National & World News from NPR

Twelve-year-old Mannie Thames knows a lot of kids with BB guns. He says kids have them for safety and because they're cool.

"Sometimes people get bullied a lot, and they want to have something to protect their self," Thames says. "And sometimes people think it's cool, they want to shoot people for fun."

He explains this in between bites of snacks at the after-school center, Penn North Kids Safe Zone, in West Baltimore.

Replica guns that shoot BBs and other projectiles are popular with kids. But in some settings, they pose a special danger.

The thing about the tech industry and employee diversity reports is they can feel like Groundhog Day:

  • Google, 2014: "Put simply, Google is not where we want to be when it comes to diversity."
  • Google, 2016: "We saw encouraging signs of progress in 2015, but we're still far from where we need to be."
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two and a half years before he killed 49 people in a June 12 shooting attack at Orlando's Pulse nightclub, Omar Mateen told investigators he'd been teased and verbally abused by co-workers for being Muslim. That abuse, he said, led him to claim ties to mass killers and terrorist groups, connections he later told the FBI he'd made up. The FBI concluded Mateen was not a threat.

A crane collapsed on the Tappan Zee Bridge in New York on Tuesday, injuring two workers and three motorists — but not hitting any cars.

The crane was working on the new, replacement bridge, which is under construction, when the arm of the crane came crashing down on the old, currently used bridge.

The injured motorists were hurt as vehicles swerved and quickly braked to avoid the crane and debris, The Associated Press reports.

The cause of the crane failure is currently under investigation, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

After a subpar showing at the 2010 Winter Olympics, the Russians devised an elaborate, clandestine plan to ensure a stellar performance at the 2014 games they were hosting in Sochi.

Here's how it worked: In the dead of night, Russian officials exchanged the tainted urine from their athletes who had been doping with clean samples by passing them through a "mouse hole" drilled into the wall of the anti-doping lab. When the urine was tested the next day, there were no signs of doping, according to a detailed new report.

Maryland Medicaid officials have made what appears to be a small change to the list of preferred medications to treat opioid addictions. The agency used to pay for the drug in a dissolvable film form. Now it's steering patients to tablets, which some doctors say are not as effective for their patients.

Those doctors say the change is having a profound effect on some people struggling to stay clean.

In an open letter to the nation's law enforcement officers, President Obama mourns the recent killings of officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, La., thanks officers for their service in the face of danger and calls for national unity.

The letter, dated Monday, is addressed to "the brave members of our Nation's law enforcement community." In it, Obama says he met with the families of the officers killed in Dallas, and called and spoke with the families of those killed in Baton Rouge.

"Each fallen officer is one too many," the president writes.

Comic Mike Birbiglia's new film, Don't Think Twice, was inspired by an observation his wife made when she came to one of his improv shows.

"She goes, 'It's amazing that everyone is equally talented in this show, and yet this one person is on Saturday Night Live and this one person is a movie star and this one person lives on an air mattress in Queens,' " Birbiglia tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "And I thought: Not only is that true and a great observation, but it's also a movie."

QUIZ: How Much Do You Know About War And Food?

Jul 19, 2016

When we think of tools of warfare, we tend to think of spears, guns and other types of militaristic weaponry. But throughout history, food has often been a critical component of war — inspiring conflict and, in some cases, delivering victory. War and peace? More like war and peas.

We've created a quiz to test your knowledge of just a few examples of how the history of food and war are intermingled. Can you defeat the questions?

This past Friday, Pakistani social media star Qandeel Baloch was murdered in an apparent "honor killing." Her brother Waseem Azeem admitted that he strangled her to death because he disapproved of her provocative social media presence in the socially conservative country.

California's Obamacare premiums will jump 13.2 percent on average next year, a sharp increase that is likely to reverberate nationwide in an election year.

The increase, announced by the Covered California exchange Tuesday, ends the state's two-year respite from double-digit rate hikes.

The announcement comes as the presidential candidates clash over the future of President Obama's landmark health law and as major insurers around the country seek to announce even bigger rate increases during the open enrollment period this fall.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

Citing "a culture of deeply-rooted corporate arrogance," New York, Massachusetts and Maryland have filed civil lawsuits against Volkswagen, accusing the automaker of violating those states' environmental laws when it sold cars under the "clean diesel" label that were actually rigged to trick emissions tests.

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

The Smoggy Seas: Cargo Ships Bring Pollution, Health Risks

Jul 19, 2016

"Made in China" labels have multiplied over the past decades — and so have the trade ships docking in East Asian ports.

More shipping containers go through Shanghai than any other port in the world — and most of the world's 10 busiest ports are in China. Asian ports loaded or unloaded almost 50 percent of shipped goods in 2013, according to a U.N. report.

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

A tour bus carrying visitors from China burst into flames Tuesday on a highway near the Taiwanese capital, killing all 26 people onboard, according to local news reports.

Twenty-three tourists and one Chinese guide died in the accident west of Taipei, which officials cited by Taiwan's Central News Agency said is the country's deadliest incident involving tourists from mainland China.

A Taiwanese driver and guide also reportedly were among the dead.

The legal scholar Richard Posner points out in The Little Book Of Plagiarism that The Bard himself was a "formidable plagiarist."

In one celebrated scene in Anthony and Cleopatra, Shakespeare borrows heavily from Plutarch's Life of Mark Antony. That borrowing extends to modern literature and even the visual arts, Posner argues.

Eyeing fast-growing urban and suburban markets where demand for health care services is outstripping supply, some health care systems are opening tiny, full-service hospitals with comprehensive emergency services but often fewer than a dozen inpatient beds.

The International Olympic Committee held an emergency meeting Tuesday but put off a final decision on whether to ban all Russian athletes from the Summer Games that begin in Brazil on Aug. 5.

Though the games are less than three weeks away, the IOC said it would "explore the legal options" and would weigh a collective ban "versus the right to individual justice."

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