Surfside Search And Rescue, Sanders Weighs In On Infrastructure, An Extra Dose Of Joy: News You Need To Start Your Day

Published June 28, 2021 at 11:00 AM EDT
People sit in the sand at night during a vigil on the beach for those missing after the collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium building.
Giorgio Viera
AFP via Getty Images
People attend a community vigil on June 28, 2021, for those missing after the collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium building in Surfside, Florida.

Good morning,

It’s warming up again today across much of the U.S. Grab some water, hydrate and let’s get to it:

— The Morning Edition live blog team
(Emily Alfin Johnson, Rachel Treisman, Joe Hernandez, Nell Clark, Casey Noenickx and William Jones)

Before You Go

Joy Generator: Explore Ways To Cultivate Well-Being

Posted June 29, 2021 at 10:16 AM EDT

A lot of us are feeling worn out, burnt out and all-around bummed out. And that's okay.

But when you're ready to invest a little in your well-being, psychologists offer this tip: Recognize moments of positive feelings, value them and seek them out more often.

To help you along, we've built aJoy Generator filled with small moments of delight!

Plus, our amazing colleague Michaeleen Doucleff breaks down the science behind why this works, andthree extra ways to practice happiness.

Just In
WHYY Reports

The Pennsylvania GOP Is Taking Its Push For Tougher Voter ID Laws To The Voters

Posted June 29, 2021 at 9:57 AM EDT

Pennsylvania's Republicans lawmakers are locked in a standoff with their state’s Democratic governor over proposals to tighten state voting laws. That would include toughening voter ID.

The governor, Tom Wolf, says he’ll veto the package.

But as WHYY’s Katie Meyer reports, Republicans have an alternative plan that would cut Wolf out of the process completely. They want to ask voters to approve a relatively strict ID requirement. Here's the latest.


Bernie Sanders Urges Congress To Aim Higher On Infrastructure Bill

Posted June 29, 2021 at 9:32 AM EDT
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks at a “We Cant Wait Rally,” on the National Mall on June 24, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Anna Moneymaker
Getty Images
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks at a “We Cant Wait Rally,” on the National Mall on June 24, 2021 in Washington, DC.

A bipartisan deal to pass a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill supported by President Biden is in danger of derailing as some Democratic senators say it doesn’t go far enough.

In an interview with NPR's Morning Edition, Sen. Bernie Sanders said the bipartisan legislation supported by some Republicans, which allocates money for transportation projects, doesn’t address issues Sanders says are of urgent concern to Americans. Those include combating climate change and expanding access to health insurance coverage.

“The danger here is that what our Republican colleagues want is to pass a narrow, bipartisan bill and not allow us to do the broad bill that has to be done,” he said.

ME - Blue - 2021-06-29 at 9.05am.mp4

Sanders, the Vermont independent, said it would be worth pushing for the broader, more expensive legislation even if it risked losing Republican support on the $1.2 trillion deal.

“What the American people want is to get the job done. They want to create millions of good paying jobs. They want to deal with the crisis of climate change. They want to make sure that our elderly people can chew their food because they can afford dentures,” Sanders said. “If we can do it, part of it, in a bipartisan way, that's great. If we can't, then we'll do it alone.”

Biden announced the bipartisan infrastructure deal last week and at the time said he would only support it if Democrats passed the larger bill through “reconciliation,” a process that would evade a possible Republican filibuster.

But after Republicans criticized him and threatened to pull out of the deal, Biden backtracked on his threat and said he would support the smaller infrastructure plan no matter what.

NPR Exclusive

After A Disaster, FEMA's Supposed To Help. But For Those Most In Need, It's Falling

Posted June 29, 2021 at 9:07 AM EDT

Many survivors of climate-driven disasters, including hurricanes, floods and wildfires, struggle for months or even years to repair their homes or find new stable housing.

And in that aftermath, they often turn to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for help. But FEMA's own analyses shows low-income survivors are less likely than more affluent people to get crucial federal emergency assistance.

In an NPR exclusive, we investigated why FEMA aid is often unavailable for those that need it most.

Here's what we found 👀

NPR Newscast

A Judge Dismissed Antitrust Complaints About Facebook, But There Could Be More Coming

Posted June 29, 2021 at 8:45 AM EDT

A federal judge has dismissed two major antitrust complaints against Facebook.

As NPR's technology correspondent Shannon Bond reports, the decision deals a blow to the Federal Trade Commission and a group of 48 state attorneys general who had been pushing for the court to break up the social media giant.

They sued Facebook in December, accusing the company of crushing competition by swallowing rivals including Instagram and WhatsApp.

But the U.S. District Court says the prosecutors failed to prove Facebook has a monopoly in social networking, and that the states waited too long to challenge its purchases of Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014.

Shares of Facebook, which is among NPR's financial supporters, rose after yesterday's decision.

But the saga isn't over yet. The judge is allowing the states and Federal Trade Commission to file new complaints against the company.

Get the full story here.

Pride Month

After A Year Of Financial Turbulence, The Iconic Stonewall Inn Stands Strong

Posted June 29, 2021 at 8:32 AM EDT
People participate in the Drag March on June 25, 2021 in New York City. The annual parade sees hundreds of people dressed in Drag march from Tompkins Square Park to Stonewall Inn.
Stephanie Keith/Getty Images
Getty Images North America
People participate in the Drag March on Friday in New York City. The annual parade sees hundreds of people dressed in drag march from Tompkins Square Park to the Stonewall Inn.

Fifty two years ago, police raided a mafia-run bar serving LGBTQ New Yorkers.

The patrons of the Stonewall Inn fought back and secured their place in American history. The assault is considered the start of the modern LGBTQ rights movement.

The pandemic almost closed the Greenwich Village bar. But this weekend, as people filled the streets to mark the New York City Pride March, the historic watering hole’s doors were open.

Brandon Phelps, 27, is from New Jersey. He came into the city to watch the parade. He said he can’t imagine coming to the event without stopping at the Stonewall for a drink.

“[The] beauty of having a bar that's been around so long is the fact that it has history," Phelps said."So, new generation, old generation, you will see a mixed crowd at that venue."

The bar's packed dance floor on Sunday was a far cry from last year, when its owners were issuing desperate pleas for donations in order to stay open. Those fundraising efforts helped ensure its survival.

A man walks by the Stonewall Inn in New York City's Greenwich Village on June 25, 2020.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Getty Images North America
A man walks by the Stonewall Inn in New York City's Greenwich Village on June 25, 2020.

Co-owner Stacy Lentz believes that despite the high rent, it’s incredibly important that the bar remains open. “It really is the church, a place where you come to mourn, a place where you come to celebrate,” she said.

Historian and Columbia University professor George Chauncey, who has written extensively about gay life in New York City, calls the Stonewall Inn a "living monument."

“To be able to go in and have a drink, to socialize, to have fun and to toast the iconic status of this place and the struggle that it represented is, I think, a wonderful thing,” Chauncey said.

Listen to the story here.


In Some Parts Of The World, A New Wave Of COVID-19 Is Worse Than The First

Posted June 29, 2021 at 8:13 AM EDT
A man carries bags crosses Saint Georges Terrace, the main city thoroughfare in Perth on June 29, 2021, as several positive Covid-19 coronavirus cases have led to a four day lockdown of the Perth metropolitan area.
Trevor Collens/AFP via Getty Images
AFP via Getty Images
A man crosses Saint Georges Terrace, the main city thoroughfare in Perth, Australia on June 29, after several positive COVID-19 cases prompted a four-day lockdown of the Perth metropolitan area.

COVID-19 cases are dropping in the U.S. as more people get vaccinated, but some countries are experiencing their worst infection spikes yet. That's spurring a new round of lockdowns.

NPR’s Jason Beaubien, reporting from Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown, says Africa is “solidly in the third wave” of the pandemic, with only about 1% of the continent fully vaccinated.

“This third wave now looks to be the worst yet, and the spike just seems to be heading upwards,” Beaubien says.

Among the countries seeing a rise in infections are Sierra Leone in West Africa, Rwanda in East Africa, as well as Zambia and Namibia in the south.

The rush of new infections in Africa is causing an oxygen shortage.

A young student wears a face mask on her fist day a back at the Freetown Secondary School for girls in Freetown on October 5, 2020.
Saidu Bah/AFP via Getty Images
AFP via Getty Images
A young student wears a face mask on her fist day a back at the Freetown Secondary School for girls in Freetown on October 5, 2020.

In Australia, where the government has imposed strict rules to keepthe pandemicat bay, the virus is spreading again in part due to the highly contagious Delta variant and a sluggish vaccine rollout.

Roughly half of the country's population of 25 million people is now under some type of lockdown, according to NPR’s Diaa Hadid who is in the city of Perth.

“What this has really underscored is the weakness in Australia’s ostensibly tough strategy,” says Hadid. “None of it appears to be keeping out the Delta variant.”

The Delta variant is also expected to become the dominant coronavirus strain in the U.S. within weeks, according to NPR science correspondent Rob Stein.

“The Delta variant is what’s keeping public health officials and infectious disease experts up at night these days in this country."
NPR's Rob Stein

At least one in five people who contract the virus in the U.S. now are infected with the highly contagious strain. The current vaccines have been shown to be effective against new strains of COVID-19, including the Delta variant, experts say.

Listen here as Jason, Diaa, and Rob discuss the global coronavirus outbreak and the Delta variant.

Must Listen

Here's How The Edible Wallpaper In 'Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory' Actually Tasted 🍭

Posted June 29, 2021 at 7:55 AM EDT
Denise Nickerson, Peter Ostrum, Julie Dawn Cole and Paris Themmen are pictured sailing on a boat on the set of 'Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.' Ostrum, Cole and Themmen have been talking to NPR, reflecting on their experiences as the movie celebrates its 50th anniversary this week.
Mirrorpix/Getty Images
Denise Nickerson, Peter Ostrum, Julie Dawn Cole and Paris Themmen are pictured sailing on a boat on the set of 'Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.' Ostrum, Cole and Themmen have been talking to NPR, reflecting on their experiences as the movie celebrates its 50th anniversary this week.

It’s a world of pure imagination, but a pretty creepy one: Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.

The inventing room, the chocolate room, the fizzy lifting drinks room and those everlasting gobstoppers came to the big screen for the first time 50 years ago this week, in the film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

The movie is based on the 1964 children’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. It starred five kids who were largely unknown in the movie industry. And they performed alongside Gene Wilder in one of his most iconic roles as Willy Wonka.

Three of those stars have been speaking with NPR's Rachel Martin on Morning Edition. Paris Themmen played Mike Teevee, Julie Dawn Cole had the role of Veruca Salt, and Peter Ostrum played poor paperboy Charlie Bucket.

Themmen now runs a movie memorabilia website, Cole is a psychotherapist and Ostrum is veterinarian.

Their interview with Rachel Martin is in our opinion a must listen. You can also read about some of their most memorable moments below ⤵️

When Paris Themmen, Mike Teevee and Julie Dawn Cole auditioned for the film, a script did not yet exist. All three of them read sections from copies of the Roald Dahl book instead.

They have fond memories of each other on set. As Veruca Salt, the quintessential brat, Cole spent a lot of her timing yelling “I WANT IT NOW!” in front of the camera. But Themmen says “the impression one had of Julie when she was not stamping her feet and screaming as a child on film was that she was very nice, she was quiet, she was well behaved,” nothing like the character she played. “She was not the sort of wise mouthing child actor,” according to Themmen, “I held that distinction myself.”

Eating American Chocolate On A German Movie Set

They were flown to Munich, where the movie began filming in August of 1970. It was an experience that Ostrum says made him feel like an exchange student at the age of twelve. But the chocolate on set was American:

Here we are in Germany, where there’s wonderful chocolate, but it was an American film company. They had flown Peter Paul Mounds Bars and Almond Joy over for us to eat.
Peter Ostrum, who starred as Charlie Bucket

Even so, Cole recalls the magic of being on fantastical sets. “It wasn’t computer-generated as it would be now, no CGI (computer-generated imagery),” she says. “I really liked the inventing room, there was so much going on there, it was such fun.”

Remembering The 'Flavored' Wallpaper

One thing did ruin the illusion, says Ostrum. He's referring to the scene where Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka asks the children and their parents to lick wallpaper printed with fruit. Wonka tells them, "lick an orange, it tastes like an orange. Lick a pineapple, it tastes like a pineapple.”

Unfortunately, Ostrum says, “Everything was real, except the wallpaper, which tasted like wallpaper.”

The Legacy Of Gene Wilder And Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory At 50

Cole remembers how wonderful it was to work with Gene Wilder. “How lovely and kind he was. And patient. I mean for goodness sake, this man has got five kids bouncing around being noisy and obnoxious all over the place,” she remembers.

For Ostrum, Cole, and Themmen, the fun of having been a part of a movie that has become a cultural touchstone hasn’t worn off. “To be contributing to a film that people fifty years later are watching. Who would have known?” says Ostrum, “if you can only make one film, this was the film to make.”

Surfside Condo Collapse

Crews Race Against Time, Methodically, On Day 6 Of Surfside Rescue Efforts

Posted June 29, 2021 at 7:35 AM EDT
An aerial view shows a group of search and rescue personnel standing on the ground in front of the partially-collapsed condominium building, illuminated by flashlights against the dark sky. The workers look very small against the 12-story building.
Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
150 people remain unaccounted for after the high-rise residential building collapsed in Surfside, Fla., on June 24.

Rescue teams from across Florida and as far away as Israel and Mexico are carefully sifting through the rubble of the collapsed condo in Surfside, Fla., as they continue the search for survivors.

They found another body yesterday, bringing the death toll to 11. Officials say 150 people are still unaccounted for.

NPR's Jasmine Garsd is on the scene, and reports that thunderstorms and stifling heat are complicating the already-delicate search efforts. She spoke with crew members about the physically — and emotionally — grueling work.

Jonathan Blinkey, a supervisor with the Urban Search and Rescue Florida Task Force, reflected on his experience as he wrapped up an 18-hour shift, with glassy eyes and grime beneath his fingernails.

Jonathan Blinkey

Captain Adam Brown with Hillsborough County Fire Rescue is part of the team working to remove large sections of concrete, which he describes as a delicate balancing act.

"Every time we move something - a rock, a boulder, a piece of metal - it changes the whole dynamic of the entire pile of rubble," he says. "It is a very unsafe thing to do. You're talking about thousands of tons of material, so we do have to take our time."

But local officials and loved ones say they're still holding out hope as the work continues.

Here's what we know so far about the events leading up to the June 24 collapse.

WBEZ Reports

Female Lifeguards In Chicago Say Sexual Misconduct Has Been Endemic For Decades

Posted June 29, 2021 at 7:08 AM EDT
A person stands on a raised lifeguard tower, overlooking a crowded strip of sandy beach and blue water. There are trees and city skyscrapers in the background.
Scott Olson/Getty Images
Getty Images
Eleven female lifeguards spoke to WBEZ about the sexual harassment and physical abuse they experienced while working at Chicago beaches and pools over more than four decades.

Every summer, Chicagoans flock to the lakefront to cool down at public beaches, where squads of lifeguards work hard to keep swimmers safe.

And now, as WBEZ's Dan Mihalopoulos reports, the city is taking a closer look at a problem that some of them allege goes back decades: supervisors committing acts of sexual violence against young female lifeguards.

The Chicago Park District’s inspector general has been secretly investigating widespread complaints of “sexual assault, sexual abuse, sexual harassment, workplace violence and other criminal acts” since last year, sparked by letters from two former lifeguards.

WBEZ obtained confidential documents from the ongoing probe, and first reported on it in April. Since then, nearly a dozen current and former lifeguards have reached out to share their stories of being sexually harassed or assaulted by their supervisors, often when they were underage.

They describe a culture in which sexual harassment and workplace abuse are the norm, and allege that park district officials — who say publicly that they do not tolerate such misconduct — have failed to adequately address the issue since the 1970s.

Julie Tortorich, who says she was abused by a supervisor as a teen lifeguard more than 40 years ago, believes the problem is systemic.

“I am 60 years old now. What happened to me was so long ago, and if it’s going on now, I can’t even begin to imagine how many more women that this happened to in their jobs as lifeguards with the park district.”
Julie Tortorich

One woman, now in her 30s, says she was abused twice by the same supervisor, but didn’t report the incidents because it “was both part of the culture of the beach to not tell and then it was also that I was really young and there’s this level of shame when something like that happens to you.”

She asked not to be identified because that supervisor is now a police officer.

For more on the allegations and the city’s response, listen to the story or read it here. A warning: It contains descriptions of sexual abuse that some audiences may find disturbing.