News You Can Use

Murders are on the rise in the United States.

The national murder rate jumped dramatically in 2015, and early indications are that it rose again in 2016, though official numbers aren't available yet.

This week United Nations officials declared that a famine in South Sudan is growing — fueled by a deadly combination of drought and conflict. They estimate that nearly 4 million people are already struggling to get enough food. And officials expect the famine will spread to more areas in the coming months affecting an additional 1 million people.

Meanwhile the threat of famine is looming over three other countries: Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen, putting a total of 1.4 million children at risk of death this year.

At a joint news conference in Mexico City on Thursday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson acknowledged the tension between the U.S. and Mexico. After talks with his Mexican counterpart, Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray, Tillerson said that "in a relationship filled with vibrant colors, two strong sovereign countries, from time to time, will have differences."

Amid deep strains in the U.S. relationship with Mexico, a country that's been a favorite target of President Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security chief John Kelly took part in talks in Mexico City on Thursday that were aimed at smoothing out tensions.

"That's going to be a tough trip," the president said Thursday morning at the White House. Some of the key issues between the two countries: immigration, border security, trade and U.S. aid to Mexico.

Lawyers for a 17-year-old transgender student and the Gloucester, Va., school board that wants to limit which bathroom he can use don't agree on much.

But both sides have concluded the Trump administration's decision this week to revoke guidance that protects transgender students' ability to use bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identity only heightens the need for a hearing before the nation's highest court.

President Trump's education secretary, Betsy DeVos, struck a defiant tone in brief remarks before conservative activists at a political conference outside Washington, D.C., on Thursday. But she held back on the administration's rescinding of Obama administration guidance to schools on transgender rights.

The Arkansas Supreme Court has struck down a local law that protected people in the city of Fayetteville from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Arkansas is one of a handful of states where it is illegal for local governments to pass anti-discrimination laws that cover classes of people not already protected under state law.

The headlines are everywhere today: Americans trust the news media more than they do President Trump.

A new poll from Quinnipiac University shows that 52 percent of registered voters said they trust the news media more than Trump to tell them "the truth about important issues." Only 37 percent say they choose Trump.

Never underestimate a tiger, no matter how fat.

It's an enduring truth we'd all do well to remember — and one that attendants at a tiger enclosure at the Siberian Tiger Park in China's Heilongjiang province have learned all over again.

On Wednesday, the Trump administration made big news regarding the rights of transgender students. But what exactly changed?

Top White House advisers Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus took the stage at the Conservative Political Action Conference to make the case that despite seeming like a political odd couple, the two represent the successful marriage of disparate wings of the Republican Party, united under President Trump.

More than 50 years after it was incorporated as a town, Centerville, N.C., is on its way to dissolving its charter, as the town is unwilling to impose a property tax and unable to offer services beyond streetlights.

Its leaders say the rural town, which comprises less than 200 acres and has fewer than 100 residents, is struggling to pay its bills and has run out of options.

When winter freezes Lake of the Woods in northern Minnesota, the landscape becomes dotted with sturdy wooden or metal shacks and canvas shelters. Inside them, people are ice fishing.

The sport attracts people to the frigid winter lakes in Canada and the northern United States. Some take it seriously enough to partake in official competitions. But for most people, it is a way to enjoy time with family, friends and perhaps a bottle of schnapps, and ultimately a delicious fish dinner from the day's efforts.

To Test Zika Vaccines, Scientists Need A New Outbreak

14 hours ago

Researchers are eager to test promising vaccines against Zika, the virus that sparked a global health emergency last year.

But uncertainty over whether the Zika epidemic will continue affects researchers' ability to finish testing vaccines. They need locations with an active viral outbreak to conduct large-scale human trials and make sure the vaccine actually protects against disease.

On Wednesday, as protesters near the Dakota Access Pipeline began to break down their shelters and leave the area, Brooklyn singer Holly Miranda released a song, a cover of an obscure late-'70s science-fictional folk song, that she'd been working on for two months in support of those leaving.

Last November, helium balloons with pictures of the bridal family floated over Bangalore Palace in southern India, welcoming some 50,000 guests to a $75 million wedding.

What's in a name? A lot, according to a new study from researchers at Ryerson University and the University of Toronto, both in Canada.

Days after expanding the fight for of Mosul, Iraq's security forces are pushing further into the strategic city's western portion, focusing on its airport. Thousands of ISIS fighters are believed to be in Mosul, the extremist group's biggest stronghold in Iraq.

From Erbil, Iraq, NPR's Alice Fordham reports for our Newscast unit:

With a nudge of a robotic arm, astronauts aboard the International Space Station captured a space capsule carrying 5,500 pounds of cargo early Thursday.

"Capture confirmed," NASA TV's announcer stated at 5:44 a.m. ET. The capture took place as the space station and the SpaceX capsule flew in orbit 250 miles over Australia's northwest coast.

For nearly a century, people have reported mysterious epidemics of permanent paralysis in rural regions of Africa. In 1990, Hans Rosling a Swedish epidemiologist and pop-star statistician, who died of pancreatic cancer earlier this month, linked the malady to cyanide in the staple crop, cassava.

Will the election of Donald Trump, who once boasted of grabbing women by the genitalia and has a history of sexist remarks, create a wave of female candidates at all levels of government in the coming years?

Early signs from the groups that work with women considering a bid for office suggest a level of intense interest not seen in at least a quarter century.

Kate Noble had never considered getting involved in politics until she woke up the day after Trump's surprise victory over Hillary Clinton.

President Trump wants to hire 5,000 more Border Patrol agents and 10,000 more Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers to enforce his executive orders on immigration.

It wont be easy.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly was blunt when asked by a member of Congress about it. He said he will add to the ranks "as fast as we can."

But he quickly added, "we will not lower standards and we will not lower training." Kelly then said he didn't believe "we're going to get 10,000 and 5,000 on board within the next couple of years."

Sen. John McCain made an unannounced trip to northern Syria last week to meet with U.S. forces stationed there, his office announced on Wednesday.

McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, went to discuss the campaign for defeating militants from the Islamic State.

"Sen. McCain's visit was a valuable opportunity to assess dynamic conditions on the ground in Syria and Iraq," according to a statement from spokeswoman Julie Tarallo.

The trip, which is considered official travel, was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Scientists around the United States are getting ready to do an unprecedented experiment: They plan to march en masse in Washington, D.C., and other cities on April 22, to take a stand for the importance of public policies based on science.

Some researchers predict that this March for Science will release much needed energy and enthusiasm at a time when science is under threat; others worry it will damage science's reputation as an unbiased seeker of truth.

This story is part of Kitchen Table Conversations, a series from NPR's National Desk that examines how Americans from all walks of life are moving forward from the presidential election.

Keitra Bates is standing in front of an empty storefront on Atlanta's Westside. The walls are yellow-painted stucco over cinder blocks, with iron bars on the windows and doors, and a small side yard littered with abandoned tires. A corner store, the Fair Street Superette, is next door.

No matter where you stand on the political spectrum, health care under the Affordable Care Act is going to change in the next few years. The Republican-led Congress has vowed to "repeal and replace" the health law known as Obamacare.

That has left many people anxious and confused about what will happen and when. So NPR's Morning Edition asked listeners to post questions on Twitter and Facebook, and we will be answering some of them here and on the radio in the weeks ahead.

London's Metropolitan Police Service, better known as Scotland Yard, is Britain's oldest and biggest police force. More than 43,000 officers and staff work for the organization.

On Wednesday, Cressida Dick, 56, was named as the first female police commissioner in the organization's 188-year history.

In a statement, the former beat cop from London's West End, said she was "thrilled and humbled" by the appointment.

From 2011 to 2014 Dick was head of counterterrorism, and among other operations, she oversaw security for the 2012 London Olympics.

My enduring memory of Chicano Batman dates to the first time I saw them perform, back in 2010, at a bar called Footsies in Los Angeles's Glassell Park neighborhood. It'd be generous to even describe the space as "tight," as the group was surrounded by fans so close that one could have swiped Bardo Martinez's keyboard off the ironing board he used as a stand.

Ever since Donald Trump entered the presidential race, his comments on illegal immigration have been pored over in the press — from vows to deport millions of people to promises that any enforcement plan would have "a lot of heart." Observers asked, again and again, how rhetoric would translate into actual policy.

Now activists and experts have the policies themselves to examine.

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