White House: VA Nominee 'Deserves A Fair Hearing' As Senators Weigh Allegations

Updated at 1:44 p.m. ET The White House is defending President Trump's choice to head the Department of Veterans Affairs, even as questions swirl around the nominee, White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson. "Dr. Jackson deserves a fair hearing, and we are not going to write him off in any way before his hearing, and quite frankly neither should members of Congress," White House spokesman Hogan Gidley told Rachel Martin on NPR's Morning Edition Wednesday. Gidley said the FBI background...

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JPR Live Session: Moon Hooch

If any band is a poster child for turning the power of positive thoughts and intention into reality, it’s the explosive horn-and-percussion trio Moon Hooch . In just a few short years, the group — Michael Wilbur, fellow horn player Wenzl McGowen, and drummer James Muschler — has gone from playing on New York City subway platforms to touring with the likes of Beats Antique, They Might Be Giants, and Lotus, as well as selling out their own headline shows in major venues around the country.

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Abortion Care Network

California Abortion Information Law Proponent Awaits SCOTUS

California's legislature took nearly the opposite approach of the states placing new restrictions on abortion facilities. Instead, legislators passed the California FACT act (the California Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care and Transparency Act), which requires counseling centers where abortion is opposed to inform clients that abortions are available for free elsewhere. As winter ended, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on the act. Chief question: is it free speech or forced speech? In the view of NARAL Pro-Choice California , it's more like a truth-in-advertising law. State Director Amy Everitt worked to pass the California FACT act; she visits with perspective on the law and its court challenges.

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Meet Naia Izumi, The 2018 Tiny Desk Contest Winner

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nk8HEO_60ms After months of searching, the fourth annual Tiny Desk Contest winner has been announced! Naia Izumi is a 34-year-old musician from Columbus, Ga. who now lives in Los Angeles and busks on that city's streets. With a plethora of self-released music on Bandcamp and a skilled, soulful Tiny Desk Contest submission, he impressed our Contest judges enough to stand out from nearly 5,000 entries. Izumi's submission for the contest, "Soft Spoken," showcases...

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Crop-Destroying Birds Better Prey These Falcons Don't See Them

It's feeding time at Brad Felger's farm in Washington's Skagit Valley. And he's about to feed 40 hungry falcons. Yes, falcons. They're an important, albeit often unseen, part of farming in some states, used as a defense mechanism to keep away pesky birds like starlings, which love to eat berries and apples. Since age 12, Felger has had a self-described love for everything with feathers, scales or tails. "Falconers are, what's the word I'm looking for ... eccentric," Felger says. Now he runs...

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The Oregon Department of Justice announced a settlement Wednesday with the former director of the Portland Marathon.

Lester Smith must pay $865,000, including $50,000 for the state's investigative costs.

Smith admitted no wrong doing, according to the settlement agreement.

Cory Weaver

The WFMT Radio Network's American Opera Series returns to JPR's Classics & News Service on Saturday, May 12th following the conclusion of the Metropolitan Opera season.

On The Fringe: Ashland Prepares For OFF

Apr 18, 2018
Oregon Fringe Festival

The very first Fringe Festival, in Edinburgh, Scotland, was born of frustration: many performers were denied participation in the Edinburgh International Festival.  So they performed anyway, on the fringes of the big festival. 

Now fringe festivals have popped up all over the world, giving expression to art forms and artists willing to push the boundaries of their genres. 

Southern Oregon University hosts another edition of the Oregon Fringe Festival (acronym gold: OFF) April 24-29 on the campus in Ashland.  The 2018 festival offers theatre, music, visual arts, and more. 

If you don't like the scenery in any part of our region, you don't have to travel far for a change. 

Desert, ocean, mountains, forest... we've got all types of landscapes.  And all kinds of things living upon them. 

The flora of the Trinity Alps takes center stage in a new book by Ken DeCamp called, appropriately, Wildflowers of the Trinity Alps

Just how different ARE the flowers up in the high country? 

JPR

Elias Alexander traveled a long way to end up playing a gig in his home town.  Elias is from Ashland and a musician... he went to college in New England and began his musical career in the Boston area. 

Elias fronts two bands, the afro-celtic "Soulsha" and the "Bywater Band." 

He returns to Ashland for a concert of his new song cycle "Born Outside: Songs of Struggle and Hope." 

An Iraqi boy, who traveled to Oregon for life-saving surgery 10 years ago, has returned.

Mustafa Abed, 15,  arrived at Portland International Airport early Tuesday morning, after 40 hours of flights, misplaced luggage and delays.

He came to Oregon for a new prosthetic leg and other medical attention at Shriners Hospital for Children and Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. Abed's leg was severed near the hip in a U.S. missile strike in Fallujah when he was 2.

Speaking through another Arabic traveler, Abed's mother Nidhal Aswad said they were very happy to be in Oregon.

The Oregon Department of Education has fired a high-ranking administrator with little fanfare after mounting complaints about alleged bullying and harassment of colleagues and questions about his attempts to use state education money for a special program in Lake Oswego.

Until March 12, Mitch Kruska had been director of programs, secondary transition and alternative assessment for the state education department, meaning he was responsible for oversight of numerous aspects of special education and programs for potentially vulnerable students, such as incarcerated youth.

Currently, China has a 25 percent tariff placed on hazelnuts grown in the United States. In response to tariffs on steel and aluminum proposed by the Trump administration, the Chinese government has now proposed adding an extra 15 percent tariff on United States-grown hazelnuts. Nearly all hazelnuts grown in the United States are farmed in Oregon.

“We were a little surprised," said Terry Ross, executive director of the Hazelnut Growers Bargaining Association. "Maybe it’s because we’re such a small industry — compared to almonds and walnuts and pistachios.”

CSPAN / Screengrab

Gov. Jerry Brown says he is "close to an agreement" with the Trump administration on deploying California's National Guard to the Mexico border.

But Trump tweeted this morning: "Looks like Jerry Brown and California are not looking for safety and security along their very porous border."

Every weekday for more than three decades, his baritone steadied our mornings. Even in moments of chaos and crisis, Carl Kasell brought unflappable authority to the news. But behind that hid a lively sense of humor, revealed to listeners late in his career, when he became the beloved judge and official scorekeeper for Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! NPR's news quiz show.

Kasell died Tuesday from complications from Alzheimer's disease in Potomac, Md. He was 84.

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