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Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. ARI SHAPIRO, HOST: John Glenn, the former NASA astronaut and U.S. senator, has died. In 1959, NASA picked Glenn to join Project Mercury in the first group of American astronauts. Three years later in 1962, Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth, rocketed into space on the Friendship 7. (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Liftoff. JOHN GLENN: Roger. The clock is operating. We're on our way. SHAPIRO: John...

Updated 5 p.m. ET The first American to orbit the Earth has died. John Glenn was the last surviving member of the original Mercury astronauts. He would later have a long political career as a U.S. senator, but that didn't stop his pioneering ways. Glenn made history a second time in 1998, when he flew aboard the shuttle Discovery to become the oldest person to fly in space. Glenn was 95 when he died; he had been hospitalized in an Ohio State University medical center in Columbus since last...

President-elect Donald Trump has chosen fast-food restaurant CEO Andrew Puzder as his secretary of labor, his transition team announced Thursday. Puzder is the CEO of CKE Holdings, the parent company of Carl's Jr. and Hardee's, and in a statement Trump praised him as someone who "has created and boosted the careers of thousands of Americans." "Andy will fight to make American workers safer and more prosperous by enforcing fair occupational safety standards and ensuring workers receive the...

In 2010, Chris Bertish paddled into 25-foot waves en route to a win at the Mavericks Surf Contest, an annual competition at one of the world's most famous (and nastiest) big-wave breaks. On Tuesday, Bertish paddled out to conquer something even more massive — roughly 4,600 miles larger, in fact. The 42-year-old South African surfer and sailor set out to become the first person to cross the Atlantic Ocean unassisted on a stand-up paddleboard. The journey he has laid out for himself takes him...

In a recent essay in the New York Times, Columbia professor and historian Mark Lilla issued a warning to liberals left stunned by President-elect Donald Trump's victory: Knock it off with the "identity politics" or be doomed to repeat this failure. "American liberalism," he wrote , "has slipped into a kind of moral panic about racial, gender, and sexual identity that has distorted liberalism's message and prevented it from becoming a unifying force capable of governing." This admonition has...

I first got to taste Blue Seal ice cream 13 years ago. I was 24 years old and teaching English in a tiny mountain town called Furukawa, which means "Old River." One weekend, some Canadian friends and I flew to Okinawa, Japan's southern-most island. Once we arrived in downtown Naha, Okinawa's capital city, my friends decided to dine at a steakhouse. And as the only vegetarian in the group, I was on my own. As I wandered down Kokusai-dori, or International Street, I saw the welcoming orange and...

President-elect Donald Trump's latest Twitter target is a local union official who questioned the billionaire's account of how many jobs he saved at a Carrier plant in Indianapolis. Trump has previously used social media to browbeat companies that move jobs offshore as well as entertainers whose acts he finds tiresome. On Wednesday, Trump took aim at Chuck Jones, president of the United Steelworkers Local 1999. Trump wrote on Twitter that Jones "has done a terrible job representing workers....

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...

A magnitude 6.5 earthquake struck about 100 miles off the Northern California coast on Thursday morning, according to the U.S. Geological Survey . The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said the earthquake, originally reported to have a magnitude of 6.8, wasn't powerful enough to generate a destructive tsunami. No damage or injuries were reported. The epicenter was relatively close to the surface — about 7.5 miles down — and its effects were felt especially by residents in the town of Ferndale,...

The U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS says it carried out an airstrike on a hospital complex in the Iraqi city of Mosul at the request of Iraq's military. Air Force Col. John L. Dorrian, the spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, told reporters that the coalition did not "have any reason to believe civilians were harmed." However, when specifically asked whether there were patients at the city's main hospital, Dorrian said that was "very difficult to ascertain with full and total fidelity."...

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