Japan's Annual Antarctic Expedition Returns With 333 Whale Carcasses

The Nisshin Maru, mother ship in the Japanese whaling fleet, returns to port in southwestern Japan on Friday.


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For the second consecutive year, Japanese whalers have returned to port after an Antarctic expedition with the carcasses of 333 whales. The five-ship fleet, put forth by the country’s Fisheries Agency, killed the minke whales during a months-long voyage to southern waters for what it calls ecological research.

The agency released a statement describing the mission as “research for the purpose of studying the ecological system in the Antarctic Sea,” according to Agence France-Presse.

The Associated Press reports that Fisheries Agency official Shigeto Hase lauded a successful expedition in Shimonoseki, the home port for Nisshin Maru, mother ship of the Japanese fleet.

“It was great that we have achieved our plan,” Hase told those gathered for a welcome ceremony, including the city’s mayor and about 200 local people, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation notes. “We will steadily continue our research toward a resumption of commercial whaling.”

It is not by chance that the word “research” served as the centerpiece of both statements.

Under the rules of the International Whaling Commission, of which Japan is a member, there has been an international ban on commercial whaling since 1986 — though there is an exception for whaling conducted with ecological research in mind. It is this exception that allows Japan’s whaling fleet to embark on its yearly hunt in the icy waters of Antarctica.

Yet many critics view this use of the exception as a fig leaf, exploited by Japan’s Fisheries Agency to cover for the practice of reportedly selling whale meat commercially.

In fact, as NPR’s Bill Chappell reported in 2014, the International Court of Justice ruled that its whaling program — which has been going on since 2005 and killed thousands of minke whales, according to the ICJ — has generated only limited scientific output. Not enough, in other words, to justify the program.

Despite the ruling, and opposition from neighbors such as Australia, Japan refrained for just one year from killing whales on its annual expedition before returning to the practice under a document submitted to the ICW, which laid out the scope and techniques of its resumed program.

Still, the ABC reports that the exception that has allowed for Japan’s whaling expeditions might soon see further restrictions:

“Japan will have to submit its proposed catch to a scientific working group within the IWC.

“The commission will ask for further justification about why the scientific program needs to kill the whales to study them.”

For conservationists such as Humane Society International Executive Vice President Kitty Block, this change is not enough.

“It is an obscene cruelty in the name of science that must end,” she said in a statement, according to the AP.

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David Dye, Signing Off

After 25 years with World Cafe, David Dye is signing off as full-time host.

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Editor’s note: Friday marks David Dye’s last day as full-time host of World Cafe, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

I am certainly the luckiest radio host I know. I have come to work each day to find out which of my heroes I am going to talk to next. Even as my last day hosting World Cafe rolls out, I am preparing to interview Aimee Mann and one of the greats, Ray Davies of The Kinks. As Talia Schlanger takes over World Cafe come Monday, that should let you know that I am not disappearing.

For 25 years this has been my world — always with the specter of the next show on the horizon. I won’t miss that responsibility. My life is going to be different. I hope it’s a little slower: more reading and baseball, less updating my Twitter feed. I look forward to putting on an album just because I want to hear it, not as show prep.

World Cafe will continue as a living, breathing entity — hopefully for 25 more years. The staff is more pumped than ever. Great things are in the wind. I’ll be checking in with Ms. Schlanger once in a while. And I will be listening — and I hope you will be too. Radio is nothing without listeners completing the circle. You know, we can feel you out there! The artists and I thank you for 25 years.

—David Dye

P.S.: We turned the tables for my last on-air show as full-time host and had Ari Shapiro from NPR’s All Things Considered interview me! Hear the complete conversation in the player above.

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Secretary Tillerson's Busy Week: Bahrain, Turkey, NATO

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is in Brussels on Friday meeting with NATO foreign ministers for the first time since he began at the State Department.

The meeting closes out a busy week for Tillerson, who earlier this week changed a human-rights policy attached to the sale of arms to Bahrain and announced that the fate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “will be decided by the Syrian people.”

NPR’s Michele Kelemen (@michelekelemen) recaps the week with Here & Now‘s Jeremy Hobson.

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Songs We Love: A Tribe Called Quest, 'Dis Generation'


A Tribe Called Quest‘s latest visual from its four-month-old reunion album, We got it from Here…Thank You 4 Your service, dropped Thursday and its a poetic distillation of hip-hop’s generation gap.

Directed by Hiro Murai, the same auteur behind Donald Glover’s Golden Globe winning “Atlanta” series, “Dis Generation” finds the remaining members of Tribe (Q-Tip, Jarobi, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and longtime collaborator Busta Rhymes) dancing in the shadows — literally and figuratively — as they school listeners with lyrical wordplay. For a group whose visual presentation has always been on-point, it’s right up there with the best Tribe videos of all time — word to Phife, whose presence is felt verbally if not visually.

It’s also one of the best songs on an LP full of great ones. As the centerpiece of the album, “Dis Generation” both celebrates and challenges hip-hop’s newcomers as Tribe’s members trade bars, likening their own lyrical ability to some high-grade smoke. Delivered over a bouncy track constructed around guitar loops, piano licks and a glimmering sample from Argentinian prog rock band Invisible’s 1976 song “Ruido De Magia [Magic Noise],” Tribe flows with its signature brand of youthful exuberance. It’s like they’re kids again, but with the wisdom of experience to season their swag. Even the bare bones hook samples the popular vocal (“this generation / rules the nation!”) from British reggae band Musical Youth’s 1982 weed anthem “Pass the Dutchie,” one of rap’s most enduring references.

“You can’t define us, X, Y us, or Z us / you generational elitists,” Q-Tip raps, pushing back at rap’s ageist tendencies. It’s a stark reminder of the midlife crisis the genre found itself fully engulfed in a couple of years ago. The video’s release coincided Thursday with the premiere of Kendrick Lamar’s visual for “HUMBLE,” the first single from what is presumed to be his forthcoming studio album. Each innovative in their own right, both videos (and songs) prove that the discourse around rap’s generation gap over the past year fails to account for the rare common denominator: timelessness.

Q-Tip conveys that sentiment well when he nods to such contemporary standouts as Joey Bada$$, Earl Sweatshirt, J. Cole and, of course, Kendrick Lamar: “Talk to Joey, Earl, Kendrick, and Cole / gatekeepers of flow / They are extensions of instinctual soul.” It’s almost like he’s passing the dutchie — or, in this case, the baton — to the left-hand side.

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Judge Approves $25 Million Settlement Of Trump University Lawsuit

Copies of How To Build Wealth, a series of nine audio business courses created by Trump University, were on display at a Barnes & Noble store in New York City in 2005.

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A federal judge has approved a $25 million settlement deal between President Trump and students who paid for Trump University real estate seminars, bringing lengthy litigation to a close.

The deal, which calls for Trump to reimburse the students who say they were defrauded, was struck in November but needed approval from U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel. He signed off on the settlement Friday in San Diego.

Trump doesn’t admit any wrongdoing under the terms of the settlement.

The settlement applies to three separate lawsuits — two class-actions and a fraud case. The $25 million deal includes payouts to more than 6,000 Trump U students who paid thousands of dollars for courses they describe as worthless.

One student had pushed against the deal, as The Associated Press reports:

“The only holdup appeared to be a Florida woman’s claim that she should be allowed to opt out of the settlement and sue the president on her own — a move that would likely scuttle the entire agreement.

“Attorneys for former customers said that their clients would get at least 90 percent of their money back under the deal, based on the roughly 3,730 claims submitted. …

“Curiel said the high payments weighed in favor of approval and he noted that only two of about 7,000 eligible class-action members objected to the terms.”

You may recall that on the campaign trail, Trump accused Curiel of being biased because he is “Mexican.” That claim was false — Curiel was born in Indiana — and even House Speaker Paul Ryan acknowledged that it was “sort of like the textbook definition of racism.”

Trump doubled down on the comments before saying he wouldn’t talk about Curiel any more.

Curiel had urged both sides to settle.

And what about the fraud allegations that underpin these lawsuits?

NPR’s Ina Jaffe reported last year that students paid $1,500 to $35,000 for courses on “real estate investment secrets” ostensibly taught by instructors hand-picked by Trump.

“They claim that the promised Donald Trump investment techniques were mostly stuff that you could find on the internet, some of which was illegal in some of the states where the seminars took place,” she said. “They say that the promised mentoring was worthless or non-existent, that the instructors were unqualified and that they were definitely not handpicked by Donald Trump, as he claimed.

“And transcripts of Donald Trump’s deposition … confirm that he was relatively unengaged with what went on in Trump University.”

Trump’s lawyers said the allegations are false.

NPR’s Jim Zarroli spoke with an unhappy Trump University customer who said he paid $35,000 for “secrets” such as the fact that he could go to the IRS website to learn about federal tax deductions.

“The more and more I got involved in Trump University, the more and more I found out that I had truly been scammed,” Bob Guillo, 76, told NPR

“At first it was embarrassing,” Guillo said. “Then I became very, very angry that the man that scammed me out of all that money had the audacity to run for president. And I’m still angry.”

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Jack Black's A Capella Version Of Prince's 'When Doves Cry' Is … Something


Actor and singer Jack Black interrupted a performance with his band Tenacious D to break into an a cappella version of Prince’s “When Doves Cry.”

The moment came while the band was playing the song “Double Team” during the German music festival Rock Am Ring.

Black and Tenacious D have always been a novelty act, playing ironic, overtly sexual and comically exaggerated heavy metal songs (on acoustic guitar). But the actor and his musical partner Kyle Gass are undeniably talented musicians who know what they’re doing, even if it’s all mostly a joke.

Fan comments on Black’s version of “When Doves Cry” range from “god awful terrible” and “garbage” to “I thought it was moving” and “One of our generation’s greatest entertainers.” Regardless of which side you come down on, you’ve gotta give it to the guy for putting it all out there. He clearly loves Prince … maybe just a little too much.

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Strip Ts

Ask Me Another raunches up this word game where every answer is a famous phrase, but with its “Ts” stripped away. If we said, “Paul Bunyan, John Henry and Pecos Bill are the subject of unlikely stories about drinking every beer,” the answer would be “all ales.” That’s “tall tales” without the letter T.

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