Scott Simon

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Throughout today's program, we hear from Americans about how the coronavirus outbreak is affecting their lives and their thoughts.

The losses of the coronavirus pandemic became personal for many Americans this week. More people lost jobs. More people had to worry about their health. And more people died. These names are just a few among so many who gave something to our lives.

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I miss work. I know as I say this that I'm blessed to have rewarding work as a lot of Americans suddenly don't. Working from home for most of the week has made me marvel at how much so many can do these days, on laptops and small screens.

But spending most of the workday in bedroom slippers, pondering whether to shave, shampoo or even brush my teeth — because after all, who'll see me besides my family? — also reminds me how much we can miss the walls, cubicles, hallways and, most of all, the people in our workplaces.

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"Black Monday" is a comedy about the worst stock market crash in the history of Wall Street. Worst crash until this one, of course...

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "BLACK MONDAY")

DON CHEADLE: (As Mo Monroe) Mo is back, baby.

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Snap, crackle, pop - delectable golden bits afloat in fresh, cold milk. They go together, like BJ Leiderman, who does our theme music. And new cereals pour forth, if you please, every year to tickle contemporary taste buds.

The toll of coronavirus in the U.S. and around the world is being told in the numbers of people who have died, been infected, tested or quarantined — and the economic costs of canceled events, vacations and travel. But there's another consequence that's harder to categorize.

At least 10 residents of the Life Care Center of Kirkland, Wash., have died from the virus; more may have died without being tested. Older people, including those with respiratory problems, are considered to be especially vulnerable.

Years ago, I covered a protest by thousands of people in their underwear.

Civil servants in Calcutta, now called Kolkata, opposed a plan to replace the nylon kurta, that loose, long blouse worn by many Indian government workers, with kurtas made of cotton khadi cloth. Millions of government workers wearing home-spun khadi could help build India's village industries. It seemed such a right thing to do.

"In the real world, villains too often succeed and heroes, too often die," says writer James McBride — and that's one of the great things about being novelist. "In novels you can move matters around ... you get to show the best side of people. You get to show redemption, and forgiveness, and you get to show the parts of people that most of us never get to see."

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For all the words uttered about urgent, vital issues at this week's Democratic presidential debate, one was missing: Syria.

The war in Syria has gone on for 9 years.

At least half a million people have died. More than 5 million Syrians are now refugees. Almost another million have had to flee their homes in the Idlib region just since last December, as Bashar al-Assad's army, supported by Russian air strikes, has tried to bomb and shell the people of the province into an obliteration from their own country.

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Let's ask R. Eric Thomas to tell us about the church in which he grew up.

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Some weeks you may wonder what has happened to public speech in America. Or even good manners.

This week, Matt Schlapp, chairman of the Conservative Political Action Conference, declared he will not invite Sen. Mitt Romney to this year's CPAC after Romney cast the lone Republican vote for President Trump's removal at his impeachment trial.

"We won't credential him as a conservative," Schlapp told Greta Van Susteren on her program Full Court Press. Then he added, "This year, I would actually be afraid for his physical safety, people are so mad at him."

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It can be hard to reconcile Bob Marley's massive and ongoing influence with the fact that the genre-defining reggae artist was just 36 when he died of cancer in 1981. Marley would have turned 75 this Thursday; to this day, his music accounts for nearly a quarter of the reggae listened to in the United States.

After Kirk Douglas produced and starred in Spartacus in 1960, a film that won four Oscars and was the biggest moneymaker of the year, he could probably get Hollywood to finance almost any film he wanted to make. Another epic, like Spartacus? An adventure, like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea? A scorching star vehicle, like Lust for Life?

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When I met Tom Railsback a few years ago, he told me he'd worried about going to a Chamber of Commerce meeting in Peoria in the fall of 1974.

Tom Railsback of Illinois was a middle-aged Republican congressman from a state in the middle of America when he was on the House Judiciary Committee in 1974 that heard the case for impeachment against President Richard Nixon.

Mr. Railsback greatly admired President Nixon. "His opening of the door to China," he told me, "had to be the most brilliant foreign policy move ever."

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The toll of the Australian bush fires is staggering. 27 people have died, more than 2,000 homes destroyed and 18 million acres have burned. A billion animals may have been killed.

Try to hold that horrifying number in your mind a moment: a billion animals.

There are scores of holiday stories on streaming services this season, and a lot of them seem rolled out of the same candy cane factory: snow, smiles and the real meaning of love.

As an aficionado of the form, I've tried to sketch out my own version:

Charlayne had an exciting life as managing editor of a Manhattan fashion magazine. But something was missing.

A woman lived in her car in front of our apartment building for a couple of weeks. Our family brought down some food, clothing and a blanket, but the woman hesitated to open her door when we knocked and smiled.

After all, who were we? Why should she trust us?

We did not call police or a city agency to say, "There's a woman living in a car on our street." I've reported stories where I've spent the night in city homeless shelters. They can feel crowded and unsafe, and have little privacy. I can see why someone would choose to stay on the street or in their car.

As the impeachment inquiry against President Trump continues its march through Congress, questions are churning around his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo.

What makes a banana taped to a wall worth $120,000 to someone?

If it has been put there by the right artist.

This banana was duct-taped to a wall by Maurizio Cattelan, the Italian artist, and it's on display this week at Art Basel in Miami Beach.

The banana is real, by the way, not a sculpture. It will soon go brown, slimy, and may already be ... fragrant.

The Perrotin art gallery of Paris has already sold this piece of produce, and it turns out that $120,000 is practically a bargain. Another banana the artist taped to a wall is going for $150,000.

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And talk about methane release. Time to talk sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

William Ruckelshaus was a conservationist, an Indiana Republican conservative who believed in conserving balanced budgets, limited government powers, constitutional checks and balances, and clean air and water.

"Nature provides a free lunch," he said, "but only if we control our appetites."

He helped write Indiana's first air pollution laws as a state deputy attorney general in the 1960s, and was appointed the first head of the Environment Protection Agency by President Nixon in 1970.

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