Nation/World

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California's Task Force 2 is ready for anything. As an elite disaster response team based in Los Angeles County, it has to be. But it's not just prepped for disasters at home — it's ready to respond to emergencies halfway around the world as well.

Just days after the devastating April 25 earthquake in Nepal, Task Force 2's firefighters, doctors and engineers were on the ground, helping rescue people.

Reports of the Russian military helping pro-Russian separatist fighters in Ukraine are common — but can be hard to confirm. Russia denies that its soldiers are fighting in Ukraine.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This morning, the doors at the historic black Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C.arolina opened once again after nine people were killed there earlier this week. The congregation was trying to move on.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHURCH SERVICE)

Islamic State militants have sown landmines around ancient ruins in the Syrian city of Palmyra, captured by the Islamist group in May, according to a British-based monitoring group.

It wasn't clear, however, whether the move is a prelude to destroying the Roman-era sites or securing them from Syrian government forces, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says.

A rare Galápagos tortoise, known affectionately as "Speed," has died at the San Diego Zoo — his home of more than eight decades. He was (approximately) 150.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This morning, the doors at the historic black Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., are open once again and a service is underway.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHURCH SERVICE)

MARTIN: Elder John Gillison had this to say.

Recycling sewage water has helped free Israel, a desert country, from depending on rain.

Treated sewage water provides close to a quarter of Israel's demand for water, right behind desalination, the other major process that has eased Israel's fear of drought.

But making that water — from toilets, showers, and factories — clean enough to use is challenging.

Updated at 3:40 p.m. ET

Authorities on a massive manhunt for a pair of convicted murderers, who made an extraordinary escape from a prison in upstate New York two weeks ago, have shifted the focus of their search to Allegany County near the Pennsylvania border after reports of a possible sighting of David Sweat and Richard Matt.

Click the audio link above to hear more messages from Meleia, as well as interviews with her stepfather, a teacher and a classmate.


There I am in Sears on Long Island with my baby daughter Meleia and her mom. We're buying baby things, and I keep thinking to myself, "I don't believe this. I just don't believe this."

We have heard about how ISIS is recruiting foreign fighters to join its ranks. But it's happening on the other side as well.

Just last week, a Massachusetts man who died fighting against ISIS in Syria was laid to rest.

Last year, a British man who calls himself Macer Gifford left his job as a financial trader in London and went to join the Kurds and fight the self-declared Islamic State in Syria.

Gifford spoke on the condition that NPR not reveal his real name, because he fears for the safety of his family in the UK.

Updated at 11:10 a.m. EST

The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., today is holding its first Sunday service following a horrific shooting that killed nine members of a Bible study group there.

On-air challenge: Today's puzzle is called "Monkey Business." Every answer is a familiar two-word phrase starting with "M" and "B" — as in "monkey business."

Last week's challenge: Think of an adjective that describes many shampoos. Add the brand name of a shampoo in its basic form. The result, reading the letters in order from left to right, will name a famous musician. Who is it?

Answer: Herb Alpert.

Winner: Mark Dressner of Long Beach, Calif.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

You don't expect to see world leaders getting down on all fours to perform yoga in public, let alone in a mass yoga class that draws observers from Guinness World Records.

But India's Narendra Modi did just that when he launched International Yoga Day on Rajpath, the central Delhi mall that represents the nerve center of power in India.

"Who would have thought that we would turn Rajpath into Yog-path [Yoga Road]," Modi asked the assembled yoga enthusiasts.

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(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO, "THAT OTHER GIRL")

ANGELA SHEIK: (Singing) Oh, tell me why you got to leave me. Why you got to leave me?

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Rethinking The Presidential Debate

Jun 21, 2015
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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

It's early evening and several men are making their way, alone or in twos or threes, to the community room at the Jordan Downs public housing complex. This building looks like everything else here: squat, rectangular, painted boring, government-regulation beige. But what's going on inside is pretty exciting.

It's Wednesday night, and Project Fatherhood is in session.

Lately, my prayers have become a form of artistic expression: Carefully chosen words, praise reports like songs, and sometimes pissed-off pronouncements entwined with polite requests that I please not screw something up. This season of life has required thoughtful consideration of even my private devotional time — and that makes me think of the conviction of Flannery O'Connor.

It would be easier to exercise, I've told myself, if I had a personal trainer. Maybe one that came to my house. Whenever I wanted. For free.

My dream of a live trainer who won't judge my outfit and is available at my beck and call — like a Jillian Michaels who knows my name — is being developed as an app called Fitnet.

A Few Facts About Greeting Cards — From All Of Us At NPR

Jun 21, 2015

With Father's Day this weekend, many Americans are bound to make last-minute trips to find that perfect humorous card for good ol' Dad.

Not my roommate. She has a stockpile of greeting cards that she buys not for a specific occasion, not to send to a particular person. She purchases cards just because.

Or maybe you buy cards like my mother. "Remind me to get a card for Aunt Tracy," she'd say as we strolled into the mall when I was a kid. Then she would spend what felt like hours perusing the shelves, looking for a card with the perfect touch of corny.

When Sarah Hepola got her very first writing job at The Austin Chronicle, her editor-in-chief gave her an unlikely Christmas gift — a hat that could hold beers. "It was my top boss," Hepola recalls, who had drawn her name in a Secret Santa gift exchange. "He just threw it on my desk and said: 'So you can drink more at work.'"

Hepola's new memoir -- Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget -- is filled with such funny/tragic stories, about drinking until last call, blacking out, and then trying to piece it all together the following day.

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