National & World News from NPR

At Trump National Doral Golf Club near Miami this week, executives with the nation's payday loan industry are holding their annual conference with receptions, breakout sessions and a golf tournament.

Outside the gates of the resort Tuesday, a smaller group gathered to hold a protest. They were trying to shame an industry that they say preys on the vulnerable, by lending them money at interest rates as high as 200 percent to 300 percent a year.

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Updated at 8:40 p.m. ET

SpaceX has launched NASA's planet-hunting satellite TESS into outer space Wednesday evening from Cape Canaveral.

Tess — short for Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite — will spend two years searching for planets near bright, nearby stars. The satellite was launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

The launch window was narrow — just 30 seconds — and TESS was to be deployed into orbit about 48 minutes after launch.

French President Emmanuel Macron has ambitious plans for European Union reform and has been counting on cooperation from Germany, France's closest European ally, to see those plans come to fruition. But when he meets in Berlin Thursday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss his proposals, he may face resistance.

While Germany is decidedly pro-EU, Merkel is under domestic pressure to push back against economic reforms that could vex taxpayers. And some of Macron's proposals would do exactly that.

Three Kansas men were convicted Wednesday of plotting to bomb an apartment complex where Somali immigrants lived and worshiped in Garden City, following a four-week trial in Wichita.

New York's attorney general wants lawmakers to change the state's criminal laws so that potential pardons by President Trump wouldn't necessarily protect people from being charged in the state system.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, already facing one felony charge for invasion of privacy, as well as allegations of sexual assault and blackmail, could potentially be charged with a separate felony for his campaign practices when he ran for office.

Greitens calls the suggestion of a new charge "ridiculous." He vigorously denies all allegations of criminal activity — consistently saying his only wrongdoing was a consensual affair — and has refused to resign, despite calls from state lawmakers.

The Senate approved a measure Wednesday that would roll back policies designed to protect minority car buyers from discriminatory loan terms. Republicans passed the bill by a narrow margin, and it now moves on to the House.

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For years, Starbucks has described its stores as a "third space" — a quasi-public place, away from home or the office, where anyone is welcome to hang out.

But the rules about that space are murky. They can vary from place to place, and even store to store. The way the rules are enforced isn't always consistent, either, which is how unconscious bias and discrimination can creep in.

Now, the arrests of two black men at a Starbucks store in Philadelphia last week are raising uncomfortable questions for the company and others like it.

Nigel Poor and Earlonne Woods wanted to start a podcast about life in prison. It would be for inmates, by inmates, to be played on the closed-circuit station in San Quentin State Prison in California — "for the inside," as Woods says.

Woods is serving a 31-years-to-life sentence for attempted second-degree robbery. Poor is a visual artist who volunteers at San Quentin.

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Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell went on Fox News and poured cold water all over an emerging bipartisan plan to protect special counsel Robert Mueller.

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Updated at 7:50 p.m. ET

President Trump said he would walk away from a planned meeting with North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un, if it looked like the two sides were not going to be able to reach a deal.

"If we don't think it's going to be successful ... we won't have it," Trump said at a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Wednesday at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort. "If the meeting when I'm there is not fruitful, I will respectfully leave the meeting."

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Gene therapy is showing promise for treating one of the most common genetic disorders.

Results of a study published Wednesday show that 15 of 22 patients with beta-thalassemia who got gene therapy were able to stop or sharply reduce the regular blood transfusions they had needed to alleviate their life-threatening anemia. There were no serious side effects.

Allan Monga had never given much thought to poetry before last summer, when he arrived in Maine as an asylum-seeker from Zambia.

At the time, he was almost completely alone, living at a teen shelter in Portland and nervous about speaking with anyone in his new country.

"It was really hard for me," says Monga, 19. "I didn't really know anyone. It was hard to trust anyone."

The Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia has seen two massive bleaching events over the span of two years. And that's led to a widespread die-off of the corals, according to a new study.

Cuba stands hours from a watershed: On Thursday, for the first time since the Cuban revolution nearly six decades ago, the island nation will hail a leader outside the Castro family.

President Raul Castro, 86-year-old brother of the late Fidel, expects to hand power over the Communist government to his handpicked successor — and with one day to go before that historic exchange, the identity of the man likely to receive that baton has come into focus: Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel Bermúdez.

The words "dog" and "fog" sound pretty similar. Yet even a preschooler knows whether you're talking about a puppy or the weather.

Now scientists at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C., have identified a two-step process that helps our brains learn to first recognize, then categorize new sounds even when the differences are subtle.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called new presidential and parliamentary elections for June 24, more than a year earlier than scheduled. The change announced Wednesday by Erdogan speeds the implementation of the constitutional changes approved last year, which will give the president broad new powers upon completion of the next national election.

The U.S. loses as much as $600 billion a year through intellectual property theft: Semiconductors, self-driving cars, sunglasses, and software.

China is the biggest culprit. It has planted moles in U.S. companies and hacked into computer systems to steal secrets. Boeing, Apple, Dupont, Ford have all gone after China for intellectual property theft.

President Trump wants to punish China by throwing up tariffs, but economist Ken Rogoff says we'd do better to turn the other cheek. It may not be a satisfying strategy, he says, but it's a lot more profitable in the long run.

Southwest pilot Tammie Jo Shults is being praised for her cool demeanor after her plane suffered a blown engine — killing one passenger — and she was forced to make a one-engine, emergency landing in Philadelphia with nearly 150 people onboard Tuesday.

In the midst of calamity, passengers on Flight 1380 used their phones to send texts to loved ones and share news of their desperate state.

The wild battle in Arkansas over dicamba, the controversial and drift-prone herbicide, just got even crazier. Local courts have told some farmers that they don't have to obey a summertime ban on dicamba spraying that the state's agricultural regulators issued last fall. The state has appealed.

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College access and affordability: It's a common topic in higher education — because college is the one place that can really be a catapult when it comes to moving up the economic ladder.

And yet, research has shown that low-income students make up just 3 percent of the students that attend America's most selective colleges.

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