National News

Joseph Straus, 6, rides a zip line at the Berkeley Adventure Playground, where kids can "play wild" in a half-acre park that has a junkyard feel.

Where The Wild Things Play

This week, NPR Ed is focusing on questions about why people play and how play relates to learning.

Braden Swenson wanders into a semi-rickety wooden shed on his search for gold, treasure and riches.

"Is there any tweasure in here?" he asks in the endearing dialect of a 4-year-old. "I've been looking everywhere for them. I can't find any." The proto-pirate toddler conducts a quick search then wanders away to continue his quest elsewhere.

The hormone oxytocin affects social functioning, but researchers say it isn't commonly lacking in children with autism.

Oxytocin Isn't Lacking In Children With Autism, Researchers Say

Scratch one more simple explanation for autism off the list. This time it's the idea that children with autism have low levels of oxytocin, often called the "love hormone" because it can make people more trusting and social.

Tennessee Denies Public Assistance To Drug Users

Welfare recipients in Tennessee now have to declare any prior drug history when they apply for public assistance.

The vast majority of applicants said they were not drug users, but those who skipped the question were denied assistance, Bobby Allyn of member station WPLN reports for our Newscast unit.

Supporters of the requirement say it's not intended to penalize drug users — they can get help in other ways — but is meant to keep public funds from being spent on illegal drugs. Its opponents say it unfairly penalizes some of society's most vulnerable people.

Brady visited the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in 2011, on the 30th anniversary of the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan.

James Brady, Gun Control Campaigner And Presidential Spokesman, Dies

James Brady, a former White House press secretary and gun control advocate, died Monday, his family announced. He was 73.

Brady served as spokesman for President Ronald Reagan. He was struck in the head by a bullet intended for the president during an assassination attempt in 1981.

Cybersecurity researcher Ruben Santamarta says he has figured out how to hack the satellite communications equipment on passenger jets through their Wi-Fi and in-flight entertainment systems.

Hacker Says He Can Break Into Airplane Systems Using In-Flight Wi-Fi

Two years ago, a group at Las Vegas' annual hacker convention announced it could break into air traffic control systems.

Brig. Gen. Mohammad Ali Mughdeed talks to the men he commands to protect the Mosul dam, a critical piece of infrastructure that supplies water and electricity. The dam recently fell to the Islamic State in Iraq, but Kurdish forces say they've retaken it, a claim that could not be verified.

Iraqi Leader Orders Air Support For Kurds Battling Extremists

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has ordered airstrikes in support of Kurdish soldiers who are fighting extremist militants with the Islamic State in the country's north.

Reuters reports via Iraqi state television that Maliki's military spokesman, Qassim Atta, ordered the air force to provide backup to the peshmerga against "the terrorist gangs of the Islamic State."

Meanwhile, NPR's Alison Meuse reports from Beirut, Lebanon, that Kurdish forces are urging the U.S. to provide them with weapons:

Screen shot of a lion cub stalking a dog.

WATCH: Playful Lion Cub Scares The Daylights Out Of Dog

We'll get back to serious news in a little. But first, a cat video.

Well, it's not really a cat video. It's a lion video that's been making the rounds on the Internet.

It was filmed at a farm in South Africa that specializes in training animals to work in movies. The video shows a playful lion cub scaring the daylights out of a dog. Just watch:

Federal Judge Rules Alabama Abortion Law Is Unconstitutional

A federal judge ruled on Monday that an Alabama law targeting doctors who perform abortions is unconstitutional, because it places an undue burden on women seeking an abortion.

The measure — which is similar to laws in 10 other states — requires doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. As Reuters reports, the 2013 Alabama law had "threatened to close three of the state's five abortion clinics," which used traveling doctors who could not get admitting privileges.

An ambulance departs Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Ga., Saturday. Dr. Kent Brantly flew to the base from Liberia and was then transported to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

Doctor With Ebola Is Improving, As Nigeria Reports Second Case

He didn't need a stretcher — not even an arm around his shoulder.

Kent Brantly, of Fort Worth, Texas, is the first person to be treated for Ebola on American soil. The 33-year-old family doctor surprised everyone Saturday when he walked out of an ambulance and into an Atlanta hospital.

Hospitals And Health Plans See The Future Very Differently

Analysts who fear health spending is accelerating got plenty of evidence in Wall Street's second-quarter results to support their thesis. But so did folks who hope spending is still under control.

Now everybody's trying to sort out the mixed message.

The answer matters because deficit debates and affordability concerns revolve around forecasts that health spending will speed up as the economy revives. National health spending rose only 3.7 percent in 2012, the most recent year for complete results.

Pages