NPR News

Serious algae outbreaks have hit more than 20 states this summer. Organisms are shutting down beaches in Florida, sickening swimmers in Utah and threatening ecosystems in California.

The blooms are a normal part of summer, but the frequency, size and toxicity this year are worse than ever.

And water managers are rattled.

"Everyone's on edge with the cyanobacteria," says Bev Anderson, a scientist with the California Water Resources Control Board.

Emails reporting outbreaks of cyanobacteria — or blue-green algae — fill Anderson's inbox every morning.

Actor and writer Gene Wilder, who brought his signature manic energy to films such as The Producers, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein and the role that forever ensconced him in the collective memory of a generation of children, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, has died, Wilder's nephew said. He was 83.

Wilder died today at his home in Stamford, Conn., of complications from Alzheimer's disease, according to a statement from his nephew Jordan Walker-Pearlman.

In Seattle, blackberries are as much a part of the view as the Puget Sound — the twisting brambles so ubiquitous, they're as likely to vex gardeners as delight them.

The tale behind the city's blackberries turns out to be equally tangled. It starts at the end of the 19th century, at a time when American life was changing dramatically.

People were moving from rural areas to towns and cities, including Seattle. Industrialization was creating a new middle class.

The battle of the Joes isn't over yet.

On one hand, you have Trader Joe's — the U.S. grocery chain with a bit of a cult following for its quirky, exclusive products.

On the other hand, you have Pirate Joe's — the Canadian "gray market" grocery shop that sells Trader Joe's goods picked up in America and trucked across the border to Vancouver. There, at a significant markup, they're sold to Trader Joe's enthusiasts who don't fancy the thought of a border-crossing grocery run.

We are in "one of the most dramatic periods of change in the history of transportation," says Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

He was talking about all of it: the self-driving cars, the smart-city movement, the maritime innovations. But the staggering prediction of the day goes to the drone industry:

The Federal Aviation Administration expects some 600,000 drones to be used commercially within a year.

For more than a decade, U.S. foreign policy has centered on military action in the Middle East. Often overlooked, but still critical, is U.S. diplomacy. It's a slow and often frustrating art. It can also involve unpopular compromises with allies and rivals.

But there's no way around it. Consider Turkey, with a strategic location that makes it important in Syria, Iraq, and the migrant crisis. But the U.S. and Turkey have had a roller-coaster relationship that took a sharp downward turn after an attempted coup last month against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Juan Gabriel, who died of a heart attack on Sunday, was a master craftsman of epic love songs.

He built sparkling bridges and choruses that transformed forlorn love songs into anthems. We've written an obit over here, but Juan Gabriel's music speaks for itself.

Here are four songs you should listen to now.

The Norwegian government says 323 reindeer were apparently struck by lightning last week and died.

The animals lived on a mountain plateau in central Norway called the Hardangervidda. The rugged alpine landscape is (usually) a good place for a reindeer — delicious lichens grow on exposed rocks, and the area is protected from development because it falls within a national park.

Most Americans who screen positive for depression don't receive treatment, a study finds, while most who did receive treatment don't appear to have the disorder.

As many have heard by now, Mexican music giant Juan Gabriel passed away on Sunday at age 66. Gabriel was one of Mexico's biggest superstars — a singer and songwriter who sold tens of millions of records and is adored by millions.

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