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76 minutes | May 20, 2022
‘His Name Is George Floyd’
After the murder of George Floyd, reporters Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa spent months learning everything they could about Floyd’s life. The story they reveal in a new book shows how systemic racism shaped and shortened it. Read more: “He's everywhere — but he's not here. He's on somebody's wall. He's on somebody's billboard. … He's in a newspaper, but he's not here. He's here in spirit. But he's not here.” In the summer of 2020, after George Floyd was murdered, he became a symbol and a rallying cry. But what was missing in our understanding was the man himself — a figure who was complicated, full of ambition, shaped by his family and his community and centuries of systemic racism. The Washington Post set out to better understand who Floyd really was and reported a series of stories about George Floyd’s America. We made a podcast based on this reporting, “The Life of George Floyd,” which we’re playing today for you in full. But two of the reporters on that project still had questions. Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa have now written a book that delves deeper into Floyd’s life — what he was like as a father, a boyfriend, a classmate, an athlete, how ambitious he was. And how those ambitions were hobbled by systemic racism. They learned about things that happened to Floyd’s family, hundreds of years before he was born, that shaped everything that would happen to him later. If you’d like to read an excerpt of Robert and Tolu’s book, you can find that here: How George Floyd Spent His Final Hours.
32 minutes | May 19, 2022
The untold story of the Texas abortion ban
A year ago today, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law Texas Senate Bill 8, also known as the Texas Heartbeat Act. The law bans abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy — before many people even know they’re pregnant. It also employed a novel legal strategy that empowered ordinary people to enforce the law by suing anyone who may have helped facilitate the abortion. Many observers thought the law would be blocked from taking effect or overturned after passing. That didn’t happen. The Supreme Court had three opportunities to consider the law and didn’t, signaling that the court could be open to overturning Roe v. Wade. In the recent uproar over the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, it’s been easy to forget about the impact and significance of Texas’s law. But a year later the law still stands in the state, blocking abortions after about six weeks. Today on Post Reports, on the anniversary of the Texas abortion ban, national political reporter Caroline Kitchener brings us the story of the activist who helped to craft the law, the doctor who tried to challenge it, and the lessons both sides have taken away from its success. Read more: Caroline Kitchener examines whether a national abortion ban is possible in a post-Roe world. You can also read her profile of Dr. Alan Braid.
13 minutes | May 18, 2022
Today on Post Reports, an estimated 1.5 million retirees have reentered the U.S. labor market over the past year. What’s bringing them back? Read more: Millions of Americans who retired during the pandemic are returning to the workforce. Many are being lured back to work by more flexible, hybrid work arrangements and declining concerns over covid. And, yes, some of it is also being driven by high inflation. But there’s good news, too: Ageism might be less of a problem for older workers. Companies are scrambling to find experienced, reliable people to fill all these open jobs. And suddenly, the AARP set is looking pretty good.
24 minutes | May 17, 2022
Why Putin is the best thing to happen to NATO
Finland and Sweden are applying for NATO membership, ending decades-long policies of military neutrality. We take a look at what this means for global security. Plus, why some NATO leaders are worried about Vladimir Putin being humiliated in Ukraine. Read more: Finland and Sweden’s leaders announced in recent days that they would be seeking membership in NATO, the military alliance among the United States, Canada and many European countries. Sweden and Finland historically have remained neutral to avoid conflict — but the war in Ukraine and their geographical proximity to Russia pushed them to reassess. National security reporter Shane Harris discusses how this move changes the security landscape and the possible consequences if Russia loses the war.
22 minutes | May 16, 2022
The forces shaping the 2022 midterm story
With key states holding primaries this week, we ask the big question for the 2022 midterms: Will Republicans take back control of Congress? And, the GOP lawmakers who have echoed the racist conspiracy theory used to justify the mass shooting in Buffalo. Read more: The 2022 midterms are ramping up. On Tuesday, voters in five states, including Pennsylvania and North Carolina, will vote in primary elections. Meanwhile, in races around the country, Republicans are pushing anti-immigrant sentiments that echo the “great replacement theory,” a racist conspiracy theory that motivated a mass shooter in Buffalo on Saturday. Congressional reporter Marianna Sotomayor breaks down Republican strategy and how Democrats might hold on to their slim majorities in Congress. Check out The Washington Post’s guide to the 2022 midterm elections.
12 minutes | May 15, 2022
Black in Time: The Gilded Age, Bridgerton & Beyond
A few weeks ago, Martine Powers appeared on the Black culture podcast “For Colored Nerds” to discuss her love of period dramas and what does and doesn't work as these shows try to be more inclusive in their casting. To hear the rest of Martine’s discussion with Eric Eddings and Brittany Luse, check out “For Colored Nerds” wherever you get your podcasts, and listen to the episode “Black in Time.”
27 minutes | May 13, 2022
‘Pregnant? Don’t want to be? Call Jane.’
In the years before Roe v. Wade, the group known as Jane helped more than 11,000 Chicago women get abortions. We look back at the group and talk with one of its members as activists and health advocates mobilize in anticipation of the end of Roe. Read more: In the years before Roe v. Wade guaranteed the constitutional right to an abortion, a group of women banded together in Chicago to help others access the procedure illegally. Their fliers read things like: “Pregnant? Don’t want to be? Call Jane.” Jane became the group’s code name. They estimate that between 1969 and 1973 they helped around 11,000 women get abortions, and many members of the group learned to perform abortions themselves. Laura Kaplan was a member of Jane from 1971 to ’73 and wrote a book on the group’s history called “The Story of Jane: The Legendary Underground Feminist Abortion Service.” Today on the show, we talk to Laura about the dangers women faced before abortions were constitutionally protected, how the underground group evolved, and how she’s making sense of this moment as activists and health advocates mobilize in anticipation of the end of Roe.
23 minutes | May 12, 2022
The baby formula crisis
For months, parents have been scrambling to feed their children amid a nationwide baby formula shortage. Today, why the supply is so short, and how parents are coping. Read more: Three-quarters of American parents with infants rely on baby formula. For many, it’s the only option to keep their babies alive and healthy. But since the winter, shortages have left caregivers scrambling to find enough food. Last week, supplies in stores were down more than 40 percent. Parenting editor Amy Joyce says the shortage is due to a combination of factors, including snarled supply chains and the closure of a major plant in Michigan where Abbott Nutrition produces Similac and other popular formula brands. In February, Abbott recalled some formula after several infants got sick — and two died. The company says it hasn’t found a link between its formula and the illnesses, but the Food and Drug Administration is still investigating. Today on “Post Reports,” we hear about parents dealing with a situation they never could have imagined.
23 minutes | May 11, 2022
The ‘kingpin’ of opioid makers
A cache of more than 1.4 million newly released records exposes the inner workings of the nation’s largest opioid manufacturer. Today on “Post Reports,” we go inside the sales machine at Mallinckrodt. Read more: The largest manufacturer of opioids in the United States once cultivated a reliable stable of hundreds of doctors it could count on to write a steady stream of prescriptions for pain pills. But one left the United States for Pakistan months before he was indicted on federal drug conspiracy and money laundering charges. Another was barred from practicing medicine after several of his patients died of drug overdoses. Another tried to leave the country in the face of charges that he was operating illegal pill dispensing operations, or pill mills, in two states. He was arrested and sent to prison for eight years. These doctors were among 239 medical professionals ranked by Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals as its top prescribers of opioids during the height of the pain pill epidemic, in 2013. That year, more than 14,000 Americans died of prescription opioid overdoses. More than a quarter of those prescribers — 65 — were later convicted of crimes related to their medical practices, had their medical licenses suspended or revoked, or paid state or federal fines after being accused of wrongdoing, according to a Washington Post analysis of previously confidential Mallinckrodt documents and emails, along with criminal and civil background checks of the doctors. Between April and September of that year, Mallinckrodt’s sales representatives contacted those 239 prescribers more than 7,000 times. The documents, made public after years of litigation and bankruptcy proceedings, shed new light on how aggressively Mallinckrodt sought to increase its market share as the epidemic was raging. Meryl Kornfield and Scott Higham report.
20 minutes | May 10, 2022
What we can learn from vaccinated covid deaths
Nearly 1 million people in the United States have died of covid-19, and the toll is growing among vaccinated people as the virus gets harder and harder to dodge. Today on Post Reports, what we can learn from looking at vaccinated deaths. Read more: According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, vaccinated people made up a shocking 42 percent of covid deaths in January and February during the peak of the omicron surge, compared with 23 percent during delta’s surge in September. Vaccines are still highly effective at preventing illness and death. But as more and more highly contagious variants arise, it becomes harder for elderly people, the immunocompromised and those whose vaccines are wearing off to avoid infection. Health reporter Fenit Nirappil wanted to dispel the myth that only unvaccinated people are dying of covid — and he wanted to put names and faces to some of the hundreds of thousands of people who died this past winter. Today on Post Reports, a look at what happened during the winter surge, and what we can learn from it as the virus continues to mutate.
17 minutes | May 9, 2022
Atul Gawande on why we still need covid funding
Today on “Post Reports,” the head of global health at the U.S. Agency for International Development, Atul Gawande, on the state of the pandemic and why global vaccination efforts are at risk. Read more: Today on the show, we hear from national health reporter Dan Diamond about his interview with Atul Gawande, who leads global health at USAID and co-chairs the Biden administration’s covid-19 task force. He is also an endocrine surgeon, health-care researcher and writer. Gawande explains his efforts as a Biden administration official to slow the pandemic through global vaccination — and how funding for those efforts are at risk. “It isn't enough to just bring a bunch of vaccines on the tarmac and say, ‘Go,’” Gawande says. “We need to support their ability to maintain the cold chain, to have workers who can move out into the rural areas.” Gawande also talks about the state of public health abroad as the war in Ukraine continues.
19 minutes | May 6, 2022
One of the deadliest places on Earth to have a baby
Today on Post Reports, we go to Sierra Leone, where having a baby can mean risking your life. Read more: Today, we follow the story of Susan Lebbie. Lebbie is 17 and has just given birth to her son, Evan. Throughout her pregnancy she was terrified of facing the same fate as her mother, who died while giving birth to Susan. Susan’s fears are not unfounded: One in 20 women in Sierra Leone die as a result of pregnancy or childbirth, according to the latest United Nations estimate, most often from losing blood. The West African country consistently ranks as one of the deadliest places on Earth to have a baby. But practically every death is preventable. To be pregnant in Sierra Leone is to be at the mercy of resource-strapped institutions and the global trends shaping them. Survival is too often up to luck. West Africa bureau chief Danielle Paquette reports.
21 minutes | May 5, 2022
The power of language in the abortion fight
In the ‘90s, Buffalo was ground zero for the battle over abortion rights. Today we revisit that time with media columnist Margaret Sullivan — who served as managing editor of the Buffalo News — and talk about how media has shaped the abortion debate. Read more: In 1998, in Buffalo, NY, OB/GYN Barnett Slepian was murdered in his own home by anti-abortion extremist, James Kopp. We hear from media columnist Margaret Sullivan about how she remembers this volatile time and how the media has influenced the abortion debate. Plus, journalist and author Eyal Press discusses the alarming attacks against his own father, a doctor who also provided abortions for patients in Buffalo.
29 minutes | May 4, 2022
The economics of abortion access
As the Supreme Court seems poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, we talk to an economist about the long-term consequences for someone denied an abortion. Read more: What can economic research tell us about the effects of abortion access on women’s lives? As the Supreme Court seems poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, we talk to economist Caitlin Myers at Middlebury College, who has been asking this question in her research. Myers says there is a lot we can learn from the data about how being denied an abortion affects people’s economic futures and opportunities, even decades later. Myers, along with more than 150 other economists, filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, the Mississippi abortion case currently under consideration, to call attention to this long-term impact. She also wrote an op-ed for The Post about how restricting abortion access restricts women’s lives.
32 minutes | May 3, 2022
Drafting the end of Roe v. Wade
The Supreme Court may soon overturn Roe v. Wade. Today, we unpack the leaked draft opinion that has spurred intense reaction from both sides of the issue. Plus, we hear about the implications for red states, blue states and the Supreme Court. Read more: Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. confirmed on Tuesday that the draft opinion is authentic, and that he is opening an investigation into how it became public. Roberts also stressed that the draft opinion was not final, and the ultimate decision of the court or any particular justice could change before the official ruling is released. “What you see … is one of the justices trying to provide an explanation to the country of why the court was taking this step at this time,” says Supreme Court reporter Robert Barnes,“And that doesn't mean it will be a final decision.” Still, the opinion has been a shock to activists on both sides of the battle over the future of abortion rights. Some of them spoke to national politics reporter Caroline Kitchener, who heard firsthand how abortion providers have been scrambling to make plans for a world after the fall of Roe v. Wade – and how antiabortion activists plan to push to ban abortion completely in the United States.
18 minutes | May 2, 2022
The changing face of J.D. Vance
This Tuesday, Ohioans will vote in the primary ahead of this fall’s midterm elections. Today on “Post Reports,” we’re talking about the transformation of one candidate from never-Trumper to Trump’s pick for Ohio’s open Senate seat. Read more: Back in 2016, commentator and venture capitalist J.D. Vance was known for his memoir “Hillbilly Elegy,” about the ravages of poverty and drug use in his Ohio town. He made the rounds on talk shows like “Charlie Rose” and NPR’s “Fresh Air” explaining the conditions and mindset that had led so many people to support then-presidential candidate Donald Trump. But he himself decried Trump’s rise. Fast forward to today. Vance is now the frontrunner for the Republican nomination for Ohio’s empty Senate seat. He’s a staunch member of a splinter group of the Republican Party called national conservatism, that advocates for tighter borders and cracking down on big business. He’s grown a beard. And he’s embraced Trump and his values, earning him the former president’s endorsement. Magazine writer Simon van Zuylen-Wood followed Vance for weeks to try to understand his transformation and what his candidacy says about the state of the Republican Party. Today on “Post Reports,” we take you inside Vance’s campaign. If you’re curious to learn more about the Ohio primary, read The Trailer from The Post’s Dave Weigel.
41 minutes | Apr 29, 2022
The carpet cleaner who speaks 24 languages
Today on “Post Reports,” we meet a carpet cleaner who speaks two dozen languages — and we have an update on what’s happened to him since this story was first published in print. Read more: In a city where diplomats and embassies abound, where interpreters can command six-figure salaries at the State Department or the International Monetary Fund, where language proficiency is résumé rocket fuel, Vaughn Smith was a savant with a secret. He speaks 24 languages well enough to carry on lengthy conversations — and has basic understanding of more than a dozen others — and yet he works as a carpet cleaner. Today on Post Reports, enterprise reporter Jessica Contrera and audio producer Bishop Sand bring us the remarkable story of a hyperpolyglot with a special brain and a history that has kept him a secret for so long. We also have an update about how his life has started to change since Jessica’s story was first published. Plus, one more thing: Thanks to your support, we won the 2022 People’s Voice Webby for business podcasts! The winning episode is “A tax haven in America’s heartland.”
26 minutes | Apr 28, 2022
Why fewer kids are going to college
Why college enrollment numbers are down. And how one solution to climate change could threaten an endangered species. Read more: May 1 is college decision day, which is the last chance students have to submit the deposit that secures their spot at the university or college of their choice. But colleges aren’t getting as many students as usual. Enrollment has shrunk more than 5 percent since 2019 — that’s a loss of nearly 1 million students. Danielle Douglas-Gabriel explains why enrollment is down and what it means for higher education. Then, we join scientists from the New England Aquarium on an expedition off the coast of Cape Cod in search of the elusive right whale. With only about 300 right whales left, the species ranks as one of the world’s most endangered marine mammals. Nearly annihilated centuries ago by whalers, right whales today face new threats from climate change. Dino Grandoni reports on how rising temperatures are driving them to new seas and how one climate solution – offshore wind turbines – could encroach on their habitat.
26 minutes | Apr 27, 2022
On the front lines in Ukraine
On today’s show we take you on the ground in Bucha, where Russian forces have left a trail of devastation. Then we head east, where we hear from refugees who have escaped the embattled port city of Mariupol. Read more: In the suburb of Bucha, Russian forces have left a trail of violent devastation. Post journalists spent a week reporting from the area and counted more than 200 bodies. Foreign correspondent Louisa Loveluck says the actual number of dead is believed to be much higher. “It's very unusual to walk into a scene where the evidence is still fresh on the ground. And it was truly, incredibly shocking.” And to the east in the Donbas region, Loveluck takes us to a center to which Mariupol residents have escaped. We hear some of their stories. While Russian President Vladimir Putin has told the United Nations he agrees to a humanitarian corridor “in principle,” Loveluck says that, “as someone who's been standing at that evacuation point for days, I can tell you that is not the case.”
21 minutes | Apr 26, 2022
The $44 billion question
What will Elon Musk do with Twitter? Today on “Post Reports,” we talk about what’s next for one of the world’s most influential communication platforms. Read more: Elon Musk, the world’s richest person, will buy social media site Twitter for about $44 billion after weeks of back-and-forth with the company. Musk now holds the future of the platform in his hands, and critics fear his strong belief in free speech could lead to more misinformation and hate speech on the platform. Will Oremus explains what we know about Musk's plans and what this could mean for the rest of us.
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