National News

The Life Of The Man Who Died Fighting For ISIS

Douglas McAuthur McCain was a U.S. citizen raised in Minnesota. He also just earned a dubious distinction, as the first American to die in Syria fighting for the extremist group that calls itself the Islamic State. For more on McCain, Robert Siegel speaks with Michael Schmidt of The New York Times.

A child with suspected malnutrition is examined at a medical clinic in Malakal, South Sudan, in July.

When Do Food Shortages Become A Famine? There's A Formula For That

Chris Hillbruner has a little-known job with an extraordinary responsibility: to determine how close a given country has come to famine.

In his six years at the U.S. government's Famine Early Warning Systems Network, or FEWS NET, he's only officially declared famine once before, in Somalia in 2011.

Hillbruner explains that the bar for declaring famine was deliberately set high to avoid the confusion of the 1980s and 1990s, when well-meaning aid agencies acted like the boy who cried wolf.

"Famine," Hillbruner says, "is a word that gets thrown around a lot."

Chicago Greets Little League National Champs As Returning Heroes

Chicago has gathered for a parade to celebrate the Jackie Robinson West baseball team, which won the U.S. championship at the Little League World Series. Chicago Public Radio's Natalie Moore reports that this all-black team has helped to unify a city reeling from North and South Side segregation, as well as renewed attention on the city's violence.

Surfers Flock To The Water, As Huge Waves Hit The West Coast

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Joe Giersch, an ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, studies stoneflies that live only in the melt from glaciers and snowpack in the northern Rockies.

There's A Big Leak In America's Water Tower

The northern arm of the Rocky Mountains is sometimes called "the crown of the continent," and its jewels are glaciers and snowfields that irrigate large parts of North America during spring thaw.

But the region is getting warmer, even faster than the rest of the world. Scientists now say warming is scrambling the complex relationship between water and nature and could threaten some species with extinction as well as bring hardship to ranchers and farmers already suffering from prolonged drought.

"People call Irn Bru Scotland's other national drink, after whisky," says Sara Grady, who works for a market research firm.

It's Not Whisky, But Everyone In Scotland Drinks It By The Bottle

For a visitor to Scotland, it can be difficult to understand the local passion for a neon orange soda that locals call "the brew." The drink is Irn Bru (pronounced "iron brew").

You can find it from McDonald's to corner stores and pubs across Scotland. It is such a powerful force that it may even outsell Coca-Cola here — making it one of the few places on the globe where Coke isn't the leading brand.

"This stuff runs in my blood," says Chris Young, as he walks through downtown Glasgow carrying a bottle.

An Israeli couple, Noga and Moshiko Siho, kiss after they have their wedding photos taken Wednesday in an army staging area on the Israel-Gaza border, near Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, Israel.

As Cease-Fire Takes Hold, Big Question In Gaza Becomes What's Next

Some semblance of normal life returned to Gaza on Wednesday.

The day after Hamas and Israel accepted an open-ended cease-fire, Palestinians returned to their homes, markets opened and bulldozers began clearing the rubble, while in Israel, the sirens warning of rockets fell silent.

Naturally, Palestinians, Israelis and the world started looking toward the future and began asking a tough question: What's next?

Indian schoolchildren eat their free midday meal.

Lizards And Worms Should Not Be On The School Lunch Menu

Rice and lentils was the free lunch on Aug. 22 at the Government Model Senior Secondary school in the northern Indian city of Chandigarh.

Teachers took a look at the meal.

They found worms.

Lunch was not served. Seven hundred students reportedly went home hungry after their school day.

Sam Mullet stands in the front yard of his home in Bergholz, Ohio, in 2011. Mullet's conviction for hate crimes for cutting the hair and beards of fellow members of his faith was overturned Wednesday.

Hate-Crime Convictions In Amish Beard-Cutting Case Thrown Out

An appeals court in Cincinnati has overturned the hate-crime convictions of 16 Amish who cut the beards and hair of their fellow Amish.

Friar Gabriel Tooma leads a service at the Chaldean Church of the Virgin Mary of the Harvest, in Al-Qoush on June 15. At the time, the Christian village in northern Iraq was taking in those fleeing violence in the nearby city of Mosul. Now the village itself is largely deserted.

Iraqi Christian Village: From Sanctuary To Ghost Town In 2 Months

The northern Iraqi village of Al-Qoush was humming with activity — and some jitters — when NPR visited back in June. The Assyrian Christian villagers had opened their schools and homes to Iraqis fleeing the takeover of nearby Mosul by Islamist fighters calling themselves the Islamic State.

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