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The fields and back roads of eastern Arkansas were a crime scene this past summer. State inspectors stopped alongside fields to pick up dying weeds. They tested the liquids in farmers' pesticide sprayers. In many cases, they found evidence that farmers were using a banned pesticide. Dozens of farmers could face thousands of dollars in fines.

Three years after his death, my father, virtuoso violinist Roman Totenberg, made headlines all over the world when his beloved Stradivarius violin, stolen 35 years earlier, was recovered by the FBI. The story struck the hearts of so many, I think, because in such turbulent times, it was rare good, even joyful, news. And the mystery of where it had been, was finally solved.

Ever since he was a kid, Ketch Secor was obsessed with old-time country music. In fact, he made a career of it by leading the string band Old Crow Medicine Show. Appalachia, the birthplace of the band, has served as a wellspring of knowledge for Secor, and even inspired the musician to write a new children's book, Lorraine.

"That's where this story comes from," Secor says. "This is an Appalachian folktale, with a couple of personal twists."

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A new climate report commissioned by the United Nations paints a pretty dire picture for the year 2040 - high food shortages, wildfires, droughts, rising sea levels, poverty and massive destruction to coral reefs.

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The Los Angeles Philharmonic's yearlong centennial celebration kicked off at the end of September, with a day-long street festival that spanned eight miles across the city.

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It's time now for All Tech Considered.

(SOUNDBITE OF ULRICH SCHNAUSS' "NOTHING HAPPENS IN JUNE")

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Taylor Swift is done being apolitical. On Sunday, the pop megastar took to Instagram and endorsed two Democratic candidates up for election in Tennessee.

The Standard Gauge Railway station in Nairobi is easily the most impressive public building in Kenya.

While a lot of Kenyan government buildings are drab and functional and date back to colonial days, this station is adventurous. It's all gray and modern. Geometric shapes form an abstract locomotive, and red neon announces the "Nairobi Terminus."

The Hate U Give tells the story of a 16-year-old girl named Starr Carter. She lives in a mostly black, lower-income neighborhood called Garden Heights. Williamson Prep, her high school, is in a mostly white, affluent part of town.

But Starr can't keep her two worlds separate after she witnesses a white police officer shoot and kill her childhood friend, Khalil.

Unlabeled stimulants in soft drinks. Formaldehyde in meat and milk. Borax — the stuff used to kill ants! — used as a common food preservative. The American food industry was once a wild and dangerous place for the consumer.

Deborah Blum's new book, The Poison Squad, is a true story about how Dr. Harvey Washington Wiley, named chief chemist of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1883, conducted a rather grisly experiment on human volunteers to help make food safer for consumers — and his work still echoes on today.

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Just two days before saxophonist and composer Miguel Zenon went into the studio to record his new album, Hurricane Maria hit his native island of Puerto Rico.

(SOUNDBITE OF MIGUEL ZENON'S "ROSARIO")

The ancient Maya might be known for their mathematical aptitude, their accurate calendars, and their impressive temples. But did you know they were also salt entrepreneurs?

During the peak of Maya civilization – from 300 to 900 A.D. — coastal Maya produced salt by boiling brine in pots over fires. The end result was shaped into salt cakes, then paddled by canoe to inland cities and traded at extensive markets.

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"All this is based on what I've heard from other people or worked out for myself. It may not be entirely true, though I for one believe it."

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As clerical sex abuse scandals buffet the Catholic Church, a three-week assembly of bishops is under way in Rome on how to make the Church relevant for young people. But the assembly, known as a synod, will likely be dominated by what many analysts call Catholicism's worst crisis since the reformation.

Roughly 250 priests, bishops, cardinals and some younger laypersons are participating in the synod.

In the opening mass, pope Francis urged them "to dream and to hope."

Jorge Luis Borges's iconic Patagonia story "The South" opens in Buenos Aires, in Argentina's north. The protagonist, Juan Dahlmann, is a librarian who's spent his whole life in the city, dreaming of moving to the Patagonian ranch he inherited from his grandfather.

To Dahlmann, Patagonia represents an alternate world, a macho Wild West filled with tough guys and gauchos, men in control of their fates.

"The first time I saw my father do coke, I was about six," author (and occasional NPR critic) Juan Vidal writes in his new memoir, Rap Dad: A Story of Family and the Subculture that Shaped a Generation. "Batman Underoos in full effect. I didn't know what the powder was on his stache, but I remember wishing he'd take me to see the snow."

He never did. Vidal's father faded in and out of his life, eventually disappearing entirely, in a cloud of guns, drugs and other women. But he's still the spirit that haunts this poetic chronicle of beats, rhymes and life.

Like many churchgoers in Romania, retired engineer Marius Tufis opposes same-sex marriage.

"I don't like man with man and woman with woman," he said, frowning in the sun after Sunday's service. "Our religion does not accept this."

Same-sex marriage is already banned in Romanian civil code, but that's not enough for Tufis. He worries that the European Union, which he sees as divided between the liberal West and the conservative East, will force Romania to change the law.

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Some of the world's top climate scientists have concluded that global warming is likely to reach dangerous levels unless new technologies are developed to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says pledges from the world's governments to reduce greenhouse gases, made in Paris in 2015, aren't enough to keep global warming from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees F) above pre-industrial temperatures.

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We're going to go now to a tragic story from upstate New York. Twenty people are dead after a limousine crash this weekend. Lucas Willard of member station WAMC has this story.

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This morning, the winners of the Nobel Prize in economics were announced. The prize will be split by two economists, William Nordhaus and Paul Romer. Nick Fountain from our Planet Money podcast is with me now. Good morning, Nick.

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