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U.S. Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher Won’t Play In Women’s Olympic Bronze Medal Match

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U.S. Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher Won’t Play In Women’s Olympic Bronze Medal Match

U.S. goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher lies injured as Becky Sauerbrunn checks on her during the Women’s semifinal match between USA and Canada on Monday at the Tokyo Olympic Games at Kashima Stadium.

Francois Nel/Getty Images

Francois Nel/Getty Images

TOKYO — U.S. goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher will not play in Thursday’s Olympic bronze medal women’s soccer match. Naeher exited Monday’s semifinal game against Canada with an injury.

In the 22nd minute, Naeher leapt for a ball, bumped into U.S. defender Julie Ertz and landed awkwardly. U.S. Soccer says Naeher “suffered a hyperextension of her right knee and a bone contusion.”

She remained on the ground while the team’s medical staff attended to her. Naeher played a few more minutes but visibly winced and raised her hand to be substituted out when she next kicked the ball. U.S. goalkeeper Adrianna Franch replaced her for the rest of the game. Canada defeated the U.S. 1-0 to advance to Friday’s gold medal match against Sweden.

U.S. Soccer said in a news release that Naeher had an MRI after the game which showed no ligament damage. “I’m disappointed I won’t be able to be on the field Thursday with my teammates competing for a medal, but I know this group will bounce back from a tough loss,” Naeher said. She’s expected to be out for several weeks.

The U.S. team, which is top-ranked and reigning Women’s World Cup champions, will take on Australia for the bronze medal on Thursday at 4 a.m. ET. The teams played to a scoreless draw when they met earlier in the tournament.

Alyssa Naeher stands with crutches following her injury after Canada defeated the U.S.

Francois Nel/Getty Images

Francois Nel/Getty Images

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Wildfires Are Driving People Out Of Turkish Vacation Spots

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Wildfires Are Driving People Out Of Turkish Vacation Spots

A man leaves as advancing fires rage the Hisaronu area, Turkey on Monday. For the sixth straight day, Turkish firefighters battled the blazes that are tearing through forests near Turkey’s beach destinations.

AP

AP

Turkey’s skies are yellow with smokey haze from wildfires.

Thousands have fled coastal towns, both residents and tourists, to escape the flames that have been blazing on the country’s southern coast for six days. In Mugla province, 10,000 people were evacuated, according to Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu. Some have escaped by car, others by boat.

People leave in a boat as advancing fires rage through the village of Hisaronu in Turkey on Monday.

AP

AP

The death toll has risen to eight.

A woman leads her animals away from a fire at Cokertme village, near Bodrum, Turkey, on Monday.

Mehmet Guzel/AP

Mehmet Guzel/AP

The fires are part of over 100 blazes that broke out across more than 30 Turkish provinces, most of which have been contained or extinguished. Fed by strong winds and high temperatures, experts are pointing to climate change and human accidents as the culprits, although the causes of the fires remain under investigation. Southern Europe currently bakes in a heat wave that has also fed wildfires in Greece and Sicily.

Fighting the flames are locals and planes sent from the European Union, Russia, Ukraine, Croatia, Spain, Iran and Azerbaijan, their crews working in Antalya and Mugla provinces to fight nine fires, and more active fires in the Isparta, Denizli, Izmir and Adana provinces.

Firefighters work to extinguish an advancing fire, near Bodrum, Turkey, on Monday.

AP

AP

The flames have destroyed farms, homes and forests, and killed livestock. Satellite photos released by Turkey show a blackened coastline that stretches for miles.

“We are going through days when the heat is above 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), where the winds are strong and humidity is extremely low,” Agriculture and Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli said. “We are struggling under such difficult conditions.”

A satellite photo from the Turkish military shows wildfires in Mugla, Turkey, on Sunday.

Turkish National Defense Ministry/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Turkish National Defense Ministry/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Josie Fischels is an intern on NPR’s News Desk.

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Lil Nas X Embraces Black Queer Sexuality — And Becomes An ‘Industry Baby’

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Lil Nas X Embraces Black Queer Sexuality — And Becomes An ‘Industry Baby’

NPR’s Ari Shapiro talks with New York Times writer Jazmine Hughes about the unique pop stardom Lil Nas X is creating for himself.


ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Over the weekend, we got a snapshot of where part of the music industry stands right now on LGBT issues. The music festival Lollapalooza dropped rapper DaBaby from its lineup after he made homophobic remarks. And at the same time, the top two spots on YouTube’s music video charts were both held by Lil Nas X, an artist whose videos unapologetically embrace queer Black sexuality. Those two singles are a big shift from his first viral chart-topper, this earworm from 2019.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “OLD TOWN ROAD”)

LIL NAS X: (Singing) Yeah, I’m gonna take my horse to the old town road. I’m gonna ride till I can’t no more.

SHAPIRO: This shift in his artistry may also be part of a bigger change in the music industry. Jazmine Hughes explored that in a profile of Lil Nas X for the New York Times magazine. I asked her how Lil Nas X is paving the way for longevity.

JAZMINE HUGHES: At some point during our time together, we were sitting at lunch, and I asked him, how much of your life is dedicated to proving people wrong? And he said, almost all of it, right?

SHAPIRO: Almost all of it.

HUGHES: So I think that it’s easy to look at “Old Town Road,” which we know is a huge viral success because he recorded the song, attached it to memes, went viral on TikTok, and then it sort of blew up. It’s easy to look at that and think that this was all a lucky mistake, right? But he did this all incredibly intentionally. What’s funny about Nas is that, like, before he became a successful musician, he was a Barb. He was like a soldier and a Nicki Minaj online stan, right? So he spent all of his waking hours online. I mean, there are some points in high school where…

SHAPIRO: Like, learning the rules of social media battle.

HUGHES: Kind of like forming the rules of social media battle. But there were times where he was spending, like, 18, 19 hours a day online, so he knows the internet better than, I think, most people in this world do. So yes, he had, like, this incredible stroke of luck when it came to “Old Town Road” and everything that came with it, but I don’t know. There’s a lot of intention there that I think that…

SHAPIRO: Yeah.

HUGHES: …Sometimes people discount.

SHAPIRO: Let’s talk a little about his latest video, “Industry Baby.”

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “INDUSTRY BABY”)

LIL NAS X: (Rapping) Baby back, ay. Couple racks, ay.

SHAPIRO: Can you just briefly describe it in a way that’s safe for public radio?

HUGHES: (Laughter) Yes. So for a video he released earlier this year called “Montero,” a promotional item he released were these Nikes called Satan Shoes, which purported to have a drop of human blood in them. He made 666 pairs. And so this newest music video, “Industry Baby,” is about, like, what happens after Lil Nas X, like, you know, pretends to lose this lawsuit, and then he goes to jail.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “INDUSTRY BABY”)

LIL NAS X: (Rapping) I blew up. Now everybody trying to sue me. You call me Nas, but the hood call me Doobie. Yeah. And this one is for the champions…

SHAPIRO: And has a lot of sex in jail.

HUGHES: We’re all familiar with, like, what might happen to people, particularly men, when they’re in prison with a bunch of other men. So, you know, what Nas has done over the course of his admittedly short career is to take what seems like a punishment and turn it on its head and say, what if I actually had the best time?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “INDUSTRY BABY”)

LIL NAS X: (Rapping) You was never really rooting for me anyway. When I’m back up at the top, I want to hear you say, he don’t run from nothing, dog. Get your soldiers. Tell them that the break is over.

SHAPIRO: I mean, you talk about turning punishment into celebration. That’s also what happened in his previous monster hit video this summer, “Montero,” where he, like, goes to hell and gyrates on Satan’s lap.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “MONTERO (CALL ME BY YOUR NAME)”)

LIL NAS X: (Singing) Call me when you want. Call me when you need. Call me in the morning. I’ll be on the way. Call me when you want. Call me when you need. Call me out by your name. I’ll be on the way like…

HUGHES: So Nas grew up with the church being part of his life, right? His father is a gospel singer, and there was a point where he was going to church every Sunday. And so he’s no stranger to the variety of outcomes that queer people are often told by homophobes or, you know, like, quote, unquote, “people who really care” about what might happen to him – whether he goes to hell, whether he’ll go to jail or he’ll do this, that and the third.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “MONTERO (CALL ME BY YOUR NAME)”)

LIL NAS X: (Singing) Champagne and drinking with your friends – you live in the dark, boy, I cannot pretend. I’m not fazed, only here to sin. If Eve ain’t in your garden, you know that you can. Call me when you want. Call me when you need. Call me in the morning. I’ll be on the way.

HUGHES: And so what he has done with “Industry Baby” and also with “Montero” is, again, to say, like, what if I took the thing that all these people have been, you know, warning me about my entire life and then carried it on to its logical end? It’s almost like he’s saying, homophobes don’t actually have that great of an imagination, and I do. So yeah, you can tell me I’m going to go to hell, but you haven’t told me what’s going to happen when I get there, and that is for me to fill in.

SHAPIRO: He’s young. He’s only 22. And you spent a lot of time with him. Did you get the sense that the facade of being impervious to all the homophobia and hatred – that it ever drops? Like, do you get the sense that it ever actually gets to him?

HUGHES: Oh, absolutely. I think that he has an incredible team of people around him. He has, you know, a few older Black women who I think are really sort of, like, big sisters to him, that are in his team but are also his best friends that keep him humble. But also he’s, like, a 22-year-old living in Los Angeles, right? So he’s, like, doing all the healthy mindfulness things that I think…

SHAPIRO: (Laughter).

HUGHES: …You and I would do if we were, like, 22-year-old gazillionaires (ph). So he, like, reads a lot of self-help books, and he, like, spends a lot of time with his family. And he is, like, a really thoughtful, generous, well-grounded person, almost to, like, an astounding degree. So while I think it bothers him, as it would bother anyone – and I’ve had, like, a peek at the sort of reactions he gets online – I really do think that he has a solid protective measure against this.

SHAPIRO: You mentioned that he honed his social media skills by being part of Nicki Minaj’s online army before he became famous. And he’s been using those skills on Twitter all summer long. I want to read something that he wrote in response to a person who has since deleted their tweet. But this person basically listed a bunch of artists who were not as vocal about their sexual orientation, from Elton John to Queen Latifah, and kind of said, you know, why can’t you be more like them? And Lil Nas X said this – many, if all, of these artists had to hide their sexuality for the majority of their career. You seem to only respect gay artists when the gay part is tucked away. You don’t like me because I embrace my sexuality instead of hiding it and never speaking on it for your comfort. What does that tell you about the kind of pop star he’s trying to become?

HUGHES: I think there’s been all this undue attention paid to whether or not he’s a one-hit wonder. But what I actually think is really phenomenal about Lil Nas X is this particular thing – right? – where he is a gay pop star who’s come out at the height of his fame or – you know, for all we know, he could somehow get even bigger.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “HOLIDAY”)

LIL NAS X: (Rapping) Man, I snuck into the game – came in on a horse. I pulled a gimmick. I admit it. I got no remorse.

HUGHES: But people like Elton John – you know, Elton came out towards, like, the tail end of his career. George Michael came out way at the end of his career. We have so many gay pop stars but so few openly gay pop stars and even fewer gay pop stars who are explicitly sexual.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “HOLIDAY”)

LIL NAS X: (Rapping) And I’m sexy. They want to sweat me.

HUGHES: We have people like Sam Smith or we have people like Troye Sivan who make their queer identity part of their art. But what Lil Nas X does is he makes gay sex just as part of his entire persona as a, you know, name literally any straight pop star ever.

SHAPIRO: Jazmine Hughes is a staff writer for The New York Times magazine.

Thank you so much.

HUGHES: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “HOLIDAY”)

LIL NAS X: (Rapping) It’s another way. All my hittas (ph) on go and I hope that you know it. I can’t even close my eyes, and I don’t know why. Guess I don’t like surprises. I can’t even stay away from the game that I play. They gon’ know us today. Yeah. Man, I snuck into the game – came in on a horse. I pulled a gimmick. I admit it. I got no remorse. Nobody tried to let me in. Nobody opened doors. I kicked them down. They didn’t have a choice. Dun dun dun (ph). They tried to next me, ay, but I’m blessed, see. Ay, no flex, but my checks giving vet tease.

Copyright © 2021 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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Some States Are Working To Prevent COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates

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Some States Are Working To Prevent COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson promoted COVID-19 vaccinations at a community town hall at Arkansas State University Mountain Home (ASUMH) in Mountain Home, Arkansas, on July 16. Arkansas is one of several states that has passed laws prohibiting vaccine requirements.

Liz Sanders/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Liz Sanders/Bloomberg via Getty Images

As COVID-19 cases surge, the federal government and some private employers are requiring their workers to show proof of vaccination. Plus, certain cities and localities are once again requiring masks indoors.

Some states, however, are not just ordering more precautions, but already moving to stop vaccination mandates in the future.

Hemi Tewarson of the National Academy for State Health Policy is tracking state legislatures for such bills, and spoke to Morning Edition‘s A Martínez about what she’s seeing. Notably:

  • As of late last week, 9 states have enacted 11 laws with prohibitions on vaccine mandates (Arizona and Arkansas have each enacted two).
  • They weren’t all introduced or enacted at this stage of the pandemic — in fact, some were introduced back in February and March, and the most recent took effect in late June.
  • Some of these laws are tied only to vaccinations that have emergency use authorization, so the prohibition will no longer apply if the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines get full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  • The laws don’t prevent officials from encouraging vaccinations, only from requiring it. So governors in these states are still pushing for people to roll up their sleeves, just not ordering it.
  • The vast majority of these laws apply only to state and local governments, meaning private schools and employers in those states can still pass vaccine mandates.

Companies like Google, Netflix, Morgan Stanley and The Washington Post have recently announced vaccine requirements for their employees. Other businesses are using incentives like time off, lotteries and reduction in health care insurance.

NPR’s Yuki Noguchi has this story on how private companies are navigating these decisions.


This story originally appeared on the Morning Edition live blog.

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Myanmar’s Military Leader Declares Himself Prime Minister And Promises Elections

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Myanmar’s Military Leader Declares Himself Prime Minister And Promises Elections

Commander-in-chief of Myanmar’s armed forces Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, seen here in June, delivers a speech at a conference on international security in Moscow.

Alexander Zemlianichenko/Pool AP

Alexander Zemlianichenko/Pool AP

BANGKOK — Six months after seizing power from the elected government, Myanmar’s military leader on Sunday declared himself prime minister and said he would lead the country under the extended state of emergency until elections are held in about two years.

“We must create conditions to hold a free and fair multiparty general election,” Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing said during a recorded televised address. “We have to make preparations. I pledge to hold the multiparty general election without fail.”

He said the state of emergency will achieve its objectives by August 2023. In a separate announcement, the military government named itself “the caretaker government” and Min Aung Hlaing the prime minister.

The state of emergency was declared when troops moved against the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi on Feb. 1, an action the generals said was permitted under the military-authored 2008 constitution. The military claimed her landslide victory in last year’s national elections was achieved through massive voter fraud but offered no credible evidence.

The military government officially annulled the election results last Tuesday and appointed a new election commission to take charge of the polls.

The military takeover was met with massive public protests that has resulted in a lethal crackdown by security forces, who routinely fire live ammunition into crowds. As of Sunday, 939 people have been killed by the authorities since Feb. 1, according to a tally kept by the independent Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. Casualties are also rising among the military and police as armed resistance grows in both urban and rural areas.

Moves by The Association of Southeast Asian Nations to broker a dialogue between the military government and its opponents have stalled after an agreement at an April summit in Jakarta to appoint a special envoy for Myanmar.

Min Aung Hlaing said that among the three nominees, Thailand’s former Deputy Foreign Minister Virasakdi Futrakul was selected as the envoy.

“But for various reasons, new proposals were released and we could not keep moving onwards. I would like to say that Myanmar is ready to work on ASEAN cooperation within the ASEAN framework, including the dialogue with the ASEAN special envoy in Myanmar,” he said. ASEAN foreign ministers were expected to discuss Myanmar in virtual meetings this week hosted by Brunei, the current chair of the 10-nation bloc. Myanmar is also struggling with its worst COVID-19 outbreak that has overwhelmed its already crippled health care system. Limitations on oxygen sales have led to widespread allegations that the military is directing supplies to government supporters and military-run hospitals.

At the same time, medical workers have been targeted by authorities after spearheading a civil disobedience movement that urged professionals and civil servants not to cooperate with the government.

Min Aung Hlaing blamed the public’s mistrust in the military’s efforts to control the outbreak on “fake news and misinformation via social networks,” and accused those behind it of using COVID-19 “as a tool of bioterrorism.”


This story originally appeared on the Morning Edition Live Blog.

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An Olympic Runner Fell During The Last Lap Of The 1,500. She Still Won The Race

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An Olympic Runner Fell During The Last Lap Of The 1,500. She Still Won The Race

Dutch athlete Sifan Hassan wins the race in the first round of women’s 1,500 meter heats at the Tokyo Olympics on Monday.

Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

TOKYO — Dutch distance runner Sifan Hassan was entering the final lap of her 1,500 meter heat when the runner in front of her tripped, bringing Hassan crashing to the ground.

Suddenly well behind the leaders, she stood up and turned on the gas.

Eleven of the world’s fastest runners stood between her and victory. With astonishing drive, she blazed by them one by one, rapidly making up ground.

On the final straightaway, Hassan surged and passed the front pack of five runners. She’d won the heat. You can watch her comeback here.

Hassan, 28, will compete in the semi-final of the 1,500 meter on Wednesday. She came to the Games aiming to make history with golds in the 1,500 meter, 5,000 meter, and 10,000 meter – something no man or woman has done at a single Olympics.

Because she pulled off the unbelievable today, she’s still on track.

Sifan Hassan of The Netherlands and Edinah Jebitok of Kenya trip and fall during their 1,500 meter heat on Monday.

Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

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History Professor Calls For U.S. Inclusion Of Mexico Studies

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History Professor Calls For U.S. Inclusion Of Mexico Studies

NPR’s Kelsey Snell speaks with Harvard history professor Gabriela Soto Laveaga about her recent op-ed titled, “Every American needs to take a history of Mexico class.”


KELSEY SNELL, HOST:

While today’s referendum in Mexico casts a spotlight on the past three decades of the country’s history, our next guest would like all of us to reach much further back in our understanding of Mexican history. Gabriela Soto Laveaga is a history professor at Harvard. And she recently wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post titled “Every American Needs To Take A History Of Mexico Class.” She joins us now from California, where she’s visiting family.

Professor Soto Laveaga, welcome.

GABRIELA SOTO LAVEAGA: Thank you so much for having me.

SNELL: First of all, why do you think it’s so important for all Americans to study the history of Mexico? What would be the benefit, in your view?

SOTO LAVEAGA: I have been teaching a version of a Mexican history class for the last 20 years. And invariably, students, especially those who are coming from border states, would say, why didn’t I learn this in high school? It would have completely changed my view or even how I perceive or vote. And after two decades of listening to this, I finally sat down to write what I had been saying all along, that much of who we claim to be as a nation, so much of it is linked to the Mexican-American War. How we define ourselves as Americans and the values that that we put forth in our society have links, strong links to the mid-19th century.

SNELL: And thinking about those links and that shared history that you talk about, can you tell me about one specific event in Mexican history that you wish Americans understood better and should be studying?

SOTO LAVEAGA: Absolutely. I think for me, one of the most important ones and one that I mentioned in the op-ed is the St. Patrick’s Battalion. When the U.S. and Mexico go to war, the U.S. asks for volunteers, as many as 50,000 volunteers to go fight in Mexico. And among the many volunteers who join up are recently arrived refugees from Ireland, who are coming because of famine. And at the time, the Irish were not seen as good citizens in U.S. society. They were seen as dirty, uneducated, prone to criminality. They lived in ethnic ghettos. So they weren’t perceived as being wholesome citizens or those who are wanted.

But Irish join these – this call – or answer the call as volunteers in large part because they want to be included in American society. But when they go off to fight in Mexico and once they cross the border and they’re fighting and – they realize that this is an unjust war. And the Irish flip sides. And, they join the Mexican side. They formed the Irish Battalion, composed not simply of Irish but predominantly Irish. They – ultimately, when the U.S. wins the Mexican-American War, they’re tried for treason and are executed. But in Mexico, they are seen as heroes because it was unwanted immigrants who rose up and had a clear opinion about what was happening on the ground.

SNELL: You know, in your essay, you mention the fact that Mexico lost more than 50% of its territory to the United States at the end of the Mexican-American War in 1848. That includes all of what is now California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. How big a role does that context play in the respective national identities of the United States and Mexico?

SOTO LAVEAGA: This is huge. I think if we take – just for the case of Mexico, it will take the nation decades to recover this national psyche of having lost a war but also having lost so much of its territory. And let’s not forget, literally one month after the signing of the treaty that would end the war and – the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo – gold is discovered in California. At the time, Mexico was bankrupt. If it had been in control of Californian gold, potentially, its financial problems would have been different, and it could have had a very different national path.

But for the United States, it really shaped us as a country when you think of how many thousands of East Coast-based Americans and families headed west in search of the gold of California or headed west and gave us our identity as frontiersmen and -women. But in addition – and this is really interesting – we framed our identity as Americans in a way against what we weren’t. And what we weren’t, we weren’t Mexican. So you had to create this image of a Mexican who was different than us. So it was a lawless Mexican. The term greaser comes into use at this time and a criminal element – also from this time. And that’s not who we were. A lazy Mexican, that’s not who we were. So this idea of who we are as a nation had to have this back and forth with this play of what we weren’t. And it – a lot of it had to do with disenfranchising Mexicans who were already on the ground and who were becoming second-class citizens.

SNELL: History is written from a specific viewpoint, and there are often differences in perspective and interpretation. How would you answer those who might say that teaching American students about the Mexican perspective of history could be divisive?

SOTO LAVEAGA: I don’t think factual history can be divisive. Rather, I think that if we examine historical truths and historical facts, we gain the tools to ask critical questions, not just of our past but of our current situation, our present state so we can move away from myths. And I’m not saying that we don’t need myths. Every nation is built on histories and stories and myths about who we are. That’s how we learn to become who we are as a nation – through these stories that we tell. What I’m asking is that we learn to teach analytical ways of thinking about our past.

SNELL: Your op-ed title says every American needs to take a history of Mexico class. If I’m taking that literally, is one class enough to better understand something as complex as Mexican history? Or should this be part of history education more broadly?

SOTO LAVEAGA: That is a fantastic question. I think it should be part of how we reframe how we teach history, U.S. history here in the United States. It should include multiple perspectives, including different groups within our society but also different perspectives from other nations – how they saw these events, how they were responding or how they were questioning these events at the time. What we need to do is not teach a class but rather to incorporate multiple views into what we’re already teaching, to make it a much more complex, a much richer way of thinking of our past.

SNELL: That was Professor Gabriela Soto Laveaga. She is the Antonio Madero professor for the Study of Mexico at Harvard University. Professor, thank you so much for speaking with us today.

SOTO LAVEAGA: Thank you so much, Kelsey. Have a great day.

(SOUNDBITE OF GUSTAVO SANTAOLALLA’S “SENDERO”)

Copyright © 2021 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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Belarusian Olympian Says She Was Forcibly Taken To Airport After Criticizing Coaches

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Belarusian Olympian Says She Was Forcibly Taken To Airport After Criticizing Coaches

Krystsina Tsimanouskaya of Belarus competes in a heat of the women’s 60 meters race at the European Athletics Indoor Championships at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow, Scotland, Saturday, March 2, 2019.

Alastair Grant/AP

Alastair Grant/AP

A Belarusian sprinter who spoke out publicly about the “negligence” of her Olympic coaches says she was allegedly taken against her wishes to the Tokyo airport for a flight back to Belarus.

Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, 24, told Reuters in an interview Sunday that she was pleading for help from Japanese police at the airport and “will not return to Belarus.”

Tsimanouskaya was scheduled to compete in the women’s 200-meter race on Monday, but said coaches came to her room Sunday and told her to pack immediately. She said she’d been placed in the 4×400 relay despite never racing the event before or being trained for it.

The coaching staff took Tsimanouskaya to the airport after she spoke on her Instagram about the negligence of her coaches, she said in an interview with Reuters.

In a statement to Reuters, the Belarusian Olympic Committee said coaches had chosen to withdraw Tsimanouskaya on doctors’ advice about her “emotional, psychological state.”

Belarusian athlete was forcibly taken to the airport by the Belarusian delegation members & is now pressured to leave the #Olimpics. Christina Tsimanouskaya is being departed from #Tokyo, she is now at the airport. Athlete says she will seek refuge in the #EU. pic.twitter.com/g3cuRoXczc

— Franak Viačorka (@franakviacorka) August 1, 2021

She Sought Protection From Japanese Police

Tsimanouskaya sought the protection of Japanese police at Tokyo’s Haneda airport so she would not have to board the flight back home.

In a video circulating across social media, Tsimanouskaya said she was “put under pressure” by team officials and asked the International Olympic Committee for help.

“I have been pressured and they are trying to take me out of the country without my consent, so I am asking the IOC to intervene,” she said. “I will not return to Belarus.”

In a tweet, the International Olympic Committee said it had seen reports in the media about Tsimanouskaya’s situation and was ” looking into the situation.” The IOC said it was asking the National Olympic Committee of Belarus for “clarification.”

In the video posted to her Instagram, Tsimanouskaya criticized Belarusian Olympic officials for allegedly telling her once she was already in Tokyo that she must run the 4×400-meter relay after other members of the team were found ineligible because due to not completing the proper doping testing.

Dissent Can Be Dangerous In Belarus

She did not criticize Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko or the government in the video.

Lukashenko has cracked down on the opposition in the autocratic Eastern European country, arresting and jailing those who criticize the government.

Back in May, Belarus forced the landing of a Ryanair flight and arrested opposition journalist Roman Protasevich on board.

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Billie Eilish Can’t Wait To See The Future

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Billie Eilish Can’t Wait To See The Future

Billie Eilish’s second album, Happier than Ever, is out now.

Courtesy of the artist

Courtesy of the artist

Billie Eilish has a message for the world: “I’m not your friend / Or anything, damn / You think that you’re the man / I think, therefore, I am.” Still just 19, the pop supernova has spent the past few years living a very public life. She’s won seven Grammys over two consecutive years, run circles around her peers on the Billboard Hot 100 and become a figure of discussion and scrutiny, some of it perhaps a little too familiar.

Her second full-length album, Happier than Ever, is out now. Like its predecessor, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, it’s a collaboration with her brother and producer, Finneas O’Connell. But after a career debut like few others, Eilish’s style is evolving: new sounds (including a detour into bossa nova-inspired grooves), a new visual toolkit and lyrics shaped by experiences as a very young woman on a worldwide stage.

Eilish spoke with NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro about where Happier than Ever finds her and her outlook on life, fame and performance. Hear the radio version at the audio link, and read on for an edited transcript.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.


Lulu Garcia-Navarro: You had huge success with your first album, and there’s always a lot of pressure for a second album after something like that. Did you feel that way?

What’s funny is, for the making of the album, I felt no pressure. I wasn’t worried; I was super confident. I really felt that I did the best that I possibly could have done with a second album: I didn’t stay exactly doing the same thing, but I also didn’t change into something else, I grew. I thought that that was really good. It was when I started releasing music from the album, putting out singles, that suddenly I was like, “Wait.”

[Laughs] “People are going to listen to this?”

Yeah! “People are going to listen and tell me how they feel now? No!” But, it’s OK. It’s really just about me liking it, and the real fans liking it. That’s all I care about.

This album is called Happier than Ever. So, how are you: Are you happier than ever? Why did you call it that?

I mainly wanted a title for my album to be, like, un-mispronounceable. I feel that was a strong, easy to pronounce, easy to say, can’t-get-it-wrong title. [But the song it’s named after] is one of my favorite songs on the album. It’s one of my most important songs I’ve ever written.

Tell me why. What is it about this song?

Do you ever want to say something to somebody for a really long time? You don’t really know what you want to say or how to say it — and then maybe you have a conversation with somebody else, or you think a little bit about it, and you figure out what it is you’ve been trying to say for this entire period of time? That’s how it felt: That was the entire writing process, that was the recording process. Everything involved in this song felt like how it feels when you finally find the words for something.

Is it about a particular person, or just more about that feeling when you actually understand something about a relationship that you’ve had?

I mean, obviously it’s about somebody, but it’s also really about a feeling, and kind of a realization. I just mainly hope that people listen to this and go, “Oh, yeah — that’s what I’m trying to say.”

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You are now 19, and you’ve been in the public eye for a while. Tell me about the song “OverHeated.”

You can kind of understand it by just listening, I would say. I think it was just a moment of being really pissed off as a young woman in the public eye: You know, it’s infuriating. It’s hard enough to be a young woman not in the public eye, and just have lots of public eyes looking at you … let alone being famous and having a million people look at you constantly. I think it’s just thoughts coming from a place of fury and unfairness and just feeling angry at the world and society, I guess.

What have you learned about coping with that glare, though? I mean, what do you do to remain you?

I honestly don’t know. I think that there’s not much you can do. … It’s like, if you’re at the dentist getting your wisdom teeth done, and they give you anesthesia and then you say to yourself, ‘I’m not going to fall asleep, I’m not going to fall asleep,’ you can’t not fall asleep. … I think that you just have to keep going and not not be scared of living, I guess. And I wish I would take my own advice in that realm of just like, it doesn’t matter. You can change, and you can change your mind, which I think the internet forgets.

And I mean, you are changing: You’ve changed your look recently, you are experimenting with different types of music on this album. I want to ask about your aesthetic, how you see clothes and appearance playing into your art — and if you see that as part of the music, and how you interact with people who love your music.

With aesthetics and eras of a musician or an artist, it’s all just for the eye. It’s not really real. I guess that you can change your look to try to change yourself, for sure. But in terms of album promo, and the photo shoots being a certain style — that doesn’t change you. It’s just a choice for something that you wanted to accomplish visually, you know? I did the same thing for my first album: I chose to have a look and an aesthetic and a style for that album specifically, and all of the shoots and stuff involved in the videos, I wanted that to be kind of creepy, more like horror and dark and in the theme of monsters under your bed.

For this one, I wanted the theme of old Hollywood and beautiful and classy. It’s just funny that people see new photo shoots and immediately think that you’re a different person. I see people call me Blonde Billie — like, “Blonde Billie said this, but Green Billie didn’t say this.” And I’m like, what the hell? I’m not a category of a person. I’m the same person, for my whole life. I like this thing this time, and I like this thing that time.

To that point, the song “Not My Responsibility” is saying something similar with its title — which is, whatever you see is about you, not me. Am I right in understanding it that way?

Yeah, for sure. And that goes for so many different things. It goes for all women who wear what they want and a man says, “Oh, don’t expect me to not harass you if you’re wearing that.” It’s like, no — that’s your responsibility to not harass me. It’s nobody’s responsibility to cover themself or restrict or restrain themself for somebody else’s, like, weak willpower. It’s not our job.

There’s a lot about womanhood in this album and exactly what you’re talking about, the ways in which it can be twisted, the ways it can be taken advantage of. When the song “Your Power” was released, I sent it to a bunch of my female friends and relatives, because I think it speaks to something that a lot of girls and women have dealt with. When did you start to realize that every girl, every woman, has a story where they were sort of taken advantage of?

I don’t even know when I realized it. The song is kind of from the perspective, like … this wasn’t an actual situation of my life, but I thought it would be interesting to write it as if it was me talking to somebody that I was friends with or in my family, or somebody that I knew, and they were abusing their power. And I was having a like, heart-to-heart with them, trying to tell them not to.

It’s about many, many different situations that I’ve witnessed. Some lines are about my life, some lines are about things that I’ve seen, some lines are just general things that I’ve noticed about women being taken advantage of. And it’s a crazy thing and I wish that when I was younger I had a song like this to listen to.

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We should say, there are also happy songs here — about love, the good part of connecting, the sort of empowering part of being with someone. I want to actually go to Billie Bossa Nova because I used to live in Brazil, so I was real happy to hear this. Have you been to Brazil?

No, I haven’t!

Oh, you gotta go.

It’s like the main place that I should go. The first fan account I ever had was Billie Eilish Brazil. For real.

Oh, wow.

I have a very special place in my heart for Brazil. I wanted to pay respect to bossa nova and Brazil and just the entire culture around it cause I love it so much. I don’t know, I just love a little feel-good, you know, move around feeling, sexy little song.

And you’ve just made a lot of people in Brazil happy, I can tell you right now … The last thing I want to talk about is “My Future.” In this song, there’s a line that says, “I’m in love with my future / Can’t wait to meet her.” I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it; it’s a really interesting line. Why did you write it?

Thank you. I love that line, too. I think it means a lot of things. I think that the most straightforward meaning is the future me, the future person that I’m going to be — but also the future world that I’m going to live in and the future friends I’m going to have and the future people that I’m going to surround myself with. It’s really about not wishing away the present and the past and wishing you were in the future, but just being hopeful and content with the idea of change. And I can’t wait to see what it holds.

Well, what do you want now? I mean, you kind of conquered the world in every possible way. When you look at that, what do you want?

Good question. I want joy and content with myself. I want to feel better about myself, and more, I guess, proud of who I am. I don’t know what my future holds, but I really want to do shows — that’s the main thing that I hope and see for myself.

What does that do for you, when you’re out performing?

There is no feeling like the feeling on stage in front of people that just truly adore you and that you adore, just looking at you and you looking back at them. … I don’t ever feel like I’m above anyone when I’m on stage: I feel like one with them, and I feel like I want to impress them and just have fun with them. I never want to spend this much time away from doing shows ever again, thank you very much.

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Out-And-Proud Raven ‘Hulk’ Saunders Takes Silver In Women’s Shot Put

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Out-And-Proud Raven ‘Hulk’ Saunders Takes Silver In Women’s Shot Put

U.S. shot putter Raven Saunders competes in the final at the Summer Olympics on Sunday in Tokyo.

Matthias Schrader/AP

Matthias Schrader/AP

When U.S. shot putter Raven Saunders is competing, she calls herself the “Hulk.” It’s the alter ego that bursts onto the field to fight for championships.

Saunders — with the help of her “Hulk” persona — took silver in the women’s shot put final at the Tokyo Summer Olympics. She hurled the heavy ball 19.79 meters, or nearly 65 feet. It’s the third medal ever for the U.S. in the women’s event and it’s Saunders’ first.

“I remember my first Olympics, being able to watch Michelle Carter come out here and, you know, get it done,” she said, referring to the U.S. female gold medalist in shot put at the 2016 Games. “I made sure that when I came out from 2016, constantly fighting and constantly pushing through everything, I made sure I walked away with a medal.”

China’s Gong Lijiao took gold and Valerie Adams, of New Zealand, won bronze.

It was a long journey to Tokyo for Saunders, after years of openly struggling with depression following the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and then leaving the world stage to return to normal life. She was hospitalized, she suffered through injuries and then got a second chance to compete on the world stage.

Saunders said she’s been so open about her mental health struggles so others don’t feel alone. It’s also why she wears her identities so proudly as a gay Black woman.

“Being able to walk away with a medal and be able to go out here and really inspire so many people in the LGBTQ community, so many people who have been dealing with mental health issues,” she said. “So many people in the African-American community, so many people who are Black all around the world. I really just hope that I can continue to inspire and motivate.”

In Tokyo, she’s taken the social media world by storm with her colorful looks and larger-than-life persona. After winning her medal, she vogued with the American Flag on the field, then walked off singing, “Celebrate good times, come on!”

Raven Saunders celebrates after her second place finish in the final of the women’s shot put.

David J. Phillip/AP

David J. Phillip/AP

During competition, she was decked out in shades of green: green and white Air Jordan 13s, green and purple hair, and her signature Hulk mask that puts her in the mode to “smash.” Her comic book alter ego is fun, but it’s also a way to separate Raven the competitor and Raven the person.

“I had a tough time differentiating between the two,” she said after her competition. “But through my journey, especially dealing with mental health and things like that, I learned how to compartmentalize the same way Bruce Banner learned how to control the Hulk… a sign of mental peace when he wasn’t the Hulk.” In the comic books, scientist Bruce Banner must find ways to harness his super-strong, out-of-control alter ego.

The Charleston, S.C. native loves the attention she’s gotten for her look and for her sport. But eventually, she says, the attention will die down.

“I kind of learned my value outside of the sport,” she said. “I know that the medal, it’s cool. It’s a bonus. It’s a plus. But really, the thing that I’m most excited about is constantly, you know, inspiring and pushing people and really still being an advocate for my community.”

She pauses.

“I’m part of a lot of communities, God dang.”

She laughs. She wants to represent them all.

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