NPR Staff

Enormous trucks from all over the country are rolling down highways towards Baton Rouge, La.

When they get to town, their task is to clear neighborhoods where streets are lined with trash from last week's massive flood.

Baton Rouge contracted with DRC Emergency Services to handle disaster response when the floods began last week. They started out rescuing people in boats, and now that the boats are docked, trucks are coming in to handle the cleanup.

Imagine you're a teenager in Beijing in the 1960s and '70s, during the Cultural Revolution. Everything that's deemed Western and bourgeois is banned — so listening to a 78 rpm recording of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, powerfully transformative as it might be, is off limits.

Author Lawrence Wright was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, which meant he was required to do two years of what was called "alternative service." He ended up in Egypt, teaching at the American University in Cairo. And it was there that the man from Texas started his obsession with the Middle East.

Since then, Wright has written a lot about the region and about terrorism as a staff writer for The New Yorker. Now, he has compiled his many New Yorker essays into a new book called The Terror Years: From al-Qaeda to the Islamic State.

It's been a rough summer for supporters of Donald Trump.

A convention that aimed for harmony had some disharmony. The candidate picked arguments with a Gold Star family and with Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Polls have shown Trump falling behind.

At a recent rally in Altoona, Pa., Trump told the crowd that the only way he could lose Pennsylvania — a state where he is polling well behind Democratic rival Hillary Clinton — would be in the event of a fix.

How great would it be to win a brand new car? How horrible would it be to get laid off from your job? Research by psychologist Dan Gilbert at Harvard University suggests, not that great and not that horrible (respectively). Among the many things Gilbert studies is how people make predictions about future events—specifically, how we make predictions about how we'll feel about future events.

In the their new book, Trump Revealed: An American Journey of Ambition, Ego, Money and Power, Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher of The Washington Post tell the story of Donald Trump's rise as a businessman, a political candidate, but above all, as a brand.

This sentence from the book captures the proliferation of the Trump brand:

Dear Sugar Radio is a weekly podcast from member station WBUR. Hosts Steve Almond and Cheryl Strayed offer "radical empathy" and advice on everything from relationships and parenthood to dealing with drug problems or anxiety.

It's a big summer for conventions, the Olympics — and Barbra Streisand. She's on tour in nine cities across North America, and has a new album of duets called called Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway. Her collaborators include Anne Hathaway, Daisey Ridley, Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Jamie Foxx, Melissa McCarthy, Antonio Banderas, and a host of other film stars.

After making two solo albums, singer and guitarist Charlene Kaye hit a creative wall. She was stuck, mired in writer's block and self-doubt — until she went on the road as the frontwoman for the baroque-pop band San Fermin. Now, she's rediscovered her own voice on a new EP, Honey, released under the moniker KAYE.

Security experts say that Russian hackers have broken into the computers of not only the Democratic National Committee but other targets as well.

It took Bill Broun 14 years to write Night of the Animals. But the novel, Broun's debut, has still proved remarkably timely in a summer of "Brexit"-tinged anxieties.

The book depicts a dark future in which the European Union has dissolved and the U.K. has become a pacified surveillance state. Between "indigents" and "the new aristocracy," a vanishing middle class bows beneath abundant chocolate, lager, legal hallucinogens and mind-numbing electronics.

For voters dissatisfied with both major party candidates, there are a few other options. There's Green Party candidate Jill Stein, Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, and a lesser known late arrival to the scene — Evan McMullin.

McMullin is running as an independent with support from the #NeverTrump movement. He has been a vocal critic of Donald Trump — and he's seen as a conservative alternative to candidate. He has blasted Trump as personally unstable on his website and "a real threat to our Republic."

When Melva Washington Toomer joined her father on a visit with StoryCorps recently, their conversation was quite unlike anything that has been featured in the series' 10-year history. That's because she spoke with her dad, John Carter Washington, relying not on her voice but on a TeleBraille machine.

Washington is blind and deaf. So was his late wife, in fact — and together, they raised three children, including Melva, the oldest.

There are plenty of Civil War museums in Gettysburg, Pa., but none of them recreate the drama of the battlefield quite like the Civil War Tails at the Homestead Diorama Museum.

It boasts a collection of dioramas — miniature models of important Civil War battles — painstakingly sculpted by Rebecca Brown and her twin sister, Ruth. The stars of the exhibits are the tiny clay soldiers — nearly 2,000 of them. They're less than an inch tall and meticulously detailed right down to the patches on their blue and gray uniforms.

Jace Clayton circles the globe looking for new sounds, from home studios in Morocco to teen parties in Mexico. Performing as DJ /rupture, he incorporates them into his work — and in his travels, he's found that digital technology has profoundly changed how music is produced, even in the most unlikely places.

That's the subject of his new book, Uproot: Travels in 21st-Century Music and Digital Culture. He joined NPR's Audie Cornish to talk about it; hear the radio version at the audio link, and read an edited version below.

Most weddings go off without a hitch. Happy couples pledge to love one another for better or worse in front of their nearest and dearest. But for a small group, they never make it to those vows.

Calling the whole thing off has become a reliable plot twist in movies, but this week on For the Record, we hear three different, real-life stories about calling it quits before walking down the aisle.

Stella Grizont

"He was a totally nice guy. There was nothing i could say was wrong. And I so just figured, why not?"

On Sunday, the city of Flint, Mich., will no longer be under a federal state of emergency. A new report suggests that lead levels in the city's water are dropping, though researchers still recommend caution because of the health dangers posed by even small amounts of lead.

Back in the early '60s, computer dating was a pretty new idea. Only a handful of services existed and they used massive computers — the size of an entire room — to calculate compatibility.

But John Matlock and his future wife, Carol, both decided to take a chance on the new technology.

They filled out questionnaires about themselves and put them in the mail.

Their answers were fed into the computer on a punch card.

Then, they waited for a match.

Drones, surveillance, torture, rendition, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. These are just some of the subjects over which Jameel Jaffer has fought the U.S. government.

He is the head of the ACLU's Center for Democracy — and now he's leaving after more than a decade with the civil liberties organization to run the new Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University.

Sam Esmail, creator of the TV show Mr. Robot, learned the hard way that hacking isn't easy. Years ago, he made the "really ill-advised decision" to hack his girlfriend's college campus email, from his job at an NYU computer lab.

"I easily got busted ..." he tells NPR's Ari Shapiro. "They traced it back to that IP address and I got fired and put on academic probation and that was the end of my hacker days."

Nearly 25 years after Anita Hill accused her former boss Clarence Thomas — then a Supreme Court nominee — of making lewd advances, the fight against sexual harassment is again in the spotlight.

Women are pushing to change policies at colleges across the country. Bill Cosby — once a beloved figure of American culture — is now widely reviled because of accusations of rape and assault.

More recently, more than 20 women say media mogul Roger Ailes harassed them at work.

During the Olympics we will hear a lot about the winners. But the reality is most athletes at the games come home without a medal. Today we explore what losing does to athletes, fans and anyone who casts a vote for president.

Listen to this week's episode to hear the story of judo star Jimmy Pedro, and how he dealt with a crushing defeat in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.

Daniel Pink also joins Shankar for a Stopwatch Science competition on all the unintended consequences of losing.

Stopwatch Science

Here's one museum you can enjoy without even getting out of your car: a drive-thru museum in Seale, Ala.

Created by artist Butch Anthony, it's a collection of odd items — many of which people have given him — that he has decorated and set up inside shipping containers cut out with large display windows.

There's a gallstone from 1971 billed as the largest with a poem it inspired, a two-headed duck in a domed jar and an assortment of fossils.

In Greek mythology, the Chimera is a monster that is part lion, part goat and part snake. Far from reality, sure, but the idea of mixing and matching creatures is real — and has ethicists concerned.

For his latest project, singer Will Downing decided to pay homage to some of R&B's greats. Female chart-toppers from the mid-'70s to early '90s — Phyllis Hyman, Deniece Williams, Cherelle and Chaka Khan, to name a few — are Downing's contemporaries and his inspiration, and hail from an era in which soulful love songs ruled pop culture.

With Hillary Clinton having made history last month by becoming the first female presidential nominee, could it be that today's gender roles are not as egalitarian as we think?

Irina Reyn's new novel, The Imperial Wife, raises such questions. The dual-narrative follows the marriages of two ambitious women immigrants: one, a rising Russian art expert in a high-end Manhattan auction house set in the present day; the other, a young Catherine the Great in imperial Russia.

Summer is a time for music festivals around the world, with thousands of people gathering to enjoy their favorite bands and musicians. But a dark current underlies some of these events: In Sweden, police say there were more than 50 cases of rape and sexual assault at two major festivals there last month. Sexual violence has been reported for decades at large outdoor concerts, including here in the U.S. And now in the U.K., some county officials are trying to do something about it.

Dear Sugar Radio is a weekly podcast from member station WBUR. Hosts Steve Almond and Cheryl Strayed offer "radical empathy" and advice on everything from relationships and parenthood to dealing with drug problems or anxiety.

There was a time when people went to bars to talk to other people, maybe even meet someone new. But that was in the BC era — before cellphones.

"I've been in the pub industry for a long time, and progressively it's become less and less social and more and more antisocial," Steve Tyler, the owner of the Gin Tub in Sussex, England, tells NPR's Scott Simon.

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