National/World

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

The Department of Health and Human Services Tuesday proposed key changes in the Medicare appeals process to help reduce the backlog of more than 700,000 cases involving denied claims.

The measures "will help us get a leg up on this problem," said Nancy Griswold, chief law judge of the Office of Medicare Hearing and Appeals.

If there weren't a single additional appeal filed and no changes in the system, it would take 11 years to eliminate the backlog, Griswold said in an interview.

It's Day 3 of the Wimbledon tennis championships, and there's already a controversial new star: a Nike dress.

The dress, which Nike provided to players it pays to wear its apparel, is "designed for incredible cooling and comfort," according to the company. But some athletes are finding that the loose, short garment gets in the way of what they came to do: play aggressive tennis.

Facebook says it's changing its news feed, again. It says posts from friends and family will now come first, prioritized over posts from publishers and celebrities.

It's potentially worrisome news for media companies, whose traffic is heavily boosted by Facebook-driven clicks. But it's also only a small, vague peek into the black box that is Facebook's algorithm, which determines what version of the world is presented to the 1.65 billion people using the social network.

NPR Politics presents the Lunchbox List: our favorite campaign news and stories curated from NPR and around the web in digestible bites (100 words or less!). Look for it every weekday afternoon from now until the conventions.

Convention Countdown

The Republican National Convention is in 18 days in Cleveland.

The Democratic National Convention is in 25 days in Philadelphia.

Surgery can make anyone anxious, but it is especially hard for young children. Kids going into surgery may be separated from their parents for the first time in a frightening new environment, and they may not understand what's happening.

Voters in California will decide this November whether to legalize the use of recreational marijuana in the nation's most populous state.

Environmentalists are demanding that one of the most prized fishes on the planet be listed as an endangered species.

Last week, about a dozen environmental groups — including Greenpeace, the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife and Earthjustice — formally petitioned the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service to consider listing the Pacific bluefin tuna as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. That status mandates the highest levels of protection from harm.

The University of Tennessee Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt died early this morning, at age 64, after battling early onset dementia. Summitt’s friend and co-author, the Washington Post columnist Sally Jenkins, joins Here & Now’s Robin Young, to talk about Summitt’s life and legacy.

Guest

Sally Jenkins, Washington Post columnist. She tweets @sallyjenx.

At the recent unveiling of a new self-driving shuttle bus called Olli, its designer sat perched on a stool nearby, his hands cradling a camera in his lap. He and Olli had just met several hours earlier.

Edgar Sarmiento is now 24. In 2014, he emerged into the workforce in his native Colombia with a degree in industrial design. He found work, at a design agency in Bogota, but it wasn't satisfying.

'The Aleppo Evil' Is Making A Comeback

Jun 29, 2016

When the first cases were reported in Syria 275 years ago, it was called "the Aleppo boil" or "the Aleppo evil." And for good reason: The parasitic illness spread by sand flies causes nasty skin lesions that leave victims scarred for life physically and can leave emotional scars as well.

In Pakistan, A Well-Known Musician Killed In A Targeted Attack

Jun 29, 2016
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President Obama says he agrees with Donald Trump on one thing: There are "parallels" between the U.S. election and the United Kingdom's dramatic vote to leave the European Union.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

At least 41 people died in Tuesday's attack on Ataturk international airport in Istanbul and at least 239 people were injured. At least 13 foreigners or dual citizens are among the dead, the Turkish government says.

The attack was carried out by three suicide bombers armed with guns and explosives, according to authorities.

No group has claimed responsibility for the violence, but Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim says he suspects the Islamic State was behind it.

Virtual Reality Aimed At The Elderly Finds New Fans

Jun 29, 2016

Virginia Anderlini is 103 years old, and she is about to take her sixth trip into virtual reality.

In real life, she is sitting on the sofa in the bay window of her San Francisco assisted-living facility. Next to her, Dr. Sonya Kim gently tugs the straps that anchor the headset over Anderlini's eyes.

'The Big Sheep' Plays Hardboiled Sci-Fi To The Hilt

Jun 29, 2016

It's not hard to parse the two main influences on Robert Kroese's new novel The Big Sheep. The title itself mashes them up: Raymond Chandler's 1939 hardboiled masterpiece The Big Sleep and Philip K. Dick's 1968 post-apocalyptic classic Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (the basis of the film Blade Runner). The question is: Does Kroese's book transcend the obviousness of that literary portmanteau? Thankfully, yes.

Michael Phelps Attempts To Make 5th Consecutive Olympic Team

Jun 29, 2016
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

A new report, out today, provides 186 pages of answers to one of the toughest questions in education:

What does it take to get preschool right?

Parents and politicians alike want to know. States are spending roughly $7 billion this year on early childhood education, despite the fact that there are more cautionary tales — like this one from Tennessee — than success stories.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Marijuana is legal in Colorado — as long as you're 21 or older. It's still illegal for kids to possess, so juveniles are coming to dominate the marijuana arrests in Colorado. But another startling trend also has developed: Arrest rates have risen dramatically for young blacks and Latinos.

Ricky Montoya isn't surprised that's happening. He's standing outside Courtroom 4F in Denver's City and County Building, where he was just ordered to pay a $1,000 fine for his third marijuana possession offense.

Every place has its own sound. A small group of scientists is hard at work recording the natural sounds of national parks all across the U.S. — more than 70 soundscapes so far.

For our series on the centennial of the national parks, we traveled to Colorado, to find out how they create these portraits of sound.

First Lesson: It's Very Hard To Escape The Sound Of Humans.

A team of construction workers is pouring concrete onto the frame of a structure that will eventually become a wastewater treatment plant. It's 1 a.m. on a clear night in the suburbs of Phoenix.

The temperature is still in the high 80s. But that's way down from the area's recent record high temperatures, up to 118 degrees.

Around here, it never really gets cool in the summer. That's partly because Phoenix is such a big city that it traps the heat — a heat island.

But now in the middle of the night, it's finally cool enough to start work.

The world's second largest diamond goes on the auction block today for an expected $70 million.

It was found last fall in Botswana, where half the population is poor or hovering just above poverty.

All of which raises the question: How much do diamond sales benefit Botswana's citizens?

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