National News

Listen To These Lovely Cats. No, Actually, Don't

"Oh, evolution," writes Mara Grunbaum in her new, about-to-come-out book, WTF Evolution, "You were doing so well with the lynx. You made it a fierce and graceful hunter, you gave it a luxurious spotted coat, you gave it pretty yellow eyes and tufted ears — and then you made it sound like this ..."

Associated Press reporter Michael Graczyk stands outside Huntsville penitentiary before the execution of confessed killer Elroy Chester.

A Window To Executions: How To Cover Death For A Living

Each week, Weekend Edition Sunday host Rachel Martin brings listeners an unexpected side of the news by talking with someone personally affected by the stories making headlines.

As a criminal justice reporter for The Associated Press, Michael Graczyk has covered hundreds of executions of death row inmates in the state of Texas. This means, of course, that he must be there to witness those deaths.

Obama has two ferns brought to the podium as a spoof of his appearance on "<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UnW3xkHxIEQ">Between Two Ferns</a>" for his standup at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner.

Obama Cracks Wise At White House Correspondents Dinner

President Obama made fun of himself at the White House Correspondents Association dinner on Saturday, the annual nerd-ball schmooze-fest where Washington's media stars get comfy with a mix of political bigwigs and Hollywood beautiful people to celebrate a year of journalism.

Obama, known for his comic timing and delivery, didn't disappoint.

On a certain news network's favor for so-called "birthers": "Let's face it, Fox, you will miss me when I'm gone. It will be harder to convince the American people that Hillary was born in Kenya."

California Chrome, ridden by Victor Espinoza, comes out of the fourth turn en route to winning the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Saturday.

California Chrome Wins The Kentucky Derby

California Chrome won the 140th running of Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville Saturday. The horse was favored to win, despite quirks that set him apart from his more traditional competitors.

"Derby dreams do come true," an announcer said after the race.

As NBC Sports reports:

Chevron's El Segundo Refinery is just one of many in the Los Angeles area that must stock up on workers during fast turnaround projects.

Playing Matchmaker To Empty Jobs And Those Seeking Them

The easiest time to get hired at one of the seven oil refineries in the Los Angeles area is during what's called a turnaround. These breaks, when the refineries are shut down for routine maintenance, are incredibly labor-intensive. And refineries want to get them done as quickly as possible.

So companies need enough people to get the job done. But those workers must have specific skills.

In this line of work, as with other U.S. industries, there's a skills gap.

Ukrainian soldiers stand at a checkpoint they seized Friday morning in the eastern Ukrainian village of Andreevka. The Russian government has referred to Ukraine's interim government and other Ukrainian groups as "fascists" and "neo-Nazis."

Russia Condemns Ukraine With Comparisons To Nazis

The Ukrainian government is describing its offensive against pro-Russian separatists in the eastern part of the country as an "anti-terrorist operation," language that offends the separatists and Russia.

In turn, Russia is using even stronger language, saying that the Ukrainian military has launched a "punitive operation." While that may not carry any special meaning to Western ears, it has far more sinister implications for Russians.

A new GM recall over defective fuel gauges affects the 2014 Buick Enclave (seen here), along with the Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia.

GM Fuel Gauge Recall Affects Thousands Of SUVs

Weeks after issuing recalls for safety problems in some of its most popular cars, GM says it needs to fix defective fuel gauges that can give SUV drivers little or no warning their vehicle might run out of fuel. GM's latest recall potentially affects 51,640 SUVs that were built in 2013.

France has banned imports of live pigs and other products from the U.S. to keep out a virus that has killed more than 4 million pigs in the U.S. Here, young pigs look out of a pen at a North Dakota hog farm in a 2005 file photo.

Deadly Virus Sparks French Ban On Live Pigs From U.S.

France has banned imports of live pigs and related products from the U.S. and other countries in an attempt to keep a deadly virus that has killed millions of piglets in North America and Asia from spreading. The Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus has spread rapidly since the first U.S. case was reported last year.

Actor Efrem Zimbalist Jr., seen here at his California home in 1982, died Friday, his family announced.

Actor Efrem Zimbalist Jr. Dies; Played Sleuths On TV Hits

Efrem Zimbalist Jr., an actor whose streak of leading-man success on TV stretched over three decades, has died. Zimbalist, who starred on ABC's 77 Sunset Strip and The F.B.I., was 95; his family announced his death, saying he died at home on Friday.

"We are heartbroken to announce the passing into peace of our beloved father, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., today at his Solvang ranch," the family said in a statement. "He actively enjoyed his life to the last day, showering love on his extended family, playing golf and visiting with close friends."

An Mi-17 helicopter used by the Afghan air force sits on Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan in May 2013. The Pentagon purchases the Russian-made helicopters for the Afghan air force, but recent sanctions may put that deal in jeopardy.

Sanctions Put Pentagon's Business Deals With Russia Up For Debate

Washington has imposed a number of economic sanctions on Russia in retaliation for that country's push into Ukraine.

Getting European allies to do the same has not always been easy, since many of those nations trade with Russia and fear getting hurt themselves.

But the Europeans are not the only ones balking: The Pentagon also buys Russian military hardware.

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