Ari Shapiro

In 2016, Amitav Ghosh was working on his novel Gun Island, and imagined a scene in which a wildfire was advancing toward a Los Angeles museum. About six months later, that scenario played out in real life, as the Skirball fire burned near The Getty Center in December 2017. Ghosh says he felt "completely shaken."

A-WA is made up of three Israeli sisters, Tair, Liron and Tagel Haim. This melodic trio of Jewish women of Yemeni descent women emphasize mixing their culture's traditions with forward-thinking modifications to sound, visuals and ethos. The sisters are known for eye-popping music videos that challenge gender stereotypes. Picture women in traditional robes that are neon pink while off-roading across a barren desert. The trio's sound is just as distinctive.

Tanya Tucker has always been a hellraiser. The 60-year-old country singer who shot to fame with Delta Dawn in 1972 at 13 has made a career out of charismatic sass, an outlaw image and a signature vocal performance to back it up. Throughout Tucker's career, there have been bestselling albums, awards and recognition including an exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame. There have also been bouts with drug addiction and rehabilitation.

Electric cars are all over the roads these days. But what about electric planes?

Air travel currently accounts for only about 2% of global carbon emissions. But it's expected to grow in the next century, and clean air travel is seen as a key part of slowing global warming.

"My entire life is in ruins."

The first line in Sarah Parcak's new book might come off a bit bleak, but the archaeologist means this literally, not figuratively. In fact, she's found studying thousands of years of human history has actually given her hope, or at least some hope. "Humans are very resilient," she says. "And in spite of all the terrible things that we have done to each other, I think we're 51% good. So I try to hold onto that, especially being the parent of a young child."

Edith Magnusson, the hard-working heroine in The Lager Queen of Minnesota is actually a composite of some of the women closest to author J. Ryan Stradal — his own mother and grandmothers. Stradal wasn't seeing the strong, Midwestern women who raised him reflected well in contemporary fiction. So he decided to write those characters himself.

"Sometimes when they are represented they can be oversimplified or caricatured ... " he says. "I know these people too well to do that. They contain multitudes just like everyone does — only they don't toot their own horn about it."

Before writing his first book, author Daniel Nieh was an international model and a Chinese interpreter.

Those previous lives shine through in Nieh's debut novel, Beijing Payback.

"As a model and as a translator, you're always behind the scenes," Nieh says in an interview. "You know, you get backstage, you're a fly on the wall, you're there to be seen or be heard but maybe not to speak. And so you get to witness all kinds of different bizarre situations."

When Steven Hoelscher first came across an essay with Langston Hughes' name on it, he says it felt "totally random." Hoelscher, a professor at University of Texas at Austin, was doing research in the archives of an investigative journalist named John L. Spivak.

In 2013, a video of a marriage proposal set to Betty Who's "Somebody Loves You" went viral on YouTube. The video shows a colorfully clad group perform a coordinated, joyful dance to the pop song in the middle of a Home Depot in Salt Lake City. According to Betty Who, the Home Depot performance is one of a number of proposals and wedding dances with the same soundtrack.

Javier Forero and Camilo Medina — bassist, guitarist and alternating lead singers of the rock quartet Divino Niño — were childhood friends in their hometown of Bogotá, Colombia. They lost touch near the end of pre-school when Forero's family moved to Miami. But years later, after Medina's family had also moved up to Miami, the old friends re-connected during middle school. The boys' friendship was bolstering by attending the same mega-church. That's where they had their first opportunity to play and perform music together.

It may come as no surprise that a strong majority of Americans support a wealth tax — a higher tax rate for a small number of millionaires and billionaires.

But what might be a surprise is that some of those millionaires and billionaires are calling for a wealth tax themselves.

Abigail Disney is one of those people.

Her grandfather was Roy Disney, co-founder of the multibillion-dollar entertainment conglomerate that bears her family name — though she currently has no formal role with the company.

Marijuana Pepsi's mother told her that her birth name would take her places.

She wasn't wrong.

After a life spent being mocked for having an unusual name, the 46-year-old seized on her experience to earn a Ph.D. in higher education leadership. Her dissertation focused on unusual names, naturally.

As of last week, Marijuana Pepsi is now Dr. Marijuana Pepsi Vandyck.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

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

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

When Hurricane Michael struck the Panhandle of Florida last October, Keith and Susan Koppelman were huddled in the bathroom of their small, two-bedroom rental trailer just north of Panama City.

"When the winds came we both started praying," says Keith, 49. "I thought, 'Oh my God, this is a big storm.' "

After four hours, they finally emerged to survey the damage. The storm's 160-mile-per-hour winds had torn off the porch and peeled away the trailer's tin siding.

When Sinkane wrote the song "Ya Sudan" the Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir was still in power. He had ruled Sudan since a coup in 1989. That coup was a key moment in the life of Sinkane's lead singer and songwriter, Ahmed Gallab.

Hurricane season begins June 1, but the Florida panhandle is still reeling from Hurricane Michael, which made landfall last October and caused an ongoing housing crisis.

This month in Tulsa, Okla., opera singer Lucia Lucas made her U.S. debut. She also made history.

At the Tulsa Opera, Lucas sang the title role in Mozart's Don Giovanni. Mozart's character is a ruthless, macho womanizer. Lucas is a transgender woman with a rich baritone voice and is the first known trans woman to sing a principal role on an American opera stage. In a conversation with NPR's Ari Shapiro, Lucas said she doesn't want her performances to be entirely defined by this historical marker.

Feast Your Eyes is the name of a new book that tells the story of a young woman — Lillian Preston — who ventures to New York City in the 1950s, absolutely determined to be a photographer. The book is set up as if it's a catalogue accompanying her posthumous show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The supposed catalogue describes 118 photos — but we don't see a single one, because Lillian Preston is fictional, and entirely believable. She's the creation of author Myla Goldberg, who says that while Lillian is fictional, a lot of her photos are real.

Titanic Rising, Natalie Mering's latest album from her long-running project Weyes Blood, invites the listener in with a comforting, somewhat nostalgic sound. But beneath that warm, dream-pop bed of music is a flood of anxieties about climate change, finding love and a friend's suicide.

It's the stuff of a Hollywood blockbuster: Five hundred years ago, a son of Christopher Columbus assembled one of the greatest libraries the world has ever known. The volumes inside were mostly lost to history. Now, a precious book summarizing the contents of the library has turned up in a manuscript collection in Denmark.

More than a decade ago, Anaïs Mitchell was running late for one of her shows. The singer-songwriter, in her 20s at the time, was trying to get from one gig to another and found herself lost. Along the drive, a song lyric popped into her head. "The lines that came were, 'Wait for me I'm coming. In my garters and pearls with what melody did you barter me from the wicked underworld,'" she remembers.

Our Planet is the kind of nature show where every image could be a screen saver: sweeping, dramatic landscapes are full of colorful animals.

Daviz Simango, mayor of Beira, Mozambique, thought that his coastal city was prepared for cyclones.

In 2012, the city built a new drainage system and wave barriers with $120 million from the World Bank. The idea was to help Beira withstand the rising seas and increased storms that experts predict will accompany global climate change.

Then Cyclone Idai hit.

In his State of the Union address this year, President Trump announced an initiative "to eliminate the HIV epidemic in the United States within 10 years."

The man who pitched the president on this idea is Alex Azar, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

One young woman is walking to find work so she can send money back to Venezuela for a nephew who has leukemia.

Another is traveling with four of her five kids, in search of food for her family.

As another family hikes along, the husband walks ahead to hide his tears from his children.

In The Undefeated, artist Kadir Nelson illustrates generations of black American heroes "emerging from the shadows."

"It begins with Jesse Owens literally jumping out of the darkness into the light ..." Nelson says. "By the time we get to toward the middle and end of the book those shadows have disappeared and the brilliance and excellence of the subjects have completely emerged into the bright light."

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KORVA COLEMAN, HOST:

We're going to turn now to a different border - the one shared by Colombia and Venezuela. ALL THINGS CONSIDERED host Ari Shapiro has been reporting from there all week. And he joins us on the line from Colombia's capital, Bogota. Hi, Ari.

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

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And our co-host Ari Shapiro is reporting this week from Bogota, Colombia, where he joins us now. Hey there, Ari.

ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: Hi, Audie. Hey, Audie, would you do me a favor? I want you to pull out your phone.

CORNISH: OK.

Williams Cancino fled his post as a Venezuelan special forces official to neighboring Colombia last month. Now he is restless to get back to his home country to help overthrow the government of Nicolás Maduro.

"I think it's time to act," says Cancino, 27, at a park in the Colombian border town of Villa del Rosario. "It's time to organize ourselves, the soldiers that know how to fight."

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