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Demonstrators protest the killing of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown across the street from the Ferguson Police Department in Ferguson, Mo., Friday night. More than a week of unrest has largely given way to peaceful protests recently. (Reuters/Landov)

Another Peaceful Night In Ferguson

Aug 23, 2014

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Relative calm and restraint prevailed for a third consecutive night on the streets of Ferguson, Mo., as confrontations subside between authorities and those protesting the fatal police shooting of an unarmed black 18-year-old.

The Associated Press reports: "A small stream of protesters marched in the St. Louis suburb as night fell Friday, but instead of confrontations with police, several stopped to talk one-on-one with officers about the Aug. 9 shooting death of Michael Brown and tactics used by authorities during previous demonstrations."

And Reuters says:

"After dwindling in numbers, the protesters, marshaled by volunteers from the clergy, made their way to a parking lot across from the police station, where they prayed and chanted while about 20 officers stood in a line outside.

"Earlier at St. Mark Family Church, a hub for protest organizers, activists and residents met to pray and work on plans to improve the predominantly African American community of 21,000 in the wake of unrest that has focused international attention on often-troubled U.S. race relations.

"Despite a notable easing of tensions in recent days - police made only a handful of arrests on Wednesday and Thursday - authorities braced for a possible flare-up of civil disturbances ahead of Brown's funeral, which is planned for Monday."

NPR's David Schaper, reporting from Ferguson, says while the number of protesters appears to be diminishing, others are trying to chart a course for a more lasting change in the community.

At Red's Barbeque, which was severely damaged in the first nights of unrest that followed Brown's shooting in Ferguson, community activists have set up a voter registration booth.

"If more people participate in the election process, they will have individuals that are elected to office that they believe actually represent their best interests, whether they look like them or don't look like them," says Deborah Ahmed of the non-profit Better Family Life.

NPR's Schaper says only about one in ten eligible voters turned out in Ferguson's last municipal elections and the percentage was even lower among African-Americans, who make up two-thirds of the population.

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Tina may not always have her exuberance under control, but then: why should she? (Fox)

Feminism In A Run-Down Taffy Factory: The Women Of 'Bob's Burgers'

by Alexander McCall
Aug 23, 2014

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Alexander McCall

At last Sunday's Creative Arts Emmys, Bob's Burgers won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program. Alexander McCall offers this appreciation of its approach to its strange and fascinating women. The Primetime Emmy ceremony airs Monday night, August 25.

The original proof-of-concept for the Fox animated sitcom Bob's Burgers was far from groundbreaking. Incompetent, emotionally aloof father? Check. Shrill mother? Check. A strange rag-tag bunch of kids? Sure enough.

Initially, it seemed the show would rely on these exhausted archetypes, like those in the universes of The Simpsons and Family Guy. The proof-of-concept that eventually became the show's pilot features Bob Belcher, who runs a failing boardwalk burger joint, and his eccentric family: his wife, Linda, his sons, Daniel and Gene, and his youngest daughter, Louise.

But when the show premiered in 2011, the pilot had been streamlined. The animation was better. The dialogue was longer, and most notably, Daniel, Bob's awkward teenage son, had been replaced with Tina, a female doppelgänger — a pivotal choice.

Tina is weird. She's a nervous, idiosyncratic teenager, visibly experiencing the miseries of puberty. She likes horses and describes her relationship with zombies as "complicated." She sports thick-rimmed glasses and plain clothes. At first glance, Tina might not seem all that unusual. But Tina has a lot going on. When she isn't working in the restaurant or looking after her younger siblings, she might be pursuing the affection of Jimmy Pesto, Jr., penning another volume of her signature "Erotic Friend Fiction," or daydreaming about men's butts.

Most animated sitcoms have ugly histories when it comes to female characters. Women are frequently there to be mocked or to represent men's sexual desires. But instead of using Tina as an arbitrary tool for cheap laughs, the writers of Bob's Burgers — several of whom are women — have given audiences the opportunity to see adolescence through the lens of a central female character. The show, in fact, embraces Tina's own sexuality for all its uncomfortable awkwardness.

In the show's four seasons, Tina has become a fan favorite — and she's in good company, too. Bob's Burgers features a number of well-rounded female characters who are clever, strong and entertaining. And in that, the show is progressive without being straightforwardly political.

Tina Belcher's most obvious influence might seem to be Lisa Simpson, but the two are intrinsically and essentially different. Lisa Simpson is precocious and articulate. Tina is painfully gawky. She's terrified of being put on the spot, often staring blankly into space and groaning for prolonged periods of time. Those who surround Lisa Simpson are often dismissive of what she has to say, but Tina's family, while odd, is incredibly supportive and involved. In one instance, Tina asks her dad how to shave her legs — a rite of passage you might expect to see treated as a bonding moment between mother and daughter.

The other noticeable difference between the two, however, is that Lisa self-identifies as a feminist. Tina's unassuming confidence, on the other hand, can fly under the radar, but she still experiences moments of extreme feminist clarity.

"I'm a smart, strong, sensual woman," she proclaims in the first episode of the show's second season, while trapped in a dilapidated taffy factory. In that episode, Tina decides she doesn't need to act vulnerable to attract male attention. And in "Two For Tina," she pursues her own desires without embarrassment, courting two different dates to the school dance, forcing them to compete for her, even if she ultimately ends up alone.

The roots of Tina's feminist spirit are evident in her mother. Linda is a pinnacle of girl power. She's busy with the family, but with other things, too, like helping Bob keep the restaurant afloat. She is unwaveringly optimistic and self-motivated — to the point of occasionally shouting things like "All right, go girls!" — and whether she's working part-time at a local grocery store or staging a dinner theater production, Linda isn't one to be discouraged. It's obvious that she tries to instill the same values in her children.

"I'm no hero," Tina declares in season three. "I put my bra on one boob at a time like everyone else." But for many, Tina does represent a new kind of hero. She weathers the anxieties of adolescence while gently testing the waters of her confidence. Tina might not be great at public speaking, but her message is clear: embrace your weirdness. Embrace your Tina.

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Trucks from a Russian aid convoy wait in line as they return to the Russian Rostov region town of Donetsk, Russia, on Saturday. (EPA/Landov)

Russian Convoy Leaves Ukraine After Reportedly Delivering Aid

Aug 23, 2014

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Russia's foreign ministry says a convoy that crossed into rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine has delivered its humanitarian cargo and is heading home.

Dozens of white trucks, which had been sitting near the border inside Russian territory for more than a week, suddenly got underway on Friday and moved across the border to Luhansk, despite strenuous objections from Kiev and the international community. U.S. officials called the unauthorized convoy a violation of Ukraine's sovereignty.

Kiev had been worried that the convoy was a ruse to resupply the separatists or a pretext for a Russian invasion.

The Ukrainian government spokesman tells Reuters that 184 vehicles were confirmed to have left Luhansk so far. Asked how many Russian vehicles still remained in Ukraine, he replied: "I don't know."

However, in a foreign ministry statement, Moscow said: "We confirm our intention to continue cooperation with the ICRC in attempts to provide humanitarian aid to the people of south-eastern Ukraine."

In a separate development, Reuters quotes NATO as saying the alliance has mounting evidence that Russian troops are operating inside Ukraine and launching artillery attacks from Ukrainian soil, an accusation rejected by Russia.

But Russia's United Nations Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, speaking at a Security Council session, accused Western powers of not being concerned "about the fact hundreds of civilians are dying."

According to the BBC:

"He said Russia had to act to save perishable goods and that he hoped the Red Cross would help distribute the aid.

"'We waited long enough. And it was time to move, and this is what we did,' he said."

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Rodrigo Amarante performs a Tiny Desk Concert. (NPR)

Rodrigo Amarante: Tiny Desk Concert

Aug 23, 2014

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Rodrigo Amarante has made the year's tenderest record. Cavalo is sonically rich and spare at the same time: Every instrument breathes and every sound blends, yet every moment is distinct. At Cavalo's core are heartfelt songs and Amarante's sweet, smoky voice.

Amarante is from Rio de Janeiro, and these days lives in Los Angeles. You may know him from a few other projects: Rio's Los Hermanos, as well as Little Joy, which included Binki Shapiro and Strokes drummer Fabrizio Moretti.

For his Tiny Desk Concert, Amarante brought his small Harmony parlor guitar from the '30s, known lovingly as "Butter." These songs are stripped to their essence, and what you'll encounter here — and what you can't hear on Cavalo — is the warm, approachable singer's physical presence. Prepare to be drawn close to this intimate music. You'll want to crawl in bed with it.

Set List

  • "The Ribbon"
  • "Mon Nom"
  • "I'm Ready"
  • "Nada Em Vão"

Credits

Producers: Bob Boilen, Denise DeBelius; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Videographers: Colin Marshall, Nick Michael; Production Assistant: Sarah Tilotta; photo by Sarah Tilotta/NPR

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Rodrigo Amarante performs a Tiny Desk Concert. (NPR)

New Camouflage Material Is A Color-Change Artist

Aug 23, 2014 (Weekend Edition Saturday)

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