NPR News

Miguel Diaz-Canel has been elected president of Cuba, officially ending the Castro family's nearly six-decade domination of the country's highest office. The Communist Party formally announced the presidency's transition from Raul Castro on Thursday, in what might better be described as a coronation than an election.

On Thursday evening, Alabama is set to execute an 83-year-old serial package bomber named Walter Leroy Moody.

Moody is the oldest inmate on Alabama's death row and would be the oldest inmate executed in the U.S. since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Last month, the state's voters decided on the Republican and Democratic nominees for governor. But with the primaries behind them, the winners still have to convince those who wanted someone else at the top of the ticket.

It's getting easier to find top-notch, handcrafted whiskey, bourbon, vodka, and other spirits made in the U.S. With more than 1,500 craft distillers across the country, the American spirits movement is on the rise, and in Vermont, the industry is booming.

Over the past 15 years, the number of licensed distilleries in the Green Mountain State has increased nearly tenfold: from just three to more than 24, according to Vermont's Distilled Spirits Council.

Incomplete questionnaires for the 2020 census, including those that leave the controversial citizenship question unanswered, will still be included in the upcoming U.S. headcount, the Census Bureau's top official confirmed Wednesday to lawmakers.

The felony invasion of privacy case against Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens can continue, Circuit Judge Rex Burlison ruled in St. Louis on Thursday. Many of Greitens' fellow Republicans have urged him to resign; he has refused.

"Burlison announces he will not dismiss" the case in response to a motion from Greitens' defense team, reports St. Louis Public Radio's Jason Rosenbaum.

Room 615 in Vladivostok's Hotel Gavan is a cramped, two-room "business suite" with green wallpaper and carpeting. Yet when former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il traveled to Russia's Pacific coast in 2002, the modest digs served as his presidential suite.

The joint alert from the FBI and Department of Homeland Security last month warning that Russia was hacking into critical U.S. energy infrastructure may have shaken some Americans. But it came as no surprise to the country's largest grid operator, PJM Interconnection.

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

Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin On Pompeo

5 hours ago

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

As the midterm election draws near, some state lawmakers want to change the way Illinois’ political districts are drawn. They want to do that by giving voters a chance to change the constitution.
 

The Federal Aviation Administration has ordered inspections of fan blades on some jet engines of the same type as the one that blew apart on a Southwest Airlines flight, causing the death of a passenger and injuring seven others.

Meanwhile, Philadelphia's medical examiner says Jennifer Riordan, who died on the Dallas-bound Boeing 737 flight, was killed by blunt trauma to her head, neck and torso when she was partially blown out a cabin window shattered by engine debris. Federal inspectors say Riordan, 43, was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident.

Robot Puts Together IKEA Chair

7 hours ago

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

When Lane Murdock, a high school sophomore, heard that 17 high school students and educators had been killed in a shooting in Parkland, Fla., she says she felt numb.

To her, and so many others, mass shootings can feel all too common in the U.S.

"In the time I've been in high school we've had the Pulse, Las Vegas and now, [the Parkland] shooting," Murdock says.

Avoid Traffic Fines By Confessing Online

7 hours ago

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

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

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., does not support a measure that would make it harder for President Trump to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, but that isn't stopping some Republicans from forcing the debate.

North Carolina Republican Thom Tillis said Wednesday that he will continue working on a bill to allow Mueller access to speedy judicial review if Trump tries to force him out of his job leading the Justice Department investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election — with or without McConnell's support.

Political brawls over voting laws have consumed states across the country for the past decade. But below the surface, a movement to automatically register eligible voters to vote is rapidly gaining traction. By next year, more than a quarter of all Americans will live in states where they no longer have to fill out registration forms in order to cast a ballot.

Most people are familiar with some form of triage: When you go to an emergency room, you first sit down with a triage nurse who records your symptoms, takes your vital signs and assesses the urgency of your medical need.

As of Thursday, that's happening over the phone for 911 callers in Washington, D.C., where triage nurses now sit alongside 911 dispatchers to help field calls.

Former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who claims to have had a 10-month affair with President Trump that ended in 2007, has settled a lawsuit with the owner of the National Enquirer that kept her from publicly discussing the relationship.

Facebook on Wednesday announced it is introducing "new privacy experiences" aimed at complying with European Union regulations that will give users worldwide a chance to opt out of some features that could expose their personal data.

"Everyone – no matter where they live – will be asked to review important information about how Facebook uses data and make choices about their privacy on Facebook," said Erin Egan, Facebook's chief privacy officer and Ashlie Beringer, deputy general counsel.

Friday is April 20, a day that some people celebrate by smoking marijuana. The Police Department in Lawrence, Kan., is preparing for this week's pot holiday by sending safety tips via their official Twitter account, run by officer Drew Fennelly.

Those tweets have gotten thousands of likes, and they aren't the only ones. Fennelly says that using humor serves a purpose: The funnier the tweet, the more likely the department's updates reach a wider audience.

It's not often a town of roughly 1,000 makes national news. But then, it's not often a town faces a plight so ripe for media attention as Parrish, Ala.

Slide Fire Solutions, the company that invented and manufactures bump stocks, announced Tuesday it is shutting down production.

A notice on its website reads, "On Sunday, May 20, 2018 at midnight CST, Slide Fire will cease taking orders for its products and shut down its website."

Bump stocks are modification devices used to accelerate a gun's shooting rate so it fires like an automatic weapon — almost as fast as machine guns, which are largely outlawed.

Updated at 8:40 p.m. ET

SpaceX has launched NASA's planet-hunting satellite TESS into outer space Wednesday evening from Cape Canaveral.

Tess — short for Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite — will spend two years searching for planets near bright, nearby stars. The satellite was launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

The launch window was narrow — just 30 seconds — and TESS was to be deployed into orbit about 48 minutes after launch.

Fifty years ago, Johnny Cash performed at Folsom State Prison in Folsom, Calif. The January 1968 concert and live album it produced, At Folsom Prison, helped revitalize Cash's career, inspiring him to testify for prison reform and cementing his reputation as a voice for the downtrodden.

French President Emmanuel Macron has ambitious plans for European Union reform and has been counting on cooperation from Germany, France's closest European ally, to see those plans come to fruition. But when he meets in Berlin Thursday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss his proposals, he may face resistance.

While Germany is decidedly pro-EU, Merkel is under domestic pressure to push back against economic reforms that could vex taxpayers. And some of Macron's proposals would do exactly that.

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

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

At Trump National Doral Golf Club near Miami this week, executives with the nation's payday loan industry are holding their annual conference with receptions, breakout sessions and a golf tournament.

Outside the gates of the resort Tuesday, a smaller group gathered to hold a protest. They were trying to shame an industry that they say preys on the vulnerable, by lending them money at interest rates as high as 200 percent to 300 percent a year.

Pages