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New images of Mars show an enormous crater that measures nearly 51 miles across and is filled with ice year-round, the European Space Agency reported.

Known as the Korolev Crater, located near the Martian north pole, it's topped by "what appears to be a large patch of fresh, untrodden snow – a dream for any lover of the holiday season," said a statement by ESA, which released the images Thursday.

Updated at 3:45 p.m. ET

The partial shutdown of the federal government that began just after midnight Saturday won't be ending anytime soon. The Senate has adjourned with no business in the chamber anticipated before Thursday afternoon and, maybe not even then, if congressional leaders and President Trump can't reach an agreement over the president's demand for $5 billion in funding for his border wall.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Basketball is apparently being embraced by North Korea as a fundamental part of its ideology.

A newspaper there used a "whole page" earlier this week to endorse the sport, South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo reported.

"Promoting basketball is not only a sports-related matter, but an important project that upholds the objectives of the [Workers] Party," the North Korean paper reportedly stated. "We must rush to elevate the sport to global levels."

Japan's birthrate has dropped to a historic level, the lowest since data gathering began in 1899.

That's what The Japan Times has reported, citing government figures released Friday.

For years, Japan has seen a decline in its population, leading experts and lawmakers to consider the economic and social repercussions.

Updated at 8:35 p.m. ET

Shoot it down. Jam it. Use a missile or maybe a net.

There's no shortage of ideas about how to stop a drone, but as the past few days at London's Gatwick Airport show, the reality is far more difficult.

From Wednesday night to Friday morning, flights in and out of Gatwick were halted after a small drone, or perhaps multiple drones, were spotted over the airfield. Hundreds of flights were canceled and thousands of passengers saw their holiday travel plans grounded.

There's a new behemoth in the ongoing search for ever-larger prime numbers — and it's nearly 25 million digits long.

A prime is a number that can be divided only by two whole numbers: itself and 1. The newly discovered number is what's known as a Mersenne prime, named for a French monk named Marin Mersenne who studied primes some 350 years ago.

Mersenne primes have a simple formula: 2n-1. In this case, "n" is equal to 82,589,933, which is itself a prime number. If you do the math, the new largest-known prime is a whopping 24,862,048 digits long.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Updated at 8:55 p.m. ET

Police in Sussex, England, say they have made two arrests in the disruption of flights because of drone sightings at busy Gatwick, the U.K.'s second-largest airport.

Flights had already resumed on Friday, after suspensions starting Wednesday night and a complete shutdown on Thursday night, leaving weary travelers longing for their holiday destinations.

Santa Claus is no longer welcome in a Chinese city where local authorities this year banned all things Christmas.

The grinch is the municipal management of Langfang, a city of four million southeast of Beijing. According to a notice issued by local officials, government employees must report public Christmas displays and celebrations to their higher-ups. Vendors selling holiday-related items are to be "cleared out."

Since its beginnings in the 1980s in France, parkour has been sporty – but not exactly Olympic sporty.

Parkour and its cousin freerunning involve scaling urban obstacles and using the city as a playground. Its adherents, called traceurs and traceuses, bound railings, climb walls, and leap across terrifying expanses.

But now parkour, emblematic of freedom and practiced risk-taking, is fighting for its autonomy — from the gymnastics establishment.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein continues to oversee special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation even though acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker has decided not to recuse himself, the Justice Department says.

President Trump tapped Whitaker, who had been serving as then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions' chief of staff, to lead the Justice Department on an interim basis after Sessions stepped down under pressure from the White House.

This week, 1-month-old Joy was vaccinated against hepatitis and tuberculosis. Those are standard childhood vaccinations, but there was something definitely non-standard about the way they reached Joy. They arrived by drone.

Joy and her mom, Julie Nowai, live on Erromango, part of Vanuatu, an island nation made up of some 80 Pacific islands, lying west of Fiji. With very few airfields, paved roads or available refrigeration in Vanuatu, around one in five children do not receive vaccines, according to the government.

Alba, a rare albino orangutan who has captivated fans far beyond her native Borneo, is now free and living in a forest among other orangutans. She was released this week in a national park in Indonesia, along with Kika, a female orangutan with whom she had become friends.

With striking blue eyes and white hair, Alba was rescued last year by the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation — which calls her "the only albino orangutan ever recorded."

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced Friday that it will stop dropping caregivers from its stipend program. The temporary suspension comes three days after a report from NPR exposed concerns from veterans that their caregivers were arbitrarily cut, despite no change in their status.

Updated at 10:28 p.m. ET

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg underwent surgery Friday for early stage lung cancer, a Supreme Court spokesperson tells NPR. Doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering hospital in New York performed a lobectomy, removing one of the five lobes of the lung.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Updated at 8:32 p.m. ET

A partial government shutdown beginning at 12:01 a.m. ET Saturday looks certain after both the House and Senate adjourned until noon on Saturday without an agreement on spending acceptable to President Trump that would also pass in the Senate.

Updated at 12:56 p.m. ET

Pope Francis is urging predator priests who have raped or molested children to turn themselves in "to human justice, and prepare for divine justice," devoting part of his Christmas message to the abuse scandals that he said have undermined the Catholic Church in 2018.

As cardinals and other church luminaries listened in the Vatican's ornate Clementine Hall on Friday, Francis also compared priests who break their vows to Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus Christ.

How do you get people to pay attention to the plight of refugees?

The Amnesty International arm in the Netherlands had an idea. With the help of a Dutch media agency called Tosti Creative, they self-published several hundred copies of a 36-page magazine called Glamoria. It looks like a glossy fashion magazine, with a name that seems to be a spin on the word "glamour." But Glamoria also references the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos. The organization's goal was to focus on the plight of refugees now living in camps on Greek islands.

When Suhai Aziz Talpur was training to be a police officer, she was ordered to jump off a cliff during an endurance test. She recalls staring seven feet down to the ground. "I said no, I won't jump and break my leg."

So her supervisor pushed her.

Talpur landed unscathed. Later, her supervisor told her, "The fear is here." Talpur taps her head. "So fight it from here."

Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike, along with military leaders, are reacting with sadness and concern over Defense Secretary Jim Mattis' sudden resignation announcement.

A retired Marine Corps four-star general, Mattis is widely seen as one of the most respected members of President Trump's Cabinet and was confirmed by the Senate on the same day as Trump's inauguration in a near-unanimous vote.

Just in time for the winter solstice, scientists may have figured out how short days can lead to dark moods.

Two recent studies suggest the culprit is a brain circuit that connects special light-sensing cells in the retina with brain areas that affect whether you are happy or sad.

When these cells detect shorter days, they appear to use this pathway to send signals to the brain that can make a person feel glum or even depressed.

For the first time in U.S. history, the Senate has moved to make lynching a federal crime.

On Wednesday, the Senate unanimously passed the "Justice for Victims of Lynching Act of 2018," which, if enacted, would add a section on lynching to the part of the U.S. code of law that deals with crimes related to civil rights. The section on lynching would be added right after the section on hate crime acts.

President Trump's plan to withdraw all U.S. military forces from Syria has triggered disparate responses — from worries in liberated Raqqa and Kurdish-controlled areas to approval from Syrian and Russian officials.

Trump declared victory over ISIS, saying in a video Wednesday night, "We've beaten them and we've beaten them badly. We've taken back the land and now it's time for our troops to come back home."

In a letter announcing his resignation at the end of February, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis lays out the importance of international alliances and acknowledges differences he has had with President Trump.

In the letter, dated Thursday, Mattis discusses his "views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors."

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