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As Erwan Humbert turns his tractor off and climbs down from the seat, the rumble of a motor gives way to the twittering of birds. The scent of fresh earth fills the air. This baby-faced farmer, with his long, dark hair pulled back into a ponytail, used to be an engineer. But the 44-year-old traded in his job in Paris' business district to grow organic vegetables in the countryside.

Humbert says he makes a good living, and most of all, he's happy.

"I might not earn as much as I used to," he says, "but I'm my own boss and now I can listen to the sound of the birds."

Right in the heart of the University of Vermont, Burlington campus, there's a big dormitory going up, with room enough for 700 students next fall.

The dorm is being set aside for students like Azilee Curl, a first-year studying neuroscience who has taken a pledge — of sorts — to live out her college career at UVM with her health in mind.

She's part of a growing group on campus who all live together in a clean-living residence hall, have fitness and nutrition coaches at the in-house gym, and can access free violin lessons, yoga and mindfulness training.

An oil tanker with eight Sri Lankan crew members aboard appears to have been hijacked off the coast of Somalia, which would be the first time a large commercial ship has been taken by Somali pirates since 2012.

Sea ice in the Arctic has been melting at a record-breaking pace. Scientists blame a warming climate for most of that, but researchers have now teased out a natural cycle for how Arctic sea ice melts year-to-year.

Based on that cycle, they conclude that 30 percent to 50 percent of the melting is due to natural causes, while human-caused warming is responsible for the rest.

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Jason Greenblatt, who went from being President Trump's longtime lawyer to leading his effort to bring a lasting peace to Israel, met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank on Tuesday, one day after Greenblatt met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for talks that touched on Israeli settlement construction.

The State Department calls this an "orientation trip" that's meant to hear from the two sides about returning to peace negotiations.

From Jerusalem, NPR's Daniel Estrin reports for our Newscast unit:

Updated at 1:20 p.m. ET

Two of the biggest cities standing in the way of Tuesday's nor'easter, New York City and Philadelphia, have lifted their blizzard warnings as the storm's path has shifted to the west and meteorologists have tempered their forecasts for the major urban areas.

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An orangutan named Rocky is helping scientists figure out when early humans might have uttered the first word.

Rocky, who is 12 and lives at the Indianapolis Zoo, has shown that he can control his vocal cords much the way people do. He can learn new vocal sounds and even match the pitch of sounds made by a person.

A few months ago, at her office in Houston, Kate Rubins was feeling weird.

She was dizzy, she says — "staggering around like a 2-year-old who had just learned to walk." She was constantly looking at her desk to make sure the objects on top weren't floating away.

Rubins wasn't going nuts. She was just readjusting to Earth after living without gravity for four months, hundreds of miles above the planet's surface.

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Stephen Bruner is a bass player, singer and songwriter who's as well known for his own music as for his collaborations. But when he released his latest solo single as Thundercat few weeks ago, those who know his work with Kendrick Lamar were scratching their heads. Here was a fiery visionary collaborating with two icons of easygoing '70s pop: Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald.

In the wake of the Trump administration's plans to crack down on illegal immigration, fear is sweeping through immigrant communities. Parents are being advised to put a plan in place for their children in case they find themselves detained or deported.

Brothers Miguel, 14, and Angel, 15, know exactly what to do if they come home from school one day and their mom isn't there.

"I would immediately just grab the binder and just call my family here," Angel says.

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Reading isn't usually a competitive sport. But it's become one for Braille readers because of a lack of excitement about Braille.

Right now, the Los Angeles-based Braille Institute is putting on regional competitions like this one in a classroom at the Tennessee School for the Blind.

A braille reading competition actually looks more like a typing contest.

As competition begins, students flip through their packets. Their spread fingers sweep over the square pages.

Disagreements over immigration policy could flare when German Chancellor Angela Merkel visits the White House later this week. In just the past two years, more than 1 million refugees — many of them Syrians — have inundated Germany as Merkel opened Germany's borders.

President Trump called that policy "catastrophic." In fact, integrating refugees into German society has become a challenge for Merkel as she seeks re-election.

A new report finds that the Republican bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act would reduce the federal deficit by $337 billion over a decade but would also leave 24 million more Americans uninsured during that same period.

A three-year campaign in Howard County, Md., aimed at curbing the community's sweet tooth led to a significant decline in sales of sugary drinks.

On Monday, as GOP leaders tried to rally Republican lawmakers to support their health care proposal, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office released a report showing that the plan would lead to an estimated 14 million fewer people with health insurance by next year.

Amy Krouse Rosenthal, the best-selling author who recently announced her illness by penning a personals ad for her beloved husband, has died at 51.

Rosenthal had ovarian cancer. Her longtime literary agent confirmed her death to The Associated Press.

Much attention has been paid in recent years to Russia's annexation of Crimea. But Ukraine is not the only place where Russia has exploited ethnic conflicts and disputed territories along its borders.

In the foothills of the Caucasus mountains, 2,500 feet up, Russia is steadily building what it says is a new international border. It's marked by a hodgepodge of barbed wire fences, large green signs, hastily dug trenches and well-manned checkpoints. Villages are divided by it and people are regularly thrown in jail for crossing it.

Two former high-level Penn State administrators pleaded guilty Monday to misdemeanor charges of child endangerment, for their roles in covering up child sex abuse by disgraced assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

Former Vice President Gary Schultz and former Athletic Director Tim Curley each took a plea bargain that — if accepted by the judge — will carry a penalty of up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. As part of the plea bargain, the felony charges they originally faced were reduced to misdemeanors.

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The man at the heart of the legal resistance to the Trump agenda works in an unfinished office a block away from the White House.

David Cole, the new national legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union, hasn't had time to hang pictures on the wall or remember to bring a mug to hold his morning tea.

"I get to wake up every morning and I get paid to think about how to respond in ways that will preserve our basic rights and liberties," Cole said. "That's a tremendous privilege."

A bill introduced in the Texas House of Representatives on Friday would fine men for masturbating, allow doctors to refuse to prescribe Viagra and require men to undergo a medically unnecessary rectal exam before any elective vasectomy.

State Rep. Jessica Farrar, who introduced the bill, tells The Texas Tribune she knows the satirical legislation will never be passed. But she hopes it will start a conversation about abortion restrictions.

The measure turns the language of abortion laws against men.

Father Columba Stewart (@ColumbaStewart) has spent more than a decade traveling to some of the world’s most dangerous regions — Iraq, Syria, the Balkans — to find and preserve manuscripts, many of them centuries old. And now, with the rise of ISIS, his work has become more urgent than ever.

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