National News

Amazon Wants To Put A Listening Speaker In Your Home

What's in your home, always on, ready to listen to you and constantly adapting to the way you talk? Why, it's Amazon's Echo speaker. Think a less portable Siri or Google Now, but hands-free.

Are you ready to bring an eavesdropping device that's connected to the cloud into the privacy of your abode?

Here's how Amazon describes Echo on its site:

People walk through the University's iconic Harvard Yard. This week, a faculty study that secretly photographed students to monitor their attendance in lectures has come under fire.

Harvard Secretly Photographed Classrooms To Monitor Attendance

Some 2,000 Harvard undergraduates, as well as some faculty, were photographed in lecture halls at the school last spring as part of a university study into student attendance. Harmless enough, right? Well, those photographs were taken without those students' knowledge or permission. And that has some people upset.

Loretta Lynch has handled or supervised a wide range of cases including New York police brutality against a Haitian immigrant, a $45 million cybertheft involving ATMs and the ongoing fraud prosecution of Republican Rep. Michael Grimm of New York.

Brooklyn Prosecutor Could Be Nominated Attorney General In Coming Days

Two sources familiar with the process tell NPR that Loretta Lynch, the top prosecutor in Brooklyn, could be nominated by President Obama as attorney general in the coming days.

Lynch is the lead federal prosecutor in a district that serves 8 million people. But outside of law enforcement circles, this daughter of a preacher is not widely known. Friends say that's because Lynch prefers to let her cases speak for themselves.

ALMA image of the protoplanetary disk around HL Tauri.

Astronomers Glimpse Distant Planetary Nursery

Astronomers have long theorized that planetary systems, including our own, are formed by spinning discs of dust-and-gas that slowly coalesce. Now, by combining input from an array of radio telescopes located in the Chilean desert, they have sharp images showing what they believe to be just such planet formation.

Catalonia's President Artur Mas is presiding over the region's nonbinding independence vote on Sunday. Spain opposes the ballot and insists that the Catalonia will remain part of Spain.

Catalonia's President Makes His Case For Independence From Spain

When the international press corps descend on the Catalan capital Barcelona, as they are this weekend to cover the region's symbolic independence vote, Catalan President Artur Mas often holds a news conference. Here's how he usually begins:

"I'll try to answer your questions in whatever language you ask them," Mas says. "Catalan, Spanish, French, English — I'll try my best in Italian too," he says, and settles in for up to two hours, until all questions are exhausted.

New Star Wars Movie Is Called 'The Force Awakens,' Disney Says

The new Star Wars film that's being made by director J.J. Abrams has a name: The Force Awakens. Disney released that detail today, along with news that it has completed principal photography for the film that is slated for release at the end of 2015.

A python embryo turns its leg cells into a pair of penises. Researchers now believe that signals from the embryonic gut trigger the development of the penis in many different species.

How Boy Bits First Came To Be

Evolution has shaped every part of the body, and that includes our private parts. New research published this week sheds light on how the penis evolved and how it forms in different animals.

The research could also help illuminate a medical mystery: Birth defects of the penis have risen sharply in recent decades and nobody is sure why.

Penises weren't necessary when our early ancestors lived in the ocean. A female could lay eggs, and a male could just swim by and excrete some sperm. It would all mix and fertilize in the water.

Palestinian stone-throwers take cover behind doors during clashes with Israeli police in Jerusalem on Thursday. For months, the streets of East Jerusalem have been tense, with frequent clashes between police and Palestinians.

Why Jerusalem's Real Estate Market Is Part Of The Mideast Conflict

Daniel Luria raps on the tall metal door of a home in Jerusalem's Silwan neighborhood, which is predominantly Palestinian. Luria is with the Jewish settler group Ateret Cohanim.

One rap and a small window pops open. Luria identifies himself. Soon the door opens too.

Inside sit armed security guards. Israeli police, on a break from patrolling the neighborhood, are there as well. A large screen shows multiple feeds from security cameras around the building. One Israeli flag flies over the roof. Another hangs from the railing of a small balcony.

The Sierra Leone Refugee All-Stars are staying (and playing) in the U.S. until Ebola is under control in their homeland.

Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars Are Refugees Again — From Ebola

For the past 17 years the celebratory music of Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars has contradicted the horrors they witnessed during their country's civil war. The guitar-driven group came together in Guinean refugee camps in the late 1990s and has gone on to perform on international stages and collaborate with rock stars.

Now its members face a different plight. Since the spring, the Refugee All Stars have been living in American exile because of the Ebola epidemic.

In a news conference Thursday on Capitol Hill, House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio warned President Obama not to go it alone on immigration reform.

Boehner Says Rolling Back Obamacare Is GOP Priority

House Speaker John Boehner said approval of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline and the repeal of key parts of Obamacare are among Republicans' top priorities now that the GOP has won control of both houses of Congress.

"Obamacare is hurting our economy, it's hurting middle-class workers, and it's hurting the ability to create more jobs," Boehner said, adding that Republicans want to replace it with "common-sense reforms."

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