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The official death toll from flooding in the Indian state of Kerala spiked to at least 324 people on Friday — and the office of Kerala's chief minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, said, "the rains continue to remain strong."

More than 223,000 people are now being housed in some 1,500 relief camps, Vijayan's office says. Nearly the entire state in southern India is under a red alert.

"Torrential rains have been battering Kerala for the past 9 days, causing the worst floods to hit the coastal state in a century," Sushmita Pathak reports from Mumbai for NPR's Newscast unit.

Sasha Velour: 'Anyone Can, And Must, Do Drag'

53 minutes ago

Sasha Velour is a winner. In June of 2017, the drag queen took home the crown on season nine of RuPaul's Drag Race. More than a year later, she's still using her queendom to spread the word about drag, and challenge perceptions about the art form.

On stage at the Bell House in Brooklyn, New York, Velour was dressed in yards of shiny silver fabric adorned with hundreds of huge, multicolored gems. She described the look to NPR's Ask Me Another host Ophira Eisenberg as "a crown as a dress," or "what Queen Nosferatu wears to her daughter's lesbian summer wedding."

Awkwafina: 'No Turning Back'

53 minutes ago

When Nora Lum chose Awkwafina as her rap name, she was 16 years old, writing music in her childhood bedroom in Forest Hills, Queens in New York. At the time, she was an aspiring concert trumpeter attending the prestigious Laguardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, teaching herself how to produce beats, and writing lyrics to flesh out the songs. Over the next two years, she recorded more than 500 tracks, including "My Vag" — a response to Mickey Avalon's self-aggrandizing "My Dick."

Editor's Note: This story was originally published on November 1, 2016 and has been updated.

Crazy Rich Asians is, of course, not a movie about global development. But as it happens, the topic gets a cameo in the rom-com.

Main character Rachel Chu (played by Constance Wu) is a professor of economics. And on a trip to Singapore to meet the family of her "crazy rich" boyfriend Nick, she goes to a big wedding and runs into a Malay princess, who's written an article about ... microloans.

For almost 40 years, Pilar Navarro thought her daughter was dead.

She gave birth at a private Catholic hospital in Madrid in 1973, anxious to start a family. But less than 24 hours after delivery, Navarro's nurse — who was a nun — told her and her husband that the baby had died from respiratory issues. The young couple could not see the body because the hospital had already baptized and buried the child, according to the nurse.

"We never thought a doctor or a nun would do something like that," says Navarro, who is now 68. "We couldn't understand it."

A Medicaid committee in Texas is requiring those who comment at its meetings to disclose more details about their ties to pharmaceutical companies following a Center for Public Integrity and NPR investigation into the drug industry's influence on such boards.

The U.S. is threatening further sanctions against Turkey if it does not quickly release American pastor Andrew Brunson, who has been detained by the Turkish government for nearly two years. The diplomatic spat is also taking a toll on Turkey's currency, the lira.

In Washington, D.C., Peter Rabbit regularly challenges me to stop wasting food. On a billboard hovering beyond my local grocery store and on posters on bus stop shelters, he casually chomps on a carrot while leaning on big bold letters: "Better Ate Than Never."

The World Health Organization said Friday that security concerns in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's North Kivu region were preventing aid workers from reaching certain areas — and leaving open the possibility of the Ebola virus spreading.

At least 1,500 people could be exposed to the virus, WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic told reporters in Geneva, according to Reuters.

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/.

Sarah Hirshland will take over as CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee starting Aug. 20. Her predecessor, Scott Blackmun, resigned earlier this year in part because of several sexual abuse scandals that have plagued Olympic sports, particularly in gymnastics.

Former Trump White House staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman released excerpts of a recording on Thursday that she said corroborated her claim of being offered a job paying $15,000 a month in exchange for staying quiet about her time in the administration.

Excerpts of a secret phone recording between Manigault Newman and President Trump's daughter-in-law Lara Trump aired on MSNBC on Thursday.

As California's enormous wildfires continue to set records for the second year in a row, state lawmakers are scrambling to close gaps in state law that could help curb future fires, or make the difference between life and death once a blaze breaks out.

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/.

As the 2018 midterms draw closer, President Trump continues to claim there is a "Red Wave!" brewing.

The problem is that concrete voting data shows a very different type of wave forming — one that's poised to give Democrats a comfortable majority in the House.

If you arrived at Beto O'Rourke's recent town hall meeting in San Antonio even 40 minutes ahead of time, you were out of luck. All 650 seats were already taken.

It was one sign that the El Paso Democratic congressman has set Texas Democrats on fire this year, as he takes on Republican Sen. Ted Cruz's re-election bid.

Texas Democrats have been wandering in the electoral wilderness for two decades — 1994 was the last time they won a statewide race — but at O'Rourke's events they have been showing up in droves. Often, it's standing room only.

In a move it said was to address the large cost of entering a career in medicine, New York University's School of Medicine said Thursday that it will offer full scholarships to all current and future students in its doctor of medicine program.

NYU said it was the "only top 10-ranked" medical school in the U.S. to offer such a generous package.

Despite falling short on quarterly earnings expectations, Canadian-based Canopy Growth, the world's highest valued marijuana stock, skyrocketed on Wednesday after the maker of Corona beer invested $5 billion Canadian, which is nearly $4 billion U.S.

The giant injection of cash from Constellation Brands is the largest strategic investment in the cannabis market to date, and comes at a time when alcohol companies are making large ventures into the industry.

Updated at 9:30 a.m. ET, Aug. 17

The parade of U.S. military forces through the streets of Washington, D.C., that was ordered up by President Trump will be delayed, according to the Department of Defense.

The parade had been planned for the day before Veterans Day but Pentagon spokesperson Col. Rob Manning said Thursday, without explanation, that organizers would "explore opportunities in 2019."

New Mexico officials say the decomposed remains of a child found in a raid on a remote, rural property in Amalia are those of missing three-year-old Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj.

The boy was first reported missing from his home in Georgia in December. His mother, Hakima Ramzi, told authorities that the child's father, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj had said he was taking the boy to the park but the pair never returned.

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

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

For more on K2 and to get a better sense of exactly what this substance is, we turn to Dr. Kathryn Hawk. She's assistant professor of emergency medicine at the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven. She joins us now. Welcome to the program.

Senate Democrats threatened to sue the National Archives to obtain documents from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's career as a White House official during President George W. Bush's administration.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., told reporters Thursday that Democrats will file a lawsuit if the National Archives does not respond to their Freedom of Information Act request. The suit is a last-ditch effort to obtain the documents ahead of confirmation hearings set begin Sept. 4.

Even in a strong economy, many Americans live paycheck to paycheck. Forty percent don't have $400 to cover an emergency expense, such as a car repair. And many working-class people turn to payday loans or other costly ways to borrow money. But more companies are stepping in to help their workers with a much cheaper way to get some emergency cash.

Startup companies that offer better options for workers are partnering with all kinds of businesses — from giants like Walmart to little fried chicken restaurants.

Dr. Jodi Jackson has worked for years to address infant mortality in Kansas. Often, that means she is treating newborns in a high-tech neonatal intensive care unit with sophisticated equipment whirring and beeping. That is exactly the wrong place for an infant like Lili.

Lili's mother, Victoria, used heroin for the first two-thirds of her pregnancy and hated herself for it. (NPR is using her first name only, because she has used illegal drugs.)

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

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It was Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro who announced the sweeping grand jury report on child abuse by priests in that state. We want to get his reaction to all of this now. Welcome to the program.

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