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The State Department on Thursday ordered employees to return to work next week, despite the partial government shutdown, saying it would figure out how to cover the next paycheck.

In a note posted on its website and emailed to staff, the department said it "is taking steps to make additional funds available to pay employee salaries."

If the shutdown continues beyond the next pay period, State Department officials say they will have to work with Congress to reprogram funds in order to cover salaries.

NPR's Ari Shapiro catches up with Brazilian composer and pianist André Mehmari, who improvised a nearly 30-minute version of the All Things Considered theme song.

The Trump administration is interpreting the somewhat vague law governing shutdowns broadly so it can ease the pain this shutdown causes. But some critics say they're not adhering to the law.

Lawyers have descended on Chico, Calif., in a race to find fire victims to sign up for lawsuits against PG&E. But the utility company's announcement that they will be filing for bankruptcy has thrown the legal race into chaos.

A special celestial event is on the calendar for this Sunday night and experts are already raving:

"A full 62 luxurious minutes of totality," says Sky and Telescope Magazine.

"The Only Total Lunar Eclipse of 2019," promises NASA.

At least nine people were killed and dozens injured in a car bomb blast at a police academy in Colombia's capital, Bogotá, on Thursday morning, according to officials.

They called it a terrorist act. No group immediately claimed responsibility, but the attack stoked anxiety about a return to the decades when innocent Colombians got caught up in conflicts with rebel groups and drug cartels.

The White House has blocked an emergency effort to finish major U.S.-funded school, water and sewage projects in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, according to documents reviewed by NPR.

It is the latest of a series of moves by the Trump administration to shut down U.S. aid to Palestinians, which is scheduled to end Feb 1.

Teachers in Los Angeles are in their fourth day of a strike. Among other things, union leaders are demanding smaller class sizes. But the benefits of reducing class size can be complicated.

Freshman Democrats won back control of the House for their party campaigning to break the gridlock in Washington, but the ongoing government shutdown is testing how they can deliver on that promise.

The interim president of Michigan State University has resigned after comments that survivors of Larry Nassar felt were insulting. For some, this move by the university feels like a new direction.

A diver in California has stumbled on an unexpected source of plastic waste in the ocean: golf balls.

As the balls degrade, they can emit toxic chemicals. And there appear to be lots of them in certain places underwater — right next to coastal golf courses.

It turned out to be the little sprout that couldn't.

The vaunted cotton seeds that on Tuesday China said had defied the odds to sprout on the moon — albeit inside a controlled environment — have died.

China's state-run Xinhua News Agency announced the news, simply stating: "The experiment has ended."

A federal judge has struck down controversial restrictions on early voting in Wisconsin that were passed during the state Legislature's lame-duck session last month.

The restrictions limited early voting in Wisconsin to the two weeks before an election. In recent years, cities including the Democratic strongholds of Milwaukee and Madison have offered several weeks of early voting.

The Islamic State has jumped back into the headlines by claiming responsibility for a suicide bombing that killed four Americans and more than a dozen civilians at a restaurant in northern Syria.

Iran's foreign ministry is calling for the immediate release of an American-born journalist who works for an Iranian state broadcaster and who is believed to have been detained in the U.S.

"The custody of Iran's reporter in the U.S. is highly political and she should be released immediately," Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was quoted as saying by the Islamic Republic News Agency.

Less than a week after hundreds of Christian protesters descended on the Haifa Museum of Art, clashing with police in a demonstration against a controversial sculpture, the Israeli city's mayor says the object of their outrage is getting withdrawn. Einat Kalisch-Rotem announced Wednesday that McJesus, a work of art depicting a crucified Ronald McDonald, "will be removed and returned as soon as possible."

Updated at 5:47 p.m. ET

President Trump unveiled a sweeping plan Thursday to defend the U.S. and its allies from missile attack.

The plan is the first update to the nation's missile defense strategy in nearly a decade, but in many ways it is reminiscent of President Ronald Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative, a pie-in-the-sky program that was later dubbed "Star Wars."

British Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit plan went down to an historic defeat in Parliament on Tuesday. The next day, she narrowly survived a vote of no-confidence in her government. This Monday, Jan. 21, she'll have to tell Parliament what her Plan B for Brexit is — and will submit that plan to a vote on Jan. 29.

Here's what to know about key issues during this extraordinary and chaotic moment in British politics.

After Tuesday's staggering loss, most politicians would have resigned. Why is Theresa May still in office?

The photograph shows the aftermath of a terrorist attack at a luxury hotel in Nairobi, Kenya. Laptops and plates are still on the table, and four people are hunched over, bloodied and lifeless.

Updated at 6:57 p.m. ET

President Trump appears to be retaliating against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for suggesting he postpone his State of the Union address amid the ongoing partial government shutdown by postponing at the last minute her planned trip to Afghanistan.

Scientists Find Brain Cells That Make Pain Hurt

6 hours ago

Pain is a complicated experience. Our skin and muscles sense it, just like they sense softness or warmth. But unlike other sensations, the experience of pain is distinctly unpleasant.

Pain has to hurt for us to pay attention to it, and avoid hurting ourselves further.

But for people in chronic pain, the pain has largely lost its purpose. It just hurts.

While it has long been understood how nerves signal pain to the brain, scientists haven't known how the brain adds a layer of unpleasantness.

Saturn is famous for its lovely rings, but a new study suggests the planet has spent most of its 4.5 billion years without them.

That's because the rings are likely only 10 million to 100 million years old, according to a newly published report in the journal Science that's based on findings from NASA's Cassini probe.

It's impossible to talk about Great Britain these days without talking about Brexit, the United Kingdom's pending departure from the European Union. Of course, it's easier to say you're leaving a longtime partnership than to do it, and two and a half years after the referendum that decided the issue, what leaving means is still unknown.

Copyright 2019 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies in for Terry Gross, who's off this week.

For nearly a year before family separation became an official and controversial policy of the Trump administration in the spring of 2018, federal immigration agents separated "thousands" of migrant children from their parents. That's according to a government watchdog report released Thursday.

Fighting doesn't have to be about survival. It doesn't even have to be about pride.

At least, this is what Josh Rosenblatt contends in Why We Fight: One Man's Search for Meaning Inside the Ring. He intends to impress that to fight is to know who you are in a very immediate sense. Fighting, as he sees it, is the pursuit of active self-knowledge through self-endangerment, pain and risk. It's about facing and embracing what is dangerous and, in a way, making it beautiful.

Jilmar Ramos-Gomez served in the Marines and saw combat in Afghanistan. Born in Grand Rapids, Mich., he is a U.S. citizen.

But last month, federal immigration authorities took him into custody to face possible deportation.

Attorneys and immigration advocates in West Michigan are now demanding to know why, and how, that happened.

President Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen acknowledged on Thursday that he schemed to rig online polls that sought to make Trump seem like a more plausible presidential candidate.

The story was first reported by The Wall Street Journal. In a tweet following the report, Cohen said he sought to help Trump's political aspirations, having been directed by the candidate.

Two-year-old Julen Rosello was with family members on a rural property in southern Spain on Sunday when he is thought to have fallen down a hole more than 300 feet deep.

"I heard my son crying, and 30 seconds later I couldn't hear him anymore," the boy's father, José, told Spanish media. However, Julen has not been heard from since.

Gas is relatively cheap these days. Enjoy those low prices, but don't get used to them, analysts say.

An oversupply of oil on the world market has triggered a steady slide in gas prices, bringing Americans some of the cheapest gas in years as 2019 kicked off.

Nationally, regular was averaging around $2.25 per gallon at the start of January — the lowest price for this time of year since 2016, according to AAA.

It's welcome news for drivers. Just last summer, gas prices were at four-year highs.

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