Scott Simon

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The field of 2020 presidential candidates with health care overhaul plans is crowded, and Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Ind., is drawing lines of distinction between his proposal and his competitors' plans.

Most love poems are about the first blush of attraction — before marriage or children. But John Kenney, a contributor to The New Yorker, writes for couples a little further down the road. In 2018 he published Love Poems (for Married People) which included:

"Is this the right time for that?"

"Emily's name isn't Rachel"

Thirty-nine people were found dead in a trailer this week in Essex, in the United Kingdom. Thirty-one men, and eight women.

They were discovered in the morning, in a sealed, refrigerated container of the kind that ordinarily transports fruits, vegetables or frozen food.

Four people, so far, have been arrested in connection with the deaths. But identifying those who died could take a long time.

How much human life goes into a single day? Life and death, effort and rest, love, loss, and striving. Gene Weingarten — who's won two Pulitzer Prizes for his Washington Post feature writing — decided to try and tell stories from a single day in history, and remind us of the preciousness of life in everyday moments.

A brainless, bright-yellow organism that can solve mazes and heal itself is making its debut at a Paris zoo this weekend.

At least so far, "the blob" is more benevolent than the ravenous star of its 1950s sci-fi film classic namesake.

When Mark Morris was a 6-year-old in Seattle, he'd stuff his feet into Tupperware juice cups so he could walk en pointe. In essence, it worked.

Hate to disappoint, but John le Carré doesn't have any top-secret spy intel. "People approach me thinking I know amazing inside secrets. I truly don't," he says.

Le Carré's spy days are long behind him. Early in his writing career he worked for the British intelligence services MI5 and MI6. Drawing on that experience, le Carré — a pen name for David Cornwell — has spent more than 50 years writing some of the world's most acclaimed espionage novels, including The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Constant Gardner, and others.

Elizabeth Strout didn't really plan to return to the world of Olive Kitteridge, but her character had other ideas. Strout won a Pulitzer Prize for her 2008 novel that spun together 13 connected stories of love, loss and loneliness in the small town of Crosby, Maine.

Mike Pompeo graduated first in his class at West Point in 1986, became a tank commander, went to Harvard Law, became a Beltway lawyer, Kansas businessman, congressman, CIA director and, now, secretary of state.

"There's no doubt West Point impacted who I am," Mr. Pompeo has said. "It has an enormous emphasis, not only on military aspects, but character development. Whether it's the honor code, or the interactions you have ... every place you are is a character test.

Christopher and his mother, Kate, are on the run from her abusive mate. They find shelter in Mill Grove, a small town in Pennsylvania, where Kate finds a job — and 7-year-old Christopher begins to hear voices from clouds that lure him into the woods, where he hears the voice of another little boy, crying.

President Trump stepped into the role of a tycoon on a television reality show before he was elected president of the United States. The path of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy of Ukraine may be even more improbable.

Mr. Zelenskiy played Vasyl, a nebbishy high school teacher who lives with his parents in a cramped old Soviet-style apartment, in a television series called Servant of the People.

David Yoon's debut novel has set off commotion, excitement, and a movie option.

It's Frankly in Love, in which we meet Frank Li, a high school senior and a self-described nerd, who, with his best friend Q, plays video games, watches obscure movies, gets high SAT scores and doesn't talk about girls — except, of course, when they do. Which is a lot.

Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who revealed some of the agency's top surveillance programs, has a memoir slated to hit shelves Tuesday.

Permanent Record is part coming-of-age-with-the-Internet story, part spy tale and — his critics might say — an attempt to try to justify betraying his country.

Dr. Carrie Jurney is on the board of an online organization that works to prevent suicides. It's called Not One More Vet.

This isn't a mental health support group for veterans — it's for veterinarians.

It takes only a few paragraphs in Genesis for the Earth to take shape, sprout with life, and then human beings. Of course, that development actually took millions of years.

But this week, as the world watched a huge hurricane gather in the Earth's warming waters, and wreak terrible destruction on life in the islands of the Bahamas and other places, there was another humbling reminder that human beings really only play a supporting role in the history of the Earth.

Margaret Atwood has written a sequel to The Handmaid's Tale — that sentence alone will move millions of readers to buy the book ASAP.

The final act of that book, published in 1985, saw its unnamed heroine Offred (at least, that wasn't her real name), step off the pages and into the unknown.

The new book is The Testaments, and it returns us, 15 years later, to the fictional totalitarian theocracy of Gilead, with its Handmaids, Marthas, Wives, Commanders and Aunts.

It's flu shot season. Signs alerting and urging you to get a flu shot now may be up at your pharmacy or workplace. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone over 6 months old get a flu shot by the end of October, so the vaccine can begin to work before the influenza season begins.

It may be strange for tourists to land in Hong Kong to find throngs of impassioned protesters. They might wonder: What do they expect me to do about the Chinese government?

Tourists come from all over the world to see the elegantly industrious city-state.

"It is like a cauldron," Jan Morris wrote in her book Hong Kong, "seething, hissing, hooting, arguing, enmeshed in a labyrinth of tunnels and overpasses, with those skyscrapers erupting everywhere into view, with those ferries churning and hovercraft splashing and great jets flying in."

Sarah Elaine Smith's first novel finds poetry in dispiriting surroundings.

Here's how Cindy, the central character in Marilou Is Everywhere, describes her life in rural Pennsylvania at the age of 14:

I used to think my troubles got legs the summer Jude Vanderjohn disappeared, but now I see how they started much earlier.

It's hot: historically, treacherously hot this week, in surprising places.

It was 109 degrees in Paris, the highest temperature ever recorded there. People plunged into the Jardins du Trocadéro fountains to cool down, while officials worried some of the charred walls of Notre Dame Cathedral that didn't fall in April's fire might now dry out and collapse in the furnace of summer heat.

There's a provocative exchange at the beginning of the first episode of My Life is Murder: A woman scrolls through images of glistening pecs and washboard abs while chatting on the phone. "I guarantee you, Alexa," says the voice on the other end, "this will be better than any boyfriend you have ever had." "Well, that sounds fabulous. And expensive," she replies.

Dr. Julie Rickard thought her visit to Wisconsin over the Christmas holiday would bring a break from her day job working in suicide prevention in Wenatchee, Wash.

The visit didn't go as planned. After a tense fight broke out between her mother and another family member, everyone dispersed. Rickard readied herself for the trip back to the Pacific Northwest.

At the airport, she received a call from her mother, Sheri Adler. This was not out of the ordinary — Adler, like many adoring mothers, always calls her daughter after parting ways.

The California condor, North America's largest bird, once ruled the American Southwest and California's coastal mountains. The vulture-like bird was revered by Native Americans and was believed to contain spiritual powers.

Hundreds of years later, its future seemed all but certain. Defying odds, conservation efforts brought the species back and prevented it from joining the dodo in extinction.

Now, condor reintroduction celebrates a milestone: Chick No. 1,000 has hatched.

Should Republicans still call themselves the Party of Lincoln?

Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader, declared, "We are the party of Lincoln," as he contended President Trump was not racist for suggesting four Democratic representatives, US citizens who are also women of color, should "go back" to the places they came from.

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

There is probably a lot of sordidness to uncover in the story of Jeffrey Epstein, in custody this weekend after being charged with sex trafficking. He already served 13 months, a decade ago, on a "work release" where he could go to his office in Palm Beach for twelve hours a day.

It is sickening to recount the new charges: Epstein luring underage girls — children — into his various mansions, and forcing them into sex acts.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Evvie Drake is about to make a dramatic change in her life. She's planning to leave her husband, and then she gets a phone call: He's dead, and suddenly she's a widow who doesn't feel much grief.

Evvie winds up living alone in a big house in her small Maine town — until she gets a boarder. It's Dean Tenney, a former major league pitcher who can no longer throw the ball over the plate. The story of two fractured people trying to become whole is the heart of Linda Holmes' new novel, Evvie Drake Starts Over.

Louis Armstrong has served as the focus of many works of literature. Now, a few seconds of old film that appear to feature Armstrong as a teenage boy have captivated jazz journalist James Karst. If Karst's theory is correct, the clip from 1915 shows Armstrong at a turning point in his early life — years before he became famous and eventually legendary around the world.

If you knew of a child who was being forced by a parent or guardian to sleep on a cold concrete floor, in overcrowded surroundings, with screaming lights always on overhead that made it hard to sleep, with limited access to a bathroom, no way to brush their teeth, no soap and no towel — would you do something?

Call the police or juvenile authorities to say, "A child is being mistreated. You should do something."

This week, the U.S. government went to court to argue that it's acceptable to keep thousands of migrant children detained in U.S. custody.

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