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Updated at 12:39 p.m. ET

Health care workers who want to refuse to treat patients because of religious or moral beliefs will have a new defender in the Trump administration.

The top civil rights official at the Department of Health and Human Services is creating the Division of Conscience and Religious Freedom to protect doctors, nurses and other health care workers who refuse to take part in procedures like abortion or treat certain people because of moral or religious objections.

In the competition for Amazon's second headquarters, just 20 metropolitan areas remain in the running.

Last year, Amazon set off a hyper-competitive proposal process, saying that it plans to invest $5 billion in building a second headquarters that could create up to 50,000 high-paying jobs.

The Seattle-based company, which is a financial supporter of NPR, says it reviewed 238 proposals in the U.S., Mexico and Canada. Here are the metropolitan areas that made the cut:

Looking back on Common's gripping Tiny Desk performance at the White House in 2016, I recall a couple of prophetic moments. The first was that the rapper confessed his desire for an Emmy Award while fixated on Bob Boilen's trophy on the desk in front of him.

Abdullah Shrim's phone almost never stops ringing. Most of the calls and messages are from other Yazidis asking for help to find their relatives. Others are from people threatening to kill him.

Shrim, a gregarious man with a ready smile, so far has rescued 338 members of the Yazidi religious group held captive by ISIS — almost all of them from Syria. It's a long way from his background as a beekeeper and businessman.

We're dang near a quarter-century into the new millennium and George Clinton is still out here slingin' gut buckets of funk. At this point, the good Dr. Funkenstein is more than a living institution; he's half-man, half-amazing.

China Reports Its Fastest Economic Growth In 7 Years

Jan 18, 2018

China is reporting its fastest economic growth in seven years, saying its gross domestic product grew by 6.9 percent in 2017. It's the first time since 2010 that the speed of China's economic growth went up rather than edging down.

In releasing the number Thursday, the National Bureau of Statistics of China said, "The economy has achieved stable and healthy development."

Hugh Wilson — the creator of the sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati, who was also a director and an Emmy Award-winning writerhas died at 74.

Wilson died Jan. 14 at his home in Charlottesville, Va. His wife, Charters Smith Wilson, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he had been battling lung cancer and emphysema.

Wilson began in television by writing scripts for The Bob Newhart Show and The Tony Randall Show.

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More than 30 Russian athletes participating in Siberian Indoor Championships last weekend abruptly withdrew from competition when drug testers arrived at the event.

According to the Russian sports website Championat, as many as 36 athletes cited various illnesses for withdrawing from the competition at the city of Irkutsk.

Updated at 8:25 a.m. ET

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly told a caucus of Hispanic lawmakers on Wednesday that he has persuaded President Trump that building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border is unnecessary, signaling a possible reversal on the key campaign promise.

Kelly, who was secretary of Homeland Security before taking over as chief of staff in July, said that candidate Trump had not been "fully informed" about the border situation when he pledged repeatedly on the campaign trail to build the 2,200-mile wall and get Mexico to pay for it.

Apple Plans To Create 20,000 Jobs And Build New Campus

Jan 18, 2018

Apple announced in a statement on Wednesday that it plans to accelerate U.S. investment and create thousands of new jobs.

For years Apple Inc. has been criticized for outsourcing manufacturing to China.

Apple says it plans to bring back billions of dollars it has kept in tax havens overseas, and that it will pay a one-time tax of $38 billion on its overseas cash holdings.

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President Trump has frequently promised to protect religious freedom in this country.

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Nora Baladerian and Karyn Harvey are both psychologists with an unusual specialty — they are among a small number of therapists who treat people with intellectual disabilities who have been the victims of sexual violence.

They're friends, brought together by decades of shared experience. Baladerian, from Los Angeles, is a co-founder of the Disability and Abuse Project, which tracks violence against people with intellectual disabilities.

As President Trump approaches the one-year anniversary of his inauguration, a majority of Americans think that his first year in office has been a failure and that he has divided the nation.

NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll data released Thursday finds that Americans deemed Trump's first year a failure, 53 percent to 40 percent. And by an almost 2-to-1 ratio (61 percent to 32 percent), Americans said they believe Trump has divided the country since his election.

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As President Trump approaches his first anniversary of taking office, he and others are taking stock.

"2017 was a year of tremendous achievement, monumental achievement, actually," Trump told members of his Cabinet last week. "I don't think any administration has ever done what we've done and what we've accomplished in its first year."

The president has delivered on some of his major campaign promises. Other pledges are still works in progress, while some commitments have been quietly discarded.

Updated at 3:56 p.m. ET

The House Intelligence Committee decided on Thursday to release the transcript of its meeting with the man who commissioned the infamous Trump-Russia dossier.

Lawmakers used a closed meeting to vote about whether to unveil the text of hours' worth of testimony by Glenn Simpson, founder of the private intelligence firm Fusion GPS.

The committee posted it later in the day and it is available online here.

Like many lawmakers, Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., supports reviving earmarks, but he mused at a House Rules Committee hearing Wednesday that the debate is futile if House Speaker Paul Ryan does not.

"When the speaker ain't inclined, ain't much going to happen," Hastings quipped, noting the speaker reiterated as recently as last Friday that he opposes ending an earmark ban put in place by former House Speaker John Boehner.

Americana singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile was our first live performer of 2018. She got us off to a great start, bringing a string ensemble and, of course, her long-time collaborators the Hanseroth twins for a preview of tracks from her forthcoming album By The Way, I Forgive You.

SET LIST

  • "Every Time I Hear That Song"

Photos: Steven Dewall/KCRW.

First Listen: Dream Wife, 'Dream Wife'

Jan 18, 2018

The London-based punk band Dream Wife began as an elaborate lark. In 2014, a trio of Brighton University students formed the troupe as an art school performance project that was "meditating on dreaming big and being a woman," Somerset, U.K.-raised bassist Bella Podpadec once explained.

No other genre is more invested in the preservation of musical tradition or more suffused with nostalgic pining for the old home place than bluegrass. But that doesn't mean that bluegrass lifers like North Carolina's Steep Canyon Rangers find the genre's tried-and-true conventions to be artistically limiting or inevitably hew to a single career model.

"This song's about my dog, Fanny." So says Ty Segall with a boyish grin at the start of his recent appearance on Conan. As promised, the song he performs, "Fanny Dog," is about his beloved pet. "Fanny knows what her name is," Segall sings with ragged glee as his band grinds and squeals its way through an eruption of heavy, solo-smeared garage rock.

Geography has a way of seeping into music, and Calexico has never shied away from that fact. Throughout the group's 22-year existence, co-founders and multi-instrumentalist Joey Burns and John Convertino have drawn on the arid clime and vibrant culture of the American Southwest — and its sister territory across the border — to inform their sprawling, cross-cultural indie rock.

A former Department of Energy photographer has filed a federal whistleblower suit alleging he lost his job after leaking photos of a private meeting between Energy Secretary Rick Perry and a major Trump donor who heads one of the country's largest mining companies.

The photographer, Simon Edelman, took photos of the March 29, 2017, meeting between Perry and Robert "Bob" Murray, the CEO of Ohio-based Murray Energy, who gave $300,000 to the Trump campaign.

Oregon and Washington officials have identified hundreds of bridges that still need to be replaced or retrofitted to withstand a magnitude 9 earthquake from the offshore Cascadia fault zone.

But the pace of highway reinforcements is picking up.

With the death of biologist Mathilde Krim on Monday, at the age of 91 at her home in New York, the world lost a pioneering scientist, activist and fundraiser in AIDS research. She is being widely praised this week for her clarity, compassion and leadership.

Amid the panic, confusion and discrimination of the HIV epidemic's earliest days, Krim stood out — using science and straight talk, in the 1980s and beyond, to dispel fear, stigma, and misinformation among politicians and the public.

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