USA Gymnastics Doctor Pleads Guilty To Assault, Faces Decades In Prison

Former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar is seen in court on June 23 in Mason, Mich., as he stood trial on multiple counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. Nassar has pleaded guilty and faces decades in prison.

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Dr. Larry Nassar, the former Michigan State University sports doctor and USA Gymnastics team doctor accused of molesting or assaulting more than 100 girls and women, has pleaded guilty to seven counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and faces decades in prison.

This state criminal case involved seven of his accusers. There are other criminal charges pending, and many more girls and women have sued Nassar in civil cases.

He entered his plea Wednesday in a packed courtroom in Michigan, with several of his accusers in the audience. Some of them wept, The Associated Press reports.

As part of this plea, Nassar will be sentenced to at least 25 years in prison. Under the terms of his plea deal, the judge could go higher and set a minimum sentence of 40 years.

Nassar previously pleaded guilty to federal charges of possessing child pornography, and he awaits sentencing on those charges. As part of that plea deal, prosecutors dropped federal charges related to allegations of sexual abuse.

But the state case continued, leading to the guilty plea on Wednesday. His sentencing is set for Jan. 12.

The Associated Press has more on the case:

“The girls have testified that Nassar molested them with his hands, sometimes when a parent was present in the room, while they sought help for gymnastics injuries.

” ‘He convinced these girls that this was some type of legitimate treatment,’ Assistant Attorney General Angela Poviliatis told a judge last summer. ‘Why would they question him? Why would they question this gymnastics god?’

“Separately, Nassar is charged with similar crimes in Eaton County, the location of an elite gymnastics club.”

In 2016, The Indianapolis Star spent months digging into the pattern of sexual abuse at USA Gymnastics, the largest U.S. gymnastics organization and the national governing body for the sport. The IndyStar reporters found that the organization ignored complaints about predatory coaches and failed to alert authorities about allegations of sexual abuse.

In the course of that broader investigation, they spoke to two gymnasts who accused Nassar — a powerful, prominent figure within the gymnastics world — of sexual abuse.

The publication of those two accounts unleashed a flood of similar stories. Olympic medalists McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and now Gabby Douglas are among the scores of girls and women who have come forward to say that they, too, were abused.

Maroney described her experience vividly, as we reported in October:

” ‘I had a dream to go to the Olympics,’ she writes in a statement posted to Twitter, ‘and the things that I had to endure to get there, were unnecessary, and disgusting.’

” ‘Dr. Nassar told me that I was receiving “medically necessary treatment that he had been performing on patients for over 30 years,” ‘ she writes. ‘It started when I was 13 years old, at one of my first National Team training camps, in Texas, and it didn’t end until I left the sport.’ She says the abuse continued in London during the 2012 games.

“Maroney says the scariest night of her life happened when she was 15 years old, when the team traveled to Tokyo. She says Nassar gave her a sleeping pill to help her sleep on the flight, and when she awoke she was alone with him in his hotel room, ‘getting a “treatment.” ‘ She does not describe his specific actions.

” ‘I thought I was going to die that night,’ she writes.”

Aly Raisman, speaking to CBS’s 60 Minutesearlier this month, said she thinks about Nassar and the culture that tolerated his predatory behavior whenever young girls come up and ask her for an autograph.

“Every time I look at them, every time I see them smiling, I just think — I just want to create change so that they never, ever have to go through this,” she said.

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Margo Price Sings About The Heartache And Beauty Of Small-Town America

Margo Price’s new album, All American Made, is out now.

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Danielle Holbert/Courtesy of the ShoreFire Media

Growing up in a small town in the Midwest, singer-songwriter Margo Price often wished she lived somewhere else — a place where the landscape wasn’t so flat, the winters weren’t so cold and the work wasn’t so hard.

“It just felt like there wasn’t much going on,” she says of her hometown of Aledo, Ill. “I always dreamed of a more romantic backdrop.”

Eventually, Price moved to Nashville, Tenn. to pursue music. But as time passed, her feelings towards her hometown changed.

“The more I’m away, I think, the more I appreciate where I came from,” Price says. “Now, when I go back, I see the beauty in it.”

Price writes about her family and small-town roots on her latest album, All American Made. The album is more overtly feminist and political than is typical for country music. Price says her music is an expression of herself: “From the time that I was really young, I was always trying to express what was going on in my life and inside me.”

Click on the audio link to hear the full Fresh Air interview, including Price singing acoustic versions of her songs and a cover of Kendrick Lamar’s “HUMBLE.”

Interview Highlights

On how her family lost their farm

I was about 2 or 3, and I do have a couple kind of vague memories of my grandparents packing up all their things in their home and getting rid of their dogs that they loved so much and all their animals. So there is a little bit of a memory there, just knowing the gravity of it all, just how much it affected everybody.

There was a combination of a lot of things: Big farming was coming in and the banks weren’t very generous in helping out the family after a hard year … They had invested in a lot of farming equipment that was very expensive and then a drought came … Then the bank just kind of swept it out from under them and sold it to a large corporation. But it’s very complicated and I never know if I’m getting all the details exactly right, no matter how many times I ask.

On the politics in her song, “All American Made”

It’s funny how songs kind of change their meaning as the world seems to change them for you … I think there’s just more weight in it than at the time that I wrote it.

We wrote it during the Obama years and I feel like I’ve always been one to question the people in charge. I enjoy playing the devil’s advocate and being the protagonist, and so when I wrote this song I was still upset with things that were going on. But I think America’s in just such a divided, heavy place right now … I love my country so much. I don’t want to leave. I just, day to day, wake up and read the news and feel confused and so this song has helped on some gray mornings.


On her voice training

I grew up singing in church, for sure. And I was in choir and I did jazz choir and show choir and all those things. And my mom heard me singing one day — I think I was just singing a Christmas song or something — she was washing dishes and her and my grandmother walked in, and they were shocked that I could sing the way that I could.

After that, my mom really nourished my love of singing. And she would drive me an hour away to get voice lessons from the best voice teacher that was around … I was singing mezzo-soprano Italian songs when I was even 11 or 12, and I still find myself trying to utilize that technique, in breathing and phrasing.

On the advice she received from her great uncle, songwriter Bobby Fischer, when she was starting out

He had gold records hanging on his wall. He’s written hundreds and hundreds of songs. He wrote for George Jones a song called “Writing on the Wall.” He wrote for Reba [McEntire], he wrote for Charley Pride and Tanya Tucker — so many people.

He had just a regular job and he was living in Iowa and his wife was supportive enough when he said, “I want to go to Nashville. I want to be a songwriter.” They picked up everything and moved down here. It did seem to be this impossible dream that he had conquered. I do think that probably my mother thought that he could open all the right doors for me and it would be a nice, smooth transition.

I came to his house. He lives in Green Hills [an area of Nashville, Tenn.] I played him some songs the first week I was here and … he gave me the best advice that he could. He said, “Go home. Throw away your TV. Throw away your computer. Just sit there and keep writing.”

It hurt my feelings, but I needed that tough love to tell myself I did need to keep working at playing and hearing other people’s songs and seeing what made a good song. So I started going out to lots of open mics and listening to everybody and cutting my teeth.

On writing songs with her husband, Jeremy Ivey

A lot of times we’ll bring ideas to each other that we can’t finish. Other times, we will just sit down and start writing a song together from the get-go. It’s always different, but it’s really nice to be able to write with someone where you just talk things out in the room.

We have this kind of communication where I feel like … we share a brain at this point. We’ve been together for about 14 years and so it just feels like we’re talking through things, talking the song out. And if an idea is dumb, then we are very quick to tell the other person, and if it’s great, we nourish it and encourage it.

On she and Ivey selling their car and her wedding ring so they could record her first album, Midwest Farmer’s Daughter

We kind of put all of our eggs in one basket. It was really scary. He just came into the kitchen one morning and he’s like, “That’s it! We’re never going to be able to save up enough money to make the record that you need, so I’m just going to sell the car.” And I tried to talk him out of it, but he … sold it to CarMax, and he came home and then we booked the studio time the very next day …

I went to about three different pawn shops and none of them wanted to give me very much [for the ring] because there’s a crack in it and it’s missing one of the little side diamonds on the side, but they were going to give me $300 and we just agreed to get rid of anything that didn’t suit us. We did sell some music equipment too, but the ring, it did kind of hit home. My husband said, “It’s just a material possession, it doesn’t matter.” While I agreed with him, I still liked my wedding ring with the chip in it, so he eventually went back and got it out of the hock for me.

On self-medicating with alcohol after the death of one of her twin sons when he was 2 weeks old

A lot of people refer to Nashville as “a drinking city with a music problem.” The bottle is talked about a lot in country music. I moved here when I was 20 and I started working in a bar. So yeah, it’s always been a slippery slope. And, of course, I medicated pretty heavily with booze after I lost my son.

It was not the way to handle things … It’s been a tough one. I feel much healthier now than when it first happened. I’ve done a lot of personal work to try to move past [the death of my son]. But there’s not a day that goes by that I wouldn’t trade my career and everything just to have him back. It’s not easy.

Amy Salit and Seth Kelley produced and edited the audio of this interview. Bridget Bentz, Molly Seavy-Nesper and Sidney Madden adapted it for the Web.

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FCC's Pai: 'Heavy-Handed' Net Neutrality Rules Are Stifling The Internet

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced Tuesday a plan to repeal Obama-era net neutrality rules.

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The Federal Communications Commission chairman announced plans Tuesday to repeal Obama-era regulations on Internet service providers. The 2015 rules enforce what’s called net neutrality, meaning that the companies that connect you to the Internet don’t get to decide which websites load faster or slower, or charge websites or apps to load faster.

In an interview with NPR’s Morning Edition, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai says his plan to remove net neutrality rules is a way of bringing the Internet back to how it was in the 1990s.

“President Clinton got it right in 1996 when he established a free market-based approach to this new thing called the Internet, and the Internet economy we have is a result of his light-touch regulatory vision,” Pai says. “We saw companies like Facebook and Amazon and Google become global powerhouses precisely because we had light-touch rules that apply to this Internet. And the Internet wasn’t broken in 2015 when these heavy-handed regulations were adopted.”

Pai’s plan would require Internet service providers to disclose what they’re doing, such as allowing some sites to load faster than others. Websites could pay ISPs to give them preferential treatment — a situation Pai argues would have benefits.

A health care startup could pay to prioritize the traffic of its patients who are being monitored remotely: “That could be perk,” he says.

The chairman’s proposal, called the Restoring Internet Freedom Order, would mark a shift in authority and emphasis. Instead of the FCC regulating how ISPs operate, the Federal Trade Commission would handle enforcement of net neutrality violations.

“The FCC would still require transparency: Any business practice that would affect the offering of a service has to be disclosed to the consumers, and entrepreneurs can understand exactly how these businesses are operated,” Pai says.

“Secondly, the Federal Trade Commission has long had authority and had authority prior to 2015 for almost 20 years over this space,” he says. “And the result was pretty clear. They took targeted action against the bad apples and they let everyone else thrive in a free market. And I think consumers and companies were better off as a result.”

As NPR’s Alina Selyukh explained earlier this year, the current rules arose from incidents of ISPs meddling with traffic speeds:

“In 2015, the Democrats of the FCC decided that it was time to go all in, and what they did was essentially reclassified Internet providers, and started treating them as utility-style companies. That means they put it in the strictest-ever regulations, really expanded their oversight over the industry. Republicans at the FCC at the time really opposed this regulatory approach, so-called public utility approach. And one of the dissenting commissioners was Ajit Pai, who is now the new FCC chairman under President Trump.”

Many were critical of Pai’s announcement and vowed to fight it.

“If the FCC votes to roll back these net neutrality protections, they would end the internet as we know it, harming every day users and small businesses, eroding free speech, competition, innovation and user choice in the process,” said Mozilla, the nonprofit corporation that makes the Firefox browser and advocates for internet accessibility. “Our position is clear: the end of net neutrality would only benefit Internet Service Providers.”

“It is imperative that all internet traffic be treated equally, without discrimination against content or type of traffic — that’s the how the internet was built and what has made it one of the greatest inventions of all time,” the company added.

The ACLU also issued a statement opposing Pai’s plan.

“In a world without net neutrality, activists may lose an essential platform to organize and fight for change, and small organizations may never get a fair shot to grow and thrive,” said Ronald Newman, ACLU director of strategic initiatives. “Congress must stop Chairman Pai’s plan in its tracks and ensure that net neutrality remains the law of the land.”

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Beck On World Cafe


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Eliot Lee Hazel/Courtesy of the artist

Remember that song back in the early ’90s? “Soy … un perdedor /
I’m a loser, baby / So why don’t you kill me?” That’s Beck and his breakout “Loser” from 1993 — a song where rap, sitar, steel guitar and a little Spanish can live together. It was a surprise mainstream hit, and Beck has continued to surprise his fans ever since — including his new release, Colors. I’m willing to bet few Beck fans would have predicted a big, shiny, accessible pop album. That’s how I hear Colors.

In this session, I talk to Beck about how he hears it, and which song his kids saved from the cutting room floor. Plus, we’ll dig back into some of the early experiences that shaped Beck’s approach — including how the helicopters and hecklers of his East L.A. childhood neighborhood worked their way into 2005’s Guero. Hear the complete session with Beck in the player above.

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The Mystery And The Magic Of Giving Thanks

Roosters floating in the celestial sky

Malaka Gharib/NPR

This Thanksgiving I will be thinking about turkey, of course.

But also about chickens and roosters.

I now live in the United States, but I grew up in Ghana, where there is no national holiday of Thanksgiving. But giving thanks is a very important part of my culture.

Almost every week my father would sacrifice chickens to the rivers, the mountains, the ancestors and the gods. It was his way of expressing thankfulness for his blessings: 7 wives, 32 children — and none of them had become blind, as was common in my village, or crippled, probably by polio, which was circulating in Ghana at that time.

We all believed that a failure to give thanks could have serious consequences.

During my last year in high school I was seriously sick with what I now think was mumps. I could not swallow water nor food, and I was sent home from my boarding school.

The next morning around 4 a.m. my uncle started the six-hour journey on his bicycle to visit an oracle in a neighboring village. He wanted to know why I was sick.

The oracle told him that the river god, my ancestors and the god of the land were all angry that they have been protecting my family for the past several years and that we had failed to give thanks for their blessings and protection — and that any delay to address this lack of thankfulness would cost my life.

In fact, the week before my sickness, two young people died in the village. Everyone said it was because of failing to give thanks.

In my village, we also believed that the failure to give thanks to the gods could result in poor rainfall leading to poor crop yield.

Today, I am not sure if all bad outcomes are the result of failing to give thanks to the gods.

I’m now a student in public health at Johns Hopkins University. With my present knowledge of diseases, I am certain that illness and death are not caused by angry gods or ancestors.

But there’s a mystery I cannot explain. When I was growing up in Ghana, it seemed that whenever people made sacrifices as a way of giving thanks, the sick person would get better. And if families failed to offer a chicken sacrifice, the opposite would happen.

Some people may call this the placebo effect, as NPR wrote last year about a new study: “Placebos can make people feel better.” In one study of asthma patients, some took an active drug; others had a placebo inhaler or a fake acupuncture treatment. The reporter wrote: “The reported improvements were better than in patients given no treatment at all.”

As for me, I call this the thanks-giving chicken sacrifice effect. I believe that diseases may not be caused by gods or ancestors or spirits, but I do believe that there is healing, strength and protection to be found in the act of giving thanks.

For me and my probable case of the mumps, the remedy was to sacrifice three roosters — one for my ancestors, one for the river god and one for the god of land. After the sacrifice, a traditional herbalist provided me with concoctions and ashes from burned herbs mixed with shea butter to apply to my neck. Within three days I felt better and was able to return to school.

Since then I have never forgotten to give thanks, even in the worst of situations. So on Thursday, when I eat the turkey dinner with my American family and friends, I will be thankful. And I will also keep in mind that like the roosters and chickens in my homeland, the turkey made the ultimate sacrifice — for which everyone at the table is thankful!

George Mwinnyaa grew up in Ghana and now lives in Baltimore with his wife and 2-year-old son. He is pursuing a master’s degree in Infectious Disease Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.

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Questioning A Doctor's Prescription For A Sore Knee: 90 Percocets

Doctors often prescribe more opioid painkillers than necessary following surgery for a variety of reasons.

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I recently hobbled to the drugstore to pick up painkillers after minor outpatient knee surgery, only to discover that the pharmacist hadn’t yet filled the prescription. My doctor’s order of 90 generic Percocet exceeded the number my insurer would approve, he said. I left a short time later with a bottle containing a smaller number.

When I got home and opened the package to take a pill, I discovered that there were 42 inside.

Talk about using a shotgun to kill a mosquito. I was stiff and sore after the orthopedist fished out a couple of loose pieces of bone and cartilage from my left knee. But on a pain scale of zero to 10, I was a four, tops. I probably could have gotten by with a much less potent drug than a painkiller like Percocet, which contains a combination of the opioid oxycodone and the pain reliever acetaminophen, the active ingredient found in over-the-counter Tylenol.

When I went in for my follow-up appointment a week after surgery, I asked my orthopedist about those 90 pills.

“If you had real surgery, like a knee replacement, you wouldn’t think it was so many,” he said. He told me the electronic prescribing system set the default at 90. So when he types in a prescription for Percocet, that’s the quantity the system orders.

Such standard orders can be overridden, but that’s an extra step for a busy physician and takes time.

As public health officials grapple with how to slow the growing opioid epidemic — which claims 91 lives each day, according to federal statistics — the over-prescription of narcotics after even minor surgery is coming under new scrutiny.

While patients today are often given opioids to manage post-operative pain, a large supply of pills may open the door to opioid misuse, either by the patients themselves or others in the family or community who access the leftovers.

Post-surgical prescriptions for 45, 60, or 90 pills are “incredibly common,” says Dr. Chad Brummett, an anesthesiologist and pain physician at the University of Michigan Medical School.

Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a general guideline saying that clinicians who prescribe opioids to treat acute pain should use the lowest effective dose and limit the duration to no longer than seven days.

But more detailed guidance is necessary, clinicians say.

“There really aren’t clear guidelines, especially for surgery and dentistry,” Brummett says. “It’s often based on what their chief resident taught them along the way, or an event in their career that made them prescribe a certain amount.”

Or, as in my case, an automated program that makes prescribing more pills simpler than prescribing fewer.

Brummett is co-director of a Michigan program that has released recommendations for post-surgical opioid prescribing for a growing list of procedures.

To determine the extent to which surgery may lead to longer-term opioid use, Brummett and his colleagues examined the insurance claims of more than 36,000 adults who had surgery in 2013 or 2014 for which they received an opioid prescription. None of the patients had prescriptions for opioids during the prior year.

The study, published online in JAMA Surgery in June, [found that three to six months after surgery, roughly 6 percent of patients were still using opioids, having filled at least one new prescription for the drug. The figures were similar whether they had major or minor surgery. By comparison, the rate of opioid use for a control group that did not have surgery was just 0.4 percent.

Some insurers and state regulators have stepped in to limit opioid prescriptions. Insurers routinely monitor doctors’ prescribing patterns and limit the quantity of pills or the dosage of opioid prescriptions.

At least two dozen states have passed laws or rules in just the past few years aimed at regulating the use of opioids.

In my state of New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo last year signed legislation that reduced the initial opioid prescription limit for acute pain from 30 days to no more than a seven-day supply.

As my experience demonstrated, however, a seven-day limit (those 42 pills in my case) can still result in patients receiving many more pills than they need. (For those who find themselves in a similar situation with excess pills, there is a safe and proper way to dispose of them.)

Still, some worry that all this focus on overprescribing may scare physicians away from prescribing opioids at all, even when they’re appropriate.

“That’s my concern, that people are so afraid of things and taking it to such an extreme that patient care suffers,” says Dr. Edward Michna, an anesthesiologist and pain management physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Michna is on the board of the American Pain Society, a research and education group for pain management professionals. Michna has been a paid consultant to numerous pharmaceutical companies, some of which manufacture narcotics.

But other doctors say that one of the reasons doctors call in orders for lots of pills is convenience.

“When you land on the front lines, you hear, ‘I like to write for 30 or 60 pills because that way they won’t call in the middle of the night’ ” for a refill, says Dr. Martin Makary, a professor of surgery and health policy at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Makary is spearheading a consortium of Hopkins clinicians and patients that provides specific guidelines for post-surgical opioid use. The program, part of a larger effort to identify areas of overtreatment in health care, also identifies outlier prescribers nationwide to encourage them to change their prescribing habits.

The Hopkins group doesn’t have an opioid recommendation for my surgery. The closest procedure on their website is arthroscopic surgery to partially remove a torn piece of cartilage in the knee called the meniscus. The post-surgical opioid recommendation following that surgery: 12 tablets.

Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent news service that is part of the nonpartisan Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Follow Michelle Andrews on Twitter @mandrews110.

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U.S. Denounces Violence Against Rohingya As 'Ethnic Cleansing'

A Rohingya refugee boy looks on at Balukhali refugee camp in the Bangladeshi district of Ukhia on Wednesday. An estimated 618,000 Muslim Rohingya have fled mainly Buddhist Myanmar since a military crackdown was launched in Rakhine in August. Refugees describe a campaign of rape, murder and arson.

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The wave of government-backed violence against the Rohingya minority in Myanmar amounts to “ethnic cleansing,” the U.S. State Department says, in a statement that raised the possibility of targeted U.S. sanctions to put pressure on Myanmar’s government.

For decades, the Muslim minority group has faced persecution in majority-Buddhist Myanmar, which does not even recognize them as citizens. In recent months, the level of violence against them has risen sharply. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh, bringing with them horrific stories of executions, widespread arson and systematic rape.

In September, the U.N. said that Myanmar was blocking efforts to send in human rights investigators, but based on available information, “the situation seems a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson used the same phrase in a statement Wednesday.

“Activists say an ethnic cleansing finding is mostly symbolic, but could raise the pressure on the government of Myanmar,” NPR’s Michele Kelemen reports.

Cameron Hudson, who directs the genocide prevention program at the Holocaust Memorial Museum, tells Kelemen the statement is important, but “there’s no obligation by the United States or any other state to take any kind of prescribed set of actions in response.”

Hudson also says the situation in Myanmar may be even worse than the international community is acknowledging.

“Ethnic cleansing is the act of removing people from land that they have occupied, and genocide is their destruction,” he says. “What we found in the field work that we did over the course of the past year is that there is certainly mounting evidence to suggest that this is genocide.” But it’s difficult, and dangerous, to gather that evidence.

Based on the available information, Tillerson says that those responsible for atrocities in Myanmar must be held accountable. He noted that Myanmar (also known as Burma) only recently began transitioning to democracy, after years of military rule.

“The key test of any democracy is how it treats its most vulnerable and marginalized populations, such as the ethnic Rohingya and other minority populations. Burma’s government and security forces must respect the human rights of all persons within its borders, and hold accountable those who fail to do so,” Tillerson said.

Myanmar’s military says the violence is a response to attacks by Rohingya militants in Rakhine State. As Michael Sullivan has reported for NPR, innocent civilians have paid the price for the militants’ actions.

The U.S. has previously condemned those militant attacks, and while Tillerson repeated that stance, he said that “no provocation can justify the horrendous atrocities that have ensued.”

“After a careful and thorough analysis of available facts, it is clear that the situation in northern Rakhine state constitutes ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya. Those responsible for these atrocities must be held accountable,” he said.

He called for an independent investigation as well as action from the UN, and raised the possibility of U.S. sanctions.

Michael Sullivan has reported for NPR on the horrific atrocities described by Rohingya refugees — including systematic rape by military forces and children shot and killed by soldiers.

“The Myanmar military continues to deny the systematic attacks against the Rohingya — despite the testimony of dozens of witnesses, satellite photos showing hundreds of homes burned to the ground and disturbing videos uploaded to YouTube that show the military rounding up and beating Rohingya men,” Sullivan reported in April.

The crisis has only intensified since then. After attacks by Rohingya militants in August, the violence against Rohingya civilians worsened.

This October, Sullivan described a “wave of rape, murder and arson, entire villages torched by security forces and Buddhist vigilantes.”

Two weeks ago The New York Timesreported the story of a woman who says soldiers threw her baby son into a fire before they gang-raped her.

The atrocities are unfolding under the watch of a leader who is a noted human rights activist. “Aung San Suu Kyi, the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner for her long struggle for democracy in Myanmar, does not control the military apparatus of the country,” NPR’s Colin Dwyer wrote. “But many in the international community expected her to speak out publicly against the violence that had captured the world’s attention.”

Instead, she has largely stayed silent, and her few comments on the issue have been criticized as misleading.

Meanwhile, a disastrous refugee crisis is brewing.

More than half a million Rohingya fled to neighboring Bangladesh in less than two months, the U.N. says.

“Bangladesh reckons about 800,000 Rohingya are now living on its side of the border,” Sullivan reported last month. “Most are in overcrowded, spontaneously erected camps, staying in shelters that amount to little more than bamboo poles strapped together with a bit of plastic sheeting for a roof,” he says.

It’s prompting political tensions and economic resentment, on top of the enormous logistical challenges. Human rights watchers are raising questions about education and health care for the massive tide of refugees, but Bangladesh is struggling just to house them at all.

“The reality today is more urgent for both Bangladesh and its humanitarian aid partners: simply finding enough food, water and adequate sanitation for the new arrivals,” Sullivan reports. “How they’re treated once that’s sorted out is another matter. And Bangladesh is the only country that has taken the Rohingya in. Nobody else has offered to share that burden.”

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Episode 665: The Free Food Market

A group of volunteers are working at a food bank and are sorting non perishable food items into boxes.

Christopher Futcher/Getty Images

When Susannah Morgan was running a food bank in Alaska, she always needed produce. Items like fresh oranges or potatoes. But her food bank didn’t get much. Feeding America, a major supplier for food banks, assumed transporting fresh produce would be too expensive. Instead, among other things, Susannah’s food bank got pickles. A lot of them. At the same time, Feeding America was flooding Idaho with potatoes.

A new CEO at Feeding America thought there had to be another way, and started holding focus groups with local food banks and economists. It was at one of those meetings that University of Chicago economist Canice Prendergast had an idea: Create a free market for food banks. A little economy built just for them. With its own money and everything.

On today’s show: The bold experiment in capitalism that brought together an economist, hundreds of food bank directors from around the country, and, just to spice things up, a socialist.

Music: “Good Time” and “Party Swagger.” Find us: Twitter/ Facebook.

Subscribe to our show on Apple Podcasts, PocketCasts and NPR One.

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Pop Culture Happy Hour: The Glorious And Moving 'Lady Bird'

Saoirse Ronan stars as ‘Lady Bird’ in Lady Bird.


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Now and then, we can serve up an episode that consists of our panel joyfully explaining why we all truly were moved and thrilled by a piece of work. This is one of those weeks, as Aisha Harris of Slate’s podcast Represent and music journalist Katie Presley join the panel to talk about Lady Bird.

Lady Bird is the directorial debut of Greta Gerwig, whom you probably know as an indie actress, and who also wrote the script. It tells the story of Lady Bird (name at birth: Christine), a senior at a Catholic high school in the fall of 2002 in Sacramento. Played by two-time Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan, she dreams of escaping to somewhere out east where they have culture, somewhere that her dreams can be more fully explored. For her, the major impediment is her mother (Laurie Metcalf), who has sacrificed a lot to send Lady Bird to private school and isn’t afraid to remind her of that fact. Her father (Tracy Letts) loves both his wife and his daughter, and tries to support them both while going down his own tough path.

Lady Bird also meets boys in her senior year, played by Lucas Hedges and Timothee Chalamet, who are — in the way of high school romances — thrilling and disappointing in their own ways.

It’s a terrific movie, and we thank Katie and Aisha for coming to talk to us about it.

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A Podcast Playlist For Thanksgiving Road Warriors

Hopefully these Chicago travelers had plenty to keep them entertained Tuesday evening. That looks like it might have taken a while.

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Scott Olson/Getty Images

For some, Thanksgiving means a perfectly trimmed turkey, piles of mashed potatoes and beautiful pumpkin pies. For others it means travel. Lots and lots of travel.

If you’re one of the millions of Americans with hours of traffic on the interstate or on a plane in your future, this list is our gift to you. It should keep you entertained through about four hours of holiday travel turmoil. To make it easy for you to relax and just listen, you can click to hear the entire playlist in our mobile app, NPR One. Or, pick the podcast episodes that most interest you from the list below and listen on NPR One or wherever you get your podcasts.

We hope this helps stave off boredom, road rage and utterances of “are we there yet?”

A history of the holiday

Ever wonder what the descendants of the Native American tribe that brokered peace with the pilgrims think of that deal? The Memory Palace from Radiotopia offers a different perspective on the holiday in “On the Shores of Assawompset.” 13 minutes.

Listen on NPR One or download from Apple Podcasts

Getting anxious about family dynamics

Time in transit gives you a chance to think about all the fault lines that will crisscross your holiday table. The “Thanksgiving” episode of Hidden Brain offers advice on how to avoid family fights, and what to do if one breaks out. (Hint: the answer is not throwing stuffing across the table.) These social science-based tips will make for a happier holiday for everyone. 20 minutes

Listen on NPR One or download from Apple Podcasts

Or, if you’re gathering ammunition for political debates

You’re still relatively fresh and relaxed. Now is a great time to dig into the meaty reporting Kelly McEvers has done about President Trump’s business for Embedded. The entire “Trump Stories” series is fantastic, but “The Golf Course” is a great place to start, telling a story of how Trump one business operated when he was trying to get his way. 44 minutes.

Listen on NPR One or download from Apple Podcasts

Now for a little fun

With her usual dose of dry, British humor (or humour?), Allusionist host Helen Zaltzman tells us what we can and can’t learn about a person from their handwriting. The “In Your Hand” episode of this Radiotopia podcast will give you all the tools you need to understand your crazy relatives, based solely on their handwriting samples. (Just kidding. Sort of.) 13 minutes.

Listen on NPR One or download from Apple Podcasts

Kids starting to get antsy?

Keep them engaged, entertained and educated with Mindy Thomas and Guy Raz’s curiosity-sating Wow in the World.In this episode, the pair wonders why onions make us cry — and hopefully will give your kids a laugh. 20 minutes.

Listen on NPR One or download from Apple Podcasts

Dig into civics (and its discontents)

The Taxman, the brand new three-part podcast from Colorado Public Radio, is the story of a very dynamic and persuasive anti-tax activist who convinced voters in the state to usher in a radical new tax law. This is a story of alliances, arch-enemies and the unexpected consequences of idealism. 38 minutes.

Listen on NPR One or download from Apple Podcasts

A deep dive on a tough topic

Settle in for this amazing story of an underage girl who finds herself in a marriage she never really wanted. Who is to blame, and how is this happening in this country? The “Child Marriage in America” episode of WGBH’s Frontline Dispatch is well worth your time, with fascinating characters and narrative illuminating a subject rarely explored in this country. 53 minutes.

Listen on NPR One or download from Apple Podcasts

The children really need a distraction

The Radio Adventures of Eleanor Amplified from WHYY is a family-friendly, pulpy, old-fashioned radio adventure. Follow Eleanor, an enterprising reporter, as she saves the world from the schemes of an evil villain. 15 minutes.

Listen on NPR One or download from Apple Podcasts

A mental escape

The traffic is starting to get to you, your back is hurting and the kids are giving you a headache. Let the “Om Alone in India” episode of Rough Translation send you on a trip around the globe for World Yoga Day. While there are thousands of yoga mats out in Times Square, some in India aren’t thrilled with the cultural appropriation. Serenity now! 32 minutes.

Listen on NPR One or download from Apple Podcasts

Remember what’s wonderful: family

You’re almost there. Let’s focus on what this holiday is all about. This episode of StoryCorps, “Gifts From Our Parents,” will make you want to give your mom or dad a huge bear hug and thank them for everything they’ve done for you through the years. You may want to keep the tissues nearby for this tearjerker. Just be sure to keep your eyes on the road. 20 minutes.

Listen on NPR One

Maybe none of this appeals to you, or you’ve already listened to it all? In that case, just turn on the NPR One app, kick back, and listen to a curated, personalized collection of the best news stories and podcasts from public radio and beyond.

Happy listening, and happy Thanksgiving!

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