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Washington, D.C., is not a place that welcomes surprises, but this afternoon, President Obama had a big surprise for his vice president.

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Six years ago, Don Cameron, the general manager of Terranova Ranch, southwest of Fresno, Calif., did something that seemed kind of crazy.

He went out to a nearby river, which was running high because of recent rains, and he opened an irrigation gate. Water rushed down a canal and flooded hundreds of acres of vineyards — even though it was wintertime. The vineyards were quiet. Nothing was growing.

"We started in February, and we flooded grapes continuously, for the most part, until May," Cameron says.

Menopause is a mystery to evolutionary biologists, but new insights could come from a long-term study of killer whales.

In these whales, the explanation may lie in a combination of conflict and cooperation between older and younger females, according to a report published Thursday in the journal Current Biology.

The incoming Trump administration has found a job for former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

The Trump team announced Thursday that Giuliani will "be sharing his expertise and insight as a trusted friend" on cyber-security matters. Giuliani was a surrogate and adviser to Trump during the campaign. He had reportedly been under consideration for a variety of high-level posts in the new Trump administration, including Secretary of State, a job he expressed interest in. But no such high-level post was offered.

Once again this year, President Obama hailed the nation's high school graduation rate as it reached another record high — a whopping 83 percent.

Sgt. Marty Tucker thinks millennials have trouble talking to strangers. Tucker runs training for the Sheriff's Office in Spokane, Wash., and he says new recruits seem inhibited when making face-to-face contacts with members of the public.

"They're so stressed out about making contact that they don't think about anything else," he says. "So they get up there, and then they'll freeze up."

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It's no secret that American children have gotten heavier in recent decades.

The Affordable Care Act brought the rate of uninsured Americans to a record low 9 percent in 2015. It's the major achievement of the controversial health care law and one the Obama administration likes to tout whenever it can.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell did just that in an interview with NPR on Tuesday.

Where the first day of Jeff Sessions' attorney general confirmation hearing focused on what the Alabama senator's relationship would be with the president if confirmed, the second day focused on his own past.

Sessions, a former Alabama attorney general, has a reputation for being tough on crime, but civil rights advocates testified that his reputation was made on the backs of vulnerable groups. Lawmakers who have worked with him, on the other hand, said they knew a just and fair man.

"We must bend" the arc of the moral universe

When Donald Trump won the presidential election, he made a pledge to every citizen: that he would be president for all Americans. In the weeks before Trump's inauguration, we're going to hear about some of the communities that make up this nation, from the people who know them best, in our series Finding America.

Gabriel Otero's family has lived in Tucson, Ariz., for five generations. The region about 70 miles from Mexico has a complicated history. Lots of people have called it home.

Let's say you're a farmer in the Midwest, growing conventional corn and soybeans. Times are tough right now. Prices are in the toilet.

If only you were selling organic soybeans and corn. They're worth almost twice as much, per bushel, as your conventional crops.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has designated the rusty patched bumblebee an endangered species — the first such designation for a bumblebee and for a bee species in the continental U.S.

The protected status, which goes into effect on Feb. 10, includes requirements for federal protections and the development of a recovery plan. It also means that states with habitats for this species are eligible for federal funds.

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For more now, we're joined by law professor Kathleen Clark of Washington University in St. Louis. She studies ethics for government officials. Thanks for coming in.

KATHLEEN CLARK: Thank you for having me.

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Donald Trump, who has repeatedly called the media dishonest, held a wide-ranging news conference today, the first since being elected president. It was also the first time we heard Trump himself acknowledge Russia's meddling in the U.S. election.

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A federal judge in South Carolina formally sentenced Dylann Roof to death on Wednesday, one day after a jury recommended that he be executed for murdering nine people in a Charleston church.

Under federal sentencing laws, the death penalty can be imposed only if all 12 jurors agree on it, and the judge cannot overrule the jury's decision.

This has been updated at 10:00 pm ET with Clapper statement

President-elect Donald Trump denounced as "fake news" Wednesday reports that Russia had compromising information about him before the election.

He also acknowledged for the first time that Russia was behind the hacking of emails from the Democratic National Committee, although he seemed to couch it later in the news conference by saying it "could have been others."

The outcome of the repeal-and-replace Obamacare debate could affect more than you might think, depending on just how the GOP congressional majority pursues its goal.

Beyond the Affordable Care Act's marquee achievements like guaranteeing health coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and allowing children to stay on parents' plans until age 26, the roughly 2,000-page law created a host of other provisions that affect the health of nearly every American.

Donald Trump's Press Conference, Annotated

Jan 11, 2017

For the first time in 167 days, President-elect Donald Trump held a wide-ranging news conference.

NPR's politics team, with help from reporters and editors across the newsroom, live-annotated the speech. Portions of the transcript with added analysis are underlined in yellow, followed by context and fact checks below.

Note: The transcript was updated throughout the press conference. While we are working to correct errors, it may contain discrepancies and typographical errors.

It was billed as a "listening session," a chance for Latino leaders from across the country to sit down with members of President-elect Donald Trump's transition team and talk about the issues important to them and to their constituents.

On campuses today almost every educational interaction leaves digital traces. Assignments and feedback are given through online portals; debates and discussions happen via learning management systems as well as in classrooms, cafes and dorm rooms.

Those and other digital crumbs give technologists the opportunities to examine the processes, practices and goals of higher education in ways that were largely impossible a decade or so ago.

Fitness tracking is all the rage right now. If you want to, you can monitor your heart rate, count your footsteps and calories burned, and even monitor your sleep patterns, all by using devices that can fit around your wrist or in your pocket. But that's if you're human. Fresno Chaffee Zoo, in Fresno, Calif., is taking fitness tracking to a mammoth new level — part of a national project to guard the health and happiness of zoo elephants.

There's a small-scale charity movement starting to take hold in neighborhoods across the country. Think of those "little free library" boxes, but with a twist: These are small pantries stocked with free food and personal care items like toothbrushes and diapers for people in need.

They're found near churches, outside businesses and in front of homes. Maggie Ballard, who lives in Wichita, Kan., calls hers a "blessing box."

President Obama gave his farewell address to the nation on Tuesday night from his hometown of Chicago.

NPR's politics team, with help from reporters and editors across the newsroom, live-annotated the speech. Portions of the transcript with added analysis are underlined in yellow, followed by context and fact checks below.

Note: The transcript was updated throughout the speech. While we are working to correct errors, it may contain discrepancies and typographical errors.

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