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It's built for oversize cargo – but it also sports a smile: The Airbus BelugaXL took off on its maiden flight on Thursday, creating a unique sight as the jet with the bulbous upper half rolled down the runway.

The BelugaXL's paint job "features beluga whale-inspired eyes and an enthusiastic grin," the aircraft company says. That whale flew over southern France today, soaring over the coast and mountainside.

OK, look. I don't want to waste your time. It's hot, it's muggy and the news is an ever-widening gyre of flaming airborne chili-festival Porta Potties. So how about we forgo a review that seeks to advance any cool, objective argument on the relative cinematic worth of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, the sequel to the 2008 film adaption of the longest-running jukebox musical in Broadway history? How about, in the interest of efficiency, I just answer the questions I know you to have about the film — because I had them, too — in order of importance?

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

British police examining CCTV footage have reportedly identified multiple Russian suspects believed to have carried out the March nerve-agent attack on former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter.

The Skripals were found slumped on a bench at a shopping center in Salisbury, in southern England, on March 4. Subsequent investigation indicated they were poisoned by a nerve agent of the type Novichok, a group of deadly chemicals developed in the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 80s.

Rachael McRae, a fifth-grade teacher in central Illinois, was sitting on the couch the other day with her four-month-old when she saw the email.

"He was having a fussy day," she says, "so I was bouncing him in one arm, and started going through my emails on my phone, just to feel like I was getting something done." In her spam folder, she found an email from an organization called My Pay, My Say, urging her to drop her union membership.

Moments That Define A Presidency

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Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Michael Isikoff On Maria Butina And Russia

3 hours ago

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House Republicans claimed a political victory Wednesday after the House voted 244-35 in favor of officially supporting the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, a vote intended to force Democrats to take a position amid calls from progressives to abolish the agency.

When Madisen Ward And The Mama Bear first came on the scene a few years back, it was only natural that people would fixate on the familial facet of the folk duo's identity — a mother, Ruth Ward, and her son Madisen making music together — particularly with a back story as charming as theirs.

For solo musicians playing fingerpicked acoustic guitar, technical skill and physical dexterity are kind of important. So important, in fact, that it could be tempting to concentrate on technique, letting musical creativity – i.e. actually writing unique, compelling songs – take care of itself. That might work for some, but it's never been Daniel Bachman's way. He's always been more interested in following ideas, making his chops serve his songs' journeys, not the other way around.

A pyrotechnic week of geopolitical intrigue has yielded new clarity about the whys and wherefores of the Russia imbroglio, including one insight straight from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Why did Putin order the campaign of active measures that have been directed against the United States and the West since before the 2016 election?

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