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In a recent essay in the New York Times, Columbia professor and historian Mark Lilla issued a warning to liberals left stunned by President-elect Donald Trump's victory: Knock it off with the "identity politics" or be doomed to repeat this failure. "American liberalism," he wrote , "has slipped into a kind of moral panic about racial, gender, and sexual identity that has distorted liberalism's message and prevented it from becoming a unifying force capable of governing." This admonition has...

In 2010, Chris Bertish paddled into 25-foot waves en route to a win at the Mavericks Surf Contest, an annual competition at one of the world's most famous (and nastiest) big-wave breaks. On Tuesday, Bertish paddled out to conquer something even more massive — roughly 4,600 miles larger, in fact. The 42-year-old South African surfer and sailor set out to become the first person to cross the Atlantic Ocean unassisted on a stand-up paddleboard. The journey he has laid out for himself takes him...

I hesitate to say it, but the one word that characterizes my best books of 2016 list is "serious." These books aren't grim and they're certainly not dull, but collectively they're serious about tackling big, sometimes difficult subjects — and they're also distinguished by seriously good writing. Here are 10 that you shouldn't miss. Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air . DAVE DAVIES, BYLINE: This is FRESH AIR. Our book critic Maureen Corrigan has her list of the 10-best books...

The BOTS Act of 2016 is now on its way to President Obama's desk, after both houses of Congress approved the legislation that seeks to widen access to online ticket sales and foil scalpers who try to corner the market. The ban applies to ticket sales for any public event that can be attended by 200 or more people; it targets software that routinely defeats attempts by venues to try to limit the number of tickets one buyer can purchase. The full name of the legislation is the Better Online...

I first got to taste Blue Seal ice cream 13 years ago. I was 24 years old and teaching English in a tiny mountain town called Furukawa, which means "Old River." One weekend, some Canadian friends and I flew to Okinawa, Japan's southern-most island. Once we arrived in downtown Naha, Okinawa's capital city, my friends decided to dine at a steakhouse. And as the only vegetarian in the group, I was on my own. As I wandered down Kokusai-dori, or International Street, I saw the welcoming orange and...

President-elect Donald Trump's latest Twitter target is a local union official who questioned the billionaire's account of how many jobs he saved at a Carrier plant in Indianapolis. Trump has previously used social media to browbeat companies that move jobs offshore as well as entertainers whose acts he finds tiresome. On Wednesday, Trump took aim at Chuck Jones, president of the United Steelworkers Local 1999. Trump wrote on Twitter that Jones "has done a terrible job representing workers....

The surprise find of smallpox DNA in a child mummy from the 17th century could help scientists start to trace the mysterious history of this notorious virus. Smallpox currently only exists in secure freezers, after a global vaccination campaign eradicated the virus in the late 1970s. But much about this killer remains unknown, including its origins. Now scientists have the oldest complete set of smallpox genes, after they went hunting for viral DNA in a sample of skin from a mummified young...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnRxQ3dcaQk In 2015, Lida Xing was visiting a market in northern Myanmar when a salesman brought out a piece of amber about the size of a pink rubber eraser. Inside, he could see a couple of ancient ants and a fuzzy brown tuft that the salesman said was a plant. As soon as Xing saw it, he knew it wasn't a plant. It was the delicate, feathered tail of a tiny dinosaur. "I have studied paleontology for more than 10 years and have been interested in dinosaurs for...

To Donald Trump, one of President Obama's major failings was his refusal to identify "radical Islam" specifically as America's top adversary. "Anyone who cannot name our enemy is not fit to lead this country," Trump told a crowd in Ohio in August. "Anyone who cannot condemn the hatred, oppression and violence of radical Islam lacks the moral clarity to serve as our president." Obama, with the support of many counterterrorism experts, wanted to avoid any suggestion that the United States was...

Giraffes are dying at an alarming rate and could face extinction if the trend doesn't reverse, according to a new conservation report on animal populations worldwide. The report was released by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature , which maintains the so-called Red List of species threatened with extinction. For the first time, the group now lists the giraffe as a "vulnerable" species, meaning it is "facing a high risk of extinction in the wild in the medium-term future"...

A magnitude 6.5 earthquake struck about 100 miles off the Northern California coast on Thursday morning, according to the U.S. Geological Survey . The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said the earthquake, originally reported to have a magnitude of 6.8, wasn't powerful enough to generate a destructive tsunami. No damage or injuries were reported. The epicenter was relatively close to the surface — about 7.5 miles down — and its effects were felt especially by residents in the town of Ferndale,...

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air . DAVE DAVIES, BYLINE: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies in for Terry Gross who has a bad cold. Yesterday just before she lost her voice, she recorded the interview we're about to hear with The New York Times' executive editor Dean Baquet about the challenges facing The New York Times and its coverage of President-elect Donald Trump. Trump's had a contentious relationship with the press, or the dishonest press, as he sometimes refers to...

The U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS says it carried out an airstrike on a hospital complex in the Iraqi city of Mosul at the request of Iraq's military. Air Force Col. John L. Dorrian, the spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, told reporters that the coalition did not "have any reason to believe civilians were harmed." However, when specifically asked whether there were patients at the city's main hospital, Dorrian said that was "very difficult to ascertain with full and total fidelity."...

For the first Somali-American lawmaker in the U.S., it was meant to be a day to remember: a visit to the White House for policy meetings before she takes office in Minnesota. But as she left the seat of U.S. power, Ilhan Omar says, she was subjected to a hateful and threatening verbal attack in a cab. "I pray for his humanity and for all those who harbor hate in their hearts," Omar, a Muslim who wears a head scarf, wrote of the cab driver who she says assailed her. In a Facebook post , she...

Two juveniles have been arrested and charged with arson for allegedly starting the fire that killed at least 14 people in east Tennessee last month. They might be tried as adults, and authorities say there might be more arrests. Prosecutors say the two minors started a fire on Nov. 23, according to a statement from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation . Feeding off a drought-stricken forest, the Chimney Tops 2 fire grew inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. On Nov. 28, it swept...

A dad in Mexico who planned an epic party for his daughter Rubi's 15th birthday. He made a video talking about the festivities - three bands, a horse race and at the end, he said, "everyone is cordially invited!" The video went viral and more than a million people said they would come to Rubi's party. It spawned all kinds of internet memes. Rubi's favorite? The one about Donald Trump allowing undocumented Mexican migrants in the U.S. to return to Mexico so they can go to her party. Copyright...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: We have a global conversation this morning about resistance to globalization. NPR's Frank Langfitt is in North East England in the U.K., which voted this year to leave the European Union. Hi, Frank. FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve. INSKEEP: And David Wessel is in our studios here in Washington. Good morning, David. DAVID WESSEL: Good morning, Steve. INSKEEP: He's with the Brookings Institution and The...

Never mind legalizing pot. Kokomo, Ind., has legalized pinball. The city council ended a ban that stretches back to 1955. Back then, the council said pinball worked against "peace and good order." Wives complained about husbands who gambled away their entire paychecks. In more recent times, the ban seems to have been ignored. At last the city council has revoked it, taking its chances on keeping the peace. Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: Good...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. RACHEL MARTIN, HOST: We're now going to get an update on President-elect Donald Trump's transition and how he's been messaging to the public throughout that transition. We've got Sean Spicer on the line. He's the communications director for the RNC. Sean, thanks so much for being with us. SEAN SPICER: Good morning, Rachel. Thanks for having me. MARTIN: You are someone who thinks a lot about messaging and communications. And as such,...

There are plenty of recent stories involving white police officers who have shot and killed black men, including some who are on trial for those shootings. Then there's the case of a white cop who did not shoot a black man holding a gun — and it may have cost him his job. It started with a 911 call for help in Weirton, W.Va., on May 6 at 2:51 a.m. An emergency dispatcher in turn put out a call for an officer. "Had a female stating they needed someone right now. She sounded hysterical," the...

Diana Kennedy, often called the "Julia Child of Mexico," is a woman of strong preferences. She loves good butter and cream, Seville orange marmalade, black truffle shavings and escamoles (a caviar that comes from ant eggs). She hates the use of cassia (false cinnamon) in place of the real thing, canola oil, low- or non-fat dairy products, and nonstick pans. And don't get her started on kosher salt, which despite being the "beloved salt of virtually all American chefs," as she writes in...

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid will give his farewell address Thursday on the Senate floor. The Nevada Democrat has served in Congress for 30 years, and as his party's leader in the Senate for 12. Reid tells Morning Edition's Rachel Martin that he — and many other Americans — are still anxious about the incoming Trump administration, but he sees reasons for optimism as well. "I've learned to accept the Trump election," he says. Interview Highlights On Americans' dreadful approval rating...

One of the fundamental ways scientists measure the well-being of a nation is tracking the rate at which its citizens die and how long they can be expected to live. So the news out of the federal government Thursday is disturbing: The overall U.S. death rate has increased for the first time in a decade, according to an analysis of the latest data. And that led to a drop in overall life expectancy for the first time since 1993, particularly among people younger than 65. "This is a big deal,"...

Fake news played a bigger role in this past presidential election than ever seen before. And sometimes it has had serious repercussions for real people and businesses. That's what happened to a pizzeria in Washington, D.C., recently, when an armed man claiming to be "self-investigating" a fake news story entered the restaurant and fired off several rounds. But once a fake news story is out there, and the harm has been done, what can a person do about it? Derigan Silver, a professor of media,...

The slew of obituaries that have been published since Olympic diver Sammy Lee's death on Friday rightly highlight his conquest over racism and indignity on the way to winning gold medals in London and Helsinki nearly 70 years ago. As Greg Louganis, Lee's most famous protege, reflected in the Los Angeles Times, "At a time of intolerance, being Korean, he broke down racial barriers, setting an example of what it meant to be an Olympian." Today, when race remains lodged at the center of our...

Smoke hung in the air for days in Oakland's largely Latino Fruitvale district after a deadly fire broke out late Friday night in an artists' warehouse, leaving 36 people dead . Like so much of the city, it's a neighborhood facing ripples of gentrification created by the tech boom in the Bay Area, which now has some of the highest rents in the country. Carmen Brito lived in the now destroyed warehouse known as the Ghost Ship. She barely got out with her life. "You can go three blocks, and you...

President-elect Donald Trump's phone call with the president of Taiwan last week, initially characterized by Trump transition staffers and Taipei officials as just a small courtesy, has emerged as part of a lobbying strategy by a quintessential Washington insider. Former Sen. Bob Dole, a war hero, lion of the Senate and 1996 Republican nominee for president, was an early supporter of Donald Trump, even when other Republican leaders were still wary. Dole explained his reasons on NPR's Morning...

Royal Dutch Shell has signed a provisional agreement to develop oil and gas fields in Iran, a move that could signal energy companies will not be deterred from doing business with the Islamic Republic despite uncertainty whether a Trump administration will scrap a nuclear deal agreed to by world powers. A spokesman for Shell said a memorandum of agreement was signed Wednesday with the National Iranian Oil Co. "to further explore areas of potential cooperation." The agreement is nonbinding and...

The 21st Century Cures Act that gained congressional approval on Wednesday has been championed as a way to speed up drug development, but it's also the most significant piece of mental health legislation since the 2008 law requiring equal insurance coverage for mental and physical health. The bill includes provisions aimed at fighting the opioid epidemic, strengthens laws mandating parity for mental and physical health care and includes grants to increase the number of psychologists and...

As I write this I have 42 Internet tabs open, across four browsers, and I feel completely at ease. Apparently, I'm not alone. A new Pew Research Center study found that most Americans are not overloaded by information, or at least, they don't feel they are. In April, Pew surveyed 1,520 Americans 18 and older. According to the study, 20 percent of Americans feel overloaded by information — down from 27 percent a decade ago. In fact, three-quarters of Americans like having a lot of information...

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