Steve Inskeep

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Sharks have been swarming around southern California beaches for weeks. NPR wanted to know more about why, so we placed a call to Chris Lowe, a professor in marine biology and head of the Shark Lab at California State University at Long beach — or rather, we tried. Lowe was offshore on a boat trapping sharks to tag, and at the appointed time for our interview, Lowe had his hands full ... of shark.

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Many Iranians spent the weekend in the streets celebrating the re-election of their president. Hasan Rouhani pledged to keep opening Iran to the world and to push for more freedom at home.

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What difference does it make who's president of Iran?

It's fair to ask the question on this weekend of Iran's presidential election. After all, the president's title makes him sound like the top official, but he is not. Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, holds far more power.

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Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse shares something in common with President Trump: both are serving in elected office for the very first time.

The similarities pretty much end there.

Sasse earned a doctorate in history. Before his election in 2014, he was a federal health official, and president of Midland University, which is linked with the Evangelical Lutheran Church.

When President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday, Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska was one of several Republicans in Washington voicing concern. As details unfolded throughout the week, Sasse, who sits on the Judiciary Committee, continued to call the timing of the firing "troubling," though he maintains there is not yet a need for an independent investigation or special prosecutor to look into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

At the very start of Hala Alyan's novel Salt Houses, a woman buys a coffee set — a dozen cups, a coffee pot, a tray. It's a simple act that unexpectedly becomes painful. The woman is Palestinian — part of a family displaced after the founding of Israel — and the tray reminds her of an old one she lost in one of the family's many moves.

Alyan builds her story on little moments like that — a peek into the lives of several generations, forced to relocate and resettle. Her characters are lost and looking for a home.

Generations ago, the American Indian Osage tribe was compelled to move. Not for the first time, white settlers pushed them off their land in the 1800s. They made their new home in a rocky, infertile area in northeast Oklahoma in hopes that settlers would finally leave them alone.

As it turned out, the land they had chosen was rich in oil, and in the early 20th century, members of the tribe became spectacularly wealthy. They bought cars and built mansions; they made so much oil money that the government began appointing white guardians to "help" them spend it.

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President Trump addressed the conservative conference known as CPAC this morning.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Great to be back at CPAC.

(CHEERING)

TRUMP: It's a place I have really...

UNIDENTIFIED SUPPORTER: We love you.

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Are we really in a post-truth era? Somebody on the Internet said so. Many people, actually.

Never mind legalizing pot. Kokomo, Ind., has legalized pinball.

The city council ended a ban that stretches back to 1955.

Back then, the council said pinball worked against "peace and good order."

Wives complained about husbands who gambled away their entire paychecks.

In more recent times, the ban seems to have been ignored.

At last the city council has revoked it, taking its chances on keeping the peace.

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We have a global conversation this morning about resistance to globalization. NPR's Frank Langfitt is in North East England in the U.K., which voted this year to leave the European Union. Hi, Frank.

FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve.

You can re-enact that scene in the old movie Christmas Vacation.

A family goes into a forest and cuts down a ridiculously tall tree.

The U.S. Forest Service is selling Christmas tree removal permits for $5 in the Green Mountain National Forest of Vermont.

You go into the forest. You cut down the tree yourself. There's only one catch: the tree you choose cannot be more than 20 feet tall.

When you walk into the Smithsonian's "Art of the Qur'an" exhibition, you're met with a book that weighs 150 pounds. The tome, which dates back to the late-1500s, has giant pages that are covered in gold and black Arabic script.

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This is a remarkable year for democracy, a year when voters have surprised the world again and again.

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It's the year when U.K. voters said they wanted out of the European Union.

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Retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn has been an outspoken supporter of Donald Trump, offering some credibility to the foreign policy newcomer.

But on a key priority of the GOP presidential nominee — banning travel to the United States from areas affected by terrorism — Flynn acknowledged some of Trump's ideas are "not workable."

In a Morning Edition interview, NPR's Steve Inskeep asked Flynn, "In the end do we have here a laudable effort to protect the United States from all harm that is just not workable at all?"