Audie Cornish

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Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Sesame Street, the award-winning children's program turns 50 this year. As the iconic TV program has aged, it has managed to stay musically apace with its forever-young audience. It's not an easy task, but it's one that the show's creators prioritize for the sake of children's education. While Big Bird, Elmo & co.

Vampire Weekend's last album, Modern Vampires of the City, helped vault it to festival headliner status, and topped year-end best-of lists when it was released. But that was six years ago — and a lot has happened in the time since. One of the main creative forces in the band, Rostam Batmanglij, left the group in early 2016.

Kanye West has been rapping about God from early in his career, hearkening back to one of his first hits, "Jesus Walks" off his debut album, 2004's The College Dropout.

Valerie Jarrett, longtime personal adviser to the Obamas, said in an interview with NPR's Audie Cornish airing Tuesday that former Vice President Joe Biden — who is considering a run for president — "got it right over the weekend when he said it's important that men listen" in response to a recent allegation against him of inappropriate contact.

Create and star in a blockbuster hip-hop musical, and you get to do pretty much anything you want. For Lin-Manuel Miranda, the playwright and composer behind Hamilton and In the Heights, that means starring in the sequel to a hallowed Disney classic.

Today, there's a playbook for surviving a political sex scandal.

"In a campaign when something like this happens, you 'apologize,' I say with airquotes," says Jay Carson, a former Democratic political operative. "Because you're sorry that you got caught — you're not really sorry."

Carson has worked on three presidential campaigns.

The phrase "identity politics" has come to be used as a political insult. It's now shorthand for pandering to voters according to demographics.

But political scientist Francis Fukuyama says that everyone is playing at identity politics now — that nationalism, radical Islam and other movements are fueled by people wrestling with identity in an economic world order that's letting them down.

The election of Donald Trump has ridden on the back of such identity issues, he says.

There was a time when journalist April Ryan was just another face in the crowd of the White House press briefing room.

She started covering the White House for American Urban Radio Networks more than 20 years ago. In an interview with NPR, she looks back at how nervous she was the first time she raised her hand to ask a question.

Back in 2015, Rachel Dolezal became a walking Rorschach test for America's racial dysfunction. She was the president of the Spokane, Wash., NAACP chapter, and she was outed as white after spending years claiming she was black.

The public backlash, and fascination, was intense.

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg is preparing to testify Tuesday and Wednesday before lawmakers on Capitol Hill. They'll ask him how Facebook let the data of up to 87 million unknowing users get into the hands of the political firm Cambridge Analytica.

Facebook began notifying those users Monday. But this is just the latest controversy for the social network, famously launched from Zuckerberg's Harvard dorm room.

For the first time ever, imports of elastic knit pants surpassed imports of jeans in 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. But big denim-makers are fighting back, says Bloomberg reporter Kim Bhasin.

The blue jeans-stretchy pants rivalry started around 2011, says Bhasin, with athleisure brand Lululemon's push to sell yoga pants and leggings.

"People were really wanting this kind of comfortable feeling on their legs instead of thick denim," he says. "And they would wear it in the gym and slowly that trickled out of the gym and onto the streets."

For the first time, a generation of children is going through adolescence with smartphones ever-present. Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University, has a name for these young people born between 1995 and 2012: "iGen."

She says members of this generation are physically safer than those who came before them. They drink less, they learn to drive later and they're holding off on having sex. But psychologically, she argues, they are far more vulnerable.

For students starting medical school, the first year can involve a lot of time in a lecture hall. There are hundreds of terms to master and pages upon pages of notes to take.

But when the new class of medical students begins at the University of Vermont's Larner College of Medicine next week, a lot of that learning won't take place with a professor at a lectern.

The school has begun to phase out lectures in favor of what's known as "active learning" and plans to be done with lectures altogether by 2019.

Two summers ago, we met a woman who went by the name Teacup.

"I'm an active heroin user," she told us. "Thirty-three years as a matter of fact."

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Venezuela's ongoing political and economic crisis has taken a toll on daily life there.

A crash in oil prices and political instability under President Nicolas Maduro have led to food shortages, and that has prompted almost daily street protests by thousands of Venezuelans.

A 35-year-old protester named Carlos tells NPR's Audie Cornish the food situation is "pretty extreme." NPR is using only his first name for his safety.

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Singer and multi-instrumentalist Krystle Warren has been compared to artists like Tracy Chapman and Nina Simone. The latter comparison is particularly intriguing: Not only does Warren share that icon's talent for evocative storytelling, but she also lives in France, as Simone once did.

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The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood is one of a handful of dystopian novels that have seen a boost in sales since the 2016 election. The book tells the story of what happens when a theocratic dictatorship takes over the government and gets rid of women's rights.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has been at the forefront of progressive politics over the last year.

She has sparred with President Trump on Twitter, and she was reprimanded by Republicans on the Senate floor earlier this year. Now she has written a new book, This Fight Is Our Fight: The Battle To Save America's Middle Class.

A few years ago, Chimamanda Adichie received a message from a childhood friend asking for advice: She wanted to know how to raise her newborn daughter to be a feminist.

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