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Stars Hollow, the picturesque setting of the TV show The Gilmore Girls is practically a character of its own. Close-knit (sometimes to a fault), the fictional New England town is filled with lovable oddballs who gossip over coffee, bicker at town meetings, and make viewers wonder if there's anything remotely like it in the real world.

The answer is ... sort of.

The church of San Lorenzo in Accumoli is tiny and dark. The electricity has been out since a powerful earthquake ripped through the area and killed nearly 300 people less than two months ago. It also knocked over three rows of pews on the church's wooden floor, soggy since parts of the foundation receded.

"Don't step over there, you could fall through," warns Silvio Santi, the church caretaker.

Striking professors reached a tentative three-year contract Friday with the state of Pennsylvania. Faculty members had gone on strike Wednesday at 14 public colleges and universities across the state, according to Katie Meyers of NPR member station WITF.

Norsk Telegrambyra 

Valerie Hunter Gordon, the British inventor of one of the first disposable diapers, died this month at the age of 94.

She designed the Paddi in the 1940s while living on an air force base in the UK with her husband and young family. Early prototypes were cut out of military parachute silk and stiched with a Singer sewing machine on her living room table. 

Kim Stevens

In recent years, South Africa's rich choral tradition has produced a wave of talented opera singers who are making their mark on the world stage. Soprano Pretty Yende wowed opera enthusiasts in 2013, when she debuted at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, while bass-baritone Musa Ngqungwana will open next year's Glimmerglass Festival as Porgy in the American classic, "Porgy and Bess."

Now, South Africa is pinning its hopes on another rising opera star — 25-year-old Noluvuyiso Mpofu.

The Islamic State's branding crisis

Oct 21, 2016
Khalil Ashawi/Reuters

The Islamic State is shrinking, fast.

Thousands of Iraqi and Kurdish troops are closing in on Mosul, the largest city under ISIS control. The terror group is losing ground to Turkish-backed rebels in northern Syria and being pummelled from the air by a US-led international coalition.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit


Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit


It will be a night of tension and hope for baseball fans in Chicago when the Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers play Game 6 of the National League Championship Series on Saturday.

If the Cubs win, they will move on to the World Series to face the American League champion Cleveland Indians. It will be a step closer to fulfilling a wish of a faithful fan, 101-year-old Virginia Wood.

Episode 731: How Venezuela Imploded

Oct 21, 2016

Things are pretty bad right now in Venezuela. Grocery stores don't have enough food. Hospitals don't have basic supplies, like gauze. Child mortality is spiking. Businesses are shuttering.

It's one of the epic economic collapses of our time. And it was totally avoidable.

Venezuela used to be a relatively rich country. It has just about all the economic advantages a country could ask for: beautiful beaches and mountains ready for tourism, fertile land good for farming, an educated population, and oil, lots and lots of oil.

Should the United States aspire to the kind of fast-paced economic growth China and India enjoy?

That's what Donald Trump seemed to say at this week's presidential debate: "I just left some high representatives in India. They're growing at 8 percent. China is growing at 7 percent, and that for them is a catastrophically low number. We are growing, our last report came out, it's right over from the 1 percent level. And I think it's going down."

But are comparisons like this meaningful?

The French-speaking Belgian region called Wallonia is holding up Europe's free-trade agreement with Canada. CETA, or The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, would reduce or eliminate tariffs and make it easier for goods to move between countries, similar to NAFTA or the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

A federal judge has decided that Harold T. Martin III, a former National Security Agency contractor accused of stealing classified government documents and property, should be detained pending trial.

The judge found that Martin "is a serious risk to the public" and presents a flight risk, as NPR's Carrie Johnson reports from the federal courthouse in Baltimore. Here's more from Carrie:

Leonard Cohen's new album, You Want It Darker, certainly delivers on the promise of its title. It's a meditation on mortality that soars to the highest of musical heights and sinks to the lowest of vocal and existential depths. The record is truly one of the 82-year-old Cohen's best — and it was produced by his son, fellow musician Adam Cohen.

AT&T is in talks to acquire Time Warner, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal today.

Here & Now‘s Lisa Mullins talks with Bloomberg Gadfly’s Michael Regan about what’s happening.

The Parakeets Of Bakersfield, California

Oct 21, 2016

The California City of Bakersfield is known for country music, agriculture and oil. But what if someone told you people are flocking to the city to birdwatch?

That’s what Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero discovered in a neighborhood park lined with tall trees.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit


Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Warpaint On World Cafe

Oct 21, 2016

The Los Angeles band Warpaint put out its first album in 2010 — six years after the band formed. In fact, Warpaint has always taken its time. In the two years between its self-titled 2014 album and its most recent release, Heads Up, its members worked on other projects, including bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg's solo album.

Matthew Childs/Reuters

I’m an American — and the only thing I knew about cricket until about a week ago was that they take a break for tea in the middle of the match.

So when the most famous woman in Pakistani sports agreed to show me how to throw (or bowl, actually) a cricket ball — it was a little embarrassing.  

Evidently, I bend my elbow a bit too much, Sana Mir tells me.

Mir is the captain of the Pakistani women’s cricket team and at age 30, she's already a veteran. She hands me back the ball — it’s like a small baseball.

Hackers have attacked a major Internet infrastructure company, causing intermittent disruptions Friday to websites and services including Twitter, Reddit, Spotify and Airbnb.

The victim of the attack is a New Hampshire-based company called Dyn (pronounced "dine"). It might not be a household name, but Dyn is one of the companies that sit between you and some of the biggest websites and services — and help make sure that when you type in a Web address, your traffic is properly routed.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie knew about a road study that would create a traffic nightmare — and used the advance notice to ask about his office's relationship with the local mayor, former top aide Bridget Kelly testified in court Friday. Kelly also said that Christie had cursed and thrown a water bottle at her.

On October 14, Luket Ministries, an Oklahoma missionary group working in Eastern Uganda, released a music video that has caused quite a stir.

Updated 7 p.m. ET with the replacement head being removed

The CBC reports that an odd-looking substitute for a stolen head of Jesus has itself now been removed from a statue. The church's priest said the replacement had to go because it was damaging the original statue.

But while the temporary head was in place, it inspired lots of joy on the Internet.

Our original post:

Caroline Kim

On a sunny fall day, people are strolling along the Long Wharf in Boston's Waterfront area. Cruise ships are taking people on tours of Boston Harbor while seagulls glide overhead.

But at the end of the wharf, there's a rather strange sight — a refugee camp. There are white tents, fences with razor wire, and staff from the international medical group Doctors Without Borders patrolling the area.

Tatiana Chiarella is a nurse from Brazil who has been working for Doctors Without Borders for about three years.

Venezuelan authorities have halted a campaign to hold an election intended to recall President Nicolas Maduro, who is deeply unpopular and presiding over an economic implosion.

The opposition had been preparing to gather signatures next week for a petition drive required to trigger a referendum on Maduro's leadership, the BBC explains.

Instead of drifting gently onto Mars' surface, the Schiaparelli Mars lander hit the planet hard — and possibly exploded. That's the word from the European Space Agency, which says new images taken by NASA show the possible crash site.

The NASA images, taken on Oct. 20, show two recent changes to the landscape on Mars' surface — one dark blotch, and one white speck — which are being interpreted as Schiaparelli's parachute and its crash site.