Why Our Brains Struggle To Make Sense Of COVID-19 Risks

Millions of Americans traveled for Thanksgiving despite pleas not to do so from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Deborah Birx of the White House Coronavirus Task Force says if you’re one of them, assume you’re infected, get tested and do not go near your friends or family members without a mask on.

Because COVID-19 is a largely invisible threat, our brains struggle to comprehend it as dangerous. Dr. Gaurav Suri, a neuroscientist at San Francisco State University, explains how habits can help make the risks of the virus less abstract.

Emergency room doctor Leana Wen discusses why it’s tempting to make unsafe tradeoffs in day-to-day activities and how to better “budget” our risks.

In participating regions, you’ll also hear a local news segment that will help you make sense of what’s going on in your community.

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BONUS: The Badder, The Better

Brooklyn rapper Bobby Shmurda blew up in 2014 off of his song “Hot N****” and the instantly viral Shmoney Dance. But just months after his breakout hit, Bobby and about a dozen of his friends were arrested and slapped with conspiracy charges in connection with a murder and several other shootings.

In this episode of NPR’s new podcast Louder Than A Riot, hosts Rodney Carmichael and Sidney Madden head to Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate New York to meet Bobby for an exclusive in-person interview, tour his neighborhood with his crew, grab a bite at his mom’s seafood joint and learn new details of the studio raid that changed Bobby’s life.

Listen to more episodes of Louder Than A Riot on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Student Debt Is Weighing Americans Down. Here’s How Biden May Address It

Student loans can crush an individual. And when a lot of people have more debt than they can handle, the effects ripple into the larger economy.

Judith Scott-Clayton, an associate professor at Columbia University, discusses the economic impact of the $1.6 trillion Americans collectively owe in student debt.

President-elect Joe Biden and some members of Congress have proposed different ways to erase some amount of student debt across the board. NPR’s Anya Kamenetz explains the likelihood of those proposals actually working out.

In participating regions, you’ll also hear a local news segment that will help you make sense of what’s going on in your community.

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Play It Forward: A Musical Chain Of Gratitude

What began as a Thanksgiving tradition five years ago for NPR host Ari Shapiro is now a recurring segment on All Things Considered. Play It Forward is a musical chain of gratitude.

Shapiro starts the chain with an artist he’s thankful for, and then that musician chooses someone they’re thankful for, and it continues onward with each artist choosing the next link in the chain.

This episode features interviews with John Mayer, Leikeli47, Indigo Girls and Kae Tempest.

Listen to all the Play It Forward interviews here.

In participating regions, you’ll also hear a local news segment that will help you make sense of what’s going on in your community.

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A Feast For A Few: Rethinking The Traditional Thanksgiving Meal

Thanksgiving is going to look different for many Americans this year. As the coronavirus pandemic rages, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning against traveling to see friends or family, or even gathering with people who do not live with you.

But that isn’t a reason to forego a delicious, sit-down meal.

Three chefs share their scaled-down Thanksgiving recipes. These dishes — Anita Lo’s turkey roulade, Aarón Sánchez’s brussels sprouts with roasted jalapeño vinaigrette and Sohla El-Waylly’s apple (hand) pies — are meant to serve up to four people.

Find all three recipes here.

In participating regions, you’ll also hear a local news segment that will help you make sense of what’s going on in your community.

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As Biden Transition Picks Up Pace, Trump Lays Government Speedbumps

After an unusually dramatic meeting of the Michigan Board of State Canvassers, the state voted to certify its election results, slamming the door on yet another effort by President Trump to overturn the results of the election.

Hours later, Emily Murphy of the General Services Administration officially authorized the use of federal transition funds by President-elect Biden.

But while the Biden transition picks up speed, Trump is using his remaining time in office to push through last-minute policy changes and staffing appointments that may complicate things once the President-elect takes office.

NPR has a team of reporters following that story: health policy reporter Selena Simmons-Duffin, chief economics correspondent Scott Horsley, and Pentagon reporter Tom Bowman.

NPR political correspondent Asma Khalid reported on what role President-elect Biden may play in negotiations over a coronavirus relief package.

In participating regions, you’ll also hear a local news segment that will help you make sense of what’s going on in your community.

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Stunned By Congressional Losses, Democrats Debate The Future

Democrats went into the election expecting to gain seats in the House. Instead, they lost at least eight of them.

Virginia Rep. Abigail Spanberger speculated about why in a Nov. 5 conference call, audio of which was obtained by The Washington Post.

NPR’s Juana Summers reports that the young, activist coalition that voted for Joe Biden plans to pressure his administration to deliver on bold, progressive policies.

Outgoing Democratic Sen. Doug Jones tells NPR that bold action in Washington won’t be possible without appealing to a broad swath of voters.

In participating regions, you’ll also hear a local news segment that will help you make sense of what’s going on in your community.

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BONUS: Biden And McConnell

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President-elect Joe Biden have a long working relationship. And if republicans retain a majority in the senate, McConnell could be a thorn in the side of the Biden administration’s agenda.

In this episode of NPR’s Embedded, host Kelly McEvers talks to Janet Hook and Jackie Calmes, both currently at the Los Angeles Times, about the relationship between these men who will shape the country for the months and years to come.|

Listen to more episodes of Embedded on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

The Growing Backlash Against Trump’s Efforts To Subvert The Election

Election experts say there is no realistic legal path for President Trump to overturn the results of the 2020 election. But his determination to proceed anyway is doing real damage to the idea of American democracy. A growing number of current and former government officials are speaking out against his efforts.

Sue Gordon, former deputy director of national intelligence, tells NPR if this were happening in another country, “we would say democracy was teetering on the edge.”

And Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, tells NPR he was pressured by Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., to reject certain absentee ballots.

In participating regions, you’ll also hear a local news segment that will help you make sense of what’s going on in your community.

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Vials, Cold Storage, Staggered Doses: The Challenges Of Vaccine Distribution

Distribution of the first doses of a coronavirus vaccine could be mere months away. But how that distribution will work remains a massive logistical puzzle that is still coming together piece by piece.

NPR’s Selena Simmons-Duffin reports on how drug companies and the federal government are planning to ship and store vaccines that must remain frozen, some at temperatures that require special freezers.

NPR’s Dina Temple-Raston outlines the federal government’s $590 million plan to avoid shortages of crucial vials and syringes.

In participating regions, you’ll also hear a local news segment that will help you make sense of what’s going on in your community.

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