Noah Caldwell

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In 1997, the writer Antoine Wilson was visiting Seattle. He was down by the water with some friends.

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Things might seem pretty grim on the pandemic front right now. The U.S. is only a few days into the third calendar year of the pandemic and nearly 500,000 new COVID-19 cases are being counted daily.

The country hit another record high on Monday with 1,082,549 infections. So if it's hard to find a glimmer of hope, you're not alone. But Dr. Bob Wachter has a bit of hope to share.

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As the anniversary of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol approaches, three retired U.S. generals have warned that another insurrection could occur after the 2024 presidential election and that the military could support it.

The generals – Paul Eaton, Antonio Taguba and Steven Anderson – made their case in a recent Washington Post op-ed. "In short: We are chilled to our bones at the thought of a coup succeeding next time," they wrote.

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We sing in stairwells. That's the tagline of the Dallas-based a cappella group Kings Return.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KINGS RETURN: (Singing) Ave Maria.

This week has been one of mass cancellations. Between pro sports games and theaters shutting down and some schools and colleges moving to remote learning again, it has many people comparing this December to March 2020, when the pandemic began.

But despite those feelings, Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, says this is not March 2020 all over again. And, he adds, he isn't panicking.

Jha spoke with NPR's All Things Considered to talk about how to navigate this season of the pandemic, including holiday travel and parties.

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One of the most revered and influential cultural critics of the last 30 years has passed away. Greg Tate was a writer with encyclopedic interests, best known for his incisive writing on early hip-hop.

On the day we visit Jeneyah McDonald, she has five pallets' worth of bottled water in a corner of her kitchen.

"Oh, that's low," she says.

McDonald buys more every week for cooking, drinking and brushing teeth. She also has a filter on her tap. She checks the light to see it remains green.

"I try and keep a clear glass by the sink so I can fill it up to see with some paper behind it," she says. "I mean, who else is doing that?"

At 3 a.m. on Saturday, June 26, Theresa Bonham awoke to a phone call.

"My neighbor across the street called me and asked me if I had been in the basement," says Bonham, 52, who lives in the Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood of Detroit. She assumed the neighbor had seen someone trying to break in.

"So I get up and I open the basement door, and I see a bucket float by. And I'm like, 'Oh my God'."

That night, six inches of rain fell in Detroit within three hours. The heaviest downpour hit the low-lying southeastern parts of the city where Bonham lives.

The United States and China — the world's top two greenhouse gas-emitting countries, which together account for about 40% of the world's annual carbon output — announced Wednesday they have agreed to cooperate on limiting emissions to address the global climate crisis.

At the COP26 U.N. climate summit, some of those with the most to lose insist they aren't victims, they're warriors.

"As a Pacific Islander, a lot of people think my role here at COP is to come and cry, like I owe them my trauma, when I don't owe you my trauma," said 23-year-old Brianna Fruean, a climate activist from Samoa.

Fruean opened the first day of the summit in Glasgow, Scotland, speaking directly to the heads of state from all over the world.

As young climate activists descended on Glasgow for the COP26 UN climate summit, Vanessa Nakate was faced with a familiar yet sad experience: Being pushed to the side.

"I think it's not just my experience. There are many activists from the global south who have been sidelined at the conference," she said.

Nakate is no stranger to the world stage or being erased from the record, having attended another summit last year in Davos, Switzerland.

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In a crowded house above a pub in Scotland, Ruth Miller is busy planning her next move.

The 24-year-old Climate Justice Director for the Alaska-based grassroots group, Native Movement, is one of nine young people squeezed into the four-bedroom rental in between attending events at the COP26 UN climate summit.

But even having to stay an hour's drive outside of the main conference venue, they are among the activists who are insisting the politicians, dignitaries, and negotiators hear their stories, voices, and expertise.

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At the heart of Esperanza Spalding's new album, Songwrights Apothecary Lab (S.A.L.), is a question: "What do you need a song for?" In pursuit of answers, Spalding, a Grammy-winning jazz singer and bassist, assembled a team of more than just other musicians; she created a laboratory of sorts, gathering neuroscientists, psychologists, ethnomusicologists and more. "We are like shipwrights," Spalding says in an interview with NPR's Ailsa Chang. "We build things.

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When the artist Yolanda Quarterly, now better known as Yola, was just a bump in her mother's belly, she was already bopping to music. Yola's mother was a registered nurse, who used to DJ at a hospital's mental health unit. Disco and soul, sounds Yola would hear before entering the world, would go on to influence her later in life.

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On April 30 of last year, armed militiamen entered the Michigan State Capitol Building looking for Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

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UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: (Yelling) Open the door.

It's been remarkable to watch singer-songwriter Joy Oladukun's professional success, despite the pandemic: Her music keeps showing up on popular scripted shows like Grey's Anatomy and This Is Us, leading to live performances on late night shows with Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert — all without really leaving her base of Nashville, Tenn.

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I was out for a trail run this past weekend through the woods near my house, and a thrumming filled the air - this thrumming.

(SOUNDBITE OF CICADAS CALLING)

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Let's go back to March 19, 2020. I know you'd probably rather not do that, but stay with me here. The pandemic had just begun, and Adam Weiner of the band Low Cut Connie was feeling just like the rest of us.

On the last episode of Play It Forward, our series in which artists tell us about their own music and the musicians who inspire them, All Things Considered spoke with Angel Bat Dawid, the improvisational musician from Chicago. She told us about her connection to the pioneer of funk: George Clinton.

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