Regional Interests

Boxer Jack Johnson, who was the first black world heavyweight champion, has received a posthumous presidential pardon after years of bipartisan efforts by lawmakers and family members to clear his name — and a personal appeal from Sylvester Stallone to President Trump.

Speaking in the Oval Office on Thursday afternoon, Trump praised Johnson as "one of the greatest that ever lived. ... He was pretty much unbeatable."

It's not your imagination. A recent spike in home runs has hit professional baseball.

In 2015, Major League Baseball's home run rate averaged 1.01 per game (it had been 0.86 the year before). In 2016, it grew to 1.16. Last year it was 1.26.

Theories have abounded as to why, many centering on the balls having been altered, or "juiced."

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Each year, malaria kills about half a million people around the world. Health officials say a fast, cheap, accurate way to test for people infected with the malaria parasite would be extremely helpful in combating the disease. Now some engineers in California say they've invented a device they someday will do just that.

The device takes advantage of the fact that the malaria parasite produces tiny crystals inside infected red blood cells. These crystals have a magnetic property. Put a magnet next to a drop of infected blood, and the crystals move toward the magnet.

Johanna Humphrey has a crayon problem.

The Philadelphia resident ordered 24 boxes of crayons to hand out at her son's third birthday party. But retailer Amazon accidentally sent her twice that many and doesn't want the extras back.

"Parents don't need this many crayons in their house," jokes Humphrey as she takes photos of the boxes with her smart phone to list them on her local "Buy Nothing Project" Facebook group. Humphrey wants to give the extra crayons to a local teacher.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The financial activities of Michael Cohen — Donald Trump's personal lawyer — caught the eye of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Agency, FinCEN. Then, it was reported that some of the files on Cohen had disappeared. Today on the show, we look at FinCEN, what it does, how it does it, and what the Cohen news could mean for financial regulation going forward.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told NPR in an interview that he continues to support the Mueller Russia investigation — and that nothing in Thursday's hotly anticipated secret briefing on the Russia probe to congressional leaders changed his mind.

Grains are the bedrock of civilization. They led humans from hunting and gathering to city-building. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, the fruits of three grasses provide the world with 60 percent of its total food: corn, wheat and rice. Aside from energy-rich carbohydrates, grains feed us protein, zinc, iron and essential B vitamins.

But rice as we know it is at risk.

NECCOmaniacs, take heart!

The bankrupt New England Confectionery Co., primarily known for its chalky sugar wafers and Valentine's Day candy conversation hearts, received an $18.83 million winning bid from Ohio-based Spangler Candy Company, maker of Dum Dum lollipops and Circus Peanuts, at a federal bankruptcy auction in Boston on Wednesday.

And while the future of NECCO candy is still uncertain, the deal may keep the company's products — which also include Mary Janes, the Sky Bar and Candy Buttons — on the shelves a little while longer.

It took Italy's leading parties nearly three months of turbulent negotiations to hammer out a governing arrangement, but they've finally done it.

Actor Morgan Freeman is being accused of sexually harassing and behaving inappropriately toward a number of women he has worked with, from production assistants on movies in which he has starred to employees of his production company to journalists covering the release of his films.

Eight people told CNN that they directly experienced harassment or inappropriate behavior by Freeman, and eight others said they had witnessed such conduct by the Oscar-winning actor. NPR has not independently confirmed the allegations.

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