National & International News

We follow stories about America and the world, with help from NPR.

Updated at 3:30 p.m. ET

The Federal Reserve announced another quarter-percentage-point increase in interest rates Wednesday as expected, citing a strong labor market and economy.

The Fed raised the benchmark borrowing rate to a range of 2 percent to 2.25 percent, the third hike this year.

Federal and state authorities in Mexico have disarmed the entire police force in the city of Acapulco as investigators look into suspicions that it has been infiltrated by drug gangs.

According to The Associated Press, officers "were stripped of their guns, radios and bullet-proof vests and taken for background checks. Law enforcement duties in the seaside city of 800,000 will be taken over by soldiers, marines and state police."

Air ambulance rides can be lifesavers. But how much should they cost?

In the ongoing, crowdsourced "Bill of the Month" investigation, NPR and Kaiser Health News have received more than a dozen bills from people around the country on the hook for medevac helicopter rides that ranged from $28,000 to $97,000.

What gives? Why should a lifesaving flight come with a life-altering bill?

Experienced gun hobbyists recognized the sound right away.

"I knew for a fact it was a bump stock as soon as I heard the video," says Jeff LaCroix. He's a recreational shooter in Louisiana. He says the rapid, uneven sound of the gunfire at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas last Oct. 1 made it clear to him a bump stock was involved.

At the direction of Congress, Medicare is easing up on its annual readmissions penalties for hundreds of hospitals serving large populations of low-income patients, records released last week show.

The stakes are high for Thursday's Capitol Hill hearing, pitting Trump Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh against Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused him of sexual assault — an accusation Kavanaugh has denied — when they were both in high school more than three decades ago.

Gender gaps aren't just for the workplace, and the midterm elections are proving it. An NPR analysis of campaign finance records shows that Democratic women candidates face a fundraising gap, compared to Democratic men, in the party's toughest House races.

The Virginia Department of Corrections has decided to hold off implementing a controversial new policy that would have barred women from visiting state prisons wearing tampons or menstrual cups.

As NPR's Laurel Wamsley reported on Monday, the policy — meant to prevent the smuggling of contraband — was to have gone into effect next month.

A Chinese citizen was arrested Tuesday on charges that he helped China in an effort to recruit engineers and scientists at U.S. defense contractors for possible espionage.

In a 17-page criminal complaint dated Sept. 21, federal prosecutors charged Ji Chaoquan, 27, with one count of knowingly acting as the agent of a foreign power.

The controversial herbicide Roundup has been accused of causing cancer in humans and now scientists in Texas argue that the world's most popular weed killer could be partly responsible for killing off bee populations around the world.

Some physicians who examined immigrants while working for the federal government had histories of diluting vaccinations, exploiting women and hiring a hit man to kill a dissatisfied patient, according to a scathing report released by the Department of Homeland Security's internal watchdog.

Violent crime stayed essentially flat last year, according to statistics just released by the FBI. Those crimes were down by 0.2 percent last year, after a sharp increase of more than 5 percent the year before.

That means violent crime has essentially plateaued at a level higher than the lows of a few years ago — but is still substantially lower than the high rates of the 1980s and 1990s.

Updated 11:48 p.m. ET

Justice Department official John Gore must sit for questioning by attorneys for the lawsuits over the citizenship question his department requested to be added to the 2020 census, a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled.

Updated at 5:20 p.m. ET

Twenty-seven years after testifying that then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas sexually harassed her, Anita Hill says she believes the upcoming hearing on an alleged sexual assault by the current nominee "cannot be fair and thorough."

As it stands now, the hearing cannot provide the senators "with enough information to reach a reasonable conclusion," Hill tells NPR.

A report on clerical sexual abuse in Germany released Tuesday found thousands of cases of sexual abuse of minors by clerics in the Catholic Church between 1946 and 2014 — and warns that the actual number is surely higher.

The study looked at more than 38,000 sets of personnel records from the country's dioceses, as well as criminal records and interviews with those who say they were abused and clerics accused of abuse.

Even as he was making plans to rent a Taipei apartment last week, it appears that Cody Wilson had already severed all ties with the controversial 3D gun printing company he founded in 2012.

In June, M., a 28-year-old woman jumped from the second floor of her home in Madurai, India — 20 feet above a rocky, tar road — after a bitter argument with her husband. He had accused her of having an affair.

The state of Maine has asked the owner of a lobster restaurant to stop giving cannabis to lobsters in order to get them high before they die.

Charlotte Gill, owner of Charlotte's Legendary Lobster Pound in Southwest Harbor, Maine, says she is convinced that a small dose of cannabis can help calm crustaceans before they're cooked in a traditional lobster pot.

Gill has designed what could be considered the equivalent of a bong hit for lobsters in a small plastic box, without any residual effects for consumers, she says.

Archaeologists have uncovered what they say is a 'huge' ancient building in what was once Egypt's capital city, the country's Antiquities Ministry announced Tuesday.

The city of Memphis was founded circa 2925 B.C. by Menes, a king who is said to have united the prehistoric kingdoms of Upper and Lower Egypt. The city was originally called the White Walls, a term that may have come from the king's palace of whitewashed brick.

Updated at 5 p.m. ET

Editor's note: This story contains a graphic description of sexual assault.

A Montgomery County, Pa., judge sentenced disgraced comedian Bill Cosby to three to 10 years in state prison Tuesday, saying that the words of Cosby's main accuser Andrea Constand that the entertainer took her "beautiful, young spirit and crushed it" helped him reach his decision.

"It is time for justice, Mr. Cosby," said Montgomery County Judge Steven O'Neill. "This has all circled back to you."

A scientist in Australia has come up with an insecticide-free way to control a particularly pesky species of mosquito.

The approach involves two things: deploying a decidedly low-tech mosquito trap called a GAT and getting to know your neighbors.

GAT stands for Gravid Aedes Trap. Aedes is short for Aedes albopictus, known colloquially as the Asian tiger mosquito, which bites aggressively night and day.

Updated at 5:18 p.m. ET

Officials from 14 states' top legal offices and the Justice Department have begun a coordinated conversation about ways to keep tabs on — and potentially rein in — the fast-growing tech giants.

It may not sound like a hot ticket, but on a balmy Saturday night at the United Nations earlier this month, a throng of smartly dressed millennials from around the world piled into the elegant, tiered rows of the United Nations Economic and Social Council chamber.

They had come to see who would win the $1 million dollar Hult Prize, a winner-take-all award that would go to just one team among six who had spent the previous nine months putting together environmentally-friendly business projects aimed at doing good in the world.

Hannah Storm and Andrea Kremer will become the first female announcing team to cover an NFL game this Thursday, with Amazon Prime Video offering the pair as an online alternative to the Fox broadcast crew of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman.

"Teaming up with Hannah and Amazon for this is truly special," Kremer said in a news release. "Hannah is a brilliant journalist and she has been a friend for many years. With decades of experience as storytellers, we will be bringing a different voice and viewpoint to covering the game of football."

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven has lost a confidence vote, effectively forcing him out of his post and plunging Sweden's politics into uncertainty.

National elections earlier this month resulted in a hung parliament after a far-right party made significant gains. Now, the parliament's speaker will tap another leader to try to form a government, but the shape of any future alliance is far from clear.

Updated at 11 p.m. ET

It took British artist Jason deCaires Taylor nine months to develop his latest work: a 20-foot-tall stainless steel cube decorated with life-size human statues and semi-submerged in a coral lagoon in crystal blue waters off the Maldives islands.

But it took the Maldivian police just a few hours to wreck it.

Updated at 7:47 p.m. ET

President Trump attacked Brett Kavanaugh's second accuser Tuesday, saying she "has nothing" on the Supreme Court nominee and was "totally inebriated and all messed up" during a college party at which, she said, Kavanaugh exposed himself to her.

Trump, at a photo op during his visit to the United Nations, said the accusations were part of a "con game being played by Democrats."

Updated at 1:06 p.m. ET.

President Trump defended his "America First" agenda in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, in effect spiking the football at what his secretary of state described as the "Super Bowl of diplomacy."

The president boasted that he's accomplished more during his time in office than almost any previous administration — a claim that drew immediate laughter from the assembled diplomats and other world leaders.

Trump pressed ahead, undaunted.

"I didn't expect that reaction, but that's OK," he said.

Fashion company Michael Kors is buying Versace, the Italian luxury brand founded by Gianni Versace in 1978, for $2.12 billion. The two fashion houses made the announcement Tuesday, one day after speculation spread about a potential deal.

Donatella Versace, the artistic director of the Milan-based fashion house who helped lead the company after her brother's death in 1997, said it's the perfect time for the company to join with Michael Kors.

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