Start Your Day Here: Takeaways From The German Election, Tony Award Highlights And More

Published September 27, 2021 at 7:34 AM EDT
Two voters sit in voting booths as one person stands waiting in line during the German elections on Sunday.
Steffi Loos/Getty Images
Getty Images Europe
Voters stand in line and cast their ballots in federal parliamentary elections on Sunday in Berlin.

Good morning,

Here are some of the top stories we're following today:

German election: Angela Merkel's bloc narrowly lost to the center-left Social Democrats on Sunday, but she'll have to stay on until a coalition government is formed and Germany has a new leader.

Tony Awards:Last night's show was a celebration of Broadway's reopening but also included forceful calls for racial justice in theater.

Cheney's regret: Wyoming Republican Liz Cheney says she was wrong to oppose same-sex marriage, which she did in 2013 despite the public rift it caused in her own family.

🎧 Also on Up First, our daily podcast, millions of Americans are now eligible for the Pfizer COVID-19 booster shot — here's who gets to go first.

— The Morning Edition live blog team

(Dana Farrington, Rachel Treisman, Nell Clark and Chris Hopkins)


Cleveland Will Play Its Last Home Baseball Game Under The Current Name

Posted September 27, 2021 at 12:12 PM EDT
The new Cleveland Indians logo is displayed on a screen in Cleveland on July 23.
Tony Dejak/AP
The new Cleveland Indians logo is displayed on a screen in Cleveland on July 23. Known as the Indians since 1915, Cleveland's Major League Baseball team will be called Guardians.

Cleveland's Major League Baseball team will take home field for the last time under its current name this afternoon.

The team has been known as the Cleveland Indians since 1915 but announced in 2020 that it would drop that name, which Indigenous activists fought for years to change.

The team plays six more road games before the season — and era — ends and its name changes to the Cleveland Guardians.

The new name is a tribute to the iconic Guardians of Traffic statues on the bridge over the Cuyahoga River, which leads downtown and to Progressive Field, the team's home stadium.

A guardian rests on the Hope Memorial Bridge within sight of Progressive Field in Cleveland.
Tony Dejak/AP
A guardian rests on the Hope Memorial Bridge within sight of Progressive Field in Cleveland.

The team announced it would drop the name last December as part of its efforts to be more inclusive. It stopped using the racist Chief Wahoo cartoon on team gear in 2018. The change will become official during the offseason.

The old logo will be slow to disappear among fans, writesPaul Hoynes of But David C. Barnett of member station WCPN says the Guardian image is already visible around town.

"It is on T-shirts. It is on beer bottles. It is on even shower curtains," Barnett told WBUR's Here & Now. "It's part of the DNA of the city."


Watch Justin Tucker's Record-Shattering 66-Yard Field Goal

Posted September 27, 2021 at 11:37 AM EDT

Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker set a new NFL field goal record on Sunday, striking true from 66 yards — nearly 200 feet. The football smacked the crossbar and bounced through the goal, sealing a win over the Detroit Lions with time running out.

"That was awesome," Tucker said at the post-game news conference, before any questions were asked.

Tucker's feat capped a whipsaw ending. One minute earlier, the Lions had seemed poised for their first win of the season, coming from behind to take a 17-16 lead. But the Ravens managed to convert a fourth-and-19 pass play — and suddenly, Tucker stood just outside the Ravens' 40-yard line, several yards behind the holder, with the outcome resting on his right foot.

Staring at a chance to win an NFL game from an unprecedented distance, Tucker made some adjustments to his normal routine, aiming to launch himself at the ball more aggressively — and from farther away — to add more power to his kick. He took an extra step or two back, he said.

"It's something I've actually started doing within the last year," Tucker said. "As I'm becoming more and more of a dinosaur in this league at 31 years old, I've got to do every little thing I can to get the ball to go just a little bit farther."

Tucker also changed his footwork for the record distance, landing on his kicking foot rather than his plant foot.

During pre-game practice, Tucker had missed field goals in both directions from 65 yards out, he said.

"Thankfully, we found an extra yard and a half that I didn't have three hours before. And I'm grateful for that."


COVID-19 Cases Are Decreasing, But It Isn't Time To Let Your Guard Down

Posted September 27, 2021 at 11:25 AM EDT

New cases of coronavirus in the U.S. have fallen by about 20% over the last two weeks. Hospital admissions are down, and if the trend continues, deaths could drop as well.

NPR's Allison Aubrey joined Morning Edition to relay what the decline could signal. Listen here.

But here's what it doesn't signal: The end of the pandemic. Far from it, in fact. The county is still racking up about 114,000 new infections a day, meaning public health precautions (including vaccination efforts) should still be in full swing.

In related news, boosters are gearing up for some people. Read more below about what that might mean for you.

The process has been tumultuous, but the FDA has finally authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine booster for older Americans and those at high risk for severe COVID-19.

Who needs them? There's been much debate among experts, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently found that immunity from the original vaccine shots is waning slightly over time, particularly in Americans over 65.

Their data reported that for people in that age group , protection against hospitalization has dropped from about 85% to 70% in the past six months for the Pfizer vaccine and from about 90% to 85% for the Moderna vaccine. Keep in mind though, those numbers still signal powerful vaccines.

Over 20 million Americans are now eligible to roll up their sleeves again. Basically, if you're over 65, got vaccinated more than six months ago, have certain underlying conditions or work or live in a setting that puts you at higher risk: A timely booster shot could be a smart idea.

Click here to figure out if you need one.

But remember, the guidance right now is only for those who received the Pfizer vaccine. Experts say those who received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson shots will have to wait until more data shows an additional dose to be safe and necessary.

Plus, whether or not you're eligible for a booster, flu season is right around the corner and experts are encouraging the public to get vaccinated. Thankfully, it's possible to get your COVID booster or vaccine and flu shot in the same visit. Here's what else you need to know.


For A Moment, Iceland Looked Like It Had Elected Europe's First Female-Majority Parliament

Posted September 27, 2021 at 11:04 AM EDT
Two bus stop advertisements on a busy urban street show women's faces and text over red and green backgrounds.
Halldor Kolbeins/AFP via Getty Images
Election posters of the Left Green Movement are seen at a bus station in Iceland's capital Reykjavik on Saturday during the country's parliamentary elections.

Iceland held its parliamentary elections over the weekend, and it initially looked like one for the history books.

The first results suggested that 33 of the 63 seats would go to women, which would constitute the first majority-female parliament not just in the country but in the entire continent.

Then came the recount.

A change to the vote count dashed hopes

After another tally of the votes in the western Iceland electoral district,three men replaced three women, reports the English-language Iceland Monitor.

The Associated Press reports that the recount was triggered by questions about the number of ballots cast, saying they "have not been entirely explained but are thought to be due to human error."

One of the candidates whose victory was overturned is law student Lenya Run Karim, a 21-year-old daughter of Kurdish immigrants who would have been Iceland's youngest-ever lawmaker.

“Well, these were a good nine hours,” Karim tweeted on Sunday, according to an AP translation.

The recount brings the total number of female MPs to 30, a record previously reached in Iceland's second most recent election in 2016. And women still make up almost 48% of the body known as the Althing (an anglicized form of the Alþingi), which is the highest percentage for women lawmakers in Europe.

How Iceland compares to other countries

Just five countries have parliaments where women make up at least half of the members, as the BBC notes. Rwanda leads the way with 61.3%, followed by Cuba, Nicaragua, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates.

Iceland is nationally recognized as a leader on gender issues: The most recent Global Gender Gap Report from the World Economic Forum declared it the world's most gender-equal country for the 12th time.

As NPR has reported, Iceland has mandated equal pay for equal work since 1961, and enacted a first-of-its-kind law in 2018 requiring companies to show that they pay male and female employees fairly.

Top Dog

There's A New World Record Holder For 'Longest Dog Ears' 🐶

Posted September 27, 2021 at 9:53 AM EDT

Meet Lou. The three-year-old coonhound loves going on adventures, competes in obedience trials and boasts "extravagantly long ears," as her owner Paige Olsen puts it.

It wasn't until the pandemic that Olsen actually got around to measuring them — and making Lou a household name. Each of her ears clocks in at a little more than 13 inches long, breaking the world record for longest ears on any living dog and earning Lou a spot in the 2022 Guinness World Record book.

So just how rare are these marvels?

Olsen, a veterinary technician, explained to Guinness World Records that all coonhounds should have ears that extend at least to the tip of their nose. The long ears drag on the ground and stir up scents, enabling the breed to follow even old or cold tracks when they're out in the field.

Lou's ears don't require any special maintenance, according to Olsen. She checks them for cleanliness once a month and wraps them in a snood in the wintertime to prevent them from dragging in the snow (and because it looks adorable, we assume).

Plus they get a lot of questions, and admirers, wherever Lou goes.

"Of course everyone wants to touch the ears, they’re very easy to fall in love with [in] just one sighting," Olsen said.

Listen to the story here and watch Lou's ears in action below.

NPR Newscast
From Beijing

China Limits Abortions As It Tries To Boost Population Numbers

Posted September 27, 2021 at 9:40 AM EDT

China has issued new guidelines that limit abortions to cases only where they are deemed medically necessary. Policymakers say the measure is meant to improve reproductive health services by raising the standards for the procedure. But this also comes as China is trying to encourage people to have more children.

For more than three decades, women were forced to get abortions in China under the one-child policy, which limited couples to just one child. China says the policy prevented around 300 million births.

But now China is facing a demographic crisis, where its population is aging faster than babies are being born. So it’s encouraging women to have more children by promising more maternity leave and child subsidies.

A new policy this year allows families to have up to three children.

Living History

Officials Are Investigating A Suspicious Fire At The Susan B. Anthony Museum And House

Posted September 27, 2021 at 9:30 AM EDT

Authorities are investigating a fire that broke out at the Susan B. Anthony Museum and House in Rochester, N.Y., over the weekend, but stopped short of destroying the building and its artifacts.

Deborah Hughes, the museum's president and CEO, said in a statement that damage was limited to the back porch, where the fire started. She credited the Rochester Fire Department with arriving in minutes and quickly containing the blaze before it could spread to the interior of the historic building.

"This might have been a tragic loss of a national historic treasure," she wrote. "Instead, it is a story of a job well done by first responders who care deeply about life, our community, and our cultural heritage."

The Susan B. Anthony Museum and House was the home of the legendary suffragist and the site of her arrest for voting in 1872. It was the headquarters of the National American Woman Suffrage Association while Anthony served as its president, and is also where she died in 1906.

Member station WXXI in Rochester reports that "the cause of the fire is listed as suspicious but still under investigation." The Rochester Fire Investigation unit is currently investigating, the RFD confirmed, adding that no civilian or firefighter injuries were reported.

The exact details of the fire are not clear. Hughes said the museum's surveillance cameras show "an individual at the back door moments before the flames broke out."

Firefighters were alerted to the blaze just after 1:00 a.m. ET on Sunday to find the back porch engulfed in flames, the Rochester Fire Department told NPR over email. Some tended to the blaze while others forced entry to get smoke out of the building and protect the artifacts inside.

Hughes noted that first responders removed photographs from a wall and carefully stacked them up and moved various other objects out of harm's way.

"The Rochester Fire Department has long understood the significance that this property holds both to our local community as well as the nation," Battalion Chief Joseph Luna said in a statement provided to NPR. "A great job was done by the firefighters’ tonight in limiting the effects of the fire on both the museum and its displays."

Lt. Jeffrey Simpson, RFD spokesman, said there was some damage to a doorway and some water damage on a carpet.

Hughes said the porch was more than 100 years old, but wasn't the building's original porch and was not necessarily of particular historic significance, according WXXI. The museum has insurance, but it's not yet clear how much that would cover or whether any other state or federal funding might be available to help restore the national landmark.


'Moulin Rouge! The Musical' Is The Big Winner From The Tony Awards

Posted September 27, 2021 at 9:12 AM EDT
Company members pose on stage during the curtain call. Confetti can be seen falling from the top of the stage, which has a set shaped like glowing hearts.
Bruce Glikas/WireImage via Getty Images
Company members pose during the reopening night curtain call of "Moulin Rouge! The Musical" on Broadway on Friday in New York City. It marked the musical's first public performance since Broadway shut down due to the pandemic. "Moulin Rouge! The Musical" was a big winner at the 2021 Tony Awards.

Broadway's biggest stars paired lavish gowns with face masks for an extravagant and pandemic-altered Tony Awards.

The 74th Annual Tony Awards went on ahead Sunday after a more than 15 month delay. Moulin Rouge! The Musical took home 10 awards, including the night's biggest: Best musical. The Inheritance won for best play, and A Soldier’s Play for best revival.

NPR's Jeff Lunden briefed Morning Edition's A Martínez on the night. You can listen to their full conversation here and read the highlights below.

The big winner of the night was Moulin Rouge! The Musical

Moulin Rouge swept much of the musical awards. The show is a stage adaption of Baz Luhrmann's grandiose 2001 film about love, deception and pop songs (the stage musical features more than 70 of them) set in a turn-of-the-century Paris nightclub.

Here's the production performing at the Tonys.

It's been a busy month for the show. It reopened on Broadway Sep. 24 after more than 18 months paused due to the pandemic. In early September the musical partnered with luxury brand The Blonds for a dramatic show at New York Fashion Week.

It's a weird year. The nominees reflect that.

As Jeff Lunden notes, the pandemic really molded this year's awards. When Broadway shut down in March 2020, it left the eligible pool of shows at almost half of what it usually is.

Those quirks meant all of the nominated best plays have closed and most haven't announced plans to reopen (Slave Playannounced its plans to return just after midnight Monday morning). And many of the shows up for wins were last seen over two years ago on stage.

Aaron Tveit from Moulin Rouge won for best actor in a musical — and it would have been pretty odd if he didn't, since he was the only person nominated in that category.

Interestingly, none of the three shows nominated for best musical this year feature an original score — Jagged Little Pill strings together Alanis Morissette's songs, and Tina – The Tina Turner Musical uses the singer's music.

2020's influence was visible — and not just the pandemic

Bernadette Peters and Brian Stokes Mitchell, among other theater greats, led a performance honoring those the community has lost since the last Tony Awards in 2019.

Acceptance speeches reflected on the pandemic's toll and highlighted the continued effort for Broadway to diversify and fully welcome all.

Jeremy O. Harris' Slave Play, an exploration of interracial relationships, was up for 12 awards but ultimately didn't win any. What won best play instead was The Inheritance by Matthew Lopez, which spins together source material Howards End's Edwardian England into a contemporary look at gay life. Lopez noted he was the first Latino to win.

A Soldier’s Play director Kenny Leon named Breonna Taylor and George Floyd in his acceptance speech for best revival of a play, saying they wouldn't be forgotten.

“No diss to Shakespeare, no diss to Ibsen, to Chekhov, to Shaw — they’re all at the table. But the table’s got to be bigger.”
Kenny Leon

The award show signaled that across Broadway, theatre marquees are being relit after an almost 18 month hiatus forced by the coronavirus pandemic.

NPR followed three veteran Broadway artists as they navigated their shows reopening— and as one made her own way after her show closed permanently due to COVID-19. Listen here.

International Dispatch
From Mumbai

Why India's Farmers Are Taking To The Streets Again

Posted September 27, 2021 at 8:59 AM EDT
An overhead view shows a road crowded with people walking in one direction, some wearing brown police uniforms and some wearing red clothing and holding banners.
Aijaz Rahi/AP
Policemen walk along as activists march in support of farmers during a nation-wide shutdown to protest against contentious farm laws in Bengaluru, India on Monday.

Thousands of farmers are blocking highways today in northern India, triggering massive traffic jams around the capital New Delhi as they protest agriculture laws on the first anniversary of their enactment.

“Take back these laws!” farmers chanted as they sat in the middle of the Amritsar-Delhi highway Monday. Protesters blocked highways at dozens of junctions, and also blocked railway tracks, disrupting passenger service. Farm unions called a nationwide one-day strike, asking schools, shops and industries to shut across the country.

Monday marks exactly a year since India’s president signed into law new farm rules that deregulate Indian agriculture, changing the way farmers do business.

The government used to line up buyers for farmers’ crops. Now it wants farmers to sell directly to wholesalers. But many don't want to – and worry they’ll be undercut by big business.

Last winter, farmers staged some of the biggest protests in Indian history. The country’s Supreme Court suspended the farm laws. But some farmers want the laws to be repealed altogether.

Talks between the government and farm unions have been at a stalemate since January.

Read more about today's protests here.

And for more context:


Liz Cheney Says She Was Wrong In Her Opposition To Same-Sex Marriage

Posted September 27, 2021 at 8:21 AM EDT

Republican Rep. Liz Cheney said in an interview on CBS’s 60 Minutes that she was wrong for her earlier opposition to same-sex marriage

Cheney’s sister, Mary, is gay and married with children, and Cheney’s opposition in 2013 led to apublicfalling out between them. Her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, had said he supported same-sex marriage. Asked to defend her own opposition in this weekend's interview, Cheney expressed her regret.

“I was wrong. I was wrong. I love my sister very much. I love her family very much. And ... I was wrong,” she said. “It's a very personal issue, and very personal for my family. I believe that my dad was right. And my sister and I have had that conversation.”

Cheney went on to say that “as human beings that we need to work against discrimination of all kinds in our country, in our state.

“We were at, at an event a few nights ago and, and there was a young woman who said, she doesn't feel safe sometimes because she's transgender. And nobody should feel unsafe. Freedom means freedom for everybody.”

Cheney has recently faced major rifts with her own party, primarily after voting to impeach former President Donald Trump.


Social Democrats Edge Out Merkel’s Conservatives In Germany

Posted September 27, 2021 at 7:45 AM EDT

Germany’s center-left Social Democrats narrowly beat outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right Union, with the head of the winning party predicting a new coalition government by Christmas.

With the vote counting completed from Sunday’s national election, the German Social Democrat (SPD) party won 25.7% of the vote, edging out the conservative Christian Democratic Union and Christian Social Union bloc winning 24.1%.

It was the first time in a German national election that any party won with less than 31% of the vote, according to The Associated Press. It was also the worst-ever showing for Germany’s conservatives, and the best — at 15% — for the Greens, according to Deutsche Welle.

Social Democratic Party's candidate for chancellor Olaf Sholz and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania's state premier Manuela Schwesig hold bouquets of lowers as they arrive for a statement at the party's headquarters in Berlin on Monday.
Christof Stache/AFP via Getty Images
Secretary General of Germany's Social Democrats party Lars Klingbeil applauds as the Social Democratic SPD Party's candidate for chancellor Olaf Scholz and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania's state premier Manuela Schwesig arrive for a statement at the party's headquarters in Berlin on Monday, one day after general elections.

Olaf Scholz, the German Social Democrat candidate to succeed Merkel, called the victory "a very clear mandate to ensure now that we put together a good, pragmatic government for Germany."

Scholz, who is currently serving as vice-chancellor and finance minister, said Monday that the government should come together very quickly. “It should be before Christmas if possible," he said.

Merkel, who is stepping down after leading Germany for 16 years, will stay on as a caretaker until the new government is formed.

Weekend Wrap

4 Big Stories You May Have Missed This Weekend

Posted September 27, 2021 at 7:32 AM EDT
A person walks by a bus station advertisement with three same-sex couples against a rainbow background and the words "Oui, je le veux" or "Yes, I want it."
Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images
A woman walks past an electoral poster reading in French: "Yes I want it" in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Sept. 22, ahead of a nationwide referendum on same-sex marriage.

We're starting the day by catching up on some of the weekend's biggest developments, from politics at home and abroad to weather worth watching. Here's what you should know:

Switzerland passes same-sex marriage by a wide margin

Swiss voters overwhelmingly approved a referendum on Sunday allowing same-sex couples to marry, with 64.1% in favor and a majority supporting the measure in each of the country's 26 states.

Switzerland has authorized same-sex civil partnerships since 2007, but those do not provide the same legal rights as marriage — for example, they do not permit couples to adopt children together or allow lesbian couples to utilize regulated sperm donation.

The decision brings traditionally conservative Switzerland in line with many other Western European countries, though it could still be months before same-sex couples there can officially tie the knot. More on that here.

Federal investigators are looking into the deadly Amtrak derailment in Montana

At least three people were killed, seven hospitalized and dozens injured when an Amtrak train running between Seattle and Chicago derailed in Montana on Saturday. The derailment happened just before 4 p.m. local time near Joplin, a town of about 200 people.

Local residents jumped into action, as the Associated Press reports. They transported some 50 to 60 passengers to a school, where a nearby grocery store and religious community provided food, then bussed them to hotels in the area.

A 14-member team of investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board visited the site on Sunday to look into the cause of the derailment. Here are some of the theories they're exploring.

Congress is heading into a week of critical deadlines

Leading Democrats in Congress spent the weekend working to "untangle a snarl of competing demands from members of their own party on fiscal issues while continuing to battle Republicans over the nation's debt," as NPR's Kelsey Snell and Deirdre Walsh put it.

They have a full schedule this week, including facing a potential government shutdown at the end of the day Thursday as well as the looming threat of federal default as the U.S. approaches the debt limit. There are also two major votes coming up: a scheduled vote on the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill we've been hearing so much about, and a related vote on up to $3.5 trillion in spending.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Sunday evening that the final vote on the bipartisan bill would move from Monday to Thursday, saying, "I'm never bringing a bill to the floor that doesn't have the votes" and adding that it's important for Congress to deal with government funding first.

Republicans and Democrats agree that Congress should extend current federal spending levels through Dec. 3 but have not yet settled on how to do so. Read more from Snell and Walsh about the hurdles they'll need to clear in the coming days.

Hurricane Sam will stick around in the Atlantic for a few more days

Sam strengthened into a major hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean over the weekend, but forecasters say it poses little threat to land.

In an update early Monday morning, the National Hurricane Center said the storm was located about 800 miles southeast of the Caribbean's northern Leeward Islands. It has maximum sustained winds of about 130 miles per hour, making it a category 4 hurricane.

It's expected to remain a major hurricane for several more days, despite some slow weakening forecast through the middle of the week.