NPR Staff

If you've ever seen Jesse Eisenberg's byline in The New Yorker or on McSweeney's Internet Tendency and thought, "Wait, that Jesse Eisenberg?" — the answer is yes.

Eisenberg, best-known as an Oscar-nominated actor, is also a writer — the author of numerous plays and, now, a collection of comedy writing called Bream Gives Me Hiccups.

Solitary confinement is a widely used — and controversial — practice in U.S. prisons. But this week, a landmark legal settlement between inmates and the state of California could mark a big step toward changing that situation.

The so-called Islamic State continues to wreak a human toll in the Middle East. And in addition to that suffering, the militant organization continues its assault on Syria's cultural heritage.

This week, militants blew up three tombs in the ancient city of Palmyra, and reduced the Greco-Roman Temple of Bel to rubble.

At the same time, ISIS also profits by selling small antiquities on the black market.

StoryCorps' Military Voices Initiative records stories from members of the U.S. military who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

After Army Pfc. Brian Orolin returned from Afghanistan in 2011, his wife Donna could tell something wasn't right. He became paranoid and suffered constant headaches, and he would isolate himself in his bedroom with the lights dimmed.

Then, on November 19, Brian left his home, wife and two children in Spring, Texas.

He's been missing ever since.

Seeing no other options to help get her brother Abdullah's family out of Syria and to safety, Teema Kurdi sent him money to get them onto a smuggler's boat that would take them to Greece.

"We actually would say we encouraged them to go, because his brother made it, and there was no other hope," he told NPR's Rachel Martin in an emotional interview. "We don't see the war ending in Syria; life in Turkey is hopeless."

Morning Edition wants to hear what your part of the world sounds like when it's just waking up.

For our Close Listening: Decoding Nature Through Sound series, you sent us the sounds of birds, insects and other creatures in your backyard for experts from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to identify.

Soul singer Lizz Wright is starting over. Her new album, Freedom & Surrender, comes after a tough few years, during which she left behind a failed marriage and her own expectations about starting a family. And yet, she found a creative spark in that loss, along with a new kind of voice.

There may be an octopus arms race underway. And that's not even a joke about tentacles: Octopuses are actually fighting, and potentially using weapons.

The creatures are hardly team players under the best of circumstances.

Teenagers often feel bound by their parents' rules, and many young people feel isolated at some point, separated from the rest of the world.

But what would life be like for a young woman who was literally isolated — and bound by rules designed to save her life?

It's a question that author Nicola Yoon explores in her new novel for young adults, Everything, Everything. For 18 years, her lead character, Madeleine, has been kept inside a sterile house, interacting only with her mother and her nurse.

The California condor is big. In fact, it's the largest flying bird in North America with a wingspan of 9 1/2 feet.

Michael Mace, curator of birds for the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, tells NPR's Arun Rath that the condor "is like the 747 compared to a Cessna if you look at it proportionally with other species like eagles and turkey vultures."

Mace works in a condor power line aversion training program at the zoo. It was developed to address the condors' unfortunate run-ins with power lines.

Are most people more likely to pull the trigger of a gun if the person they're shooting at is black?

A new meta-analysis set out to answer that question. Yara Mekawi of the University of Illinois and her co-author, Konrad Bresin, drew together findings from 42 different studies on trigger bias to examine whether race affects how likely a target is to be shot.

There's a song out there right now that's catching a lot of people off guard. "S.O.B" sounds kind of familiar, maybe like a revived oldie, but it's not: It's fresh off the new self-titled album from the Denver ensemble Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats.

Donald Trump's Republican presidential campaign continues to lead in the polls, and this week Trump hired Sam Clovis to be his national campaign co-chairman. A week ago, Clovis worked for Republican rival Rick Perry. Clovis, a former radio talk show host and college professor, is an Iowan who has run for state treasurer and the U.S. Senate there. He Talked to NPR's Scott Simon from Sioux City, Iowa.

To hear the full conversation, click the audio link above.

Interview Highlights

On why he left Perry to work for Trump

If you've ever visited the Fells Point neighborhood on the Baltimore waterfront, you may have noticed an older man standing on the street corner, telescope in hand. Herman Heyn, self-proclaimed "star hustler," has been setting up in the same place almost every night, offering passersby glimpses of the galaxy for close to three decades.

He knows, because he's been keeping count.

"I just finished my 27th year. I've been out on the street 2,637 times," he says. "It's like being on a Broadway show that has a long run."

Since 1971 Sonia Manzano has been one of the lucky residents of Sesame Street. As Maria, she guided Big Bird, Elmo and the rest of the gang through life lessons large and small. After 44 years, Manzano recently announced her retirement, but her dedication to help kids continues.

Manzano's new memoir Becoming Maria is a poignant and difficult book meant for teens and adults. In it, she tells her own story of growing up in a Puerto Rican family in the South Bronx in the '50s and '60s. There was love, but also violence brought on by her father's drinking.

The U.S. has around 800 military bases outside of the nation's borders. They're home to hundreds of thousands of troops and family members, and, in many cases, they're a cause of controversy.

David Vine, an associate professor of anthropology at American University, argues that we've become too dependent on such overseas bases — and that many of them cause serious opposition abroad. He lays out his thinking in his new book, Base Nation: How the U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World.

When Fear the Walking Dead premiers Sunday night on AMC, don't expect to see Sheriff Grimes. There's no Daryl, either. In fact, the streets aren't even overrun yet with those dirty, hungry hoards of the undead that viewers know so well.

Still, something weird is happening — and it's happening in LA, not Atlanta, this time around. Fear, a prequel to the hit show The Walking Dead, swaps the post-apocalyptic Deep South for the West Coast, where that apocalypse still has yet to happen (or is just getting underway).

Marion, Ohio, just north of Columbus, used to be an idyllic place to grow up.

Kelly Clixby and Beth Carey remember what it was like a generation ago, when they were young.

"I lived across the street from one of the big parks here," Clixby says. "We would rip n' run all day and all night and come in when the street lights were on."

"It was just a nice place to live," Carey says.

Today, Marion is different. It's grappling with a full-blown heroin epidemic, one that derailed Kelly Clixby's life and killed Beth Carey's twin sister.

Thousands of people are set to descend on the Black Rock Desert of Nevada for the annual Burning Man Festival, starting August 30. But before their arrival, the campgrounds were visited by another group of guests: bugs.

John Curley is a photographer and blogger for the Burning Man website. He says he first noticed the bugs at a gas station near Black Rock.

The horror of Agent Orange and its effects on Vietnam war veterans and Vietnamese citizens is well-documented.

But many U.S. veterans who never fought in that war say they, too, handled toxic chemicals at military bases around the world, suffering the same health consequences. Retired Lt. Col. Kris Roberts is among them.

It's been less than six months since Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African-American man, died after sustaining severe injuries in police custody. At the time, Gray's death set off days of demonstrations in Baltimore — as well as rioting and criminal charges against six police officers. Those officers have all pleaded not guilty.

We often hear the story of the Second World War through the experiences of American and British soldiers pitted in battle against Germany and Japan.

But the largest volunteer force in the world then was the Indian Army: More than 2 million Indian men fought for Britain, even as Indian citizens struggled to be free of the British Empire.

The rise of Donald Trump as a Republican presidential candidate has surprised many pundits, but not conservative commentator Glenn Beck.

Trump has widened his lead over other Republican presidential candidates in public opinion polls. Other non-professional politicians, including Dr. Ben Carson, a brain surgeon, and Carly Fiorina, the former head of Hewlett-Packard, have also shot ahead of politicians in the polls.

Voters are angry, and they "want somebody just to say it the way they think it — especially if they say it in a non-politically correct way," Beck says.

Ten years ago, when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, it was the city's Lower Ninth Ward that was hit the hardest.

"I remember coming back home," Lower Ninth resident Burnell Cotlon told his mother, Lillie, on a recent visit with StoryCorps. "That was the first time I cried."

"We lost everything," Lillie says.

Though Larry Wilmore had always hoped to be a performer, his early career was as a comedy writer. He wrote for shows like The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and In Living Color, and created The Bernie Mac Show. He moved in front of the camera as The Daily Show's "senior black correspondent" in 2006. So when Stephen Colbert ended The Colbert Report last year, Comedy Central tapped Wilmore to host the replacement show.

On Sept. 4, 2005 — nearly a week after floodwaters submerged much of the city, a call came in to the New Orleans Police Department: Officers in distress, maybe under fire, at the Danziger Bridge.

It all starts with a strange letter left for a Beijing cabdriver, tucked away in the sun visor of his taxi. In the months just before the 2008 Summer Olympics, Wang Jun is living with his wife and daughter — but the message, and those that follow, quickly tangle that quiet life in complications.

Jon Cleary's songwriting is pure New Orleans. The pianist and singer has absorbed every last bit of sound from the Mississippi delta. But here's the thing: Cleary was born and raised in England.

A new clinical trial is set to begin in the United Kingdom using the powerful noses of dogs to detect prostate cancer in humans.

While research has been done before, these are the first trials approved by Britain's National Health Service.

The trials, at the Milton Keynes University Hospital in Buckinghamshire, will use animals from a nonprofit organization called Medical Detection Dogs, co-founded in 2008 by behavioral psychologist Claire Guest.