Amid the Pandemic, the Rise of the Single-Issue Parent: The Week in Narrated Articles

This weekend, listen to a collection of narrated articles from around The New York Times, read aloud by the reporters who wrote them.

Nearly half of Americans oppose masking and a similar portion are against Covid vaccine mandates for schoolchildren, polls show. But what is obscured by those numbers is the intensity with which some parents have embraced these views. While they once described themselves as Republicans or Democrats, they now identify as independents, who plan to vote based solely on vaccine policies.

Their transformation injects an unpredictable element into November’s midterm elections. Fueled by a sense of righteousness after vaccine and mask mandates came to an end, many of these parents have become increasingly dogmatic in their views, convinced that unless they act, new mandates will be passed after the midterms.

More than 140 million trees in California have been destroyed by droughts and plagues of beetles over the past decade — 2.4 million of them in Yosemite National Park alone. Forestry experts describe the state’s forests as wounded and extremely vulnerable. Now, as the state suffers another severe drought, Yosemite seems perennially besieged by fire and smoke.

In just the past month, the Oak fire and the Washburn fire have raged near and inside the park, prompting evacuations and closures and threatening the largest stands of sequoias, including the prized Mariposa Grove.

Increasingly, leading forestry experts are propounding a view that sounds dissonant to a public accustomed to the idea of preserving the country’s wild lands: Sometimes you have to cut trees to save trees, and burn forests to save forests.

Written and narrated by Hope Corrigan

The case before the court involved a Rhode Island greyhound named Lexus, accused of killing a Pomeranian in a dog park. The prosecution was asking for the death penalty, and a lawyer for the defense, Richard Rosenthal, was there to stop it.

As an animal attorney for more than a decade, Mr. Rosenthal has taken on custody cases, sued veterinary clinics for malpractice and made a specialty of defending dangerous dogs. In doing so, he has often enraged local officials, animal control officers and district attorneys. Even animal rights groups have expressed frustration with him.

“I’m a hired gun,” Mr. Rosenthal said, acknowledging his reputation as the go-to lawyer if a dog is on death row. “If I take a case, it’s about winning. I take it because I believe in it.”

Lexus’ case was a turning point for Mr. Rosenthal. In 2009, he and his wife, Robin Mittasch, founded the Lexus Project, a nonprofit that provides legal representation for dogs ordered to be euthanized. It turned out there was a market for his services.

Written and narrated by Ron Lieber

For in-the-know fans who wanted to buy Bruce Springsteen tickets this month, applying for a special Ticketmaster access code seemed the best way to beat the long odds. If they got one, they could try to make it to the front of the service’s virtual queues on the days when batches of shows were up for sale.

Instead, countless applicants discovered that the normally priced tickets they had been hoping to buy were nowhere to be found. Instead, a demand-driven dynamic pricing system had taken hold — and someone somewhere had decided that remaining seats should cost many times the normal price, up to $5,500 or so.

Was the Boss OK with that?

Written and narrated by Julia Jacobs

Early on in the musical “Funny Girl,” a young and determined Fanny Brice sings a line that anyone even slightly acquainted with the show will be familiar with: “I’m … (deedle-dee deedle-dee) the greatest star … (deedle-dee deedle-dee).

“I am by far,” she goes on, with endearing chutzpah. “But no one knows it.”

Those five words — “but no one knows it” — have been a source of comfort to Julie Benko, who covered for Beanie Feldstein’s Brice in the Broadway revival of the show. Benko is well aware of the disappointment some audience members may have felt when they opened their Playbills and saw that white slip of paper fall out: “The role of Fanny Brice will be played by … ”

For a monthlong run that started this week, Benko will be the Fanny Brice that audiences will expect. After Feldstein announced that she would be departing the role on July 31, nearly two months earlier than scheduled, the production tapped Benko to take over until Sept. 4, after which the former “Glee” star Lea Michele will step in. The events have put Benko near the center of a media obsession that she said she has tried to mostly ignore, instead choosing to focus on the opportunity for the role of a lifetime.



The Times’s narrated articles are made by Tally Abecassis, Parin Behrooz, Anna Diamond, Sarah Diamond, Jack D’Isidoro, Aaron Esposito, Dan Farrell, Elena Hecht, Adrienne Hurst, Elisheba Ittoop, Emma Kehlbeck, Marion Lozano, Tanya Pérez, Krish Seenivasan, Margaret H. Willison, Kate Winslett, John Woo and Tiana Young. Special thanks to Sam Dolnick, Ryan Wegner, Julia Simon and Desiree Ibekwe.

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