Earlier this year, a federal court ruled deemed two of North Carolina’s Congressional districts unconstitutional due to racial gerrymandering. That case is to be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court next week. Duke University researchers have developed nonpartisan ways to draw districts and evaluate their fairness.   

Birdsong is music to human ears.

It has inspired famous composers. For the rest of us, it may uplift the spirit and improve attention or simply be a source of delight, fun and learning.

But have you ever wondered what birds themselves hear when they sing?

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Zlota Kurka, or Golden Hen, sits in a central Warsaw neighborhood surrounded by telecom offices and wine bars. Inside, there's a window-sized menu offering Polish-style soups, eggs, dumplings, cabbage and potatoes, all cooked by women in flowered aprons and schoolteacher glasses.

Indian moviegoers are set to get a hefty dose of patriotism with their big-screen previews.

According to an interim order handed down Wednesday by two justices on India's Supreme Court, movie theaters nationwide must play the country's national anthem before each feature film begins. What's more, the audience members must stand in observance, while an Indian flag is depicted on the big screen and the doors of the theater are temporarily closed to prevent distractions.

When I last visited Damascus in 2008, the historic Old City district was full of Western students learning Arabic. Before bloody conflicts engulfed them, both Damascus and the Yemeni capital, Sana'a, were favorites with foreigners seeking to learn Arabic.

Eight years ago, U.S. student Kara Francis told me that while she did have to field some questions about then-President George W. Bush, she never felt looked down on for being American.

The Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., is a stately old building with turrets, arches and a clock tower soaring 300 feet into the air. Inside, the lobby is equally impressive with massive chandeliers, a grand staircase and a glass ceiling 10 floors up.

The 263-room hotel is without doubt luxurious. But it could also represent a massive conflict of interest for President-elect Donald Trump once he takes office.

Boston's official 2016 Christmas tree, like others that have come before it, is a thank you gift for events a century ago in the Nova Scotia's Canadian province's coastal capital of Halifax.

On Dec. 6, 1917, a French ship, the Mont Blanc, was preparing to head overseas to fight in World War I, when it ran into trouble.

"In Halifax Harbor, the Mont Blanc collides with another ship and catches on fire," says Peter Drummey, librarian at the Massachusetts Historical Society.

An Army review concludes that commanders did nothing wrong when they kicked out more than 22,000 soldiers for misconduct after they came back from Iraq or Afghanistan – even though all of those troops had been diagnosed with mental health problems or brain injuries.

The Army's report, ordered by Secretary Eric Fanning, seeks to reassure members of Congress that it's treating wounded soldiers fairly. But senators and military specialists say the report troubles them.

In 2011, when North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il died, the state news agency reported that Mount Paektu took on a supernatural glow, and that at its summit, Heaven Lake shook with cracking ice.

Those reports were pretty unscientific. But several years earlier, between 2002 and 2005, Mount Paektu had experienced a swarm of little earthquakes.

On a hillside overlooking the steppes of northeastern Mongolia, an entire family shovels jet-black chunks of coal into a truck. Every half-hour or so, they fire up a machine that steadily pulls a steel cable attached to what looks like a roller-coaster car emerging from a hole in the ground. It takes five minutes before it arrives at the surface, full of more coal, extracted by cousins working half-a-mile beneath the earth.

For some rural Mongolians, risking their lives in crude, makeshift mines is the only way to survive.

Congress had a full seven months to block a rule change for federal courts that lets judges authorize the hacking of digital devices well beyond their districts.

But after a September attempt in the Senate to vote on the measure failed, opponents on Capitol Hill waited until the day before the rule change was to take effect to introduce three motions aimed at shooting it down or at least delaying its implementation.

Twenty-two states still allow corporal punishment in school: 15 expressly permit it while another seven do not prohibit it. That's according to a recent letter written by U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. to the nation's governors and state school chiefs.

Not sure what, exactly, corporal punishment is? Here's a quick primer.

It often involves a paddle. Always, pain. That's the point.

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