Audie Cornish

Facing the threat of a federal lawsuit, Alabama's Department of Corrections has unveiled a three-year plan to address its shortcomings and improve conditions for inmates and staff.

Some music is so ingrained in our collective minds that it's easy to forget how game-changing it was. In the late 1960s, a marriage of rock and folk took place and much of the popular music from that union was being made in a single place — Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles.

Rashema Melson was among the more than 1,750 undergraduates who received diplomas from Georgetown University last weekend.

Before she attended college on a full scholarship, Melson graduated at the top of her class as the valedictorian of Anacostia High School in Washington, D.C.

She was also living with her mother and brothers at D.C. General, a family homeless shelter that shut down last year.

Vampire Weekend's last album, Modern Vampires of the City, helped vault it to festival headliner status, and topped year-end best-of lists when it was released. But that was six years ago — and a lot has happened in the time since. One of the main creative forces in the band, Rostam Batmanglij, left the group in early 2016.

Kanye West has been rapping about God from early in his career, hearkening back to one of his first hits, "Jesus Walks" off his debut album, 2004's The College Dropout.

Valerie Jarrett, longtime personal adviser to the Obamas, said in an interview with NPR's Audie Cornish airing Tuesday that former Vice President Joe Biden — who is considering a run for president — "got it right over the weekend when he said it's important that men listen" in response to a recent allegation against him of inappropriate contact.

David Means is an enthusiast, and a defender, of the short story. As he once said, "We don't tell novels at the kitchen table."

"Of course, that's sort of a sales pitch for the short story form," Means says in an interview. "But I really believe that they're really usually, at the core, relatively simple. You know: This happened, and then this happened."

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

The movie The Wife opens with a phone call.

A husband and wife rush out of bed to pick up the phone in different rooms. The husband is euphoric: He's just been informed that he's won the Nobel Prize in literature. His wife's face — Glenn Close's face — reveals something very different. [Note: Spoilers follow.]

For decades, she's been doing more than proofreading her husband's books: She's been writing them herself. And that lifelong buried secret is conveyed in a stark close-up shot.

Create and star in a blockbuster hip-hop musical, and you get to do pretty much anything you want. For Lin-Manuel Miranda, the playwright and composer behind Hamilton and In the Heights, that means starring in the sequel to a hallowed Disney classic.

As a teacher, father and children's book author, Jon Scieszka avoids books full of lessons. "Since the beginning of kids' books ... it was like: learn your alphabet, learn the colors, or learn morals, learn proper behavior," he says. But the author of the kids' classic The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales says books for small readers don't need big lessons.

Today, there's a playbook for surviving a political sex scandal.

"In a campaign when something like this happens, you 'apologize,' I say with airquotes," says Jay Carson, a former Democratic political operative. "Because you're sorry that you got caught — you're not really sorry."

Carson has worked on three presidential campaigns.

The new film Widows is an action-packed heist thriller — with a major twist.

Masked men break into a Chicago vault. Very quickly, it goes very wrong. Within the first few minutes of the movie, the men are dead. Their wives — now widows — are left to finish the job.

Riz Ahmed is everywhere.

He's on the big screen as the co-star of comic-book blockbuster Venom. He's in a modern Western, The Sisters Brothers. He was the first South Asian man to win an acting Emmy, for his role as Nasir in the HBO drama The Night of.

He's on magazine covers — he might even be your Internet bae.

Forty years ago, horror fans were introduced to the masked killer Michael Myers, stalker of babysitters in a small Illinois town. The film was, of course, Halloween. And it was the debut of Jamie Lee Curtis, who played the bookish babysitter, Laurie Strode — the original "final girl" character who narrowly escapes the slaughter. Curtis appeared in three more sequels and even died in one. She thought she'd left that character behind.

Pages