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Dr. João Ricardo de Almeida is part of a team in Brazil that's investigating the cases of microcephaly — brain damage in infants born to mothers who contracted Zika virus during their pregnancy. He's examined dozens of brain scans, and he says that the scans are "very scary to look at."

"You see very profound abnormalities," says the neuro-radiologist. "Usually it's striking."

And they're notably different than scans of other babies born with the birth defect.

Nine months ago, the only way into Tikrit was to roll along dirt roads recently cleared of ISIS explosives. You also had to avoid celebratory gunfire as Iraqi security forces and their allies wildly announced their victory over the extremist group.

The city, about 100 miles north of Baghdad, was deserted at the time. After months of ISIS occupation followed by heavy fighting, houses were shattered, public buildings were burned and there was no electricity or water.

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The rise of ISIS and other Muslim extremist groups in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia has brought horrific persecution of non-Muslims — Christians, Jews and other religious minorities. Now, a group of Islamic scholars, Muslim leaders and government ministers from Muslim-majority countries has promised to work together to protect those minorities, saying Islam forbids religious persecution.

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A wave of violence in Burundi last December resulted in the deaths of scores of people. Now Amnesty International says satellite images and video footage indicate that dozens of people killed by police were buried in mass graves.

"These images suggest a deliberate effort by the authorities to cover up the extent of the killings by their security forces," Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International's Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, said, according to an an Amnesty statement.

Ancient Babylonian astronomers tracked the motion of Jupiter using a technique that historians had thought was invented some 1,400 years later, in Europe.

Every year, millions of kids and teenagers die around the world, often from preventable and treatable conditions. It is a troubling statistic. But if you look beneath the surface numbers, you'll find signs of hope, says Theo Vos, a professor of global health at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Although progress is slow in some countries, he says, the data show rapid improvements in many others.

In her first major address on the Zika outbreak, the head of the World Health Organization, Dr. Margaret Chan, said the mosquito-borne virus has gone from being "a mild threat to one of alarming proportions." Chan spoke Thursday in Geneva.

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Here's a problem many European nations face. They are obliged to admit Middle Eastern refugees, but many nations are reluctant to admit too many.

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In Soviet times, it was common for government critics to be branded as "traitors" and "enemies of the people." That sort of rhetoric largely faded away after the Soviet Union fell a quarter-century ago.

But now, it's returned — and much of it is coming from Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of the Russian republic of Chechnya.

Kadyrov likes to portray himself as an action hero from the rugged Caucasus Mountains of southern Russia.

Made in China.

You can see those words stamped on countless consumer products — electronics, clothes, but not cars. For the first time on a mass scale, a car built in China will be on sale in the United States — the Buick Envision.

China is the largest car market in the world. Chinese shoppers easily buy twice as many cars as Americans do. Chinese companies have been investing billions in the auto industry. The latest example is Volvo — the Swedish carmaker known for its boxy, safe, brazenly unstylish vehicles is pride of the Swedish car industry.

Last Friday, as the East Coast braced itself for the huge snow storm, we began to wonder how folks from places where it never snows were thinking about the crazy weather.

We asked readers from non-snowy parts of the developing world — and indeed from anyplace warm: What was your first experience with snow?

This week, after we finished shoveling ourselves out of our homes, we began digging through the responses.

And we got some truly hilarious ones.

Amid concerns about setbacks in the fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan, the White House has nominated a new commander of international forces in the country.

Lt. Gen. John "Mick" Nicholson, now a top NATO officer in Turkey, has been chosen to take over from the current commander, Gen. John Campbell.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter issued a statement calling Nicholson an accomplished soldier:

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It's 5 a.m. in Lagos, Nigeria, and the Igwe twins are chopping and sweating in the kitchen. The generator is running because there's no electricity. It's hot. But the 27-year-olds, who run a catering service called Speed Meals, don't mind.

"For me it's fun. Really, I don't even feel the heat," says Tobias Igwe.

Tobias and Titus Igwe have huge hopes for their small business.

"By this time next year, we want to be feeding 1,000 people daily," says Titus. "The next 10 years, we want to be feeding at least 1 million people in Nigeria every day."

Couples Who Use Contraception Have More Sex

Jan 27, 2016

Folks in the field of family planning research are experts at discussing all sorts of uncomfortable things — teen pregnancy, abortion, maternal death. So what's weird is that there's one issue no one is really talking about, says Suzanne Bell, MPH, a doctoral student at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

That forgotten topic? Sex.

Same-sex marriage or civil unions are legal throughout Western Europe, including many traditionally Catholic countries. The last holdout is Italy, where the Senate is about to take up a bill on Thursday that would legalize civil unions — though it would not authorize gay marriage.

Tens of thousands of Italians took to the streets last weekend in some 100 cities demanding legalization of civil unions, including those of gay and lesbian couples.

"Italy, it's time to wake up," they shouted.

No country is free of public corruption, a scourge that has wide-ranging effects on the lives of billions of people. But in 2015, more countries saw drops in corruption than those that saw gains, according to the new Corruption Perceptions Index.

On a typical day at the Capitoline Museum in Rome, a visitor might expect to see classical nude statues like this:

But this was the scene before Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and visiting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani held a news conference this week at the museum:

Out of apparent concern about offending Rouhani, white wooden boxes covered up many of the collection's ancient nudes.

It's a mystery who made the decision to cover up the art. As NPR's Sylvia Poggioli tells our Newscast unit, "The question everyone's asking is, on whose orders?"

French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira has resigned amid fallout over proposals to strip French citizenship from dual nationals convicted of terrorism.

The controversial measure was proposed in the wake of the November terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 130 people.

"Sometimes to resist is to remain, sometime to resist is to leave," Taubira said in a tweet Wednesday. She opposes the proposed constitutional change.

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After centuries of neglect, the world's largest fortification, the Great Wall of China, has a band of modern-day defenders who are drawing up plans to protect and maintain the vast structure.

They're not a minute too soon: Roughly a third of the wall's 12,000 miles has crumbled to dust, and saving what's left of it may be the world's greatest challenge in cultural preservation.

Qiao Guohua is on the front line of this battle. He lives in the village of Jielingkou, not far from where the eastern end of the Great Wall runs into the Yellow Sea.

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