National & World News from NPR

A U.S. missile defense system that's now being installed in South Korea will be operational "in the coming days," says Adm. Harry Harris, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command.

For more than four decades, Jonathan Demme threaded a diverse path through the film industry — beginning as a publicist, filming everything from documentaries to comedic sendups, and finally earning the status of Oscar-winning elder statesman. He was 73.

The director died Wednesday in Manhattan from complications of esophageal cancer. His publicist, 42 West, confirmed Demme's death to NPR.

Demme made films such as The Silence of the Lambs and Stop Making Sense that have helped define their respective genres.

If all goes to plan, NASA's Cassini spacecraft will beam new images of Saturn and its rings to Earth early Thursday, sharing data collected Wednesday from its first dive through the gap between the planet and its striped belt of ice and rock particles.

Today's dive also marks the start of the final phase in the craft's 13-year visit to Saturn. Days ago, it used the gravity of Saturn's moon Titan to bend its path toward its eventual destruction on the planet.

Chinese officials smashed a bottle of Champagne on the bow of their second aircraft carrier Wednesday, launching what the Defense Ministry calls the country's first "homemade" carrier — which took less than four years to build.

The as-yet-unnamed carrier joins the Liaoning, a repurposed 1980s-era Soviet ship that was bought from Ukraine and launched in 2012. Together, the Chinese ships represent a new dimension in the increasingly crowded waters in and around Asia, where claims and counter-claims have been made on islands and shipping routes.

Appliance manufacturers and home builders are in Washington, D.C., today to celebrate a popular energy efficiency program, even as it's slated for elimination in President Trump's proposed budget.

You probably know the program's little blue label with the star — the Environmental Protection Agency says 90 percent of U.S. households do.

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The festivities at this month's third annual Qingyuan marathon, in southern China's Guangdong province, begin at 7 a.m.

On one side of the starting line, there's a traditional Chinese music troupe in robes and long, flowing beards; on the other, there's a stage full of dancing girls wearing skimpy marathon attire, gyrating their hips in unison to a rap song.

Stuck in the middle are more than 23,000 runners, itching to start. The music stops, a gun is fired, and for the next half-hour, runners jostle with one another to cross the starting line

Updated 9:45 a.m. ET

The White House is banging the drums that President Trump is doing something big again ahead of his 100th day in office — unveiling a tax "plan."

"This is going to be the biggest tax cut and the largest tax reform in the history of our country," Trump's Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said at a panel Wednesday morning.

In the cool mountains of the Upper Yangtze region, Chinese villagers clamber up dogwood and maple trees to gather what Dr. Oz has called a "miracle anti-aging pill." The small, red schisandra berry has a peculiar taste — five tastes, in fact, because it's considered to be at once sweet, sour, salty, bitter and pungent.

'Maud' Doesn't Quite Live Up To Its Heroine's Example

Apr 26, 2017

Before "fandom" was even a word, women were making pilgrimages to Prince Edward Island to pay homage to a certain red-haired orphan girl named Anne. There's such an industry built up around Anne of Green Gables that it's sort of surprising there aren't dozens of novels about her creator, L.M. Montgomery. In many ways, she's the perfect heroine for a work of young adult historical fiction — she was a girl born ahead of her time, full of potential and possessed of a deep longing for love and creative success.

Researchers in Germany have found that getting drunk is associated with abnormal heart rhythms.

Their study was conducted in a place teeming with potential research subjects.

Nobody's Seen The Loch Ness Monster Lately

Apr 26, 2017

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Ohio Gov. John Kasich says the discourse that came out during the 2016 presidential campaign was beyond what he could have imagined, and he still doesn't understand how politicians got away with it.

He was shocked by "the kind of rhetoric and the negativity and the put-downs and the kind of acid that was being spilled out there in the public dialogue," Kasich tells NPR's David Greene. "In my job, you make one of those statements and you're dead, you know? But it seemed like none of this ever mattered. And I just couldn't believe that people could survive it."

Trump To Talk Tax Plan

Apr 26, 2017

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As President Trump nears a milestone, ending his first hundred days in office, some of our listeners have questions, questions like these.

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And I'm Steve Inskeep with some of the top stories of this day. David, let's talk taxes.

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OK, if you insist - it's what I want to talk about every time I wake up in the morning.

Just six years after Portugal's 2011 financial bailout sparked protests and sent the country's young people abroad in search of work, the country is experiencing an economic revival.

Mario Mouraz was one of those who left Portugal looking for work. Now, after three years abroad, he's back, selling his own software to Lisbon hotels in the middle of a tourist boom.

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President Trump's campaign rallies were defined by three slogans, three syllables each, which the candidate led the crowd in chanting: "Build the wall," condemning illegal immigration; "Lock her up," attacking Democratic rival Hillary Clinton; and "Drain the swamp," all about cleaning up Washington.

In the summer of 1945, John F. Kennedy traveled across Europe working as a journalist. He kept a diary during those months on the road, which reveals a future president trying to make sense of a rapidly changing postwar world.

The leather-bound diary will be put up for auction Wednesday, after sitting quietly for nearly six decades in the hands of a former campaign worker. Bidding is expected to top $200,000.

Baby humpback whales seem to whisper to their mothers, according to scientists who have captured the infant whales' quiet grunts and squeaks.

The recordings, described in the journal Functional Ecology, are the first ever made with devices attached directly to the calves.

Be warned: This story talks about characters who are forced into sexual slavery.

Hulu's excellent adaptation of Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel, The Handmaid's Tale, is a horror show unveiled in slow motion.

As the first episode begins, Mad Men alumna Elisabeth Moss is running, fleeing security forces with her daughter, minutes before they are both captured.

Terrill Thomas, 38, an inmate at the Milwaukee County Jail, was found dead in his cell on April 24, 2016.

Prosecutors say Thomas had been left alone for seven days without water, and the medical examiner's office says he died of "profound dehydration."

The District Attorney's Office is holding an inquest to determine whether a member of the jail staff should be charged in Thomas' death.

Cellphones and other electronic devices are not permitted inside the courtroom where Supreme Court justices hear cases.

Even lawyers arguing cases before the justices are forbidden from bringing in their cellphones.

Before entering the courtroom, visitors must leave their phones in lockers and pass through metal detectors.

During Tuesday morning's arguments in the case of Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California, the ring of a cellphone could be heard.

President Trump is expected to sign an executive order Wednesday that could end up shrinking — or even nullifying — some large federal national monuments on protected public lands, as established since the Clinton administration.

President Trump has chosen Randolph "Tex" Alles to lead the U.S. Secret Service, turning to an outsider to head the beleaguered agency tasked with protecting the president and his family.

A retired Marine Corps general, Alles is currently acting deputy commissioner of customs and border protection. He is the first Secret Service director in recent history not to come from within the ranks — a step many congressional critics have said is necessary to remake the service's culture.

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