Eyder Peralta

The Supreme Court of the United States has decided to review a challenge to President Obama's executive actions on immigration.

As we've reported, back in November 2014, Obama announced plans to shield from deportation up to 5 million immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally. Even before his plans got off the ground, lower courts put them on hold.

After a torrent of criticism, Scholastic has decided to stop distributing A Birthday Cake for George Washington, a picture book about one of George Washington's slaves.

The historical book tells the story of Hercules, a slave used by the president as his chef. It shows Hercules and his daughter Delia happy and taking pride in making Washington a birthday cake.

Almost as soon as the book was released, it received withering criticism for whitewashing the history of slavery.

The United States Central Command is releasing new details about how two American Riverine Command Boats with 10 American sailors ended up in Iranian waters last week.

According to the account released by CENTCOM on Monday, one of the boats' diesel engines began to have trouble while it traveled from Kuwait to Bahrain. The crew began troubleshooting and the second boat also stopped.

Space is hard.

We were reminded of that yesterday when SpaceX tried to land a Falcon 9 rocket on a barge in the Pacific.

If you remember, SpaceX made history when another Falcon 9 successfully launched a satellite into orbit and then navigated back down to Earth, landing safely on solid ground.

Following protests over a series of racially charged events, the Ithaca College president has announced his retirement.

Tom Rochon said he was proud of the work he had done at the college in New York.

Despite long odds, a subtropical system in the Atlantic was upgraded to hurricane status this morning by the National Hurricane Center.

Satellite images showed Hurricane Alex, a well-defined tropical storm, churning in the open Atlantic, closer to Africa but at about the latitude of Jacksonville, N.C.

"It's rather surprising and remarkable," Richard Pasch, senior hurricane specialist for the National Hurricane Center, tells our Newscast unit. "It's a pretty rare event."

Al-Jazeera told its staff on Wednesday that it was shutting down its American network in April.

Financed by the ruling family of Qatar, Al-Jazeera America was launched in the summer of 2013 promising thoughtful, serious news coverage.

In his final State of the Union address, President Obama delivered an impassioned defense of his record by painting a portrait of a country very much in its prime.

Updated 5:20 a.m. ET Wednesday:

Iranian state TV announced that all 10 U.S. sailors held since Tuesday in Iran have been freed. The Pentagon has confirmed the report, and says there are no indications that the sailors were harmed during their detention.

Original Post:

Ten sailors were detained by Iranian authorities on Tuesday as they sailed from Kuwait to Bahrain aboard two small riverine patrol boats.

Right after Mexican authorities announced the third capture of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, we heard the real shocker: Just months before, Sean Penn had ventured into the Mexican jungle and secretly met with the kingpin.

Over the past few days, you've probably heard a lot about Cliven Bundy.

His son is presently occupying a federal building with other armed individuals in Oregon. But Bundy first made national news in 2014 during a standoff with federal authorities at his ranch in Nevada.

President Obama wept this afternoon as he remembered the children who were killed by a mass shooter in Newtown, Conn.

Bill has the news on the executive actions Obama was detailing. But we wanted to call out the moment of the speech where the president became emotional.

It came as he remembered the first-grade victims of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And now let's hear about guns from a different perspective - some gun owners themselves. NPR's Eyder Peralta went to a gun shop in Virginia, where sales are up. Guns have been flying off the shelves of late as talk grows louder of new regulations.

After executing a well-known Shiite cleric, inflaming sectarian conflict, Saudi Arabia has now announced it is severing diplomatic ties with Iran, NPR's Leila Fadel reports.

Saudi Foreign Minister Abdel al-Jubeir said Iran's diplomatic mission to Saudi Arabia had 48 hours to leave the country, Reuters reports; Saudi Arabia's diplomats in Tehran have already left Iran, the wire service notes.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is dismissing a terrorist propaganda video that uses part of one his stump speeches.

"They use other people," he told CBS' Face the Nation in an interview aired today. "What am I going to do? I have to say what I have to say. And you know what I have to say, there's a problem."

A small group of armed anti-federalists occupied the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Burns, Ore., on Saturday.

Oregon Public Broadcasting reports that the men were apparently led by Ammon Bundy. He is the son of Cliven Bundy, who was involved in a highly-publicized standoff with the federal government in Nevada over grazing rights.

For those of you celebrating: Merry Christmas!

With that, we'll leave you with four stories and a video that are worth a bit of time as you settle in this Christmas Eve.

The United States is planning an operation to deport recently arrived Central American families who have ignored removal orders from immigration judges, according to a U.S. official with knowledge of the plan.

The operation would at least in part affect Central Americans who fled violence in their home countries but were denied asylum in the United States.

The United States Embassy in Beijing issued a warning on Thursday about possible terrorist threats to Westerners in China.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

The National Institutes of Health announced a $16 million grant to researchers from Boston University and other institutions trying to find a way to detect a disease believed to stem from repetitive trauma to the head.

In 2015, the United States' Immigration and Customs Enforcement deported fewer people than it has since 2006.

According to new numbers released by the Department of Homeland Security, 235,413 people were deported by ICE in fiscal year 2015. According to the AP, that's the lowest number recorded by the Obama administration and the lowest number deported since George W. Bush was president.

Marriage licenses in Kentucky will no longer need to be printed with the name of the county clerk who issues them.

The state's new governor, Matthew Bevin, issued a executive order yesterday saying he was changing protocol in order to "ensure that the sincerely held religious beliefs of all Kentuckians are honored."

An Asian-American rock-band with an eyebrow-raising name has scored a big victory in the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

The court ruled that their name — The Slants — is private speech and therefore protected by the First Amendment. The government, the court writes, has no business trying to regulate it by denying the band a trademark.

It is without a doubt a spectacular moment for the space industry: Just months after the setback of a launch explosion, a SpaceX rocket managed to launch satellites into space, then tumble back to Earth, use rockets to stabilize itself and stick the landing on a small pad in Florida.

The number of migrants and refugees who have arrived in Europe over the past year has topped 1 million, marking the highest migration flow since World War II.

In its latest report, the International Organization for Migration also lays out some grim statistics: The number of refugees and migrants who die on their journey is rising — 3,692 so far — and many of them are young children.

Soccer chief Sepp Blatter has been banned by the same organization that he helped build.

As The Washington Post reports, Blatter, the "architect of modern soccer," is now firmly at the center of a bribery scandal that has engulfed soccer's governing body.

A woman drove onto the sidewalk on a busy part of the Last Vegas Strip to mow down pedestrians on Sunday night, police say.

One person was killed and at least 30 others were injured.

Sheriff Joe Lombardo, of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police, said video showed Lakeisha Holloway intentionally drove her car onto the sidewalk to run over pedestrians.

As fighting continued in Yemen, negotiators said they were temporarily suspending peace talks. The parties are scheduled to come back to the negotiating table on January 14.

In a statement, Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said that parties made progress during the past few days including developing a framework for talks and developing a package of "confidence-building measures."

Pages