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South Korean lawmakers have voted overwhelmingly to impeach their president, Park Geun-hye, who is mired in a corruption scandal and facing a criminal investigation. But the celebration of the impeachment vote may be temporary, as a panel of justices will ultimately decide her fate. "A lot of attention and focus of the national media and public will be on the constitutional court," says James Kim of the Asan Institute for Policy Studies , a Seoul-based think tank. That court has 180 days to...

The surprise find of smallpox DNA in a child mummy from the 17th century could help scientists start to trace the mysterious history of this notorious virus. Smallpox currently only exists in secure freezers, after a global vaccination campaign eradicated the virus in the late 1970s. But much about this killer remains unknown, including its origins. Now scientists have the oldest complete set of smallpox genes, after they went hunting for viral DNA in a sample of skin from a mummified young...

He was a flamboyant, alpha-male billionaire who said things no career politician ever would — someone who promised to use his business savvy to reform the system and bring back jobs. Voters believed that his great wealth insulated him from corruption, because he couldn't be bought. But his administration was marked by criminal investigations and crony capitalism. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was — until Donald Trump came along — the best known example of a certain type of wealthy...

President-elect Donald Trump spoke by phone with Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in one of the many routine, get-acquainted chats he'll have before entering the White House. These talks rarely if ever make news, but Wednesday's conversation raised eyebrows because Trump lavished praise on Sharif and Pakistan despite years of tension between the two countries. Here's part of the read-out of their conversation, as released by Pakistan's Press Information Department: "President Trump said...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. ARI SHAPIRO, HOST: In Cuba, a huge crowd has gathered in Havana's Plaza of the Revolution, filling the wide square and spilling out onto side streets to pay their respects to the late Fidel Castro. Leftist allies have also arrived from around the world to join in a mass rally commemorating the communist leader. Castro's ashes will then be taken east, retracing in reverse his 1959 march on Havana. I spoke with NPR's Carrie Kahn just...

Bob Boilen and I, along with the rest of the NPR Music team, have been prepping for our year-end coverage by listening to hundreds of songs and albums in one big shared playlist. Along the way, we've all discovered stuff we hadn't heard before — and even fallen in love with some of it. On this week's show, Bob and I share some of the artists and albums we missed before now, from Caribbean roots music by Anthony Joseph to the Boston-based funk group Lettuce and the idiosyncratic pop of D.D...

At a Florida campaign stop in August, presidential candidate Donald Trump made a promise for his first day in office: "I'm going to instruct my treasury secretary to label China a currency manipulator! The greatest in the world!" Trump told supporters that China keeps its currency artificially low to flood the U.S. with cheap imports, putting Americans out of work. But is it true? "What is very important to note," says China-based economist Christopher Balding, "is that they're manipulating...

The Israeli writer and peace advocate Amos Oz spoke at the funeral of his friend Shimon Peres a few weeks ago. He talked about the late Israeli statesman's two conflicting sides "that can't co-exist — on the one hand a deep respect for reality and its constraints, and the other an impulse to change that reality." That observation also seems to apply to Oz's new novel, Judas . It's set in Jerusalem in 1959, and two of its characters are men with political outlooks that seemingly cannot co...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. ARI SHAPIRO, HOST: About a year ago, Antoine Leiris was sitting at home, reading a novel. Then he started getting text messages from friends. Is everything OK? Leiris lives in Paris. And it was November 13, 2015, the night of the terrorist attacks there. His wife, Helene, had gone to the Bataclan concert hall to see a show, leaving him at home alone with their young son Melvil. Helene was among 90 people killed at the Bataclan....

Imagine you're passing a fast-food restaurant and you smell hamburger on the grill. You're hungry, so you pull in and eat one ... and the foam box it comes in. That's apparently what's happening with some oceanic birds. And now scientists think they know why. The fact that sea animals and birds eat floating plastic has long puzzled biologists. Their best guess was that it looks like food. But the new evidence suggests that for a lot of birds, plastic actually smells like food. It all comes...

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