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A High Court judge in Belfast has ruled that Northern Ireland's abortion restrictions are incompatible with human rights.

Currently, abortion is permitted only when the life of the mother is under threat or her long-term health would be compromised by carrying the fetus to term. Monday's decision will put pressure on lawmakers to allow for the procedure in some other instances.

Judge Mark Horner said that banning the procedure in the case of rape, incest, and when the fetus has fatal abnormalities violates the European Convention on Human Rights.

Historian Mary Beard has spent her career working through the texts and source materials of ancient Rome. She has written several books on the subject — including her most recent work, SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome — but she doesn't feel like she's close to being done with the topic.

"One of the great things about history is that it sort of isn't a done deal — ever," Beard tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies. "The historical texts and the historical evidence that you use is always somehow giving you different answers because you're asking it different questions."

The most intractable conflict in modern life is the battle between those who want society to be somehow pure — religiously, say, or racially — and those who see society as an ever-changing mix and actually prefer it that way. You could hardly find a more horrific example of this split than the Islamic State's terror attack on the proudly diverse city of Paris.

The Obama administration has announced some changes to the visa waiver program, which allows travelers from some 38 countries including France, Belgium and other European countries, to come to the U.S. without a visa.

The White House announced several steps, including attempting better tracking of past travel, fines for airlines that don't verify passport data, assisting other countries on the screening of refugees and with border security.

Cecile Richards is walking a fine line: She paints the shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic as one of many attacks linked to "hateful rhetoric."

She doesn't specifically say that rhetoric motivated the attack Friday in Colorado Springs.

The president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America spoke with NPR on Monday morning about the attack that left three people dead: a mother of two children, an Iraq war veteran, a police officer.

Sophie Sartain had long worked in documentary filmmaking as a writer and editor. For her first film as a director, she turned the camera on her own family.

About seven months after Baltimore was rocked by a night of riots, the first police officer implicated in Freddie Gray's death is being put on trial.

As NPR's Jennifer Ludden reports, the case is being closely watched in the city, and residents believe that a lot is at stake.

Leaders from around the world will converge on Paris beginning Nov. 30 for the 2015 U.N. Climate Change Conference. The two-week event is designed to allow countries the chance to come to an agreement on stifling climate change.

Below are 10 questions and answers that should better prepare you for the conference and what to expect during and after its completion.

1. What's at stake and why should I care?

Saying his country will not apologize for downing a Russian warplane, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu struck a defiant note after meeting with his NATO allies.

The Associated Press reports that Davutoglu said his country was simply defending its airspace last week when two of its F-16s fired at a Russian Sukhoi SU-24.

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Nearly 150 world leaders are gathered near Paris for what is being billed as a last-chance summit to avoid catastrophic climate change.

NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports that this is the biggest diplomatic meeting in France since 1948. She filed this report for our Newscast unit:

Negotiators and heads of state from nearly 200 countries are meeting for the next two weeks near Paris to craft a new treaty to slow global warming.

It's the 21st "Conference of the Parties" held by the United Nations to tackle climate change. One treaty emerged, in 1997, after the conference in Kyoto, Japan. That's no longer in effect, and, in fact, the Kyoto Protocol, as it's known, didn't slow down the gradual warming of the planet.

A generation ago, a high school diploma could open doors, especially to well-paying manufacturing jobs. But today, with technology radically reshaping the U.S. economy, many of those doors have closed. The high school diploma is as important as ever — but as a stepping stone to a higher degree, no longer as a destination.

Sixty years ago Tuesday, Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give her seat to a white passenger on a bus in Montgomery, Ala. A police officer made the arrest that set off the modern civil rights movement. Today police recruits in Alabama's capital city are being schooled in that history in a course designed to eliminate bias in policing.

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Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit

What do you think about when you think about Janis Joplin? Her untamed hair, her eclectic wardrobe, a raspy, soulful singing style that was blues and rock and somehow yet all her own? For many people, she was the quintessential wild child of the late 1960s — especially after her untimely death from a heroin overdose at the age of 27.

The University of Chicago is canceling all classes and other events on its main campus Monday over online threats of gun violence.

FBI counterterrorism officials alerted the school on Sunday, the university said in a statement. They warned of online threats from an "unknown individual" that specifically mentioned a location, the campus quad, and a time, 10 a.m.

It started as a little tree, barely the height of an eager toddler hyped up on holiday treats, more than 90 years ago.

Now, it's all grown up — 74 feet, to be exact — and has made it to the big leagues: Washington, D.C.

A Christmas tree in the capitol is nothing new. The tradition began in 1964, when then-House Speaker John McCormack (D-Mass.) proposed planting a tree on the Capitol Grounds. The Forest Service took ownership of the project in 1970.

On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on bus in Montgomery, Ala. — and changed the course of history.

Her action sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which would eventually lead to the end of legally segregated public transportation.

And for many Americans, Parks is the civil rights icon they love to love: the unassuming seamstress who, supposedly, just got tired one day and unwittingly launched the modern civil rights movement.

The two civilians killed in a shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic Friday were Ke'Arre Stewart, a father of two and Army veteran who served in Iraq, and Jennifer Markovsky, a mother of two who was reportedly at the clinic to support a friend.

Today I was thinking about something one of the Freedom Riders told me a few years ago, when I had the opportunity — the privilege — to interview a group of them. Remember, these were the courageous men and women, both black and white, who rode the Southern bus routes for seven months in 1961 — facing vicious beatings, fire bombs, arrests and jail — all to draw attention to the fact that public facilities were still segregated despite the passage of laws saying it should be otherwise.

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MICHEL MARTIN: One of the casualties of the drought that may not come to mind immediately - the California soundscape. Bernie Krause is one person who appreciates these sounds. He's a soundscape ecologist.

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Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit


A controversial government surveillance program has come to an end. As of midnight, the United States National Security Agency has stopped the bulk collection of the metadata from Americans' phone calls.

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French police fired tear gas to break up a group of activists defying a ban on mass demonstrations in Paris on Sunday.

The activists were gathered on the eve of a huge United Nations climate conference, which will bring together leaders from across the world.

Following the terrorist attacks of Nov. 13, France declared a state of emergency and banned huge rallies that had been planned to coincide with the COP21 climate summit.