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Microscopic, bear-shaped animals called tardigrades are one of the most resilient animals on earth. Known colloquially as water bears, they can survive freezing temperatures, radiation, even a trip to outer space.

The creatures are famous for their ability to withstand extremely dry conditions. Water bears can go without water for 10 years, surviving as a dessicated shell. Just how they come back to life when their environment is friendlier has baffled scientists for years.

An executive assistant suffered minor burns after opening a letter that exploded at the International Monetary Fund's office in Paris on Thursday, according to multiple local news reports citing police statements. The device doesn't seem to have been very powerful — but French officials say it was an act of terrorism.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte's center-right party is celebrating a resounding win over populist Geert Wilders' Party for Freedom, in a result that's being welcomed by centrists and progressives in France and Germany, which will also hold national elections this year.

"I warmly congratulate @markrutte for his clear victory against extremism," French President Francois Hollande tweeted Thursday.

Updated at 10:15 a.m ET Thursday

The U.S. Women's National Hockey Team — the reigning world champions — won't be defending their title this year. They announced Wednesday that they will be boycotting the championships later this month as a protest against USA Hockey, citing stalled negotiations for "fair wages and equitable support" from the organization.

The Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee has voted 9-1 to increase its benchmark interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point and said it aims to raise interest rates twice more by the end of the year.

The only dissenting vote came from Neel Kashkari, president of the Federal Reserve's regional bank in Minneapolis, according to the Fed's statement.

Wednesday's move brings the federal funds rate to a range of 0.75 percent to 1 percent. The increase was expected by the market and is consistent with what Fed officials had been signaling.

President Trump has made clear he doesn't like the alternative minimum tax, a complex federal levy that will hit some 4.8 million taxpayers this year.

A two-page tax return, filed by Trump for 2005 and revealed Tuesday, may suggest one reason. Because of the AMT, Trump was required to pay about $38 million in taxes on income of more than $150 million that year.

Without it, Trump's bill would have been a lot lower.

A passenger on a flight from Beijing to Melbourne, Australia, was listening to music on her own personal headphones when the headphones suddenly caught fire, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau says.

The ATSB assessed that the batteries within the headphones were probably the cause of the fire.

Editor's Note: The following images contain graphic content.

Suicide bombers attacked a judicial building and a restaurant in Damascus on Wednesday, killing more than two dozen people as the country marked the sixth anniversary of its civil war.

In one attack, a suicide bomber detonated explosives inside the main judicial building in the capital city.

Polling places saw strong turnout for today's election in the Netherlands, with 55 percent of voters casting a ballot before 6 p.m. local time, according to local media. The crowd was manageable at a house in Marle, in the eastern Netherlands, that's hosted a voting booth for decades.

Updated at 2:40 p.m. ET

The Justice Department has announced charges against four people, including two Russian security officials, over cybercrimes linked to a massive hack of millions of Yahoo user accounts.

Dutch voters are choosing a new government Wednesday, in parliamentary elections that right-wing politician Geert Wilders — aka "the Dutch Donald Trump" — hopes will put his Freedom Party in power. The vote is seen as a test of the power of populist nationalism, which won key votes in Britain and the U.S.

Updated at 3:30 a.m. ET Thursday

Hours after a federal judge in Hawaii issued a nationwide temporary restraining order against President Trump's travel ban, U.S. District Court Judge Theodore D. Chuang, in Maryland, issued a nationwide preliminary injunction prohibiting the enforcement of the 90-day ban against travelers from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Chuang's order denies the plaintiffs' request to block other parts of Trump's March 6 executive order, including the temporary ban on refugees.

U.S. automakers may not have to reach fuel efficiency standards that were set during President Obama's administration, as the Environmental Protection Agency says it's reopening a review of the rules.

President Trump is expected to make that announcement Wednesday in meetings with auto industry executives and workers in Michigan.

In Washington, a senior White House official said the president wants to "set standards that are technologically feasible, economically feasible and allow the auto industry to grow and create jobs."

Mitch Seavey has been the first to cross the finish line under the famed burled arch before — he previously won the famed Alaska Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in 2013 and 2004.

This year he became the fastest and the oldest musher to win the race.

He also beat his son, defending champion Dallas Seavey, who had wins in 2012 and 2014.

In fact, Mitch Seavey shaved several hours off the record that his son set last year.

Seavey won the race, arriving in Nome in 8 days, 3 hours, 40 minutes and 13 seconds, race stats show.

No need to worry about whether the most hilarious BBC interview ever has caused family trouble, after the children of South Korea expert Robert Kelly's kids infiltrated his TV appearance.

Donald Trump and his wife Melania earned about $150 million in 2005 and paid federal taxes of about $38 million, the White House said tonight.

The Trump administration made the revelation after copies of the tax returns anonymously were put in the mailbox of journalist David Cay Johnston.

The numbers have not been independently verified by NPR.

A former Brazilian soccer player, sentenced to more than two decades in prison for ordering the murder of an ex-girlfriend, has returned to the sport. He was released from prison on a technicality and swiftly signed by a team.

The decision has prompted outrage in Brazil, The Associated Press reports. Multiple sponsors have pledging to drop their support for Boa Esporte, the team that signed Bruno Fernandes de Souza.

The top U.S. Marine vowed in a Senate hearing to hold members of the Marine Corps accountable for sharing nude photos of female Marines online. But many members of the Senate Armed Services Committee responded with tough questions Tuesday, asking why more isn't being done to protect female service members.

Federal records indicate that a key adviser to President Trump held substantial investments in 18 companies when he joined Trump in meetings with their CEOs.

The investments of Christopher Liddell, the president's director of strategic initiatives, totaled between $3 million and $4 million. Among the companies in Liddell's portfolio, and whose CEOs were in the meetings: Dell Technologies, Dow Chemical, Johnson & Johnson, JPMorgan Chase, Lockheed Martin and Wal-Mart.

Once the front-runner in France's presidential election, mainstream conservative candidate Francois Fillon is now confronting serious doubts he will even make it to the final round of voting. That uncertainty only deepened for the scandal-plagued politician Tuesday, as French authorities officially announced they are investigating Fillon on allegations he illegally diverted public money.

Scientists have caught sight of a star extremely close to what they think is a black hole, whizzing around it at an extraordinary speed — at least twice an hour. As NASA put it, "This may be the tightest orbital dance ever witnessed for a likely black hole and a companion star."

The pair is in our galaxy, in an area dense with stars some 14,800 light-years from Earth.

Bodies are still being recovered from a clandestine grave in Mexico's Veracruz state that a local prosecutor says could turn out to be the largest in the country. Jorge Winckler Ortiz, the state attorney general of Veracruz, says that at one large site, 250 skulls have been found, with more excavation to be done.

Winckler says the bodies are those of people murdered by gangs, with the complicity of the government. He added that officials had also deceived families who asked for help in identifying whether their missing loved ones might be in the graves.

The makers of the We-Vibe, a line of vibrators that can be paired with an app for remote-controlled use, have reached a $3.75 million class action settlement with users following allegations that the company was collecting data on when and how the sex toy was used.

Standard Innovations, the Canadian manufacturer of the We-Vibe, does not admit any wrongdoing in the settlement finalized Monday.

Updated at 4:05 p.m. EDT

The Trump era has opened with the promise of a White House foothold for media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

It looks to be the kind of warm and solicitous reception in the corridors of presidential power that he has long enjoyed abroad.

Murdoch has told close associates that the nation's 45th president calls to confer frequently — as often as multiple times a week — and that he has visited the White House to meet with Trump more than once.

An oil tanker with eight Sri Lankan crew members aboard appears to have been hijacked off the coast of Somalia, which would be the first time a large commercial ship has been taken by Somali pirates since 2012.

Sea ice in the Arctic has been melting at a record-breaking pace. Scientists blame a warming climate for most of that, but researchers have now teased out a natural cycle for how Arctic sea ice melts year-to-year.

Based on that cycle, they conclude that 30 percent to 50 percent of the melting is due to natural causes, while human-caused warming is responsible for the rest.

Jason Greenblatt, who went from being President Trump's longtime lawyer to leading his effort to bring a lasting peace to Israel, met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank on Tuesday, one day after Greenblatt met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for talks that touched on Israeli settlement construction.

The State Department calls this an "orientation trip" that's meant to hear from the two sides about returning to peace negotiations.

From Jerusalem, NPR's Daniel Estrin reports for our Newscast unit:

Updated at 1:20 p.m. ET

Two of the biggest cities standing in the way of Tuesday's nor'easter, New York City and Philadelphia, have lifted their blizzard warnings as the storm's path has shifted to the west and meteorologists have tempered their forecasts for the major urban areas.

The NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament begins today with a game, if history holds, that will have absolutely no bearing on the ultimate tournament outcome in early April.

The University of New Orleans and Mount St. Mary's University kick things off at the First Four in Dayton, Ohio. Both teams are No. 16 seeds, the lowest, and they're playing for a shot at the highest seed. The winner moves into the main draw to play Villanova — the tournament's overall No. 1.

No 16 seed has ever beaten a 1 seed.

Amy Krouse Rosenthal, the best-selling author who recently announced her illness by penning a personals ad for her beloved husband, has died at 51.

Rosenthal had ovarian cancer. Her longtime literary agent confirmed her death to The Associated Press.

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