NPR Staff

What does it mean to be middle class in America?

When All Things Considered's Ari Shapiro asked people in New York City's Times Square, the answers were all over the place.

"You're struggling, like, paycheck to paycheck, and you're going, 'Oh shoot, I want to go into H&M, but you know what, I'll do it next week when I get paid again,' " said Erin Kennedy, a 44-year-old who runs a gym in the Bronx.

Building manager Bob Berger, who's in his 60s, also identifies as middle class, but this New Yorker's experience differs greatly.

The NPR Politics team is back with a quick take on the FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while serving as secretary of state. FBI Director James Comey did not recommend bringing criminal charges against Clinton but did call the actions of her and her staff "careless." The team discusses what this means for her as she heads into the general election.

On the podcast:

  • Editor and Correspondent Ron Elving
  • Campaign Reporter Sam Sanders

"The middle class is disappearing" has been a standard line during this election cycle. As it turns out, it's not wrong.

Before the folk rock band The Lumineers released their newest album, Cleopatra, in April, they played a series of secret shows. Emphasis here on "secret."

"There was a large concern about the album being sort-of released via grainy video and leaked out online," said Wesley Schultz, the band's lead singer.

So the band decided to lock up people's phones — not take them away, exactly, but just lock them up for the show. Like a timeout.

In January, our news assistant Max Nesterak made a resolution to quit smoking. We decided to pitch in and help. Shankar gave Max three things to do based on social science research: write a public service announcement, get a support network, and put money budgeted for cigarettes into a savings account. It's been more than six months since you've heard from Max, so this week, we're checking in with him to see how he's doing.

Nicole Dennis-Benn's debut novel takes readers to a Jamaica that tourists rarely visit. "This is no paradise. At least not for us," she writes.

The characters in Here Comes the Sun are working-class women. They struggle with money, sexuality and the pressures of tourism squeezing their small community of River Bank.

Twenty-eight years ago, Morning Edition launched what has become an Independence Day tradition: hosts, reporters, newscasters and commentators reading the Declaration of Independence.

It was on this date 240 years ago that church bells rang out over Philadelphia, as the Continental Congress adopted Thomas Jefferson's draft of the Declaration of Independence.

Below is the original text of the Declaration, alongside photos of the NPR staff members and contributors who performed the reading.

"It was very cryptic, and quite mysterious. I received a phone call and I was told that Kanye was an enormous fan of my work, and he would like to meet me."

That's how it started for painter Vincent Desiderio. The next day, he flew from New York to Los Angeles to meet Kanye West. When he arrived, he says, "It was as if I'd entered into a surprise party for me."

Suki Kim spent 10 years researching and visiting North Korea. In 2011, she spent six months teaching at a university in Pyongyang — and working undercover as a journalist.

During that time, Kim secretly documented the lives of 270 of North Korea's elite — young men who were being groomed as the country's future leaders — at the center of the country's regime change.

Donald Trump laid out his plan for the economy, criticizing globalization and policies that promote free trade, in a speech in Monessen, Pa., on Tuesday.

NPR's politics team has annotated Trump's speech. The portions we commented on are bolded, followed by analysis and fact check in italics. We will update further.

The speech follows:

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