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Morning News Brief

Feb 19, 2018

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When a grand jury indicted 13 Russians for interfering in the presidential election, President Trump at first seemed to celebrate. He pointed out that the indictment did not name him. But over the weekend, the president's tone darkened, and he now faces criticism for his latest swipe at the FBI.

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When it comes to global politics off the rink — most of the spotlight has fallen on North and South Korea. But just as the two Koreas have been making nice, South Korea and Japan have gotten chilly.

On the ice — Nao Kodaira of Japan and two-time gold medalist Lee Sang-hwa of Korea are the world's best at the 500 meter speed skate. They have finished within fractions of a second of each other for years and are constantly compared to one another. Sunday's much-watched showdown between the two was packed with extra meaning because their countries compete so fiercely, too.

The city of Raqqa was the de facto capital of the Islamic State. ISIS fighters were defeated there back in October, and they scattered in all directions. But they left behind a deadly legacy — thousands upon thousands of explosive booby traps.

Now U.S. and Syrian trainers are teaching young men how to dismantle those bombs, at a village on the outskirts of the city.

Margery Simkin is a casting director. Her job is to look at thousands of faces, and her gut reaction — how she feels about what she sees — can lead to movie and TV roles.

But for this story, she isn't looking at a headshot — she's looking at a painting. "This wouldn't be somebody that could be a bad guy," she says. "There's a softness. There's a kindness in his eyes."

Each year, about 31,000 men and women in the U.S. are diagnosed with a cancer caused by an infection from the human papillomavirus, or HPV. It's the most common sexually transmitted virus and infection in the U.S.

In women, HPV infection can lead to cervical cancer, which leads to about 4,000 deaths per year. In men, it can cause penile cancer. HPV also causes some cases of oral cancer, cancer of the anus and genital warts.

After Virginia Harrod was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in 2014, she had a double mastectomy. Surgeons also removed 16 lymph nodes from under her armpit and the area around her breast, to see how far the cancer had spread and to determine what further treatment might be needed. Then she underwent radiation therapy.

Top election officials from across the country grappled with a delicate question this weekend: How do you tackle the threat of election interference, and be transparent in doing so, without further eroding the public's trust in the voting process?

"I'm always trying to straddle the line between sounding the alarm on this issue and being alarmist," said Steve Simon, Minnesota's secretary of state.

After the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history in Las Vegas last year, lawmakers discussed imposing restrictions on "bump stocks." The Las Vegas shooter used that type of gun modification, which makes a semiautomatic weapon fire like an automatic weapon, and killed 58 people.

After a gunman killed 26 people at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, in November, lawmakers discussed how they could improve the background check system.

No new laws came of those discussions.

Updated at 9:30 a.m. ET

President Trump is facing calls to act in the wake of the latest mass shooting, which killed 17 people Wednesday at a high school in Florida, and the White House is not ignoring them. The president will participate in a pair of listening sessions on school safety this week, and on Monday morning the White House said he supports efforts to improve the federal background check system, something Congress has expressed broad support for without acting on after past shootings.

Five women were killed Sunday when a gunman opened fire at a Russian Orthodox church in the restive Northern Caucasus region of Dagestan.

Russian news sources quoted a priest from the church in Kizlyar in western Dagestan as saying the attacker, described as a local man in his 20s, began firing on churchgoers as they were leaving following Sunday afternoon service.

Oxfam International says three members of a team it deployed to Haiti in 2010 who were investigated for sexual exploitation there threatened a key witness in the inquiry.

The U.K.-based aid group has come under intense scrutiny in recent weeks after The Times of London reported that some of its staff working in the Caribbean country after a devastating earthquake had hired local prostitutes. Oxfam's senior official in Haiti at the time was among those implicated.

Updated at 9:45 a.m. ET

The U.S. women's ice hockey team dismantled Finland in their semifinals matchup at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics on Monday, scoring goals early and often and claiming a spot in the gold medal game, where they will face Canada.

The U.S. team scored two goals in each of the first two periods; a pair of scores came in less than one minute in the second period.

He's emerged as a fan favorite, an athlete whose talent and personality shine through his skating — and whose sense of humor and humanity have been amplified by the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. But Adam Rippon says he's not ready to move from the Olympic Athlete's Village and join NBC.

News that the TV network had offered Rippon a job emerged on Sunday here at the Pyeongchang Games. But one day later, Rippon says he was glad to be asked — but that he still has work to do, cheering for his teammates.

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Sunday afternoon, Cameron Kasky is doing push-ups in a park near Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Kasky, a junior, says kids like himself are doing something new, demanding a fresh look at America's gun laws.

"The crescendo has hit its point. It's enough and it's over," he says. "I haven't got a shred of doubt that this is going to be our change."

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In the wake of tragedy, confusing and conflicting feelings like fear and anger can be overwhelming. In her breakout novel, Rihannon Navin takes readers on the emotional journey that explores some of these feelings.

Only Child centers around a family reconciling with the aftermath of a mass shooting at an elementary school. It's told from the perspective of 6-year-old Zach, who survived the shooting in which his brother Andy died.

Black Panther pounced on the weekend box office, breaking cultural barriers and earning the highest debut ever for a February film, with an estimated three-day domestic gross of $192 million, said Disney, Marvel's parent company.

The opening was the fifth highest-earning of any film, according to Disney. The only other movies that have brought in more are Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Jurassic World and The Avengers, according to The Associated Press.

President Trump spent the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort tweeting about the Russia investigation after a federal grand jury on Friday indicted 13 Russians and three Russian companies in connection with what prosecutors describe as a covert Russian campaign to help Trump win the presidency.

All 65 people aboard an Aseman Airlines plane were feared dead when it slammed into Mount Dena in central Iran Sunday during a bout of bad weather, authorities told the Iranian state broadcaster.

But there was so much fog and rain that rescue crews had been unable to reach the crash site via helicopter and were hoping a drone could aid in their search, reports IRNA, the country's official news agency.

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