National & World News from NPR

"I'm just like you," says gay 17-year-old Simon Spier (straight 22-year-old Nick Robinson), by way of introduction. We assume, at first, that he's just getting his Ferris Bueller on and introducing himself to the audience, but it turns out he's instead replying, via pseudonymous e-mail account, to an anonymous blog post written by one of his schoolmates. A correspondence ensues between their respective, most secret selves, as both Simon and the young man he calls "Blue" are still in the closet.

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We're joined now by Ambassador Michael McFaul, who was U.S. ambassador to Russia during President Obama's second term. Welcome back to the program.

MICHAEL MCFAUL: Thanks for having me.

In the latest battle involving the works of Harper Lee, the author's estate is suing producer Scott Rudin over the script of an upcoming Broadway play of To Kill A Mockingbird.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court in Alabama, Lee's estate complains that the new production by Rudin and writer Aaron Sorkin deviates too much from the novel.

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Now for a story about an astronaut who is not a space mutant.


DANIEL HUOT: And liftoff.


Bill McBride has been making accurate predictions on his blog, Calculated Risk, about the trajectory of the U.S. economy since before the financial crisis.

He's been consistently optimistic for years, but he recently revised his usually sunny outlook.

Today he tells us why.

I think it's fair to say that many parents focus a lot of energy — and worry! — on protecting their small kids from risky situations.

But it turns out that integrating limited risk into our kids' playtime may be taking a step toward healthier child development.

After having trouble obtaining drugs needed for lethal injections, Oklahoma is planning to change its primary method of execution to nitrogen gas inhalation.

It would be the first time a U.S. state uses this method of execution, though six states have gas inhalation in their laws as a secondary method to lethal injection, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Three days of mourning have begun in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, after the murder of a black human rights campaigner who spoke out against the lethal methods routinely used by security forces within the city's poorest neighborhoods.

Many residents of Rio are hardened to daily incidents of deadly violence yet the killing of Marielle Franco, a city council member and civil society activist, is being met by a huge wave of anger and indignation on social media, and protests on the streets.

Our ancestors in Kenya's Southern Rift Valley made some pretty innovative tools. And they made them far earlier than previously thought.

The oldest innovations were axes designed to be held in the palm of the hand. They were shaped like a tear drop, with a rounded end and a pointed eye. The edges were wavy and sharp. And they look as if they were great at chopping down branches — or chopping up the carcass of a large animal.

Updated at 8 a.m. ET on Friday

The number of people who died after a newly placed pedestrian bridge collapsed at Florida International University has risen to six, as crews work to clear debris and wreckage from the scene in Miami-Dade County.

In addition to the six people who were found dead at the site, 10 others were transported to area hospitals, Miami-Dade Police said in an update on the accident Friday morning.

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.


Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.


This is FRESH AIR. Music critic Milo Miles has a review of two new albums by the Kronos Quartet. They're each collaborations - one with a group from Mali, the other with Laurie Anderson.

Genetic mutations are the driving force of evolution, and now scientists have managed to study the effect of mutations in exquisite detail by watching what happens as they pop up in single cells.

Only about one percent of mutations were bad enough to kill off the cell, according to a report published Thursday in Science. Most of the time, these small changes in its DNA appeared to have no effect at all.

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Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit


Every person who has seen the Las Vegas Strip in the past three decades has experienced Steve Wynn's impact. The 1989 grand opening of his brainchild, the Mirage Resort & Casino, ushered an era of excitement and creativity into an otherwise stagnating tourism industry and set an example that the Strip still follows. The Mirage property was unprecedented in its size and upscale show offerings, but the design of the building itself was groundbreaking. This was the first time that Las Vegas had seen a casino function as a carefully designed sensory experience.

South Korea's 51 million people have been under existential threat for so long that they've largely normalized the risks posed to them by North Korea. After all, Seoul has been the target of Pyongyang's espionage plots and tunnels and artillery since Korea split in two more than 60 years ago.

Peter Sands took over this month as the new head of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. But before he'd even officially taken his seat at the Fund's offices in Geneva, he was under attack for a new partnership with Heineken.

Updated at 12:12 p.m. ET

The Trump administration imposed new sanctions against Russia on Thursday, slapping punitive measures on 19 people and five entities over their alleged role in Moscow's interference in the 2016 election and other "destructive" cyberattacks.

Updated 1:04 p.m. ET

The "substantial doubt" that iHeartMedia's corporate leaders expressed around the company's likelihood of surviving another year, mentioned in its quarterly financial report last November, has been put to rest.

Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas is no stranger to protest. Sixty years ago, following the Supreme Court's historic Brown v. Board of Education ruling, Central drew national attention as nine black students attempted to integrate the previously all-white school.

The Federal Election Commission, better known for deadlocks than decisions, has unanimously agreed to take a first step against anonymous political advertising on the internet.

The proposed rule deals with disclaimers — the "authorized by" taglines that are mandatory in print, television and radio ads that explicitly support or attack candidates.

We were hundreds of women, marching on the streets of Karachi, Pakistan.

We shouted slogans. '"Aurat aiee, aurat aiee, tharki teri shaamath aiee!" (Women are here, harassers must fear!)

We raised our fists in the air, smiling, laughing.

We wore what we wanted to wear: burqas, jeans and designer shades, brightly embroidered skirts, the traditional tunic and baggy trousers called shalwar kameez.

Men gaped, shook their heads, filmed us from passing cars as we walked by, disrupting traffic.

We did not care what the men thought of us.

Updated at 9:50 a.m. ET

Russia says it will retaliate against Britain's recently announced sanctions, saying that President Vladimir Putin will soon decide the best way to respond to the U.K.'s expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats. It's the latest escalation in the clash between the two nations over the use of a military-grade nerve agent against a former Russian spy who is now a British citizen.

The Parkland shooting last month has energized student activists, who are angry and frustrated over gun violence. But it's also contributed to the impression that school shootings are a growing epidemic in America.

In truth, they're not.

"Schools are safer today than they had been in previous decades," says James Alan Fox, a professor of criminology at Northeastern University who has studied the phenomenon of mass murder since the 1980s.

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Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit


A day after United Airlines faced a backlash over a dog's death in an overhead luggage compartment, the company is dealing with another canine-related mistake after a German shepherd meant for Kansas was instead flown to Japan.