WATCH: Impromptu Song Shows Manchester's Resilience

People stop to observe a minute’s silence in St. Ann’s Square in central Manchester, England, on Thursday to remember victims of Monday’s bombing.

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A Manchester crowd’s impromptu rendition of “Don’t Look Back in Anger,” by hometown band Oasis, emerged as an uplifting emblem of resilience after Monday’s deadly bombing there.

The spontaneous singing followed a national minute of silence to honor the 22 people killed as they left a concert at Manchester Arena.

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It started with a lone voice.

The Guardian says 32-year-old Lydia Bernsmeier-Rullow began to sing the band’s 1996 hit. Soon others joined in and the song swept through the crowd in St. Ann’s Square.

“It really touched my heart. It gave me shivers, it really did, to hear everyone joining in with me,” Bernsmeier-Rullow said, as you can see in a video posted by the Guardian. “Don’t look back in anger, that’s what this is about,” she added. “We have to look forwards to the future. We’re all going to join together. We’re all going to get on with it because that’s what Manchester does.”

The video has been widely shared on social media, the Guardian said.

“That moment was something special,” Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham told the Guardian. “That’s what you need to know about Manchester.”

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Iraqi Refugee Empowers Youth To Share Their Stories With 'Narratio'

When Ahmed Badr was 8 years old, his family fled Baghdad in the midst of the Iraq War. Writing helped him process his experience, so he started the website Narratio to give other young people the same opportunity.

Ariel Edelman

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Ariel Edelman

When Ahmed Badr was 8 years old, his family’s home in Baghdad was bombed in the midst of the Iraq War. The family was uninjured. They moved to Syria, which was peaceful then, and in 2008, they came to the U.S. as refugees.

Writing helps Badr deal with what he’s been through, and he wants to give other young people the same outlet. Now a student at Wesleyan University, Badr founded the website Narratio to empower others to tell their stories.

Badr used writing to figure out what it meant to be an Iraqi-American kid. His life had dramatically changed since coming to the U.S. — in Baghdad, his parents were civil engineers; in the U.S., they worked minimum wage jobs at Home Depot and Wal-Mart.

Overtime, Badr realized that writing on his personal blog helped other people understand who he was and where he came from.

Ahmed Badr was 8 years old when a bomb hit his family’s home in Baghdad. They came to the U.S. as refugees in 2008, and Badr used writing to understand his experience.

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Courtesy of the Badr family

“There was this feeling of empowerment that was just overnight, all of sudden people were interested in my story,” Badr says. “… And so with that in mind, two years passed, and I thought, ‘OK, well this was great, but this is only helping me. This is only helping my own expression. So how about I take that feeling and that space that I created for myself and turn it into something that allows youth, refugee or otherwise, all over the world to do the same exact thing.’ “

So Badr created Narratio, where young people from around the world submit poems, essays and stories. Badr curates them, and he’s expanded the program into workshops to help young people learn how to express themselves.

Badr tells NPR’s Ari Shapiro they are looking for pieces with a theme of empowerment.

“You’re telling your story. You’re expressing yourself through your own experience, and it’s very very hard to dispute that,” he says. “It’s very hard to denounce someone’s own personal experience. I think that’s something that’s incredibly beautiful about storytelling is that storytelling doesn’t have to be divisive. Storytelling is meant to bring people together.”

When Badr returned to Iraq for the first time two years ago, he says he felt guilty around his cousins who still live in Iraq. He says he feels personally responsible to give Iraqi youth — 18 million of whom are younger than 19 — an outlet to express themselves.

“I want to be able to turn that guilty feeling that I had when my cousins asked me, ‘What are you up to?’ into a responsibility … and make it possible for them to be able to answer that question as freely as they would like to,” he says. “And so, if I can do that by giving them a website that they can share their stories on, that’s a step in the right direction.”

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After Brief Deployment, Brazilian Troops Recalled From Streets Of Capital

Military police guard government buildings in Brasilia on Wednesday. Brazilian soldiers deployed in the capital after protesters demanding President Michel Temer’s ouster smashed windows and fought riot police. But by Thursday, they had been recalled.

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Within 24 hours of their deployment in Brasilia, Brazilian troops left the streets of the capital on Thursday — gone from their positions guarding government buildings almost as quickly as they’d manned them.

The decision, in both cases, came down from President Michel Temer.

The embattled politician ordered the military deployed to help quell the massive protests against his tenure Wednesday — protests that turned violent as demonstrators clashed with riot police and smashed the windows of some public buildings. By the end of the day, roughly 50 people had been injured and one building set aflame, according to Reuters.

Less than a week ago, Temer had delivered a defiant televised speech, saying he had no plans to step down even as the country’s supreme court opened a bribery investigation against him. Successor to an impeached president and polling in the single digits himself, Temer has been on tenuous political footing since virtually the day he stepped into office. But he has been reeling since the release of a secret recording that appears to reveal him endorsing the payment of hush money to an imprisoned former political ally.

The revelation only further embroiled him in a massive web of bribery and money laundering scandals that have come to light as part of Operation Car Wash, a yearslong federal corruption probe.

“I will not resign. I know what I have done,” he said last week, as BBC translates. “I never authorized any payments for someone to be silent. I did not buy anyone’s silence. I fear no accusations.”

Reuters reports that since last week, no fewer than 15 petitions to impeach Temer have been filed — but the wire service notes that as long as another Temer ally remains speaker of Brazil’s lower house of congress, those petitions are unlikely to come to a vote.

The reflection of Brazil’s National Congress stands splintered in the broken glass of a federal building in Brasilia on Thursday, one day after protesters flooded the city’s streets in opposition to President Michel Temer.

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Eraldo Peres/AP

Tens of thousands of protesters marched on the National Congress building Wednesday to demand his ouster, according to multiple media outlets. And though the demonstrations devolved into destruction and chaos, Temer’s decree to deploy troops to protect public buildings quickly drew outrage, as Al-Jazeera reports:

“It is the first time since 1980 when Brazil was under a military dictatorship that something like this has happened and it is causing quite a controversy.

“The fact of the matter is President Michel Temer signed the order to bring out the soldiers. The fact that he did this is seen by many as an act of desperation — a smokescreen at a time when he is under increasing pressure to resign.”

Though Deutsche Welle notes the deployment of about 1,500 troops had been originally intended to last a week, he revoked the order by midday Thursday, citing a “halt to acts of destruction and violence and the subsequent reestablishment of law and order.”

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From Paris With Love: A Kansas City Musician Gets Distance And Perspective

Kansas City musician Krystle Warren, whose forthcoming album is titled Three the Hard Way, has lived in France for nine years.

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Singer and multi-instrumentalist Krystle Warren has been compared to artists like Tracy Chapman and Nina Simone. The latter comparison is particularly intriguing: Not only does Warren share that icon’s talent for evocative storytelling, but she also lives in France, as Simone once did.

It’s a long way from her native Kansas City, Mo., which Warren left in her early 20s to pursue her music career. On her forthcoming album Three The Hard Way, Warren pays tribute to her roots.

Warren tells NPR’s Audie Cornish that she has been feeling the pull of home more than ever. “When I’m home — and when I say home, [I mean] in the States, but specifically Kansas City — there’s a part of me that’s just invigorated, and feels very much a part of everyone and everything there. And then at some point there’s the other half of me that really pulls to be back in France.”

Hear their full conversation at the audio link, and read on for highlights.


Interview Highlights

On her song “Red Clay,” about the 1921 riot in the Tulsa, Okla., neighborhood of Greenwood, then known as Black Wall Street

[The] community was completely leveled by the Klan, and this song is basically telling their story. … My mother grew up in Spencer, Okla., along with her 10 other siblings. So in the summer I would head down to Spencer. So I’m well-acquainted with the red clay. However, I didn’t know the story of Greenwood until maybe five years ago. It’s just something that wasn’t really spoken about in my family. And so, finding out about one of the worst attacks on U.S. soil — I really had to dig to find out about it. And oftentimes that’s a story with so many things that have happened in our country. Some of the worst atrocities are between nationals, fellow countrymen.

On observing events in the U.S. from a distance

I feel that I’m getting a healthier dose of the news through television. As far as news from France [goes], there’s nothing partisan about it. And so we’re trying to put an album together that is going to touch on things politically, spiritually, whatnot — I think a great deal of distance was needed. Being far away, I guess, I can see things a bit more clearly.

On her two homes of Kansas City and Paris

I do come back to the States as often as I can, but like it or not, a lot of [French] culture has seeped in my veins just as much as Kansas City is. I mean maybe in some years’ time, if and when I become a parent, then France will be home home. But in the meantime at least — I’m a bit split at the seams, but it’s comfortable, as well. I like that I can’t be someplace for too long without missing the other. It’s a nice feeling.

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Montana GOP Candidate's Assault Charge Hangs Over Tight Special Election

Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte talks with supporters during a campaign meet and greet at Lions Park on Tuesday in Great Falls, Montana. On Wednesday, Gianforte was charged with assaulting a reporter.

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Montana voters are at the polls as the aftermath of an altercation between the Republican congressional candidate and a reporter unfolds.

Nominee Greg Gianforte was charged Wednesday evening with misdemeanor assault against Ben Jacobs, a reporter for The Guardian. The incident has drawn extra attention to the race to replace Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, considered a bellwether, in its final hours.

It’s unclear how much the turn of events will impact the outcome of the contest between Gianforte and Democratic nominee Rob Quist, especially after many voters had cast their ballots early. House Speaker Paul Ryan has said Gianforte should apologize, while other Republican lawmakers have called the incident “out of character.”

Health care has been a key topic in the race — and was in fact the subject of Jacobs’ question when his exchange with Gianforte turned violence. According to audio provided by Jacobs, he asks Gianforte for his reaction to the Congressional Budget Office’s report on the American Health Care Act. Gianforte had said previously he didn’t want to weigh in on the Republican health care bill until he saw the CBO score.

But Gianforte brushed Jacobs off and then suddenly “body-slammed” him onto the ground, breaking his glasses, Jacobs says. According to three Fox News reporters who were in the room preparing for an interview with the GOP nominee, Gianforte “grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground … then began punching the man as he moved on top the reporter and began yelling something to the effect of ‘I’m sick and tired of this!’ “

The tape backs up that account, but Gianforte’s campaign claimed it was Jacobs who was the aggressor, pushing a tape recorder in Gianforte’s face and then “grabbed Greg’s wrist, and spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground.”

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The Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office announced late Wednesday it was charging Gianforte with misdemeanor assault, which carries a possible maximum fine of $500 or up to six months in jail if convicted. Gianforte has been ordered to appear in court by June 7.

At a news conference on Thursday, Sheriff Brian Gootkin said Gianforte cooperated by giving an initial statement at the scene. Reporters asked why Gianforte had not been detained, and the sheriff said his deputies “got busy with the witnesses and the victim,” and Gianforte left. He was not in custody or under arrest at the time. The sheriff says the department has been contacted by attorneys on the candidate’s behalf, and law enforcement has not had a followup interview with him.

Gootkin also disclosed that he had contributed to Gianforte’s campaign, but said it “has nothing to do” with the investigation or his role as sheriff. He would not answer questions about why he contributed or whether he regularly donates to campaigns, saying that “doesn’t have anything to do with the incident.”

House Speaker Ryan said at his weekly press conference that Gianforte should apologize.

“I do not think this is acceptable behavior, but the choice will be made by the people of Montana,” Ryan said Thursday.

A statement from National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Stivers, who oversees the House GOP’s campaign arm, didn’t go as far as Ryan.

“From what I know of Greg Gianforte, this was totally out of character, but we all make mistakes. We need to let the facts surrounding this incident unfold,” the Ohio congressman said. “Today’s special election is bigger than any one person; it’s about the views of all Montanans. They deserve to have their voices heard in Washington.”

Montana GOP Sen. Steve Daines, who used to work for Gianforte’s software company, told NBC News’s Peter Alexander, “I’ve known Greg for 20 years. I was very surprised last night. I don’t condone violence of any kind.I’ve got confidence in my local law enforcement back home to investigate the matter.”

“I think Greg should apologize,” Daines continued. “That’s warranted. And we’ll let the people of Montana decide what happens tonight.”

Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, who’s up for re-election in 2018 in what’s expected to be a highly competitive race, said in a statement that the incident was now “in the hands of law enforcement. But part of the job representing the people of Montana is answering basic questions on important topics, topics such as how a dangerous healthcare plan could impact the very people you are trying to represent. It’s part of the job.”

Gianforte, a wealthy software executive, lost to Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock last year by about 4 points, even as President Trump rolled to a 20 point win in the state.

And while Gianforte was hesitant to embrace then-candidate Trump during that contest, he’s been closely embracing the president this go-around, co-opting his familiar “drain the swamp” phrase and pledging to go to Washington to work with the president. The president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., has hit the trail twice for Gianforte, and Vice President Pence also made a recent campaign stop on his behalf.

Quist, a Stetson-wearing folk singer who’s well known across the state for his music, has tried to ride the rising opposition to Trump to an upset. He hasn’t made the president his central campaign pitch, and hasn’t tried to capitalize on the scandals engulfing his administration in recent days, but has made his opposition to the health care bill a key point in the campaign’s final stretch.

Republicans have hammered Quist with almost $5 million in ads, hitting him for property tax liens and unpaid debts. But Quist has shot back that his financial struggles stemmed from a botched gallbladder surgery over two decades ago, giving him a way to sympathize with people also struggling to afford health insurance and pay their medical bills.

Private GOP polls showed a close race earlier this week, with Gianforte believed to have a slim single-digit lead. But with the heavy volume of absentee ballots already returned, it’s unclear how — or if — the recent charges against Gianforte will alter an already close race. And, given conservative opposition to the media, Gianforte’s actions might actually win him some supporters, too.

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Ramen Rock: These Japanese Punk Legends Sing About Food

Shonen Knife performs at the Black Cat in Washington, D.C., on April 30. For over 35 years, the all-female trio has been serving up catchy punk songs with a delicious twist: Many are about a love of food.

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By night, they play gigs. By day, they sample ramen in cities across America.

They’re the three women of Shonen Knife, a legendary rock band from Japan. For over 35 years, the band has been serving up infectious punk songs with a delicious twist: Many of them are about food. Think song titles like “Wasabi,” “Hot Chocolate” and “Sushi Bar.” But don’t dismiss them as bubblegum pop: Over the years, some of their biggest fans have included giants of alt-rock music.

This spring, Shonen Knife embarked on its latest adventure – a ramen rock tour of the U.S.

Why ramen? Well, ramen is really like Japanese soul food, says Daisuke Utagawa, a ramen restaurateur in Washington, D.C., and unofficial ambassador of Japanese food culture. “It’s probably as important as your pizza here.”

(Left to right) Risa, Naoko and Atsuko of the band Shonen Knife eat ramen at Haikan in Washington, D.C., before playing a show. D.C. was one of their stops on a self-titled “Ramen Adventure Tour” of the U.S. By night, they play gigs. By day, they sample ramen in cities across the country.

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And the noodles are becoming all the rage in America. So, to promote its latest album, called Adventure, Shonen Knife is on what it calls the “Ramen Adventure Tour” of the U.S. I met up with the band at Haikan, one of Utagawa’s hip ramen restaurants.

The band’s line up has changed over the years, but these days, it consists of drummer Risa Kawano and its two founding members — guitarist Naoko Yamano and her sister, Atsuko Yamano, who plays bass guitar. Like Cher or Beyonce, all three ladies prefer to go by first names only.

For our interview, Risa, Naoko and Atsuko changed into their signature outfits: geometric-patterned dresses, designed by Atsuko, reminiscent of a Mondrian painting.

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Ariel Zambelich/NPR

Naoko is the most fluent in English and does most of the talking. I kick off by asking the obvious: Why go on a ramen tour?

“Sushi is already very popular, but ramen is now happening in America,” Naoko says.

And — oh yeah — they happen to have a hard-rock anthem called “Ramen Rock,” written for a former band mate who had a habit of dining out on the noodles after playing shows. (Ramen is also a traditional hangover food in Japan.)

Atsuko tucks into a bowl of ramen at Haikan.

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Naoko and Atsuko formed Shonen Knife in 1981 in Osaka, Japan. They were inspired by pop punk bands like the Ramones. (In 2011, the band released a tribute album called Osaka Ramones.) These days, Naoko says, she’s more into “’70s hard rock music, like Judas Priest or Black Sabbath or sometimes KISS.”

Naoko has always been the front-woman. And from the very beginning, many of their songs have been about food. “When I started Shonen Knife, I was ashamed to write about love,” she explains.

Naoko says romantic love, the standard stuff of music lyrics, was just too embarrassing to sing about. But love of food was another story.

“I found that eating delicious food is the most important thing for people,” she says. “It’s a kind of universal topic.”

So is dieting. Naoko — who is quite petite — says the need to curb her love of cookies inspired the song, “I Wanna Eat Cookies,” which features a memorable refrain that many listeners can identify with: “I wanna eat delicious cookies …. as much as I want to eat!”

By 1989, Shonen Knife’s catchy, playful songs had attracted some pretty big-name fans – including influential alternative-rock bands like Sonic Youth, Red Kross and L7, all of whom sang on a tribute album to the group called Every Band Has A Shonen Knife Who Loves Them.

In 1991, Nirvana asked Shonen Knife to join them on tour. At the time, Naoko says, she’d never heard of Kurt Cobain and company, but their grunge look gave her pause. “I was so scared because their looking was very wild,” Naoko recalls.

That was just as Nirvana’s seminal album Nevermind was blowing up. But as Cobain told MTV News a couple of years later, he was the one in awe of Shonen Knife, watching them perform night after night from the side of the stage. “I was an emotional sap the whole time. I cried every night,” said Cobain, who frequently shared his love of the band with interviewers.

Naoko leads the crowd in a clapping beat at D.C.’s Black Cat, where the band played to a packed room.

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Unlike Nirvana, Shonen Knife never made it huge. But over the decades, the band has remained a cult favorite. A couple of hours after our ramen dinner, they took the stage at D.C.’s Black Cat. And they kicked things off with a song called “Banana Chips” … of course.

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Shonen Knife’s latest U.S. tour wraps up this weekend.

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Scientists Pinpoint How A Flamingo Balances On One Leg

Scientists have now shown that this position requires almost no muscle activity from the flamingo.


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Most anyone who has encountered a flamingo has probably been impressed by its signature ability to balance on a single long, spindly leg for remarkably long periods of time.

But actually, scientists have now shown that what appears to be a feat requires almost no muscle activity from the bird.

In fact, they found even a dead flamingo’s body will naturally fall into a stable one-leg balance if positioned vertically. That research was recently published in Biology Letters.

Until now there have been two basic schools of thought about why a flamingo stands on one leg, Lena Ting, a biomedical engineer at Emory University and Georgia Institute of Technology, tells The Two-Way.

Some scientists have suggested it was a way for the bird to conserve heat that would have been lost if that foot had been in the cold water. Others thought it was a way to reduce muscle fatigue, letting one leg rest while the other did the work.

But for muscles to get fatigued, the posture must actually be tiring for the bird.

Nobody had ever tested whether the flamingo’s iconic one-legged posture required any actual muscle effort — until now.

Ting and co-author Young-Hui Chang from the Georgia Institute of Technology headed to Zoo Atlanta, where they tested eight juvenile Chilean flamingos using a device called a force plate. She compares the machine to a Wii balance board or a high-tech bathroom scale – it “can measure the small motions of the body when you stand.”

The researchers tested the movements of eight juvenile flamingos at Zoo Atlanta.

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Rob Felt

They recorded a small amount of swaying motion when the animals were awake. But then something surprising happened – when an animal dozed off, the swaying dropped off dramatically.

“And that’s the opposite of what we would expect for you or me — if I was standing on one leg and then closed my eyes, typically I would see a great increase in the amount of body sway and usually that results in people having to put their foot down,” she says.

It suggests that while awake and active, the bird’s swaying could be correcting for other movements, ultimately settling into a position while asleep that requires little to no muscle activity.

That was put to the test in an experiment with a flamingo cadaver, which of course has no muscle activity because it is not living.

First, the researchers tried manipulating the cadaver’s joint in search of a locking mechanism that could explain the stability, she says. But the joint moved very loosely and did not lock.

The key moment happened when they rotated the bird into a standing position: “We held onto its ankle … and we turned it vertically, and then all of a sudden it just collapsed right into the position that you see when they’re standing on one leg.”

This video shows the remarkable stability of the cadaver, even when it is pushed and pulled in different directions. (A warning to the sensitive viewer: It is a video of a dead flamingo, though the scientists say the animal was euthanized for other reasons and was not harmed for the study.)

This suggests that the reason for the animal’s stability is mechanical and is actually aided by gravity. “What we showed is that when they go to sleep their bodies can sort of flap forward due to gravity, and then the whole thing just collapses and becomes very stable,” Ting says.

The mechanics behind a flamingo’s leg are a bit counterintuitive. The flamingo actually has an upper leg bone that is positioned horizontally, hidden among its feathers. A knee connects that bone to the long, slender part that it stands on. And the knobby bit in the center of that vertical portion is actually the bird’s ankle.

When the flamingo lifts its leg, its body folds forward, so the center of gravity is pushing down on the leg from the front of the body — perfectly balancing it.

A diagram of the limb posture and anatomy of a sleeping flamingo.

Biology Letters

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Biology Letters

In fact, says Ting, “our research also suggests that it may require less effort for the flamingos to stand on one leg than on two.” The bird was not able to maintain this kind of passive balancing on two legs; as Ting explained, when the leg unfolded the joint “sort of collapsed” from its more stable position balanced on one leg.

This study is not inconsistent with the idea that flamingos stand on one leg to reduce heat loss, especially if the bird doesn’t need to expend much energy to do so.

But Ting says it may be even simpler than that: They may just balance on one leg because it’s easier for them than any other way.

It’s worth noting that lots of other birds balance on one leg too, such as wood ducks and storks. Ting says this could be a “more general mechanism that many birds use.”

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