Steve Inskeep

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When former defense secretary Jim Mattis is asked about his relationship with President Trump, he has an answer ready.

"I don't discuss sitting presidents," Mattis tells NPR in an interview. "I believe that you owe a period of quiet."

Is Iran anywhere near collapse?

Amir Mohebbian doesn't think so. The conservative Iranian political thinker and news editor said so in Tehran, even though U.S. economic sanctions have blocked most of the oil exports on which Iran relies. "The situation in the economy is not good," he said, "but not so bad that [it will] kill us."

At a cancer treatment center in Iran's capital of Tehran, a doctor's fight to treat her cancer patients has become harder. As U.S. sanctions sink in, the flow of medicine and medical supplies in Iran appears to have slowed — and the reasons are difficult to pin down.

Dr. Mastaneh Sanei, an oncologist at the Roshana Cancer Center, says she's treating patients without the benefits of consistently functioning equipment and a reliable supply of drugs.

With the right treatment, she says, "you may not cure these patients, but they have the chance to prolong survival."

The United States is trying again to persuade North Korea to end its nuclear weapons program.

A senior U.S. official tells NPR that U.S. diplomats are communicating with the reclusive regime. They are passing messages through North Korea's mission to the United Nations in New York.

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Iran's ambassador to the United Nations is defending shooting down a U.S. surveillance drone over the Strait of Hormuz and says Tehran will not be forced back into negotiations with the White House.

"You cannot negotiate with somebody who has a knife in his hand putting the knife under your throat," Majid Takht Ravanchi, Iran's ambassador to the United Nations, said in an exclusive interview with NPR. "That cannot be acceptable by anybody. Any reasonable person cannot accept to have negotiations with somebody who is threatening you."

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With climate activists cheering on the Green New Deal, former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke is borrowing a different allusion from American history.

"We've called for ... an investment commensurate with John F. Kennedy's moonshot," O'Rourke told NPR. "We're going to invest in the technologies that will allow us to lead the world on this. It should be happening right here in the United States."

China and the United States are locked in a trade fight, a technology race and competing world military strategies. Leaders of these countries seem to be pulling the world's two largest economies apart.

These tensions are especially felt by those living with a foot in each country. The NPR special series A Foot In Two Worlds reveals the stories of people affected because of their ties to both nations. Reports from both the U.S. and China show how deeply and broadly the two nations are connected and what's at stake as they reshape their relations.

You might know it best as the time machine in 1985's Back to the Future: The DeLorean was an unmistakable sports car with doors that flapped open like wings. Now, a new film starring Alec Baldwin explores the past of its automaker, who designed for the future.

John DeLorean rose through the ranks at General Motors, recasting Pontiac from a sleepy brand into one known for American muscle cars. He was forced out of GM and founded the DeLorean Motor Co.

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Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro has a plan to change immigration policy in the U.S. The former Housing and Urban Development secretary wants to address immigrant detention, family reunification and the immigration court system.

In stark contrast to current policy, he also wants to decriminalize crossing the border illegally, a plan he outlined in a Medium post in April.

China, known as the world's biggest polluter, has been taking dramatic steps to clean up and fight climate change.

So why is it also building hundreds of coal-fired power plants in other countries?

President Xi Jinping hosted the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing over the weekend, promoting his signature foreign policy of building massive infrastructure and trade links across several continents.

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R&B star R. Kelly is defending himself. He's given his first interview since being charged on 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault. He spoke with Gayle King of CBS News. NPR's Anastasia Tsioulcas was watching, and she's on the line. Good morning.

Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks juggle the chaotic life of raising a family while also fronting the Grammy Award-winning Tedeschi Trucks Band. The band's latest album, Signs, released on Feb. 15, explores that balancing act while also transforming grief and confusion into art.

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The United States will withdraw from a Cold War-era arms control treaty. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says talks between the United States and Russia - the parties here have failed because Russia has not agreed to destroy some of its missiles.

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NOEL KING, HOST:

It is two weeks until congressional elections, and President Trump has been leaning into some suggestive rhetoric.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

At the beginning of Esi Edugyan's new book Washington Black, it seems the narrator is not going anywhere.

It's the 1830s, and the narrator, a boy named George Washington Black, is enslaved on the British-controlled island of Barbados. He seems likely to be worked to death in sugar cane fields — until he's carried away.

He's made into an assistant of a visiting white man, and they become friends. Sort of.

"Any true friendship between them is impossible because of the power imbalance – it's just too great," Edugyan says in an interview.

China's ambassador to the United States says his country is "ready to make a deal" to end a trade war with the United States — if they could find a trustworthy partner in Washington.

Cui Tiankai accused the United States of shifting positions and passing up opportunities for agreement. The United States has been escalating tariffs on imports from China, and China he responded with taxes on U.S. goods.

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There was a time when President Trump boasted that he might be the first person ever to make a profit off running for president.

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