Brooke Waggoner On Mountain Stage

Nashville singer-songwriter Brooke Waggoner returns to Mountain Stage, recorded live at the Culture Center Theater in Charleston, W.Va. A frequent collaborator for Jack White and Beck, Waggoner makes music that’s “less rawk, more Rachmaninov,” using her classical background to bend indie folk-pop conventions to her whim.

Waggoner wrote and produced all songs, poems and orchestral arrangements on her latest release, Sweven, which is out now on her own label, Swoon Moon Music. Waggoner is joined in this set by Brad Odum on drums and Juan Solorzano on guitar and bass.

  • “Widowmaker”
  • “Pennies And Youth”
  • “Proof”
  • “Adults”
  • “The Splitting Of Yourself In Two”

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A Daughter Of Coal Country Battles Climate Change — And Her Father's Doubt

Ashley Funk plans to move back home to southwest Pennsylvania to work on environmental projects in a place where climate change and the local economy are intertwined.

Stephanie Strasburg for WBEZ

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Stephanie Strasburg for WBEZ

The economy in southwestern Pennsylvania has been hit twice, once by the collapse of big mining and steel employers, and again by the environmental destruction that accompanied those industries.

It’s a part of the country that voted heavily for Donald Trump.

Ashley Funk grew up an hour outside of Pittsburgh. The area feels kind of left behind with buildings named after mining companies and polluted ponds turned fluorescent, alarming colors.

By the time she was in high school, Ashley was a full-blown climate activist. She even joined a lawsuit against the state of Pennsylvania, alleging it had not done enough to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

A version of this story first aired as part of WBEZ’s climate change project “Heat of the Moment” — an initiative made possible with support from the Joyce Foundation, which is also among NPR’s financial supporters.

Her beliefs put her at odds with her own family. Ashley’s dad, Mark, describes himself as a “coal burning farmer.” During the primary season, Ashley was supporting Bernie Sanders and her father was an ardent Trump supporter.

It seemed like the two couldn’t agree on anything. But when they start talking about local, natural gas jobs that have been popping up in southwest Pennsylvania, there is some common ground.

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“Our area has been neglected since the collapse of the steel industry, the collapse of the coal industry, and finally something’s coming back, and I think that’s giving people hope,” Ashley says. “But I am nervous, in order to make money people exploit the environment.”

Her father now agrees that bringing life back to the local economy can’t come at the cost of the environment.

“I agree 100 percent,” he says. “I seen it. And I tell you the truth, I remember coming into Pittsburgh, that was the very early ’70s, you’d drive through the tunnels, and it was black. … I remember that. We can’t let this place go like it was before.”

Use the audio link above the hear the full story.

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Latin Roots: La Yegros

La Yegros’ most recent album is Magnetismo.

Nora Lezano/Courtesy of the artist

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Nora Lezano/Courtesy of the artist

  • “Carnabailito”
  • “Déjate Llevar”
  • “Chicha Roja”

Argentine singer-songwriter La Yegros’ 2016 record Magnetismo combines tropical pop, hip-hop, dancehall, North African folk and Latin rhythms — plus the accent of electronic and the underpinnings of familiar beats like cumbia and chamamé, the traditional northern Argentine rhythmic style rooted in dance.

The woman behind the music, Mariana Yegros, has an amazing command of consonants when she sings in Spanish — she chews her lyrics right in rhythmic step, rolls her R’s hard and wraps it all up in a way that you can understand even if you don’t speak Spanish. Hear the complete segment, including a live performance and interview, in the player above.

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Third Suspect In Custody After Mysterious Death Of Kim Jong Un's Half-Brother

TV screens in Seoul, South Korea, show images Wednesday of Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. On Tuesday, Kim Jong Nam was killed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

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Ahn Young-joon/AP

Investigators are beginning to shed light on the mysterious, sudden death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s estranged half-brother in Malaysia on Tuesday.

Kim Jong Nam died en route to the hospital, after reportedly telling medical workers that he had been attacked at the Kuala Lumpur airport in broad daylight.

Now, Malaysian officials have taken three people into custody, as NPR’s Elise Hu reports from Seoul. Here’s more from Elise:

“Police say airport surveillance footage shows two women approaching the 45-year old Kim in Terminal 2. One covered his face with a cloth. Minutes later, Kim fell ill, sought help and died while being rushed to the hospital. Both women are now in custody. One holds an Indonesian passport, the other, Vietnamese.”

Elise adds that investigators have also apprehended a third suspect, identified as a taxi driver, who is said to be linked to the women. The Associated Press says Malaysian authorities say he is “believed to be the boyfriend of the Indonesian suspect.”

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Indonesian authorities have been able to meet with that suspect and confirmed she is an Indonesian national, according to the wire service.

Kim Jong Nam has been living outside of North Korea for years. Once thought to be the heir apparent to his father, Kim Jong Il, he fell out of favor in 2001 after he was caught trying to enter Japan on a fake Dominican passport, apparently to visit Disneyland.

And as The Two-Way has reported, he is believed to have feared for his life for years. It’s not clear whether the three suspects in custody have any direct ties to the North Korean government.

But Kim Chang-su at the Korean Institute for Defense Analyses tells Elise that Kim Jong Un may have perceived his brother as a threat: “He’s on the throne. He’s really emphasizing his presence on the throne, nobody can be allowed to challenge him in North Korea.”

You can listen to Elise’s full report on Morning Edition here:

The next piece of the puzzle to emerge will likely be the cause of death. Malaysian authorities have conducted an autopsy but have not yet released the results.

A senior Malaysian police official told the AP that “North Korea had objected to the autopsy but Malaysia went ahead with it anyway because the North did not submit a formal protest.”

As Elise reports, North Korean state media has not yet mentioned Kim Jong Nam’s death.

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Senate Narrowly Confirms Mulvaney As Trump's OMB Director

Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., faced sharp questions during his confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill last month.

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Carolyn Kaster/AP

Rep. Mick Mulvaney, President Trump’s pick to lead the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, won a close confirmation vote in the full Senate on Thursday, two weeks after the Senate Budget Committee advanced the South Carolina Republican’s nomination by a 12-11 vote.

In a back-and-forth voice vote, the tally was 50-47 when Sen. Mitch McConnell’s name was called. His “aye” vote sealed the nomination with 51 senators in favor. As the votes rolled in, groups of Democrats and Republicans huddled on the Senate floor, locked in conversation.

Immediately after the vote, McConnell took the floor to begin consideration of another Trump nomination — that of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt for the post of U.S. EPA administrator.

Democrats who opposed Mulvaney’s nomination spoke of his view that Social Security and Medicare must be overhauled — a move that, as NPR’s Scott Horsley reported last month, Trump promised not to undertake.

At least one Republican — Sen. John McCain of Arizona — had said he would vote against Mulvaney’s confirmation, in a move McCain said was based on the congressman’s position on defense spending. In the past, McCain also faulted Mulvaney for his role in the 2013 government shutdown.

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Mulvaney “is a prominent member of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of around 40 conservatives that grew out of the Tea Party movement,” as we reported when his nomination was announced.

In the House, Mulvaney played a prominent role in the shutdown of the federal government over a budget impasse in late 2013. He had advocated for a similar shutdown back in 2011.

Mulvaney’s confirmation follows a setback for Trump: On Wednesday, his labor secretary nominee, fast-food executive Andrew Puzder, withdrew his name from consideration after failing to get enough support from Republicans.

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Inside The White House, Trump Changes His Tune On Leaks

President Trump, speaking at the White House on Wednesday, criticized the leaks surrounding his departed national security adviser, Michael Flynn. On the campaign trail, Trump encouraged leaks against his rival Hillary Clinton and said they were inevitable.

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Evan Vucci/AP

Candidate Donald Trump was a big fan of leaks, especially when they targeted Hillary Clinton and reports of her deleted emails.

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said last July in Florida. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

In the White House less than a month, President Trump is far less enthusiastic about leaks in general, and those involving Russia in particular.

Speaking at the White House on Wednesday, Trump blamed illegal leaks for the downfall of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn over his contacts with Russia:

“I think it’s really a sad thing that he was treated so badly,” he said. “I think in addition to that from intelligence, papers are being leaked, things are being leaked, it’s criminal action. It’s a criminal act and it’s been going on for a long time before me but now it’s really going on.”

Welcome to Washington.

Leaking classified information is a crime, but it’s also one of the most popular sports in the capital and is the bane of every administration. Barack Obama was extremely frustrated by unauthorized disclosures, and during his time in office, nine alleged leakers where prosecuted, more than any other administration.

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A vulnerable moment

Trump may be at a particularly vulnerable moment right now since the White House has just changed hands. It takes time to fill several thousand government positions, which means some Obama holdovers have remained in place, and they might be inclined to spill secrets as they walk out the door.

In Trump’s first days in office, early drafts of his executive orders circulated widely, as did details of his phone calls with foreign leaders.

There was also a hint of this when The Washington Post broke the story last week that Flynn had discussed sanctions in telephone calls with the Russian ambassador at the end of December. The story cited “nine current and former officials, who were in senior positions at multiple agencies at the time of the calls.”

The nine were not further identified and their precise motives for leaking aren’t yet known.

But the story suggests that at least some of them were leaving the government along with Obama and were likely motivated by a desire to undermine and embarrass Trump and Flynn.

Flynn reportedly told then-Vice President-elect Mike Pence that he didn’t discuss sanctions with the Russian ambassador, and Pence stated this in a television interview on Jan. 15.

While Trump fumed about the leaks that revealed this, former Obama adviser David Axelrod told CNN why he thought the disclosures were a good thing: “Were the media not pursuing these things, I’m not sure Mike Pence would still know he was being lied to by General Flynn.”

Large-scale disclosures

Leaks often involve a single high-ranking source and a few selective details about bureaucratic infighting in Washington. But technology has made possible a new era of large-scale disclosures by relatively low-ranking government employees who have access to highly sensitive information.

Back in 1971, Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers to The New York Times, revealing the military establishment knew early on that the Vietnam War was going badly, but continued to paint a rosy scenario. Ellsberg said it took him many days to photocopy the thousands of government documents one page at a time.

Fast forward to 2010, when Army Private Chelsea Manning was able to pass on hundreds of thousands of government documents to WikiLeaks. Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison. Obama commuted her sentence just before he left office, prompting Trump to call Manning an “ungrateful traitor” who should never be released.

And Edward Snowden was a contractor for the National Security Agency when he spilled the details of the NSA’s bulk surveillance programs in 2013. Snowden remains in Russia and is under indictment in the U.S., where he is a polarizing figure. Supporters say he should be pardoned for showing the extent of government eavesdropping, while detractors say he undermined the country’s security and deserves to be prosecuted.

One common thread: Many leakers have said they either tried to raise their frustrations officially and nothing happened, or that they didn’t trust their own superiors to get the word out.

NSA whistleblowers told WGBH’s documentary show Frontline that they got nowhere with using proper channels, and their cases may have inspired Snowden to blow the whistle as openly as possible.

And in a 2013 interview with NPR, Ellsberg said he initially tried working through the system, but to no avail.

“I wasted years trying to do it through channels, first within the executive branch and then with Congress,” he said. “During that time, more than 10,000 Americans died and probably more than a million Vietnamese.”

“That was a fruitless effort, as it would have been for Manning and Snowden,” he says.

Leaks go both ways

As much as administrations complain about leaks, they rarely hesitate to use them to their own advantage.

After the 2011 raid in Pakistan that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, the Obama administration poured out details of the operation so it could bask in the limelight of a great success. Adm. Mike Mullen, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, got so frustrated he urged his own administration to shut up.

Yet the government launched a criminal investigation of Matt Bissonnette, a member of Navy SEAL Team 6, when he wrote an unauthorized book, No Easy Day, about the raid.

The case was settled last August when Bissonnette agreed to forfeit $6.8 million in book royalties and apologized for failing to get the book cleared in advance with the Pentagon.

His book is just one of many in recent years by former members of the military and the national security establishment, which has led to criticism that they are revealing too many details.

But they are hardly alone.

The Sieve

When looking for leaks, a good place to start is Capitol Hill. The disclosures are so plentiful that calling them congressional leaks somehow seems an understatement. A firehose metaphor would be more apt.

There once was a time when presidential administrations could reasonably assume that sharing sensitive national security material would remain private when presented to Congress.

But many of those traditions have faded in this highly partisan era.

When Obama administration officials briefed Congress, they knew that Republican members and their staffers would be prone to leaking. The Trump administration is already discovering the same thing.

Greg Myre is a national security correspondent. Follow him @gregmyre1.

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Thimble dropped from Monopoly board game after getting a thumbs-down

New versions of Monopoly will no longer give players the option of using a tiny silver-colored thimble as their pawn on the board, after fans voted to drop the piece that had featured in the game since its introduction in 1935.

The thimble — a tool used in sewing to prevent pricking one’s thumb with a needle — was the second of the games’ original pieces to be dropped after players gave a thumbs-down to the iron in 2013, Providence, Rhode Island-based game maker Hasbro Inc said on Thursday.

The surviving pieces that trace their roots back to the Great Depression include a battleship, boot and Scottie dog.

Players also had the option to vote online on a new pawn to replace the thimble, with choices including monster trucks and flip-flops. Hasbro plans to reveal their choice next month.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Tom Brown)

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Boeing Employees Vote Against Unionizing In South Carolina

Workers assemble Boeing 787s at the company’s plant in North Charleston, S.C., in 2015. Results of a vote released Wednesday show workers have rejected union representation.

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Bruce Smith/AP

Updated 10 p.m. ET

The International Association of Machinists says workers at Boeing’s South Carolina plant have voted not to unionize.

In a video on the union’s Facebook page, lead organizer Mike Evans says the workers have decided “at this time they don’t need representation,” and he says the IAM respects the process. He tells workers that the company should “pay attention to your issues and make Boeing a better place, not just for a few, but for everybody.”

Boeing released a statement saying that 74 percent of employees who voted rejected the union, adding:

“”We will continue to move forward as one team,” said Joan Robinson-Berry, vice president and general manager of BSC. “We have a bright future ahead of us and we’re eager to focus on the accomplishments of this great team and to developing new opportunities.

“Friday we will mark the most recent incredible accomplishment in the proud history of the BSC team with the rollout of the first 787-10,” said Robinson-Berry. “It is great to have this vote behind us as we come together to celebrate that event.”

President Trump is expected to visit the plant on Friday for that event.

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Alexandra Olgin of South Carolina Public Radio reported that the IAM had promised “nearly 3,000 workers at Boeing respect, wages and consistency. The IAM reports it represents 35,000 workers at 24 Boeing locations around the country.”

“The state has the lowest union membership rate in the country,” Alexandra reported for NPR’s All Things Considered. “Around Charleston, Boeing [had] billboards, T-shirts and ads criticizing the IAM. And the union [countered] with its own rallies and ads.”

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