NPR News | KCUR

NPR News

When we hear a sentence, or a line of poetry, our brains automatically transform the stream of sound into a sequence of syllables.

But scientists haven't been sure exactly how the brain does this.

Now, researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, think they've figured it out. The key is detecting a rapid increase in volume that occurs at the beginning of a vowel sound, they report Wednesday in Science Advances.

Battling criticism over his association with Jeffrey Epstein, Britain's Prince Andrew said Wednesday that he is stepping away from his public duties "for the foreseeable future."

The announcement comes amid public scrutiny that has been building for months around the prince's ties to Epstein, who killed himself in a jail cell this summer.

Israel is set to continue without a government and may be heading to new elections after Benny Gantz, rival of longtime Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said Wednesday that he missed a deadline to form a government.

Netanyahu, who is facing the possibility of imminent indictment on corruption charges, also failed to form a coalition following the hotly contested election in September.

The author of a sweeping new U.N. study on the detaining and jailing of children worldwide acknowledges that he erred in saying the U.S. is holding more than 100,000 children in migration-related detention. The author, human rights lawyer Manfred Nowak, says he wasn't aware at the time that the number was from 2015. He adds that it reflected the number of children detained during the entire year.

President Trump, Vice President Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and much of officialdom was "in the loop" throughout the Ukraine affair, a key witness told Congress on Wednesday in watershed testimony.

Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, rejected the idea that he was part of any back channel or shadow effort.

He said he conferred with the State Department and the National Security Council all this year as he and other envoys worked to try to get concessions for Trump from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Nine days after Evo Morales resigned the presidency, Bolivia remains in political and social turmoil.

At least six people were killed in violence Tuesday as the military escorted fuel tankers from a gasoline plant in the high plateau city of El Alto. Supporters of Morales had blockaded the plant for five days, causing fuel and food shortages in La Paz, the administrative capital.

The home where Adolf Hitler was born will be turned into a police station, Austrian officials announced Wednesday, putting an end to a years-long debate over what to do with it.

The yellow, three-story building sits on a street in Braunau am Inn, a small medieval town on the northern border with Germany. A memorial stone sits outside with the inscription "For peace, freedom and democracy. Never again fascism. Millions dead are a warning."

The decision to convert the building into a police station was meant as a deterrent to those who would make it a neo-Nazi shrine.

Director Marielle Heller remembers tuning into Mister Rogers' Neighborhood as a kid, but it wasn't until she was an adult watching the show with her 3-year-old son that she fully appreciated the host's gentle, direct manner. Watching an episode in which Mister Rogers finds that a pet fish has died, Heller was struck by the way he addressed the audience.

When 24-year-old Abdirizak Warsame came home from prison over the summer, his family welcomed him with his favorite foods and long talks with the siblings he hadn't seen in three years. They were reunited, grateful for a fresh start.

Outside of their house in Minneapolis, however, Abdirizak's homecoming was a different story.

Federal prosecutors have unsealed an indictment accusing former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh of using her series of self-published children's books to commit fraud, evade federal taxes and illegally boost her own political campaigns.

House committees are hearing from three witnesses Wednesday — following a busy Tuesday when four officials provided public testimony to impeachment investigators.

Khazaal Salih sits in a tent next to a photo of his son, just back from the framing shop. In the gold-framed photo, Abbas wears a disposable blue surgical mask to protect him from tear gas. He's smiling and raising his fingers in a victory sign. At the top of the photo is the date — Nov. 6, 2019 — when the young man was killed by Iraqi security forces during an anti-government protest.

The 62nd Grammy Awards nominations are here, and it appears to be Lizzo's year to lose.

The singer, songwriter, flutist and rapper was nominated across five of the night's top categories, including song of the year, record of the year, best new artist, best pop solo performance and best R&B performance.

Lil Nas X was nominated for best new artist, album of the year (for his debut record, 7), and record of the year, where his Gen Z opus "Old Town Road" is up against Post Malone, Bon Iver, Swae Lee, H.E.R., Ariana Grande, Lizzo and Billie Eilish.

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

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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

NOEL KING, HOST:

A Hong Kong citizen who worked for the British Consulate-General in Hong Kong says secret police officers tortured him in mainland China, accusing him of being a spy and working to agitate pro-democracy protests.

In a lengthy Facebook post, Simon Cheng says he was beaten, put into stress positions and deprived of sleep for a roughly two-week period in August after Chinese police detained him at a train station at Hong Kong's border with the mainland.

The shale oil boom that catapulted the U.S. into being the world's largest oil producer may be going bust. Oil prices are dropping amid weakening demand, bankruptcies and layoffs are up, and drilling is down — signs of a crisis that's quietly roiling the industry.

Some of the most successful companies in the oil business are household names — think Exxon Mobil or Chevron. But the boom in shale drilling has been driven by smaller, independent operators. These companies have pushed the limits of drilling technology and taken big risks on unproven oil fields.

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

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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

NOEL KING, HOST:

Atlanta's Tyler Perry Studios has been home to Wakanda, the White House and The Walking Dead, but on Wednesday night it will host its most topical production yet: the next Democratic presidential primary debate, hosted by MSNBC and The Washington Post.

Right now, there are dozens of patients — U.S. citizens — in New Zealand hospitals who are fighting the clock. They have only a few weeks to recover and get home to the tiny island of American Samoa, a U.S. territory in the South Pacific.

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

NOEL KING, HOST:

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

NOEL KING, HOST:

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

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The author Clifford Thompson has spent a lot of time thinking about identity.

As House Ukraine hearings opened their second week Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said there won't be enough votes to remove President Trump in the Senate if Democrats trigger an impeachment trial.

The Kentucky Republican told reporters he would convene a Senate trial as required by the Constitution if he receives articles of impeachment from the House — but he reiterated that he believes Trump would prevail.

"It's inconceivable to me that there would be 67 to remove the president from office," McConnell said.

Amid a slew of public impeachment hearings, Democratic presidential candidates are gathering in Atlanta to debate once again. This round also comes less than three months before the first primaries and caucuses.

Ten candidates made the cut, down from a record of 12 in October's debate.

Updated at 7:08 p.m. ET

Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, tied President Trump directly to conditioning a meeting with the Ukrainian president with "a public statement from President Zelenskiy committing to investigations of Burisma and the 2016 election."

Tensions are growing between homeless advocates and the Trump administration, which is in the process of crafting a new strategy to deal with rising homelessness in California and other states.

Advocacy groups are concerned that the plan will rely on more vigorous law enforcement and private market incentives rather than on efforts to house homeless individuals and provide supportive services — a policy known as Housing First that has been embraced across the country over the last decade.

Step into one of the nation's top art museums, and most of the works you'll see were made by men.

The Baltimore Museum of Art has decided to make a bold step to correct that imbalance: next year, the museum will only purchase works made by female-identifying artists.

Pages