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The self-declared Islamic State gained a real grip on Iraq and Syria this week, capturing the cities of Ramadi and parts of Mosul in Iraq, and the ancient town Palmyra, Syria.

Most recently, ISIS has claimed credit for a suicide bomb attack inside Saudi Arabia on a Shiite mosque during Friday prayers. That attack killed at least 19 and could represent a significant escalation of the extremist group's operations in the kingdom.

Forty-two suspected gang members and one Federal Police officer were killed in a shootout at a ranch in western Mexico that is being described as the deadliest such encounter in recent memory.

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Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Authorities in Waco, Texas, continue to investigate the deaths of nine motorcycle gang members in one of the worst biker brawls in recent times. More than 170 people were arrested and charged with organized crime; each is being held under a $1 million bond.

Now there's a backlash from biker groups, who claim many of the riders were simply at the wrong place at the wrong time, and had nothing to do with Sunday's bloody fight.

Editor's note: A version of this story was originally published in May 2012.

If there's one grilling tip to remember this Memorial Day weekend, it should be this: Flame is bad.

"Flame does nasty things to food," food historian and science guy Alton Brown tells NPR's Scott Simon.

What kind of man or woman risks their lives for strangers?

Eric Seaman of Murrieta, Calif., was 30. He had two children, and was a U.S. Marine sergeant. His wife, Samantha Seaman, told CNN, "Last week I got an email telling me that he felt purpose and that he delivered 10,000 pounds of rice ... and I know that right before he passed away, I know that he helped somebody."

Sara Medina was 23. She enlisted in the Marines just out of high school in Aurora, Illinois, and served in South Korea, South America and Okinawa.

Updated at 9:10 a.m. ET

Both sides in Ireland's same-sex marriage debate have acknowledged that the "yes" vote has succeeded. Once official, Ireland will become the first country in the world to approve such a measure in a national referendum.

Leo Varadkar, Ireland's health minister who came out as gay in January just as the campaign was getting underway, says Dublin appears to have voted 70 percent yes.

On a gusty Friday evening in Manhattan's Union Square Park, Francisco Ramirez is setting up his chairs and a big sign that yells, "FREE ADVICE."

The park is packed with street musicians, chain-smoking chess players and preachers yelling predictions

Ramirez just wants to talk.

The Senate worked late into the night Friday and early Saturday, but still failed to agree on extending government surveillance programs under the USA Patriot Act before the Memorial Day holiday.

Lawmakers blocked votes on both a House-passed bill and a short-term extension of the Patriot Act provisions that allow government surveillance programs.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says lawmakers will try again on May 31, the day before the provisions expire.

The Senate voted 62-37 late Friday to grant President Obama additional trade powers, which the president plans to use in pushing through an extensive new agreement with a group of Asian countries.

The administration's Trans-Pacific Partnership has been opposed by labor groups and some Senate Democrats because of concerns that the deal could cost some U.S. workers their jobs.

There is a joke among Brazilians that a Brazilian passport is the most coveted on the black market because no matter what your background — Asian, African or European — you can fit in here. But the reality is very different.

I'm sitting in café with two women who don't want their names used because of the sensitivity of the topic. One is from the Caribbean; her husband is an expat executive.

"I was expecting to be the average-looking Brazilian; Brazil as you see on the media is not what I experienced when I arrived," she tells me.

TLC has pulled 19 Kids and Counting, the reality show featuring Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar's family, from its schedule amid reports of sexual misconduct against John Duggar, their oldest son, when he was 15.

Here's TLC's statement:

Try to order "pork roll" in most of the country and you'll probably get a blank stare. But in New Jersey, pork roll is a staple at diners, restaurants and food trucks from Cape May to the Meadowlands. And this unsung meat product is now the star of not one, but two competing festivals on Saturday in Trenton.

To the untrained eye, pork roll looks like Canadian bacon. But New Jersey residents know better.

Updated at 5:45 p.m. ET

Robert Gates, the president of the Boy Scouts of America, tells NPR his organization will have a decision on its ban on gay adults no later than October. His comments come a day after he told the Boy Scouts that a ban on gay adults was "unsustainable."

Updated at 6:09 p.m. ET

The man convicted of killing Washington intern Chandra Levy in 2001 will get another day in court after prosecutors agreed not to oppose a new trial for Ingmar Guandique.

Vincent Cohen, the acting U.S. attorney, and Leslie Ann Gerardo, the assistant U.S. attorney, asked the Superior Court of the D.C. Criminal Division for a status hearing to be scheduled in two weeks, "by which time the government will have completed an assessment of the time needed to prepare for a retrial in this case."

Last weekend, while drivers practiced just hours before the start of qualifying for the Indianapolis 500, a crash occurred that seemed eerily familiar.

Driver Ed Carpenter spun around backwards, heading into the Turn 2 wall. Wind got underneath his car, and flipped it into the air and upside down.

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Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to fill the streets of the capital of El Salvador on Saturday to celebrate as one of Latin America's most revered and controversial religious figures is beatified — the last official step before sainthood.

They will gather to pay tribute to former Archbishop Oscar Romero, a beloved priest and staunch defender of the poor, who was murdered while celebrating Mass in 1980.

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(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MIKE BREEN: Topped to Howard, back to Harden, Harden tied up, knocked loose, picked up and the game is over. Golden State hangs on.

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Camden, N.J., has long been known for its poverty and violence. But President Obama gave it a new label this week, calling the city, "a symbol of promise for the nation."

He praised the Camden County Police Department's effort to improve community relations. The city still has a high crime rate, but the president says progress so far makes it a model for others.

Much of Brad Bird's Disney sci-fi adventure Tomorrowland is terrific fun, but it's one of the strangest family movies I've seen: Bird's not just making a case for hope, he's making a furious, near-hysterical case against anti-hope.

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The Future Of Cardiology Will Be Shown In 3-D

19 hours ago

How can you tell ­the difference between a good surgeon and an exceptional one?

You could start by looking for the one who has the rare ability to visualize a human organ in three dimensions from little more than a scan.

"The handful of the top surgeons in the world are like sculptors," said Dr. Deepak Srivastava, a director at the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease in San Francisco.

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