Ari Shapiro

It's nightfall in Washington, D.C., at the end of the evening shift, when the throngs of students on school field trips have slowed to a trickle at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

With a flashlight in one hand and a clear plastic bag in the other, Bob Herendeen walks the length of the austere, black granite wall. The National Park Service ranger surveys the things visitors have left at the memorial: American flags, wreaths, flowers.

More than a decade ago, author Neil Gaiman wrote a short story that captures some of the strangeness of being a teenager discovering the world. It's called "How to Talk to Girls at Parties," and it's really only one scene: Two boys stumble upon a party where the girls seem rather alien. As it turns out, the girls are actual aliens.

For decades, Americans have seen celebrities through photographer Mark Seliger's lens. His work has appeared in magazines such as Vanity Fair, GQ and Rolling Stone.

"Having a sense of humor" is important to the work, he says. "Whether it's a big concept or whether it's a wink."

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Last week, teachers-to-be WinnieHope Mamboleo and Cristina Chase Lane marched across the graduation stage at North Carolina State University.

This week, they'll be marching with future colleagues at the state capitol in Raleigh, asking for better pay and better school funding.

North Carolina is the sixth state to see teacher walkouts in the past four months. The others are West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Colorado and Arizona. The Tar Heel state ranks 39th both in per-student spending and in average teacher pay as of 2017.

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The new movie "Beast" is a psychological thriller set on a quaint island in the English Channel called Jersey. Twenty-seven-year-old Moll lives a quiet, stifling life with her controlling mother.

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At any given moment, volunteers and paid workers are writing fictional narratives that they present online as news stories, and some of those will get picked up and shared — perhaps thousands of times — on social media.

Hoaxes are presented as fact, conspiracy theories are offered as truth, and some of them may even end up on Wikipedia, one of the most-visited sites online.

University of Michigan students Griffin St. Onge and Lauren Schandevel have published an online guide that anybody can edit called "Being Not Rich at UM." It's a Google Doc about navigating the costs of college that has grown to more than 80 pages.

Allan Monga, a junior at Deering High School in Portland, Maine, traveled to Washington, D.C. to compete in the Poetry Out Loud contest on Monday. It's a national competition in which students recite great works of poetry, and it's run by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation.

But Monga, who says he fled violence in his home country of Zambia, was initially barred from the national final because of his immigration status: He's an asylum seeker and does not yet have U.S. citizenship.

After months of searching, the fourth annual Tiny Desk Contest winner has been announced!

Killer robots have been a staple of TV and movies for decades, from Westworld to The Terminator series. But in the real world, killer robots are officially known as "autonomous weapons."

At the Pentagon, Paul Scharre helped create the U.S. policy for such weapons. In his new book, Army of None: Autonomous Weapons and the Future of War, Scharre discusses the state of these weapons today.

In the last few years, some European countries have refused to take in refugees, prejudiced views have entered the mainstream, and leaders demonize religious minorities and attack the free press.

Nils Muiznieks has raised alarms about many of these issues. He's just finished his six-year term as the Council of Europe's human rights commissioner, the continent's main human rights watchdog.

Amid saguaro cactuses and yucca plants, Lauren Rosin shows off a house that she's renovating in Phoenix's Central Corridor, a pricy neighborhood north of downtown.

"This was actually a courtyard and I blew it out," she says, pointing to what will now be an extra-large open kitchen with custom cabinets, quartz countertops and chandelier-style lighting. She'll also upgrade the swimming pool in the backyard.

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Alan Hollinghurst is an English novelist who likes to explore private, secret lives. His characters are often gay men — sometimes living in an earlier era, when they wouldn't use the word "gay" to describe themselves.

Millions of Americans use opioids to relieve pain. But many also struggle with addiction.

This week, a report in JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association, found that nonopioid painkillers — like acetaminophen and ibuprofen — were as effective as opioids at treating chronic back, hip and knee pain, and with fewer side effects.

The new film A Wrinkle In Time has some of Hollywood's biggest stars: Oprah Winfrey, Chris Pine, Reese Witherspoon, and more. But their stories all revolve around the central character, Meg Murry, who sets out on a journey through the universe to find her missing father — and Meg is played by 14-year-old actress Storm Reid.

A Wrinkle In Time is based on the acclaimed book of the same name by Madeleine L'Engle, which Reid first read in the 6th grade for a book report. She says she never thought that Meg could look like her.

Joan Baez has dedicated her life to music — and the causes for which music can speak. The folk star began using her voice to protest in the 1960s, leading rallies against wars and discrimination alongside the likes of Bob Dylan and Arlo Guthrie. Though gentle, her renditions of "We Shall Overcome" and "What Have They Done to the Rain" served as the heartbeat to peaceful revolutions.

Botanist David Fairchild grew up in Kansas at the end of the 19th century. He loved plants, and he loved travel, and he found a way to combine both into a job for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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Every Olympics it seems like people turn into overnight experts on whatever event happens to be on. Who knew that we could so easily master the subtleties of 4x10 cross-country ski relay and...

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In the fall of 2008, Omega Young got a letter prompting her to recertify for Medicaid.

But she was unable to make the appointment because she was suffering from ovarian cancer. She called her local Indiana office to say she was in the hospital.

Her benefits were cut off anyway. The reason: "failure to cooperate."

This year, Bill and Melinda Gates are doing something a little different with their annual letter. They are answering what they call some of the "toughest questions" from their foundation's critics.

On the list: Is it fair that you have the influence you do? Why don't you give more to the United States? Why do you give your money away?

Since its inception, the Gates Foundation has given $41.3 billion in grants, including a grant to NPR.

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Se suponía que iba a ser un día perfecto.

Alex pensaba levantarse a las 6:30 a.m., alistar a sus hermanos para ir a la escuela y tomar el autobús a las 7:00 a.m. Después de clases, el muchacho de 14 años iba a jugar su primer partido de futbol americano, un evento que había esperado durante semanas.

The stock market swung dramatically up and down on Wednesday, ending about where it started the day — after record losses earlier in the week. President Trump's top economic adviser says it's important to keep the volatility in context.

"The fact is that the fundamentals for the economy are very sound," Kevin Hassett says in an interview with NPR. "Wages are going up a lot. Even in the employment report that came out last week, we saw the highest rate of wage growth in about a decade."

Justin Timberlake has had an eventful week: He turned 37 on Wednesday, dropped a new album Friday and danced his shoes off Sunday as part of football's biggest night.

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Stop me if you've heard this one before.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "GROUNDHOG DAY")

BILL MURRAY: (As Phil) It's February 2, Groundhog Day.

Twenty years ago, in 1997, a bizarre story hit the national news: Thirty-nine people had killed themselves by ingesting poison in a mansion near San Diego. All 39 were dressed identically and had the same haircuts — and they were all members of the Heaven's Gate cult.

Lea Berman and Jeremy Bernard have organized state dinners and congressional picnics, each serving as White House social secretary for different administrations. Bernard worked for President Obama; Berman for President George W. Bush. And they've collaborated on a new book that uses their White House experiences to draw out lessons in how to handle crises, defuse awkward moments and manage expectations. It's called Treating People Well: The Extraordinary Power Of Civility At Work And In Life.

It's the second week of 2018, and if you are still resolved to improve your life in this new year, Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer may be able to help. They host a podcast called By The Book, and for each episode, they choose one self-help book and live by its rules for a couple of weeks. So they're well-equipped to tell us which of these books has actually improved their lives — and which ones to avoid.

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At the White House this afternoon, President Trump celebrated the final passage of Republicans' massive tax legislation. He spoke surrounded by dozens of GOP lawmakers, basking in the glow of a major legislative victory.

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