Lourdes Garcia-Navarro

The NPR Music Tiny Desk Contest may be over this year — NPR Music was proud to award the honor this year to Naia Izumi — but Weekend Edition isn't done highlighting the impressive talent who entered this year's contest.

Eight years ago, we introduced two unlikely friends: an Israeli and a Palestinian -- who once believed peace could override enemy lines. Dana Levy and Mohammed Saqar met in the late 1990s, as teenagers at a Seeds of Peace summer camp in the U.S.

Both had lost family in the region's conflicts, but they became friends and kept in touch by phone.

We caught up with both of them. But not together. We should tell you, this is a missed connection we could not reconnect.

The #MeToo movement has been a cultural reckoning across industries, from Hollywood to restaurants — but one of the oldest that's been affected is classical music. In March, James Levine, a longtime conductor of the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, was fired for allegations of sexual misconduct. And now, centuries-old works from Carmen to Don Giovanni are being challenged for misogynistic plots and themes.

Bernard "Pretty" Purdie is on the shortlist of the hardest-working drummers in the history of recorded music. The list of artists he's worked with, on the other hand, is quite long: Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Lloyd Price, James Brown, Steely Dan — on and on stretching back to 1962. On many of those recordings, you can hear a triplet rhythm that's come to be known as the Purdie Shuffle.

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

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Milk is not the unassuming refrigerator staple you may have thought it was. In fact, debates about milk touch on a host of topics — cultural, genetic, medicinal, and economic — that have been going on for centuries and continue today.

NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro sat down with author Mark Kurlansky to discuss his new book, Milk!: A 10,000-Year Food Fracas, and unpack some of the controversies surrounding what he calls "the most over-argued food in history."

Last week, a van plowed into a busy Toronto sidewalk, killing 10 people in what appeared to be a deliberate act.

The suspect in the attack, Alek Minassian, was quickly linked to an online community of trolls and violent misogynists who call themselves "incels" — a term that stands for "involuntarily celibate."

How do we find a real connection in a digital world?

In Mary H.K. Choi's debut novel, Emergency Contact, Penny and Sam strike up a text-based romance, and soon become take-your-phone-to-the-bathroom inseparable. But for different reasons, they have trouble making it real.

Juliana Hatfield was a darling of the '90s indie music scene. She played with Blake Babies and The Lemonheads and had a hit with the edgy pop song, "My Sister." Hatfield released a string of alternative albums since those days, full of distorted guitars and strong vocals.

Zoologist Lucy Cooke says humans have got it all wrong about sloths. "People think that because the animal is slow that it's somehow useless and redundant," she says. But in fact, "they are incredibly successful creatures."

Cooke is the founder of the Sloth Appreciation Society and the author of a new book called The Truth About Animals: Stoned Sloths, Lovelorn Hippos, and Other Tales from the Wild Side of Wildlife. The book aims to set the record straight on some long-held misconceptions about the animal world.

When The Exorcist, based on the novel by William Blatty, came to theaters in 1973, it captured the public imagination. Or more accurately, the public's nightmares.

Exorcisms aren't just the stuff of horror movies — hundreds of thousands of Italian Catholics reportedly request them each year. But when William Friedkin directed the movie, he'd never actually seen an exorcism. It would be four more decades before he actually witnessed one.

John B. McLemore is probably best known as the charismatic, obsessive, antique-clock-repairing, hedge-maze-building, dog-loving, murder investigating, tattooed focus of S-Town, the hit podcast from 2017. But he was also was a composer, who remixed the music of an artist he never met.

Bailey Davis was a Saintsation — a cheerleader for the New Orleans Saints. That is, until she posted a photo of herself in a one-piece lace bodysuit on her private Instagram account.

Orquesta Akokán takes its name from the Yoruba word meaning "from the heart." The group's self-titled debut album, released in March, draws deep from the soul and history of Cuba, reviving the spirit of the big-band orquestas of decades past like Buena Vista Social Club and Orquesta Aragón.

The romance genre is a juggernaut that continues unabated.

It's a billion-dollar industry that outperforms all other book genres, and it's remarkably innovative, with a strong tradition of independent and self-publishing.

Kali Uchis has been practicing for her debut release since she was 18 years old. Shut in her room in suburban Virginia, Kali was making mixtapes and dreaming up treatments for imaginary music videos. The Colombian-born singer's major label debut Isolation, out now, is a tribute to overcoming heartache and being your own hero and an appreciation for the musical inspirations that have brought her to this moment.

The Arabic word habibi means "my love," an apt descriptor for Rahill Jamalifard's feelings about her Iranian upbringing and the music she creates. Jamalifard is the frontwoman for Habibi, the Brooklyn-based band that mixes Detroit garage rock with girl group harmonies and surf guitar. The band's newest EP, Cardamom Garden, houses lyrics that move seamlessly between English and Farsi.

Less than two years after Donald Trump won a western Pennsylvania congressional district by double digits, a special election race between a young Democrat and a deeply conservative Republican is now closer than either side had expected. The congressional race is being run in Pennsylvania's 18th district, but the March 13 election is expected to offer clues about how voters will turn out in the November midterms.

Since this frightened mom crossed the border with her son in early 2017, fleeing gang violence in El Salvador, she has felt bewildered by the vast complicated immigration system in the United States.

NPR is not using her name for her protection.

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

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

And now for an update - two years ago when I was NPR's Brazil correspondent, I danced in Rio de Janeiro's famous Sambadrome with the Vila Isabel Samba School. Here's me at the end of that experience.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

In the summer of 1967, Linda Walker was at Girl Scout camp in North Carolina when a lightning bolt struck her.

She says she was in a tent with three other girls when they all ran out after the crackle and boom. Walker was on the floor, unresponsive.

"But as Girl Scouts you always keep up with your buddy — you never lose track of your buddy," Walker says. "And my buddy walked out, ran out of the tent without me, but realized I wasn't with her and came back. Had she not done that, I wouldn't be here today ... because she saved my life."

This past week, a FedEx employee from Germantown, Tenn., made a massive discovery — and it wasn't in any packages. John Pace found the largest prime number known to humankind.

And that number goes on to more than 23 million digits.

"So it's longer than anybody really wants to sit down and hear," he says.

If you're not great at math, here's a primer: Prime numbers can only be divided by 1 and themselves.

Editor's note on Jan. 18: This story should have noted that artnet News was the first to report that the High Museum's proportion of nonwhite visitors has grown to 45 percent and now is close to the percentage of people of color who live in the Atlanta metropolitan area. That news site's report about the museum's "valuable case study" concerning how to diversify audiences is online here.

Just off a Houston freeway, in a strip mall with an Indian tailor and South Asian grocery store, is a small restaurant with an out-size reputation. It's called Himalaya and its chef and owner is a Houston institution.

Chef Kaiser Lashkari is a large man with a bushy salt-and-pepper mustache. He's constantly in motion — greeting clients, inspecting steaming dishes carried by busy waiters, calling out to his wife overseeing the kitchen. He offers us food before we've even sat down.

In a new hour-long special, "Sexual Harassment: A Moment of Reckoning," Weekend Edition Sunday host Lulu Garcia-Navarro takes a deep dive into a national conversation that is growing louder by the day.

Since she was 16 years old, Puerto Rico's Ileana Cabra has been trading slick bars in musical sparring matches with her brothers, René Pérez Joglar and Eduardo Cabra Martinez, better known as the Grammy-winning hip-hop duo Calle 13.

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