ABuzz Over Bee Health: New Pesticide Studies Rev Up Controversy

“Even if you’re not a lover of bees or honey, you should know that bees are critically important to our food supply.

And two new studies published in the journal Nature add to the evidence that overuse of neonicotinoid pesticides may also be contributing to the decline of bees.”

Read more from our blog via npr.

Stream TORRES’ new album, Sprinter, via NPR Music’s “First Listen” NOW!

Scott’s skill and ambition as a lyricist thrills, especially given her young age, 24. But Sprinter goes far beyond her 2013 debut because of what she and her producer, Rob Ellis, have accomplished musically … Her songs risk calm in fascinating ways. Aided by Ellis, and by the guitarist Adrian Utley, who brings some of the atmospherics he developed within Portishead into play here, Scott creates as space that turns songwriterly confession sacramental.

Sprinter drops 5/4 via Partisan Records and is going for spins at radio NOW!

The creators of BoJack Horseman had to make a decision: would a female dog be as funny as a male dog? When it comes to gender in comedy, sometimes animators have more power than they realize. 

I’m on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” talking about gender with Raphael Bob-Waksberg! Give it a listen!

Huge thanks to Neda Ulaby for interviewing us. 


SIDESHOW: Sometimes there are other ideas that I think would be awesome. So think of these as guest blog entries from other sections of my brain. (See all Sideshows here.)

This is from a Tumblr that doesn’t exist called Ira Glass Ceiling. All captions are quotes from reports to the SEC, The World Bank, and The Federal Glass Ceiling Commission. All photos are of NPR radio personality Ira Glass.

Listening To A City: Explaining Breathtaking Decay In Havana

Miguel Coyula pointed at an open door in the middle of Old Havana. The mahogany door was ornate, the concrete facade had lost most of its paint.

“That’s marble,” Coyula said pointing to the treads of the staircase. “They are the remnants of something that was very glorious.”

We were taking a walk with Coyula, an architect and urban planner, through Obispo Street, which he called the spine of Old Havana. There the colonial buildings crowd narrow streets. It’s vibrant and filled with people.

Some buildings are in great shape, but this is an old city, said Coyula, with a housing stock that averages 70 years old. The housing authority, Coyula said, estimates that 10 percent of buildings in Havana are in bad shape, but reality tells a different story.

Most of the buildings along the main avenues are in OK shape, but as soon as you turn off into the residential streets, the decay is breathtaking.

Coyula says there are lots of reasons for the vast degradation of Havana: People don’t have money to fix their homes; the U.S. embargo makes it difficult for the government to step in; the socialist system instituted on the island is too expensive and has created a society used to paternalism.  

We stop next to an old church. It used be where sailors came to be blessed before a long journey. It’s an old building made of stone that has been blackened by time.

“The city is talking,” Coyula says.

He points toward a three-story building on the other side of the church. On the balconies, its residents have hung clothes and an old lady is hunched over the rusted rail, peering at the square. The building is in such bad shape, that it has been condemned, but there are still people living in it.

Coyula points to the apartment in the upper left corner of the building. Someone, he said, has taken the time and invested the money — not an insignificant endeavor in Cuba — to paint just the outside wall of their apartment.

“If you tell people in Havana to pay a fee for the maintenance of a building they will say, ‘No, I don’t own the building. I own the apartment,” Coyula said. So all over Havana, you’ll see buildings that look ready to crumble with hopeful splashes of paint.

In other words, at least when it comes to buildings in this socialist country, individualism has outstripped collectivism. And in a city like Havana, where most people live in apartment buildings, that’s a serious problem.

“It’s like baseball,” Coyula said, resorting to the country’s favorite allegory. Like a Texas leaguer, the overall maintenance of buildings in the city has gotten lost somewhere between the government and individual.

— Eyder Peralta 

On TV and in the movies, it can sometimes seem like black people only existed during slavery or the civil rights era. K. Tempest Bradford recommends some books that bring hidden history to light.

Another paving stone in the path to recognizing that Hollywood History often isn’t. Look deeper, know better.

Some childhood symbols straddle the line between adorable and terrifying. Like clowns. Or Furbys.

But some dolls fit the category, with spooky eyes that seem to move and the porcelain pallor. They’re not all Chucky, but some of them just don’t seem quite right.

Listener Anne McLaughlin grew up with a cabinet full of dolls — a pretty dancer doll, a set of wooden nesting dolls. But one, she says, stood out.

“One of the dolls in the cabinet was absolutely terrifying,” she says. “Very tall, thin doll, and her face was not a doll face. It was a grown woman, so she didn’t have big eyes she didn’t have a smile. She had tiny little eyes. She always looked like she stepped out of one of those New Orleans ghost stories.”

The doll gave Anne the creeps.

So one night, when she was about 10, McLaughlin thought, “ ‘I’m going to take her out of the cabinet just to prove that I’m not scared of this doll,’ even though I was very scared of the doll.”

So she wound her up, left her on the bedside table and walked away. Suddenly there was a crash.

Haunted Dolls Are A Thing, And They’re Not Cheap, Either

Photo credit: Jak Hutchcraft

Join us for our traveling listening party :)

We’re heading across the country! Armed with a minivan and an amp, we’re taking the concept of listening on the road with a simple formula: gathering good people to listen to great public radio content, together. That’s right. Just how it was done before TV hit the scene.

Road tripping through the South, we’re teaming up with our friends at nine public radio stations across the country to bring together small groups of people in each city for a unique and refreshing night of powerful radio stories, stimulating conversation, and awesome people.

Come hang with us!

Our schedule is below. We’d love to meet you! If you live in any of these cities, have friends in any of these cities, or have suggestions for things we must check out while in town, hit us up.

4/28 - Marfa, TX - KRTS
5/4 - New Orleans, LA - WWNO
5/6 - Oxford, MS - MPB
5/11 - Birmingham, AL - WBHM
5/13 - Pensacola, FL - WUWF
5/15 - Jacksonville, FL - WJCT
5/18 - Atlanta, GA - GPB + WABE
5/19 - Winston-Salem, N.C. - WFDD
5/21 - Washington, D.C. - NPR HQ

Hope to see you out there!

You can follow our trip here and on…
instagram via @nprgenlisten
twitter via @nprgenlisten
facebook via NPR Generation Listen
and our road crew @jojopawlo @audrey_buchanan @xoxohadas.


Watch and listen to Sleater-Kinney play the overwhelmingly charming “Modern Girl” from 2005′s The Woods. Thanks to the folks at Sound Opinions for capturing the moment.


Goats and Soda reporters reflect on the anniversary of the first confirmed case of Ebola. More stories on the blog. Photos from Kelly McEvers, Tommy Trenchard, Anders Kelto, and John W. Poole.

November 2014: Walking A Long Road

It was the week before Thanksgiving when we drove from Monrovia into rural Bong County, past the end of the cell service, to the place where a dirt road turned into a walking path. Down the path was an Ebola hot spot where there had been dozens of cases. We were going there with a handful of epidemiologists and doctors in search of one rumored case.

There was a woman who lived somewhere down the path, and local health officials suspected she had Ebola.

The walk took hours. At each village we came to, the epidemiologists asked about the woman. Keep walking, we were told. She lives farther down the path.

Walking, there was a lot of time to imagine what we’d find when we finally found her. What was the plan? What if she were too sick to walk out to the hospital? What if she had already died?

Finally, we arrived in the last village, her village. That, we were told, is her house. That is her room, behind that door. The men from the town stood in a tense circle in front of the house. She’s not here, they insisted. Ebola is not here. No one opened the door.

We stood there until the sun began to dip behind the trees. The consensus among the local health officials was that the woman was hiding nearby, but we had run out of time. It would be getting dark soon.

It felt like we had come all that way for nothing. Hiking out, one African Union epidemiologist, Mutaawe Lubogo, was unsurprised and undaunted. He pointed out we knew more than we had this morning, and the people of the villages we visited now had more information about Ebola.

“This is true epidemiology,” said Lubogo. “You walk and walk, and tomorrow you do it again.”

— Rebecca Hersher and Kelly McEvers

Read more at Goats and Soda.


The Power of Renewable Energy

Today NPR put out an article on Nicaragua’s energy revolution. It was so positive that I had to share it:

Nicaragua ten years ago was totally dependent on foreign oil. The country had severe blackouts (frequently) that largely exacerbated an environment of civil war, anger and poverty.

The government started an effort to move towards renewable energy resources as they got plenty of direct sunlight, had volcanoes (and hence geothermal energy) and wind etc.

Now, in 2015, roughly half their electricity comes exclusively from renewable energy!

I’m talking about Nicaragua!

This blew my mind. It’s being estimated that in a few years 80% of their electricity will come from renewable resources. Meanwhile, the U.S. only gets 13% of electricity from renewable energy.

When you put your mind to something, who knows what’s possible.

Read more here.

(Image credit: Inti Ocon/AFP/Getty Images, Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images and Tim Johnson/MCT/Landov)