Ailsa Chang

The question of how Billboard determines the most popular music in the country has gotten a lot harder in the digital age. It used to be a simple question of which album sold the most physical copies, but now Billboard needs to consider things like Spotify plays and mp3 downloads. Starting Jan. 3, it will also include YouTube streams.

NPR's Ailsa Chang talks to Chris Molanphy, a chart analyst and pop critic at Slate, about the significance of this change. Listen at the audio link and read on for an edited version of their conversation.

Two witnesses testified during the last scheduled day of public impeachment hearings on Thursday. Fiona Hill, a former National Security Council official, and David Holmes, a political counselor in the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, spoke in front of the House Intelligence Committee — wrapping up two weeks of public and closed-door testimonies to Congress about President Trump's actions in the Ukraine affair. Click the audio link to listen to a special broadcast of NPR hosts and reporters offering analysis on the significant moments of the day.

Four witnesses testified before the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday in the impeachment inquiry into President Trump: Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Pence; Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council adviser; Kurt Volker, the former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine; and Tim Morrison, a former National Security Council adviser. Click the audio link to listen to a special broadcast of NPR hosts and reporters offering analysis on the significant moments of the day.

The former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, testified in front of the House Intelligence Committee on Friday in the public phase of the impeachment inquiry. Click the audio link to listen to a special broadcast of NPR hosts and reporters offering analysis on the significant moments of the day.

The past is prologue in Steph Cha's new novel, Your House Will Pay.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

As the protests in Hong Kong press on, the clashes have grown increasingly violent. But there are peaceful gatherings too, like this one at a secondary school for boys.

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: Fight for freedom.

In the industrial city of Dongguan, China, the effects of the trade war on the Chinese economy are measured in idled machinery and empty bar stools.

"One year ago, you probably couldn't even get through the crowd because it would be so busy. But right now, even the smallest vendors can't survive," says Song Guanghui, the owner of Crowdbar, a tricked-out food stall in an open-air market in Dongguan.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

What's it like to be in China as it marks 70 years of communist rule? In Tiananmen Square, facing the famed red outside wall of Beijing's Forbidden City, tanks and missiles rolled past in a military parade today.

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Seventy years ago, Mao Zedong appeared on a balcony overlooking Tiananmen Square and conjured a new country into being. On Tuesday, Xi Jinping, arguably the strongest leader since Mao, appeared on that same balcony to reaffirm his vision of modern China.

That vision includes what Xi has repeatedly referred to as the "Chinese Dream," one pillar of which is the idea that all Chinese should have access to the shared prosperity of the nation.

To understand the music of Black Belt Eagle Scout, it helps to know a little bit about the place frontwoman Katherine Paul grew up. The artist was raised on Swinomish Indian Reservation in Washington. With there only being about 1,000 people in the Swinomish tribe — and not all of them living on the reservation — Paul's community was extremely tight knit.

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Common is no stranger to showing emotion. With more than 20 years in the spotlight, the Chicago-hailing rapper, actor and activist has worn his heart on his sleeve publicly for years and won plenty of accolades for it. Common is one of the few distinguished artists to have won an Emmy, Grammy and Oscar award in the span of his career.

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

On Monday, The Associated Press reported that as many as nine women were accusing revered opera star Plácido Domingo of sexual harassment over decades. Domingo has adamantly denied the allegations. The LA Opera, where he is the general director, announced it would hire an outside firm to investigate the accusations.

Filmmaker Nanfu Wang grew up in rural China under the country's one-child policy, which was announced in 1979 and not officially rescinded until 2015.

Born in 1985, Wang never knew a life without it — as a kid, she remembers seeing propaganda promoting the rule everywhere.

"At some point, it just became a normal part of life, just like the air, the water, the tree," she says. "And you just stop paying attention, stop questioning, because it has always been there."

There were propaganda matchboxes, lunchboxes, murals and songs on TV.

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Journalist Harriet Shawcross is fascinated by silence: why we speak, and why we don't.

She's traveled the world seeking answers to those questions, meeting earthquake survivors in Nepal, a silent order of nuns in Paris, a Buddhist retreat in Scotland. She's written a book about it, called Unspeakable: The Things We Cannot Say.

As a kid, Enrique Olvera spent hours in his grandmother's bakery in Mexico City. He loved watching everyday ingredients like flour, sugar and eggs fuse into something entirely different.

For Olvera, even the simple act of baking a cake felt like magic.

He absorbed every detail as his grandmother gently coaxed masa into handmade tortillas. On Sundays, he joined his father in the kitchen, chopping onions and tomatoes for breakfasts of scrambled eggs and dry beef.

Moms perform heroic tasks every day, but they rarely get portrayed as superheroes. That changes in the new film Fast Color, which tells the story of three generations of black women — a daughter, a mother and a granddaughter — all of whom have supernatural powers.

Lt. Col. Bree "B" Fram left a doctor's office on April 2. Presenting that day as Bryan, the name given to them at birth, B should have been relieved.

"Overall, it's a good thing," said B. "It just didn't feel great to have to do it on someone else's timeline other than my own."

"It" was an official diagnosis of gender dysphoria. As a transgender member of the military, B had to secure the diagnosis by April 12 in order to continue serving openly.

The new novel Trust Exercise opens with teenagers attending an elite performing arts high school in the 1980s.

There, the theater kids form heartfelt friendships and relationships, and then sabotage them. Their semi-tyrannical drama teacher both inspires and manipulates them — with his "trust exercises."

Midway through, the book leaps forward in time and perspective. One of the students, Karen, is now an adult, re-thinking her past.

Quinn Robinson is only 18 years old, but she has already learned some hard lessons about the world. "It's scary being a trans person because I know there are people out there who just hate me for being myself," she says. "There's been kids who have approached me and say, 'Hey, you should burn in hell.' "

Robinson is a high school senior in Allendale, Mich., a small but growing town about 30 minutes outside Grand Rapids and smack dab in the middle of what's known as the state's "Bible Belt." Drive off the main road and you quickly find yourself in farm country.

Jennifer Eberhardt has been interested in issues of race and bias since she was a child.

The African-American Stanford University psychology professor — and author of a new book called Biased -- grew up in an all-black neighborhood in Cleveland, Ohio. Then, one day, Eberhardt's parents announced the family was moving to the Cleveland suburb of Beachwood. When Eberhardt arrived there, she told NPR's Ailsa Chang, she noticed something strange: She could no longer tell people's faces apart.

The new movie Us, Jordan Peele's follow-up to Get Out, is a horror movie.

It starts with a black family on vacation. They go to the beach; dad buys a boat. Then things start getting creepy.

One night, another family dressed in red jumpsuits shows up in front of the house. And each member of this new family — mom, dad, sister, brother — is an identical copy of the family inside. They're doppelgangers.

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

There's a story about China that's taken hold during this trade war, and it goes something like this. China is garbage at protecting American intellectual property. But the story I'm about to tell is a little different.

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Once, when Halle Butler was working as a temp, she was taken to a file room filled floor-to-ceiling with old documents and told that her job was to shred them.

"The whole thing had kind of a feeling of the beginning of the Rumpelstiltskin fairytale where she has to spin all the stuff into gold — except that I was creating garbage," Butler says.

Butler's novel The New Me explores what it's like to work in a dead-end office job. Her story focuses on a 30-year-old woman named Millie who wanders from temp job to temp job.

Tim Demarais works for an American company called ABRO. The brand is a big deal in many foreign countries. They sell so much masking tape in places like Pakistan that when people there refer to a roll of masking tape, they'll often call it a roll of ABRO.

But back in 2002, ABRO's sales started to dip. Tim heard from a customer that counterfeit ABRO goods in China might be causing the problem. So, he flew over to investigate. What he discovered-- the extent of the fraud--was shocking. And even more surprising, the company posing as ABRO insisted they were the real ABRO.

We're back for our annual tradition: Channeling another year's worth of jealousy and self-loathing into a whole episode just for you. Happy Valentine's Day!

Here at Planet Money, we spend a lot of time digging around for stories and new ideas. So when we come across something that we think brilliantly explains our economy--we're often like, "Why the heck didn't we come up with that?!"

The government is shut down again. Here at Planet Money, we wondered: just how long has this been going on? The answer is: It started a long time ago, but then it didn't happen again for nearly a hundred years.

Today on the show, we go back in time to 1879. There was a fight between President Rutherford B. Hayes and Congress about African-Americans voting. It ended in the first ever government shutdown.

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