National & International News

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

Astronomers have found — way beyond the orbit of Pluto — an intriguing distant object orbiting the sun.

It's just a dwarf planet, about 200 miles across, but some researchers think finding it increases the likelihood that there is a heretofore undiscovered giant planet lurking in the outer reaches of our solar system. That would bring the number of true planets in our solar system back to nine, replacing Pluto which was demoted in 2006.

Everything seemed okay when Elizabeth Coleman went to bed on Sunday, September 16. After evacuating three days prior to escape Hurricane Florence, her family of four and parents-in-law had just returned to their one-level, two-bedroom ranch home on Crusoe Island Road in Whiteville, N.C. It was, thankfully, undamaged.

The family had gone home after evacuating because they believed that the storm had passed and they had heard that the floodwater was receding. They thought it would be safe to return.

By 5 a.m., something was wrong.

As the fight over the Brett Kavanaugh nomination continues to reverberate throughout the country, the shorthanded Supreme Court began its new term Monday. Republicans had hoped to seat nominee Brett Kavanaugh in time for the start of the term, but that, of course, did not happen.

On Nov. 11, 1861, the Qing dynasty opened a new agency to deal with foreigners. A target for the West's "gunboat diplomacy," the last imperial Chinese government had been forced to recognize a wider world and, with little leverage, it entered into a series of unequal treaties that crippled its economy and left it only more vulnerable. Still, Chinese officials believed the crisis would pass. It was for this reason that this new body, a quasi-ministry of foreign affairs, was housed in a small, shabby building that had previously served as the Department of Iron Coins.

First lady Melania Trump stood at the top of the airplane stairs in Accra, Ghana, smiled broadly and waving. Thus began the first stop of a multiday trip through the African continent that will take Trump to Ghana, Malawi, Kenya and Egypt, "four beautiful and very different countries in Africa," she said in recent remarks. It is her first solo foreign trip as first lady.

The thought that Donald Trump may have been totally unprepared to become president in November 2016 is one that's not new to those who have been following the day-to-day crises and dramas of the Trump White House closely.

But a case for this argument is revealingly and startlingly made by Michael Lewis in his fascinating — and at times harrowing — new book The Fifth Risk.

Donald Trump "personally directed" efforts to silence Stormy Daniels, The Wall Street Journal reported for the first time Tuesday morning.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, will be unsurprised.

Updated at 5:45 p.m. ET

Amazon will pay all of its U.S. employees a minimum of $15 an hour, more than double the federal minimum wage of $7.25. The retail giant, run by the world's richest man, was criticized earlier this year after revealing its workers' median pay was $28,446.

Amazon says the new rate will go into effect on Nov. 1, covering all of its full-time, part-time, temporary and seasonal employees in the U.S.

It's Saturday afternoon in the Dutch city of The Hague. Lonneke de Leeuw and Danny Dubbeldam just ordered a steak tartare sandwich and a chicken burger at The Vegetarian Butcher's new restaurant, De Vleesch Lobby, one of the few vegetarian eateries with plant-based meat and fish as its central theme.

Updated at 6:55 a.m. ET

This year's Nobel Prize in Physics has been "split" — with one half going to Arthur Ashkin, an American who won for his work with optical tweezers, while Gérard Mourou of France and Donna Strickland of Canada share the other half for work in generating high-intensity ultrashort optical pulses.

Together, their achievements mark groundbreaking achievements in the field of laser physics.

"This year's prize is about tools made from light," said the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm in its announcement on Tuesday.

A dean at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., has been suspended for a tweet that, according to university officials, "demonstrated a lack of sensitivity" to sexual assault survivors.

William Rainford, dean of the university's National Catholic School of Social Service, posted the tweet on his official university account last week, one day before Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh made back-to-back appearances before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Marilyn Bartlett took a deep breath, drew herself up to her full 5 feet and a smidge, and told the assembled handful of Montana officials that she had a radical strategy to bail out the state's foundering benefit plan for its 30,000 employees and their families.

The officials were listening. Their health plan was going broke, with losses that could top $50 million in just a few years. It needed a savior, but none of the applicants to be its new administrator had wowed them.

Now here was a self-described pushy 64-year-old grandmother interviewing for the job.

Criminal justice reformers have long called the U.S. courts system's reliance on money bail unjust: The wealthy, they argue, can simply buy their pretrial freedom, while the poor are stuck behind bars or get pressured into taking a plea deal.

This summer California became the largest state to abolish money bail. The historic move goes into effect next fall. But many of those who've pushed hardest for bail reform say this new system may be worse than the old one.

Christine Garcia, a 37-year-old stay-at-home mom, doesn't consider herself a particularly political person. But like a lot of women, she has strong opinions about President Trump.

"Maybe on the business side ... the money is better as far as I understand," Garcia said. "But a lot of the other things are very worrisome," she added with a laugh, as she pushed her daughter on a swing in a park in Birmingham, Mich., an affluent suburb of Detroit.

Garcia considers herself a fiscal conservative but a social liberal.

Drinking beer became such a theme in last week's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that Saturday Night Live spoofed Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's many references to drinking beer with his friends.

But there are serious questions underlying all the focus on beer: whether Kavanaugh was fully forthcoming in his testimony and what his behavior was like when drunk.

Updated at 5:00 a.m. ET on Wednesday

Staff Sgt. Ronald Shurer, a medic in the Green Berets, was part of a small unit sent by helicopter on a risky mission to track down an enemy fighter in a remote mountain village in northeastern Afghanistan in 2008.

After the Americans landed and began climbing the mountain to approach the village, they came under withering fire from an unexpectedly large force of some 200 fighters armed with automatic rifles, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, according to the military.

Updated at 9:09 a.m. ET Tuesday

When Dennis Dickey lined up his rifle, he was ready for a surprise. That is the point of a gender-reveal party, after all, and Dickey's inanimate target was ready to yield its unpredictable answer just as soon as he fired. But it wasn't his child's gender that was to offer the biggest bombshell of his family bash last year.

The top U.N. court has dashed hopes for Bolivians longing for something they haven't had for more than a century: Access to the Pacific Ocean.

In a judgment on Monday, the International Court of Justice stated that it did not find that Bolivia's neighbor Chile has a legal obligation to enter into negotiations with Bolivia about access to the ocean. The vote on the decision was 12-3.

California will be the first state to require publicly traded companies to have at least one woman on their board of directors.

The law, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday, requires public companies whose principal executive offices are located in California to comply by the end of 2019. The minimum is two female directors if the company has five directors on its board, or three women if it has seven directors by the close of 2021.

Israeli authorities are defending a recent series of interrogations of left-wing activists at Israel's airport and borders, saying the practice is necessary to prevent violence and terrorism.

But a prominent civil rights advocate in the country called the government's justification "shameful and dangerous."

These are highly charged times for politics reporters. Just ask Greg Miller, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post journalist who has broken a number of stories related to the Trump administration's ties to Russia.

Miller says that he's been "trolled a lot" because of his work. But after revealing that then-national security adviser Michael Flynn had discussed U.S. sanctions with Russian officials prior to Trump's inauguration, Miller experienced something new: notes from grateful readers.

The Supreme Court has refused to take up a billionaire's appeal of a lower court ruling that forced him to maintain public access to surfers and others who visit Martins Beach, a scenic spot near Half Moon Bay, south of San Francisco.

The case had been shaping up to be a showdown over California's Coastal Act, with possible ramifications for other states with laws to preserve public access to beaches. Advocates for public access are hailing the court's decision to decline the case as a victory. The Supreme Court declined the case on Monday, the first day of its new session.

India has 1.3 billion people, and no equivalent of the Social Security number. About 4 in 10 births go unregistered. Less than 2 percent of the population pays income tax.

Many more are eligible for welfare benefits but may never have collected them, either because they can't figure out how or a middleman stole their share.

Precisely one year since Catalan separatists took to the polls to declare independence from Spain, they again fanned out across the region — this time not to cast votes but to block streets and pack city plazas.

"The First of October is and will always be the day the Catalan people demonstrated their immense commitment to democracy and freedom," Catalonia's president, Quim Torra, tweeted Monday upon his visit to the small town of Sant Julià de Ramis.

President Trump said Monday he wants a "comprehensive" reinvestigation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh so long as it is over within the one-week timetable as laid out in the Senate compromise reached Friday.

Trump said it "wouldn't bother me" if FBI investigators talked with all three women who have leveled allegations about sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh — allegations that the federal appeals court judge has denied — or pursue whatever other avenues they deem appropriate.

Three Orlando police officers shot dead an emergency room patient who they say was claiming to have a firearm. They later learned the man was unarmed.

Orlando Police Chief John Mina told reporters that officers responded to reports of an issue in the ER at Orlando Regional Medical Center at about 6 a.m. Monday.

The white male, who Mina said was approximately 35 years old, came to the hospital that morning for an unspecified medical issue.

A Swedish court has found Jean-Claude Arnault — the man at the center of a sex-abuse scandal that forced this year's Nobel Prize in literature to be postponed — guilty of rape, sentencing him to two years in prison.

At least 18 women have come forward with assault claims against Arnault, 72, a photographer who is entrenched in the highest levels of Sweden's arts scene. He was found guilty of raping a woman on Oct. 5-6, 2011, but he was acquitted of the same charge for an incident that took place two months later.

Months ago, I was asked to review Rebecca Traister's Good And Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women's Anger.

"What timing," I thought, as I read the book while red-robed handmaidens protested Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination confirmation hearings.

On Sunday's CBS Sunday Morning, Ted Koppel reminisced about the many profiles of media giant Ted Turner that have aired on the network, beginning all the way back in the 1970s, when he hadn't started CNN but had bought Atlanta's baseball and basketball teams. Now, about to turn 80, Turner told Koppel about his diagnosis of Lewy body dementia.

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