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The panel has approved 18 recommendations it hopes will make things safer at the state's prisons. The proposals come on the heels of recent indictments of corrections officers and inmates at a Baltimore jail that involved drug smuggling and sexual impropriety.

Ten cities and states have passed laws guaranteeing access to some kind of family leave this year, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families. NPR's Jennifer Ludden speaks with director Vicki Shabo about efforts to make family leave mandatory.

Fewer than 5,000 black rhinos are thought to exist in the wild, but the Dallas Safari Club is auctioning off a permit to hunt one down. It says the controversial fundraiser is a conservation effort.

Archaeologists are now mapping a wall in eastern China that is as much as 15 feet tall in some places, and predates the more famous barrier by 300 years. Hundreds of miles long, it was likely erected to keep neighboring Chinese dynasties from invading each other, historians say.

Fake stories on the Internet are not new, but their nature is changing. They seem to be more calculated, more elaborate and have a deeper intent to elicit a swell of emotion. Grantland writer Tess Lynch explains why she thinks 2013 was the year of the hoax — and which story even fooled her.

In April, we heard from combat veteran Tomas Young, who had suffered a gunshot to the spine in Iraq in 2004. His condition had degraded to the point that he chose to end his care and wait to die. But since then, Young had a change of heart. "I just came to the conclusion that I wanted some more time with my wife," he says.

Each winter, a team of scientists sets out on a search for those rare shooting stars that make it to the ground instead of burning up in the sky. There aren't many better places to look for these space rocks than Antarctica, often in areas where no human has set foot before.

Global warming is pushing species like the polar bear to the brink of extinction. It's not a typical conservation problem, so one government biologist discovered the best way he could help save the great white bears was to quit his job.

Thirty-four firefighters died in the line of duty this year. The unusually high number is sparking a larger conversation about the dangers firefighters face as more homes are built in and around drought-stricken forests.

As the vice president enters his sixth year as President Obama's second-in-command, there comes the natural question: What's next? A long-time senator, Biden has run for president before, and is making some moves that suggest he may do so one last time.

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