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One of the big questions about extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis is whether this severe form of the disease is on the rise due to a failure of medications or if it's spreading through the air.

A new study of more than 400 patients in South Africa finds, unfortunately, that the answer appears to be the latter. Airborne transmission is the driving force behind a spike in extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) in South Africa, according to a report just published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Obama commuted an additional 209 sentences Tuesday just three days before the end of his presidency — and more are still expected. Doing so brought his total commutations to 1,385, the most of any president in history, edging out Woodrow Wilson's 1,366. 

But the big headline — record-breaking clemency — misses the nuance. Obama's record on clemency is different than his immediate predecessors, and it's also very much the same. 

In a few hours, longtime Gambian leader Yahya Jammeh's presidential term will expire. But he is clinging to power as troops from regional powers reportedly amass at the border.

International and regional powers are demanding that Jammeh step down and make way for his rival, businessman Adama Barrow, who won last month' s presidential election.

The African Union has stated that it will stop recognizing Jammeh as president after his term expires at midnight local time. (Gambia is five hours ahead of the U.S. East Coast.)

Thomas Graham, managing director of the Kissinger Associates consulting firm, doesn't like to discuss speculation that he may become President-elect Donald Trump's next ambassador to Moscow.

But the former diplomat and adviser on Russia in the George W. Bush administration does like to talk about something else: how to salvage U.S.-Russian relations following accusations that Russian President Vladimir Putin interfered in the November presidential election.

Russia is extending the residency permit of Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked evidence of the NSA's bulk data collection program.

The Russian government announced the extension via social media, NPR's Lucian Kim reports from Moscow:

"Maria Zakharova, the spokeswoman for Russia's foreign ministry, posted on her Facebook page late Tuesday night.

"She ridiculed former deputy CIA chief Michael Morell for suggesting that returning Snowden to the US would be Russia's perfect gift to President-elect Donald Trump.

From Mauritania: A song for breast cancer awareness

5 hours ago

Women's health is an important issue for singer Noura Mint Seymali. Breast cancer awareness, specifically.

Noura Mint Seymali is from Mauritania, in West Africa. And she wants to make sure women, especially women in Africa, get their annual screenings.

I had the opportunity to meet Seymali last fall before a show. She told me "I've wanted to write about this subject for a long time." She wanted to raise awareness, in part, because her mother died of breast cancer.

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Courtesy of Human Rights Watch

Souleymane Guengueng tells me his story in the Bronx, where he lives on the 16th floor of a 21-story housing project with his wife and three kids. He’s stylish, wearing a green collared shirt and his signature fedora.

“I am a survivor of torture,” he says, sitting on his couch. “I have fought for human rights for many years.”

Last year, global warming reached record high temperatures — and if that news feels like déjà vu, you're not going crazy.

The planet has now had three consecutive years of record-breaking heat.

If it sometimes seems like the idea of antibiotic resistance, though unsettling, is more theoretical than real, please read on.

Public health officials from Nevada are reporting on a case of a woman who died in Reno in September from an incurable infection. Testing showed the superbug that had spread throughout her system could fend off 26 different antibiotics.

In December 2015, a family arrived at Memphis' Greyhound bus terminal, a modern, spacious new building near the airport. The parents, Mexican immigrants, were about to say goodbye to their three Mexican American sons.

The parents planned to board a bus that would carry them from Tennessee to Dallas, where they would take a plane to Mexico, a country they hadn't seen for almost 13 years.

Artist Does 'Bear' Of A Job As A Painter

10 hours ago

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Two days before the election, Donald Trump stood before a large crowd in Sioux City, Iowa, and called onstage the longest-serving governor in U.S. history.

"I think there's nobody knows more about trade than him," Trump said of Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad. "Boy, you would be our prime candidate to take care of China."

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