Sam Sanders

Sam has worked at Vermont Public Radio since October 1978 in various capacities â

#NPRreads is a feature we're testing out on Twitter and on The Two-Way. The premise is simple: Correspondents, editors and producers throughout our newsroom will share pieces that have kept them reading. They'll share tidbits on Twitter using the #NPRreads hashtag, and on occasion we'll share a longer take here on the blog.

This week, we bring you four reads.

From reporter Sam Sanders:

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Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Eighty-year-old Arlene Rosenblatt rents out her quaint converted duplex in Santa Monica, Calif., whenever she and her husband leave town to visit their seven grandchildren. She charges anywhere from $115 to $220 a night for her home, listing it on Airbnb and other sites.

But over the past few weeks, Rosenblatt's time has been filled with protests instead of family visits: she is one of dozens of Santa Monica residents fighting new city rules for short-term rentals.

Santa Monica, Calif., is cracking down on Airbnb and the rest of the short-term rental industry. Tuesday night, the Santa Monica City Council adopted its home-sharing ordinance, which bans the rental of an entire unit for less than 30 days and requires those who take part in allowable home-sharing to obtain a business license from the city and pay a 14% hotel tax. The law takes effect June 15.

Nicole P. Eramo, an associate dean of students at the University of Virginia who handles reports of sexual assault for the school, is suing Rolling Stone magazine over the way she was depicted in a now discredited story.

Eramo has filed suit against Rolling Stone LLC, parent company Wenner Media LLC, and Sabrina Rubin Erdely, the author of the article called "A Rape on Campus," which painted a harrowing picture of a rape and its coverup at U.Va. The complaint was filed in the Charlottesville, Va., circuit court. Eramo is seeking a total of $7.85 million.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced the creation of a task force to investigate and tackle abuse in the state's more than 2,000 nail salons.

Upscale grocery store chain Whole Foods (often referred to as "Whole Paycheck" because of its high prices) announced this week that it's launching a new offshoot brand — with lower prices — to appeal to younger, millennial shoppers.

Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods, says it will be a "uniquely branded store concept unlike anything that currently exists in the marketplace" with "value prices ... a modern, streamlined design, innovative technology and a curated selection."

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Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

The Baltimore Police Department says the van transporting Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old black man who suffered a serious spine injury while in police custody and later died, made one more stop than previously thought.

Deputy Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said the stop was made at the corner of Fremont Avenue and Mosher Street. A private camera helped make the discovery, he said.

The stop was one of four made by the van that was transporting Gray who suffered a spine injury at some point after his April 12 arrest on a weapons charge.

Google has a lot of algorithms. And the company updates them on a regular basis. But one update that started rolling out Tuesday has tech writers across the Internet warning of a coming "Mobilegeddon."

The change is only taking place on Google searches made on smartphones. The results will favor websites deemed "mobile friendly," giving them higher rankings than sites that are only optimized for desktops and laptops.

Updated at 3:30 p.m. ET: Twitter responds to harassment questions

"Communicating with people you may or may not know in real life just got easier," says Twitter Senior Software Engineer Nhu Vuong in a blog post announcing a change to Twitter's direct messaging system. The new feature gives users the ability to receive messages whether the user follows them or not. Vuong used an example of an ice cream shop and a fan to show what's changed:

WikiLeaks has posted a searchable archive of more than 170,000 emails and 30,000 private documents belonging to Sony Pictures Entertainment. The movie conglomerate reacted angrily to the news on Thursday, saying that it condemned the indexing of stolen employee and other privileged information.

The data was hacked in November of last year, revealing multiple embarrassing e-mail exchanges between Sony executives and personal information from thousands of employees, including social security numbers.

Updated at 4 p.m. ET

The NFL has announced that Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson will be reinstated Friday as "an active NFL player and may participate in all scheduled activities with the Vikings."

After a one-day delay due to weather, SpaceX successfully launched a resupply mission to the International Space Station. In a tweet, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk wrote, "Ascent successful. Dragon enroute to Space Station."

The Obama administration announced Tuesday it will remove Cuba from its list of state sponsors of terrorism, a major step in normalizing relations between the two countries. The announcement comes just days after a meeting between President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro at a summit in Panama.

In a statement posted to its blog, Alaska Airlines said that Flight 448, traveling from Seattle to Los Angeles, returned to Seattle-Tacoma International after being in the air for just 14 minutes. Alaska Airlines said "immediately after takeoff" the pilot "reported hearing banging from beneath the aircraft."

Updated at 4:50 p.m. ET.

SpaceX has delayed the launch of its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft by a day, after fast-approaching storm clouds moved into Cape Canaveral, Fla., according to the AP. In a tweet, SpaceX said the next opportunity for a launch will be Tuesday at 4:10 p.m. EDT.

Our original post continues:

A new report says an issue highlighted recently in Ferguson, Mo. — that tickets and fines disproportionately burden people of color and the poor, and lead to their incarceration — is not limited to Missouri.

Huge ice chunks stacked some 8 feet deep on Lake Superior have left 18 freighters stuck. The U.S. and Canadian Coast Guards have gotten involved, sending Canadian icebreakers and American vessels to help the ships break free from Whitefish Bay.

They are not blue jeans. They are not slacks. They are not chinos or khakis.

"They're like a jogger," Lee Davis says of his pants, walking through an outdoor mall in Los Angeles called The Grove. He's wearing them with a professional black cardigan over a designer white tee, with a crisp fitted baseball cap and fancy tennis shoes. The pants stand out the most. They fit him impeccably, with clear, tapered lines and a high-end, light-khaki material that flows luxuriously.

Yesterday in a Brooklyn park, anonymous artists erected a large bust of Edward Snowden, who leaked National Security Agency documents. Animal New York has details:

In Los Angeles, it's really not the traffic, it's the parking.

Every Angeleno has endured that nerve-wracking search for a spot, circling and circling and circling city blocks. Then, when you finally find a space, you've got to solve the logic puzzle that LA parking signs can sometimes be.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

After owning the estate for 35 years, retired Allergan CEO Gavin S. Herbert is selling the former home of President Richard Nixon for $75 million.

The estate in San Clemente, Calif., is large. Its main residence is 9,000 square feet, and the entire compound boasts more than 15,000 square feet of living space. The Wall Street Journal has details:

In January, SkyMall LLC and its parent company, Xhibit Corp., filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy, with some $50 million in liabilities. The company's assets were set to go up for auction in late March. The news led to a strong show of support for the in-flight catalog.

Gov. Jerry Brown instituted California's first-ever statewide mandatory water reductions on Wednesday, as the state endures its fourth year of drought.

"This historic drought demands unprecedented action," Brown said, mandating several new conservation measures:

  • A reduction in water use by 25 percent for California cities and towns.
  • New pricing structures by local water agencies to encourage conservation.

Jay Z doesn't do anything small. His album drops feature entire new apps. His tours (with his wife, Beyonce, or collaborator Kanye West) gross hundreds of millions of dollars worldwide. So of course the launch of his recently acquired streaming music service, Tidal, would have to be just as big.

China.org.cn, China's national online news service, is reporting that the country's General Administration of Sport and Ministry of Culture are planning to regulate outdoor square-dancing in China. The news website says the government has introduced 12 "choreographed practices" for dancers.

Update at 7:21 p.m. ET. Jobs to be lost in deal:

Baseball's most iconic bat has a new owner. Monday, Hillerich & Bradsby Co., which owns Louisville Slugger, announced the brand would be acquired by Wilson Sporting Goods Co. for $70 million in cash. The move means that Wilson, maker of Major League Baseball's official glove, will soon own the maker of MLB's official bat.

Jacob Ryan of NPR member station WFPL reports that some jobs will be lost in the acquisition:

The most visible part of Starbucks' campaign to get customers talking about race — putting the slogan "Race Together" on coffee cups — has come to an end.

In a memo sent to all Starbucks employees Sunday, CEO Howard Schultz wrote: "This phase of the effort — writing 'Race Together' (or placing stickers) on cups, which was always just the catalyst for a much broader and longer term conversation — will be completed as originally planned today, March 22."

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