National & International News

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

When British Prime Minister Theresa May strutted up to the podium Wednesday, she was all smiles. And shimmies. And were those jazz hands?

For decades, the label "Made in Germany" has stood for quality and a guarantee of expensive, precision engineering. Conversely, "Made in China" has long been a marker of substandard, cheap, knockoff products. But this is changing.

Beijing's "Made in China 2025" policy aims to transform its manufacturing sector into an excellence-driven, global leader in high-end technology. While Germany still has the edge in engineering expertise, a steady increase in the number of Chinese firms buying up key German tech firms has triggered angst in Berlin.

Travelers arriving in New Zealand may be asked to enter their passcode or fingerprint to allow customs agents to search their electronic devices. And if they don't comply? They could be fined up to 5,000 New Zealand dollars — about $3,270 U.S.

This is due to new legislation called the Customs and Excise Act 2018, which updates language from a 1996 law. The law, which went into effect this week, also gives agents the authority to copy or clone any data on searched devices.

Scientists may have detected the first moon orbiting a planet in a far-off solar system, though they caution that they still want to confirm the finding with another round of telescope observations.

"The fact is, it's so strange and it's the first of its kind," says David Kipping, an astronomer at Columbia University. "That demands a higher level of rigor and skepticism than you would normally apply to a run-of-the-mill detection."

Updated at 7:51 a.m. ET on Thursday

The FBI's highly anticipated supplemental background check on Brett Kavanaugh was sent to the White House and Capitol Hill overnight, with senators set to review the report on Thursday in the final chapter of what has become a deeply acrimonious confirmation battle.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced the planned arrival of the report on Wednesday night and said all senators would get a chance to review it ahead of the next procedural milestones in the chamber.

Fall has arrived, which means seasonal scents will start wafting across the United States. Dried leaves in the Northeast. The dusty Santa Ana winds of California. Pumpkin-spice everything at your local hipster hangout.

But residents in the American Southwest probably consider their aroma the best: the intoxicating, eye-watering eau de roasted chile.

Cow Dung Soap Is Cleaning Up In India

Oct 3, 2018

The shelves in Umesh Soni's little store in downtown Mumbai are neatly stacked with soaps. There are handmade translucent bars, brightly colored circular soaps in tropical variants and square black bathing bars. It looks like any other soap shop.

Except all the soaps include cow dung and cow urine as ingredients.

Why make soap from this stuff?

The Mascot lander floated down to the surface of an asteroid hurtling through space, capturing photographs and other data, according to the German Aerospace Center. The lander sent a photo of its descent — showing its own shadow on the asteroid's surface.

The craft's Twitter feed echoed Alice in Wonderland, declaring: "And then I found myself in a place like no place on Earth. A land full of wonder, mystery and danger!"

Why Infanticide Is A Problem In Senegal

Oct 3, 2018

Editor's note: This story is about infanticide — the killing of a newborn baby — and includes graphic descriptions of that practice.

The trauma of sexual assault or harassment is not only hard to forget; it may also leave lasting effects on a woman's health. This finding of a study published Wednesday adds support to a growing body of evidence suggesting the link.

Aleigha Sloan can't remember ever drinking a glass of water from the tap at her home.

That is "absolutely dangerous," the 17-year-old says, wrinkling her nose and making a face at the thought.

"You just don't touch that tap water unless absolutely necessary. I mean, like showers and things — you have to do what you have to do. But other than that, no," she says. "I don't know anybody that does."

Updated at 12:45 p.m. ET

The U.N.'s top court gave a partial victory to Iran in its dispute with the U.S. on Wednesday, saying the U.S. "must remove" sanctions that could stop food, medical supplies and other humanitarian products from entering Iran.

Updated 9:25 a.m. ET

American Frances H. Arnold has won half of the 2018 Nobel Prize in chemistry for her work in changing how chemists produce new enzymes, sharing the prize with another American, George Smith, and Sir Gregory Winter of the U.K. for research that has led to new pharmaceuticals and cancer treatments.

Updated 7:04 p.m. ET

President Trump's nominee for the Census Bureau's next director, Steven Dillingham, took one step closer to filling a key leadership post for the 2020 census that's been empty for more than a year.

Fall is often the most intense movie season of all. Awards contenders begin to come into focus after the Toronto International Film Festival, while comedies and thrillers continue to hit screens. We got to see a lot of upcoming films at TIFF — below you'll find write-ups of 15 movies we really enjoyed and a heads-up about nearly 40 notable releases.

In the desert scrubland of Morocco's Tangier region, a donkey laden with water bottles trots down a pebble lane chased by two small children. A farmer herds his cows in the near distance. Crickets leap in the dry grass.

It's within these gently undulating hills, just inland from the coast, that China plans to build an entire city that will stand in monument to its expansion into a North African nation on Europe's doorstep.

When they're sick, Americans seem to know what they want: antibiotics. And if they don't get them, their doctors' reputations may suffer.

A study published Monday finds that patients rated themselves happiest with their doctor's visit when they got an antibiotic after seeking care for a respiratory tract infection, such as a common cold, whether they needed the drug or not.

Updated 11:00 p.m. ET

Chocolate cupcake, creme, mango, tutti frutti, "blue" — sugary-sounding flavors familiar to teenage e-cigarette users are facing more crackdowns from the Food and Drug Administration.

The Supreme Court grappled with a difficult death penalty question Tuesday. Does it violate the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment to execute a convicted murderer who has such severe dementia that he doesn't remember the crime he committed?

Vernon Madison committed a terrible crime. In 1985, after leaving his girlfriend's house, he returned, and shot and killed a police officer who sat outside in his car to provide protection for the woman.

Barbecued pork or fried chicken served with a heaping side of mac and cheese or creamy potato salad, sweet tea and peach cobbler — these Southern classics, loaded with as much history as flavor, have become comfort foods for Americans from all over.

Four men connected to a white supremacist group based in California have been arrested and charged with rioting at last year's Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va.

Updated on Wednesday at 4:15 p.m. ET

Wednesday afternoon, at exactly 2:18 p.m. ET, million of Americans received a text headlined "Presidential Alert" on their cellphones.

But it wasn't exactly from President Trump. Rather, it was a test of a new nationwide warning system that a president could use in case of an armed attack by another country, a cyberattack or a widespread natural disaster.

Working on your own can have its rewards, such as being able to set your own hours. But being self-employed also brings with it the headache of handling taxes — something a traditional employer normally does.

"It's just excruciatingly difficult to manage our finances," says P. Kim Bui, who has been a freelance consultant off and on for two years.

In addition to the Web design and social media work she's hired to do, she must also manage all her own office functions, from accounting to payroll.

The bomb specialists suspected that an Oregon home was booby-trapped. As they entered the front door, they noticed what appeared to be a tripwire. Seconds later, a shot rang out, apparently from a booby-trapped wheelchair. And an FBI bomb special agent was hit in the leg.

The State Department has reversed course on its visa requirements for same-sex partners of foreign diplomats and the staff of U.S.-based international organizations. On Monday, it implemented a policy denying visas to such partners if they're not legally married.

Updated at 9:49 p.m. ET

President Trump continued his defense Tuesday of his Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh, mocking one of Kavanaugh's accusers at a Mississippi campaign rally.

The latest move by Trump came just hours after he had highlighted the possibility of false accusations against young men in the midst of a cultural moment brought on in the past year by the #MeToo movement.

Donna Strickland seemed genuinely surprised to learn that she was only the third woman to ever win the Nobel Prize in physics.

"Is that all, really?" a flummoxed Strickland asked during a press conference announcing the prize. "I thought there might have been more."

From a hill overlooking Canberra, Australia's landlocked capital, Clive Hamilton points to the National Carillon, a bell tower that happens to be striking noon, then to a massive glass and concrete monolith.

"That's where ASIO lives," he says, using the common shorthand for Australia's intelligence agency, the Australian Security Intelligence Organization.

He then points out Australia's federal police building and to a compound in the middle, where China built its embassy.

Updated at 6:49 p.m. ET

Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke took the stand Tuesday to give his teary — and sometimes defensive — testimony about the night he fatally shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in the middle of a busy street on Chicago's Southwest Side.

Van Dyke, 40, faces first-degree murder, aggravated battery and official misconduct charges in the Oct. 20, 2014, shooting death. McDonald's death gained national attention in November 2015 when a judge ordered the city to release a police dashcam video of the white officer shooting the black teen.

Updated at 2 p.m. ET Wednesday

A massive relief effort is underway in Indonesia, where more than a thousand people are dead and tens of thousands more are displaced on the island of Sulawesi, after an earthquake and tsunami destroyed houses and other buildings last week.

It has taken days for the scale of the devastation to emerge, because the twin disasters crippled communications and damaged roads and airports. Those problems are also complicating efforts to bring aid to the city of Palu and other affected areas.

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