NPR News

Welcome to this week's edition of our national education news roundup.

DeVos appoints current student loan company CEO to head student loan agency

Wayne A. Johnson will be the new head of Office of Federal Student Aid after James Runcie abruptly resigned last month, the U.S. Department of Education announced this week. FSA is the agency responsible for administering $1.4 trillion in outstanding student loans from 42 million borrowers, plus other aid programs for millions of college students.

He brooded, as Lincoln.

He seduced in The Unbearable Lightness of Being. And he murdered, in There Will Be Blood.

This week, Daniel Day-Lewis — a three-time Oscar winner, and incomparable film chameleon — announced he is retiring from acting at 60.

A statement released by his spokeswoman gave no explanation, saying this is a private decision, and that Day-Lewis will have no further comment.

The actor has often taken lengthy sabbaticals between films, but this time it's apparently permanent.

So what will he be doing?

Updated 8:51 a.m. ET Sunday

More than 90 people remain missing after rescuers found 10 bodies among the debris of a landslide in the town of Xinmo in southwest China's Sichuan province that happened Saturday.

Local officials had first estimated more than 120 people and 62 homes were buried under tons of rubble.

Arkansas's pesticide regulators have stepped into the middle of an epic battle between weeds and chemicals, which has now morphed into a battle between farmers. Hundreds of farmers say their crops have been damaged by a weedkiller that was sprayed on neighboring fields. Today, the Arkansas Plant Board voted to impose an unprecedented ban on that chemical.

Venezuela's ongoing political and economic crisis has taken a toll on daily life there.

A crash in oil prices and political instability under President Nicolas Maduro have led to food shortages, and that has prompted almost daily street protests by thousands of Venezuelans.

A 35-year-old protester named Carlos tells NPR's Audie Cornish the food situation is "pretty extreme." NPR is using only his first name for his safety.

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Oh sure, you could argue there are other, more important things happening in the world. And frankly, you'd be right. (For those things, by the way — which some people, in somber tones, might call newsplease see here.)

But sometimes, you just need to watch a big gorilla dance in a small pool.

Andy Slavitt understands the inner workings of the U.S. health care system better than most. From 2015 to 2017, he ran the Affordable Care Act, sometimes called Obamacare, as head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Since leaving that post in January, he's been an outspoken critic of the Republican proposals to dismantle it.

Yesterday, shortly after the release of the Senate bill, he tweeted, "It's the ugly step-sibling of the House bill." And this morning his message was, "We must start over. It's too important."

This story was updated at 3:12 p.m.

A federal jury in Kansas City, Kansas, awarded nearly $218 million to Kansas corn farmers after finding seed giant Syngenta AG was negligent when it introduced strains of genetically engineered corn seed into the marketplace that were not approved for import by the Chinese government.  

The eight-member jury returned its $217,700,000 verdict after an 18-day-long trial, the first of eight certified class actions lawsuits against Syngenta brought in state court.

While college campuses struggle with consent, and when and how "no means no," a nearly 40-year-old court case in North Carolina says a person can't be charged with rape if their partner revokes consent during sex.

Planet Earth is a vast place, with humans scattered all over it.

The U.S. took in more than 96,000 refugees last year, and many were children. Some of those children are finishing their first year in American schools.

Diane Orson from Here & Now contributor WNPR reports on an after-school arts program that’s partnered with a local resettlement agency to create a special violin class for some of the 270 young refugees living in New Haven, Connecticut.

A judge has declared a mistrial in the murder and manslaughter case against former University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing over his fatal shooting of black motorist Sam DuBose.

This is the second time the case has ended in a mistrial — the jury was deadlocked in the first trial, which ended last November.

A live Asian carp — an invasive fish so threatening to local U.S. ecosystems that officials have struggled to keep it out of the Great Lakes — has been caught 9 miles from Lake Michigan, beyond a system of underwater electric barriers.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in watched his military test-fire a ballistic missile on Friday, after a string of North Korean missile tests were blamed for raising tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

The military said the missile, a Hyunmoo-2 with a range of up to 800 kilometers (nearly 500 miles), hit its target accurately.

Less than a week after a judge declared a mistrial in the sexual assault case against Bill Cosby, the comedian's representatives say he intends to host a series of town halls about sexual assault and the legal system.

Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt told the TV show Good Day Alabama that the town halls could start as soon as next month and noted that the issues were particularly important for young athletes.

The list of perks Dan Teran's company offers sounds pretty dreamy.

Anyone working 120 hours a month gets employer-sponsored medical, dental and vision insurance. His company, Managed by Q, also offers a matching 401(k) retirement program, paid time off, a stock option program for all employees, and 12 weeks of paid parental leave.

Those are highly unusual perks, considering most are part-time workers who work only when they're available. Also, Teran's company does janitorial, building maintenance and temporary secretarial work, where such benefits are almost unheard of.

Could The Best Memory System Be One That Forgets?

Jun 23, 2017

Intuitively, we tend to think of forgetting as failure, as something gone wrong in our ability to remember.

Now, Canadian neuroscientists with the University of Toronto are challenging that notion. In a paper published Wednesday in the journal Neuron, they review the current research into the neurobiology of forgetting and hypothesize that our brains purposefully work to forget information in order to help us live our lives.

If Qatar wants to end a recent diplomatic standoff, all it needs to do is comply with 13 demands. That, at least, is according to the four Arab neighbors — Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates — that drew up the list and sent it via Kuwaiti mediators on Friday.

Police have charged Darren Osborne with terrorism-related murder and attempted murder over an attack in which investigators say Osborne drove a van into a crowd of people leaving a mosque in north London early Monday.

Updated 12:30 p.m. ET

President Trump kept one of his campaign promises, signing a bill Friday to make it easier for the secretary of veterans affairs to fire and discipline employees. It came in response to the 2014 VA scandal in which employees covered up long wait times while collecting bonuses.

The bill, which passed earlier this month with strong bipartisan support, also gives the secretary authority to revoke bonuses and protects whistleblowers who report wrongdoing.

The fire that devastated a 24-story apartment building last week began by accident — and the source was a refrigerator, London police say. Investigators have also found that materials used on Grenfell Tower's exterior failed safety tests.

"We now have expert evidence that the fire was not started deliberately — the fire started in a fridge-freezer — the make and model is a Hotpoint FF175BP," Detective Superintendent Fiona McCormack said Friday. She added that the refrigerator, which has a freezer on the bottom and refrigerator on top, has not been recalled.

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Now that the bill is out, we are examining just how the Senate Republicans want to change the American health care system. Here's President Trump talking about that bill this morning on "Fox & Friends."

In Atlanta, the buzzing of dirt bikes and ATVs is loudest on Sundays, when a loose group of riders called ATL Bike Life get together.

About 50 of them showed up outside a park in southwest Atlanta, popping wheelies and revving their engines.

Thirteen chefs divide into teams and begin to prepare appetizers, salads, mains and sides, and desserts. At their disposal are 300 pounds of "ugly" produce just rescued from local farms: purple cauliflower, cherries, shiitake mushrooms, pears, fingerling potatoes, shallots, kale and carrots.

Most of it looks super-fresh, though in some cases the produce is dinged or oddly colored enough to be unappealing to distributors.

Today we're going to update a story we first brought you back in 2004. That September, NPR set out to document what may be the most important day in any young child's life — the first day of kindergarten. For parents it's a day filled with hope, anxiety and one big question: Is our child ready?

The answer back then, as far as 5-year-old Sam Marsenison was concerned, was, "No, no, no!"

Boys Skirt The No-Shorts Rule

Jun 23, 2017

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