Listeners Hyped About Hairless Mexican Dog

Tell Me More host Michel Martin and editor Ammad Omar share listener comments on this week's conversation about the debut of the xoloitzcuintli at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. They also share an update on Apple, which had a spate of negative publicity about working conditions in Chinese factories.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And now it's time for BackTalk. That's where we lift the curtain on what's happening in the TELL ME MORE blogosphere. Editor Ammad Omar is here with us once again.

So what do you have for us today?

AMMAD OMAR, BYLINE: Hey, Michel. We've got a lot of updates today, so let's get right into it. We'll start with the spectacle that packed the fans into Madison Square Garden in New York this week. Now, I'm not talking about Jeremy Linsanity that's got basketball fans excited. We'll get to that in the Barber Shop in just a few minutes.

I'm talking about the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. We introduced you to one of the new hairless breeds in the competition this year. It's the national dog of Mexico. Here's the broadcast crew on USA Network introducing the breed. Its name, for the record, is spelled X-O-L-O-I-T-Z-C-U-I-N-T-L-I.

(SOUNDBITE OF BROADCAST)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 1: Read that bottom line. It looks like an eye chart, doesn't it?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 2: The Xolo.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 1: The Xolo. That's the coward's way out.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 2: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 1: The Xoloitzcuintli.

(SOUNDBITE OF BROADCAST)

OMAR: There are quite a few comments on our website about the Xolo, which the Aztecs thought had healing abilities and warded off spirits. A poster going by the name Art Aficionado wrote on NPR.org, ancient superstitions notwithstanding, it's a freakishly cool looking dog. But another poster, Dan Mulligan, says, whoa, that's not a dog. That's a rodent.

MARTIN: Dan, be nice. A Xolo named Giorgio Armani was awarded Best of Breed. He got a lot of cheers at the next round and even got pulled out as one of the top dogs in the non-sporting category, but in the end, it was a Dalmatian named Ian who won that group.

Ammad, anything else?

OMAR: Yep. Apple has been getting a lot of attention for the conditions in some plants in China that make some of their devices. There are reports that factories there are overcrowded, employees are overworked, and there are even concerns about child labor and suicide among some of those desperate workers.

MARTIN: We covered this story earlier this month, and after a lot of negative publicity, Apple has taken some steps to address these issues. They have hired what they call an independent auditor and that firm has started touring the facilities in China, they tell us.

OMAR: Right. On Wednesday, the group's president, Auret van Heerden, spoke to Reuters news agency about the conditions at a Foxconn plant in China, where some of those products are made. He didn't have a final report, but he said, quote, "the facilities are first class. The physical conditions are way, way above average of the norm," unquote. And he even suggested that some of those suicides might have been caused by boredom and alienation.

MARTIN: We understand that not everyone accepts that interpretation. Watchdog groups have been quoted saying this audit is a case of the, quote, "chicken guarding the hen house," unquote, and that the comments are outrageous, shocking and offensive. So I am sure we will have much more on this story and we will bring you more as events warrant.

Ammad, anything else?

OMAR: Yeah. One last update for us. You spoke last week with NPR's Felix Contreras. He's a cohost of the AltLatino Podcast and music reporter here at NPR.

MARTIN: We talked about how some of the categories at the Grammys have been eliminated or merged and there are people who are angry about that.

OMAR: Yeah. And you also asked him for a couple of Grammy picks, as well. Here's what he had to say.

FELIX CONTRERAS, BYLINE: Every time I predict, I lose. I've got this long track record, although, you know, I...

MARTIN: Of being wrong?

CONTRERAS: Of being wrong, man. But I do got to say I really like Adele.

MARTIN: Well, he certainly nailed it there. His losing streak is over. But let's be honest, he wasn't really going out on that much of a limb there, was he, Ammad?

OMAR: Not with Adele. That's true. But then, at the end of the conversation, you asked him for some other dark horses in other categories. Here's Felix again.

CONTRERAS: There's an album nominated in Best Blues Album. It's by the Tedeschi Trucks Band. Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks. Their album is called "Revelator" and there's a track called "Midnight in Harlem" that my wife really loves and I really like it, as well.

OMAR: Well, "Revelator" won for Best Blues Album, so full credit to Felix. That wasn't as easy a pick there and let's hear that track his wife loved so much.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MIDNIGHT IN HARLEM")

SUSAN TEDESCHI: (Singing) Stayed in the city. No exception to the rules, to the rules.

MARTIN: OK. And, remember, with TELL ME MORE, the conversation never ends. To tell us more, you can call our comment line at 202-842-3522 or visit us online at NPR.org/TellMeMore. Please remember to leave us your name. You can also find us on Twitter. Just look for TELL ME MORE NPR.

Thanks, Ammad.

OMAR: Thank you, Michel.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MIDNIGHT IN HARLEM")

TEDESCHI: (Singing) Got to spend your whole life trying. Ride that train. Free your heart. And free your heart.

MARTIN: Up next, music legend Whitney Houston's funeral is this Saturday in Newark, New Jersey, her hometown. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is lowering flags to mark the occasion. He says it's an honor Houston deserves as one of New Jersey's brightest musical stars.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: She belongs in the same category from a musical perspective in New Jersey history with folks like Frank Sinatra and Count Basie and Bruce Springsteen.

MARTIN: The Barber Shop guys weigh in on the governor's point of view and the backlash. That story and more in a few minutes on TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: For many Americans, Presidents' Day is a good day to reflect on history. A new exhibition is shedding light on the complicated history of one of our most celebrated presidents and the people who made his life possible.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Jefferson wrote about his hatred for slavery, yet slavery created the world that Thomas Jefferson knew.

MARTIN: We'll hear about slavery at Jefferson's Monticello. That's next time on TELL ME MORE.

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