Nation/World

Last week, the PBS series Nova presented an episode on black holes, these most mysterious and mind-boggling physical objects.

Days after an Iranian tanker sank off the coast of China, succumbing to a deadly collision and several explosions, satellites are taking note of what the tanker left behind: several large oil slicks, stretching for miles in the East China Sea.

It may be Fashion Week in Berlin, but the hottest shoes people are lining up for in the German capital are hardly haute couture.

The design has the same red, blue and black pattern you'll find on the seats in Berlin buses, streetcars and subways.

At $220, the shoes aren't exactly cheap. Unless, of course, you count the transit ticket sewn into the tongue that gives the wearer a free ride in most of Berlin until Dec. 31. An annual ticket from Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe, or BVG, the city's mass transit authority, goes for at least four times that amount.

BlackRock CEO wants companies to make a "positive contribution to society"

Jan 17, 2018

Larry Fink, the CEO of the giant asset management company, BlackRock (think pensions and mutual funds), wrote an open letter to corporate CEOs about social responsibility. Specifically, about how companies shouldn't just think about profits, they also should be making a "positive contribution to society." It's kind of a big deal, coming from a guy running a company with $6 trillion in investments to manage.

Updated at 4:43 p.m. ET

Former Sen. Bob Dole received the Congressional Gold Medal on Wednesday, in recognition of his service to the nation as a "soldier, legislator and statesman."

He was presented the medal by House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis. at a ceremony in the U.S. Capitol rotunda, as other bipartisan congressional leaders, along with President Trump looked on. Dole was an early backer of Trump, and the only former GOP presidential nominee to endorse the president.

By now, you've likely heard about President Trump's reported remark last week that the U.S. should bring in more people from Norway instead of from "shithole countries" like El Salvador, Haiti and African nations.

The reaction was swift and loud. Citizens (and allies) of those countries filled social media pages with photos of idyllic beaches, city skylines and shiny structures in so-called "shithole countries."

They also shared impressive lists of personal achievements that ended with: "I'm from a #shithole country."

When South Korea hosts the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang next month, a combined North Korea-South Korea women's hockey team — the countries' first-ever joint team — will attract a lot of attention. So will the sight of athletes from the two Koreas, divided for some 70 years, marching together in the opening ceremony on Feb. 9.

Some TV genres are perennials. They've been around since the early days of television, and probably are never going away — weekly drama series featuring doctors or cops, for example.

Other TV genres are like locusts. They get buried, lying dormant, until they suddenly resurface. On prime time TV, the game show was dead for decades until Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? brought it back. And quite recently, Netflix's Godless, like HBO's Deadwood years before it, did its best to try and revive the TV Western.

The Thistle & Shamrock: New Year, New Music

Jan 17, 2018

Lift your winter spirits and warm your heart with the New Year's brand new releases, with artists including Anna & Elizabeth, Open the Door for Three, and Matthew Byrne.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR's Leila Fadel covers issues of race and diversity and is based in Las Vegas, where thousands of women are expected this weekend for the anniversary of the Women's March on Sunday.

She wants to hear from you, as she's curious to learn what you think has changed over the past year, and what you're marching for this year.

Beach Boy Brian Wilson has always urged folks to love their alma maters, but now he has an extra reason to let his own colors fly.

The original lineup of The Beach Boys — including brothers Brian, Dennis and Carl Wilson along with their cousin Mike Love and friend Al Jardine — are among the notable alumni of Hawthorne High School in Los Angeles County, Calif. On Jan. 15, Brian Wilson visited his alma mater, Hawthorne High School in Hawthorne, Calif. (He hashtagged his visit #betruetoyourschool, natch.)

Tim Mayopoulos joined Fannie Mae in 2009, shortly after the mortgage-backing company went into government conservatorship. He had left behind a career on Wall Street, where he worked for some of the biggest banks. Mayopoulos became CEO in 2012, but he says in the those early days at Fannie Mae during the financial crisis, "I wasn't sure things were actually going to be OK." He talks to host Kai Ryssdal about the crisis and the lingering effects it's had on Fannie Mae; why he's not convinced Fannie Mae needs to exist; and about the affordable housing crisis.

Writer-director Sean Baker shot his 2015 feature Tangerine on an iPhone. He returns with The Florida Project, which isn't shot on a phone but still feels organic and close to the ground. It tells the story of Moonee, a 6-year-old girl who lives with her mother in a motel that exists in the low-income shadow economy adjacent to Walt Disney World — all the stuff that sounds like it might be part of the Magic Kingdom, but isn't.

(Markets Edition) Amid the stock market's very positive run, we'll talk to Susan Schmidt — senior portfolio manager at Westwood Holdings — about the possibility of a correction. Next, we'll look at how China has the capability to influence aluminum prices, and then we'll discuss how the Trump administration plans to revisit a payday lending rule put in place under the Obama administration.

To create her wide-ranging music, New York-based artist Lea Bertucci has used a wealth of instruments and compositional techniques. But her primary creative tool is the saxophone, and on her new album, Metal Aether, she delves into it perhaps further than she ever has.

The State Department is withholding $65 million it planned to send to the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, calling for reforms and for other nations to step up their support — especially those that criticize the Trump administration's positions regarding Palestinians and Israel.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Anna von Hausswolff's voice has truly begun to equal her instrument. Like the pipe organ she commands at harrowing volumes and in disquiet drones, her howls rattle and shake with a sublime elasticity on "The Mysterious Vanishing Of Electra," the first single from Dead Magic.

01/17/2018: What's ahead for Republicans in 2018

Jan 17, 2018

(U.S. Edition) The planners of the upcoming Davos conference have a new report on global threats. We'll look at what they're warning against, which includes everything from stock market crashes to little bits of computer intelligence that could infect us. Afterwards, we'll chat with Michael Boskin — senior fellow at the conservative-leaning Council of Economic Advisers  — about what's on the economic agenda for Republicans in the upcoming year. 

The details of how North Korea will participate in the upcoming Winter Olympics in South Korea are still being worked out, but the two countries say their athletes will march together at the opening ceremony, under a unification flag.

The two countries will also form a unified women's hockey team to compete at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February, NPR's Elise Hu reports from Seoul. In addition, North Korea will send a cheering squad of 230 people to support athletes who make the trip.

Updated at 8 p.m. ET

The case before the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday had a surprise plot twist. Jurors were told that the accused was guilty of a triple murder — but the lawyer making that statement was not the prosecutor; he was the defense attorney.

The question before the justices was whether that violated the client's constitutional right to counsel. Justices liberal and conservative signaled that they have a problem with a lawyer who disregards his client's express wishes by conceding the defendant's guilt.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Updated at 10 a.m. ET

Michigan residents got a surprise Tuesday night when a meteor punched through the clouds with an explosive flash. It was powerful enough to register on seismic instruments.

And ... action! A century ago, in the days when Hollywood was still Hollywoodland, audiences sat in darkened theaters to watch silent "flickers" featuring anonymous actresses and actors who were called "movies," their roles written by "scenarists." The whole idea of a movie star had yet to be invented, until a Canadian-born gamine named Mary Pickford charmed her way into the public's consciousness.

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