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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani came to the United Nations to tout his country's nuclear deal with world powers and show that Iran is once again open for business.

But two British families are doing their best to challenge that image.

They, too, were at the U.N. this week, hoping to convince Rouhani that their relatives, held in Iran, should be released.

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Chinese officials are under fire after a local government tried to repair a section of the Great Wall by apparently just paving it over. Now, a centuries-old stretch of the wall looks more like a gray sidewalk than a global treasure.

"The five-mile stretch of wall in northeast Liaoning province is known as a particularly scenic part of the 'wild wall,' " NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports from Beijing. "Its towers and parapets are partially crumbled by seven centuries of wind and rain."

Take a look at this video:

If a word is spelled correctly, the pigeon has been taught to peck at the word. If it's spelled incorrectly, the pigeon is supposed to peck at the star. When it gets it right, the machine hands it some food.

A group of researchers from New Zealand were able to train four pigeons to consistently — with 70 percent accuracy — recognize dozens of words. The smartest pigeon learned about 60 words that it could distinguish from about 1,000 nonwords.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Syrian President Bashar Assad blamed the U.S. for the collapse of a fragile cease-fire earlier this week and denied carrying out well-documented human rights abuses, such as besieging civilians or using chemical weapons against them.

Providing details on a large hacking case, Yahoo says it believes "information associated with at least 500 million user accounts was stolen." The company says its investigation suggests the stolen data doesn't include payment and bank account information, which it says are stored in a different system.

Yahoo suspects that a "state-sponsored actor" performed the hack, stealing users' account information from the company network late in 2014.

Many of the signs say "Black lives matter," some read "No justice, no peace." And some have a simple directive:

"Release the tapes."

As demonstrators in Charlotte, N.C., take to the streets to protest the fatal police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, one of their demands is for law enforcement to show the public video footage of the encounter that led to Scott's death.

If there were a hall of fame for criminals, it would have to include notorious Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar.

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This is FRESH AIR.

Ruling on a lawsuit filed by a state's Democratic attorney general against its Republican governor, the Kentucky Supreme Court says Gov. Matt Bevin doesn't have the authority to unilaterally slice money out of a state university's budget.

From member station WUKY in Lexington:

If you looked at Google Maps this week, you might have noticed something strange: less green.

Typically, mint green highlights designate publicly owned wild spaces on Google's maps. But as of this writing, some of those public lands have gone gray. The locations are still searchable, but if you don't already know the park or forest exists, and where exactly, you might not be able to find it.

Say one thing for certain: The lists don't lack for leading lights.

When President Obama doled out the 2015 National Medals of Arts and National Humanities Medals on Thursday, plenty of the artists and arts patrons he draped with awards had familiar names — including Mel Brooks, Morgan Freeman, Terry Gross and nearly two dozen others.

Until Sept. 19, if diners had wanted to see Yelp reviews for Elizabeth, N.J., restaurant First American Fried Chicken, they would have found just two of them, praising the food, wide selection and late hours. Now, the majority of reviews give the restaurant one star, refer to the owners as "terrorists," talk about "72 virgin bucket specials" and mention — repeatedly — that their chicken is "the bomb."

The breathtaking sadness of seeing a boy suffering amid Syria's civil war has prompted a breathtaking offer of hospitality and kindness.

The sight of shell-shocked 5-year-old Omran Daqneesh, who was wounded in an airstrike in Aleppo, left many people speechless last month. It also prompted a New York boy named Alex to write to President Obama with a simple request: "Can you please go get him" so Omran can become part of Alex's family?

Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen's memoir set for release on Tuesday, is a virtuoso performance, the 508-page equivalent to one of Springsteen and the E Street Band's famous four-hour concerts: Nothing is left onstage, and diehard fans and first-timers alike depart for home sated and yet somehow already aching for more.

Less than a year after China suspended its one-child policy, officials in the central Chinese city of Yichang are asking public servants to have two children.

The request came in a public memo from municipal officials posted to the city government website. After more than 35 years, China relaxed one-child restrictions in January, allowing couples nationwide to have a second child if they want to.

American composer Julia Wolfe has won one of the biggest windfalls in the arts world. She is one of this year's MacArthur Fellows, recipients of the so-called "genius grants" given to a wide range of talented figures from the arts, humanities, sciences and social services. The 2016 class of fellows was announced early Thursday morning.

In 2009, musician and historian Elijah Wald published an overview of American pop from the 1890s to the 1960s he called How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'n' Roll. The title was a bomb-throwing feint — as Wald told me in an interview, he knew that title would get much more attention than a drier one such as "American Pop From Sousa to Soul" — and as if on cue, one reviewer after another lined up to wave away its thesis.

Here is what happens in the first 100 pages of The Wonder: Lib, an English nurse in the mid-19th century, is sent to a small town in Ireland, a country whose people she instantly hates, to keep watch over a young girl who claims she has lived without food for four months. Lib watches the girl and thinks unkind things about the Irish. The girl does not eat. That is it.

In the music of Alcest, beauty reigns above all. Even in the French band's early days playing gauzy black-metal, attention was paid to the curves of song and sound. From 2014, Shelter departed completely from Alcest's metallic roots for shoegaze, a conscious move on mastermind Neige's part that, while pretty, was airy in its noticeable lack of heft.

(This post was updated at 2:11 p.m. ET.)

Puerto Rico's governor, Alejandro García Padilla, has declared a state of emergency over a power outage that at its peak affected 1.5 million customers.

By morning that number had been cut by a couple hundred thousand, but more than a million customers on the island remained without electricity.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

For Emily Ladau, Hillary Clinton's speech on Wednesday about an inclusive economy with greater opportunities for those who are disabled wasn't just any candidate speech. It was a speech targeted directly at her.

"This has been my life since the moment I was born," says Ladau. "The reality is that I'm sort of a political statement on wheels, whether I want to be or not."

Ladau was born with a genetic physical disability and uses a wheelchair. She is a writer and disability advocate.

In a new episode of Web comedy show Between Two Ferns, Hillary Clinton jokes about what she should wear at next Monday's debate, attending Donald Trump's wedding and Chelsea Clinton's friendship with Ivanka Trump.

Comedian host Zach Galifianakis asked the candidate a variety of (not surprisingly) irreverent questions — like what would happen if Clinton got pregnant in office and whether she ever thinks to herself, "Oh, maybe I should be more racist."

Signs, rocks, tear gas, fireworks, broken glass, blood: The streets of Charlotte, N.C., have borne witness to days of unrest after a fatal police shooting on Tuesday.

Two nights of protests have included peaceful calls for unity as well as violence and destruction. On Wednesday night, a civilian was shot at a protest and now, city officials say, is on life support.

They came, they measured, they built and they plotted. But first, they had to borrow a few things from the NPR office.

Blue Man Group designed new instruments and a small-scale show solely for a one-time performance at the Tiny Desk. Celebrate the group's 25th anniversary with this musical and comical adventure, which you can watch this Monday, Sept. 26, at npr.org/tinydesk.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Editor's Note: Names of sexual assault victims have been changed in this story, to protect their privacy.

Haley woke up early one morning in June 2014. She had been out with a few friends at a bar in Ashland, Ore., the night before, and she felt safest going home with them rather than walking home alone.

"It turns out," she said, "the creeper that I had to be afraid of was in my circle of friends."

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