Australian Woman

A woman holds a sign reading “Justice for Justine” during a march Thursday in Minneapolis. Several days of demonstrations have occurred after the death of Justine Damond, who was killed late Saturday by a police officer responding to her emergency call.

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A woman holds a sign reading “Justice for Justine” during a march Thursday in Minneapolis. Several days of demonstrations have occurred after the death of Justine Damond, who was killed late Saturday by a police officer responding to her emergency call.

Stephen Maturen/AFP/Getty Images

Amid outrage over the fatal police shooting of a woman who had called 911 for officers’ help, Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau has resigned. The killing inspired protests and bewilderment in the city, as citizens waited for details on why the officer fired at Justine Ruszczyk.

Harteau released a statement that said she has reflected on “last Saturday’s tragedy, as well as some other incidents,” and concluded that she is “willing to step aside to let a fresh set of leadership eyes” take over.

“The recent incidents do not reflect the training and procedures we’ve developed as a Department,” Harteau said. “Despite the MPD’s many accomplishments under my leadership over these years and my love for the City, I have to put the communities we serve first.”

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Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges issued a statement saying, “I’ve lost confidence in the Chief’s ability to lead us further — and from the many conversations I’ve had with people around our city, especially this week, it is clear that she has lost the confidence of the people of Minneapolis as well.”

Transcripts of 911 calls released by the police department on Wednesday showed that Ruszczyk phoned to say she was worried a rape might be taking place outside her home. According to the officer driving the squad car that arrived on the scene, he was startled by a loud noise nearby. After that, Ruszczyk approached the driver’s side of the car, and the other officer in the car, Mohamed Noor, shot her once through the open driver’s window.

The officers’ body and car cameras had not been turned on.

A state agency is conducting an independent investigation.

Ruszczyk, who was also known by her fiance’s surname Damond, was from Australia, where the case has caused outrage.

U.S. Intercepts Reportedly Contradict Attorney General On Russia Contacts

Jul 22, 2017   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on U.S. Intercepts Reportedly Contradict Attorney General On Russia Contacts

Attorney General Jeff Sessions as he was sworn-in on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., in June. He testified that suggestions that he colluded with Russia to interfere in the U.S. presidential election was a “contemptible lie.”

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions as he was sworn-in on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., in June. He testified that suggestions that he colluded with Russia to interfere in the U.S. presidential election was a “contemptible lie.”

Alex Brandon/AP

Communications intercepted by U.S. spy agencies contradict assertions by Attorney General Jeff Sessions that he never discussed campaign matters with Russia’s ambassador in conversations prior to the November election, The Washington Post reports, citing current and former U.S. officials.

Sessions, who in March recused himself from the Department of Justice investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, has acknowledged conversations with Moscow’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergei Kislyak, during the campaign. However, he has said the two never discussed campaign matters.

He also told a Senate committee last month that any suggestion of his colluding with Russia during last year’s campaign was an “appalling and detestable lie.”

According to the Post, U.S. intelligence agencies intercepted communications between Kislyak and his superiors.

The newspaper, citing the unnamed U.S. officials, reported Sessions’ assertions are “at odds with Kisylak’s accounts of conversations during two encounters over the course of the campaign, one in April ahead of Trump’s first major foreign policy speech and another in July on the sidelines of the Republican National Convention.”

One official told the Post that Sessions’ statements were “misleading” and “contradicted by the evidence.”

The newspaper writes that while foreign diplomats in Washington occasionally “report false or misleading information to their superiors,” Kislyak, whose tenure as ambassador to the U.S. ended recently, “has a reputation for accurately relaying details about his interactions with officials in Washington.”

Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores cast doubt on the Post’s report and said Sessions stands by his earlier statements to Congress.

“Obviously, I cannot comment on the reliability of what anonymous sources describe in a wholly uncorroborated intelligence intercept that the Washington Post has not seen and that has not been provided to me,” Flores said in a statement Friday night, but “the Attorney General stands by his testimony from just last month before the Senate Intelligence Committee when he specifically addressed this and said that he ‘never met with or had any conversations with any Russians or any foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election.'”

Speaking Friday from the Aspen Security Forum in Aspen, Colo., Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats also sought to cast doubt on the report.

“I have come to the point where I no longer put any stock in headlines or breaking news,” Coats said when asked about the report during an event at the forum. He added, “Ask a question first, before you take something as truth — I’m going to ask: Is this for real? Is this the real thing — before I draw a conclusion on it.”

The Post report comes close on the heels of an interview with the president published in The New York Times in which Trump expressed frustration with the attorney general.

The president said that if he’d known Sessions would recuse himself from the Russia investigation, he “would have picked someone else” for the attorney general’s job. Reacting to the interview, Sessions said Thursday that he planned to stay at his job for “as long as that is appropriate.”

Albin Lee Meldau: Tiny Desk Concert

Jul 21, 2017   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Albin Lee Meldau: Tiny Desk Concert

Few singers can command an audience’s attention quite like Albin Lee Meldau. When I first saw him perform, at a church in Austin, Texas during South By Southwest last March, it felt like the entire audience was on the edge of its seat, hanging on every twisted word. His voice is breathtaking, soulful, thunderous and impossible to ignore.

Watching Meldau in this Tiny Desk set, the first thing you’ll notice, apart from that voice, is how possessed he is by the music. The words and melodies seem to take hold of him while at the same time offering a release, if only for a moment, from the knot of emotions he’s carrying inside. It’s in no small part because Meldau’s music is so personal, centered on desperate souls in deeply troubled times. “Lulu,” the track he opens with and his most popular song, is a story of drug addiction and mental illness, inspired by a girl he knew while growing up in Sweden. He calls “Bloodshot,” the track he closes with, “dark and horrible,” about the wreckage of a tortured relationship and the crazed paranoia of jealousy. His other two songs, “Mayfly” and “Persistence,” are more about hanging on when it seems there’s nothing left to live for.

Meldau grew up in Gothenburg, Sweden the son of musical parents. His mother is a music teacher and jazz singer, while Meldau says his father is a “punk rocker.” (Both write and record their own songs.) As a kid, Meldau originally played trumpet but mostly dreamed of being a professional soccer player. Now, as a full-time musician, he says his dream was to play the Tiny Desk.

“It’s a deep honor to be here,” Meldau told the NPR audience. “I’ve been to the BBC and now I’ve been here, so now I can die.” So far, Albin Lee Meldau has released two EPs — Lovers late last year and Bloodshot, out today (July 21) on Astralwerks — with a debut full-length out later this year.

Bloodshot is available now. (iTunes) (Amazon)


Set List

  • “Lou Lou”
  • “Mayfly”
  • “Persistence”
  • “Bloodshot”

Musicians

Albin Lee Meldau (vocals, guitar); Kalle Stenbäcken (keys, drums); Simon Andermo (bass, auxiliary percussion); Simon Söfelde (drums)

Credits

Producers: Robin Hilton, Niki Walker; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Niki Walker, Tsering Bista; PA: Jenna Li; Photo: Claire Harbage/NPR.

For more Tiny Desk concerts, subscribe to our podcast.

Fox Commentator Turns Up On Trump Campaign Payroll

Jul 21, 2017   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Fox Commentator Turns Up On Trump Campaign Payroll

A conservative political consultant was on the payroll of the Trump 2020 re-election campaign this spring, while also defending the president in political commentary on the Fox Business Network.

The campaign’s most recent disclosure report, filed Saturday, lists two payments to ProActive Communications LLC: $20,000 on April 17 of this year and $10,000 on May 30 — a period when Mark Serrano, the company’s president and founder, was making frequent appearances on the Fox Business Network. The network identified the longtime commentator until recently as a former adviser to President George H.W. Bush; now it calls him a senior adviser to President Trump’s re-election campaign.

The Washington Post first reported the conflict Wednesday.

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Serrano posted clips of some Fox appearances on his personal website. “The only collusion going on in Washington is between … the media and the Democrats,” he said on May 19. A week earlier, he told anchor Neil Cavuto, “The president turns to Twitter for a very good reason. You know, it’s because he knows that the American people don’t believe this fake news story about Russian collusion.”

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Serrano called the Post story a “fake news hit piece” that targeted Trump and Fox News. He issued a statement saying that when he “formalized a relationship with the reelection campaign … I notified my booking contacts at Fox Business Network.”

Fox Business said the notification didn’t come until June. In a written statement, the network cited its policy to disclose “all ties our guests have to any subject matter, and in the case of Mark Serrano, as soon as we were made aware of his new title last month, we made sure to disclose his role during his on-air appearances.” Fox Business has signaled that Serrano won’t be on again for the foreseeable future.

Sen. John McCain Diagnosed With Brain Cancer, Hospital Says

Jul 20, 2017   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Sen. John McCain Diagnosed With Brain Cancer, Hospital Says

Senate Intelligence Committee member Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., heads into a closed-door committee meeting with Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats on June 15 in Washington, D.C.

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Senate Intelligence Committee member Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., heads into a closed-door committee meeting with Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats on June 15 in Washington, D.C.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Arizona Sen. John McCain has been diagnosed with brain cancer, the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix says. McCain, 80, underwent surgery for a blood clot on July 14.

The hospital says testing revealed that a tumor “known as a glioblastoma was associated with the blood clot.”

“The Senator and his family are reviewing further treatment options with his Mayo Clinic care team. Treatment options may include a combination of chemotherapy and radiation,” the hospital statement said.

A statement from McCain’s office says he is “in good spirits as he continues to recover at home with his family in Arizona.”

His daughter Meghan tweeted that her family members have “endured the shock of the news,” adding:

“It won’t surprise you to learn that in all this, the one of us who is most confident and calm is my father. He is the toughest person I know. The cruelest enemy could not break him. The aggressions of political life could not bend him. So he is meeting this challenge as he has every other. Cancer may afflict him in many ways: But it will not make him surrender. Nothing ever has.”

McCain, a prisoner of war during Vietnam, has served in the Senate for 30 years. He previously has been treated for melanoma.

Former President Barack Obama tweeted his deep regard and good wishes for McCain.

Pressure Builds On Republicans Opposing Obamacare Repeal

Jul 20, 2017   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Pressure Builds On Republicans Opposing Obamacare Repeal

The Republican National Committee is joining a slew of deep-pocketed conservative PACs in taking aim at GOP lawmakers who say they will vote no on repealing Obamacare.

With no significant legislative successes in the months since the elections, Republicans are anxious to show that with control of the White House and majorities in both houses of Congress, they can get on with their agenda — a key component of which has long been rolling back President Obama’s signature health care law.

In a letter sent out to voters on Wednesday, RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel warned that if the Republican take-down of the Affordable Care Act should fail, “we could lose the midterm elections” in 2018.

“I’m going to give President Trump a MASSIVE list of all the American voters who want ObamaCare repealed,” McDaniels wrote to Republican voters. “He’ll show that list to any Senate Republican who refuses to pass our repeal bill.”

And former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli tells NPR that his Senate Conservatives Fund will try to “identify high-quality conservative opponents to folks who flip on this.”

“[When] you’ve got people who flip on a vote that is so important to not just the conservative base but the entire Republican base, this one vote can set up an election. And we’re determined to help, monetarily, the conservative opponents of folks like the three you’ve seen so far,” Cuccinelli said, speaking with Morning Edition’s Steve Inskeep.

The heat has been turned up further on wayward Republicans after this week’s one-two punch to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who first saw GOP defections send his party’s Obamacare replacement down in flames and then a day later, scuttle the latest attempt at a repeal-only measure.

But McConnell has vowed to go ahead with a procedural vote on repealing the ACA on Monday, hoping to bring at least two of three recalcitrant senators — Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Susan Collins of Maine — into line.

During the Obama administration, Republicans in Congress voted to repeal all or part of the ACA some 60 times. But the votes, sure to be vetoed by the White House, were little more than symbolic gestures meant to fire up the Republican base.

The Club for Growth, a small-government, anti-tax group with its roots in the supply-side economic philosophy of the Reagan era, accused Republicans of “hiding behind President Obama’s veto.”

In a statement Tuesday, the group said: “With the Obama impediment gone, moderate Republicans—most of whom supported the 2015 legislation—will now be forced to reveal their true colors.”

In April, Club for Growth launched TV spots to pressure lawmakers on what was then billed as “repeal and replace.”

FreedomWorks, like Club for Growth, is making the repeal of Obamacare “a key vote,” meaning it will weight it heavily on lawmaker scorecards.

The conservative PAC says it “has issued a key vote in support of the motion to proceed, which we will triple-weight on our 2017 Congressional Scorecard, to begin the amendment process, starting with the 2015 ObamaCare repeal bill as the base text.”

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