NPR Staff

Most days, you can find Ran Duan pouring drinks for guests at The Baldwin Bar, inside a branch of his parents' Sichuan Garden restaurant in Woburn, Mass.

But recently he's been setting aside time each day to practice making a special drink.

This week, the bodies of 24 unidentified migrants were laid to rest in Malta, the European island nation in the Mediterranean Sea. They were among more than 800 people who lost their lives last weekend off the coast of Libya when their ship capsized as they were trying to cross the Mediterranean to reach a better life.

Lieutenant Keith Caruana of the Armed Forces of Malta spoke with NPR's Arun Rath about the situation in the Mediterranean — and the toll it has taken on rescuers after more than a decade of trying to save the lives of desperate people seeking safety.

In the latest installment of our occasionial series Weekend Reads, we're celebrating National Poetry Month with The Little Edges, a unique work by American poet Fred Moten. Many of the poems in the book were commissioned, and they focus on real life people and events.

Nick Kroll is the star of a lot of things, including Kroll Show on Comedy Central and The League on FX. And if that wasn't enough, he now has a new film coming out called Adult Beginners. Kroll tells NPR's Rachel Martin that his character in the film, Jake, is in transition.

Some murder cases are harder to solve than others. The investigation into the killing of Mellory Manning — a 27-year-old woman who was assaulted and murdered in 2008 while working as a prostitute in Christchurch, New Zealand — confounded police.

They conducted an investigation and interviewed hundreds of people, but months later, they still had no solid leads.

It was 1964 when the young Philip Glass found himself in Paris. He was on a Fulbright scholarship to study with the revered pedagogue Nadia Boulanger. It was a career move carefully planned. Glass wanted to be a composer and he knew Boulanger's rigorous lessons in traditional Western harmony and counterpoint would sharpen his skills.

Victorine Meurent was just 17 years old when she met the great Impressionist painter Edouard Manet on a Paris street in 1862. The young, poverty-stricken redhead became his favorite model, and Manet painted her reclining nude in Olympia — a work that scandalized the Paris art world in 1865 and now hangs in the Musée d'Orsay.

By Gouda — the Mona Cheesa is missing! And when that most famous work of art is discovered to have been taken from its frame in a Paris art museum, the world's foremost International Cat of Mystery, William, is called in on the case.

The percussive snap of a stapler. The crisp peeling of a Post-it note. The ruffling flip of an old Rolodex chock-full of cards. James Ward loves office supplies beyond reason — and he's written about the history of everything from the pencil to the glue stick in his new book, The Perfection of the Paper Clip.

The tragic story of Cambodia in the '60s and '70s is well-known: It became engulfed in the Vietnam War, then more than a million Cambodians died under the Khmer Rouge regime. Doctors, lawyers, teachers — educated people — were targeted in the communist takeover. So were artists and singers.

The death penalty is legal in more than 30 states, but the long-controversial practice has come under renewed scrutiny after a series of botched executions in several states last year.

Opponents of capital punishment argue that the death penalty undermines the fair administration of justice, as wealth, geography, race and quality of legal representation all come into play, with uneven results.

It's a warm evening in 1996 and a young woman is waiting for a ride on a street corner. She's alone, it's way too late and she soon realizes she is being watched. When the woman disappears, the crime is linked to the family of a local man running for mayor.

Martin O'Malley, former governor of Maryland, says he'll decide by late May whether he's running for president. Running would put him — even he seems to acknowledge — in an uphill battle against Hillary Clinton, currently the only Democrat who has declared.

O'Malley is positioning himself to Clinton's left, and even President Obama's left.

Aydian Dowling of Eugene, Ore., is ripped. He has sharply defined muscles, piercing eyes and European-playboy-on-the-Riviera tousled hair.

It's not just striking good looks that distinguish Dowling, who is leading the voting in the annual "Ultimate Guy" contest held by Men's Health magazine. If he wins the contest (which is ultimately determined by judges), Dowling will be the first transgender man to appear on the cover of Men's Health.

A town that experiences a sudden suicide epidemic, a mysterious traveling salesman who sells a magical mirror polish, a mermaid who washes up on shore: What happens to a small town when something strange and supernatural takes over?

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Steven Millhauser explores that intersection of familiar life and disturbing, often bizarre events in his new short story collection, Voices in the Night.

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