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National News from NPR

An Oxford student practices for the upcoming wine-tasting match with the University of Cambridge.
Wed, 02/18/2015 - 14:11

For a half-century, Oxford and Cambridge have competed against each other in blind wine tasting. The big match is this week.

Hedieh Mirahmadi (left) of The World Organization for Resource Development and Education, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, and Vilvoorde, Belgium Mayor Hans Bonte, greet each other at the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism.
Wed, 02/18/2015 - 14:05

Domestic and world leaders gather this week to discuss terror threats. Here's a look by the numbers.

Republican supporters cheer in Colorado Springs, Colo., as a television broadcast declares the Republicans had taken control of the Senate. Republican candidates, party committees and outside groups spent about $44 million more than Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Wed, 02/18/2015 - 13:47

The $3.77 billion appeared to come from a smaller cadre of donors than in the 2010 midterms, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown is sworn in as Oregon Governor by Oregon Chief Justice Thomas A. Balmer in Salem, Ore., on Wednesday.
Wed, 02/18/2015 - 13:26

Brown took over after John Kitzhaber, Oregon's only four-term governor, stepped down amid scandal. Brown said all of that ends today.

Joseph Clancy has been named the permanent director of the U.S. Secret Service. Clancy, who's been the agency's acting director since last October, is seen here testifying on Capitol Hill last November.
Wed, 02/18/2015 - 12:07

Four months after he was brought back to an agency that was struggling to cope with a series of embarrassing missteps, Joseph Clancy was named the permanent director of the Secret Service Wednesday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, seen here speaking Monday, is under fire over a report of lavish spending.
Wed, 02/18/2015 - 11:49

Topics such as garden furniture are now in Israel's political sphere, after a review alleged that the Israeli prime minister's household spending has been excessive.

Josef Joffe, author of <em>The Myth of America's Decline</em>, says the U.S. remains a world leader in education, economic performance and innovation.
Wed, 02/18/2015 - 11:35

Is America in decline, or an unparalleled leader on the world stage? In the 100th debate from Intelligence Squared U.S., two teams face off over the motion, "Declinists Be Damned: Bet On America."

Wed, 02/18/2015 - 11:21

Fat has a lot in common with the five basic tastes: salty, sweet, sour, bitter and umami. But while people easily recognize the texture of fat, scientists say they can't quite perceive the taste.

The next generation of Australian dollar notes will include tactile features to help people with visual impairments differentiate between them, says the Reserve Bank of Australia. Last year, the agency met with a boy who started a petition asking for the change.
Wed, 02/18/2015 - 09:55

Blind since birth, Connor McLeod couldn't tell how much money he'd been given for Christmas. So he started a petition seeking banknotes that can be differentiated by touch.

Geneva Attorney General Olivier Jornot, center, leaves HSBC offices during a search of the private bank Wednesday. Swiss prosecutors have started searching offices of the Geneva subsidiary of HSBC bank in an inquiry relating to alleged money-laundering.
Wed, 02/18/2015 - 09:28

The raid comes a week after leaked HSBC documents showed that the bank's Swiss unit had helped its international clients launder profits and shelter their holdings from their home countries.

After the pot-smoking comes the insatiable hunger. Just ask James Franco and Seth Rogen's weed-loving characters in <em>Pineapple Express</em>.
Wed, 02/18/2015 - 09:14

Where there's pot, there's often an insatiable hunger. Now researchers have a big clue why: Cannabinoids, the drug in marijuana, appear to flip a neural circuit that normally tells us we're full.

The heightened partisanship cemented in congressional districts has created havens for both Democrats and Republicans, whose job security now often depends more on pleasing primary voters than on the high-altitude questions facing the nation at large.
Wed, 02/18/2015 - 09:01

Polls show Americans are largely in favor of authorizing further actions against the Islamic State. Yet there is one group of Americans that is having far more trouble deciding how it feels: Congress.

Under the Affordable Care Act, pregnancy isn't considered a "qualifying event" that justifies enrollment at any time.
Wed, 02/18/2015 - 08:37

Women who get pregnant and don't have health insurance can't sign up outside open enrollment until after they give birth. Advocates say that puts mother and child at risk of serious health problems.

Syrian rebels fire locally made shells against government forces in Aleppo. The U.N. is seeking to freeze hostilities in the city.
Wed, 02/18/2015 - 07:47

The city has been the subject of bitter fighting, with rebels and government forces dividing a place that was once a productive economic engine. The U.N. wants to create a "freeze" on violence there.

Ukrainian servicemen ride on a military vehicle as they leave the area of Debaltseve in eastern Ukraine Wednesday. The troops, some in columns, some in cars, began leaving the besieged town today.
Wed, 02/18/2015 - 06:10

"Some 80 percent of the units have already been pulled out" of Debaltseve, says Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. He's seeking to punish Russia for the latest violence.

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