Archive For September 11, 2019

Daniel Johnston, Acclaimed Singer-Songwriter, Dies At 58

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Daniel Johnston, Acclaimed Singer-Songwriter, Dies At 58

Singer, songwriter and visual artist Daniel Johnston performs in Austin, Texas, in 2005. Johnston died on Wednesday.

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The outsider singer, songwriter and visual artist Daniel Johnston has died. His death was confirmed to NPR by his brother, Dick Johnston, who said that Daniel had just been released on Tuesday from a hospital, where he had been treated for kidney issues. Dick Johnston said that Tuesday night, Daniel had seemed well, but he was found dead at his home in Waller, Texas, near Houston, Wednesday morning. He was 58 years old.

His sister, Margy Johnston, told the Austin Chronicle in 2018 that he had been physically unwell in recent years; in a 2017 profile, The New York Times reported that he had struggled with diabetes, a kidney infection and hydrocephalus, in addition to the manic depression and schizophrenia that he bore for most of his adult life.

Born Jan. 22, 1961, in Sacramento, Calif., Johnston was a musician’s musician, whose guileless lyrics about love and isolation found significant fans who brought his singular songs to a wider audience. Tom Waits, Yo La Tengo, Bright Eyes and many other bands covered Johnston’s achingly sincere songs of alienation. Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips said, of his music, “There’s definitely some absolutely pure, emotional thing that happens in his songs.” Kurt Cobain wore a T-shirt featuring the art from Johnston’s 1983 cassette Hi, How Are You.

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He was beloved as a visual artist and cartoonist too: In 2006, the Whitney Museum of American Art chose him for its famed Biennial.

In 2005, he was the subject of a documentary, the Jeff Feuerzeig-directed The Devil and Daniel Johnston, that traced his art-making and his significant struggles; the film won the documentary directing award at the Sundance Film Festival that year.

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Dick Johnston also told NPR on Wednesday that the family has been working with director Jason Nodler to create a biographical film of Daniel Johnston’s life, based on the stage work Speeding Motorcycle, which Nodler directed and which is based on Johnston’s songs. “It’s so sad that he won’t get to see it,” Dick Johnston said.

As news of his death spread, many musicians and artists have taken to social media to pay tribute to Johnston. “There are not enough words I can say about the … vitality of Daniel Johnston’s musical spirit,” Zola Jesus wrote on Twitter. “He was a huge inspiration to me, to follow my creative impulses no matter how messy or simple.”

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In Afghanistan, Soldiers And Marines Reflect On The 18th Anniversary Of 9/11

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In Afghanistan, Soldiers And Marines Reflect On The 18th Anniversary Of 9/11

Soldiers and marines reflect on loss and remembrance on the 18th anniversary of 9/11. They’re on the ground in Afghanistan, where the war has been going on for nearly as long.


AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Now to Afghanistan on this anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. NPR’s Tom Bowman is travelling around the country with a top American officer talking with soldiers and Marines about loss and remembrance and an ongoing military mission that is entering its 18th year.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JASON WEBSTER: Can you hear me back there? All right, would you join me in prayer, please?

TOM BOWMAN, BYLINE: Chaplain Jason Webster offers a prayer just after dawn at Kandahar Airfield. There’s more than 150 runners taking part in a benefit for Tunnel to Towers, a nonprofit aiding the families of 9/11 first responders and those who died in the ongoing wars.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

WEBSTER: First, I acknowledge the pain and suffering of so many over the past 18 years. From the loss of life on 9/11 to…

BOWMAN: Some bow their heads. Others closed their eyes. And still others stare intently ahead.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MARYANNA SWANSON: All right, on your mark. Get set. Go.

(CROSSTALK)

BOWMAN: Navy nurse Maryanna Swanson is organizing this run. She’s from Long Island, from a family of cops and firefighters. Both her dad and uncle helped the recovery at Ground Zero.

SWANSON: They went down to help just clean rubble out of the pile, which was pretty gruesome from the stories I’ve heard.

BOWMAN: That all helped spur an interest in military service, she says, in an effort to help others.

SWANSON: As a kid, I never really thought about war until, like, after 9/11.

(SOUNDBITE OF CLAPPING)

BOWMAN: It’s a three-mile run around this sprawling base with strong links to the September 11 attacks. Just a short drive away is Tarnak Farm, an al-Qaida training base visited by some of the 9/11 hijackers and Osama bin Laden himself. Now it’s just a collection of broken concrete buildings.

FRANK MCKENZIE: Everybody be seated, please.

BOWMAN: Next door in Helmand Province, the officer overseeing the entire region, Gen. Frank McKenzie, meets Marines inside a small chapel. And his talk turns to the anniversary.

MCKENZIE: Today – I don’t have to remind any of you – is September the 11th. We are here because of that day. That’s what brought all of us here. And for the last 17, 18 years, that’s been the basis for our involvement in this country.

BOWMAN: The war has gone on for so long there’s a new generation of fighters, many of whom have little memory of that day.

(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE)

CHRISTOPHER SORIA: I was in third grade. I remember my teacher turning on the television. Myself, I kind of – I didn’t know what I was really watching.

JORDAN ALLISON: I was in fourth grade when it happened, kind of saw pictures on the internet and things. I didn’t quite understand it at first.

BOWMAN: That’s Staff Sgt. Christopher Soria and Sgt. Jordan Allison. They sit at a picnic table at a base outside the northern city of Mazar e Sharif surrounded by parched, brown mountains. And each of them advises the Afghan army.

Another soldier here has more vivid memories of 9/11. Sgt. 1st Class Michele Rebello was a young mother that day, watching on TV as the planes hit the World Trade Center and realizing things would never be the same. Today she’ll continue training the Afghans with logistics and wonders if any of them will stop and think about it much.

MICHELLE REBELLO: Not sure if they’ll really identify that the significance of the day and the meaning. I won’t bring it up at all, but it will be a significant event for me.

BOWMAN: She and many soldiers here have followed the news about possible troop cuts and the back-and-forth with Taliban talks and the decision to cancel a Taliban visit to Camp David shortly before September 11.

REBELLO: I believe that our leaders will do what they think is right. I’m definitely glad that they rethought having personnel come to Camp David on that day.

BOWMAN: How come?

REBELLO: I think it was a smart move. Yeah, I think the date should have just been maybe different.

BOWMAN: For Sgt. Soria, who was in third grade back in 2001, he knows that many Americans question the Afghanistan mission, wonder why it’s still going on after 18 years. I asked him if he’ll come back here again.

SORIA: I think there’s still a lot more that needs to be accomplished in this country. So I would like to say no, that I won’t be coming back to this country, but I foresee having to come back to this country again.

BOWMAN: Coming back to prevent threats against the United States again, he says, attacks like those that occurred on September 11.

Tom Bowman, NPR News, Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.

Copyright © 2019 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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How To Help Hurricane Dorian Survivors In The Bahamas

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How To Help Hurricane Dorian Survivors In The Bahamas

Debris left by Hurricane Dorian in Marsh Harbour after it decimated the island of Abaco a week ago on Monday, September 9, 2019.

Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR


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Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR

The Bahamas’ government is sharing a wish list of materials to help the island chain give food and shelter to its residents who are still reeling from Hurricane Dorian. Officials say they need lots of help and supplies — but they also want targeted donations.

“Officials here for instance don’t want to be inundated with cans of green beans when what they really need is telephone poles,” NPR’s Jason Beaubien reports from Nassau.

They’re facing a relief and reconstruction job that’s likely go on for years.

“Cash is king. For us to rebuild these communities, we need funds,” Barry Rassin, president of Rotary International, tells Beaubien.

Saying money is the most flexible aid tool, Rassin is calling on people to give to established charities and hold them accountable.

“Make sure we report back what we got and how we spent it,” he says.

The Bahamas National Emergency Management Agency has published a page with instructions for anyone wanting to contribute to the Bahamas Disaster Relief Fund.

The Bahamian government has also issued an “exigency order” to allow relief supplies to quickly reach affected areas. It lists its greatest needs, ranging from tents and mosquito netting to plumbing fixtures and building materials.

Electric poles lay broken on the road to Marsh Harbour on the island of Abaco, Bahamas, a week after Hurricane Dorian decimated the town on Monday, September 9, 2019.

Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR


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Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR

In an update Wednesday, NEMA spokesperson Carl Smith said some 2,5000 people have been reported missing in the Bahamas. But he added that the list has not yet been cross-checked against the names of people who have been evacuated, or those who are in shelters.

More than 5,500 people have been evacuated to New Providence from Grand Bahama and Abaco, Smith said, citing the help of commercial air carriers and private pilots.

Abaco suffered extensive damage to its power supply system; Smith said the Marsh Harbour power station was completely destroyed, and there’s “a 20-mile stretch where all poles are down.”

Chef and philanthropist Jose Andres has been in the Bahamas for more than a week, and his World Central Kitchen delivered its 100,000th meal in the islands on Tuesday.

Reknowned chef Jose Andres, right, is interviewed by ABC News’ before Andres leaves for his first mission to Abaco Islands to deliver food to stranded Bahamanians who survived Hurricane Dorian at Odyssey Aviation in Nassau, Bahamas, on Tuesday, September 3, 2019.

Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR


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Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR

“I arrived to Marsh Harbor Tuesday 3rd to bring some meals and water, increasing production daily!” Andres said. “We were safe, we felt safe…..when you feed people, and they see you comeback they become your angel guardians.”

Calling the relief effort “a massive operation with many moving parts,” NEMA added in its briefing on Tuesday, “People’s lives and livelihoods are at stake.”

The rush to bring aid has also caused some problems, as Bahamian officials are confronted with both a wide-ranging disaster and a crippled infrastructure that has sometimes limited its ability to welcome what has been a huge humanitarian response.

One of the government’s first meetings with relief groups drew nearly 150 representatives from local NGOs, according to NEMA. Acknowledging “the frustrations that arise at times” during the relief effort, the agency says it has asked the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) to help it mange the flow of information among groups.

Here’s a rundown of other organizations that are undertaking this work.

Of course, NPR isn’t endorsing or vouching for any of these groups. And because scam artists often seek to profit from times of crisis, it’s a good idea to do a bit of research on any charity before you donate to it.

One place to start is Charity Navigator — which evaluates nonprofits and tracks where their money goes. The group has published a list of highly rated groups that are working to respond to Dorian.

Among those working with Andres in the Bahamas are Global Shadow Marine — which is using a large expedition ship to ferry supplies and aid to the Bahamas from Florida. On Wednesday morning, the group said it had just made an overnight trip from the U.S., arriving back in Freeport with 500,000 pounds of food and water.

Overnight transit, we are back in Freeport with 500,000 pounds of aid @WCKitchen @chefjoseandres #ChefsForBahamas pic.twitter.com/1mSghetqay

— Global Shadow Marine (@MYGlobalshadow) September 11, 2019

The ship had spent two days at the Pier 66 Marina in Fort Lauderdale, where members of the local fire department helped load pallets of supplies.

Another group bringing supplies is Sol Relief, a St. Petersburg Fla., non-profit that organizes relief flights to bring aid to disaster-stricken areas. As of late Tuesday, the group said it had just completed its 50th flight between the U.S. and Bahamas.

NPR staff who are reporting on the recovery effort in the Bahamas say they’ve seen the Bahamas Red Cross in numerous locations, along with U.N. agencies, the World Food Program and the Pan American Health Organization, or PAHO.

And the group World Health International says it’s been able to establish a clean water station at the Abaco Primary School. Its volunteers have also worked at Marsh Harbour and Green Turtle Cay.

On the far western tip of Grand Bahama Island, the Old Bahama Bay Resort & Yacht Harbour has declared itself a landing spot for aid, accepting more than 70 vessels this past Saturday alone. But the group, which operates a private marina, was forced to close briefly after a video was posted online showing relief supplies sitting on its dock.

The company says via Facebook, “people were storming the resort and beach and a lot was taken including drugs, baby formula, and two coolers full of insulin that were desperately needed.”

That closure lasted less than 24 hours, as Old Bahama Bay reopened after the government offered to boost the security and police presence at the resort.

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How To Help Hurricane Dorian Survivors In The Bahamas

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How To Help Hurricane Dorian Survivors In The Bahamas

Debris left by Hurricane Dorian in Marsh Harbour after it decimated the island of Abaco a week ago on Monday, September 9, 2019.

Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR


hide caption

toggle caption

Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR

The Bahamas’ government is sharing a wish list of materials to help the island chain give food and shelter to its residents who are still reeling from Hurricane Dorian. Officials say they need lots of help and supplies — but they also want targeted donations.

“Officials here for instance don’t want to be inundated with cans of green beans when what they really need is telephone poles,” NPR’s Jason Beaubien reports from Nassau.

They’re facing a relief and reconstruction job that’s likely go on for years.

“Cash is king. For us to rebuild these communities, we need funds,” Barry Rassin, president of Rotary International, tells Beaubien.

Saying money is the most flexible aid tool, Rassin is calling on people to give to established charities and hold them accountable.

“Make sure we report back what we got and how we spent it,” he says.

The Bahamas National Emergency Management Agency has published a page with instructions for anyone wanting to contribute to the Bahamas Disaster Relief Fund.

The Bahamian government has also issued an “exigency order” to allow relief supplies to quickly reach affected areas. It lists its greatest needs, ranging from tents and mosquito netting to plumbing fixtures and building materials.

Electric poles lay broken on the road to Marsh Harbour on the island of Abaco, Bahamas, a week after Hurricane Dorian decimated the town on Monday, September 9, 2019.

Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR


hide caption

toggle caption

Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR

In an update Wednesday, NEMA spokesperson Carl Smith said some 2,5000 people have been reported missing in the Bahamas. But he added that the list has not yet been cross-checked against the names of people who have been evacuated, or those who are in shelters.

More than 5,500 people have been evacuated to New Providence from Grand Bahama and Abaco, Smith said, citing the help of commercial air carriers and private pilots.

Abaco suffered extensive damage to its power supply system; Smith said the Marsh Harbour power station was completely destroyed, and there’s “a 20-mile stretch where all poles are down.”

Chef and philanthropist Jose Andres has been in the Bahamas for more than a week, and his World Central Kitchen delivered its 100,000th meal in the islands on Tuesday.

Reknowned chef Jose Andres, right, is interviewed by ABC News’ before Andres leaves for his first mission to Abaco Islands to deliver food to stranded Bahamanians who survived Hurricane Dorian at Odyssey Aviation in Nassau, Bahamas, on Tuesday, September 3, 2019.

Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR


hide caption

toggle caption

Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR

“I arrived to Marsh Harbor Tuesday 3rd to bring some meals and water, increasing production daily!” Andres said. “We were safe, we felt safe…..when you feed people, and they see you comeback they become your angel guardians.”

Calling the relief effort “a massive operation with many moving parts,” NEMA added in its briefing on Tuesday, “People’s lives and livelihoods are at stake.”

The rush to bring aid has also caused some problems, as Bahamian officials are confronted with both a wide-ranging disaster and a crippled infrastructure that has sometimes limited its ability to welcome what has been a huge humanitarian response.

One of the government’s first meetings with relief groups drew nearly 150 representatives from local NGOs, according to NEMA. Acknowledging “the frustrations that arise at times” during the relief effort, the agency says it has asked the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) to help it mange the flow of information among groups.

Here’s a rundown of other organizations that are undertaking this work.

Of course, NPR isn’t endorsing or vouching for any of these groups. And because scam artists often seek to profit from times of crisis, it’s a good idea to do a bit of research on any charity before you donate to it.

One place to start is Charity Navigator — which evaluates nonprofits and tracks where their money goes. The group has published a list of highly rated groups that are working to respond to Dorian.

Among those working with Andres in the Bahamas are Global Shadow Marine — which is using a large expedition ship to ferry supplies and aid to the Bahamas from Florida. On Wednesday morning, the group said it had just made an overnight trip from the U.S., arriving back in Freeport with 500,000 pounds of food and water.

Overnight transit, we are back in Freeport with 500,000 pounds of aid @WCKitchen @chefjoseandres #ChefsForBahamas pic.twitter.com/1mSghetqay

— Global Shadow Marine (@MYGlobalshadow) September 11, 2019

The ship had spent two days at the Pier 66 Marina in Fort Lauderdale, where members of the local fire department helped load pallets of supplies.

Another group bringing supplies is Sol Relief, a St. Petersburg Fla., non-profit that organizes relief flights to bring aid to disaster-stricken areas. As of late Tuesday, the group said it had just completed its 50th flight between the U.S. and Bahamas.

NPR staff who are reporting on the recovery effort in the Bahamas say they’ve seen the Bahamas Red Cross in numerous locations, along with U.N. agencies, the World Food Program and the Pan American Health Organization, or PAHO.

And the group World Health International says it’s been able to establish a clean water station at the Abaco Primary School. Its volunteers have also worked at Marsh Harbour and Green Turtle Cay.

On the far western tip of Grand Bahama Island, the Old Bahama Bay Resort & Yacht Harbour has declared itself a landing spot for aid, accepting more than 70 vessels this past Saturday alone. But the group, which operates a private marina, was forced to close briefly after a video was posted online showing relief supplies sitting on its dock.

The company says via Facebook, “people were storming the resort and beach and a lot was taken including drugs, baby formula, and two coolers full of insulin that were desperately needed.”

That closure lasted less than 24 hours, as Old Bahama Bay reopened after the government offered to boost the security and police presence at the resort.

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How To Swing Like Mary Lou Williams (Featuring Helen Sung)

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How To Swing Like Mary Lou Williams (Featuring Helen Sung)

Credit: NPR

The eight women we chose to honor in this season of Turning the Tables were skilled singers, writers, instrumental innovators and musical pioneers. But often in the stories of these women’s lives and legacies, their musical skills are obscured by a focus on persona or biography. We also want to highlight their work as musicians and the fundamental musical contributions they made to American popular music.


Mary Lou Williams was a groundbreaking composer, arranger, performer and mentor. She was also known as “the lady who swings the band,” thanks to her mastery of swing, “jazz’s unique approach to rhythm,” says Helen Sung. Sung is a renowned jazz pianist and award-winning composer who won the Mary Lou Williams Jazz Piano Competition in 2007. We asked her to explain what “swing” is and what makes it so central the sound of jazz, and to show us how to do it.

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Republican Dan Bishop Wins North Carolina Special Congressional Election

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Republican Dan Bishop Wins North Carolina Special Congressional Election

Dan Bishop, center, smiles as he gets up from the table after looking at election results with supporters during an election night party Tuesday in Monroe, N.C. September 10, 2019 in Monroe, N.C.

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Brian Blanco/Getty Images

Updated at 11:10 p.m. ET

Republican Dan Bishop eked out a victory in a closely watched North Carolina special congressional election on Tuesday night — a scandal-plagued race that was actually the final uncalled contest of the 2018 midterms.

Bishop, a state senator, narrowly defeated Democrat Dan McCready by fewer than 5,000 votes — 50.8% to 48.6% — with nearly all precincts reporting. This suburban Charlotte district had voted for Trump by 12 points in 2016 and has been held by Republicans for more than 50 years. The president held an election eve rally to help save the seat that appeared to have the intended boost, especially when looking at the Election Day turnout.

President Trump partially credited himself for Bishop’s victory in a tweet Tuesday night:

Dan Bishop was down 17 points 3 weeks ago. He then asked me for help, we changed his strategy together, and he ran a great race. Big Rally last night. Now it looks like he is going to win. @CNN & @MSNBC are moving their big studio equipment and to talent out. Stay tuned!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 11, 2019

No public or private polling ever showed Bishop down by that much, and both parties acknowledged throughout the race that it was a neck-and-neck contest.

Trump later called the race a “big night for the Republican party.”

The close margin of victory should be incredibly worrisome for Republicans — showing that Democratic enthusiasm, especially in the suburbs, hasn’t dissipated much since the November elections when the House flipped control. But McCready actually ended up losing ground in some rural areas, compared to his 2018 margins. It’s further evidence that Democrats haven’t yet found a way to make gains outside of their strongholds — and further highlighting the growing urban/suburban vs. rural divide in the country.

This was actually the final election of the 2018 midterms — thanks to months-long drama due to allegations of ballot tampering by an aide to then-GOP nominee Mark Harris. The final total showed Harris with a slim 905 vote lead over McCready. But the state board of elections threw out that result and ordered a new election. Harris bowed out and Republicans picked a new, less-tainted nominee in Bishop.

McCready, a Marine Corps veteran who pitched himself as a centrist who was focused on health care and pocketbook issues, had a head start in the race and heavily outraised Bishop. That’s why Republican outside groups poured more than $6 million in outside spending to level the playing field and salvage a win.

Bishop ran a campaign where he closely tied himself to Trump and promised to be a faithful ally of the president in Congress. He tied Bishop to progressive Democrats, such as New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, in ads, utilizing Trump’s rhetoric to brand them and McCready as socialists.

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Emmer said that Bishop’s victory showed that their messaging so far in the 2020 cycle was working.

“North Carolinians rejected the Democrats’ socialist agenda and elected a representative who will defend North Carolina values, and will always fight for freedom and against socialism,” Emmer said in a statement.

But Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairwoman Cheri Bustos pointed out that this was already a far more conservative seat than most of the ones Democrats flipped in 2018.”There are 34 Republican-held districts that are more favorable to Democrats than North Carolina’s Ninth. Tonight’s razor-thin result in this ruby-red district solidifies the fact that Democrats are pushing further into Republican strongholds and are in a commanding position to protect and expand our House Majority in 2020.

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