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Fires in Brazil's Amazon rainforest are proliferating at an alarming rate.

That's the gist of an announcement this week by the country's National Institute for Space Research, or INPE. According to the agency, there have been 74,155 fires in Brazil so far this year — most of which erupted in the Amazon. That represents an astonishing leap of more than 80% over last year and by far the most that the agency has recorded since it began compiling this data in 2013.

Lyubov Sobol looks frail after ending a monthlong hunger strike. The unexpected protagonist of equally unexpected anti-government demonstrations in the Russian capital this summer, she speaks softly and chooses her words deliberately.

"My daughter is 5 years old," she says in an interview with NPR. "I want her to live in a country where human rights and freedoms are respected, where the courts are independent, and where there is a free press. I want her to live in this country. I don't want to move away."

Immigrants to Illinois are now able to sue their landlords if they are evicted because of their citizenship status.


The Trump administration struck a tentative deal to lift tariffs on imported tomatoes from Mexico. But importers warn the agreement could still put protectionist roadblocks in the path of $2 billion worth of the produce.

Mexico supplies more than half the fresh tomatoes sold in the U.S., and imports have more than doubled since 2002. Florida growers, who used to dominate the market for tomatoes in the winter and spring, have long complained that Mexico unfairly subsidizes its tomato crop.

A Baltimore County judge has sentenced Dawnta Harris to a life term in prison for the murder of police Officer Amy Caprio. Harris was 16 when the stolen Jeep he was driving ran over Caprio, 29, in the spring of 2018.

Within days of Caprio's death, Harris was charged as an adult, facing a count of first-degree murder.

President Trump said he is willing to get behind some changes to background checks for gun buyers as long as Democrats don't move the goalposts and lead him down a "slippery slope."

The president told reporters on Wednesday that he continues to support new or altered checks, without going into detail, and he acknowledged that he has been taking counsel on the issue from the National Rifle Association.

Congressional budget forecasters are predicting more red ink — nearly $1 trillion this year — as a result of the bipartisan spending agreement lawmakers struck this summer.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office now says the federal deficit will hit $960 billion in fiscal 2019 and average $1.2 trillion in each of the next 10 years.

The Peoria City Council will hold a special meeting on Saturday to determine the city's directon on recreational cannabis businesses. 

The new state law legalizing recreational cannabis usage goes into effect on Jan. 1. But the law also allows municipalities wide leeway on whether or not to allow the cultivation and sale of recreational cannabis within their communities. 

At some point nearly everyone has to deal with pain.

How do Americans experience and cope with pain that makes everyday life harder? We asked in the latest NPR-IBM Watson Health Poll.

First, we wanted to know how often pain interferes with people's ability to work, go to school or engage in other activities. Overall, 18% of Americans say that's often a problem for them. Almost a quarter – 24% — say it's sometimes the case.

Naked mole rats don't look like they'd be one of nature's superstars. They're about the size and shape of small sweet potatoes. These rodents are native to the grasslands of East Africa, and are mostly hairless, wrinkled, and blind. And yet, they've evolved some special behaviors and features that help them thrive in harsh environments in which other mammals (humans included) would wither.

In mice, scientists have used a variety of drugs to treat brain disorders including murine versions of Alzheimer's disease, depression and schizophrenia. But in people, these same treatments usually fail.

And now researchers are beginning to understand why.

A detailed comparison of the cell types in mouse and human brain tissue found subtle but important differences that could affect the response to many drugs, a team reports Wednesday in the journal Nature.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies, in for Terry Gross, who's off this week. You might not recognize the name of our guest Stephen Root, but chances are awfully good you've seen his work. He's a character actor who's appeared in nearly 800 TV episodes and a hundred movies and sometimes brief appearances, like one as a bank manager on "Seinfeld" or his short but memorable scenes as the sad sack office worker Milton in the film "Office Space." He's had several recurring roles in TV series over the years, including "The West Wing," "NewsRadio" and "Justified."

In the terrifically smart and genuinely inspiring comedy Brittany Runs a Marathon, Jillian Bell stars as Brittany, a 27-year-old New Yorker who decides to turn her life around. When we first meet Brittany, she has a dead-end job at a small theater and spends most of her nights out drinking and partying with friends. She gets in shape, takes up long-distance running and decides to give the New York City Marathon a try.

Copyright 2019 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

The City of Springfield has grown. City council members Tuesday approved bringing into the city 51 acres of unincorporated land that is surrounded by city limits on all sides.  

Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood is releasing preliminary autopsy results in two recent homicides in the city of Peoria.

Harwood said Theresa Simmons, 63, suffered blunt force trauma to her head, which caused fractures and severe brain bleeding. Simmons died on Aug. 17 after she was found in her home in the 700 block of W. Loucks Ave. on Aug. 12. 

Her son, Jeremy Simmons, is charged with her death. He's being held on $2 million bond in the Peoria County Jail. 

Updated at 3:34 p.m. ET

The Trump administration has announced it is ending a federal court agreement that limits how long migrant families with children can be detained.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan outlined the new policy Wednesday, which replaces the Flores settlement agreement.

That's been a longtime target of immigration hard-liners in the Trump administration, who contend the settlement has acted as a lure to families in Central America.

Updated at 2:15 p.m. ET

With their hopes fading that lawmakers in Washington will pass new gun safety measures, young activists from March for Our Lives have their own plans on how to stem gun violence.

Call it The Film About Rich People Hunting Poor People ... That Lived.

But that's a mouthful. Maybe The Hunt Strikes Back; it's pithier.

Just two weeks ago, Ready or Not seemed poised to represent a second data point in 2019's "Murderous, Mansion-Dwelling One-Percenters In Film" trend graph, preceded by Craig Zobel's "blue bloods vs. red staters" thriller The Hunt and followed in November by Rian Johnson's latter-day Clue riff, Knives Out.

It's a windy, hazy summer morning on the Snake River plain in southeastern Idaho, and Shoshone-Bannock tribal member Trevor Beasley is hanging out near his horse trailer. It's about an hour before the Fort Hall Reservation Indian Relay races begin, and he's watching as a teammate gets a little too close to his favorite mare.

"Got to watch out for her, she's a kicker," Beasley says as his teammate jumps out of the way. "That's your warning right there, man."

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NOEL KING, HOST:

Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan announced changes just this morning to how long government can detain migrant children. Here he is.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

Investigative reporter Ian Urbina realizes that, for many people, the sea is "simply a place we fly over." That's why in The Outlaw Ocean he works so hard at sharing some of the wildest, darkest dramas taking place in seas and oceans across the world.

A South African court is restricting gratuitous displays of the country's old apartheid-era flag, calling the banner "a vivid symbol of white supremacy and black disenfranchisement and suppression."

Vistra Energy announced Wednesday it is closing its coal burning power plants in Canton, Havana, Hennepin and Coffeen.

China is threatening sanctions on U.S. firms selling arms to Taiwan, after the U.S. government said it supported an $8 billion sale of fighter jets and other equipment to the island.

Geng Shuang, China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson, said China would impose sanctions if the arms sales go forward, according to Chinese state media. Geng also urged the U.S. to end military contact with Taiwan.

A Former Slur Is Reclaimed, And Listeners Have Mixed Feelings

Aug 21, 2019

As language shifts, terms take on new meanings. But when is it appropriate for media organizations to reflect those changes?

A Republican attorney from East Moline is challenging Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Moline) for the 17th Congressional District. 

Last year, a long-distance truck driver, Mohammad Hashim, was hauling a load of refrigerators out of New Delhi when a dozen strangers on motorbikes forced him off the road.

They pulled him out of his truck and demanded he open the back. They wanted to see if Hashim was transporting cows or beef — which is illegal in many Indian states, because cows are sacred in Hinduism, the majority religion in India.

Updated at 11:55 a.m. ET

President Trump says Russia should be allowed to rejoin the Group of Seven industrial nations, and Russia's Foreign Ministry has welcomed his remarks.

Speaking with reporters in the Oval Office on Tuesday, before his scheduled trip to France for the G-7 summit, Trump encouraged Moscow's return to the elite group.

"I think it's much more appropriate to have Russia in," he said. "It should be the G-8 because a lot of the things we talk about have to do with Russia."

By 1851, the bowhead whales, it seems, had unionized.

To the Iñupiaq, Yupik, and Chukchi people who lived on the land flanking the Bering Strait, the whales were beings with souls who granted their deaths to worthy hunters — not to the wasteful or greedy — and subsistence hunting along the coast killed a hundred or so a year. To the American open-sea vessels that swarmed the waters in the 19th century, the whales were products, killed in the thousands every year for oil and baleen to feed the endless commercial appetites back home.

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