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Dave Davies

On the morning of Feb. 20, 1962, about 100,000 spectators gathered in Cape Canaveral, Fla., to witness the launch of the Friendship 7, the United States' first mission to put an astronaut in orbit around the Earth.

It was early in the space race, and the tension was palpable. Historian Jeff Shesol says there was real fear that astronaut John Glenn wouldn't survive the day.

Do Black people have full Second Amendment rights?

That's the question historian Carol Anderson set out to answer after Minnesota police killed Philando Castile, a Black man with a license to carry a gun, during a 2016 traffic stop.

Every time the president of the United States travels, he's accompanied by a cadre of Secret Service agents. Sometimes seen wearing crisp suits, sunglasses and ear pieces, the agents charged with protecting the president present a striking visual.

But Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post investigative reporter Carol Leonnig says the Secret Service itself is something of a mess.

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

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Trees are "social creatures" that communicate with each other in cooperative ways that hold lessons for humans, too, ecologist Suzanne Simard says.

Simard grew up in Canadian forests as a descendant of loggers before becoming a forestry ecologist. She's now a professor of forest ecology at the University of British Columbia.

If you're someone who has turned to snacking on junk food more in the pandemic, you're not alone. Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Michael Moss says processed food is engineered to be "craveable," not unlike a cigarette or a hit of cocaine.

His 2013 book, Salt Sugar Fat, explored food companies' aggressive marketing of those products and their impact on our health. In his new book, Hooked, Moss updates the food giants' efforts to keep us eating what they serve — and how they're responding to complaints from consumers and health advocates.

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

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Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies, in for Terry Gross. Our guest today is author Louise Erdrich. In a career going back to the 1970s, she's published 17 novels and more than 30 books in all, including children's literature, poetry and nonfiction. She won the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction twice.

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Ballots are being counted this week in what could be a watershed election in Bessemer, Ala.

The vote will determine whether nearly 6,000 employees of the Amazon warehouse there will be represented by a union, something the company has forcefully resisted in its workplaces across the country.

Journalist Alec MacGillis says the stakes of the vote are "enormous."

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

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Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

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Are robots coming for your job? New York Times tech columnist Kevin Roose says companies and governments are increasingly using automation and artificial intelligence to cut costs, transform workplaces and eliminate jobs — and more changes are coming.

"We need to prepare for the possibility that a lot of people are going to fall through the cracks of this technological transformation," Roose says. "It's happened during every technological transformation we've ever had, and it's going to happen this time. And in fact, it already is happening."

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

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DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies, in for Terry Gross. The American South in the post-Reconstruction era was a land of broken promises and brutal oppression for African Americans, as white leaders stripped former slaves of many of the civil and voting rights they'd won after the Civil War. But in the 1890s, the port city of Wilmington, N.C., was an exception. It had a thriving Black middle class, a large Black electorate and a local government that included Black aldermen, police officers and magistrates.

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

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The sleight-of-hand master explores themes of identity, honesty and the emotional cost of keeping secrets in the memoir, AMORALMAN. DelGaudio's one-man show In & Of Itself is now available on Hulu.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies in today for Terry Gross.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

DAVIES: The protests for racial justice that swept through the country last year found support among many Americans. And they also reignited old debates about how militant activists should be and how far they should go in seeking social change. Are peaceful marches the best approach or is mass civil disobedience, even violence, called for? Do demands like defunding the police turn off potential allies and undermine prospects for reform?

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

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Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies, in today for Terry Gross.

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Hollywood portrayals of the American Mafia often focus on major cities, but writer Russell Shorto says there have been active mob organizations in countless small and midsize cities in the United States.

Shorto knows this firsthand: His grandfather was a mob boss in the industrial town of Johnstown, Pa. Shorto says his grandfather's involvement with the Johnstown mob initially began as an offshoot of Prohibition, which opened doors for Italian Americans facing employment discrimination.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies, in for Terry Gross. You've probably heard our guest, actor Hank Azaria, more times than you realize. He's voiced dozens of characters for "The Simpsons," including Moe the bartender, Chief Wiggum and Dr. Nick. One character he no longer performs is Apu, which he'll explain a little later. He's appeared in many films, including "The Birdcage," "Shattered Glass," "Dodgeball," "Night At The Museum" and "Tuesdays With Morrie," as well as the TV series "Friends," "Mad About You," "Bordertown" and "Ray Donovan."

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