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SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:

The Senate confirmation hearing for Gina Haspel, President Trump's choice to lead the CIA, hasn't yet been scheduled. But several senators have already expressed reservations because of Haspel's role in the CIA's waterboarding of al-Qaida suspects after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam, posted this tweet Tuesday:

Google will ban advertisements for certain financial products, including cryptocurrencies, the Internet giant announced Wednesday. The move comes amid increased scrutiny of the fast-growing market for digital currencies like bitcoin.

In 2015, when Ariel Pasternak joined Chaia, a seasonal, plant-based taco shop opening in Washington, D.C., she and her colleagues encountered challenges familiar to any restaurateurs — developing a marketing strategy, sourcing fresh ingredients, and ensuring bills were paid on time.

What they did not find in the city's budding food scene was a sense of community.

Updated at 3:58 p.m. ET

President Trump has picked economist and CNBC commentator Larry Kudlow as director of the White House National Economic Council, and Kudlow has accepted the post, the White House said Wednesday.

Kudlow, 70, will replace Gary Cohn, who stepped down after losing a battle against imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

It started with a GoFundMe campaign. Three months ago, 14-year-old Taylor Richardson created a donation page to raise money to send girls to see the movie A Wrinkle in Time.

"It has a female protagonist in a science fiction film," the 14-year-old wrote in her description on GoFundMe. "A brown girl front and center who looks like me in the role of Meg, a girl traveling to different planets and encountering beings and situations that I'd never seen a girl of color in."

A report released this month by UNICEF has been cause for celebration in India, the country with the highest number of child marriages in South Asia each year. According to the newly released data, the annual number of child marriages in the country has dropped by nearly half in the last decade.

Updated at 3:50 p.m. ET

Democrat Conor Lamb appears to have won the special election in Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District, defeating Republican Rick Saccone in an upset for President Trump and congressional Republicans, based on a review of the vote by member station WESA and barring a recount.

A family that flew on United Airlines Monday night is mourning their dog, after the pet died in an overhead bin — an arrangement that a flight attendant had reportedly insisted upon. United says it was "a tragic accident" and that it is investigating.

Everyone from NASA to the cast of The Big Bang Theory is reacting Wednesday to the death of acclaimed physicist Stephen Hawking, known for his work on understanding the nature of black holes.

In what will go down as one of the most significant legislative sessions in modern Chinese history, an eye-rolling millennial managed to steal the show from President Xi Jinping, a man who had just been given permission to rule 1.3 billion people for as long as he wants.

Updated at 5:10 p.m. ET

At South High School in Columbus, Ohio, students stepped outside in frigid weather and said 17 names, releasing a balloon for each one.

In Orange County, Fla., 17 empty desks sat in the Wekiva High School courtyard. Students sang — "Heal the world, make it a better place."

It took just about two weeks from the public announcement to Sunday's legislative vote that erased presidential term limits from the constitution, potentially allowing Xi Jinping to rule China indefinitely.

"After it was announced, the move sent tremors through the Communist Party's intelligentsia," observes Zhang Xixian, an expert on party politics at the Central Party School in Beijing. But thanks to heavy government censorship of media and the Internet, there was little visible debate or opposition to the move.

The U.K. is expelling 23 Russian diplomats as punishment for a chemical weapons attack that took place in England. Prime Minister Theresa May has said Russia was likely behind the poisoning of a former Russian spy who, along with his daughter, was exposed to a lethal nerve agent that was developed in Russia.

Updated at 3:30 p.m. ET

As students staged a national walkout Wednesday morning over gun violence, senior federal officials sat down for a grilling from Congress over law enforcement's failure to act on tips about the suspect in last month's school shooting in Parkland, Fla.

German lawmakers have officially elected Chancellor Angela Merkel to continue leading the country for a fourth term after months of grueling coalition talks that left the country in limbo following elections in September.

Members of Germany's Bundestag voted 364 in favor, 315 opposed and nine abstentions.

"I accept the vote," Merkel told parliamentarians.

Her fourth term ends more than five months of political wrangling and uncertainty that weakened Merkel's governing coalition.

"Creativity now is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status." That's one of the many quotes that has made Sir Ken Robinson's 2006 lecture on rethinking the nation's schools become one of the most popular TED talks — with more than 50 million views.

Virginia is among 18 states that have not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. But this year, the state legislature is going into a special session to continue discussions about whether or not to include it in its budget.

No one knows how many people wrongfully convicted of crimes are in prison, but last year 139 of them were exonerated. That's a drop from 2016, when there were 171 such cases.

The numbers released today by the National Registry of Exonerations shows that Texas still led the nation with 23 exonerees last year followed by Illinois (21), Michigan (14) and New York (13).

Updated at 10:20 a.m. ET to reflect growing number of walkouts

Seventeen-year-old Egzona Rexhepi and many of her classmates in Boise, Idaho, will join students at schools and universities across the country as they walk out of their school Wednesday to protest gun violence.

Shortly after announcing a major shake-up on Twitter on Tuesday, President Trump told reporters, "We're getting very close to having the Cabinet and other things that I want."

Trump wished outgoing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson well but said he expects a more simpatico relationship with Mike Pompeo, the current CIA director whom the president has tapped to be the nation's top diplomat.

Big black and white letters that spelled out "Preservation Hall New Orleans" made the jazz band's sousaphone hard to miss. That was, at least, until it went missing.

"If you're trying to identify the sound of the tuba in one of our recordings or when you hear us live, you listen to the low end," tuba player Ben Jaffe says. "You listen for the bass, you listen for the bottom, the thing that carries the band. It's the rhythmic and harmonic foundation of the band."

In its Race Issue, National Geographic magazine examines the state of race relations in the United States, including an acknowledgment of the racism that permeated its own pages for decades. Among the magazine's contributors this month: Michele Norris, former host of NPR's All Things Considered.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:

Seven weeks into Turkey's Operation Olive Branch, a mission to clear Kurdish fighters from Syrian regions along its southern border, the Turkish military says its troops and Syrian rebel allies have nearly surrounded Afrin. They announced Tuesday that the central section of the border city and other "critically important areas" have been seized from the principally Kurdish militia known as People's Protection Units, or YPG.

It seems like another example of television's gender pay gap: executive producers of Netflix's drama The Crown have admitted that star Claire Foy, who played Queen Elizabeth, was paid less than Matt Smith, the supporting actor who played her husband, Prince Philip.

But a look at the details of this deal also shows how well stardom pays off in show business, especially when an actor in a supporting role is more famous than the star of their new television series.

NPR's Ari Shapiro speaks with Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., about Gina Haspel's nomination for Director of the CIA. A member of Senate Intelligence Committee, he opposes confirming her, because of her involvement in enhanced interrogation techniques.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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