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A blockbuster Bollywood movie is raking in millions and trying to change entrenched gender roles in India. It's set in Haryana state, where the sex ratio of newborns skews heavily toward boys.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

When President Obama took office in January 2009, the country was on edge, the economy in free-fall. The federal education law, known as No Child Left Behind, was also in need of an update after earning the ire of teachers, parents and politicians alike. In short, there was much to do.

In time, that update would come, but President Obama's education legacy begins, oddly enough, with his plan to bolster the faltering economy.

Race To The Top

If you are interested in food stories accompanied by overhead videos showcasing recipes involving just three ingredients, you would be better off reading something else. This is because when preparing dishes to accompany the new Netflix adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events, which premieres Jan. 13, the more complex the recipe, the more you'll identify with the many trials and tribulations of the orphaned Baudelaire children as they try to unravel the mysteries surrounding them.

For the first time in Japanese history three women of different political persuasions are in positions that could be stepping stones to the prime minister's office.

It's especially notable in Japan, where women's labor force participation remains among the lowest among developed nations, and gender roles are traditionally-defined.

"Women have not really been coached or mentored or encouraged to take on leadership roles," Kyoto University diplomacy professor Nancy Snow explains. "Also, women aren't allowed [culturally] to often show ambition, to sort of telegraph that."

The six faith leaders President-elect Donald Trump has invited to pray at his inauguration come from diverse backgrounds, but they have something in common: All have personal ties to Trump or his family or have in some way signaled their approval of him, his politics or his wealth.

This story is part of Kitchen Table Conversations, a series from NPR's National Desk that examines how Americans from all walks of life are moving forward from the presidential election.

In some ways, Desiree Armas is your typical high school senior. She's getting ready to take the test for her driver's license. And she's applying to colleges.

But Armas has a big secret. She rides the bus an hour each way to a magnet school miles away from her family's apartment. And her friends don't know that Armas and her parents are living in the country illegally.

A downtown section of Birmingham, Ala., including the church where four black girls were killed in a Ku Klux Klan bombing in 1963, has been declared a national monument by President Obama.

The 16th Street Baptist Church will be the focal point of the Birmingham Civil Rights National Historical Park. The bombing, which also injured 22 other people, proved to be a turning point in the civil rights struggle.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released a survey today that it says shows widespread tactics used by debt collectors to threaten consumers. The watchdog agency, which is considering strengthening regulations of the industry and its conduct, says more than a quarter of the consumers it surveyed felt threatened by the debt collectors.

The Obama administration is ending a two-decade-old policy that allowed Cuban refugees to enter the United States without visas.

Known as the "wet-foot, dry-foot" policy, it began in 1995 under then-President Bill Clinton in response to a wave of Cubans fleeing the island in boats. The U.S. turned away those who were intercepted at sea ("wet-foot"), while permitting Cubans who managed to get to U.S. soil ("dry-foot") to stay and eventually become legal residents.

So far, more than half of all U.S. states have legalized marijuana for medical use, and eight (plus the District of Columbia) have legalized the drug for recreational use. Varieties of cannabis available today are more potent than ever and come in many forms, including oils and leaves that can be vaped, and lots of edibles, from brownies and cookies to candies — even cannabis gummy bears.

Ben Carson, President-elect Donald Trump's choice to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development, would not say that housing properties owned by Trump won't benefit from HUD programs at his confirmation hearing Thursday.

The former neurosurgeon and Republican presidential candidate was pressed on the matter by Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who asked Carson for assurance "that of all the housing grants he [has] the ability to bestow," not one dollar will go to benefit either the president-elect or his family.

The 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, from Fort Carson, Colo., has begun moving into Poland as part of the biggest U.S. military deployment in Europe since the end of the Cold War.

It's part of an Obama administration effort to deter perceived growing Russian aggression in Eastern Europe. The Kremlin isn't happy.

"These actions threaten our interests, our security," President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. "Especially as it concerns a third party building up its military presence near our borders. It's not even a European state."

The U.N. Secretary-General said today he was hopeful that peace talks on Cyprus, being held in Geneva, could lead to a breakthrough, though he cautioned that "we are not here for a quick fix."

Flanked by Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades, Secretary-General António Guterres said a breakthrough is what the world needs now.

It's a tough job, but somebody has to do it. NPR's Kelly McEvers talks to Mike Sutter, food critic for the San Antonio Express-News, about his "365 days of Tacos" series, in which he eats at a different taco joint every day for a year. He's done it before, in Austin, where he ate more than 1,600 tacos in 2015. But now he's moved to San Antonio, and he's finding that the taco scene there is a bit different, and in fact is tied to a cultural identity that spans back many decades.

President Obama awarded outgoing Vice President Biden the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Thursday afternoon.

Calling the former longtime Delaware senator "the best vice president America's ever had" and a "lion of American history," Obama gave his White House partner the surprise award in an emotional ceremony, initially billed as a farewell.

President-elect Donald Trump took to Twitter again Thursday morning, this time to urge his followers to "Buy L.L.Bean," and support one of his campaign backers.

"Thank you to Linda Bean of L.L.Bean for your great support and courage," he tweeted Thursday. "People will support you even more now. Buy L.L.Bean."

In the closing weeks of 2016, an explosive document was floating around in media and security circles. Reporters tried, and failed, to verify the claims it contained — that Donald Trump colluded with Russia, and the Kremlin held lurid blackmail material as leverage over Trump. Reporting on the document, which was first compiled as opposition research, was rare and carefully vague.

Six years ago, Don Cameron, the general manager of Terranova Ranch, southwest of Fresno, Calif., did something that seemed kind of crazy.

He went out to a nearby river, which was running high because of recent rains, and he opened an irrigation gate. Water rushed down a canal and flooded hundreds of acres of vineyards — even though it was wintertime. The vineyards were quiet. Nothing was growing.

"We started in February, and we flooded grapes continuously, for the most part, until May," Cameron says.

Winter on the Great Lakes means that a seasonal pastime is underway.

Anglers’ quest to catch a popular fish brings an economic bump to an area known as “Steelhead Alley,” as Elizabeth Miller (@llmiller12) from Great Lakes Today reports.

In the wake of December’s Ghost Ship warehouse fire in Oakland, California, that killed 36 people, cities all over the country have been trying to create more affordable housing for artists so they don’t have to trade basic safety for cheap rent.

Tying a knot can be tricky. Just ask any kid struggling with shoelaces. And scientists have it even harder when they try to make knots using tiny molecules.

Now, in the journal Science, a team of chemists says it has made a huge advance — manipulating molecules to create the tightest knot ever.

Updated at 4 p.m. ET

The Justice Department's watchdog has launched a sweeping review of conduct by the FBI director and other department officials before the presidential election, following calls from Congress and members of the public.

Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

A U.S. military investigation has cleared the U.S. forces of wrongdoing in fighting that left 33 civilians dead and 27 others wounded last year in Afghanistan's Kunduz province, saying that they acted in self-defense.

"To defend themselves and Afghan forces, U.S. forces returned fire in self-defense at Taliban who were using civilian houses as firing positions," according to the U.S. military report published Thursday.

Mice that kill at the flip of a switch may reveal how hunting behavior evolved hundreds of millions of years ago.

The mice became aggressive predators when two sets of neurons in the amygdala were activated with laser light, a team reported Thursday in the journal Cell.

Menopause is a mystery to evolutionary biologists, but new insights could come from a long-term study of killer whales.

In these whales, the explanation may lie in a combination of conflict and cooperation between older and younger females, according to a report published Thursday in the journal Current Biology.

A storm system that dumped precipitation on multiple states in the West appears to be easing, but rivers have yet to crest and many communities are still digging out from record snowfall.

The City of Baltimore and the Justice Department announced Thursday that they have agreed on a court-enforceable consent decree to institute sweeping reforms in Baltimore's police department.

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