Why The Global Supply Chain Is Still Clogged — And How To Fix It

Last week the White House announced a plan to help move the port of Los Angeles into 24/7 operating status. But that will only “open the gates” of the clogged global supply chain, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told NPR on the NPR Politics Podcast.

Another crucial supply chain link is the trucking industry, which is short tens of thousands of drivers. Bruce Basada, President of the Diesel Driving Academy in Shreveport, Louisiana, explains why.

The clogged supply chain is leading to delays and shortage on all kinds of products. NPR coverage in this episode includes excerpts from Scott Horsley‘s report on a shortage of glass bottles, Petra Mayer‘s story on the slowdown in book production, and Alina Selyukh‘s look at shipping delays for children’s toys. Special thanks to Scott, Petra, and Alina for editing help on this episode.

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Havana Syndrome: Over 200 Cases Documented Yet Cause Remains A Mystery

Since 2016, a number of U.S. diplomats and federal employees have reported symptoms of a mysterious illness, the so-called Havana Syndrome.

The list of symptoms include hearing loud sounds, nausea fatigue, and dizzying migraines, among others.

The cause of this mystery illness is a source of curiosity, but it remains unknown.

Last year the State Department commissioned a study by the National Academies of Sciences for researchers to investigate Havana Syndrome.

NPR’s Sarah McCammon spoke to Dr. David Relman, a Stanford professor who headed the investigation.

One possible cause their group came to was a form of microwave radiation that occurs in a pulsed or intermittent form.

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Colin Powell’s Complicated Legacy

Colin Powell’s life was marked by public service, first as a soldier in Vietnam and then eventually as President George W. Bush’s secretary of state. By that time he had already held many prominent positions in government, including national security adviser and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was the first African American to hold each of these roles.

But Powell’s story will always be entwined with the Iraq War. Although he argued against the invasion in private White House meetings, he did see it through. And he famously defended the strategy on a national stage before the United Nations.

NPR National Correspondent Don Gonyea reports on Powell’s enormous and complicated legacy.

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The Trial For The Killing Of Ahmaud Arbery

One of the killings that sparked racial justice protests last year is again in the national spotlight, with a trial that begins this week in Brunswick, Ga. Three white men are accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man shot and killed as he was jogging down a residential street.

NPR correspondent Debbie Elliott reports on the defendants’ expected arguments and the evidence stacked against them in a trial that serves as yet another test case for racial justice.

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BONUS: ‘Nina’ And ‘Just Us’ Offer Ways To Start A Conversation On Race

After the protests last year, we heard the phrase “racial reckoning” a lot, as some groups of people struggled to catch up with what’s just been reality for many others. On this episode of NPR’s new Book of the Day podcast, we’ve got two books that might help you reckon with that reckoning, in two different ways: Traci Todd and illustrator Christian Robinson’s bright and powerful picture book biography Nina: A Story of Nina Simone and poet Claudia Rankine’s Just Us: An American Conversation, in which she puts together poetry, essays and images to bring readers into an uncomfortable but necessary conversation about race.

Listen to NPR’s Book of the Day on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or NPR One.

Desperate Times, Desperate Measures As Water Runs Short In The West

Large parts of the West have been hot and dry for so long that reservoirs are running low and some communities are mandating conservation. California is talking about a statewide mandate, too. Meanwhile, farmers are preparing to flood their fields to replenish aquifers, while ranchers are selling off parts of their herds and worried about feeding the rest.

NPR’s Dan Charles reports from California and NPR’s Kirk Siegler reports from North Dakota.

Also in this episode: water rights lawyer Christine Klein, who originally spoke to NPR’s daily economics podcast The Indicator from Planet Money, in one of a series of episodes on the drought and the economy. Listen to more of The Indicator via Apple, Spotify, or Google.

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Remembering an Abortion Rights Activist Who Spurned the Spotlight

Patricia Maginnis, who was 93 when she died on August 30, may have been the first person to publicly call for abortion to be completely decriminalized in America. Despite her insistence on direct action on abortion-rights at a time when many were uncomfortable even saying the word “abortion,” Maginnis is not a bold letter name of the movement. That may be because she didn’t seek the limelight and she cared more for action then self-presentation.

Guests include Lili Loofborow, who profiled Maginnis for Slate; Professor Leslie J. Regan, who wrote the book When Abortion Was a Crime; and the artist Andrea Bowers whose video piece, Letters to An Army of Three recreated the messages people would send Maginnis when they were desperate to access abortion services.

Special thanks to the Schlesinger Library, where the 1975 oral history of Pat Maginnis is housed.

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Social Media Misinformation Stokes A Worsening Civil War In Ethiopia

Hate and division on Facebook are not just a problem in the U.S. That’s one of the messages whistleblower Frances Haugen took to Congress last week, where she accused Facebook’s algorithms of quote, “literally fanning ethnic violence in Ethiopia,” a country that’s endured nearly a year of civil war.

Freelance reporter Zecharias Zelalem has been keeping track of how inflammatory posts on Facebook have led to attacks in the real world.

And NPR’s East Africa Correspondent Eyder Peralta describes what Ethiopia looks like from the ground as he moves closer toward the conflict.

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Is China A Threat Or An Opportunity?

In many parts of the U.S., China remains a huge business opportunity despite recent friction. That’s the country where Apple makes its phones and Nike stitches its shoes. Yet inside the Washington Beltway, China is a security threat. Full stop. It’s one of the few things Democrats, Republicans and most everyone else in the capital agree on.

NPR correspondents Greg Myre and John Ruwitch report on this gap between how China is viewed in Washington policy circles and how many outside the proverbial beltway think about the country.

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Native Americans Take Over The Writers’ Room and Tell Their Own Stories

After decades of Indigenous stories told by non-Natives, two shows from this past year signal a change.

Reservation Dogs from FX on Hulu was created by and stars Native people. It follows four Indigenous teenagers growing up on a reservation in rural Oklahoma, with dreams of adventuring to California. Vincent Schilling, a Native journalist and critic for Rotten Tomatoes, calls Reservation Dogs ‘a show about Native American resilience.’

Rutherford Falls is a sitcom on NBC’s streaming platform, Peacock, which follows a conflict over a historical statue in a small town. When the show was co-created by Sierra Teller Ornelas, she became the first Native American showrunner of television comedy. Teller Ornelas told Audie Cornish this year: “There are five Native writers on staff. We had a Native director for four of the episodes, and this is really a reflection of our shared experience as Native people from nations all over the country.”

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