Episode 764: Pub In A Box

Tabs from Tigin Irish Pub in New York’s JFK Airport.

Irish Pub Company

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Irish Pub Company

Here’s what Kazakhstan, Hong Kong, and Ireland have in common: They all have Irish pubs.

And a bunch of them are the product of one man: Mel McNally.

McNally spent his final year in architecture school studying the architecture of Irish pubs. He and his buddies hit up all the famous pubs in Dublin, and brought along their sketchbooks and measuring tape to answer one question: What makes these places work?

A few rules emerged from their study. The architecture of the place should create spaces that encourage people to mingle in different-sized groups. And no matter where you sit in the pub, you should be able to see the bar.

Now, he ships Irish pubs to every corner of the globe, in 40-foot long containers. And inside of those crates are the elements he’s found that’ll make an Irish pub “authentic:” knick knacks, vinyl floors, and dark wood panels.

Today on the show, we drink a few beers and ponder the eternal question, is this a great bar or what?

Music: “Acrobatic” and “All The Good Ideas.” Find us: Twitter/ Facebook.

Subscribe to our show on iTunes or PocketCast.

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ACLU Files 13 Lawsuits For Records Related To Trump's Travel Ban

An ACLU representative speaks with Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., during a protest at Dulles International Airport in Virginia on Jan. 29, 2017. The ACLU is suing for documents related to implementation of the president’s travel ban.

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Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc.

The American Civil Liberties Union announced on Wednesday that its affiliates had filed 13 coordinated Freedom of Information Act lawsuits, demanding government documents related to implementation of the president’s executive orders on travel and immigration.

The organization seeks records from local offices of U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Homeland Security — records the ACLU says it first requested on Feb. 2. The ACLU says “the government has failed to substantively respond.”

The lawsuits seek information from 13 local CBP offices – primarily in cities with international airports “where there were reports of some kind that we wanted to get information about, and we wanted to get it from the people handling it on the ground,” says Gabriela Melendez, political communications manager for the ACLU.

The organization’s FOIA requests seek any records regarding implementation of the travel bans, including text messages, voicemails, emails, contracts, directives and training documents.

The ACLU says the agency has a long history of not complying with FOIA rules.

The civil liberties group sent a letter to then-CBP Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske in July 2016, complaining that often “FOIA requesters receive no response whatsoever. Those who do receive a response are frequently told (erroneously) that no records exist, or they are provided with incomplete responses and/or overbroad and unlawful redactions that are contrary to the FOIA statute, case law, and implementing agency regulations.”

In a statement to NPR, ACLU said that those frustrations persist under the new administration. “CBP continues to treat the Freedom of Information Act with contempt,” it says. “CBP routinely fails even to respond to FOIA requests and flouts its transparency obligations by forcing federal court intervention to pry loose information which the public is entitled to.”

The ACLU says each lawsuit seeks “unique and local information” about how CBP implemented Trump’s executive orders at specific airports and points of entry “in the midst of rapidly developing and sometimes conflicting government guidance.”

Melendez says the ACLU doesn’t know what it will uncover in the documents it seeks. “The number one goal is transparency and getting to the bottom of what happened,” she says.

As NPR’s Sam Sanders reported in March, the ACLU has raised more than $80 million since Donald Trump was elected on Nov. 8. It’s part of a wave of “rage giving” among the progressive and vocal “Resistance” to the Trump presidency.

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Sculptor Of Wall Street Bull Says 'Fearless Girl' Horns In On His Work

The Charging Bull and Fearless Girl square off in New York City’s financial district. Arturo Di Modica, the bull’s sculptor, says the girl staring it down has changed the meaning of his work in an unwelcome way.

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Mark Lennihan/AP

So far in her young life, New York City’s Fearless Girl has drawn countless tourists, a metric ton of media coverage and its fair share of praise as a symbol of the fight for gender equity — so much, in fact, that the statue staring down the financial district’s famous Charging Bull recently got a new lease on life, at least through 2018.

For at least one person, though, the Girl has offered less than welcome company.

“The girl is standing there like this in front the bull, saying, ‘Now, what are you going to do?’ ” the bull’s sculptor, Arturo Di Modica, said at a news conference Wednesday, according to CNN.

Arturo Di Modica holds a model of his Charging Bull during a news conference Wednesday.

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Craig Ruttle/AP

He maintains that Fearless Girl — sculpted by Kristen Visbal and commissioned by the firm State Street Global Advisors, which intends to call attention to a lack of women leaders on Wall Street — at once distorts the intent of his statue from “a symbol of prosperity and for strength” into a villain, and does so for the firm’s own commercial gain.

He put a finer point on the matter in a March interview with the New York Post and MarketWatch: “That is not a symbol! That’s an advertising trick.”

And he’s prepared to fight for its removal.

“There are issues of copyright and trademark that needed to be — and still need to be — addressed,” Di Modica’s attorney, Norman Siegel, said at the news conference. Siegel, a longtime civil liberties lawyer, carefully emphasized that they, too, support the fight for gender equality and that they do not want the FearlessGirl banned entirely.

“Remove her and place her somewhere else in the city,” he said. “We’ve got lots of ideas. And damages must be awarded to Arturo for violation of his legal, statutory rights.”

Siegel said a lawsuit has not been filed, but left the door open to the possibility, according to The Guardian.

The statue at the heart of the dispute went up last month in celebration of International Women’s Day, and though MarketWatch notes its temporary permit originally lasted only until April 2, the city renewed that permit through 2018.

But Visbal has made no secret of her admiration for her statue’s massive counterpart: “The bull is beautiful,” she told The New York Post in March. “It’s a stunning piece of art.”

Even the method of the statue’s installation — dropped unheralded in its spot overnight — paid homage to the bull it confronts.

Di Modica himself plopped his 3 1/2-ton bovine beneath a Christmas tree in front of the New York Stock Exchange in December 1989 without a permit. The Italian immigrant intended the work to bolster American traders’ spirits after the stock crash of a few years before — though the NYSE, it must be said, was not pleased with its holiday gift, hefting away the bull by the end of the day.

Men who don’t like women taking up space are exactly why we need the Fearless Girl. https://t.co/D2OZl4ituJ

— Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) April 12, 2017

The Charging Bulleventually found a home two blocks away, at its current resting place just south of Wall Street.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has shown no inclination of moving the intrepid girl from the bronze bull’s path any time soon: “Men who don’t like women taking up space are exactly why we need the Fearless Girl,” he tweeted Wednesday morning.

Visbal, at least, feels some sympathy for Di Modica — “poor Arturo,” she told the Post — but she, like her statue, doesn’t appear ready to back down either.

“The world changes and we are now running with this bull.”

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On The Navajo Nation, Special Ed Students Await Water That's Doesn't Stink

At Saint Michael’s Association for Special Education in St. Michaels, Ariz., the tap water sometimes runs yellow, brown and black.

Sami Rapp/Courtesy of Saint Michael’s Association for Special Education

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Sami Rapp/Courtesy of Saint Michael’s Association for Special Education

On the Navajo Nation, kids with the most severe developmental disabilities attend a school called Saint Michael’s Association for Special Education.

Dameon David, 8, is waking up from a nap in his classroom. He has come to the school in northeastern Arizona for four years. He has cerebral palsy, seizures and scoliosis. His mom, Felencia Woodie, picks him up from a bed with Superman sheets.

“Other schools that he was going to go to, they didn’t have the nursing staff or the equipment he goes in, or the trained staff that they have here to do his suctioning, his feeding and his medications daily,” she says.

Woodie, who also works at Saint Michael’s, says the only problem with the school is its water.

“It has a certain stench to it. Sometimes you’ll smell … kinda like a egg smell,” Woodie says. “Sometimes it’s yellow, brown, or even we’ve seen black.”

Many of the kids at Saint Michael’s are medically fragile. So they have equipment that needs to be cleaned daily. The staff refuses to use the tap water to wash equipment. Instead, they use 5-gallon jugs of filtered water trucked in from many miles away.

More than one-third of the Navajo Nation — which is the size of West Virginia — doesn’t have running water. And at some of the places that do, like Saint Michael’s, people don’t want to drink it because it smells, tastes funny and looks bad.

Felencia Woodie holds her son Dameon David, 8. He is one of seven medically fragile children who attend Saint Michael’s Association for Special Education.

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Laurel Morales/KJZZ

In another classroom, volunteer Jacob Lundy helps two young girls with autism wash their hands at the sink. The water runs yellow.

“What’s odd to me is how normal it becomes for the water in the laundry room to come out black,” Lundy says. “And it’s just like we don’t think about it anymore.”

In the sink you can see the residue from the black water. It looks like sand.

Gregory Bahe, water and waste water operations supervisor at the utility, says the strange color, smell and taste are all likely due to stagnant water. He says the water lines are so far apart that the water sits stagnant for long periods.

The Navajo Tribal Utility Authority tests the water at Saint Michael’s monthly and says it meets national primary drinking water standards.

While it’s not poisonous, there is still the matter of appearance.

“People typically won’t drink water if it tastes bad or if it looks bad or if it stinks,” says Adam Bringhurst, who studies water resources at Northern Arizona University.

He says the Environmental Protection Agency has established two levels of standards. The primary standard — filtering contaminants that harm your health — is required by law. The secondary standard — eliminating taste, color and smell — is voluntary.

“The secondary standards are typically considered aesthetics,” Bringhurst says.

But those secondary standards are still very important, he says.

“We all need to drink water. And when your only option is to go to the store and pay really high prices, that also carry a really big footprint with them, it’s a bad situation for everyone,” Bringhurst says.

Saint Michael’s spent almost $3,000 last year on bottled water alone. That’s a big cost for a school with so many expenses and one that a better water filtration system could alleviate.

So a school volunteer contacted Dig Deep, a nonprofit that digs wells and makes water accessible throughout the region. George McGraw, Dig Deep’s founder and executive director, is especially concerned for the disabled kids.

“These are people that rely on us, on their teachers, on their government officials, on society at large, to make sure that their most basic needs are taken care of. And what’s more basic than having access to clean running water?” McGraw says.

The organization is raising $100,000 to build a water filtration system for Saint Michael’s. It hopes to install it this summer so the water is more than just technically safe. It will be something kids and staff actually want to drink.

Laurel Morales is a reporter with NPR member station KJZZ in Flagstaff, Ariz. You can follow her @laurelgwyn.

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Richard Gere Is A One-Man Social Network In 'Norman'

Escalating Tension: Richard Gere is a man who makes connections in Norman.

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Sony Classics

Midway through Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer, the title character sketches a diagram of his intersecting business, political, and charitable connections. Norman Oppenheimer (Richard Gere) is at the center of the web, and yet he’s barely there at all.

You might call Norman a flesh-and-blood social network. He exists to link others, and though he must be driven by self-interest, it’s hard to tell. Writer-director Joseph Cedar, very intentionally, never shows Norman’s home or office — if he even has them — or the family he often mentions but may not exist. Norman seems tethered to Earth only by a nephew, Philip Cohen (Michael Sheen), a Manhattan attorney who pleads, “don’t mention my name.”

Most people avoid Norman if they possibly can. The movie’s story — intricate, rollicking and sometimes sad — turns on three who don’t scamper away: Israeli deputy trade minister Micha Eshel (Lior Ashkenazi, who starred in Cedar’s equally tricky previous film, Footnote). Rabbi Blumenthal (Steve Buscemi), who trusts Norman to find the $14 million needed to save his historic synagogue. And Alex Green (Charlotte Gainsbourg), a New York-based corruption investigator for the Israeli government.

The first chapter is full of false starts and failed pacts, although it does see Norman make a possible friend in Micha. Then, three years later, Micha has become prime minister and Norman goes to see him at an AIPAL (read AIPAC) reception in D.C. Micha greets Norman warmly, and suddenly the nonentity is somebody. Micha even has a task for Norman: get his son into Harvard.

Returning to New York by train — Amfleet, not the higher-priced Acela — Norman meets Alex. She tries very hard to ignore him, only to get interested when Norman starts describing his “consulting” business. Since touting his connections is the essence of what Norman does, he could hardly tell her the truth, which is that he barely knows the new PM.

Later, Israel is roiled by reports of an investigation into Micha’s ties to a “New York businessman.” Norman wonders who that could be.

Adding to the thematic complexity, Micha comes to power as a peace candidate. Yet Cedar, a military veteran whose eerie Beaufort was set in an Israeli outpost in southern Lebanon, doesn’t stress geopolitics. He’s more interested in the personal variety.

At the reception, Micha mentions the diverse U.S. factions that support Israel, but that’s the end of the discussion. Norman doesn’t seem to have a position on such matters as a two-state solution, and the word “Palestinian” is never uttered. In Israel, rather then debate Micha’s proposal, his opponents seek to destroy the PM with allegations of corruption.

An Israeli who spent the first six years of his life in New York, Cedar is well attuned to the Manhattan-Jerusalem-Tel Aviv nexus. He gets excellent performances from Gere — playing partway against type as a charmer who’s unnervingly hot rather than reassuringly cool — and the rest of the cast. Dan Stevens, Hank Azaria, Josh Charles, Isaach de Bankole, and others make strong impressions in small roles.

Less effective are the director’s visualizations of Norman’s interactions via montages and split screens. Such self-conscious gambits worked better in Footnote because that film was largely about the life of the mind, and its conflicts were more internal.

The movie’s other quandary is integral to Cedar’s concept. The refusal to give Norman a backstory ultimately limits the impact of the man’s so-called tragedy. The final chapter’s machinations are fascinating, but they’d evoke stronger emotions if we had some idea where Norman was falling from.

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Trump's Win Changed The Game For Publishers On The Left And The Right

Former House Speaker and 2012 Republican Party presidential candidate Newt Gingrich autographs a copy of his book at a campaign event in Georgetown, S.C., in 2012. Gingrich published with conservative publishing house Regnery Publishing.

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David Goldman/AP

There’s a role reversal underway in political publishing. For years, conservative publishers have thrived as their readers flocked to buy books aimed directly at taking down the party in power. Now, with Republicans in control, they have to rethink their strategy. Left leaning publishers meanwhile are hoping to take advantage of the new political landscape.

Regnery books — which marks its 70th anniversary this year — is the old grand old dame of conservative publishing. Dinesh d’Souza, Newt Gingrich, Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham have all published with Regnery.

“For many years we would say what was bad for the country was good for Regnery,” says Marji Ross, Regnery’s president and publisher. “And by that we meant that when the opposition was in power that made our job a little easier and our books more successful.”

When Donald Trump was elected President in November, some conservative book publishers were caught off guard. Rolf Zettersten, head of Center Street Books, the conservative division of Hachette Publishing, was expecting Hillary Clinton to win. His company was poised to publish several books critical of her presidency.

“We had to pivot and say: What are we going to do with these books that were going to be anti-Hillary?” Zettersten says. “Instead we developed new approaches that talked about the Trump agenda.”

But Trump’s presidency has exposed some deep divisions on the right, and conservative publishers have to reflect those differences.

“You have social conservatives, you have economic conservatives, you have people who are more libertarian,” Ross says. And a Republican in the White House brings all of those divisions into sharper focus, she says — “because then all the different factions are lobbying for their version of what’s right for the future.”

There is one almost surefire route to success in conservative publishing — Zettersten says books by well-known personalities on Fox TV or talk radio, with a “take no prisoners” brand of politics often end up the best-seller list.

“If you are a polite voice in this market you really don’t get listened to,” Zettersten says. “We’ve certainly published our share of polite conservative books and they just don’t sell as well.”

Center Street already has new book on the New York Times best-seller list: It’s called The Trump Agenda, written by conservative talk show host Michael Savage, who is not exactly known for politeness.

But provocateurs can go too far. Threshold Editions, the conservative wing of Simon & Schuster, canceled its contract with Milo Yiannopoulos after it decided remarks the right wing commentator made about pedophilia were too controversial. Of course, Yiannopoulos built his reputation on inflammatory rhetoric.

“I love flame throwers,” says Marji Ross, who was offered the Yiannopoulos book but chose not publish it. Now Yiannopoulos is shopping it around again and it’s been reported that Regnery might pick it up this time. Ross declined to confirm or deny that rumor. She says she has no problem with provocative political books, but not everyone agrees.

“Some people gravitate to certain radio talk show hosts who are really bombastic, and other people just can’t deal with that,” she says. “They want the more soft-spoken. And our job is to try to reach as broad of an audience as we can without watering down the essence of an author either in their message or in their style.”

While conservative publishers are getting used to a new political reality, those on the left are realizing they’ve got a new advantage. Andrew Hsiao, an editor with Verso Books, is in that situation.

“I feel a bit sheepish saying this,” he admits. “I am so deeply opposed to Trump — but let’s face it — opposition is often good for political publishers. And our sales have already taken off. People feel hungry for criticism, analysis, knowledge and inspiration.”

Verso Books has a history of opposition to the status quo in both the Republican and Democratic party. Hsiao says Verso comes out of the socialist tradition and publishes a wide range of progressive thinking. He sees their mission as two-fold: To open people’s minds to new ways of thinking and to support the resistance.

“In a way, movements call up the literature that they need,” Hsiao says. “And our fortunes in the last decade have exploded. I think it’s unquestionably because of a new movement, especially among young people, to look for more radical alternatives, radical solutions to American problems.”

Hsiao says the country is engaged in an intense political throw-down which he thinks is better than complacency. And publishers — on the right and the left — are in the middle of the fray.

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There Are 60,000+ Species Of Tree Worldwide, Scientists Say

People walk along the “Avenue of the Baobabs,” a natural reserve in western Madagascar, in 2011.

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Wondering how many kinds of trees there are? There’s now a database that can answer that.

Scientists from the U.K.-based Botanic Gardens Conservation International say they have compiled the first-ever comprehensive list of all known tree species, totaling 60,065 different kinds.

The database includes information about where each species is found geographically. More than half of those species are only found in one country, the researchers wrote in the Journal of Sustainable Forestry. And many of them are threatened with extinction.

The researchers hope the database, called GlobalTreeSearch, will provide a practical tool for conservationists. It could help to develop “species-specific action” for threatened trees, they stated, “as individual tree species face threats that are unique to that species.

A magnolia blooms near the Washington Monument in Washington in March 2012.

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For example, scientists determined in late 2016 that a species found in remote locations in Tanzania called Karomia gigas had a “single population of just six trees” because of over-harvesting, the BBC reports. “They recruited local people to guard the trees and to notify them when the trees produced seeds.”

Brazil has the highest number of different tree species, with 8,715 – about half of them unique to the country. Columbia has 5,776 species, followed by Indonesia with 5,142.

The Arctic regions were found to have no species of tree. After that, the Nearctic biome of North America had fewer than 1,400 species.

In the paper, the team acknowledges that it’s surprising that this information was not available in one place before.

“This is ‘big science’ involving the work of thousands of botanists over a period of centuries, and the advent of digital checklists and databases over the past few decades have made the collation and refinement of so many data sources possible,” the paper reads.

Over a period of two years, they collected information from more than 500 published sources and 80 experts in the BGCI’s network.

The scientists plan to continue to update GlobalTreeSearch as species are discovered, change in taxonomy — or go extinct.

Smithsonian details other recent research that is trying to provide a better picture of the state of the world’s trees:

“In 2015, a study found that there are likely more than 3 trillion individual trees on the planet, significantly more than the 400 billion previously proposed. Last summer, ecologists combed natural history specimens to find that the Amazon Basin has at least 11,676 species of trees, estimating that roughly 4,000 species in the area have yet to be discovered.”

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Four Tet Remixes The xx's Gloomy 'A Violent Noise' Into A Danceable Seduction

Four Tet spins in New York.

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Johnny Nunez/WireImage

Of all the songs from The xx’s excellent album I See You to remix for the dance-floor, “A Violent Noise” is, thematically, a funny choice. Sung mostly by Oliver Sim, it is about negatively losing yourself in the music, an escape where “every beat is a violent noise.” The notion is mirrored by the music, while the band’s low-end atmospheric production and glacial doomed echoes layer on the dread, it does so without truly following through on either of the chorus’ warnings: There is no beat and there is no violence.

With a 126bpm groove that is at once leisurely and insistent, Four Tet (born Kieran Hebden) deeply backgrounds the original’s looming shadow. Hebden is a long-time band collaborator and what original elements he does usually use when remixing The xx’s music are there to accentuate its pop. Here, that would be the blend of the delay-heavy rave synths and Romy’s picked electric guitar; but where these are unstable plates in The xx’s version, Four Tet weaves the two lines into a hooky foundation. The mix is already chugging with excellent pace when, at about 3:45, an original, soft piano line appears, first playing melodic counterpoint and then, in the song’s ascent towards a shoegaze-house-music crest, as another primary layer.

Who knows if any of these are clues to the next Four Tet album, which Hebden recently revealed he is “deep” in. But it certainly continues his winning streak with the remixes.

(Editorial aside: As great as we think Soundcloud is as a social music platform, the continued mishaps in their copyright-infringement policing has long ago turned into a comical aside. Hebden’s attempts to post this remix being exhibit A, and the thread his experience inspired, including a rather egregious-if-true exhibit B.)

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