NPR News

When Hurricane Maria smashed into the tiny island of Dominica in the Eastern Caribbean earlier this week, phone service went down, virtually cutting off the island. But within hours, amateur radio operators got on the air and have been providing a vital link to the outside world ever since.

Liliane Bettencourt, heiress to the L'Oréal cosmetics dynasty, has died at the age of 94.

In March, Forbes ranked Bettencourt the world's richest woman, putting her net worth at $39.5 billion.

Bettencourt's daughter, Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers, confirmed the death in a statement to French media, saying her mother died "peacefully" at her home in France overnight Wednesday.

Senate Republicans' latest plan to overhaul the U.S. health care system ends with a massive shift of federal money from states that expanded Medicaid — and are largely dominated by Democrats — to those that refused to expand.

What do Bolivia, Belgium, Burkina Faso, China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Egypt, India, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Scotland, South Africa, the United States and Vietnam all have in common?

The pervasive idea is that girls are vulnerable and that boys are strong and independent.

Updated at 3:36 p.m. ET

President Trump ordered new economic sanctions Thursday against any bank or other company doing business with North Korea, in response to Pyongyang's renegade nuclear program.

The move is designed to tighten the economic screws on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in hopes of halting his development of nuclear warheads and the missiles to deliver them.

Bedecked in fondant and flowers, modern wedding cakes are the centerpiece of the marriage feast — an edible form of art. But are they also an expression of free speech?

That is the question the Supreme Court will consider this fall when it hears the case of a Colorado baker who refused to make a custom wedding cake for a gay couple because he said it would violate his religious beliefs.

"You'd think cake would be apolitical, and yet here we are," muses baker Catherine George of Catherine George Cakes.

Updated at 4:35 p.m. ET

A strong earthquake that hit Mexico City and other central areas has killed at least 273 people, officials say. Search teams are working feverishly to find any survivors who were trapped.

Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets in Barcelona, protesting the Spanish government and expressing support for a planned Oct. 1 vote on Catalan independence.

Spain considers the referendum to be illegal. On Wednesday, Spanish police with court-ordered search warrants seized millions of ballots and detained more than a dozen Catalan politicians. A top treasury official is being held on sedition charges, the BBC reports.

Back-to-back natural disasters in Mexico and across the Caribbean have left millions of people reeling.

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