NPR News

On the final day of the Supreme Court's term on Monday, they will issue a ruling that could affect as many as one-third of congressional districts — possibly dramatically remaking the partisan makeup of the next Congress ahead of the 2016 elections.

Jeremy Smith has written a new book called Epic Measures: One Doctor. Seven Billion Patients. It profiles the work of Christopher Murray, a Harvard-trained doctor and health economist who looked at a lot of numbers about how people live and die around the world and found that it's all a guess.

Nearly 500 people were injured at a water park in Taiwan after an explosion at a music event caused a fire to break out Saturday night.

The fire started during an evening rap performance in New Taipei City, NPR's Frank Langfitt, reporting from Shanghai, tells our Newscast unit. The accident at Formosa Fun Coast was caught on cellphone video.

"At one point, green powder shot out from the stage over the audience," Frank says. "The powder quickly ignited, enveloping fans. Some people staggered around on fire, while others collapsed to the ground."

Before you prosecute thieves, you have to know what they stole. It's the same for crimes against nature.

The world's only wildlife forensic lab is in southern Oregon. The lab usually specializes in endangered animal cases, but armed with a high-tech device, it's now helping track shipments of contraband wood.

There's a small woodshop at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Forensics Lab. But there's no sawdust, or power tools. The shop is more like an archive, containing samples of some of the rarest woods on the planet — African mahogany, Brazilian ebony and more.

Greg Demetri hit the jackpot. When he picked the location for Villa Toscana, his nearly one-year-old Italian restaurant on the main stretch of businesses in Central, S.C., he had no idea that the building had once been owned by the town's most famous resident, Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Graham, a South Carolina native who announced recently that he would seek the Republican party's nomination for president, first lived in a room behind his family's business, the Sanitary Café — a bar and pool hall on Main Street — before moving into the house that now holds Demetri's restaurant.

In the early 20th century, the Cherry Sisters — a family of performers from Marion, Iowa — were like a meme.

Simply invoking the name — the Cherry Sisters — was shorthand for anything awful. As Anthony Slide wrote in the Encyclopedia of Vaudeville, the onstage siblings became "synonymous with any act devoid of talent."

It took artist Katherine Craig about a year to create her nine-story mural on 2937 E. Grand Blvd. in Detroit. Most people who drive around the city have seen it — one side of the Albert Kahn-designed building is covered in a blanket of electric blue, and a flowing waterfall of multicolored paint splatters descend from the roof line. It stands in stark contrast to the rest of the landscape of low buildings and muted Midwestern colors.

It's called "The Illuminated Mural" and it's become emblematic of Detroit's North End neighborhood.

More than 80 Americans have been taken hostage abroad since Sept. 11, 2001. Currently, 30 Americans are being held around the world.

Until this week, the families of those hostages would have faced the threat of prosecution from the U.S. government for trying to pay a ransom to kidnappers.

California is on the brink of passing a law that would require nearly all children to be vaccinated in order to attend school. The bill has cleared most major hurdles, but public health officials have grappled with a strong, vocal opposition along the way.

There's actually a long history to the anti-vaccination movement.

The Supreme Court decision Friday that upheld the right of same-sex couples to marry was one for the history books. Obergefell v. Hodges was exalted by gay rights groups and their supporters, and condemned by those who believe that marriage should be reserved for one man and one woman.

Opponents of same-sex marriage say that the fight is far from over.

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