National & International News

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

Update at 4:08 p.m. ET. Report Released:

The State Department, which is ultimately charged with approving or denying TransCanada's plans to build a 1,700 mile pipeline from Canada and through the U.S., has released a draft report that details the potential environmental impacts of the Keystone XL pipeline.

An experiment that used rats to create a "brain-to-brain interface" shows that instructions can be transferred between animals via electronic signals and the Internet, according to scientists who studied how rats can use brain implants to share problem-solving information.

He can't do "a Jedi mind meld" with Republicans and get them to see his way about taxes and spending, President Obama said Friday.

About which CBS News' Mark Knoller immediately tweeted:

"Pres Obama Mixed Metaphor of the Day: The 'mind meld' is not a Jedi tool from Star Wars, but a Vulcan ability from Star Trek."

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski says his agency will investigate whether a federal ban on unlocking cellphones is "harmful to economic competitiveness."

Genachowski made the comments during a event hosted by the technology site TechCrunch.

The question of whodunit remains unanswered in the case of a Chicago lottery winner who died last July with a lethal amount of cyanide in his blood.

Cook County Medical Examiner Dr. Stephen Cina said Friday that tests on the remains of Urooj Khan did not detect cyanide in tissues or what remains of his digestive system.

A wave of violence has rocked Bangladesh after a special war crimes tribunal Thursday imposed the death penalty on an Islamist leader for his role in the country's 1971 war of independence from Pakistan.

Demonstrators for and against the convicted leader clashed with security forces, leaving dozens of people dead, including police.

The violence demonstrates the deep sensitivities that remain over the war of independence that played out more than 40 years ago.

Saying it was a "sad day," Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder declared a financial emergency in the city of Detroit. He said that while it would not be appropriate to appoint an emergency manager, now, he would think about doing so after March 12. That's the day set aside for a hearing, if the city appeals his decision.

"I do have a top candidate," Snyder said during a press conference.

The Detroit Free Press explains:

"Washington sure isn't making it easy" for the American people and the American economy, President Obama told reporters late Friday morning as he and other lawmakers failed to reach a deal to avert $85 billion worth of automatic "sequester" spending cuts due to start at the end of the day.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has restored the voting rights of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

If you remember Libby was former Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff. As the AP explains, "he was convicted in 2007 of perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements in a case involving leaked information that compromised the covert identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame. Libby's 2½-year prison sentence was commuted by then-President George W. Bush."

Kim Dotcom, founder of the file-sharing website Megaupload, says he will take his fight against extradition to the United States to New Zealand's highest court, after an appeals court ruled in the U.S. government's favor Friday.

At issue is the amount of evidence Dotcom's defense team is entitled to see at the extradition hearing. An appeals court overruled a lower court's decision that the U.S. government had to provide more than a summary of its case against the Internet entrepreneur.

Update at 8:10 p.m. ET: Problem Fixed, Arrival Delayed

SpaceX says the problem with its unmanned craft carrying supplies for the International Space Station has been fixed.

In a country where executions are so commonplace as to barely rate a mention on the evening news, the death by lethal injection of a drug lord and three accomplices in China on Friday got its own two-hour special on state television.

Will there be any clues in coming days and weeks about which cardinal will replace the now-departed Pope Benedict XVI?

On a day when we're in the final countdown for sequestration, Washington is still abuzz over whether or not White House economic adviser Gene Sperling threatened journalist Bob Woodward.

Shakes on a plane aren't all that funny to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Colorado College's ultimate frisbee team last month convinced the crew aboard a Frontier Airlines fight to let them do the "Harlem Shake."

Update at 2:30 p.m. ET. Rescue Hopes Dim Further:

"Hopes for the rescue of a man sucked into a sinkhole were dimming Friday as authorities tried to determine whether the ground nearby was stable enough for a rescue operation," the Tampa Bay Times writes.

The Times also has a harrowing account from Jeremy Bush, who survived, of his brother Jeffrey's disappearance into the sinkhole:

Update at 11:55 a.m. ET. As Expected, No Deal:

President Obama and Congressional leaders met at the White House Friday morning and, just as pundits predicted, they could not reach a deal to avert the $85 billion in automatic spending cuts set to begin at the end of the day. We've posted on that news:

Decrying 'Dumb, Arbitrary Cuts,' Obama Says 'We Will Get Through This'

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

Hear Laura Sydell's report for Morning Edition by clicking the audio link.

Groupon co-founder Andrew Mason has been fired as the daily-deal company's CEO, one day after Groupon posted financial results that showed it lost $67.4 million during 2012. Board chairmen Eric Lefkofsky and Ted Leonsis will jointly fill the CEO post on an interim basis.

File this one under Sisyphean tasks: The government of Iceland is drafting plans to ban pornography both online and in print.

Supporters of the ban, proposed by Interior Minister Ogmundur Jonasson, says it will shield children from harm.

Writing in the Guardian, Halla Gunnarsdottir, political adviser to Jonasson, said:

Update at 6:44 p.m. ET. Limited Gay Marriage Right:

The Obama administration is asking the Supreme Court to end a ban on gay marriage in California.

But NPR's Nina Totenberg tells our Newscast unit that the government is arguing for limited gay marriage rights.

As Pope Benedict XVI left the Vatican and his papacy, he slipped out of his trademark red shoes and put on a pair of Mexican leather loafers. The shoes, actually three pairs, two burgundy and one brown, were a gift to the Pope during his trip last year to Mexico.

After a weekend that saw journalists on the Oscars red carpet struggling to pronounce the name of 9-year-old Best Actress nominee Quvenzhané Wallis, we decided to ask the Twitter masses for their funniest or most annoying stories about people mispronouncing their "unconventional" or "ethnic" names.

Here's a few of the best:

Do you have any similar stories? We'd love to hear them in the comments.

A relatively routine plea hearing in Beckley, W.Va, Thursday, took an unexpected and dramatic turn when a former Massey Energy executive implicated former CEO Don Blankenship in a criminal conspiracy.

It's the first time Blankenship has been publicly named as an alleged conspirator in the ongoing federal criminal investigation of the 2010 explosion at Massey's Upper Big Branch coal mine.

Update at 5:52 p.m. ET. Judge Accepts Plea:

A military judge in Fort Meade, Md. accepted 10 guilty pleas from Army Pfc. Bradley Manning on Thursday.

Manning pleaded guilty to lesser charges, but he is still facing a court martial over the charge of aiding the enemy.

NPR's Carrie Johnson filed this report for our Newscast unit:

"Manning says he misused classified information when he leaked thousands of war reports and diplomatic cables to the web site Wikileaks.

Fancy some free cash? Don't even bother to insert your ATM card.

People in Spain thought it was a joke — or a fraud — when a video popped up on YouTube showing what looks like a normal ATM, offering 100 euros ($131) for free — without a bank card. It seemed too good to be true.

Update at 7:45 a.m. ET, March 1. Kims Are "Great Leaders," Rodman Says:

On his way home Friday from North Korea, former NBA star Dennis Rodman said Kim Jong Un, his father and grandfather have been "great leaders." According to The Associated Press, Rodman also said of the young North Korean leader that "he's proud, his country likes him — not like him, love him, love him. ... Guess what, I love him. The guy's really awesome."

Our original post — Dennis Rodman To Kim Jong Un: 'You Have A Friend For Life':

A roaming chicken's close inspection of a transformer caused a power outage and brief delays at Maui's Kahului Airport this week. The incident occurred Tuesday afternoon, when the bird wandered into a transformer at the airport's rental car area, leaving parts of the facility without power for more than an hour.

Marco McMillian, thought to be one of the first openly gay men to seek political office in Mississippi, was found dead near a levee, yesterday.

McMillian was running for mayor of the town of Clarksdale, a town known for its rich artistic history. (At one point or another it was home to the likes of Sam Cooke and Tennessee Williams.) The AP reports that McMillian was considered to be "a man on the rise."

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