Christian Scott: Building Bridges Across Cultures

Spend enough time in New Orleans and you come to understand it as a place for every kind of convergence. The culture hums in an endless exchange, with history forever close at hand. Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah understands this to his core: he grew up immersed in ritual Mardi Gras Indian traditions, and distinguished himself as a jazz trumpeter by his early teens. He’s now shaping his own artistic reality, creating what he calls “Stretch Music” — a proud hybrid of styles and approaches, with a strong underlay of groove. In this episode of Jazz Night in America, we’ll join him for an electrifying performance at the New Orleans Jazz Market, where he drew from The Centennial Trilogy, an acclaimed recent release. And we’ll cut to the heart of his mission, as a bridge-builder, an ambassador and an avatar — every bit a son of New Orleans, and in every sense a citizen of the world.

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President Trump Meets With Australian Prime Minister, Takes Questions

Credit: AP

President Trump is meeting with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, telling reporters that he expects “a lot of good things” will come from the session.

The two will discuss military and security cooperation and trade. Trump called Australia “a great country,” and Turnbull noted this year marks “100 years of mateship” between the two countries and predicted 100 more years of friendship to come.

The two leaders are expected to issue statements, and take questions from reporters in a joint news conference Friday afternoon.

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Tea, Honey And Lemon: Does This Classic Trifecta Actually Help A Sore Throat?

Sure, this elixir is tasty and comforting, but will it actually soothe your sore throat and help bring your voice back?

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I think I’m coming down with something.

Usually that means I prepare a mug of tea, add a spoonful of honey kept solely for such occasions, and add a dash of lemon juice. This elixir, I’ve been told, will soothe my sore throat and coax my raspy voice back to normalcy. But does it actually work?

“I have to say, when I have patients that are sick, I often ask them to sip hot tea,” says Dr. Edward Damrose, chief of laryngology at Stanford Health Care. “But I’m not sure that it’s the tea itself that has the beneficial property, or that the warm water cuts through the phlegm and makes patients feel good.”

To figure out whether the classic tea drink alleviates a sore throat, it helps to know what causes a sore throat in the first place. As Damrose explains, the throat is divided into two parts: a pharynx and a larynx, and both can be infected at the same time or separately. We use our pharynx when we swallow food or liquid. Bacterial or viral infections can cause the pharynx to swell and lead to a sore throat.

When we speak, on the other hand, we use our larynx, the part of the throat that contains our vocal cords. Viral infections make it more difficult for the vocal cords to vibrate, causing us to lose our voices.

How exactly this happens is something of a mystery. “We have a lot of ideas but not a definite answer,” says Dr. Jennifer Long, assistant professor of head and neck surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. One theory suggests that white blood cells storm the vocal cords, causing them to swell and preventing vibration. Another theory is that viruses injure the surface of the vocal cords, making it difficult to vibrate. “For being a common problem, it’s surprising how little we know,” Long says.

On top of this uncertainty, there’s not a lot of good research on whether tea or honey can help a sore throat or lost voice, according to Dr. Maya Sardesai, an associate professor of otolaryngology and surgery at the University of Washington School of Medicine. High-quality health studies typically use placebos, but that’s difficult in this case, Sardesai explains. Most people can tell whether they’re drinking tea and honey, so creating placebos for study participants is challenging.

These difficulties aside, all three doctors are willing to speculate about whether tea, honey and lemon help a sore throat and voice loss.

Let’s start with tea. Because liquids and food go down our pharynx, not our larynx, Damrose points out that any beverage is unlikely to have a direct effect on our vocal cords. But tea could still help a sore throat that results from a swelled pharynx. Research has shown green tea has anti-inflammatory properties, which could help decrease a sore throat’s swelling. Perhaps more importantly, according to Damrose, when people drink a liquid like tea, the act of sipping and swallowing prevents irritating coughing. Warm liquid can also help remove throat phlegm. Long and Sardesai recommend teas with low caffeine, because caffeine may lead to greater acid production and irritate the throat further.

As for honey, “it’s really very speculative” whether honey helps throat pain, according to Long. Honey might be a natural anti-coughing agent, but so far research is inconclusive. On the other hand, none of the doctors suggest that honey might harm the throat.

That’s not the case for lemon. “I actually worry about too much lemon because it’s so acidic, and acids can be irritating” to the throat, says Long. Sardesai agrees, though she notes that “lemon does have vitamin C, and vitamin C is thought to be helpful early in some infections.” Damrose notes another plus: Lemon has antibacterial properties, which could fight off bacterial sore throat.

The tea-honey-lemon trifecta has a mixed report card. For more tested treatments, the doctors recommend resting, inhaling steam and — in the case of voice loss — speaking as little as possible (yes, that includes cutting back on whispering). Symptoms should subside within two weeks, and if not, a trip to the doctor is warranted.

I’ll do my best to follow the doctors’ advice. Just as soon as I finish my cup of tea.

Natalie Jacewicz is a science writer based in New York City. You can find more of her work here. Gnawing Questions is a semi-regular column answering the food mysteries puzzling us and our readers. Got a question you want us to explore? Let us know via our contact form.

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Bahamas On World Cafe


Hilary Walsh/Courtesy of the artist

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Hilary Walsh/Courtesy of the artist

  • “Opening Act (The Shooby Dooby Bop Bop Song)”
  • “No Wrong”
  • “Bad Boys Need Love Too”
  • “Alone”

Ever since he released his 2009 solo debut Pink Strat, I’ve always thought of Afie Jurvanen, better known as Bahamas, as a captain of cool breeze sound — easy, inviting and a little sideways. But this time around, Bahamas recruited the rhythm section featured on the album Black Messiah by D’Angelo and the results on his latest album, Earthtones, rest firmly in a funky pocket of groove.

Jurvanen talks about working with drummer James Gadson and bass player Pino Palladino (who is also one third of the John Mayer Trio). He also shares some of the personal stories that appear on Earthtones including being raised by a single mom after his dad left and becoming a dad himself. Listen in the player above.

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Kacey Musgraves, Champion Of New Nashville, Announces 'Golden Hour' With Two Songs

Kacye Musgraves’ Golden Hour comes out March 30.

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With a little help, Kacey Musgraves has spent the past five years building a new musical world in Nashville. Now, with two new songs from her upcoming album Golden Hour, she’s showing the world that she is fully living in it.

Casual country fans know Musgraves best for her 2013 debut, Same Trailer, Different Park, which won her two Grammy awards and a passionate following dominated by young women like herself: Southerners and others figuring out how live free in the postmodern world while holding on to what’s good about family traditions. She co-wrote an anthem for this new generation, “Follow Your Arrow”; she embraced kitsch, kush and Christmas on two subsequent albums and got to know her role model, Willie Nelson, whose jazz-grounded vocal intonations became ever more influential on her own singing style.

Meanwhile, the middle path she’d forged on her debut — between country accessibility and singer-songwriterly attention to detail – became the template for the decade’s breakthrough artists, from her sometime studio collaborator Chris Stapleton to the Brothers Osborne to Maren Morris. Musgraves, who like many of Nashville’s most interesting stars became a top live draw and consistent album seller without ever having a No. 1 on country radio, became a standard bearer dogged by a question mark: would she stay in a genre that, commercially, didn’t quite know what to do with her? If not, where would she go?

“Space Cowboy” and “Butterflies” answer that question definitively. Musgraves is staying in her old neighborhood — which is the new Nashville, after all. She is comfortable in her place at the center of a new Nashville, one that already owes a lot to her.

That’s not to say that Musgraves is collaborating with an EDM DJ or a punk rock band. Instead, working with a the production team of Ian Fitchuk and Daniel Tashian (the latter has his own well-regarded band, Silver Seas, and produced Emily West’s stunning Symphonies EP last year). She’s relaxed into the sound she’d already designed, going deeper beneath its sparkly, vintage-tinted surface and further cultivating her innate commitment to clarity and craft.

The instantly indelible “Space Cowboy” is as close to an Emmylou Harris classic as any of that ultimate touchstone’s many young admirers have come – a tender, if slightly tart, goodbye to an old love whose airy, piano-driven arrangement perfectly suits Musgraves’ delicate voice and inherent emotional equanimity. Its elegance takes Musgraves beyond the confines of contemporary country; no need for banjo breakbeats here. “Butterflies,” which Musgraves says is the first love song she wrote for her recent groom Ruston Kelly, is a mid-tempo charmer in her usual lane, grounded in a reggae-fied twang. In spirit, it’s a bit like a Little Big Town song, stepping easily beyond any genre category with a sunny sense that this is just where country should be these days.

These two songs bode so well for Musgraves’ Golden Hour that her fans will be counting the days until March 30, when the album drops. All of Nashville will, too, because this is what Music City, now, is all about.

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Florida Governor Calls For Raising Age Limit For Gun Purchases From 18 To 21

Florida Gov. Rick Scott called for a range of measures aimed at preventing shootings like the one last week at a high school in Parkland, Fla. Scott is seen here during a meeting with law enforcement, mental health, and education officials on Tuesday.

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Florida’s governor called for a range of measures that aim to prevent shootings like the one that occurred last week in Parkland, Fla., where 17 students and staff were killed.

In a press conference Friday in Tallahassee, Republican Gov. Rick Scott called for a number of new laws and programs that fall into three categories: gun laws, school safety, and mental health.

PBS NewsHourYouTube

He did not call for any specific weapons to be banned, and more than once mentioned that he is a member of the National Rifle Association.

“I know there are some who are advocating a mass takeaway of 2nd amendment rights for all Americans,” Scott said. “That is not the answer. Keeping guns away from dangerous people and people with mental issues is what we need to do.”

Here’s what he called for in Florida:

  • People under 21 will be banned from buying or possessing firearms with some exceptions for military and law enforcement.
  • A ban on the sale or purchase of bump stocks.
  • $450 million for a safe schools initiative, which will put a law enforcement officer in every public school – at least one officer for each 1,000 students. He does not believe arming teachers is a solution.
  • Money from this program will also be used to fund “school-hardening” measures such as metal detectors, bullet-proof glass, steel doors, and upgraded locks.
  • Hiring more mental health counselors for schools.
  • A program called Violent Threat Restraining Order, which provides a method for courts to prevent people with mental illness or who have made threats of violence from purchasing or possessing guns after a family member or law enforcement officer files a sworn request and shows evidence that a person presents a threat of violence and should not have access to guns.
  • Create a “see something, say something” hotline, website, and mobile app to report concerns.
  • Mandatory active shooter drills at all schools.

Scott began his remarks by reading the names of the 17 people who were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

“Unfortunately, none of the plans I’m announcing today will bring any of them back, but it’s important to remember them,” Scott said. “The seventeen lives that were cut short and all the hopes and dreams that were ruined have changed our state forever. Florida will never be the same.”

The Tampa Bay Times has a full transcript of Scott’s remarks.

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No One's Quite Sure Why Lassa Fever Is On The Rise In Nigeria

A vendor in Lagos pushes his cart past a tray of garri, a powdery foodstuff made from cassava that can be eaten or drunk. During dry season, rats scavenge for food and can spread Lassa fever by defecating or urinating in foods like garri.

Pius Utomi Ekpei /AFP/Getty Images

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Nigeria is tough on diseases.

With help from a few partners, it stopped Ebola’s spread. It wrestled guinea-worm disease into a headlock, with no new cases since 2013. And it’s nearly eradicated the transmission of polio.

But now a disease that usually just lurks in the background has roared into headlines. Since the beginning of the year, there’s been a particularly large outbreak of Lassa fever in Nigeria’s southern provinces.

As of February 18, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) reports 913 cases of Lassa fever and 73 deaths. That’s compared with 733 cases and 71 deaths in all of 2017.

“Everyone is scared,” says Oyewale Tomori, a retired professor of virology who chairs the Lassa Fever Eradication Committee of Nigeria.

Lassa fever, named for the Nigerian town where it was discovered in 1969, generally breaks out during the dry season, between October and early March. It’s not clear why this year’s outbreak is bigger than usual.

So along with treating the mounting numbers of patients, Nigeria is trying to prevent the disease’s spread. The NCDC is following up with 1,747 people who encountered patients ill with Lassa fever to try to diagnose cases early and prevent more infections.

The World Health Organization has also stepped in. “The high number of Lassa fever cases is concerning. We are observing an unusually high number of cases for this time of year,” Dr. Wondimagegnehu Alemu, WHO representative to Nigeria, said in a statement. WHO has sent 20 people to Nigeria to support NCDC and shipped 40 boxes of face masks and goggles to hospitals to protect anyone in close contact with patients, says Tarik Jasarevic, a WHO spokesperson.

True to its name, Lassa fever starts out with a fever, along with a general feeling of weakness. Symptoms come on gradually and can include headache, sore throat, muscle and chest pain, vomiting, diarrhea, coughing and stomach pain.

The most severe cases can cause facial swelling, fluid in the lungs and bleeding from the mouth, nose, vagina or gastrointestinal tract.

Of patients who are hospitalized, 10 to 15 percent die from the virus. But many people contract the Lassa virus and develop antibodies against it without becoming ill.

The seasonal outbreaks reflect the source of the disease: It’s a virus that jumps from the rat Mastomys natalensis to humans. West Africa’s dry winters push rodents closer to people to scavenge for food. Virus-carrying rats may defecate or urinate in grains and other food; people can pick up the virus from contact with contaminated products. The virus can also spread between people via bodily fluids.

And there are a lot of rats – which means there’s a lot of potential for outbreaks, says Lina Moses, a global health researcher at Tulane University. “If you compare this to the Ebola epidemic from 2014-2016, that likely came from one animal to spill over into the human population,” Moses says. “So in terms of control [Lassa fever] is much more challenging.”

Nigeria isn’t the only country that’s worried. The rats that spread Lassa fever are native to many regions of West Africa. Nigeria’s news has pushed Ghana’s Health Services to caution health-care providers about Lassa fever, but no cases have appeared there. On February 8, Guinea reported the first death from Lassa fever since 1996. The Guinean victim, who didn’t appear to infect anyone else, died after traveling into Liberia – a reminder of how easily diseases can cross borders.

A general uptick in Lassa fever cases isn’t totally surprising, Moses says. The Ebola epidemic led to improved labs and diagnostic testing across West Africa. Doctors use the same blood tests to identify Ebola as they do for Lassa fever.

But better diagnostics don’t entirely explain the 2018 caseload. With about a month left in the dry season, reported cases have increased each week so far.

The faster diagnoses do, however, give health workers a chance to start the treatment that generally works against Lassa fever — IV infusions of the antiviral drug Ribavirin. That works best when administered within the first six days of the fever’s onset.

The IV treatment requires patients to stay in a hospital for around a week, which puts health-care workers at risk of infection. In the current outbreak, 18 health-care workers have been diagnosed with Lassa fever, and four have died.

To protect Nigerians, health officials are urging people to keep food in sealed containers so rats can’t get to it and to keep garbage as far from homes as possible to keep rats away.

Moses is concerned that the rise in cases could be part of a trend. In a paper she published in 2016, she looked at the way the rat that carries Lassa fever interacts with humans. Examining data on climate change, population growth and land use, she suggests that the annual number of Lassa fever cases could potentially double by 2070.

In order to handle future outbreaks, it’s important to investigate the causes of this current outbreak, she says. But there’s a concern among public health officials that momentum will fade once the rainy season begins.

“When the rains come, the numbers go way down and people forget about it again,” says the virology professor Oyewale Tomori.

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