Colin Dwyer

Jim Nabors, the comic actor best known for his years playing Gomer Pyle, one of TV's most lovable goofs, has died at the age of 87. Nabors' husband, Stan Cadwallader, confirmed to The Associated Press that the actor and singer died at home in Honolulu.

The Aspen Institute has unveiled the nominees for its first-ever fiction prize, a potpourri of 20 works plucked from across the world. Novels, short story collections, English-language or in translation — whatever their differences, each of the nominees "illuminates a vital contemporary issue and demonstrates the transformative power of literature on thought and culture," in the estimation of Aspen Words Literary Prize judges.

The Keystone XL pipeline, an $8 billion project that has attracted significant protest from environmental groups, has cleared a major regulatory hurdle on its path to completion. On Monday, the Nebraska Public Service Commission certified the pipeline to run through the state.

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New Orleans made history last night. For the first time ever, the city has elected a woman as mayor - LaToya Cantrell. But Cantrell says that there are other big numbers that matter more. NPR's Colin Dwyer reports.

Updated at 11:05 p.m. ET

At a glitzy gala in New York City on Wednesday night, four writers emerged with one of the world's most illustrious literary prizes, the National Book Award: Jesmyn Ward's Sing, Unburied, Sing, won for fiction; Masha Gessen's The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia, for nonfiction; Frank Bidart's Half-light: Collected Poems 1965-2016, for poetry; and Robin Benway's Far from the Tree, for young people's literature.

Look at Vincent Van Gogh's Olive Trees closely enough, and you'll find the subtle intricacies of his play with color, his brushstrokes, perhaps even his precise layers of paint atop the canvas.

You'll also find a grasshopper. Well, parts of one, anyway.

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We are turning back now to the shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, where officials say at least 26 people have died. As we heard earlier in the show, President Trump is in Asia, but he offered his condolences this evening.

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When NPR's David Greene spoke with Tom Hanks on Monday night in Los Angeles, the actor offered a blunt take on the recent scandals engulfing Hollywood.

Pablo Neruda did not die of cancer, after all.

At least, that's the unanimous conclusion of an international group of forensic experts who inspected samples from the Chilean poet's exhumed remains. Official documents say Neruda succumbed to his prostate cancer and a related wasting sickness known as cancer cachexia in September 1973 — but researcher Aurelio Luna told a news conference Friday that the 16-member panel was "100 percent convinced" the official cause of death is wrong.

Olly olly oxen free!

All you young readers in New York City, hide no more: For one day and one day only, the city's three major public library systems are offering unconditional amnesty to everyone age 17 and under who has been charged with late fees. The libraries will also clear the fines of those who are still in high school and 18 or over, if they show up in person by Nov. 2. All money owed for overdue or lost books and DVDs is officially wiped clean for these kids and teens.

It's not often you'll find these 24 names in the same place. They are historians and musicians, computer scientists and social activists, writers and architects. But whatever it may read on their business cards (if they've even got business cards), they now all have a single title in common: 2017 MacArthur Fellow.

It began with more than 1,500 books.

With all the works submitted by publishers, the judges for this year's National Book Awards have had their hands (and bookshelves) full the past few months. But that daunting number of contenders winnowed further Wednesday, as the National Book Foundation announced the finalists for its literary prize — just five works each in four categories: fiction, nonfiction, poetry and young people's literature.

At first, it just sounded like fireworks.

The Sunday headliner, Jason Aldean, had taken the stage not 30 minutes before, and it seemed natural that on the final night of Las Vegas' three-day Route 91 Harvest music festival there would be some pyrotechnics. Even Aldean stayed on stage as the first loud bursts rang out above the crowd of some 22,000 people.

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Sure, it's been known to rain cats and dogs during some heavy thunderstorms. And if we're to believe The Weather Girls — and who wouldn't? — it was even raining men that one time in 1982.

But fish? That feels like a new one.

Four days, 40 nominees — and now, a clear idea of which writers have a shot to win the 2017 National Book Awards.

The National Book Foundation unveiled its longlists of nominees in stages this week, releasing a new set of 10 nominees each day. The rollout concluded Friday with the list of fiction contenders.

The Man Booker Prize rolled out its 2017 shortlist on Wednesday, delivering a list of six nominees showcasing a hefty dose of literary heavyweights and a pair of newcomers. Of the six novels on the list, just one will go on to win this year's prestigious literary prize at gala ceremony next month in London.

Updated at 7 p.m. ET

It was to be a "day long celebration of the dough, cheese, tasty sauces and delicious toppings." It was to be a gala of gooey mozzarella, a tribute to toppings every stripe and style — heck, it was even supposed to be an ambitious attempt to finally "settle the NYC styled Pizza against Chicago Deep Dish pizza wars!"

One morning, when JR awoke, an image lingered from his dreams: The wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and above it a young kid peering curiously over.

A child just 1 year old, who has "no idea that's a wall that divides people — he has no idea of the political context," JR imagined. "What is he thinking?"

Take a good long look at the state flag of Nebraska, everyone.

Mark well its concentric circles crowded with golden text, its deep blue background, its central scene busy with contrasting colors. Then, reflect on this crucial question: Would you even be able to tell the difference if it were flying upside-down?

Apparently state lawmakers couldn't. In fact, for a span of 10 days earlier this year, not a single visitor to the Nebraska Capitol noticed that the flag had been hoisted upside down — not even state Sen. Burke Harr, who related the story in January.

It's a pair of rites we see often at the passing of great authors: first, the tributes from those who loved their books; then, the good-faith effort to find their unfinished works and shepherd them to the bookshelves they never would have found otherwise.

When Ecuadorean authorities boarded the Fu Yuan Yu Leng 999 earlier this month off the Galápagos Islands, they had little idea what awaited them.

It was a lovely late summer afternoon at a beach in southern England. Sun, surf and not a cloud in the sky — until the strange "chemical haze" drifted in off the sea, that is. It was at that point the beachgoers found their eyes streaming tears and their throats growing sore, their gag reflex triggering as some began to vomit.

Then, the professionals in hazmat suits showed up.

More than a day later, authorities still aren't exactly sure what happened to people at Birling Gap beach on Sunday.

For a little while Thursday, young adult literature had a new reigning New York Times best-seller. In the paper's list of most popular YA hardcover novels, a new face had toppled Angie Thomas' The Hate U Give from the perch it has occupied nearly half a year. By mid-afternoon, though, the order the YA world had known for weeks was restored.

If Angelenos know one truth, it may well be this: There is absolutely no love lost between the University of Southern California and University of California, Los Angeles. In the classroom, on the football field, around campus — few places escape the pervasive sway of LA's great rivalry.

But this week, the battle has found a new theater: the proper spelling of Shakespear(e).

The developer behind the Dakota Access Pipeline, which for months drew thousands of protesters, has sued Greenpeace and several other environmental groups for their role in delaying the pipeline's construction.

Jerry Lewis, a comedic fixture on big screens and charity telethons for decades, has died at the age of 91.

His death was first reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal and confirmed by NPR with his publicist and spokeswoman Candi Cazau.

Cazau provided the following statement:

"Famed comedian, actor, and legendary entertainer Jerry Lewis passed away peacefully today of natural causes at 91 at his home in Las Vegas with his family by his side."

One thing, at least, is not in dispute: Supermarkets in several countries across Europe have pulled eggs from their shelves for fear they were contaminated with Fipronil, an insecticide that's typically used to kill lice and ticks — and that has the potential to harm humans. The contamination became a public scandal earlier this month.

That's about where the agreement ends, however.

In a region better known for its ice and snow, it's a fire that now has scientists struggling to learn more. Since at least the end of last month, a stretch of land in western Greenland has been alight with a "sizable wildfire," NASA says.

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