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Press Play with Madeleine Brand


Host Madeleine Brand looks at news, culture and emerging trends through the lens of Los Angeles.

Host Madeleine Brand looks at news, culture and emerging trends through the lens of Los Angeles.


Santa Monica, CA




Host Madeleine Brand looks at news, culture and emerging trends through the lens of Los Angeles.




Defiant protests sweep Iran over Mahsa Amini’s death, hijab laws

Protests are raging in Iran and across the world this week in response to 22-year-old Mahsa Amini’s death in police custody. She was arrested for not properly wearing her hijab. Wednesday night’s debates were heated between LA County sheriff candidates Robert Luna and Alex Villanueva, plus mayoral hopefuls Karen Bass and Rick Caruso. Nearly a year has passed since cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was shot and killed while filming “Rust.” The incident is still under investigation. Critics...


What’s driving more Venezuelan migrants to US?

More Venezuelans are fleeing their home country to the U.S., and they’ve become pawns in a political fight between Republican governors and Democratic mayors. When seeing a doctor, each diagnosis, procedure, and service has a code. Those labels and classifications affect what insurance will pay for, but they haven’t kept up with transgender care. During one of Donald Trump’s recent rallies, he appeared to embrace QAnon, a fringe movement that combines conspiracy theories, putting Trump at...


COVID brain fog: Can’t drive, can’t read, how to recover?

Brain fog is one of the most misunderstood long-haul COVID symptoms, according to science writer Ed Yong. It makes planning and concentrating nearly impossible. The ACLU is suing the LA County Sheriff’s Department over what it calls “barbaric” and “medieval” conditions at the county jail system’s Inmate Reception Center. The new CNN documentary series, “The Murdochs: Empire of Influence,” is a result of a long New York Times investigation into media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s rise to...


China’s ‘zero-COVID’ policy: How long can it go on?

China is still enforcing strict COVID-19 restrictions, including lockdowns that force millions of people to stay in their homes for days on end. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis flew about 50 migrants seeking asylum to Massachusetts. Can politicians be prosecuted for this action? Penny Wolin photographed intimate portraits of people who lived at Hollywood’s St. Francis Hotel in 1975. Now they’re published in a book called “Guest Register.” Queen Elizabeth was beloved in Britain, but as the...


Fentanyl-laced pills can look like anti-anxiety meds. How to protect teens?

Teens are typically looking for anti-anxiety or ADHD pills, or lower-strength opioids, but many illicit, fentanyl-laced pills on the market that resemble legit drugs, says one professor. The LA Sheriff’s Department raided County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl’s home as part of an investigation into a contract awarded to a nonprofit run by one of her friends. Critics review the latest film releases: “See How They Run,” “The Woman King,” “The Silent Twins,” and “Moonage Daydream.” Whether they’re...


‘California Soul’: Journey from drugs to jail to restaurant co-ownership

With inflation and concerns about crime, this election cycle doesn’t bode well for Biden and Democrats, while Republicans are in a good position to win November races, says TIME Magazine’s Molly Ball. Fred Franzia, who created Trader Joe’s “Two Buck Chuck” discount wine, died on Tuesday at age 79. He said no wine bottle should cost more than $10.


Cannabis black market poses threat to CA rural communities

The consumer price index has risen by 8.3% since last August. It comes as the cost of important essentials such as food, medical care, and rent increases. The iIllegal cannabis market is taking over rural California and crippling local farmers. It’s also brought environmental destruction and worker exploitation. Director Jean-Luc Godard died at the age of 91. The French New Wave pioneer revolutionized the conventional form of film. The Players Choir is a group of singing and dancing NFL...


LA mayoral candidates’ USC controversies: Are voters paying close attention?

In the race to become LA’s next mayor, Congresswoman Karen Bass and businessman Rick Caruso are trading barbs over their history with scandal-plagued USC. Donald Trump’s lawyers are still trying to block the FBI from using classified documents seized from Mar-a-Lago as part of their criminal investigation. This month’s heat wave broke temperature records across the American West, and now the top of Mount Shasta is largely brown. It used to have almost year-round snow cap. Queen Elizabeth...


At the unveiling of Michelle Obama portrait, artist was startled and tearful

New York-based artist Sharon Sprung shares her process of painting former first lady Michelle Obama’s official White House portrait. At the U.S. Open, Novak Djokovic didn’t play at all due to COVID-19 vaccine rules, Serena Williams lost in the third round of three sets, and new young players stepped up. “Clerks” grossed $3 million at the box office, but director Kevin Smith says he didn’t get rich off of it. He also explains how a heart attack turned around his life, and weighs in on...


More heat waves, more AC demand: How can CA power grid handle it?

As a heat wave continues in California, policies about air conditioning access are distorted, says a USC professor. And 20% of LA households don’t have AC. To quench thirst in this heat, Good Food’s Evan Kleiman recommends agua fresca, an iced drink made of water and minced or pureed fruit or vegetables, sweetened with sugar, and seasoned with lime or lemon juice. Due to drought, vital agricultural products — corn, wheat and tomatoes — are seeing the lowest yields in years. What does this...


Amid extreme heat and drought, PG&E faces more pressure to fix its system

California is loaning ​​PG&E more than $1 billion to keep the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant running. The utility company’s equipment sparked the 2018 Camp Fire. New Omicron-specific booster shots are now available at some LA locations and should provide increased protection against infection and hospitalization. A federal judge in Florida on Monday appointed a so-called “special master” to pore over thousands of documents the FBI seized from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. “House of the...


Curriculums need a ‘refresh’ to fight COVID learning losses

U.S. school kids lost two decades of reading and math progress, largely because of COVID-induced remote classes, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Around 80% of high schoolers get fewer than eight hours of sleep per night, and research shows they need more to maintain good mental health. A new California law mandating later school start times might help. Critics review the latest film releases: “Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul,” “Burial,” “The Invitation,” and “Gigi...


Biden’s student loan forgiveness: Unclear how many will benefit

Critics of Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan say it’s unfair to people who already paid off their debts, and that it could add to already surging inflation. A declining fish population in the polluted Gulf Coast spurred clashes between Vietnamese fishermen and KKK members after the Vietnam War. It’s the focus of Kirk Wallace Johnson’s new book. To celebrate the last breath of summer, try picking your own fruits and vegetables from local farms. There’s still time to enjoy berries,...


Heatwaves are ‘more dangerous than we realize,’ says scientist

Triple-digit temperatures can cause cramps, exhaustion, and heat stroke for vulnerable individuals. A research scientist gives tips on protecting yourself and your neighbors. To address drought, some people are proposing a giant pipeline to ferry water from the Mississippi River over the Rockies and through California’s parched deserts. If the CDC greenlights a new COVID booster, people could start getting shots after Labor Day. But “demand is really weak and tepid,” says one science...


NASA aims to send Americans back to the moon. Worthwhile?

NASA’s new moon rocket, Artemis 1, was expected to launch today, but the space agency scrapped the unmanned mission. It’s expected to try again on Friday. The Justice Department on Friday released a redacted version of the affidavit that supported the search warrant for the FBI’s raid at former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home Tech mogul Barre Seid quietly gave $1.6 billion to Marble Freedom Trust, which is run by Leonard A. Leo, who used to be the executive vice president of the...


CA could pay you thousands to go electric after new gas car ban

The California Air Resources Board is expected to finalize Gov. Newsom’s order that bans the sale of gas-powered cars by 2035. People will still be able to buy a used gas car here. When Rapid City got a new conservative school board, a principal preemptively banned Dave Eggers’ “The Circle.” The author uncovered an atmosphere of fear among teachers. School boards nationwide are now a battleground for the nation’s culture wars. One of the biggest groups leading the charge is Moms for...


Vasectomies are up post-Roe. CA might make the 15-minute procedure free

Vasectomies have drawn more interest since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, and California lawmakers are debating making the simple procedure free. If approved by California voters this November, Proposition 26 would make in-person sports betting legal, and Proposition 27 would make online betting legal. Far-right activists are targeting people who provide care for transgender kids, including school guidance counselors, teachers, and medical staff. Tourist David Kurtz filmed...


Safe injection sites: Saving lives or increasing crime?

Gov. Newsom on Monday vetoed legislation that would’ve allowed LA, SF, and Oakland to open sites where people struggling with addiction can use drugs in a controlled environment. Nearly 700 times this year, cars have raced or spun donuts in front of crowds, blocking an intersection. State Sen. Henry Stern’s bill would increase possible penalties for crimes related to street takeovers. The Inflation Reduction Act gives generous tax breaks for facilities that use carbon capture technology....


Fantastic Negrito uncovers white indentured servant on family tree

When musician Fantastic Negrito researched his family history during the pandemic, he discovered a 300-year-old interracial love story and siblings he didn’t know about. Some six months into the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the two sides are fighting close to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Nearby residents have fled over fears of a Chernobyl-like disaster. North Carolina voters passed constitutional amendments in 2018 that aimed to make voting tougher. Lawmakers who put them on the...


CDC admits it was too slow to respond to COVID, monkeypox

How will the CDC change to prevent future public health crises? And how is the U.S. addressing monkeypox outbreaks and vaccine availability? The LA Times’ Melody Gutierrez grew up in a 700-square foot homestead in Wonder Valley. She just visited the now-abandoned and dilapidated structure for the first time in 25 years. Critics review new movies: “Beast,” “Spin Me Round,” “The Immaculate Room,” and “The Territory.” Putting together appetizers is a great way to use pantry ingredients and...