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As public support for the death penalty wanes, the number of executions and projected death sentences in 2017 rose only slightly, remaining at nearly 25-year lows, according to the annual report released Thursday by the Death Penalty Information Center.

There were 23 executions this year the center says. Over the past 25 years, only last year's total, of 20, was lower.

It has been more than nine months since a family in Canada realized that UPS lost a bank draft worth $846,000 (Canadian) that was sent to an inheritor. So far, the only money they've recovered is the $32 it cost to ship the document. Their bank, TD Canada Trust, has delayed issuing a new bank draft.

Lorette Taylor, who lives in Ontario, was distributing the proceeds from her late father's estate when she tried to send an inheritance to her brother, Louis Paul Hebert, who lives near Cornwall, Ontario, some 270 miles from the office of the family's lawyer.

Director Spike Lee was just 29 years old in 1986 when he released his first feature film, She's Gotta Have It. The movie told the story of a young black artist named Nola Darling who loves sex, but isn't interested in a committed relationship with any of the three men she's dating.

Lee, now 60, says he made She's Gotta Have It because he wanted to show a woman "living her life, and not really caring about what people feel."

With wildfires still raging across parts of Southern California, dozens of schools have been closed. Many will stay that way till the new year. That gives educators valuable time to think about what they can do, when school resumes, to help students who have been traumatized by these fires.

The number of teens abusing drugs is lower than it's been since the 1990s, according to a national survey.

"In particular, we see a tremendous decline in the portion of young people using cigarettes," Dr. Lloyd Johnson, a study researcher at the University of Michigan, said at a press conference on Thursday. "The changes we're seeing are very large and very important."

Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual news conference on Thursday, an event that commonly runs for hours, offering a kaleidoscope-like glimpse of Putin's view of his country and the world. In this year's edition, the topics ranged from President Trump to Russia's ban at the 2018 Winter Olympics — and the state of the fishing industry in Murmansk.

For Peter Cram, an American internist who spent most of his career practicing in Iowa City, Iowa, moving to Toronto in 2014 was an easy decision.

He says he is among a handful of American doctors who went north to practice in Canada's single-payer system. Now he doesn't worry about whether his patients can afford treatment. "Everyone gets a basic level of care," he says, which lets him focus on their medical needs instead of their finances.

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A new study finds that a lot of money is flowing into races for state Supreme Court. Millions of dollars are coming from sometimes mysterious donors, and a lot of it goes to negative advertising. Here's NPR justice correspondent Carrie Johnson.

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President Trump, nearing the end of his first year in office, appears close to a big win in Congress. He is urging lawmakers to move quickly now that House and Senate Republicans say they have agreed on a tax plan.

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Penitent penguins. A seal aghast. A turbocharged wigeon, a vain gnu and a kickboxing kangaroo.

The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards are back. This year's winners were announced Thursday morning.

Ultimately, it was the Mouse that roared — and the Fox that beat a retreat from the global stage.

The Walt Disney Co. has struck a deal valued at $52.4 billion to acquire much of the Hollywood holdings of 21st Century Fox, the global television and entertainment conglomerate controlled by Rupert Murdoch and his family. The deal occurs against a backdrop of swift changes to the industry's finances and uncertainty about succession plans at both companies.

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President Trump, near the end of his first year in office, is finally close to a big win in Congress.

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Ten years ago this month, you may not have noticed the cracking and crumbling under you.

At the time, you may have had a job, a home and rising retirement savings. Sure, the housing market was hurting a lot, but stock prices were still holding up and Federal Reserve policymakers were offering reasons for calm, saying they expected strong consumer spending.

At least 6,700 Rohingya Muslims were killed in what has been described as "ethnic cleansing" in Myanmar's Rakhine state over a one-month period between August and September, according to the international aid group Doctors Without Borders.

Updated at 3:27 p.m. ET

After a brief security evacuation, U.S. telecom regulators have voted to repeal so-called net neutrality rules, which restrict the power of Internet service providers to influence loading speeds for specific websites or apps.

After weeks of heated controversy and protests, the Republican majority of the Federal Communications Commission voted along party lines on Thursday to loosen Obama-era regulations for Internet providers.

A Hippo For Christmas, At Last

11 hours ago

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Good morning. I'm David Greene.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I WANT A HIPPOPOTAMUS FOR CHRISTMAS")

GAYLA PEEVEY: (Singing) I want a hippopotamus for Christmas.

A Father's Pregnancy Photo Shoot

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Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep. An expectant father came up with a perfect gift for the mom. Nick Roberts surprised his girlfriend, Brianna, with a pregnancy photo shoot.

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This is where the mom bares her belly and kind of shows off the bump?

CVS Health CEO On Aetna Deal

11 hours ago

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A CVS Pharmacy commercial from 1990 portrays the pharmacist as a friend, a confidant.

(SOUNDBITE OF CVS AD)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #1: (As Gail) Judy, I'm so embarrassed. The school nurse sent Lisa home today with this note.

Democrat Pushes For New Party Leaders

11 hours ago

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In Tanzania today, a solemn ceremony.

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There's new — and shocking — evidence about the toll that health care costs are taking on the world's most vulnerable.

For one Pakistani mother, sunburn signals her desperation to find her son.

Zarjan Atta rode rickshaws and buses for four days on desert roads, deepening and reddening her brown skin, as she traveled from her village to Karachi, Pakistan's southern port mega-city.

That's where her son Nawaz, 23, was living with relatives and studying at Karachi University. Her relatives say armed men dragged him from their flat on Oct. 28. They were in civilian clothes.

They pushed the women and children into a room. They warned: If you speak, you'll be next.

The New Year will bring a new test for President Trump and the United States' relationship with Russia.

Five years ago, President Obama signed a bill imposing sanctions on a group of powerful people there charged with involvement in the death of a Russian lawyer who uncovered a $230 million tax fraud scheme — and then died in government custody. The sanctions infuriated Russian President Vladimir Putin.

This post was updated Dec. 14 at 9:30 a.m. to note that Maryland extended enrollment until Dec. 22.

Gene Kern, 63, retired early from Fujifilm, where he sold professional videotape. "When the product became obsolete, so did I," he says, "and that's why I retired."

It seems like a lot of Americans are interested in the net-neutrality debate. Some 22 million public comments have been filed with the Federal Communications Commission on the issue of whether all web traffic should be treated equally.

Morgan Spurlock, the filmmaker best known for his 2004 documentary Super Size Me, acknowledged on Wednesday examples of sexual misconduct in his past in an online confessional titled "I am Part of the Problem."

Amid a flurry of accusations of sexual harassment and abuse that have taken down numerous high-profile men in recent months, Spurlock linked from his Twitter account to a nearly 1,000-word post, admitting: "I don't sit by and wonder 'who will be next?' I wonder, 'when will they come for me?'"

A Kentucky state lawmaker has apparently killed himself after facing several allegations in reports by the investigative arm of Louisville Public Media — the most serious of which was the alleged sexual assault of a 17-year-old girl in the basement of the church where he served as pastor.

The liver is a fascinating thing.

If you want to read a thought-provoking story about the liver, you might like to learn about the challenges of building a fairer system for allocating access to liver transplants.

Or the history of efforts to grow "liverettes" in petri dishes.

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