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#NPRreads: Compton, The Burger Lady And A Crisis

Aug 14, 2015
Originally published on August 17, 2015 1:16 pm

#NPRreads is a weekly feature on Twitter and on The Two-Way. The premise is simple: Correspondents, editors and producers from our newsroom share the pieces that have kept them reading, using the #NPRreads hashtag. On Fridays, we highlight some of the best stories.

This week, we bring you three items.

From Nina Gregory, a senior editor with NPR's Arts Desk:

As someone who grew up in Los Angeles, listening to N.W.A as a teenager and living through the 1992 riots at my parents' house in Hollywood, I've waited a long time for the N.W.A biopic and Dr. Dre's new album, Compton.

I've been listening to it nonstop. Unfortunately, since it's distributed through iTunes, if there are liner notes, I have no idea where to find them. So I've been looking for someone to provide context or teach me more about the album, which, to me, is minimalist and postmodern, stripped-down and elemental hip-hop, the kind of music that grows on you as you learn more about it.

This Grantland article delivered, with lines like, "But Dre is everything — to N.W.A, to this movie, to 30 years of rap music itself — and also nothing. A social cipher, a rapper unconsidered, and an apolitical evader ..."

From Sarah Gilbert, supervising senior editor at Weekend Edition:

The numbers in this story about the European migrant crisis by the Guardian's Egypt correspondent, Patrick Kingsley, are compelling because they are surprising. They reveal much about what we've been led to believe in this highly politicized story — and shouldn't.

As Kingsley says, "When you're facing the world's biggest refugee crisis since the second world war, it helps to have a sober debate about how to respond. But to do that, you need facts and data — two things that the British migration debate has lacked this summer."

A sampling of his numbers:

"1%

"If you read the British press, you'd think that Calais was the major battleground of the European migrant crisis, and that Britain was the holy grail of its protagonists. In reality, the migrants at Calais account for as little as 1 percent of those who have arrived in Europe so far this year.

"4%

"Last autumn, the EU opted to suspend full-scale maritime rescue operations in the Mediterranean in the belief that their presence was encouraging more migrants to risk the sea journey from Libya to Europe. In reality, people kept on coming. In fact, there was a 4% year-on-year increase during the months that the rescue missions were on hiatus."

And this last number really does highlight the extent to which what might charitably be called hyperbole is clouding the facts.

"0.027%

"[Philip] Hammond [the UK's Foreign Secretary] said that the migrants would speed the collapse of the European social order. In reality, the number of migrants to have arrived so far this year (200,000) is so minuscule that it constitutes just 0.027% of Europe's total population of 740 million."

For readers eager to test their own grasp of the numbers, the Guardian even has a quiz.

From Bill Chappell, a writer for the Two-Way:

I love to learn about things that are institutions in their towns, and a burger joint in Portland, Ore., called the Humdinger qualifies — as does its owner, Susie Reimer. She's kept the place going for 35 years, and people recently had strong reactions to a profile in The Oregonian that lays out her troubles. Reimer doesn't have much savings — and because she can't afford a new dental bridge, she now works the grill instead of the cash register.

What really struck me was the newspaper's follow-up about the public's reaction: Business has spiked and people have tried to help after realizing how dire things were. The piece included a video showing a clearly overwhelmed Reimer.

It's enough to make me want to grab a burger at the Humdinger and maybe accidentally on purpose leave a five on the counter — especially after reading what one customer wrote in to say. It reads in part:

"Susie probably has NO idea but she saved me from making a bad choice when I was 13. She overheard my idiot friends and I discussing sneaking out and going to our first party. She knew that my family life wasn't great (my parents were occasional customers). She asked me to help her with trash, if I remember correctly, to get me away from my friends. As soon as we were out of sight, she hugged me and said, 'You are better than that. Don't go with those girls. You are too young for all of that.'

"The fact that someone not obligated to me, cared enough to take the time to help me be a better person, changed a lot about the person I decided I wanted to be. I wanted to be like that."

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