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Temples, performing live in the KEXP studios. (KEXP)

KEXP Presents: Temples

by Jim Beckmann
Apr 21, 2014 (KEXP-FM)

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Jim Beckmann

The young U.K. band Temples has been touted by Britpop luminaries like Johnny Marr and Noel Gallagher, who've both fallen for the group's shimmering debut, Sun Structures.

It's a sound you've heard before — particularly from pop, glam and psychedelic bands of the '60s and '70s like The Byrds, The Beatles, T. Rex, The Electric Prunes and many others. Temples' approach, however, still feels fresh, making it more of a sonic cousin to Tame Impala than any sort of Summer of Love imitator.

Temples' members layer thrumming bass lines, fuzzy guitars and kaleidoscopic keyboards into bright pop melodies that float alongside hazy vocals. With Temples, it feels good to get lost in the past.

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Temples, performing live in the KEXP studios. (KEXP)

Parents Say 234 Girls Are Missing From School In Nigeria

Apr 21, 2014 (KEXP-FM)

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Disturbing news from Nigeria about girls kidnapped last week from their school by Islamist extremists grew even more distressing on Monday when parents told authorities that 234 of the young women are still missing.

That's nearly triple the number — 85 — that officials have been reporting.

According to The Associated Press:

"The higher figure came out a week after the kidnappings when the Borno state governor insisted a military escort take him to the town [of Chibok]. Parents told the governor that officials would not listen to them when they drew up their list of names of missing children and the total reached 234.

"The discrepancy in the figures could not immediately be resolved."

Since extremists thought to be from the group known as Boko Haram attacked the school a week ago:

Authorities claimed that 100 had been kidnapped, but all but eight escaped or were freed within 48 hours.

Authorities retracted that claim after the school's principal said at least 100 girls were still missing.

Now, as the AP says, there's this "latest confusion." According to the wire service, "parents and other town residents have joined the search for the students in the Sambisa Forest which borders Chibok town and is a known hideout for the militants."

As we said, Nigerian authorities suspect the radical Islamist group Boko Haram is behind the abductions. It objects to Western culture, and in particular Western schools.

Boko Haram also is being blamed for a deadly attack last week near Nigeria's capital, Abuja. More than 70 people were killed and dozens more injured when a bomb went off at a bus station. The explosion set off other blasts as vehicles in the vicinity burned.

We have posted about Boko Haram many times in the past two years. Among previous attacks blamed on that group:

— February 2014. More Than Two Dozen Boys Killed In Attack On Nigerian School.

— September 2013. Militants Kill Students In Dorms At Nigerian College.

— June 2012. Church Bombings And Reprisal Killings In Nigeria.

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Gado Labbo holds her 5-year-old son, Yusuf, at a clinic in Dareta. In 2010, when Yusuf first entered the clinic, he had a blood lead level 30 times higher than the amount the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers dangerous. (David Gilkey/NPR)

Lead Poisoning Nightmare In Nigeria May Be Easing

by Marc Silver
Apr 21, 2014 (KEXP-FM)

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Children in northwestern Nigeria are no longer dying by the hundreds.

That's the promising word from Mary Jean Brown, chief of the lead poisoning prevention program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

She is a coauthor of a recent assessment of the lead poisoning crisis in Nigeria. From November 2009 to May 2010, some 400 children died in the northwestern state of Zamfara. They were poisoned by lead dust released during the processing of gold ore. Doctors Without Borders called it the worst case of environmental lead poisoning in years.

Brown and her colleagues reviewed subsequent efforts to eliminate the lead dust. To see if protective efforts were working, they reviewed data collected in 2012 on the level of lead in the blood of youngsters age 5 and under — with encouraging results. "The assessment found few children in need of medical treatment," the team writes in the current issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The original crisis was sparked by a rise in gold prices, which soared from $600 per ounce in 2006 to nearly $1,900 per ounce in 2011. (Current value is about $1,300 per ounce.) Eager to earn money, local residents began processing ore for gold.

In this part of Nigeria, the ore that contains gold is also laden with lead. Many residents were extracting the gold by grinding rocks in flour grinders in their yards and homes — a process that generates clouds of lead-laden dust. The adult doing the grinding might be a mother with a baby on her back, and the child might inhale the dust that way. Or the dust ended up on the ground — and on children's hands and in their mouths. "These kids are outside playing in the dirt," Brown tells Shots.

The challenge for health workers was to stem the poisoning while still enabling the community to benefit from any gold they might uncover. And Western aid groups wanted to do so in concert with Nigerian authorities.

"We didn't want to be heroes jumping out of helicopters and fixing this problem," Brown says. "This is a Nigerian problem, and we knew from the beginning it had to be done by Nigerians."

The CDC and Doctors Without Borders collaborated closely with government health and environmental specialists. Children under age 5, the most vulnerable to lead's dire effects, were tested for lead in their blood and treated with chelation therapy if necessary. That treatment involves injecting a chemical solution into the bloodstream that surrounds the lead "like a claw," Brown says. Then the kidneys can excrete the metal more efficiently.

In other measures, contaminated sites are being cleaned up, and parents are being taught how to keep children safe. In addition, new methods of extracting gold are being explored.

An education campaign, run by CDC, Doctors Without Borders and their Nigerian partners, has been successful. While 71 percent of families once processed ore in their backyards, only about 5 percent of families now do so, Brown and her colleagues found.

There is still cause for concern — for the children who survived and now struggle with disabilities, and for children who might still be exposed to lead. "Thousands have severe mental retardation, blindness, spastic paralysis and development delays," Brown says.

Despite the encouraging signs, the need for vigilance is constant. "Left alone," Brown warns, "we're afraid things might go back to the way they were."

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Shabazz Napier of the Connecticut Huskies speaks to the media in the locker room after defeating Kentucky in the NCAA Men's Final Four Championship on April 7. (Getty Images)

Hunger Games: College Athletes Make Play For Collective Bargaining

by April Fulton
Apr 21, 2014 (KEXP-FM)

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When University of Connecticut star basketball player Shabazz Napier told reporters right after winning the NCAA Division I men's basketball national championship he sometimes went to bed hungry, you could almost hear the collective gasp from mothers around the country.

The comment kicked up a media firestorm, and NCAA president Mark Emmert found himself under pressure to ensure student athletes could get food outside of their meal plans, which aren't sufficient for many of them. On April 15, the NCAA council approved new rules allowing student athletes unlimited snacks and meals.

But while the notion of hungry student athletes seems to have caught many by surprise, it's far from a new struggle. For one student, the effort to unionize college players started 18 years ago with a bag of groceries.

Back in 1995, University of California, Los Angeles football star Donnie Edwards told a radio reporter he didn't have food in his refrigerator. When he got home, there were groceries on his doorstep. The NCAA suspended Edwards for accepting $150 worth of food, which reportedly came from a sports agent. Meanwhile, the NCAA was selling a jersey with his number on it.

That struck a chord with Edwards' teammate Ramogi Huma.

"That was the moment that made me realize that, not only are there inequities that should be addressed, but that players didn't even have a voice," Huma told NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman in a profile back in 2011.

A year after the Edwards suspension, Huma formed a student athletes association to give students that voice. His group later morphed into the National College Players Association, or NCPA, a major player in the push to unionize student athletes today.

"A scholarship just doesn't cover everything," Huma tells The Salt.

That's why Huma wants students to be able to collectively bargain for benefits, just like other employees. And Napier's comments have helped bring attention back to his cause.

To Huma, unionizing is not about the money.

Huma is more focused on medical expenses, reducing concussions and improving graduation rates, he says.

It's hard to determine how many student athletes actually go hungry, let alone how many students overall go hungry. Since many students on scholarship come from low-income families who would otherwise not be able to pay for college, and the NCAA restricts student athletes' abilities to get jobs, it's a safe bet that there are some gaps.

In fact, the average "full" athletic scholarship left college players with $3,285 in out-of-pocket expenses during the 2011-12 school year, according to a recent NCPA-Drexell University Sport Management Department report.

Still, there's no denying that when Napier said he was hungry, it moved the ball forward.

The new rules allowing student athletes unlimited snacks and meals were in the works for some time. NCAA President Emmert said in an interview with ESPN Radio last week that the new rules are a relief. He gave an example of what he called the "dumb" food rules:

"The infamous one is you can provide between meals a snack, but you can't provide a meal. Well, then you got to define what's the difference between a snack and a meal? So it was literally the case that a bagel was defined as a snack — unless you put cream cheese on it. Now it becomes a meal. That's absurd," he told ESPN.

But Huma cautions that the new rules don't take student unionization off the table. "It doesn't solve their problem," he says.

The NCAA board has to approve the new food rules, and then university presidents get a vote. And then there are other pressing issues. Ninety-eight percent of college athletes do not get picked up by the pros and can have lingering medical problems from college play that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The next test comes later this month when Northwestern University's football players will vote on whether to unionize on April 25. You can bet the other colleges are watching closely.

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Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky preparing to testify last year in favor of revamping the nation's mandatory federal minimum sentencing laws. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Rand Paul Bids To Loosen Democratic Hold On African-American Vote

Apr 21, 2014 (KEXP-FM)

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For more than a year, GOP Sen. Rand Paul has been staking out positions on issues that resonate in the black community, including school choice and prison sentencing reform. And he's been showing up in some unexpected — for a Republican — venues, including historically black colleges.

It's stirred an unusual degree of curiosity about the freshman Kentucky senator — and 2016 GOP presidential prospect — among the Democratic Party's most reliable voting bloc.

"He's a different voice in the arena that we don't traditionally hear," says Lorraine Miller, acting head of the NAACP, who expects to invite Paul to speak at the organization's July national conference in Las Vegas.

"He's an engaging guy - that's why we want to talk to him," Miller says.
Miller is not the only black leader who has been intrigued by Paul, whose father, former Texas Rep. Ron Paul, had three unsuccessful presidential runs and amassed a fervent Libertarian following.

Her predecessor, Benjamin Jealous, has previously hailed Paul's position on reforming drug and sentencing laws, which disproportionately affect African American individuals and families. And Jealous has pointedly noted that while an NAACP poll last year showed that a majority of African Americans believe that Republicans "don't care at all about civil rights," about 14 percent indicated they would vote for a GOP candidate if he or she were committed to civil rights.

Democrats have little worry about maintaining their vise-like grip on the African-American vote come 2016 — since 1964, no Democratic presidential candidate has gotten less than 82 percent of the black vote. But Paul is speaking both directly and indirectly to black voters in a way the community hasn't seen in decades from a prospective GOP presidential candidate.

"He's done what most conventional Republicans would be too fearful to do - dive into situations that would make them uncomfortable," says Ron Christie, an African-American lawyer and GOP commentator who worked in the George W. Bush administration.

"I find it fascinating that he has gone into communities where Republicans typically don't connect, and don't listen," Christie says.

Paul went into those communities with some baggage. After winning Kentucky's GOP Senate primary in 2010, he said in an interview on MSNBC that he believed, as a proponent of limited government, that private businesses should not be forced to adhere to the nation's civil rights law.

As criticism rained down, Paul quickly shifted gears, issuing a statement that said he supports the Civil Rights Act because, "I overwhelmingly agree with the intent of the legislation, which was to stop discrimination in the public sphere and halt the abhorrent practice of segregation and Jim Crow laws."

It was just over a year ago that Paul made a much-ballyhooed appearance at Howard University, one of the nation's top historically black colleges. His speech included a few stumbles - he drew groans when he asked those in the packed auditorium if they knew that black Republicans founded the NAACP. But Paul also elicited applause when he said that the nation has drug laws and court systems that "disproportionately (punish) the black community."

Miller, the NAACP chief, and other African-American leaders refer to the issue as "mass incarceration," and its prominence as an issue in the black community can't be understated.

"I've been traveling and talking to audiences about the effect of mass incarceration," Miller says. "There is hardly a person who hasn't been affected by it; what we do about it is the question."

"It is such a pervasive issue in our community, and, quite honestly, if we can get the ear of someone like Rand Paul, that helps us in trying to find solutions that make sense," she says.

Since that speech, Paul has — along with Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont — led legislative efforts on Capitol Hill to revamp mandatory sentencing laws.

Paul has likened the effects of such laws on black Americans to the racist policies of the nation's Jim Crow era, and has said that laws preventing felons from voting is tantamount to voter suppression.

In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last year, Paul said this: "If I told you that one out of three African-American males is forbidden by law from voting, you might think I was talking about Jim Crow 50 years ago. Yet today, a third of African-American males are still prevented from voting because of the war on drugs."

"The majority of illegal drug users and dealers nationwide are white," he said, "but three-fourths of all people in prison for drug offenses are African-American or Latino."

Paul has since promoted in Detroit what he calls his "Economic Freedom Zone" plan, which would lower taxes in economically devastated areas like the Michigan city. He spoke at Simmons College in Louisville for the historically black institution's Biblical higher education accreditation event. He recently criticized the Obama administration's record on domestic surveillance, pointedly invoking the government's snooping on the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as an example of the perniciousness of the practice.

And next week, he's speaking in Chicago and Milwaukee about school choice and his support for vouchers. In anticipation of the trip, he posted this week on Twitter a video of an African-American teenager's struggle to seek an education better than one offered in her poor South Side Chicago neighborhood.

Brian Doherty, who chronicled Ron Paul's rise in the book Ron Paul's rEVOLution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired, says it is too early to tell how or whether the younger Paul's efforts will resonate with the "new coalitions" he's trying to build. Paul is also courting young voters - another demographic Democrats dominate - by highlighting his opposition to government surveillance programs.

"Rand Paul is openly attempting some fresh policy entrepreneurship with the Republican Party," Doherty says, "trying to appeal to big and important constituent groups where the party pretty much has nowhere to go but up."

"So anything he can do that's both true to his party's supposed dedication to liberty and constitutionally limited government — and appeal to a classic American sense of self-reliance and self-help - isn't likely to hurt," says Doherty, a senior editor at the libertarian publication Reason, " even if we can't be sure it's going to work in a big way."

In the meantime, says Christie, the former Bush staffer, Paul has "shaken up what purports to be conventional wisdom and thinking in targeting voters."

Those voters aren't a monolith, and, like most, aren't typically single-issue voters, says the NAACP's Miller.

This issue, sentencing and mass incarceration, doesn't make him the civil rights Republican candidate, in my humble opinion," she says. "But we're in no position not to hear from other voices out there in the public venue."

"Let's talk," she says. "People are rational, and can make up their own minds about whether he's selling wolf tickets, or really has something we can work with."

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