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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

And to help us understand what's happening on Capitol Hill tonight, I am joined by NPR's Ron Elving. Hello there, Ron.

RON ELVING, BYLINE: Good to be with you, Kelly.

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The State Department will approve the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline, a U.S. official tells NPR. That will set the stage for President Trump to reverse a decision former President Barack Obama made in 2015 to reject the project.

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Oleksandr Synytsia/Reuters 

"An act of state terrorism by Russia."

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko did not mince words about neighboring Russia following the assassination of an outspoken Kremlin critic in Kiev.

Denis Voronenkov, 45, was gunned down in broad daylight in front of a luxury hotel in the center of the city Thursday. He was a former member of the Russian parliament before he renounced his citizenship and emigrated last October to Ukraine where he became a citizen.

Candlelight vigil honors victims of Wednesday's terror attack in London

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Stefan Wermuth/Reuters

Hundreds of people paid tribute in central London on Thursday to the victims of a terror attack outside British Parliament a day earlier that left five dead including a police officer and the attacker, and dozens injured.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan led the tributes in a heavily policed Trafalgar Square, vowing "Londoners will never be cowed by terrorism" after a 52-year-old UK-born man went on the rampage at Westminster.

President Trump got good news on Thursday from the federal agency that oversees the three-year-old lease on his five-star hotel in Washington, D.C.

The General Services Administration said in a letter that the Trump Organization is in "full compliance" with the lease on the luxury hotel that's located just blocks from the White House.

Jidenna On What It Means To Be 'The Chief'

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London comes together to remember its victims

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Hannah McKay

Hundreds of people paid tribute in central London on Thursday to the victims of a terror attack outside British Parliament a day earlier that left four dead, including a police officer and the attacker, and dozens injured.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan led the tributes in a heavily policed Trafalgar Square, vowing "Londoners will never be cowed by terrorism" after a 52-year-old UK-born man went on the rampage at Westminster.

Hussain Manawer thinks he is jinxed he gets stopped so often. He has been questioned at airports from LA to Macedonia, but jokes he doesn’t get stopped anymore because they all know him now.

“I’m just trying to figure out the best way in order to demolish this stigma that all Muslim people are terrorists.“

Former President Obama took a victory lap Thursday on seventh anniversary of his signature health care law even as Republicans had planned to formally begin the process of gutting it in celebration.

But now, it's the GOP replacement plan that remains on life support. Republicans postponed a planned evening vote in the House, denying them a symbolic chance to make good on their years-long promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

About this time last year, roughly two dozen daring young strangers bid farewell to the modern world as we know it, bearing their hunting equipment and their wiles into the remote Scottish highlands with the aims of creating a new community from scratch — cameras rolling for a reality show all the while, naturally.

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Carlos Barria/Reuters

I meet Nadzeya at an upscale café, somewhere in Manhattan. It’s the only place where she would meet me: somewhere crowded, so she could remain anonymous. Nadzeya, by the way, is not her real name.

Let’s get something out of the way. When people think of undocumented immigration in America, many don’t necessarily think of Nadzeya — a tall, pale platinum blonde woman from eastern Europe.

Who Will Listen To The Suffering Syrians?

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Dr. Hussam Jefee-Bahloul, a Syrian psychiatrist, writes poetry that reflects his deep longing for a lost homeland.

"Poetry and art is another way to cope," he says, "we are all grieving in our own ways. The country is no longer the one that I left and it still haunts me in my dreams." (Click here to read one of his poems.)

With his skill as a psychiatrist, Dr. Hussam Jefee-Bahloul is reaching out to the troubled people of his Syrian homeland, offering guidance for health workers who work with mental health issues in a population traumatized by war.

And with his love of words, he tries to capture his longing for his homeland in poetry.

U.S. Marine artillerymen are now in place on Syrian soil, north of the last stronghold of the Islamic State. A force of local Kurdish and Arab fighters is moving south, continuing to isolate the city of Raqqa.

They're in the opening stages of a major military operation that officials say could last into the fall.

What comes next is expected to have huge implications not only for the fate of ISIS but also for the relationship between Turkey and Russia, as well as the geographic outlines of the future Syrian state.

It will be very complicated.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Shoes, watches, bicycles, ovens - you could once order all of those things from Sears. The company was a pioneer of the mail-order catalog. And for years, its department stores were a mainstay of American shopping malls.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

To fully understand the dollar-store appeal of Power Rangers, the first big-screen iteration of the media and action-figure line in two decades, one must sit through at least one or two of the five Michael Bay-directed Transformers movies, which is by no means an advisable experience. The two franchises are more or less the same — a busy assemblage of thinly wrought characters, unforgivably dense mythology, and barely comprehensible action sequences, all in service of gleaming battlebots for kids to smash together in the sandbox.

The namesake of Wilson is the kind of guy people try to avoid on the bus, at the sidewalk cafe, or while using the adjacent urinal. Yet the makers of this deadpan comedy want us to spend 90 minutes with him.

The experience isn't painful, but it is a little frustrating. Playing the reclusive, misanthropic, yet oddly gregarious title character, Woody Harrelson is as engaging as the man's personality allows. But Wilson struggles with tone, shifting from monotonously bleak to predictably satirical to improbably sanguine.

Brutal in both subject matter and presentation, the art-house biopic I, Olga tells the story of the last woman to be given the death penalty in Czechoslovakia. Olga Hepnarova, a suicidal 22-year-old who drove her truck onto a Prague sidewalk and killed eight pedestrians in 1973, attributed her act of mass murder to her own sense of alienation from the world. To communicate this, it's understandable that directors Tomás Weinreb and Petr Kazda would choose to, well, alienate their audience.

'Life' Doesn't Quite Find A Way

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"Space is disease and danger wrapped in darkness and silence," Chief Medical Officer Leonard "Bones" McCoy once lamented. And that was on Star Trek, far and away the most optimistic vision of humanity's spacefaring destiny ever presented onscreen.

Updated at 9:48 p.m. ET

The White House issued an ultimatum to House Republicans on Thursday: Vote for the current GOP health care replacement plan or leave the Affordable Care Act in place and suffer the political consequences.

Growing up in a hungry household in the first couple of years of life can hurt how well a child performs in school years later, according to a new study.

An estimated 13.1 million children live in homes with insufficient food, according to the most recent figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The outlook for a key congressional investigation into potential ties between President Trump and Russia's election meddling remained in doubt Thursday, after an unusual, high-profile flap involving its top two members.

Cancer can be caused by tobacco smoke or by an inherited trait, but new research finds that most of the mutations that lead to cancer crop up naturally.

The authors of the study published Thursday poked a hornet's nest by suggesting that many cancers are unavoidable.

If you're out in the clubs in Nashville in 2017, you have a good chance of discovering the powerful, lyrical voice of Kyshona. The South Carolina native came to Nashville after a long stint in Athens, Ga.'s singer-songwriter circles. She soon found her place in the city as part of both the soul and rock scenes and has released two independent albums since then: 2014's Go and 2016's Ride.

The U.S. Senate has a lot going on: confirmation hearings for a Supreme Court nominee, negotiations on repealing the Affordable Care Act, votes on gun sales regulations and bear-hunting rules for Alaska.

There's no denying it: Los Angeles isn't exactly gentle on the ears.

That's one lesson, at least, from a comprehensive noise map created by the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics. On the interactive U.S. map the agency released this week, which depicts data on noise produced primarily by airports and interstate highways, few spots glare with such deep and angry color as the City of Angels.

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