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At 10:43 a.m. Wednesday, inmate and convicted murderer Ronald Phillips was pronounced dead, executed via lethal injection by the state of Ohio — the first time the state has carried out a death sentence in more than three years.

Phillips' death at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville may mark the end of one chapter in the state's battle to find a legally permissible means of execution – and the state may soon begin carrying out many more death sentences.

In the seven years since the Affordable Care Act was passed, CEOs of U.S. health care companies have made a lot of money.

Their compensation far outstrips the wage growth of nearly all Americans, according to reporter Bob Herman, who published an analysis this week of "the sky-high pay of health care CEOs" for the online news site, Axios.

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/.

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/.

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/.

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

After a two-day meeting in Washington, D.C., Federal Reserve policymakers say they'll keep their benchmark rate in a range between 1 percent and 1.25 percent for the time being.

Fed officials said "job gains have been solid" and the U.S. "labor market continues to strengthen" in the statement after a meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee.

The officials described economic activity as "rising moderately." They noted that unemployment rate has declined since the beginning of the year. The Fed is close to meeting its mandate to maximize employment.

Japanese scientists have genetically engineered a chrysanthemum flower that is "true blue" — a color that has long eluded flower breeders and researchers.

Blue has proved a challenge to produce in many other popular flowers, including roses, carnations and lilies.

Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Most readers these days who know Chester Himes know him for his detective fiction, novels like The Real Cool Killers and Cotton Comes to Harlem, which were written late in his career during the 1950s and '60s. These hard-boiled stories — featuring black New York City police detectives Grave Digger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson — are brutal and wildly surreal. But no more brutal and surreal, Himes may have said, than the situation of being black — even of being a prominent black writer — in mid-20th century America.

Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Suspicious that a package shipped from Hong Kong might contain smuggled animals, U.S. agents who opened the package found three live king cobra snakes hidden in potato chip cans. The man who was to receive the package outside Los Angeles has been arrested on federal charges.

Rodrigo Franco, 34, could face 20 years in prison on a charge of illegally importing merchandise, federal prosecutors said Tuesday. U.S. officials accuse him of violating the Endangered Species Act and falsifying records.

Hospitals Face Growing Cybersecurity Threats

6 hours ago

In the neonatal intensive care unit of Cook Children's Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas, a father is rocking a baby attached to a heart monitor. While doctors roam the halls trying to prevent infections, Chief Information Officer Theresa Meadows is worried about another kind of virus.

"The last thing anybody wants to happen in their organization is have all their heart monitors disabled or all of their IV pumps that provide medication to a patient disabled," Meadows says.

Sri Lanka celebrated its eradication of malaria last year. But now the country faces another mosquito-borne illness: dengue fever. It's also sometimes known as "breakbone fever" because of the severe pain it can cause.

A dengue outbreak has left some Sri Lankan hospitals so full that they're turning away patients, says Gerhard Tauscher, an operations manager with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. He is based in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka.

This week, our intrepid host Linda Holmes calls in from L.A., where she's attending the Television Critics' Association press tour, to host a discussion of the filthy, freewheeling and very, very funny Girls Trip. She's joined by regular panelist Stephen Thompson, Code Switch's Gene Demby, and special guest Aisha Harris from Slate.

Stretch & Bobbito On Race, Hip-Hop, And Belonging

7 hours ago

For most of the 1990s, Adrian "Stretch" Bartos and Robert "Bobbito" Garcia hosted a famous weekly hip-hop radio show on Columbia University's campus radio station, WKCR. Their no-frills, four-hour show was broadcast during the wee hours of the morning — 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. on Friday mornings — on a low-strength signal that listeners had to be deliberate about searching out.

NPR Pentagon Correspondent Tom Bowman and Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep discuss President Trump's tweets announcing the military will not allow transgender people to serve.

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

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Missouri already has some of the strictest abortion laws in the country. Now it's looking to place new requirements on the procedure, including having doctors meet with women seeking abortions before formal consent can be given and requiring the health department to hold unannounced annual inspections of abortion clinics.

Updated at 11:55 a.m. ET

A senior FBI official said Wednesday the nation is "under relentless assault" from foreign adversaries, as the Senate Judiciary Committee continued its probe into Russia's interference with last year's presidential election.

Bill Priestap, assistant director of counterintelligence at the FBI, painted a bleak picture of efforts — both overt and covert — by foreign government agents inside the U.S. "Our economy, our national security and our way of life are being actively threatened by state actors and their proxies," he said.

Updated at 4:30 p.m. ET

President Trump has announced that the government will not allow transgender people to serve in the U.S. military, a year after the Pentagon lifted its ban on transgender service members.

In a series of tweets on Wednesday morning, he wrote:

"Dear Dickie," the woman wrote on thin parchment paper. "Here I am, so please don't scold me ..."

The Jan. 2, 1947, letter had made its journey from Honolulu to Kobe, Japan, courtesy of a 5-cent airmail stamp — evidence of an overseas courtship between two young people. She began with an apology for not writing sooner but quickly eased into flirting and teasing, anticipating the day when they would see each other again.

France is asking European neighbors to help it fight fast-growing wildfires that have consumed thousands of acres of forest near the Mediterranean coast, forcing tourists to leave an area that is normally packed with visitors in the summer.

Several large fires have struck near the French Riviera this week, in resort areas near Saint-Tropez and also on the island of Corsica. Their rapid growth is being blamed on dry and windy conditions and plentiful fuel.

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

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

President Trump's administration says it's trying harder to bring home American citizens detained in Iran. Iran seems to be hinting that it wants another prisoner swap, as the Obama administration once negotiated.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich tells NPR's Rachel Martin that President Donald Trump is right to be troubled that Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Justice Department's investigation into Russian collusion in the 2016 election. The Justice Department's culture, Gingrich says, is "very liberal" and has an anti-Trump bias and the probe is a "fishing expedition." Sessions, he says, should exercise more authority and enforce the law.

Domenico Montanaro has analysis.

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