National & International News

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By 8 a.m., the sun hasn't pierced through dark clouds hanging over India's Brahmaputra River, but it's already warm and humid. People wait for a boat to take them to the Chandanpur char, an island in India's northeastern state of Assam, an hourlong ride from the mainland.

A char is a river island formed by silt carried downriver. Chars rise up and are submerged every few years. Every time a char erodes, the people living there dismantle their homes and move to the next-closest char by boat. They can't afford to move to the mainland.

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

Demonstrators have gathered again, angered at Beijing's tightening control over the territory. Police have been mobilized as Hong Kong faces its worst crisis in recent history.

Anya Kamenetz is an NPR education correspondent, a host of Life Kit and author of The Art Of Screen Time. This story draws from the book and recent reporting for Life Kit's guide, Parenting: Screen Time And Your Family.

Elise Potts picked up her 17-month-old daughter, Eliza, from daycare recently. When they got home they were greeted by a strange scene.

How Microexpressions Can Make Moods Contagious

3 hours ago

It's a common experience for family members or groups of friends: One person's mood can bring the whole group's energy down ... or up. But why are we so easily influenced?

In 1962, the reality television show Candid Camera offered a remarkable glimpse into a psychological phenomenon that helps explain how emotions spread. They did it through a now famous comedy stunt called "Face the Rear."

In 1969, Charles Bourland flew to Houston to interview for a food scientist position at NASA's Johnson Space Center. From his hotel's lobby, he watched with millions of Americans as Apollo astronauts took their first steps on the moon.

It was a "pretty impressive thing" to witness while considering a NASA job, he remembers with a chuckle.

President Trump said he told Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven in a phone call on Saturday morning that he would "personally vouch" for the rapper A$AP Rocky's bail. Rocky has been detained in Sweden since July 3.

A Change.org petition calling for Rocky's release is gaining traction online, with over 600,000 signatures as of late Saturday afternoon.

The Trump administration is planning changes to the U.S. citizenship test. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services says it is revising the test to ensure that "it continues to serve as an accurate measure of a naturalization applicant's civics knowledge."

Updated at 11:58 p.m. ET

The U.K. Foreign Office is summoning the Iranian charge d'affaires following Iran's seizure of a British-flagged tanker in the Strait of Hormuz on Friday.

A little over three months after Paris' Notre Dame caught fire, French officials say the cathedral is still in a precarious state and needs to be stabilized. Ultimately, they aim to restore the monument, a process that will take years.

When that work begins, there will be a new demand for experts who have the same skills required to build Notre Dame 900 years ago. In the workshops of the Hector Guimard high school, less than three miles from the cathedral, young stone carvers are training for that task.

California Condors Reach A Milestone Moment

Jul 20, 2019

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

It's been a little more than three months since Notre Dame burned. French officials say the 856-year-old cathedral is still being stabilized. When restoration work truly begins, there'll be a demand for people with the skills to rebuild the historic structure.

NPR's Eleanor Beardsley visited a class of aspiring stone carvers and sends this report.

(SOUNDBITE OF STONE CHISELING)

It sounded like such a good idea at the time.

The year was 2005. Global oil prices were climbing dramatically. Countries in the Caribbean were facing major fuel shortages. Venezuela, one of the world's largest producers of crude, offered to ease the staggering fuel costs faced by its neighbors.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

It's been a little more than three months since Notre Dame burned. French officials say the 856-year-old cathedral is still being stabilized. When restoration work truly begins, there'll be a demand for people with the skills to rebuild the historic structure.

NPR's Eleanor Beardsley visited a class of aspiring stone carvers and sends this report.

(SOUNDBITE OF STONE CHISELING)

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

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

The headlines about presidential candidate Joe Biden's new health care plan called it "a nod to the past" and "Affordable Care Act 2.0." That mostly refers to the fact that the former vice president has specifically repudiated many of his Democratic rivals' calls for a "Medicare for All" system, and instead sought to build his plan on the ACA's framework.

President Trump appears to have identified his newest American enemy — paper straws.

His reelection campaign is selling reusable and recycled straws in its 2020 online store, and Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale blasted the slurping nonsoggy alternative in an email titled "Make Straws Great Again," a play on the president's famed slogan.

Ninety-five percent of 12-year-olds in the Philippines have tooth decay, or cavities. And cavities affect seven in 10 children in India, one-third of Tanzania teens and nearly one in every three Brazilians.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats has installed a new czar to oversee election security efforts across the spy world, he announced on Friday.

A veteran agency leader, Shelby Pierson, has been appointed to serve as the first election threats executive within the intelligence community, or IC, Coats said.

"Election security is an enduring challenge and a top priority for the IC," said Coats.

Updated at 3:37 p.m. ET

An American citizen suspected of becoming a sniper and weapons trainer for the Islamic State has been brought back to the United States and charged with aiding the terrorist group.

The charges against Ruslan Maratovich Asainov are contained in a criminal complaint unsealed Friday in federal court in the Eastern District of New York.

Updated at 4:11 a.m. ET, July 20

British media outlets say the government is warning shipping to stay away from the area after Iran's military apparently seized the U.K.-flagged Stena Impero oil tanker as it passed through the Strait of Hormuz near Iran's coast on Friday.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli, editor of the website TV Worth Watching, sitting in for Terry Gross.

A former National Security Agency contractor who pleaded guilty to stealing vast troves of classified material over the course of two decades has been sentenced to nine years in prison.

Harold Martin III, 54, apologized before U.S. District Judge Richard Bennett handed down the sentence on Friday.

"My methods were wrong, illegal and highly questionable," Martin told the court in Baltimore, according to The Associated Press.

It's not easy giving money to people in need.

In some countries, poor people may not have a bank account where a charity can transfer funds for financial aid. They may not have the ID — say, a birth certificate — required to cash a check at a bank.

And in an emergency situation — say, the aftermath of an earthquake — banks may not even be operating.

Could a single global digital currency — one that can be transferred through mobile phones — be a solution?

Updated at 4:11 p.m. ET

More than 3,100 people will leave Bureau of Prisons custody starting Friday, part of what Justice Department officials call "a truly monumental effort" to comply with the First Step Act, a criminal justice law passed by Congress last year.

Most of the offenders being freed have been convicted of drug-related crimes and have been living in halfway houses across the United States in preparation for their release, acting BOP chief Hugh Hurwitz told reporters at a news conference in Washington.

Something strange is happening to Pengyin Chen's soybean experiments at the University of Missouri's Fisher Delta Research Center in Portageville, Mo.

"You see how small they are?" says Chen, gesturing at a field filled with thousands of small plots of soybeans.

Most former Dalton School students agree on at least one thing: Jeffrey Epstein was charismatic.

"If you had had him [as a teacher] then, you would've liked him, too," says Eve Scheuer Lubin, who was Epstein's student during his brief tenure as a teacher in the mid-70s. The Dalton School, where he taught, is a private school in Manhattan with a reputation for attracting talented students and affluent parents.

The Netherlands' Supreme Court has affirmed that the country's troops are partly to blame for the deaths of 350 Muslim men and boys after the fall of the Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica. But in a break with an earlier ruling, the court lowered the Dutch liability for the massacre to 10%, from 30%.

Updated at 3:25 p.m. ET

The USS Boxer used electronic measures to take down a drone that the U.S. says was operated by Iran's military, according to Pentagon sources familiar with the situation. The Navy says the drone was destroyed in the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday after it came close to the vessel and repeated warnings went unheeded.

Iran has disputed the U.S. claims, saying that all of its drones are accounted for — and suggesting the U.S. ship might have accidentally taken down one of its own military drones.

As a college sophomore, I knew exactly what the Apollo astronauts would find when they arrived on the moon: a desolate rockscape, craters shining white in reflected earthglow — and a big, black monolith.

Stanley Kubrick showed us all of that in the top-grossing movie of 1968 — 2001: A Space Odyssey — a full 15 months before Neil Armstrong took his giant leap for mankind. And even Kubrick was late to the party: Moviegoers had been heading moonward from pretty much the moment there were filmmakers to lead the way.

In 1985, a team of country-music legends formed The Highwaymen, a supergroup combining the talents of Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson.

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