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The first international robotics competition for high schoolers made headlines before it even started — and after the event was over as well.

First there was the story of the all-girl Afghanistan team, which was denied visas to attend for unknown reasons.

Coal and oil trains pass through Spokane daily, but that could change by the end of the year. Spokane’s city council will take public testimony Monday on a proposed ballot initiative that would prohibit coal and oil shipment by rail through specific areas of the city.



Washington state’s department of Fish and Wildlife will kill members of a wolf pack that is causing problems for livestock in Stevens County.



Russian, American and French ballet dancers are gathering Thursday night for a bit of cultural diplomacy at New York City's Lincoln Center. They're celebrating the 50th anniversary of George Balanchine's masterpiece Jewels, considered the first full-length, nonnarrative ballet.

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And it just got a bit more difficult to buy illegal drugs and other contraband online. Attorney General Jeff Sessions made this statement today.

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Film still from “Finding Samuel Lowe”

At the Asian American ComicCon last weekend, speakers on one of the panels — Asian American women who work in the entertainment industry — were asked how they deal with the stereotype that they are “hot” and “exotic.”

Paula Williams Madison, who is of black and Chinese descent, wanted to share a story from her seat in the audience. Madison worked as a TV executive at NBC for decades before retiring in 2011.

There was a time when Google Glass was deemed the future — one in which people might walk the streets wearing a glass tab over one eye to display information beamed from their smartphones. But after criticism and safety concerns, the idea was killed as a consumer project.

O.J. Simpson Up For Parole

Jul 20, 2017

A parole hearing is slated for this afternoon in Nevada for O.J. Simpson. Simpson, the former football star who was acquitted in 1995 of murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman, is currently serving a nine- to 33-year sentence for armed robbery and kidnapping. He was convicted in 2008.

The Navy says it has its first female candidates for two elite special operations jobs previously closed to women — including a prospective SEAL.

One woman is in the pipeline to be a SEAL officer, and another is on the path to becoming a special warfare combatant crewman. The news was first reported by Military.com, an independent website. The Navy declined to identify the candidates, citing security considerations.

On a party-line vote, the U.S. Senate voted Thursday to confirm President Trump's most controversial judicial nominee to date.

He is John Bush, a Kentucky lawyer and political blogger whose posts disparaged gay rights and compared the Supreme Court's abortion decision in Roe v. Wade to its pro-slavery 1857 Dred Scott decision.

And he is now a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit.

Governments have struggled to come up with effective ways to stop people from cutting down trees.

That's because unchecked deforestation can cause soil to erode, worsen flooding and destroy natural habitats for wildlife. It's become a serious problem throughout the globe. Deforestation accounts for roughly 10 percent of worldwide emissions from burning, and loss of trees reduces the amount of carbon being reabsorbed into the ground.

Chester Bennington, one of the lead singers for the band Linkin Park and a former singer for Stone Temple Pilots, has died. His death was confirmed to NPR Thursday afternoon by the Los Angeles County Coroner's office, which said that his body was discovered at a house in the 2800 block of Palos Verdes Estates in Los Angeles and that investigators are currently on the scene. The death is "being looked at as a possible suicide at this time," according to Brian Elias of the coroner's office. Bennington was 41 years old.

Groups that represent industries from farming to fracking are supporting a legislative push to rewrite how government handles science when drawing up regulations.

And the whole effort has scientists worried.

Consider, for example, the Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment Act, or HONEST Act, which passed the House in the spring and now is with the Senate. Just how "honest" it is depends on whom you ask.

Jim Schott had one goal when he abandoned academic life to start the company called Haystack Mountain: He wanted to make some of the finest goat cheese in the country. With cheese in hand, he visited supermarkets, trying to persuade them to sell his product. Some didn't take him seriously. But Whole Foods did.

"From the very beginning, they wanted to taste it," Schott recalls. "And they wanted to know the story. They wanted to know where the cheese came from; who was making it; where it was made."

From Texas Standard:

At the height of the Cold War during the late 1950s, a conservative fringe group, created by some of America's richest businessmen gathered with a lofty mission in mind: to eliminate the so-called "Communist conspiracy" they believed gripped the country, and to preserve the foundation of the Constitution and the nation's Christian roots.

I met Christa Schmidt over dinner with the Daas family, refugees from Palmyra, Syria, who are now living in Traunreut, Germany.

The Daases have been in Traunreut for almost six months, but the 76-year-old German tutor is the only German person in town whom they feel a personal connection with. With short-cropped gray hair, bright blue eyes and a slim build, Schmidt twinkles with the energy of a much younger woman.

Abortion Rights Groups Sue Texas Over Procedure Ban

Jul 20, 2017

Texas is heading to court over a state law going into effect in September banning the most common second-trimester abortion procedure.  

The Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood announced on Thursday they're suing over a provision in Texas' Senate Bill 8 bill that outlaws dilation and evacuation abortions. In that procedure, a doctor uses surgical instruments to grasp and remove pieces of fetal tissue. SB 8 only allows the procedure to be done if the fetus is deceased.

From Texas Standard:

With election day 2018 more than a year away, a Houston-area energy attorney appears to be the first to throw his hat in the ring as a primary challenger to fellow Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.

A Nevada parole board has granted O.J. Simpson parole from prison after he served nearly nine years following a conviction on armed robbery and other charges.

On Thursday, the four-person panel unanimously voted to grant parole. The parole board said that Oct. 1 is the earliest the former NFL star is eligible for release.

NPR's Ina Jaffe walked us through the incident that led to his conviction:

The Republican scramble to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act has yielded yet another version of a health care overhaul bill, along with yet another score from the Congressional Budget Office — the second analysis from the nonpartisan agency in two days.

Black Motherhood In The Spotlight

Jul 20, 2017

Beyoncé’s out front with new twins. A pregnant Serena Williams is nude on the cover of Vanity Fair. We’ll look at American images of black motherhood.

Privatizing The War In Afghanistan

Jul 20, 2017

Talk in the West Wing about using a private army of mercenaries to take over the war in Afghanistan. Blackwater founder Erik Prince is with us.

The Cost Of Steel Tariffs

Jul 20, 2017

The Trump administration is talking tough tariffs on imported steel. Will that make America great again?

As the Texas Senate prepares to consider legislation to restrict bathroom use for transgender Texans in legislative overtime, the national Episcopal Church is renewing its opposition to such proposals.

Opportunity and outrage at Canada's oil sands

Jul 20, 2017

In the early 20th century it was Canada that imported oil from the United States. Now it’s the other way around. The US gets more oil from Canada than any other country. But that might be news to a lot of Americans.

I don’t think most people realize that we get most of our energy imports from Canada,” says Denise Hamsher, director of planning at Enbridge Energy Company, which builds pipelines.

In fact, Hamsher says, 20 percent of our crude oil imports now come from Canada.

Morrison Bridge To Close For 2 Weeks, Heavy Traffic Expected

Jul 20, 2017

The Morrison Bridge in Portland will be closed for two weeks starting Friday, July 21 as crews work to replace a plastic material the county expected would last almost five decades but only lasted five years.

There are currently only two lanes in service on the six-lane bridge. Mike Pullen, a Multnomah County Spokesman, said most of the 50,000 vehicles that regularly use the bridge have already shifted use to adjacent bridges.

Empty streets, makeshift barricades, burning tires, signs scrawled with "No to dictatorship": Protests continue on the streets of Venezuela as a 24-hour general strike takes hold, the latest development in an ongoing political and economic crisis.

Some citizens are trying to go to work despite the shutdown of public transportation; others are taking to blockaded streets in protest. There is widespread fear of more bloodshed after months of conflict and dozens of deaths.

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