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As the year winds down, three new crew members are set to begin a mission aboard the International Space Station. Early Sunday, an American, a Russian and a Japanese astronaut blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in a Soyuz spacecraft.

So far the reaction has been swift and strong to our investigation into Ballou High School in Washington D.C., where we shed light on chronic absenteeism and a pressure teachers say they felt to pass failing students and get them to graduation.

A secret Pentagon program existed for at least three years and spent more than $20 million in research on UFOs, according to multiple media reports published Saturday.

The program reportedly examined cases including incidents of military pilots claiming to have seen flying objects that appeared to "defy the laws of physics."

Grizelle González is an ecologist who's worked at El Yunque National Forest for 25 years — first as a student and then as a researcher with the U.S. Forest Service. The 46-year-old has a deep attachment to the tropical rainforest. Even now, she gets emotional when she recalls what El Yunque looked like after Hurricane María hit the island on Sept. 20.

"It was completely defoliated," she says, tears welling in her eyes. "The canopy was completely gone. It was almost like a desert landscape."

From the airwaves of conservative media to the hearing rooms of the House of Representatives, Republican allies of the White House are attacking the Department of Justice investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Office holiday parties have always posed a liability for employers, as coworkers mix with one another with plenty of company-supplied alcohol. Sensitivity is running particularly high this year, though, as new sexual harassment allegations emerge against high-profile figures every day.

Office holiday functions do serve a legitimate business purpose: They can boost morale and reward workers for jobs well done.

Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., who has been haunted for two weeks by allegations of sexual harassment, said Saturday that he will not seek re-election in 2018.

Kihuen's announcement comes a day after the House Ethics Committee said it has opened an investigation looking into the allegations leveled at the 37-year-old freshman congressman by a former campaign aide.

In a statement, Kihuen reiterated that he had done nothing wrong and said he looked forward to being cleared of any allegations of sexual misconduct.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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