NPR

Jim Gilmore's quixotic presidential campaign came to a surreptitious end Friday.

His resume reads like someone who should have been a top-tier candidate — former governor of swing-state Virginia, a former Republican National Committee chairman, and the only military veteran in a primary campaign where national security is a top concern among voters.

New York Mets reliever Jenrry Mejia received a permanent ban from Major League Baseball on Friday after he tested positive for the anabolic steroid Boldenone. The right-handed pitcher is the first player to be banned from the MLB for life for failing three performance-enhancing drug tests.

The league's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program states that a third violation for performance-enhancing drugs results in a permanent suspension. But it also says:

The U.S. and Cuba will sign a civil aviation agreement in Havana on Tuesday, re-establishing air service between the two countries for the first time in more than 50 years, the U.S. Department of Transportation said.

The signing formalizes the arrangement that was reached Dec. 16, stating that a certain number of flights would be allowed to fly from the U.S. to Cuba every day. As the Two-Way previously reported:

Abraham Lincoln trended on Twitter this week. Wait, what? Honest Abe proved what's become a hipster creed: Everything old becomes new again.

Friday would have been the 16th president's 207th birthday — as good a time as any to bring him back with a party hat on him (like the House Republicans did):

There were also memes of Lincoln holding pizzas, stereos and cellphones. But the memes also quickly became about the presidential candidates, with the hashtag #ThingsLincolnDidntSay. Talk about putting words in someone's mouth.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

President Obama has designated three desert areas in California as national monuments.

The move permanently protects "nearly 1.8 million acres of America's public lands," the White House says in a news release.

All three areas lie east of Los Angeles. Two of the new monuments — Castle Mountains and Mojave Trails — are near California's border with Nevada.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

I'm not sure there's ever been a record release as confounding as the one for Kanye West's The Life Of Pablo. He's changed its title and track listing several times in as many weeks, and even up until the very moment I'm writing this, it's not 100 percent certain what will be on that final album, whenever and wherever it comes out.

The Justice Department slapped the city of Ferguson, Mo., with a civil rights lawsuit this week after the City Council voted to change a proposed settlement agreement to reform the police and courts.

When Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the suit on Wednesday, she said Ferguson police disproportionately targeted black people for traffic stops, use of force and jail sentences.

Find your binoculars and fill up the bird feeders, because the Great Backyard Bird Count starts today.

The annual event invites bird-watchers of all levels to count the birds in their backyards, wherever that may be, and submit the data to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society, which launched the project in 1998.

Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill came face to face Friday in Havana — the first time leaders of the two churches have met since a schism 1,000 years ago divided Christianity.

The religious leaders "embraced and kissed one another three times on the cheek as they met in a wood-paneled VIP room at the Havana airport," The Associated Press reports. The news service adds that Francis said, "Finally!" when he embraced Kirill, and "We are brothers." Through an interpreter, Kirill told the pope, "Now things are easier."

Remembering Ballet Great Violette Verdy

6 hours ago

French ballerina Violette Verdy died on Monday at the age of 82. She was an acclaimed star of the New York City Ballet, dancing more than 140 ballets with the company during the 1960s and 1970s.

Verdy originated roles in works by legendary choreographers George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. After she retired, she went into teaching and eventually became a professor at Indiana University Bloomington.

On Thursday, researchers announced the discovery of gravitational waves --wrinkles in the very fabric of space-time.

But behind the headlines and news conferences were decades of hard work, hundreds of scientists and more than a billion dollars in taxpayer funds.

Sometimes It's OK To Feel The Feels, Sweetheart

7 hours ago

Tell her how you really feel: Dr. Julie Holland is asking women to embrace their inner "moody bitches."

Let me back up.

The Manhattan-based psychiatrist has noticed a shift in her female patients. Twenty years ago, when Holland started her practice, she says, patients came to her because they were having trouble sleeping, were crying frequently or generally not feeling well — "but not really understanding what was going on with them and not really knowing what to do about it."

"I am outraged and tremendously disappointed in the behavior displayed by a group of students," says Texas A&M University President Michael Young, after a group of students from an inner-city high school were called racial slurs and told, "Go back where you came from."

Colonialism Comment Puts Facebook Under Scrutiny

7 hours ago

In India, Facebook has a program to give people free Internet access — just to use Facebook and a handful of other services. Earlier this week, regulators in that country ruled that the program is discriminatory to other websites and is illegal. A Facebook board member took to Twitter to criticize the ruling. And in so doing, he sparked a global controversy.

It got ugly.

Penalty For Home Birth: A Chicken Or A Cow

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How do you solve a problem like health? That's the question experts from around the globe asked earlier this year in Salzburg, Austria, at Schloss Leopoldskron — where parts of The Sound of Music were once filmed.

What The Heck Is Natural Wine? Here's A Taste

9 hours ago

If you follow the vast world of fermented grapes, you may have noticed an influx of so-called natural wines. I fell under their spell a few years ago. Apparently, I'm not alone. There's something of a natural wine cult blooming in shops, bars and restaurants around the U.S.

Money May Not Buy You Love, But It Sure Helps

9 hours ago

A candlelit dinner, a bottle of bubbly Champagne and a beautiful date. You tear your gaze away for a second to glance at the check your waiter just gave you. Your heart skips a beat at the sight of the three-digit number. But never mind, the stunning smile across the table is worth it.

Right?

Relationships come with sweet romance and accelerating heartbeats, but money, unfortunately, is often a crucial ingredient in the mix as well. Think about it: Weekly date nights, vacations, wedding, honeymoon and even divorce ring up bills of all sorts.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced late Thursday that they had agreed to push for a "nationwide cessation of hostilities" in Syria within one week.

The communiqué backed by major world powers also vowed to work toward getting humanitarian aid into hard-to-reach areas such as the city of Aleppo.

Exactly 15 months after it completed a seemingly impossible journey to land on the surface of a comet, the Philae lander now faces "eternal hibernation," as officials at the European Space Agency say the craft doesn't get enough sunlight to power its batteries.

In Thursday night's Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders — each with one nominating contest victory — looked ahead to the upcoming primaries in Nevada and South Carolina. Here are a few of the big takeaways from the debate.

1. A focus on African-American issues

Last spring, Benny Smith began having epileptic seizures. In his fifth-grade English class, he fell out of his chair and found he couldn't move. It soon got so bad for the 11-year-old, in fact, that his falls even led to several concussions.

And when he'd wake up, he'd feel terrible, too — "a bit like a hangover," Benny tells his mother, Christine Ristaino, on a recent visit to StoryCorps.

Just don't ask him what a hangover feels like.

"You told it to me!" he tells her.

The answer as to whether a DNA test can tell you your ethnic identity? Yes — and no.

A natural gas leak that has poured methane gas into the air since October has been "temporarily controlled," according to a utility company in Southern California. Thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes in an upscale section of the San Fernando Valley.

"Many residents of the Porter Ranch community complained of headaches, nosebleeds and other symptoms," Danielle Karson tells our Newscast unit from Los Angeles. "State regulators need to inspect the broken pipe before cement is poured into the well to permanently seal it."

A jury in New York has convicted NYPD Officer Peter Liang of manslaughter over his shooting of an unarmed black man in a dark stairwell in 2014. Liang, who was a rookie at the time, was also faulted for not aiding his victim.

The verdict was announced Thursday night; soon after, the NYPD announced that Liang has officially been fired from the police force.

Here's how member station WNYC describes the events of Nov. 20, 2014:

Just 48 hours after his landslide win in New Hampshire, Bernie Sanders was in Milwaukee, Wis., reminding everyone how far he had come in his quest for the presidency — and perhaps realizing how far he still has to go.

In September of last year, a Flint pediatrician released stark findings about her city: The percentage of children age 5 and under with elevated levels of lead in their blood had nearly doubled since the city switched its water source a year and a half earlier.

The superintendent of Flint Community Schools, Bilal Tawwab, was listening. Even small amounts of lead can affect children's behavior and intelligence over time. With that in mind, he decided to keep the city's water out of his schools.

As Bernie Sanders sees it, Wall Street got a big boost when U.S. taxpayers bailed out some of the largest financial institutions in 2008. Now it's time for Wall Street to return the favor.

Sanders has proposed something he calls a speculation tax, a small levy on every stock, bond or derivative sold in the United States.

The revenue would go toward free tuition at public colleges and universities and would also be used to pare down student debt and pay for work-study programs, as well as other programs, Sanders says.

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