Ari Shapiro

Killer robots have been a staple of TV and movies for decades, from Westworld to The Terminator series. But in the real world, killer robots are officially known as "autonomous weapons."

At the Pentagon, Paul Scharre helped create the U.S. policy for such weapons. In his new book, Army of None: Autonomous Weapons and the Future of War, Scharre discusses the state of these weapons today.

In the last few years, some European countries have refused to take in refugees, prejudiced views have entered the mainstream, and leaders demonize religious minorities and attack the free press.

Nils Muiznieks has raised alarms about many of these issues. He's just finished his six-year term as the Council of Europe's human rights commissioner, the continent's main human rights watchdog.

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Millions of Americans use opioids to relieve pain. But many also struggle with addiction.

This week, a report in JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association, found that nonopioid painkillers — like acetaminophen and ibuprofen — were as effective as opioids at treating chronic back, hip and knee pain, and with fewer side effects.

The new film A Wrinkle In Time has some of Hollywood's biggest stars: Oprah Winfrey, Chris Pine, Reese Witherspoon, and more. But their stories all revolve around the central character, Meg Murry, who sets out on a journey through the universe to find her missing father — and Meg is played by 14-year-old actress Storm Reid.

A Wrinkle In Time is based on the acclaimed book of the same name by Madeleine L'Engle, which Reid first read in the 6th grade for a book report. She says she never thought that Meg could look like her.

Joan Baez has dedicated her life to music — and the causes for which music can speak. The folk star began using her voice to protest in the 1960s, leading rallies against wars and discrimination alongside the likes of Bob Dylan and Arlo Guthrie. Though gentle, her renditions of "We Shall Overcome" and "What Have They Done to the Rain" served as the heartbeat to peaceful revolutions.

Botanist David Fairchild grew up in Kansas at the end of the 19th century. He loved plants, and he loved travel, and he found a way to combine both into a job for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Every Olympics it seems like people turn into overnight experts on whatever event happens to be on. Who knew that we could so easily master the subtleties of 4x10 cross-country ski relay and...

(SOUNDBITE OF CURLING)

In the fall of 2008, Omega Young got a letter prompting her to recertify for Medicaid.

But she was unable to make the appointment because she was suffering from ovarian cancer. She called her local Indiana office to say she was in the hospital.

Her benefits were cut off anyway. The reason: "failure to cooperate."

This year, Bill and Melinda Gates are doing something a little different with their annual letter. They are answering what they call some of the "toughest questions" from their foundation's critics.

On the list: Is it fair that you have the influence you do? Why don't you give more to the United States? Why do you give your money away?

Since its inception, the Gates Foundation has given $41.3 billion in grants, including a grant to NPR.

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