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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This weekend, NPR Ed is featuring dispatches from teachers about the ups and downs of their work.

Early each December, the HR department of Orange City Schools in Pepper Pike, Ohio, places a checklist in our mailboxes. It asks about our employment plans for the next school year. Choices include sabbatical leave, acquiring advanced degrees, and the one everyone dreams of checking: I will be retiring at the end of the current school year.

For more than two weeks, public debate in South Africa has been dominated by a statue. Students at the University of Cape Town have been demonstrating to have the bronze figure of British colonialist Cecil Rhodes removed from its central position on campus.

Rhodes bequeathed the land on which the university was built, but he also slaughtered Africans by the thousands in colonial conquest and helped lay the foundations of apartheid in South Africa.

Flamin' Hot Cheetos might conjure a lot of descriptors: spicy, crunchy, unnaturally fiery red. But it's a good bet that "healthy" didn't exactly spring to mind.

The jury said that the venture capital firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers did not retaliate against former partner Ellen Pao by terminating her. The case has spurred conversation about gender discrimination in the tech world.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Southern Baptist leaders were supposed to be talking about bioethics this week at a summit in Nashville, Tenn. That changed in December after a New York grand jury declined to return an indictment in the police choking death of Eric Garner.

When Russell Moore, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, sent out tweets expressing his shock, there was pushback. Should the church get involved in a divisive political issue?

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As astronaut Scott Kelly launches into space Friday for what is a planned year-long mission on the International Space Station, NPR hears from fellow astronaut Reid Wiseman who was on the space station for four months in 2014. He discusses his photo of Italy at night from space.

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(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE BREAKFAST CLUB")

ANTHONY MICHAEL HALL: (As Brian Johnson) You see us as a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal.

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Can you spend your way out of an historic drought? Not really, but the consensus in Sacramento these days seems to be that money certainly helps.

Just days after it was introduced, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed his sweeping $1.1 billion emergency drought relief bill today.

Italy's highest court has overturned a murder conviction in the case of Amanda Knox.

The court's decision puts an end to a story that began in 2009 when Knox was found guilty of murdering 21-year-old Meredith Kercher two years earlier. The verdict was overturned in 2011. But a year later, the Court of Cassation overturned the acquittal and sent the case back to an appeals court in Florence. Last year, that court reinstated the original guilty verdict against Knox and her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito.

In Havana, Cuba, the old cars that crowd the streets used to symbolize a stagnant nation. Now enterprising Cubans have begun renting cars out to tourists who are hungry for the cars of their youth.

During my reporting trip to Havana, I spoke with Julio Alvarez, the owner of Nostalgicar in Havana.

He joked that one thing Cubans should thank Fidel Castro for is all the old, majestic American cars that are now making him money.

You can listen to the story using the player above.

Thai leader Prayuth Chan-ocha, the army general who seized power in a coup last year, says that after 10 months of martial law, he's prepared to end it in favor of an equally draconian constitutional provision.

Prayuth says he's "thought it through" and will replace martial law by invoking a part of the the interim constitution that grants his government the same broad powers to suppress free speech and try civilians in military courts.

"[I] am prepared to use [the clause] to replace martial law. When it will be enforced depends on the situation," he says.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

We turn now to Jim Phillips. He's the director for international affairs of the German Pilots Association. He joins us from Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport ahead of a flight. Welcome to the program.

In Peru, a beleaguered bear is looking for a new home.

And the former circus animal is getting high-profile help from Michael Bond, the British author of the well-loved children's books about Paddington bear.

The tale of Cholita, an Andean spectacled bear like the fictional Paddington, is less the stuff of children's books and more of horror films.

The current upheaval in Yemen is a sharp reminder of the fragility of the global oil market. Airstrikes by Saudi Arabia against Houthi rebels in Yemen has stoked fears of a disruption to the supply market.

Yemen and Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil producer, share a long border. While Yemen is only a small producer of crude oil, it controls the Bab el-Mandeb Strait at the southern entrance to the Red Sea.

During a tough Israeli election campaign, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu managed to antagonize, among others, the White House, Israel's Arab citizens and the Palestinians.

Now that Netanyahu's Likud Party has come out on top, the prime minister has sought to ease tensions with a series of gestures.

Over the past couple of weeks — on All Things Considered, over at Parallels, on Tumblr and on this blog — we've been reporting on Cuba.

In a stroke of irony fit for fiction, an effort by two Idaho parents to clean up their daughter's books has dredged up a fairly messy controversy. Clean Reader — an e-reader app designed to ferret out, and block, profanity in novels and nonfiction — drew significant pushback from some authors amid its recent launch.

In the face of that criticism, the folks behind Clean Reader have now backed down, announcing their intentions to stop selling books directly through the e-reading platform.

The president of the University of Oklahoma says two dozen students from the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity have been disciplined for taking part in a racist chant about African-Americans and lynching that was videotaped and went viral earlier this month.

Melinda Townsend-Breslin keeps a photo of herself on her refrigerator standing with her mother, MaryLou Townsend, in the front of the Unique Thrift Store in Louisville, Ky. They're side by side in the parking lot, both wearing white shirts and sporting short, practical haircuts.

Mom is proudly showing her discount card. "For the thrift store!" said Townsend-Breslin, laughing. "The discount for the thrift store!"

Log onto Yelp, and you'll find what all your neighbors have to say about your favorite restaurant. You'll find prices, locations, menus, photos, even parking tips.

And if you're in the right city, you'll also find the restaurant's health inspection score.

"What we're trying to do ... is reduce foodborne illness [by] warning consumers when they're in the middle of making a decision," Luther Lowe, Yelp's director of public policy, tells The Salt.

When word came of Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid's decision to retire, various observers and Democratic constituencies quickly emerged with their choices for his successor as the party's Senate leader.

There were those who touted Patty Murray of Washington, the proven problem-solver and veteran legislator who has worked her way up the ladder of Senate succession. Others talked up Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who in just two years has emerged as a star in the caucus and who has also joined the leadership in a junior role.

An Alabama police officer has been indicted on one charge of using unreasonable force against an Indian man in February.

A federal grand jury decided there was enough evidence to bring charges against Officer Eric Parker.

"Parker's actions deprived the man in Madison of his right under the U.S. Constitution to be secure from unreasonable seizures, which includes the right to be free from unreasonable force by someone acting under color of law," the Justice Department said in a press release.

Harry Reid, the wily Democratic Senate leader, was likely — once again — to be one of the most vulnerable incumbents up for re-election in 2016.

Few, though, would have bet the house against Reid — a sharp-elbowed campaigner — especially in a presidential year when demography will favor Democrats in a state where almost 3 in 10 people are Hispanic.

"Do you really want to go up against Harry Reid?" said one national GOP operative, pointing out Reid's bare-knuckles style of campaigning.

Longtime Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, 75, who announced Friday he would not run for re-election in 2016, isn't exactly known for his charisma on Capitol Hill. But he has become known as someone who will always put up a fight.

That toughness can be seen throughout his life and political career. It was an essential quality during his hardscrabble childhood and time in the boxing ring. And it's what he later brought to fighting organized crime in Nevada and, more recently, taking off his gloves against the Tea Party Republicans.

Harry Reid's exit could have ignited a scramble to fill the power vacuum among Senate Democrats.

But the Nevada senator is doing his best to avoid what he called a "knock-down, drag-out fight" by endorsing Charles Schumer, the New York Democrat better known as Chuck, who has been Reid's top lieutenant for years.

"He will be elected to replace me in 22 months," Reid told KNPR about Schumer. "One reason that will happen is because I want him to be my replacement."

Reid called Schumer "a brilliant man" and "a tremendous asset."

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, who has announced that he won't seek re-election in 2016, says he is backing Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the Senate's No. 3 Democrat, to succeed him in the leadership position.

"He [Schumer] will be elected to replace me in 22 months," he told Nevada Public Radio. "One reason that will happen is because I want him to be my replacement."

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