Archive For July 19, 2021

On ‘Outside Child,’ Allison Russell Confronts Trauma With Compassion

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On ‘Outside Child,’ Allison Russell Confronts Trauma With Compassion

Allison Russell

Marc Baptiste/Courtesy of the artist

Marc Baptiste/Courtesy of the artist

  • “Nightflyer”
  • “4th Day Prayer”
  • “Persephone”
  • “The Runner”

Music heals. Allison Russell is a great example of that.

The singer-songwriter has been part of several musical projects, including Po’ Girl and Birds of Chicago. Most recently, Russell was involved with folk group Our Native Daughters, where she was able to dispel a massive writer’s block.

New songs came out in a torrent. The result is Outside Child, an album that lays bare both personal and intergenerational abuse. Despite creating art from trauma, Russell is strengthened by love, connection and creation. The blues stirs the soul, bringing with it catharsis and joy.

Listen to the conversation and performance via the audio player above.

World Cafe: 7/19/21

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Olympics Opening Ceremony Composer Steps Down And Apologizes For Bullying

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Olympics Opening Ceremony Composer Steps Down And Apologizes For Bullying

Japanese musician Keigo Oyamada, who performs as Cornelius, in Tokyo in 2014.

Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images

Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images

Japanese musician Keigo Oyamada, who performs under the name Cornelius, has resigned from the Tokyo Olympics after being criticized on social media for having bullied children with disabilities while he was himself a student.

Oyamada – who as Cornelius appeared in a 2018 Tiny Desk Concert for NPR Music – had written a composition to be played at the start of the Olympic opening ceremony. It’s unclear at this point how his resignation will impact the event, which is scheduled to take place Friday at 8 P.M. Tokyo time.

Critics recently uncovered interviews the now 52-year-old Oyamada did in the 1990s, in which he proclaimed that “without any regrets” he had bullied people, including classmates with disabilities, during his childhood. These include articles published in Rockin’On Japan in 1994 and Quick Japan in 1995.

According to Kyodo News, the Olympics organizing committee said that though they had previously decided to allow him to stay in his Olympics post, “this decision was wrong,” and that Oyamada’s resignation should be accepted after all.

Oyamada is also resigning from the opening ceremony of the Paralympics, which will begin on Aug. 24.

In a tweet posted Monday, Cornelius apologized in Japanese for his past behavior, writing that he “lacked consideration for various people,” and promised to alter his future actions and “ways of thinking.”

In past years, the opening ceremony has been one of the most popular elements of the Olympics for a television audience. The opening ceremony for the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang earned 28.3 million viewers in the U.S. — which NBC has said was the biggest Friday night audience for any broadcast on any network since the 2014 Olympics opening ceremony in Sochi.

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England Has Lifted Most Of Its COVID-19 Restrictions, Even As U.K. Cases Are Up 41%

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England Has Lifted Most Of Its COVID-19 Restrictions, Even As U.K. Cases Are Up 41%

People dance at Egg London nightclub early Monday in the British capital.

Rob Pinney/Getty Images

Rob Pinney/Getty Images

England has lifted most of its domestic COVID-19 restrictions, marking a milestone as the country moves into a new phase of pandemic life — what some have dubbed “Freedom Day.”

Young people gathered at nightclubs just after midnight to celebrate the return of crowds to raucous indoor spaces. “This is what life’s about,” one clubgoer said.

The move to phase four of the country’s reopening plan means there are no limits on the size of social gatherings or events, and social distancing is no longer required. The government still recommends meeting outdoors when possible.

Requirements to wear face coverings have been lifted, though masks are still recommended in crowded areas such as public transport. They are required on the London Tube. And the government is no longer instructing people to work from home if possible, though it anticipates a gradual return to the office.

Restrictions are lifting, but cases are rising

The loosened restrictions are happening as cases in the U.K. spike to the highest levels since January — up 41% over the previous week.

“Today, we’ve taken the fourth step on the prime minister’s road map. We faced challenges and delays. However, thanks to the success of the vaccine rollout, we are now in a position to ease the majority of our domestic COVID-19 restrictions,” U.K. Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said Monday.

Zahawi said the new phase brings an emphasis on personal and corporate responsibility in combating the virus.

The moves come as Prime Minister Boris Johnson is in self-isolation following close contact with the UK health secretary, Sajid Javid, who announced Saturday he had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Johnson was just one of many Britons pushed into isolation after pings on their cellphones informing them they’d been exposed to someone positive for the coronavirus. Businesses across the U.K. faced labor shortages due to more than half a million people in a week receiving such pings and the recommended self-isolation measures.

A spokesman for Johnson said Monday that the prime minister had tested negative for the virus and was not displaying any symptoms. Johnson had earlier said that rather than self-isolate, he would take part in a pilot scheme that used testing instead, but he later backed off that idea.

Johnson’s government is coming under fire

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer criticized Johnson and his Conservative government for lifting too many measures, calling it “a reckless free-for-all.”

Meanwhile, anti-lockdown protesters gathered Monday outside Parliament, complaining that the lifted measures weren’t enough.

“We don’t think it’s over yet. They are still mandating masks in supermarkets, people are still wearing masks, and they will try and roll out vaccines in September for the children,” 25-year-old Megan Bullen, an artist, told The Washington Post.

Commuters on the London Underground continue to wear masks on Monday, as required on the Transport for London network.

Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images

Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images

There’s confusion around the rules

The changing rules caused some confusion on the Monday morning commute. The BBC reported that because masks are mandatory for Transport of London services but not for Thameslink trains that also serve stations in the city, commuters might take their masks on and off as they switch trains – depending on their direction of travel.

Travelers to the U.K. from France also complained that quarantine rules that had been set to lapse were instead renewed. The rules require anyone arriving from France to quarantine for five to 10 days, even if they are fully vaccinated, due to concerns about the beta variant.

“We don’t think the United Kingdom’s decisions are totally based on scientific foundations. We find them excessive,” Clément Beaune, France’s minister of state for European affairs, told BFM TV, Reuters reported.

Britain has seen one of the world’s highest death tolls from COVID-19. But it now has a higher vaccination rate than its European counterparts: 87.9% of U.K. adults have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Nearly 68% have received a second dose.

Scotland moved to its lowest level of restrictions on Monday but still has mandatory face coverings and limits on gatherings. Northern Ireland plans to lift some restrictions on July 26, and Wales on Aug. 7.

Even before Monday’s move to phase four, England had played host to mass gatherings. The British Grand Prix, a Formula 1 race, drew 140,000 spectators to the country’s Silverstone Circuit on Sunday.

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