News You Can Use

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.

On Tuesday, Feist's new album, Pleasure, was announced with a release date of April 28 — amusingly, to the surprise of Leslie Feist herself. Now we have the title track, her first new original song in six years.

Updated at 5:10 p.m. ET

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the U.S. doesn't want to take military action against North Korea, but "all of the options are on the table" if a serious threat arises. Tillerson made his frank remarks in a visit to South Korea on Friday, a day after saying diplomatic efforts "have failed" to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear program.

Tillerson's Asia tour began in Japan and will end in China. The top American diplomat is traveling without a press contingent.

Updated at 1:55 p.m. ET

The House has approved legislation that would make it harder to keep veterans who are "mentally incapacitated, deemed mentally incompetent" or prone to blackouts from buying guns. Critics of the bill say it could raise the suicide rate among veterans — a rate that has risen in the past decade.

At least a dozen Democrats joined Republicans to support the bill, which was approved by a 240-175 vote.

Speak of the Emerald Isle, and you picture verdant rolling hillsides. But there's another green bounty — not just on Ireland's soil, but off its coast. We're talking about seaweed. And if some Irish have their way, it'll be making its way back onto plates.

Authorities in Mexico say they have found more than 250 bodies in what may be the largest mass grave site in the country. It's located in a dusty abandoned lot just outside the port city of Veracruz.

Authorities were led to the graves by a group of mothers who've spent months digging there in search of their loved ones.

Of the 252 bodies found in the mass grave, only two have been identified: Pedro Huesca, a young state investigator, and his personal secretary.

We hear a lot about U.S. companies laying off workers and shipping jobs overseas.

So, amid the global pressures to downsize, how do you hang onto your workforce?

We went looking for answers in Chelsea, Mich., home to a family owned manufacturer that's managed to thrive over four generations, since the company's founding in 1907.

The Chelsea Milling Co. is better known as the manufacturer of Jiffy baking mixes. You know the ones. They come in those signature little blue and white boxes: mixes for muffins, cakes, pie crusts, biscuits, brownies and more.

President Trump has developed a consistent tactic when he's criticized: say that someone else is worse.

To Harrison Browne, hockey has always been a pivotal part of life. He's been in the rink for the past 15 years and currently plays for the Buffalo Beauts, a professional hockey team in the National Women's Hockey League.

At most Supreme Court confirmation hearings, questions focus on hot-button social issues — abortion, affirmative action, same-sex marriage — and the hearings next week on Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch will be no exception.

But senators are also likely to spend a lot of time examining the nominee's views on federal regulations — of the environment, health and safety laws for workers, and laws on consumer rights and business.

In question is a doctrine that Gorsuch has criticized but that also once helped his mother.

The Chevron doctrine

In some parts of the country, cold weather is threatening crops. Meanwhile, California has been so unseasonably wet that its deserts are experiencing what's called a "super bloom." After years of drought, the normally arid desert is lush.

"It just looks like a sea of flowers," says Janet Gordon, a geologist from Los Angeles.

"You got purple, red, yellows and blues," adds Joe Sheidness, visiting from San Diego.

Advocates for the poor say the budget plan the Trump administration rolled out on Thursday would be a kick in the shins for low-income Americans.

Sheryl Braxton, who relies on public housing, explained at a hearing in New York City this week that her community needs reinvestment, not less funding.

Texas Braces For Medicaid Cuts Under GOP Health Plan

Mar 17, 2017

Many in Texas are keeping a close eye on the Republican bid to replace the Affordable Care Act. One of the big changes is how it would affect low-income people, seniors, and people with disabilities who get help from Medicaid. And people on both sides of the political spectrum say the Lone Star State is not going to fare well.

As the GOP bill, the American Health Care Act, works its way through Congress, Anne Dunkelberg with the left-leaning Center for Public Policy Priorities in Austin says she's a little stumped.

Lots went on, per usual. Let's get to it.

A new documentary challenges the narrative we've heard for the past two years about the late Michael Brown. Stranger Fruit, which debuted at the SXSW Film Festival earlier this week, re-examines the hours leading up to Brown's death at the hand of officer Darren Wilson. And gives rise to questions for many. Not, apparently, the St. Louis police, who didn't release the footage earlier because they deemed it irrelevant to the investigation.

In 2016, a mass bleaching event caused unprecedented destruction to the Great Barrier Reef and other coral reefs around the world.

Now, a new study in Nature has concluded that securing a future for coral reefs "ultimately requires urgent and rapid action to reduce global warming."

It finds that local measures, such as protecting reefs and water quality, ultimately yield little protection against bleaching caused by higher water temperatures.

For the first time in New Zealand's history, the country's lawmakers have granted a river the legal rights of a human. The parliamentary vote Wednesday, which caps more than 140 years of legal struggles, ensures the roughly 90-mile Whanganui River will be represented by two guardians in legal matters that concern the waterway.

NPR's Scott Simon spoke to James Cotton in 2013. Hear an encore of their conversation at the audio link.

With the Senate Judiciary Committee set to open hearings on the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court, the game of confirmation cat and mouse is about to begin. Senators will try to get a fix on Gorsuch's legal views — and the nominee will try to say as little as possible.

Supreme Court scholars and practitioners on the right and left may disagree about whether they want to see Gorsuch confirmed, but in general there is little doubt about the nominee's conservatism. Indeed, his conservative pedigree is the reason he was picked.

Environmentalists love "cover crops." These are plants that tolerate cool weather and grow on farm fields after the crops are harvested. They hold the soil in place and are probably the most effective way to keep nutrients in fields, rather than polluting nearby streams.

President Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, collected more than $50,000 from Russian companies, including a Kremlin-backed television network, according to documents released in a congressional inquiry.

Forget basketball.

March Mammal Madness may be more thrill-packed than the NCAA's version of March Madness.

Sure, basketball players can jump. But can they jump like the giant pouched rat, which leaps 5 feet in the air? Not only that, the mega-rodent, weighing in at around 3 pounds, can sniff out land mines and identify TB in sputum samples.

Updated at 4:30 p.m. ET Friday

President Trump's second attempt at a "travel ban" was supposed to go into effect Thursday. Instead, the central components of the executive order have been blocked by judges on opposite sides of the country.

In both cases, the judges relied heavily on public statements from Trump and his advisers to conclude that the order — despite being "facially" neutral on religion — was designed to target Muslims.

The president and CEO of USA Gymnastics has resigned, months after an investigative report by The Indianapolis Star alleged that the organization ignored reports of sexual abuse by adults working in the sport, including coaches and a prominent doctor.

There are some places where the two communities involved in President Trump's executive order on refugees and immigrants, as well as the one securing the U.S.-Mexico border, overlap.

One of these areas is Southern California. Immigrants in Los Angeles are relying on mosques, community groups and their own families to navigate the complicated new immigration climate.

This frog really lights up a room.

The South American polka dot tree frog initially appears unremarkable. But researchers in Argentina recently got a huge surprise when they shone an ultraviolet light on it, revealing that the creature is actually fluorescent and glows bright blue-green.

Nearly five years ago, the nation's leading group of obstetricians and gynecologists issued a policy statement saying the time had come for oral contraception to be available without a prescription.

We wrote about it and everything.

President Trump's proposed budget calls for big cuts in a wide array of domestic programs — among them, agencies that fund the arts, humanities and public media.

Funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be cut to zero under the proposal, and the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities would be eliminated entirely, the first time any president has proposed such a measure.

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