Scott Simon

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

You know what time it is? Time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

Bureaucratic prose is often written not to make things plain, but explain them away.

It may be especially telling this week, when 12 jurors found former police officer Derek Chauvin guilty in the murder of George Floyd, to reread the first report the Minneapolis Police media relations office gave of Floyd's death.

I'd like to salute the great comedy writer Anne Beatts with some her own words. Anne died this week at the age of 74. But many of her signature, boundary-breaking routines are tricky to quote on a Saturday morning radio show.

"I'm often accused of 'going too far,' " she once said. "Behind my desire to shock is an even stronger desire to evade the 'feminine stereotype.' You say women are afraid of mice? I'll show you! I'll eat the mouse!"

At its heart, Hunter Biden's new memoir, Beautiful Things, is a story of addiction.

Biden, the 51-year-old son of the president, writes that he first bought crack cocaine at age 18. He first fell in love with alcohol in high school and started drinking heavily after work in his 20s. "I always could drink five times more than anyone else," he writes.

He has been in and out of rehab numerous times over the last two decades and has had long periods of sobriety between relapses.

A few months after Jackie Robinson broke modern baseball's color barrier in 1947, Larry Doby became the first Black player in baseball's American League. A year later, Satchel Paige joined the Cleveland Indians as the team's second Black player.

The two Black players, and the team owner's willingness to sign them, propelled Cleveland to win the World Series in 1948 in one of baseball's most notable seasons.

It's the story told in Luke Epplin's new book, Our Team: The Epic Story of Four Men and the World Series That Changed Baseball.

Flags were lowered to half-staff last week to remember the eight people killed by gun violence at spas in Georgia; and again this week for the 10 people killed in a Boulder, Colo. supermarket. Those crimes and tragedies made national news, and revived painful questions about race, gender and gun violence in America.

Last Saturday, a "peace march" was held in southwest Philadelphia to call for an end to gun violence there.

Poet Roya Hakakian was a teenager when she came to the United States from Iran. In A Beginner's Guide to America, she describes what it's like to step off a long airplane flight, move through glaringly bright passageways, and stand in line with most of your possessions in your hands, seeing the American flag pins on the lapels of the TSA officers — all with names like Sanchez, McWilliams and Cho, and "by God, all of them Americans."

Opinion: The 8 We Lost

Mar 20, 2021

When Amelia Pang, writer of the book Made In China, heard the news about this week's murders in Georgia, she says the spa employees who were killed reminded her of her own mother. She did different work, Pang told us, but, "she is an immigrant woman with very little means. And her life story is likely not so different from theirs. ... Who are they? How did they end up working in those salons? What were their hopes and dreams? What would they have wanted to be remembered for?"

With the passage this week of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, the United States is now on track to spend some $6 trillion in total on measures related to ending the pandemic.

Among the plans most vocal supporters is Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who, as chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, helped shepherd the plan through Congress. Sanders says this latest round of appropriations will do no less than rebuild the economy, safely fill classrooms again and help restore faith in the government.

One year ago, the coronavirus outbreak was officially named a global pandemic, and our ordinary routines came to a sudden halt.

We have lost so many lives, each of them irreplaceable; and so many millions have lost their livelihoods and have had to live in deprivation and fear. The coronavirus has intensified the sharp inequality in America, in which the poor, and old, and Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous people are at the greatest risk.

The narrator of Layla Alammar's new novel Silence is a Sense is a journalist who can't kick the habit. She's escaped the Syrian civil war and now lives in an apartment block in the UK where she looks at neighbors through her window: South Tower A, second floor. She sees the father who always forgets his key card. East Tower, third floor is the guy who barely turns on his lights and melts cheese on toast.

Kyal Sin was clear-eyed as she prepared to take part in protests this week against the military regime in Myanmar. The teenage girl wrote down her blood type in a Facebook post, should she be injured; and asked that her organs be donated should she die.

Her nickname was Angel.

If you're fortunate enough to have a job in this pandemic, what's fun after a day of Zoom conferences where people bark, "Am I on mute?"

If you live in the liveliest city on earth, what about an effervescent evening of Zoom conferences, where you can hear candidates for mayor of New York bark, "Am I on mute?"

Stocks, bonds, bitcoin or baseball cards?

In the midst of all the losses of this pandemic, prices for collectible baseball cards seem to be ... outta here.

A mint-condition 1952 Mickey Mantle card has sold for $5.2 million; a Mike Trout card for $3.9 million.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Iram Parveen Bilal's new film "I'll Meet You There" opens with scenes that depict two of the worlds 17-year-old Dua navigates as she grows up on the bustling South Asian Devon Avenue neighborhood on the north side of Chicago.

Alexei Navalny wore a dark sweatshirt and a wry smile as he stood in a glass box in a Moscow courtroom this week and was sentenced to two years and eight months in a prison colony for failing to keep a parole appointment.

"This is how it works," Navalny said from behind the glass. "Imprison one person to frighten millions."

He couldn't keep that appointment last Dec. 29 because he was in Berlin, recovering from being poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok — as certified by doctors and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

Two young, inseparable teenagers, called Padma and Lalli, were found hanging side by side from a mango tree in a small village in India in May 2014.

Though many have heard of the story, India law prevents the identities of victims of certain crimes to be revealed, so these are not the girls' real names.

Sonia Faleiro investigated their true story, which has now become her book, The Good Girls: An Ordinary Killing.

Interview Highlights

On the girls' identities – and the fact that they were so close

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

We had some special guests turn up at our editorial meeting earlier this week. Not BJ Leiderman, who writes our theme music.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

EVIE STONE, BYLINE: Are you looking at the screen, D (ph)?

Should the 2022 Winter Olympic Games be held in Beijing? The games are set to open one year from now, coronavirus permitting.

A coalition of human rights groups has called on the International Olympic Committee to move the games out of Beijing. The IOC says it will not. Political figures in several Western democracies have even suggested their countries may boycott the games.

A year ago, who would have thought 78-year-old Joe Biden would be sworn in this week as president?

He had just finished fourth in the Iowa caucuses. He would soon finish fifth in the New Hampshire primary. He was derided as old, out-of-touch, an elderly, silvery centrist who said screwball things, as when he told a crowd, "Folks, I can tell you I've known eight presidents, three of them intimately."

I have interviewed some truly hateful people. It's part of what we have to do in the news business.

When I first got to know Neil Sheehan, he was going through trying times. We were war correspondents of different generations and I was in awe of the intrepid reporter of the Vietnam conflict, first for United Press International, then The New York Times. He was the first to get his hands on the leak of official documents that became known as the Pentagon Papers, which revealed how U.S. government officials had lied to the American people about the Vietnam War.

A new federal health care rule will require hospitals to publicly post prices for every service they offer and break down those prices by component and procedure. The idea behind the Transparency in Coverage rule is to let patients choose where to go, taking price into consideration.

The copyright on F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby expired on the first stroke of 2021 and the book entered the public domain.

'Twas the night before Christmas, and all o'er the house
Stirred the clicking — most frantic — of every mouse
All the stockings were hung by the TV with flair
But children played on apps in their rooms without care
Sneaking smart-phones and laptops right into their beds
While visions of going viral danced in their heads
When out on the street there arose such a clatter
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter
When what to my wandering eyes did appear
An electric sleigh, without any reindeer

Another holiday tradition will be missed because of the pandemic this year. "The Nutcracker" is not being performed before many live audiences in America.

Not by the New York City Ballet, The Joffrey in Chicago, or companies in Atlanta, Boston, Austin, Milwaukee, Sacramento and Philadelphia. That may spare a number of gingerbread soldiers and mice. But the cancellation of so many presentations of Tchaikovsky's ballet strikes at the heart of the health of dance companies and the arts across America.

The power of a president to pardon people for crimes has always been controversial. Some early American leaders thought it smacked too much of royalty.

But Alexander Hamilton argued the law should have avenues for mercy, or "justice would wear a countenance too sanguinary and cruel." He thought one person was more likely to use such power with conscience than a committee.

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