National & World News from NPR

The massive container ships that ply the high seas bring us pineapples and mangoes in winter, and computers and cheap t-shirts all year round. But the shipping industry is a volatile, cyclical and ferociously competitive business. There are good years and bad years.

And then there's this year.

It took Bill Broun 14 years to write Night of the Animals. But the novel, Broun's debut, has still proved remarkably timely in a summer of "Brexit"-tinged anxieties.

The book depicts a dark future in which the European Union has dissolved and the U.K. has become a pacified surveillance state. Between "indigents" and "the new aristocracy," a vanishing middle class bows beneath abundant chocolate, lager, legal hallucinogens and mind-numbing electronics.

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

Security experts say that Russian hackers have broken into the computers of not only the Democratic National Committee but other targets as well.

Matchmaking in the U.S. has gotten truly weird. One of the latest entrants into the business is Smell Dating, a New York-based company that asks clients to wear a T-shirt for three days — without bathing! — so swatches of the fabric can be sent to prospective partners. The idea is that folks sniff and, if they like the smell, pursue a date.

In 'Ghost Talkers,' The Spies Are Actual Spooks

Aug 20, 2016

Look, I am solidly a ray-guns-and-spaceships kind of genre nerd. Never been much for fantasy done after the 1970s (it mostly sounds like bad Tolkien). Never cared much for ghost stories or alternate histories or love stories or horror.

Which is why, on the surface, it might seem odd that I was so thoroughly taken in by Mary Robinette Kowal's newest novel, Ghost Talkers. I mean, it's essentially an alternate history love story with ghosts in it. Lots and lots of ghosts. And therefore falls firmly into that sprawling pile of Stuff I Wouldn't Read On A Bet.

When Scott Gatz and his husband decided to become fathers several years ago, pursuing parenthood meant finding both an egg donor and a surrogate to help them conceive a baby. Their first round of in vitro fertilization produced seven healthy embryos. One of those embryos was successfully transferred to their surrogate's womb, resulting in their son Matthew, who is now 6-years-old.

While the San Francisco couple feels their family is now complete, they are still in a quandary over what to do with their six remaining embryos — what they call their "maybe babies."

For voters dissatisfied with both major party candidates, there are a few other options. There's Green Party candidate Jill Stein, Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, and a lesser known late arrival to the scene — Evan McMullin.

McMullin is running as an independent with support from the #NeverTrump movement. He has been a vocal critic of Donald Trump — and he's seen as a conservative alternative to candidate. He has blasted Trump as personally unstable on his website and "a real threat to our Republic."

It's a story that might sound familiar: A promising U.S. men's 4x100m relay team was disqualified from a marquee race because of a bad baton exchange. Team member Tyson Gay calls it both weird and bad luck.

In fact, in a post-race interview that lasted less than 3 minutes, Gay used the word "weird" no less than seven times to describe how this race went for the Americans.

A federal judge has ordered Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to answer written questions posed by a conservative watchdog group about her use of a private email server while she was secretary of state. That means she will not have to sit in a lengthy deposition and answer questions from lawyers during the campaign.

As NPR's Carrie Johnson reports for our Newscast unit,

Federal police in Mexico murdered 22 suspected cartel members during a raid last year and manipulated the crime scene to hide the extrajudicial killings, according to authorities there.

Mexico's Human Rights Commission said Thursday that of 42 suspects killed in a May 2015 raid, near the small town of Tanhuato, more than half were arbitrarily killed by police, with many shot in the back, NPR's Carrie Kahn tells our Newscast unit.

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

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When scientists tallied the temperature readings from around the world last month, this is what they discovered:

"July, 2016 was the warmest month we have observed in our period of record that dates back to 1880," says Jake Crouch, a climate scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

And July wasn't a freak occurrence, he notes. The past 10 years have seen numerous high temperature records.

A microscopic parasite is ravaging the fish population of the Yellowstone River in Montana prompting state officials to ban water-based recreation along a 183-mile stretch of the river and all of its tributaries.

The state's Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks announced the closure, which extends from Yellowstone National Park's northern boundary at Gardiner to the Highway 212 bridge in Laurel.

Can one photo help end a war?

That's what people are wondering about the image of a little Syrian boy covered head to toe in a thick layer of dust, his face bloodied, as he sits in a bright orange chair.

On the same day Donald Trump was touring areas of Louisiana affected by record flooding, the White House announced President Obama will be heading to Louisiana, too.

Here was the White House's statement released Friday afternoon:

Construction of a controversial crude oil pipeline set to span at least 1,168 miles from North Dakota to Illinois has temporarily been halted in North Dakota amid protests by Native American tribes.

Members of the Standing Rock Sioux fear the pipeline could potentially contaminate their local drinking water and lands sacred to the tribe.

The U.S. women's water polo team dominated Italy in a 12-5 win in their gold medal match Friday to become the first women's team to win gold at consecutive Summer Olympics.

It's the most goals ever scored in a women's water polo final, and the widest margin of victory, according to the Olympic News Service.

For Gawker Media's websites to live, Gawker.com, the actual namesake website, has to die. It will be shut down next week by its new owner, a victim of its own poisoned legacy.

Any obituary should start by acknowledging the good the subject rendered to the world. There's no reason not to do that here, other than the extent to which that impulse might appall some of Gawker's own writers were it a piece about the demise of another publication.

This Weekend, Water Voles Are Making A Splash In England

Aug 19, 2016

The water vole — once a common creature in the British countryside — hasn't been seen in the U.K.'s Yorkshire Dales for more than 50 years. But starting this weekend, the endangered animals might be making a comeback.

A stop-motion samurai film — that's the germ of an idea that grew into the sprawling fantasy film, Kubo and the Two Strings.

It's a coming-of-age epic set in fantasy Japan about a young storyteller who makes magic with music and origami paper. The film stars Art Parkinson as Kubo, the Samurai's son, as well as Charlize Theron, Ralph Fiennes, Rooney Mara, George Takei and Matthew McConaughey.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

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

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The surprise TV hit of the summer is a show that looks like it could have been made 30 years ago.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV THEME, "STRANGER THINGS")

Week In Politics: Trump Campaign Shake-Ups

Aug 19, 2016
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Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Scandal? Juda Engelmayer's seen his share of corporate scandals: "Failures, lawsuits, arrest, financial breakdowns, tainted food."

All things he's handled as head of crisis communications for 5W Public Relations. It's no fun, he says, dethroning a titan over a big mistake.

"Trying to counsel a client who's done something wrong and trying to convince them that, A. they've done something wrong, and B. to come out and say it to the public that's loved them and adored them for a long time — not easy to do," he says.

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

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There's one issue the major presidential candidates seem to agree on. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton say they're opposed to President Obama's multi-national trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

The Paralympic Games in Rio next month are being scaled back because of financial problems and some countries may not be able to send athletes as planned, the head of the International Paralympic Committee said Friday.

This week, in a tale of Olympic scandal and intrigue, Ryan Lochte is in the spotlight for an ugly encounter at a gas station in Rio de Janeiro.

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