National & International News

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On a recent Sunday afternoon, dozens of volunteers crammed into a small Jon Ossoff for Congress field office in Chamblee, Ga. They were there to canvass for the 30-year-old political newcomer, but they also got a treat: a speech from Ossoff himself. He only spoke for about four minutes, but he devoted almost a minute of it to women in particular.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has been a passionate proponent of expanding school choice, including private school vouchers and charter schools, and she has the clear backing of President Trump. But does the research justify her enthusiasm?

Experts say one single, overarching issue bedevils their efforts to study the impact of school choice programs. That is: It's hard to disentangle the performance of a school from the selection of its students.

When Feld Entertainment, owners of Ringling Bros., announced it's canceling the circus after nearly 150 years, it was one of the biggest victories yet for animal welfare activists.

How the circus treats it animals — especially elephants and big cats — has long been a focus for groups like the Humane Society of the U.S and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. They see it as part of a larger change going on in this country — about how Americans view animals and the way we treat them.

It took an explosion and 13 pounds of iron to usher in the modern era of neuroscience.

In 1848, a 25-year-old railroad worker named Phineas Gage was blowing up rocks to clear the way for a new rail line in Cavendish, Vt. He would drill a hole, place an explosive charge, then pack in sand using a 13-pound metal bar known as a tamping iron.

President Trump's first day in Saudi Arabia began with a lavish reception and ended with an ostentatious ceremony, but not before Trump and the Saudi king signed several agreements spanning diplomatic, governmental and commercial ventures, including an arms deal worth $110 billion.

After more than three years in captivity, 82 of the Chibok schoolgirls have been reunited with their families amid tears, laughter, music and dancing. On an emotional day in the Nigerian capital city, Abuja, the young women and their parents wept as they embraced.

Some groups sank to their knees, giving praise and praying.

"Today I thank God, my daughter is alive," Yahi Bulata told NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton as he hugged his now 21-year-old daughter, Comfort Bulus Bulata. He said he hoped she would now be able to continue her education. Mothers sang a song of thanks.

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In recent months, some Brits have expressed their distaste for European Union regulations — a frustration that helped motivate the Brexit vote last summer.

But this weekend, new regulations on the tobacco industry came into force in the United Kingdom, and they go even further than what an EU directive required.

On an overcast late-spring afternoon, a group of bird lovers from the Earth Conservation Corps are in a boat on Washington, D.C.'s Anacostia River, and point out an osprey circling overhead. "This is like their summer vacation spot and where they have their young," says Bob Nixon, in the boat. "Then they spend most of their lives in the Amazon."

It's not entirely clear why Schapelle Corby's case so captivated a nation.

The Australian woman was 27 in 2004 when she was caught with 9 pounds of marijuana in her bag upon landing in Bali for a two-week vacation. She was convicted in 2005 and sentenced to 20 years in prison. That sentence was ultimately reduced, and in 2014 she was released on parole. Now, she is set to return home to Australia this week.

Before her arrest, Corby was an ordinary young woman, working in her family's fish and chip shop in the suburbs of Australia's Gold Coast.

President Trump's choice to represent the United States at the Vatican, Callista Gingrich, has one especially prominent achievement as a Catholic: She is responsible for her husband, former House speaker Newt Gingrich, converting to Roman Catholicism in 2009.

"When Newt became a Catholic, it was one of the happiest moments of my life," she said in a 2012 interview with The New Yorker.

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf is a brilliant, scalding and essential play that is often revived. But the Complete Works Project in Oregon won't present the play this fall because the estate of the playwright, Edward Albee, won't give permission for them to cast an African-American actor in the featured role of Nick, a young professor.

The play's director, Michael Streeter, refuses to fire an actor for the color of his skin.

"I am furious and dumbfounded," he wrote on Facebook.

If you're a regular NPR listener, you know BJ Leiderman's music. Leiderman is the John Williams of public radio: He's written the theme music for programs like Morning Edition, Marketplace and, yes, Weekend Edition.

The New Orleans City Council had declared the city's four Confederate monuments a public nuisance.

On Friday police cars circled the last one standing, the imposing statue of General Robert E. Lee, a 16-foot-tall bronze figure mounted on a 60-foot pedestal in the center of Lee Circle near downtown. Live news trucks were parked on side streets, and cameramen watched from the windows of nearby hotel rooms. The air was muggy and tense.

With the help of high-speed cameras, CT scanners and some nail-art supplies, scientists in Japan have managed to catch a glimpse of the elaborate way that ladybugs fold their wings to tuck them away.

The research could have implications for everything from aeronautics to umbrellas.

In May, when flowers bloom all over France, strawberries overtake outdoor markets and fill me with bittersweet memories.

Here in Paris, flashy red strawberries abound on fruit stands everywhere and occupy them for weeks on end. They come in many varieties, with lovely names like Charlotte, Anaïs, Cléry, Gariguette or the intriguing Mara des bois (Mara of the woods).

President Trump arrived in Saudi Arabia on Saturday carrying baggage — namely, a swirl of controversy stemming from his firing of FBI Director James Comey and the ongoing Russia investigations. But his hosts in Riyadh aren't likely to be bothered by it all.

Google offered a glimpse of how it sees the future at its annual developer's conference this week. And it involves a lot of blending between the virtual and the real worlds using augmented and virtual reality. Google is calling that blend immersive computing.

Clay Bavor, who heads up Google's AR and VR division, says it's all part of a future where the virtual and real worlds blur.

Here's a quick roundup of some of the mini-moments you may have missed on this week's Morning Edition.

The sweet tooth strikes

As President Trump begins his first overseas trip, Americans have widely differing views of his approach to foreign policy. But a majority of both Republicans and Democrats want the U.S. to continue its robust engagement with the rest of the world.

In the northwest Indian village of Ajrakhpur, 37-year-old Sufiyan ­Khatri stirs several stinky vats: one of bubbling indigo, another simmering pomegranate skins and a third containing a black, gummy brew of rusty bicycle parts fermenting with sugar cane. The mixtures are used to dye textiles with a traditional block-print method called ajrakh.

On the steps above the makeshift stables, the circus priest is getting nostalgic.

"I did a baptism once in Fort Worth, Texas. ... I came in on an elephant carrying the baby, which was four weeks old," the Rev. Jerry Hogan says. "Now that baby is 15. I've married a lot of these kids and I've baptized their kids, and watched them grow."

It's late April at Baltimore's Royal Farms Arena, in the closing weeks of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey's "Out of This World" tour.

It's graduation season. That means commencement addresses lead off our weekly education news roundup. Last week, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos faced boos at Bethune-Cookman University. This week, President Trump received a warmer welcome when he addressed cadets at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

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