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Here to weigh in on all these topics and more - our Friday political commentators E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post and Brookings Institution. Hey there, E.J.

E J DIONNE, BYLINE: Great to be with you.

As a child, author Minh Lê had a deep and loving relationship with his grandparents, but he also remembers a lot of "awkward silence."

"There were those moments where we just didn't know what to say to each other," he says.

Lê was born in the U.S. and grew up in Connecticut. His grandparents were from Vietnam. His new picture book — a collaboration with Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat — explores how a young boy and his Thai grandfather learn to bridge barriers of language, culture and age.

With a litany of alleged ethics controversies swirling at home, embattled Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt took the show on the road this week, meeting with farmers in a handful of Midwestern states to talk about his policy agenda.

While Thursday evening's meeting in Lincoln, Neb., was polite, the reception in other states has not been as welcoming, especially when it comes to conversations about his ethanol policies.

Right around dawn Sunday, an unidentified person stole into an art exhibition space in Toronto. Encased in a sweatshirt, with hands in armpits and face obscured by a camouflage cap, the dark-dressed lurker slinked into a room lined with works by Banksy.

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Chicago is famous for its L, the transit system of mostly elevated trains. Soon it might have the X, a high-speed transit system some are calling Tesla in a tunnel. NPR's David Schaper has more.

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Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Yesterday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions tried a new tack in defending the zero-tolerance crackdown that is resulting in separating immigrant children from their parents at the border. Sessions quoted the Bible.

The U.S. Senate is set to vote as early as next week on whether to reinstate crippling trade sanctions against Chinese telecommunications company ZTE. With that move in sight, a number of U.S. senators are taking aim at a much bigger Chinese target: Huawei — the world's third-largest seller of smartphones, behind Samsung and Apple.

The Environmental Protection Agency intends to block an Obama-era proposal and effectively shield companies from scrutiny about how they prevent and respond to chemical disasters. At a hearing Thursday, agency officials got an earful from dozens of people who live and work near refineries and chemical facilities across the country.

In an intense legal battle over the role of race in Harvard University's admissions policies, a group that is suing the school says Harvard lowers the rankings of Asian-American applicants in a way that is unconstitutional.

Harvard says that its admissions process is legal — and it notes that the plaintiff group, the Students for Fair Admissions, is backed by the same activist who previously challenged the University of Texas' affirmative action policy.

With Anthony Brooks

Comey and the Clinton email report. Implied verification and North Korea. The Supreme Court and voter registration. The news roundtable weighs in.

Guests:

Margaret Talev, senior White House correspondent for Bloomberg News. (@margarettalev

Kicking Off The World Cup

Jun 15, 2018

With Anthony Brooks

The World Cup kicks off in Russia. The U.S. team didn’t make the cut but there are plenty of teams to watch and politics to unpack.

Guests:

Tariq Panja, global sports reporter for The New York Times, who covers FIFA extensively, and is in now Moscow covering the World Cup. (@tariqpanja)

Undergraduate applicants to the University of Chicago no longer have to include SAT or ACT scores in their applications. It’s the first top-tier university to make the tests optional, though a growing number of other schools are making similar moves.

Here & Now‘s Jeremy Hobson talks with James Nondorf, dean of admissions and vice president of enrollment and student advancement at the University of Chicago.

McDonald's says it will start using paper straws instead of plastic at all its locations across the United Kingdom and Ireland. And it plans to test sustainable alternatives to plastic straws in some restaurants in the U.S. and elsewhere around the globe later this year.

A huge study on the possible health benefits of drinking alcohol will be completely shut down, because its credibility was compromised by frequent and early interactions between alcohol industry executives, scientists and government officials.

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