Scott Simon

'We May Not Be Alone'

Dec 23, 2017

Sometimes a story makes you wonder: Why do we pay attention to anything else?

Luis Elizondo, who used to run a formerly secret government program called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, this week told a number of news organizations, including NPR, "My personal belief is that there is very compelling evidence that we may not be alone."

Ben Shirley's story is one of redemption. He'd been playing bass in bars, clubs and arenas in the Los Angeles area since he was 15 when he fell down a path of drugs and alcohol. Four bottles of vodka and $360 worth of heroin a day brought him down hard on Skid Row.

It was at the non-profit The Midnight Mission where Shirley turned his life around in 2011. Now, at 53, he's an undergrad in The San Francisco Conservatory of Music's program of Technology and Applied Composition. He debuted an original piece, "We Need Darkness to See the Stars," earlier this month.

There's a big, green, tinsel warning label across the cover of Martha Brockenbrough's new book, Love, Santa, illustrated by Lee White. It reads: "The beautiful truth about Santa."

Brockenbrough's book is written as a series of letters between her and her daughter, Lucy, who begins to write Santa Claus when she's 7 years old.

"Dear Santa, how do you get down all the chimneys?" Lucy writes in the book. "What happens when people live in homes without fireplaces? Why does your handwriting look like my mom's?"

The U.S. foster care system is overwhelmed, in part because America's opioid crisis is overwhelming. Thousands of children have had to be taken out of the care of parents or a parent who is addicted.

Indiana is among the states that have seen the largest one-year increase in the number of children who need foster care. Judge Marilyn Moores, who heads the juvenile court in Marion County, which includes Indianapolis, says the health crisis is straining resources in Indiana.

We're used to seeing ourselves ranked by our worth during these days of holiday travel.

We stand in lines behind signs that designate not just first class and coach, but five or six boarding groups, grading us by what we've paid to fly and whatever extra bounty we've offered to sit in an aisle seat. Or scrunch close enough to first class to get a whiff of the fig bars and smoked almonds. Or to clamber onto the aircraft five minutes before the next group and hope to squish a case into a shrinking space before fellow passengers get a chance.

Social media platforms can connect people across the globe — and terrorize people next door.

In a new novel, Ricky Graves is a young man coming to terms with his sexual orientation in a small New Hampshire town. He's tormented by a jerk named Wesley, until Ricky kills him — and then himself.

The news media descend. And after they've gone on to the next sad crime, Ricky's pregnant sister, Alyssa, returns to the town she fled so that she and her shattered mother can get a hold on the terrible event that has taken two lives, and understand the son and brother they loved.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Michael Hearst, a founding member of the group One Ring Zero, and whose previous projects include Songs For Unusual Creatures and Songs For Ice Cream Trucks, has released another album of the same theme.

This week, the president of the United States passed along malicious messages from a racist, ultranationalist fringe group directly to almost 44 million people. Those 44 million follow him on Twitter and may have now retweeted those anti-Muslim messages to millions more.

Fiona Mozley is one of the literary sensations of 2017. The part-time clerk at the Little Apple Bookshop in York, England was named a finalist for this year's Man Booker Prize with her first novel Elmet.

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