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Valerie Hunter Gordon, the British inventor of one of the first disposable diapers, died this month at the age of 94.

She designed the Paddi in the 1940s while living on an air force base in the UK with her husband and young family. Early prototypes were cut out of military parachute silk and stiched with a Singer sewing machine on her living room table. 

The French-speaking Belgian region called Wallonia is holding up Europe's free-trade agreement with Canada. CETA, or The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, would reduce or eliminate tariffs and make it easier for goods to move between countries, similar to NAFTA or the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Should the United States aspire to the kind of fast-paced economic growth China and India enjoy?

That's what Donald Trump seemed to say at this week's presidential debate: "I just left some high representatives in India. They're growing at 8 percent. China is growing at 7 percent, and that for them is a catastrophically low number. We are growing, our last report came out, it's right over from the 1 percent level. And I think it's going down."

But are comparisons like this meaningful?

Kim Stevens

In recent years, South Africa's rich choral tradition has produced a wave of talented opera singers who are making their mark on the world stage. Soprano Pretty Yende wowed opera enthusiasts in 2013, when she debuted at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, while bass-baritone Musa Ngqungwana will open next year's Glimmerglass Festival as Porgy in the American classic, "Porgy and Bess."

Now, South Africa is pinning its hopes on another rising opera star — 25-year-old Noluvuyiso Mpofu.

The Islamic State's branding crisis

Oct 21, 2016
Khalil Ashawi/Reuters

The Islamic State is shrinking, fast.

Thousands of Iraqi and Kurdish troops are closing in on Mosul, the largest city under ISIS control. The terror group is losing ground to Turkish-backed rebels in northern Syria and being pummelled from the air by a US-led international coalition.

A federal judge has decided that Harold T. Martin III, a former National Security Agency contractor accused of stealing classified government documents and property, should be detained pending trial.

The judge found that Martin "is a serious risk to the public" and presents a flight risk, as NPR's Carrie Johnson reports from the federal courthouse in Baltimore. Here's more from Carrie:

The Parakeets Of Bakersfield, California

Oct 21, 2016

The California City of Bakersfield is known for country music, agriculture and oil. But what if someone told you people are flocking to the city to birdwatch?

That’s what Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero discovered in a neighborhood park lined with tall trees.

AT&T is in talks to acquire Time Warner, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal today.

Here & Now‘s Lisa Mullins talks with Bloomberg Gadfly’s Michael Regan about what’s happening.

The Oregon Department of Justice has issued a cease-and-desist order against a man trying to create a “Keep Portland Weird” license plate.

Portland man Steve Barile launched a crowdfunding campaign for the license plate last week. He said it would serve as a compliment to existing "historic plates, old-fashioned plates, plates that celebrate our beautiful landscape and wildlife."

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Every week, The Thread checks in with booksellers around the country about their favorite books of the moment. This week, we spoke with Shane Mullen of Left Bank Books in St. Louis.

Kea Wilson joins the grand tradition of booksellers-turned-authors with her debut novel, "We Eat Our Own."

(Critically acclaimed authors like Jonathan Lethem have put in time behind the counter at bookstores, and authors like Louise Erdrich and Ann Patchett even own their own shops.)

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit