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U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter made a surprise visit to Afghanistan today, as part of a round-the-world farewell tour. "The interests we are pursuing here are clear and enduring," said Carter at Bagram Air Force Base, as reported by the Associated Press. "To have a stable security partner that is eager and willing to work with the United States is an asset for the future for us." This is Carter's last planned trip to Afghanistan; President-elect Donald Trump has nominated retired Marine...

Patricia Aquilar, 21, began working at DeRuyter Brothers Dairy in central Washington nearly three years ago. She worked at the dairy's milking parlor, which she says handles about 3000 cows three times each day, seven days a week. Aquilar was one of four dairy workers responsible for pushing and guiding the cows into the parlor, connecting the animals to milking machines, wiping them and the machinery down, and cleaning towels and milk tanks.
"I worked six days a week for eight or nine...

The number of new cancer cases grew worldwide to 17.5 million in 2015 from 13.1 million in 2005. And the fastest growth is in some of the world's poorest countries, according to a report on the global burden of cancer in the Dec. 3 journal JAMA Oncology . "Cancer is increasingly important in countries where the main disease burden has always been infectious diseases," says Dr. Christina Fitzmaurice, an author of the report and assistant professor at the Institute for Health Metrics and...

Change is afoot in Las Vegas. A new casino resort opened this month and its catering primarily to Asian tourists. Its signs are in Chinese and English, and the hotel features authentic Chinese food. Two major hotel corporations are now charging for parking at their resorts. Robert Rippee ( @rippee_robert ), director of the Hospitality Lab at the International Gaming Institute at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, tells Here & Now s Jeremy Hobson about how the city continues to grow and...

Inside A Genetic Time Capsule For Seeds

22 hours ago

Climate change has altered the growing season for many plants, including wildflowers. Observation has been the most powerful tool for scientists who study this shift. But its the plants seeds that may provide the most meaningful answers in the decades to come. Grace Hood  ( @ gracehood ) from Here & Now contributor Colorado Public Radio takes us to a seed vault at Colorado State University that’s created tiny genetic time capsules for future use. Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http:/...

President-elect Trump has said he will dismantle and replace the Affordable Care Act, and possibly privatize Medicaid the insurance program for the very poor. Several Republican governors say they’re putting their state’s Medicaid expansion on hold, as they wait to find out Obamacare’s fate. That news is alarming to some shooting victims and their physicians. Many of these patients, who are young, minority men and uninsured, are finally able to get follow-up care through the Medicaid...

Alsarah was born in Sudan to politically active parents. When she was still a child a coup there forced the family to flee to Yemen. Then, after civil war broke out in Yemen, they had to flee again, this time to Amherst, Massachusetts — all by the time Alsarah was 12. But please, says the singer-songwriter, don't pigeonhole her as some sort of "refugee artist." "I was a refugee coming in. I know what it feels like when you first land somewhere and you don't have any of the resources, you don...

The widening gap between rich and poor Americans has pushed the chances of children earning more money than their parents down to around 50 percent, economic researchers say. That's a sharp fall from 1940, when 90 percent of kids were destined to move up the income ladder. Describing an American dream that for many has faded into a less plentiful reality, Stanford economics professor Raj Chetty said in a news release , "It's basically a coin flip as to whether you'll do better than your...

Even after he becomes president, Donald Trump will hold another title dear to his heart: executive producer. The next head of the U.S. government is to retain a stake and a credit for the NBC reality series Celebrity Apprentice, Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks tells NPR. The story was first reported in the Hollywood trade publication Variety . "Mr. Trump has a big stake in the show and conceived of it with Mark Burnett," Hicks told NPR. The show, for which Trump served as host and an executive...

If you could change the way a monkey or an ape's brain is wired, that animal would be capable of producing perfectly intelligible speech. That's the conclusion of a study that closely tracked the movements of a monkey's mouth and throat with X-rays, to understand the full potential of its vocal tract . Researchers then used that information to create a computer model of what it would sound like if the monkey were able to say phrases such as "happy holidays." The finding calls into question...

Any pet owner will tell you that their animal companions comfort and sustain them when life gets rough. This may be especially true for people with serious mental illness, a study finds. When people with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder were asked who or what helped them manage the condition, many said it was pets that helped the most. "When I'm feeling really low they are wonderful because they won't leave my side for two days," one study participant with two dogs and two cats, "They just...

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air . DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli, FRESH AIR's TV critic, sitting in for Terry Gross. TV executive Grant Tinker died last week at age 90. Today, we'll listen back to Terry's 1994 interview with him, as well as a 1995 interview with Mary Tyler Moore, Grant Tinker's ex-wife, who starred in two famous and influential sitcoms with which Tinker was involved - "The Dick Van Dyke Show" and "The Mary Tyler Moore Show...

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air . DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. "La La Land" is the third film by the director Damien Chazelle, best known for his drama "Whiplash," which won an Academy Award for J.K. Simmons as a sadistic music teacher. The protagonist of "La La Land," played by Ryan Gosling, is also a jazz musician, but the film is a full-scale musical that also stars Emma Stone. Film critic David Edelstein has a review. DAVID EDELSTEIN, BYLINE: Damien...

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air . DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. Rock critic Ken Tucker has a review of "Little World," the second album by the California-based singer Allyson Seconds. Ken says its pop songs recall an earlier era of California rock music. (SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SUN DON'T SHINE") ALLYSON SECONDS: (Singing) I want to know why the sun don't shine and why the snow fall in summertime. Rational thought... KEN TUCKER, BYLINE: In Allyson Seconds'...

Civilians are trying to flee a tightening siege in the rebel-held parts of Syria's northern city of Aleppo, as government forces and their Russian allies continue to seize territory while trying to take full control of the city. They're taking aim at the final major urban area still held by rebel forces. A new U.N. report suggests that hundreds of men have disappeared upon entering government-controlled areas of the city. The men are being separated from women and children , the report states...

President Obama has ordered the intelligence community to conduct a "full review" of "malicious cyber activity" timed to U.S. elections, the White House said Friday. The review will go all the way back to the 2008 campaign when China was found to have hacked both the Obama and McCain campaigns , White House spokesman Eric Schultz said at a Friday press briefing. In the 2016 election, U.S. intelligence officials charged that Russia had interfered. In early October, they released a strongly...

Everyone called this a "change election," and with the fiercely anti-establishment Donald Trump, Americans certainly got change. But they are still uncertain about what they think of their new Change President. Forty-one percent of Americans say they approve of how well he has explained his "policies and plans for the future to the American people," according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center . That's lower than any incoming president since at least George H.W. Bush, in 1989....

An Alabama man convicted of murdering a convenience store clerk in 1994 was put to death by lethal injection on Thursday night, hours after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to stay the execution and amid ongoing legal challenges to the state's lethal injection protocol. Ronald Bert Smith Jr. had been on Alabama's death row since 1995, when he was convicted of murdering Casey Wilson, a convenience store clerk, during a robbery. The execution took place late Thursday night local time at the...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. RACHEL MARTIN, HOST: One of the most prominent far-right politicians in Europe has been convicted of, quote, "inciting discrimination" against Dutch Moroccans. His name is Geert Wilders, and he's been an outspoken critic of Europe's immigration policies, especially in his own country, the Netherlands, and has adapted Donald Trump's campaign slogan for his own purposes. Make the Netherlands great again. Joining us now for more details...

A Dutch court has convicted far-right politician Geert Wilders of inciting discrimination, but decided not to impose any penalty. The case is rooted in comments the lawmaker made at a 2014 rally, when supporters chanted that they wanted fewer Moroccans in the country. He then told them, "We're going to take care of that." Thousands of complaints were then filed, ushering in this case. "Prosecutors, who rejected Wilders' assertions the trial was politically motivated, asked that he be fined $5...

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