News You Can Use

For more than a century, a 52-foot obelisk has stood in the center of Birmingham, Ala., a monument to Confederate soldiers and sailors who fought in the Civil War.

In 2017, amid a national reckoning on racial violence and Confederate symbolism, the city's mayor decided the monument should be covered up. Tall plywood walls were installed around its base, obscuring inscriptions on the pedestal.

Huawei Founder Denies His Firm Spies For China

Jan 15, 2019

The founder and CEO of Huawei denies his company spies for China. In a rare public appearance at the tech company's campus in Shenzhen, Ren Zhengfei told reporters he would refuse to share user data with the government if asked, and he said he misses his daughter, who is in Canada facing possible extradition to the U.S.

Updated at 6:00 a.m. ET on Wednesday

An attack on a luxury hotel in Nairobi killed 14 civilians Tuesday, including one American, before security forces subdued the gunmen.

Kenyan authorities declared that the violence had ended multiple times, only to be contradicted by bursts of gunfire that kept police busy for several more hours. Al-Shabab, the Islamic extremist group based in Somalia, claimed responsibility for the attack, carried out by at least four armed men.

A hint of a cotton plant is growing on the moon, inside China's lunar lander, scientists in China say.

Photos released on Tuesday by Chongqing University, in collaboration with the China National Space Administration, show the small, green shoot from a cotton seed reaching out of a latticed container aboard the probe Chang'e-4, named after the Chinese lunar goddess.

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The wind howls and snow drifts around a house in Koriyama, in northeastern Japan's Fukushima prefecture. The town is inland from Fukushima's coastal areas that were devastated by the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear plant meltdown.

Inside the home, several Vietnamese laborers prepare dinner. The house is a shelter, run by local Catholics, for foreign workers who are experiencing problems in Japan.

The overuse of technology has overtaken drugs, sex and bullying as the biggest parental worry, according to the annual Brigham Young and Deseret News American Family Survey.

But what are we actually supposed to be doing about it?

Jordan Shapiro, a Temple University professor whose background is in philosophy and psychology, has a prescription that might surprise you. In his new book, The New Childhood, his argument is that we're not spending enough screen time with our kids.

Episode #1903

Jan 15, 2019

Immortal Technique, Taina and Reyna Grande's New Memoir

Growing up, actor John C. Reilly remembers watching the comedy of slapstick duo Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy and feeling very touched. It wasn't just that the two made him laugh, Reilly says, there was something more.

"The brilliant thing about their work when you watch it, it seems so nonchalant," he says. "It seems like they're doing it for the first time."

Then Reilly got a role playing Oliver Hardy in the new film Stan & Ollie and he realized just how much planning and precision went into those seemingly effortless physical comedy routines.

A panel of judges at the International Criminal Court has dismissed charges of war crimes against former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo, the first former head of state to stand trial at the ICC. Charges against his former youth minister, Charles Blé Goudé, also were dropped.

As turn-of-the-millennium YA soaps on television go, Roswell was no Buffy or Dawson's Creek, but it had its devotees. Furthermore, it was the big break for both Shiri Appleby and Katherine Heigl, both of whom are still in TV 20 years after Roswell premiered in 1999. Now, the reboot business has found Roswell — now called Roswell, New Mexico in its new form on the CW. (Both are based on the Melinda Metz book series Roswell High.)

Updated at 4:15 p.m. ET

Pressure mounted on Iowa GOP Rep. Steve King on Tuesday as a top House Republican leader called on him to resign over his recent comments to The New York Times on white supremacy.

"We do not support it or agree with it, and as I said I think he should find another line of work," House GOP Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., told reporters Tuesday morning.

What The Future Of Work Means For Cities

Jan 15, 2019

NOTE: This is an excerpt of Planet Money's newsletter. You can sign up here.

Updated at 5:24 p.m. ET

With the U.K. fast approaching the March 29 deadline for when it will leave the European Union, the prospects for an orderly, on-time Brexit — or even any Brexit at all — have dimmed considerably. On Tuesday evening, British lawmakers rejected the deal Prime Minister Theresa May had reached with the EU, opening a Pandora's box of possible outcomes to be considered in the weeks to come.

And the result of the critical vote wasn't even particularly close.

Updated at 5:08 p.m. ET

A federal judge in New York has ruled against the Trump administration's decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman ordered the administration to stop its plans to include the controversial question on forms for the upcoming national head count "without curing the legal defects" the judge identified in his 277-page opinion released on Tuesday.

Carol Channing's trademark platinum blond hair framed a face that always seemed to be smiling, her wide-eyed innocent style belied a very savvy mind, and her voice was unmistakable. She died Tuesday morning, her publicist told Broadway World. She was 97 years old.

Born in Seattle in 1921, Channing's parents were Christian Scientists. She recalls that she got her first glimpse of backstage delivering copies of The Christian Science Monitor to theaters.

It's a scene often observed in the White House. Men in bow ties light golden candelabras while the president of the United States stands behind a table containing small mountains of food on silver trays.

So far, so good.

But look closely, and you'll see the labels on the packages: "Quarter Pounder." "Filet-O-Fish." Chicken nugget dipping sauces sit in serving bowls off to the side. Behind the current president, Abraham Lincoln looks down, his hand on his chin, surveying the scene.

If only paintings could offer witty commentary.

Updated at 5:17 p.m. ET

President Trump's choice to lead the Justice Department, William Barr, took questions from lawmakers Tuesday, with the central one being whether Barr will work to impede the Russia investigation.

Barr, who previously served as attorney general under President George H.W. Bush, appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee for the first day of his confirmation hearing.

The 18-year-old Saudi woman who secured asylum in Canada hopes other women will be inspired to follow in her footsteps.

Try this: Write a list of every piece of plastic you touch in a day.

I did it. I stopped counting at 56 items.

Plastic is to our time what wood was for millennia. But unlike wood, most plastic doesn't go away. It ends up as trash in streets, rivers, lakes and oceans. It breaks down into microplastic — particles a tenth of an inch or smaller — and gets into our food and water. The health effects are largely unknown.

So far, Maggie Rogers has spent a healthy dose of her professional career as an online sensation. That may not sound strange given the Internet age, but in Rogers' case, it was entirely accidental.

Last September, the Trump administration unveiled a controversial proposal — a policy that, if implemented, could jeopardize the legal status of many immigrants who sign up for some government-funded programs, including Medicaid.

Aaron Lee Tasjan arrived at the Tiny Desk in his fashionable ascot and mustard-colored shirt, sporting reflective, red, rounded sunglasses and mutton chops. As he warmed up, the sound of the middle-and-late 1960s came through his seagreen, Gorsuch 12-string guitar while his voice felt both familiar and fresh. This buoyant, East Nashville-via-Ohio soul and his fabulous band have a knack for channeling Paul McCartney, Tom Petty and The Kinks.

It's been a minute since we got together to share some all-new music – not since our Nov. 6 show of last year, in fact.

What drove a man to fatally shoot a couple in Wisconsin and kidnap their teenage daughter?

Human trafficking has taken on "horrific" dimensions, according to the 2018 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons released this month by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Editor's Note: NPR's Kirk Siegler is based temporarily in Butte County, Calif. Along with other reporters, he will be covering the cleanup and recovery effort in and around Paradise. If you want to share your story email natdesk@npr.org with "Paradise" in the subject line.

The quaint, college town and farming hub of Chico is clogged. People are living out of every hotel in town. Campers line neighborhood streets and the country roads that fan out into the walnut and citrus orchards. Every guesthouse and guest room is full.

Updated at 1:45 a.m. ET

A Canadian man who appealed his 15-year prison sentence in China for drug smuggling was instead sentenced to death — a swift ruling that has led some experts to believe Beijing is applying pressure to Canada after last month's arrest of Chinese tech executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver.

President Trump spoke to the centennial gathering of the American Farm Bureau Federation Monday, cultivating ties to rural voters who were a key factor in his 2016 election.

"I'm proud to be a great friend of the farmer," Trump said, addressing the group's convention for the second year in a row.

The president drew applause as he recounted administration efforts to reduce regulation and save the very wealthiest farmers from the estate tax.

People often confuse Brittany Sears with Britney Spears. But Sears is no multimillionaire pop star. In fact, money is tight for Sears, a federal correctional officer in Safford, Ariz.

Updated at 4 p.m. ET

Pacific Gas & Electric Corp., the parent company of California's largest utility, plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection amid what could be billions of dollars in liability costs over the massive wildfires that have torn through California in recent years.

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