Scott Simon

It might be called "Revenge of the Pin-Stripes."

In this week's House Intelligence Committee hearings, career diplomats dressed in somber suits who have often been derided as "elites," "insiders," "the establishment," and even "the Deep State" got the chance to tell Americans how they have been nonpartisan representatives of America from administration to administration.

Those parts of their testimony weren't news "bombshells." But their words are worth noting.

The Berlin Wall stood for 28 years. Today, Nov. 9, marks the 30th anniversary of when it began to come down.

It may be hard to imagine, a generation later, what a momentous event that was and why the sight of ordinary citizens, chipping away by hand and hammer at that edifice of cruelty, lifted so many hopes around the world.

Bernardine Evaristo's novel Girl, Woman, Other is just being published in the United States — after being awarded the U.K.'s Booker Prize last month (an honor shared with Margaret Atwood's The Testaments).

For Alzheimer's Awareness Month, accomplished flutist Eugenia Zukerman has released a new book called Like Falling Through a Cloud: A Lyrical Memoir. It chronicles her internal and emotional journey since a diagnosis of "cognitive difficulties" three years ago.

Just this past September, Zukerman was playing Claude Debussy's "Syrinx" — a piece she figures she's played more than 20,000 times since the age of 10 — when she drew a sudden blank. So although she can't always find the notes these days, Zukerman is persistent in finding the words.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

NPR has lost a friend and an old colleague. News reached us this week that David Rector died last month at the age of 69. He'd suffered an aortic dissection years ago that left him a quadriplegic.

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

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

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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.

President Trump will attend the Ultimate Fighting Championship, MMA, mixed martial arts event at Madison Square Garden Saturday night. The event, of course, is a punching, kicking, pay-per-view brawl between Nate Diaz and Jorge Masvidal that takes place inside a cage.

The winner gets a belt embellished with the initials BMF, which does not stand for Best Mocha Frappe.

Mr. Trump is not expected to be booed at Madison Square Garden, as he was at a World Series game earlier this week. The president is a fan and used to book MMA events at his casino in Atlantic City.

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.

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.

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.

James Harden, one of the greatest players in basketball, has the greatest beard in sports: long, wiry and full. And he wouldn't be allowed to keep his beard in the Xinjiang region of China, where more than a million Chinese Uighur Muslims have been imprisoned in reeducation camps and "abnormal" beards are outlawed as a sign of dissidence.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Cokie Roberts was fierce and funny, hard-nosed and kindhearted. She was steeped in politics, as the daughter of two Louisiana pols, Hale and Lindy Boggs, and enjoyed the game. But she also elevated politics with her elegant reporting.

Cokie wasn't fooled by the blather of politicians, but also wasn't smug about journalism. We covered a few primaries and papal trips together, and Cokie used to caution young reporters with preconceptions, "Stories are so simple until you actually cover them."

News organizations now refer to President Trump's whoppers — from the size of his inaugural crowds to a hurricane threatening Alabama — as routinely as referring to rain in Seattle.

Director Ken Burns has told the story of America through the lens of the U.S. Civil War, baseball, jazz and the war in Vietnam. Now, he's telling it again through the soundtrack and the struggle of country music.

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.

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