Nation/World

National attention is turning to issues that have been central to Kirsten Gillibrand's years of public service: equality and reproductive rights.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NPR's Noel King talks to Mireille Paquet, professor of political science at Concordia University in Montreal, about how effective merit-based immigration has been on Canada's immigration system.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Brittany Smith grew up mostly in Detroit, earning a master's degree in public health from the University of Michigan. But when she and her then-boyfriend, Sam, began their careers, they ran into roadblocks. It was 2013, and Detroit was still struggling from the effects of the Great Recession. Sam Smith couldn't find full-time work. His job as a college career counselor wrapped when the campus where he worked shut down.

They began looking for an out.

There comes a moment in almost any performance by vibraphonist Joel Ross when he seems to slip free of standard cognitive functions and into a bodacious flow state. Invariably, he's in the midst of a heated improvisation. Maybe he's bouncing on his heels, or bobbing like a marionette. His mallets form a blur, in contrast to the clarity of the notes they produce. The deft precision of his hammering inspires a visual comparison to some tournament-level version of Whac-A-Mole.

Plastic bags are not biodegradable and can do great harms to wildlife. Cities and states across the country are banning plastic bags, but those bans may be having unintended consequences.

Central American migrants who were detained in a Border Patrol holding facility in McAllen, Texas, described atrocious living conditions and widespread sickness.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection shut down its largest migrant processing center in South Texas for 24 hours on Tuesday after 32 detainees got sick with the flu. This is the same location where a 16-year-old Guatemalan boy became sick, and died Monday at another Border Patrol station.

Updated 7:30 a.m.

A devastating series of storms late Wednesday spawned multiple tornadoes that caused extensive damage to several buildings and led to three deaths in Missouri.

"There was a lot of devastation throughout the state," Gov. Mike Parson told reporters at a morning press briefing. "We were very fortunate last night that we didn't have more injuries than what we had, and we didn't have more fatalities across the state."

He added: "But three is too many."

Songs about small towns are plentiful. Some of the best ones — Dolly Parton's "My Tennessee Mountain Home," John Prine's "Paradise," Kacey Musgraves' "Merry Go 'Round" and Bruce Springsteen's "My Hometown" — are powerful triggers of memory, often rich in storytelling detail with a wide lens to tough truths and deep secrets.

K. Ishibashi has kept many instruments and techniques at his disposal — violins and loop pedals and layering effects that give his music a symphonic, hyper-multitracked sound — but the language he speaks is one of profound empathy. It's right there in the titles of albums like 2016's Sonderlust ("sonder" being the notion that others have complex lives of their own) and the new Omoiyari ("omoiyari" being the idea that thinking of others fosters compassion).

Flor de Toloache stuns at the crossroads of fusion and mariachi girl magic. Whether intimately airy or ice-crackingly powerful, their intricate vocal runs and harmonic alchemy seem to defy logic with equally clever instrumental arrangements by the singers themselves.

First Listen: Lee 'Scratch' Perry, 'Rainford'

2 hours ago

In the 1960s and '70s, Lee "Scratch" Perry produced the defining reggae music of that era: making classic albums for the likes of Max Romeo, Junior Murvin, the Heptones, and Bob Marley & the Wailers, as well as pioneering the spacetime-wobbling frequencies of dub.

Nearly 300 coal-fired power plants have been "retired" since 2010 according to the Sierra Club, a trend that continues despite President Trump's support for coal. That's left many communities worried those now idled places will simply be mothballed.

The promotion of religious freedom in America, a cause that not long ago had near unanimous support on Capitol Hill, has fallen victim to the culture wars.

A high point came in 1993, when Congress overwhelmingly passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, meant to overturn a Supreme Court decision that limited Americans' right to exercise their religion freely.

The southern and western regions of the United States continued to have the nation's fastest-growing cities between 2017 and 2018, according to new population estimates for cities and towns released Thursday.

New York still leads all American cities with 8.4 million residents.

But as NPR's Hansi Lo Wang reports, cities in Arizona, Texas, Washington and North Carolina top the list of rapidly growing municipalities.

Bearded and bedraggled, John Walker Lindh became a focal point of American anger when the then-20-year-old from Northern California was found among the ranks of Taliban soldiers captured in Afghanistan less than three months after the Sept. 11 attacks.

He's still known as the "American Taliban," and some called him a traitor who deserved the death penalty. But Lindh, now 38, is scheduled to be released from a federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., on Thursday after serving 17 years of a 20-year sentence.

The Alabama Historical Commission says a wrecked ship off the Gulf Coast is the Clotilda, the last known vessel to bring people from Africa to the United States and into bondage.

At the Robert Hope Community Center in Mobile, Ala., on Wednesday, researchers unveiled their discovery to descendants of that fateful voyage. "They had been waiting for this for a long time," Alabama Historical Commission Chairman Walter Givhan, a retired major general, told NPR. "They were jubilant."

Kenneth Feinberg has been called on to tackle the emotionally grueling job of figuring out the monetary value of victims' lives following a slew of tragedies. And now, a federal judge in California has appointed the prominent attorney to do it again.

This time, Feinberg will serve as mediator for court-mandated settlement talks between Bayer and people who say the company's glysophate-based weedkiller, Roundup, gave them cancer, The Associated Press reports.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Dreamtime

13 hours ago

Settle into an hour of soothing voices and soaring instrumentals that all go to prove this roots music business needn't always be high-energy. Featured in this episode are Davy Spillane, William Jackson, Maire Brennan and Dougie MacLean.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

A few weeks ago, fishermen off the coast of Norway encountered a beluga whale - not just any beluga. This one was wearing a harness. And stamped onto that harness were the words, equipment of St. Petersburg. That's prompted all kinds of questions, including whether the beluga was a Russian spy.

Saudi siblings Lina and Walid Alhathloul check their phones constantly for any mention of their sister on social media. They have already done four interviews on the day of the PEN awards and sit down for a fifth, because, they say, this is the only way to help their sister, 29-year-old jailed Saudi activist Loujain Alhathloul.

"We want to raise awareness," says Lina Alhathloul, a lawyer living in exile in Belgium.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

A few weeks ago, fishermen off the coast of Norway encountered a beluga whale - not just any beluga. This one was wearing a harness. And stamped onto that harness were the words, equipment of St. Petersburg. That's prompted all kinds of questions, including whether the beluga was a Russian spy.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

A few weeks ago, fishermen off the coast of Norway encountered a beluga whale - not just any beluga. This one was wearing a harness. And stamped onto that harness were the words, equipment of St. Petersburg. That's prompted all kinds of questions, including whether the beluga was a Russian spy.

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