NPR News

In his lab at George Mason University in Virginia, Sean Luke has all kinds of robots: big ones with wheels, medium ones that look like humans, and then he has a couple of dozen that look like small, metal boxes.

He and his team at the Autonomous Robotics Lab are training those little ones to work together without the help of a human.

In the future, Luke and his team hope those little robots can work like ants — in teams of hundreds, for example, to build houses, or help search for survivors after a disaster.

A strict new law governing foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in China may have some groups packing up and heading home if they can't meet the law's requirements or fall afoul of police who will have increased powers to monitor and control them.

The controversial measure was passed into law on Thursday and will take effect on Jan. 1, 2017, affecting thousands of foreign NGOs.

It's been a good week for employees of Chobani. They learned that they could eventually own about 10 percent of the rapidly expanding Greek yogurt company. That could potentially make millionaires of some workers, if the privately held company is sold or goes public.

It's a grand gesture, and reflects a rising trend in employee ownership.

The 2016 NFL draft starts tonight so here's our comprehensive first-round mock draft.

Watching Disney's remake of The Jungle Book, based on Rudyard Kipling's stories, took me straight back to my childhood in India, and to Sunday mornings spent watching an animated series of The Jungle Book in Hindi, on India's national television channel. (It was originally a Japanese series, dubbed in Hindi for an Indian audience.)

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

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

In the southeastern Chinese city of Quanzhou, a well-known Buddhist monk named Fu Hou has been mummified and encased in gold leaf.

According to The Associated Press, it's "a practice reserved for holy men in some areas with strong Buddhist traditions" and was done to honor Fu Hou's dedication to the religion.

Li Ren, the Chongfu Temple's abbot, said that after the 94-year-old's death in 2012, "the monk's body was washed, treated by two mummification experts, and sealed inside a large pottery jar in a sitting position," according to the wire service.

A bipartisan group of senators has unveiled a new compromise plan to overhaul the way drug criminals are punished, making one last push for legislative reform before the presidential election all but forecloses action on Capitol Hill.

At a news conference Thursday, one of the plan's biggest supporters, Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., proclaimed, "This is the best chance in a generation to reform our federal drug sentencing law."

As summer approaches, anxiety about Zika is growing in Gulf Coast states like Florida and Texas. The virus hasn't spread to mosquitoes in the region, and it may not, but experts are preparing nonetheless.

It might not have been a drone that struck a British Airways plane on April 17 after all.

British Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin told Parliament on Thursday that the collision was probably "not a drone incident," according to The Register, an online tech publication.

Three people linked to San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook — including his brother — have been arrested on charges involving an alleged "sham marriage," according to the Justice Department.

Syed Raheel Farook, 31, was taken into custody Thursday morning by the FBI along with his 31-year-old wife, Tatiana Farook, and her 26-year-old sister Mariya Chernykh. They face charges of marriage fraud conspiracy and making false statements under oath.

Randy Berry has seen dramatic changes during his more than 20 years at the State Department.

When he moved from a post in Nepal to New Zealand years ago, he had to pay for his husband's plane ticket because such spousal benefits were not covered for gay and lesbian couples.

"Those days are gone," Berry says in an interview at his State Department office.

The newest apiary inspector at the Maryland Department of Agriculture has four legs, golden fur and a powerful sniffer.

Mack, a 2-year-old yellow Lab, joined the team last fall to help his mom, chief apiary inspector Cybil Preston, inspect beehives for American foulbrood — AFB — a highly contagious bacterial disease that infects honeybee brood and, eventually, kills the colony.

The nation's falling teen birth rate saw an even bigger drop over the past decade, with dramatic declines among Hispanic and black teens.

Birth rates are down a whopping 51 percent among Hispanics age 15 to 19 since 2006, and down 44 percent among black teens, according to a survey of census data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Teen pregnancy rates among whites also fell by a third.

Its name will be "Red Dragon." And if the latest partnership between SpaceX and NASA works out, the privately funded craft will land on Mars to collect scientific data — possibly within the next two years. The plan is to use the Dragon capsule, but without a human crew.

"SpaceX is planning to send Dragons to Mars as early as 2018," the company said via Facebook Wednesday. "These missions will help demonstrate the technologies needed to land large payloads propulsively on Mars."

Former House Speaker John Boehner is a retired politician, so he seems to have retired from being politic. He went with radical honesty at a recent event at Stanford, according to the Stanford Daily, when he was asked about his opinion of Republican presidential candidate and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

"Lucifer in the flesh," the former speaker said. "I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life."

Fraternal twins tend to run in families, and scientists think they've identified genetic variations at play. Understanding that might someday help predict who is more likely to have a risky pregnancy, and might also help treat fertility problems.

A former reserve deputy in Oklahoma who said he mistook his gun for his Taser when he shot and killed a suspect has been convicted of second-degree manslaughter. Robert Bates, 74, was a volunteer with the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office when he killed Eric Harris during a sting operation in April 2015.

Baltimore police said a police detective shot and injured a boy after mistaking a replica pistol in his hand for a real gun.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis told reporters that two plainclothes detectives were driving in East Baltimore on Wednesday afternoon and saw the boy with "what looked like a firearm." Here's what Davis said happened next:

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

In the 1990s Chuck Slaughter built the online clothing retailer, TravelSmith, from a startup to a company with sales in excess of $100 million a year. Then he signed up to be an Avon lady.

"[Avon] is the original social network business. In some ways it's better than Twitter and Facebook because Avon figured out how to monetize the social network," Slaughter says over coffee at a café in Oxford, England.

Airstrikes in Syria's largest city killed more than a dozen people at a well-known hospital, says aid group Doctors Without Borders, adding that the violence claimed one of the last pediatricians working in Aleppo.

"We are outraged at the destruction of Al Quds hospital," the group said in a tweet Thursday, saying that the facility included an intensive care unit and an emergency room.

A friend of the pediatrician who died told NPR's Alice Fordham via Skype that Mohammed Wassim Moaz was "very kind" and that the children in Aleppo "love him very much."

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

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

Lately, it's been a political guessing game of which Donald Trump is going to show up.

In the past 24 hours alone, the whiplash between what rival-turned-uneven-surrogate Ben Carson called the "two different Donald Trumps" was on bold display.

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

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

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

Pages