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Mano Sundaresan

The United States has been labeled a "backsliding democracy" in a new report from the European think tank International IDEA.

"I think for many of those studying U.S. democracy, this should not come as a surprise," the report's lead author, Annika Silva-Leander, said.

International IDEA measured the global state of democracy in 2020 and 2021 using 28 "indicators" of democracy based on five "core pillars."

The core pillars were representative government, fundamental rights, checks on government, impartial administration and participatory engagement.

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The Police — Every Breath You Take
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Some songs will never go away, like "Every Breath You Take" by The Police.

The NBA has been tough to watch this year.

Compared to this same point in previous seasons, the 3-point percentage is the lowest since 2015-16 as everyone from Jayson Tatum to Damian Lillard to Bradley Beal seems to be struggling to find the basket.

My fantasy basketball team is in shambles. My team is shooting 43% from the field, and my high school friends are roasting me in the group chat. Something's gotta give.

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If you have tuned in to an NBA game this season, you might have noticed something weird. A lot of this...

(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE)

UNIDENTIFIED SPORTSCASTER #1: Tatum is going to take. Nope.

Updated November 2, 2021 at 12:41 PM ET

The rapper Fetty Wap was arrested last week at Rolling Loud New York, on drug charges. But he's not the first rapper to be detained ahead of the annual hip-hop festival, or barred from performing by local authorities. There exists, says journalist Jayson Buford, a continued pattern of law enforcement "essentially using rap lyrics to try to prove that rappers are violent people in real life."

PinkPantheress agreed to an interview, but kept her camera off and chose not to share her name. The life of the internet's buzziest new artist has been shrouded in mystery, but in conversation she's cheeky and approachable. The 20-year-old from southeast England laughs through her phase of making K-Pop fan edits, name-drops formative artists with the abandon of someone who religiously makes Topsters, and describes the song "All My Friends Know" on her new mixtape as a "Drake type beat."

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Janet Jackson opened her album "Control" not with a song, but with a statement.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CONTROL")

JANET JACKSON: This is a story about control, my control.

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Western philosophy has long been the province of old white men. Scan most any standard intro to philosophy course load and you'll see it yourself. Teachings of white philosophers compose the political fabric of our society.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

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You might've heard of the concept of a "bridge" in music.

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Here's what it sounded like in Minnesota, where Sunisa Lee's family, friends and supporters gathered to watch her compete.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Fourteen points.

(APPLAUSE)

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Last night, the city of Milwaukee celebrated the number 50, the Milwaukee Bucks' first NBA title in 50 years.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

Songwriter Lucy Dacus grew up spending summers at Vacation Bible School and during the school year, sometimes skipping class to go to the movies with her friends in her hometown of Richmond, Va. Her third and latest album, Home Video, is an autobiographical, coming-of-age tale that borrows from those real life events she's tracked in journals since she was young.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Dawn Richard grew up in New Orleans. Her father sang in a funk band called Chocolate Milk. He still does.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FRICTION")

CHOCOLATE MILK: (Singing) Friction, baby.

SHAPIRO: As a kid, she was kind of alternative.

Sheriff deputies shot and killed Andrew Brown, Jr., in Elizabeth City, N.C., last week. One of their bodycams captured the shooting, but Superior Court Judge Jeff Foster blocked the full release of the video for at least a month.

Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten, who oversees the deputies who killed Brown, a 42-year-old Black man, told All Things Considered that he thinks releasing the video now will help people trust law enforcement

Earlier this month, President Biden announced that the U.S. would withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, effectively bringing an end to a "forever war" spurred by the terrorist attacks 20 years earlier on Sept. 11, 2001. His promise has been met with backlash from both Republicans and moderate Democrats in Congress.

As of this week, you can buy relatively low-priced COVID-19 rapid tests to take at home. The tests are available through pharmacies and do not require a prescription to buy one.

As former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin awaits sentencing after his conviction on three counts of murder in the death of George Floyd, policymakers in Minneapolis are trying to figure out how to improve policing.

Concurrently, the Justice Department has launched an investigation into the city's police department to address possible patterns of discrimination and excessive force.

A recent study of mummified parrots found in a high-altitude desert region in South America suggests to researchers that, as far back as some 900 years ago, people went to arduous lengths to transport the prized birds across vast and complex trade routes.

The remains of more than two dozen scarlet macaws and Amazon parrots were found at five different sites in northern Chile's arid Atacama Desert — far from their home in the Amazon rainforest.

So how did they get there?

Adrianne Lenker's latest music takes you straight to where it was recorded: a cabin in the Berkshires. Lenker was supposed to be on tour with her band Big Thief this year, but once the pandemic upended those plans, she holed up in the mountains of Western Massachusetts and recorded not one, but two new albums.

We're back with season two of Play It Forward, where we talk with artists about their music and the artists they're thankful for. The band Indigo Girls has shaped a generation of singer-songwriters.

Last time on Play It Forward, our musical chain of gratitude, R&B singer and producer Georgia Anne Muldrow raved about the saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin. They share a few things in common: Both studied together at The New School's School of Jazz and Contemporary Music, both tap a similar spiritual vein in their music and as Muldrow sees it, both are "sangin' " even if it's through different mediums.

The coronavirus pandemic has affected musicians around the world. Many have had to cancel tours, delay album releases and find new sources of income. But some artists have found inspiration in the virus.

"Home," the first single from Caribou's latest album Suddenly, has taken on an unexpected meaning. As millions of Americans sit under self-quarantine at home and may be reaching for music as a form of solace, you could hear the refrain — "I'm home" — as either a cry or a reassurance.

Bashar Jackson, better known as the Brooklyn rapper Pop Smoke, died Wednesday morning in Los Angeles during what appeared to be a home invasion. He was 20 years old.

While the Los Angeles Police Department would not identify Jackson by name as the victim in Wednesday morning's shooting, NPR confirmed his death through his record label, Republic Records.