National & International News

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

In Chinese, the back story to a movie or news item is called huaxu, or flower catkins. In other words, fluff.

That's the headline describing a video clip of me on Sina Weibo, China's answer to Twitter, and the country's main microblogging platform, with more than 500 million registered users.

The clip shows me asking a question at a government press conference on March 6. Less than a day after its posting, the clip had been viewed 5 million times.

Remember Google Glass?

They're the headsets that look like regular glasses but have a small computer on the side to speak to and access the Internet. If that's not ringing a bell, it could be because Google Glass fizzled out and was discontinued in the consumer market.

But now, it's getting a second life in the manufacturing industry.

Think of the Mississippi Delta. Maybe you imagine cotton fields, sharecroppers and blues music.

It's been all that. But for more than a century, the Delta has also been a magnet for immigrants. I was intrigued to learn about one immigrant group in particular: the Delta Chinese.

To find out more, I travelled to Greenville, Miss., a small city along the Mississippi River. I meet Raymond Wong in Greenville's Chinese cemetery, right across a quiet road from an African-American cemetery. Wong's family has long been part of a thriving — but separate — Chinese community.

The St. Patrick's parade is over and the Irish (and honorary Irish) have gone home to sleep off their annual bout of intemperance, but the multi-generational marchers of the Italian-American St. Joseph Society in New Orleans are only just dusting off their tuxedos and straightening their bow ties. Once the shamrocks and shenanigans have vanished from the narrow streets of the French Quarter, and the keg of green beer is empty, another parade — in honor of an entirely different saint — is beginning to gear up.

Got an idea for a new world order? Swedish billionaire Laszlo Szombatfalvy will pay you at least a million for it.

A competition from the Global Challenges Foundation, founded in 2012 by the Szombatfalvy, is calling for solutions to the world's most pressing problems, like conflict, climate change and extreme poverty.

Paris' Orly airport has been evacuated after security forces shot and killed a man who seized the weapon of a soldier on guard.

All flights are being redirected from the airport, and reporter Jake Cigainero in Paris tells NPR's Newscast that police "have completely evacuated the airport and suspended all traffic."

No one else was injured, according to the French interior ministry.

The BBC's Hugh Scofield says the incident happened around 8:30 a.m. local time. He continues:

National K-12 and higher ed news came fast and furious this week. Here are our highlights to help you keep on top.

The president's "skinny budget" has cuts for education

The biggest story of our week happened early Thursday morning when President Trump released his budget outline, historically known as a "skinny budget" because it has few details.

The U.S. Department of Education came in for a $9 billion, or 13.5 percent, cut.

If the election results of 2016 were really about rejecting the political establishment, then Congress didn't get the memo. After all, 97 percent of incumbents in the U.S. House of Representatives seeking re-election won even as national polls show overwhelming disapproval of Congress.

­Last September, a tiny, itchy welt appeared just above my left hip. I thought I had an insect bite. I was visiting New York City at the time, and I worried it might be a sign of bed bugs.

But after I flew home, the welt began to swell. Soon it was as big as a blueberry. But rather than being blue, the lump turned scarlet. Because I am the type of person who can't leave well enough alone, I tried to pop it. That just made the lump angry. It began to ache.

Historians in Nashville have been on the hunt for a prominent man named Fred Douglas. But they are happy to report that no one by the name has been found. Because they had a pretty good hunch that a park bought in the 1930s was named after the famed abolitionist and statesman Frederick Douglass. The name just wasn't spelled correctly.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is asking for design proposals and prototypes of President Trump's proposed wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

The Trump administration has gone to court to try to bring the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under its control. The bureau is an executive branch entity, but the president doesn't have direct control over the six-year-old agency.

The Justice Department filed a brief with a federal appeals court in Washington on Friday, making the case that the structure of the agency violates the Constitution.

NPR's Chris Arnold reports that, by law, the head of the bureau can be fired by the president — but only for "inefficiency, neglect of duty or malfeasance." Chris adds:

There's high drama in Florida over a prosecutor's decision not to seek the death penalty for a man accused of killing a police officer.

And the Florida governor's decision to assign a different state attorney to the case is reigniting Florida's death penalty debate yet again, after the law spent a contentious year in court.

It wasn't the common ground that German Chancellor Angela Merkel was looking for. When President Trump was asked at their joint press conference Friday about the White House claims that President Obama had enlisted British intelligence in spying on him, Trump looked toward Merkel and quipped, "At least we have something in common, perhaps."

Trump was referring to reports that the National Security Agency had tapped the German leader's phone during the Obama administration. Merkel wasn't laughing.

The Trump administration is appealing a federal judge's decision to temporarily block the president's second travel ban from going into effect — setting up another legal showdown in an appeals court.

The first version of the ban, temporarily suspending the U.S. refugee program and barring entry into the U.S. from residents of seven majority-Muslim countries, was quickly blocked by a federal judge in Washington state. The Justice Department appealed that temporary restraining order, but a panel of judges from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the suspension of the ban.

A Norwegian fund that manages government employees' pensions has decided to remove its investments from the companies behind the Dakota Access Pipeline, a move that was reportedly inspired by pressure from Norway's indigenous Sami peoples.

David Higginbotham contracted hepatitis C more than 35 years ago. He'd like to rid his body of the virus, but Colorado's Medicaid program says he's not sick enough to justify the cost.

And he's not alone.

Updated at 3:25 a.m. ET Sunday

Late Saturday night, another person threatening the White House was taken into custody, making the third threat in just over a week, and the second in one day.

The Secret Service says a driver was detained after "a suspicious vehicle" approached a White House checkpoint, according to Reuters.

Kiev's Solomyansky District Court is a four-story pink building squeezed between an Orthodox church with golden domes and the soaring office tower of Ukraine's tax service.

"It's a very symbolic place," said Maxim Eristavi, a journalist and activist, as he returned to the site of a dramatic standoff that took place in early March.

No matter how you slice it, outbreaks are becoming more common. Overseas, there's been Ebola, Zika and yellow fever. And here at home, we're seeing a surge in tick-borne diseases, with Lyme leading the way.

For the past month, NPR has been looking at why this is the case. Deforestation lets animal viruses jump into people. Factory farming amplifies the problem. And then international tourism spreads the new diseases around the globe.

But throughout our series, there's been something else on people's minds.

Earth Day is coming up on April 22.

It's an occasion to think about the risks we all face from climate change — and to recognize the toll these problems take on the people in the developing world, who are especially vulnerable. When oceans rise, when drought strikes, the consequences can be dire. People are losing their homes and becoming climate refugees, losing their crops, losing their water sources. Disease-carrying insects are moving into new territory.

Republican leaders plan to bring the American Health Care Act to the floor of the House for a vote next Thursday, and President Trump is now publicly applying his deal-making skills to ensure passage.

"I just want to let the world know, I am 100 percent in favor," Trump told reporters brought to the Oval Office to see the tail end of his meeting with about a dozen members of the Republican Study Committee. That group of House members includes some who'd been lukewarm about the bill going into the meeting.

At a ceremony in New York on Thursday, one of America's most celebrated writers had a new reason to celebrate. Louise Erdrich won the 2017 National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction for her novel LaRose, the story of an accidental shooting — and the fraught tale of family and reparation that follows.

This Friday is Match Day, an annual rite of passage for seniors in medical school, when they find out at noon if they've "matched" with a residency in the specialty and location of their choice.

But many of those being matched will be happy to go pretty much anywhere. They are international medical graduates — either U.S citizens who've attended school out of the country (think the Caribbean or Mexico) or doctors who are citizens of other countries and want to train here.

Derek Walcott's work explored the beauty of his Caribbean homeland and its brutal colonial history. The prolific, Nobel Prize-winning poet and playwright died Friday at his home in St. Lucia. He was 87.

Walcott wrote dozens of books of poetry and plays, among them his epic poem Omeros and his Obie-winning drama, Dream on Monkey Mountain.

The 1,500-mile Appalachian Mountain range stretches so far that those on the northern and southern sides can't agree on what to call it: Appa-LAY-chia or Appa-LATCH-ia. The outside perspective on the people who live there might be even more mangled. Stories about Appalachia tend to center around subjects like poverty, the opioid epidemic and coal, but since 1966 a series called Foxfire has been sharing food, culture and life as it's actually lived in the mountain region.

Common Blood Tests Can Help Predict Chronic Disease Risk

Mar 17, 2017

A score based on common blood tests may someday help people gauge their risk of developing a chronic disease like diabetes or dementia within three years of taking the test.

Updated at 4:50 p.m. ET

At a wide-ranging and occasionally tense news conference after their first in-person meeting Friday, President Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed trade and border policy — and had one notable exchange when Trump was asked about his unproven claims that former President Obama tapped the phones at Trump Tower last year.

President Trump's budget blueprint calls for eliminating dozens of government programs and zeroing out funding for 19 independent agencies. And that may only be a preview of things to come as the Trump administration seeks to reorganize the executive branch.

Another cardiology meeting, another big prevention trial – and questions abound. People at risk for cardiovascular disease will be wondering about the implications for them. So are the doctors. New trials take some time to digest – and yet our news cycle wants quick, succinct answers. Sometimes it is not an easy call.

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