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What happens when you’re a 12-year-old wizard with no magic? Or an enemy warrior girl with no interest in fighting? In Cressida Cowell‘s new novel “The Wizards of Once,” you embark on a series of adventures involving giants, wildcats, sprites, domineering parents — who happen to be rulers — dungeons and magic.

Editor’s Note: This segment discusses sexual assault and sexual harrassment, and contains audio that some listeners may find disturbing or offensive.

Updated at 5:22 p.m. ET

President Trump is nominating Kirstjen Nielsen to be the next homeland security secretary, the White House announced Wednesday.

Nielsen would succeed now-White House chief of staff John Kelly in the position if confirmed by the Senate. She currently serves as Kelly's principal deputy chief of staff and was also his chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security.

By failing to reach the World Cup for the first time since 1986, the U.S. men's soccer team has set off shock and surprise — and, depending on where you stand, elation or sadness. It's a huge setback for the squad that fell to Trinidad and Tobago Tuesday night; it is also an upset that set off a wide range of strong reactions.

In Ticino, Switzerland, the streets aren't paved with gold. But the sewage pipes are packed with it.

And across the country as a whole, some $3 million worth of gold and silver is thrown out in wastewater every year.

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies are pleased to welcome the National Review’s David French to the program.

French was in St. Louis on Wednesday for a Washington University lecture about free speech on college campuses. It’s a topic that’s become more pronounced in recent months, especially after Donald Trump’s election as president.

"Everyone should stand" during the national anthem, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in a memo to all 32 teams, adding that the NFL will present a plan next week to help "move past this controversy."

In the memo sent Tuesday, Goodell said he is "very proud of our players and owners who have done the hard work over the past year to listen, understand and attempt to address the underlying issues within their communities" and expressed respect for players' "opinions and concerns about critical social issues."

Stanley Fischer is resigning early as vice chair of the Federal Reserve after three years at the central bank. His term was set to expire next June. Before becoming second in command to Fed Chair Janet Yellen, the former MIT economics professor served as head of the Bank of Israel and as a top official at the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and Citigroup.

Updated at 3:15 p.m. ET

Louisiana State University police have issued arrest warrants for 10 students who belonged to the Phi Delta Theta fraternity after an investigation showed that freshman pledge Maxwell Gruver had died last month after a night of playing a drinking game. The charges range from hazing to homicide.

University spokesman Ernie Ballard told NPR in an email that the students turned themselves in to LSU police on Wednesday.

A proposal to simplify cervical cancer screening could end up missing some cancers, researchers and patient advocates say. And that could be especially true for minority women.

Latina and black women already have the highest rates of cervical cancer in the U.S., and more than half of women with the disease were not screened in the five years before their diagnosis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Oct. 11 is the "International Day of the Girl" – proclaimed by the U.N. as a time to look at the challenges girls face and to promote their "empowerment" and human rights.

What kind of year has it been for girls? We looked at the stories we've done over the past year, and the headlines alone captured both the tragedies and the triumphs. In many ways a horrible year for girls. But even at the bleakest moments, there are stories of hope and triumph.

Here is a sampling of our stories about the world's girls:

Back-to-school season didn't last long this year in Puerto Rico. First Hurricane Irma and then Maria forced schools to close and turned the lives of students and their families upside down.

Puerto Rico's secretary of education, Julia Keleher, says that of the U.S. territory's 1,113 public schools, 22 reopened last week and another 145 this week. They're hoping that the majority will be open by Oct. 23. Some are still functioning as emergency shelters.

Updated at 11:40 p.m. ET

In the outbreak of powerful and destructive fires that have struck California since Sunday, there are now 22 large wildfires burning in the state. They've caused at least 23 deaths and scorched nearly 170,000 acres, officials said Wednesday.

"It won't happen to me." Maybe that sentiment explains the attitude of many employees toward long-term-disability insurance, which pays a portion of your income if you are suddenly unable to work for an extended period because of illness, injury or accident.

Nicole and Ben Veum had been waiting and waiting for their baby to arrive. Nicole's due date came and went. Her doctor called her in to the hospital — Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital — to induce labor. That was Friday.

"So we were very excited at that point," she said. "And then day after day after day, with not a whole lot of progress."

They tried three different ways of inducing labor. Then, on the third day, with the third attempt, it started working.

More than a year ago, Colin Kaepernick, then a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, sat, then knelt, during the national anthem before NFL games. Kaepernick took a knee to protest the treatment of African-Americans and minorities in the U.S., and his actions have generated a lot of conversation.

The past few days have been particularly chaotic, even for a president who seems to thrive on self-created chaos.

There's been a feud with a key Republican senator, a flare-up at a professional football game with President Trump instructing his vice president to walk out when players (on the most activist team in the NFL) knelt during the national anthem, and he even questioned the IQ of his secretary of state.

What will it take for the people of this world to drop their prejudices, to move past intolerance — and just get along?

That's a question Princeton psychologist Betsy Levy Paluck — one of the 24 MacArthur Fellows announced on Wednesday — has dedicated her career to answering.

It's not often you'll find these 24 names in the same place. They are historians and musicians, computer scientists and social activists, writers and architects. But whatever it may read on their business cards (if they've even got business cards), they now all have a single title in common: 2017 MacArthur Fellow.

Speaking  to a group of local health care professionals, Missouri U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt couldn’t resist deploying his renowned dry wit when he was asked about President Donald Trump’s social media feud with powerful Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker.

Blunt quipped: “Did I mention it’s Mental Health Day?”

But while touching off laughter, Blunt said Tuesday that his fellow Republicans’ pointed exchanges could have serious consequences on some major policy issues.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens said Tuesday he’s willing to consider proposals to require outside law enforcement agencies to investigate police-involved killings.

It’s a proposal that’s gaining more attention amid protests over Jason Stockley’s acquittal of first-degree murder in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith.

A Texas Tech student has been charged with the murder of a university police officer. Lubbock police say the suspect confessed to the crime, saying "he was the one that shot their friend."

A university spokesman tells NPR that campus police were dispatched to the room of Hollis Daniels III, 19, to check on him, after his suitemates contacted the university with concerns about his welfare. While police were en route, Daniels' mother called a university hotline and said that her son had expressed suicidal thoughts.

A St. Louis Board of Aldermen committee has taken the first step to hear testimony from interim Police Chief Lawrence O’Toole.

Members of the board’s public safety committee on Tuesday approved a resolution sponsored by Alderwoman Sharon TyusD-1st Ward. Tyus wants to question O’Toole about police department practices in response to protesters. The move comes after protests over former St. Louis Police officer Jason Stockley’s acquittal of first-degree murder in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith.

St. Louis County has received $1 million from the U.S. Department of Justice to get the Castle Point community in north county more involved in fighting crime.

Parts of unincorporated north St. Louis County have struggled for years with high crime rates. St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger said the grant would help reverse that trend.

When Germany's Parliament convenes later this month, members of a far-right party will take seats for the first time since the 1950s. The Alternative for Germany (AfD) came in third in last month's parliamentary elections and promises to raise its voice in the opposition.

Thousands of Missouri students over the last three years have accepted a state-funded opportunity to take the ACT college entrance exam for free. After a $4 million cut to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s assessment budget, the state ended the program in July.

Now, school districts in the St. Louis region are finding money to allow students to take the ACT.

Café Hacienda San Pedro, a trendy coffee shop in San Juan, is buzzing. A long line snakes through it. People are chatting; dogs sit snoozing. Everything looks normal.

But in a few months, it probably won't.

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