National & International News

We follow stories about America and the world, with help from NPR.

The astronomer Carl Sagan said that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Last week, a physician made the extraordinary claim that he had an effective treatment for sepsis, sometimes known as blood poisoning.

Sepsis is a bodywide inflammation, usually triggered by infection, and the leading cause of death in hospitals, taking 300,000 lives a year. So, even a 15 percent improvement in survival would save 40,000 lives — the number of Americans who die on the highway each year, or from breast cancer.

The Swedish word uppgivenhepssyndrom, sounds like what it is: a syndrome in which kids have given up on life. That's what several hundred children and adolescents have done, literally checked out of the world for months or years, unable to move, eat, drink, speak or respond. All of the victims of the disorder, sometimes called resignation syndrome, have been youngsters seeking asylum after a traumatic migration, mostly from former Soviet and Yugoslav states. And all of them live in Sweden.

Think about the avocados you mash for your Super Bowl guacamole, or the fresh tomatoes you enjoy in the winter. There's a good chance they came from Mexico.

Our southern neighbor is the United States' leading supplier of fresh produce, providing 70 percent of the fresh vegetables we import and more than 40 percent of our fresh fruit imports. That trade has boomed since NAFTA — the North American Free Trade Agreement — was signed in 1994.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has decided that despite the historic flub at this year's Oscars, PricewaterhouseCoopers will continue to be involved in the balloting and ceremony — with a few new safeguards.

In case you've somehow forgotten, the accounting firm handed presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway the wrong envelope for Best Picture winner.

Updated at 4:14 p.m. ET

Just three weeks after South Korean President Park Geun-hye was formally ousted from power, she has been arrested for her role in the scandal that led to her impeachment.

A district court in Seoul issued the warrant early Friday local time, hours after the disgraced politician appeared before the court for questioning. Park's marathon warrant-request hearing Thursday lasted nearly nine hours — the longest in South Korean history for such a hearing.

Back in 2015, Brazil reported a horrific a surge in birth defects. Thousands of babies were born with brain damage and abnormally small heads, a condition called microcephaly.

Scientists quickly concluded the Zika virus was the culprit. So when Zika returned last year during Brazil's summer months of December, January and February — when mosquitoes are most active — health officials expected another surge in microcephaly cases.

But that never happened.

Take a deep breath in through your nose, and slowly let it out through your mouth. Do you feel calmer?

Controlled breathing like this can combat anxiety, panic attacks and depression. It's one reason so many people experience tranquility after meditation or a pranayama yoga class. How exactly the brain associates slow breathing with calmness and quick breathing with nervousness, though, has been a mystery. Now, researchers say they've found the link, at least in mice.

In February of last year, Alaskan Gov. Bill Walker signed an administrative order to help jumpstart mariculture, or sea farming, in the state. One Juneau couple is whipping up a recipe to make local kelp an enticing business and snack. They're part of a growing number of startups that see Alaska seaweed as a marketable food.

Kelp has become a big part of Matt Kern and Lia Heifetz's relationship.

Thirteen members of a church choir were killed when their bus collided head-on with a pickup truck Wednesday afternoon in Texas. The crash happened about 75 miles west of San Antonio, outside Garner State Park in Uvalde County.

On the afternoon of April 14, 2016, Yu Huan, 22, and his mother were working at their brake disc company in eastern China's Shandong Province, when 11 men arrived and blocked the company's entrance, set up a grill and started drinking alcohol and barbecuing outside. It was the second day in a row that they'd been harassing the family.

Updated: 5:13 p.m.

The vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee accused Russian President Vladimir Putin Thursday of ordering a "deliberate campaign carefully constructed to undermine" last year's presidential election.

Since the murder of North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un's half-brother in Malaysia last month, the two countries have been embroiled in a diplomatic spat over his body.

Malaysia's prime minister says his country is prepared to release the body of Kim Jong Nam and allow an unspecified number of North Koreans to depart, in exchange for the return of nine Malaysians who had been blocked from leaving North Korea. He said a plane carrying the Malaysians had already taken off from Pyongyang.

A Mexican state's top law enforcement official has been accused of conspiring to smuggle and sell heroin, cocaine and other drugs, after he was arrested by U.S. agents this week in San Diego. According to an arrest warrant, Nayarit state Attorney General Edgar Veytia used the name "Diablo" and other aliases.

U.S. prosecutors say they'll seek to compel Veytia to forfeit some $250 million if he's convicted.

During his first trip to Turkey as secretary of state, Rex Tillerson said the U.S. and its NATO ally were struggling with "difficult choices" on a strategy to defeat the Islamic State in Syria.

The U.S. has been trying to balance its reliance on Turkey in the fight against ISIS with its support for Kurdish fighters in northern Syria — which infuriates Turkey. Tillerson said he and Turkish leaders discussed options for how to clear the extremist group from its remaining strongholds, such as Raqqa, and stabilize those areas.

A Forgotten Shipwreck Imperils Washington's Oysters

6 hours ago

Driving up the coast toward Bay Center, Wash., it's obvious when you start to approach Willapa Bay. Fifteen-foot high piles of empty shells begin to appear on the side of the road. This is an oyster town.

But it's also home to a sinking piece of history.

While the political world continues to focus on the machinations of congressional investigations about Russia (which won't have conclusions drawn for months, if not longer) and where health care goes from here, there's another, arguably more important story going on — ramped-up military engagement.

Here's the New York Times Thursday:

Your sniffles may feel worse if you're lonely.

Saying that Attorney General Jeff Sessions' threat to strip billions in federal grant money from so-called "sanctuary cities" is illegal and unconstitutional, the city of Seattle has sued President Trump and his administration, in a lawsuit that names Trump, Sessions and Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly.

In the heart of Beirut, architect Mona El Hallak herds a group of students together outside a monumental mansion — a vast, elegant building whose yellow walls and graceful pillars are ravaged by thousands of bullet holes.

"We are," she shouts over the cacophonous traffic, "at the intersection of Damascus Road and Independence Avenue."

Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit President Trump in Palm Beach, Fla., next week, for talks that will likely range from economic to security issues. The first meeting between the two leaders will stretch from April 6-7.

Last year, the U.S. trade deficit with China topped $347 billion, with total trade worth more than half a trillion dollars, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

A Chinese spokesperson notes that before the visit to Trump's Mar-a-Lago property, Xi will spend three days in Finland.

Seventeen-year-old Indrani Das just won the top high school science prize in the country. Das, who lives in Oradell, N.J., took home $250,000 from the former Intel Science Talent Search, now the Regeneron Science Talent Search, for her study of brain injuries and neuron damage. In her spare time, she's already working with patients as a certified EMT.

Some of President Trump's proposed spending cuts would cripple programs that benefit communities full of his rural supporters, but at least in Strong City, Kan., some say they are ready "to bleed a little bit."

Strong City is a former railroad town of about 460 people, less than half the size it was in 1890. Trump's proposed budget aims at killing the program that threw a lifeline to the town's water system.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin says the Department of Veterans Affairs "is on a path toward recovery."

"We have a clear mandate to do better, [and] to make sure that we're honoring our mission to serve our veterans," Shulkin told NPR's Morning Edition.

Updated at 4:50 p.m. ET

North Carolina has repealed portions of the state's controversial "bathroom bill," including the requirement that trans people use the bathroom that matches their birth certificate, member station WUNC reports.

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper said he has signed the repeal measure, which he said is "not perfect" but is "an important step forward."

President Trump's executive order to restrict travel to the U.S. from six majority-Muslim countries and suspend the U.S. refugee program has been blocked indefinitely.

The state of Hawaii sued to stop the travel ban, arguing the president's policy violates the Constitution. U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson has extended his nationwide order blocking the executive order while the lawsuit continues.

They come from places like Vietnam, China, Mexico and Guatemala, lured by promises of better-paying jobs and legal immigration. Instead, they're smuggled into the U.S., forced to work around the clock as bussers, wait staff and cooks, and housed in cramped living quarters. For this, they must pay exorbitant fees that become an insurmountable debt, even as their pay is often withheld, stolen or unfairly docked.

Two separate high-profile incidents broadcast this week highlighted the criticism black women regularly face in the workplace and spurred many to share their own experiences on social media.

For years, a State Department employee allegedly received tens of thousands of dollars in gifts from Chinese intelligence agents and failed to report the repeated contacts to U.S. officials.

Candace Claiborne pleaded not guilty at a federal court appearance Wednesday to charges of obstructing an official proceeding and making false statements to the FBI, over her relationship with the Chinese agents.

Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the world's most recognizable people.

An international soccer superstar, blessed with good looks and a golden foot, Ronaldo indisputably stands as one of the greatest to take the pitch. He's so beloved, in fact, that he just got an international airport named after him in his native Madeira Islands in Portugal — plus a bust fashioned in his likeness.

The right-wing government of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is taking steps that could cause a popular American university in Budapest to close.

Under a bill submitted to the Hungarian Parliament late Tuesday, non-EU universities issuing diplomas in Hungary would be required to have a campus in their home country.

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