National & World News from NPR

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Hundred of reporters are lined up in rows, looking at flat-screen televisions like bettors at a racetrack. Producers are recording on iPhones and reporters are deploying selfie sticks to capture live shots, while crew toting video cameras stalk bigger game.

The quarry — presidential candidates and their surrogates — are announced by a party staffer carrying a vertical placard, hoping to draw the attention of the fickle journalistic hordes.

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

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

Here we are in an election year — once again asking the great see-into-the-future question in politics — who will be the next president?

As national security has come to dominate the 2016 presidential race, the GOP contenders in particular are being pushed to define where they stand on a contentious matter: how suspected terrorists should be interrogated. Specifically, they've been asked about the currently banned use of waterboarding — a simulated drowning technique the CIA used on at least three alleged terrorists.

#NPRreads is a weekly feature on Twitter and on The Two-Way. The premise is simple: Correspondents, editors and producers from our newsroom share the pieces that have kept them reading, using the #NPRreads hashtag. Each weekend, we highlight some of the best stories.

If you work in a restaurant, marriage proposals are good for business. Happy couples lift the mood in the entire dining room and often turn into lifelong customers. That once-in-a-lifetime experience for them is pretty routine for restaurateurs.

Belinda McKeon's new novel takes the prize for having one of the most exquisite endings I've read in some time — but first, you have to get there. McKeon has followed her debut, Solace (which won an Irish Book Award in 2011) with a microscopically examined tale of lopsided, obsessive love between two college-aged, fledgling adults who meet in Dublin just as they're starting to define themselves apart from their provincial parents.

With its elaborate headdresses, colorful sequined gowns and statuesque dancers, Jubilee is the classic Las Vegas show. It was the last showgirl extravaganza on the Vegas Strip, and now it's closed, its last performance on Feb. 11.

Women go through eight to 12 costume changes in a show that packs in at least as many different routines in about 90 minutes. There's a patriotic medley, the story of Samson and Delilah, even the Titanic.

The crisis of contaminated water in Flint, Mich., is making a public health message like this one harder to get across: In most communities, the tap water is perfectly safe. And it is much healthier than sugary drinks.

That's a message that Dr. Patty Braun, a pediatrician and oral health specialist at Denver Health, spends a lot of time talking to her patients about.

T.J. Miller has played a dragon slayer in the How to Train Your Dragon movies, a man who doesn't always change his underwear in Big Hero 6 and a pothead who thinks he's a tech rock star in HBO's Silicon Valley. Now Marvel fans will know him as bartender Weasel, best friend to the titular superhero in the new, R-rated comic book movie Deadpool.

Donald Trump wrote in his 1987 book, The Art of the Deal, that his grandfather came from Sweden. These days, the Republican presidential hopeful and real estate mogul embraces different paternal roots.

The teetotaler's grandfather actually comes from a medieval wine-making village called Kallstadt, in the southwestern German state of Rhineland Palatinate. Like many Americans of German descent, the Trumps apparently stopped referring to their German heritage during the World Wars.

Chipotle Mexican Grill certainly is not the first company to face lawsuits and subpoenas because its food made people sick. Other companies, in fact, have faced far worse: Companies like Blue Bell, Dole and Earthbound Farms have been linked to disease outbreaks that actually killed people.

But it's difficult to think of another case in which a company's food-safety troubles provoked such schadenfreude in the food industry. The company, it seems, made a lot of enemies while marketing its "food with integrity."

Jim Gilmore's quixotic presidential campaign came to a surreptitious end Friday.

His resume reads like someone who should have been a top-tier candidate — former governor of swing-state Virginia, a former Republican National Committee chairman, and the only military veteran in a primary campaign where national security is a top concern among voters.

The U.S. and Cuba will sign a civil aviation agreement in Havana on Tuesday, re-establishing air service between the two countries for the first time in decades, the U.S. Department of Transportation said.

The signing formalizes the arrangement that was reached Dec. 16, stating that a certain number of flights would be allowed to fly from the U.S. to Cuba every day. As the Two-Way previously reported:

Abraham Lincoln trended on Twitter this week. Wait, what? Honest Abe proved what's become a hipster creed: Everything old becomes new again.

Friday would have been the 16th president's 207th birthday — as good a time as any to bring him back with a party hat on him (like the House Republicans did):

There were also memes of Lincoln holding pizzas, stereos and cellphones. But the memes also quickly became about the presidential candidates, with the hashtag #ThingsLincolnDidntSay. Talk about putting words in someone's mouth.

I'm not sure there's ever been a record release as confounding as the one for Kanye West's The Life Of Pablo. He's changed its title and track listing several times in as many weeks, and even up until the very moment I'm writing this, it's not 100 percent certain what will be on that final album, whenever and wherever it comes out.

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

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

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

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

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

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

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

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

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

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Now that the primary battle has arrived in South Carolina, we wondered about the state's reputation for dirty politics. Here's NPR's Susan Davis, Ron Elving, Sarah McCammon and Sam Sanders taking that on in NPR's Politics Podcast.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

President Obama has designated three desert areas in California as national monuments.

The move permanently protects "nearly 1.8 million acres of America's public lands," the White House says in a news release.

All three areas lie east of Los Angeles. Two of the new monuments — Castle Mountains and Mojave Trails — are near California's border with Nevada.

The Danish entry in the foreign language Oscar sweepstakes, A War, begins in Afghanistan, deep in Taliban territory. A Danish patrol is walking single file across a field. Each man steps where the previous man stepped ... alas, to no avail. A land mine explodes, killing the baby-faced last soldier in the line.

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Find your binoculars and fill up the bird feeders, because the Great Backyard Bird Count starts today.

The annual event invites bird-watchers of all levels to count the birds in their backyards, wherever that may be, and submit the data to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society, which launched the project in 1998.

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