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Workplace wellness programs that offer employees a financial carrot for undergoing health screenings, sticking to exercise regimens or improving their cholesterol levels have long been controversial.

These days, not many tourists go to the legendary city of Timbuktu.

Indeed, the U.S. State Department advises: "Do not travel to Mali due to crime and terrorism."

But you can still send a postcard to a family member, a friend or even yourself, all the way from the fabled, mud-walled city.

Postcards from Timbuktu was established in 2016 by Phil Paoletta, an American hotel owner from Cleveland, and Ali Nialy, a 29-year-old guide from Timbuktu.

This week in the Russia investigations: Rod Rosenstein denies explosive report and a reprieve on the secret documents Trump allies want declassified and disclosed.

The wire

Like a scene in a cowboy movie, a bar brawl burst from behind closed doors on Friday and spilled into the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue. Instead of a saloon, the venue for this fistfight was Justice Department headquarters.

Unlike an old-school dust-up, however, not all the identities of the combatants are obvious.

You're reading NPR's weekly roundup of education news.

Student loan forgiveness applicants largely denied

On India's west coast, revelers hoist up statues of an elephant-headed god, and parade them toward the Arabian Sea. They sing and chant, and hand out food to bystanders.

For 10 days, they perform pooja — Hindu prayers — at the statues' feet and then submerge them in bodies of water.

This is a tradition in Mumbai, India's biggest city, near the end of each year's monsoon rains: a festival honoring Ganesh, or Lord Ganesha, the Hindu god of wisdom and good luck. He has a human body and an elephant head.

It was more duel than debate Friday night in Dallas as Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and Democratic challenger Rep. Beto O'Rourke went after each other from the start. Snappy and heavy on snark, Cruz and O'Rourke held nothing back in the first of three debates.

REVEAL Fundraiser Episode Fall 2018

9 hours ago

For the 2018 Fall fundraising season, here are three of our favorite Reveal stories from the past year.

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The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit against Walmart Inc. on Friday, alleging the company has unlawfully discriminated against pregnant workers for years at one of its warehouse locations in Wisconsin.

The complaint, filed in federal court on behalf of Alyssa Gilliam, claims Walmart failed to accommodate workers' pregnancy-related medical restrictions, even though job modifications were provided to non-pregnant employees with physical disabilities. It also says the company denied pregnant workers' requests for unpaid leave.

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Updated, September 21, 7:48 p.m. ET

A federal judge has ordered the Trump administration to make its main official behind the 2020 census citizenship question — Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross — available to testify out of court for the lawsuits over the hotly contested question.

China has warned the U.S. to withdraw sanctions on its military or face consequences. The U.S. imposed the sanctions on Thursday over China's purchase of Russian fighter jets and surface-to-air missile equipment.

Despite being one of the first and oldest forms of popular music, opera sometimes struggles to connect with 21st century audiences. However, Anthony Roth Costanzo is breaking down the genre's stodgy stereotype and making opera more accessible — taking his distinctive sound to the masses, from a sixth-grade classroom in the Bronx to NPR's own Tiny Desk.

Yes, The Browns Actually Won

14 hours ago

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And NPR's Scott Detrow joins me now to walk through where things stand with the Kavanaugh nomination and the latest on whether or not Ford will testify at a Senate hearing next week. Hey, Scott.

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: Hey there.

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Tracking two big political stories today - the first, the one that has dominated the news all week.

(SOUNDBITE OF MEDIA MONTAGE)

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Updated at 8:47 p.m. ET

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein denied an explosive report on Friday that said he discussed secretly recording President Trump at the White House and that he might seek to recruit members of the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment in order to remove Trump.

Rosenstein called the story "inaccurate and factually incorrect."

Marion "Suge" Knight faces 28 years in prison after pleading no contest to "running over a man and killing him in a restaurant parking lot three years ago," according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

Knight, 53, is the co-founder of rap label Death Row Records. He agreed to a plea deal that includes "one count of voluntary manslaughter and admitted a special allegation that he used a deadly weapon, a truck," the DA's office said.

Before the agreement, Knight had been facing charges of murder and attempted murder.

Walter Mischel, a revolutionary psychologist with a specialty in personality theory, died of pancreatic cancer on Sept. 12. He was 88.

3 Babies, 2 Adults Stabbed At Queens Day Care

20 hours ago

Three infants and two adults were stabbed in an early Friday morning attack at a day care in the Queens borough of New York City, according to police.

Officers who arrived at the house found multiple people with stab wounds, including three babies ranging in age from 3 days to 1 month old.

One woman suffered multiple stab wounds to the torso, and a man was stabbed in the leg. The man is the father of one of the injured babies, and the woman was an employee of the day care.

All of the injured were taken to area hospitals in critical but stable condition.

Updated at 11:53 p.m. ET

Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were in high school, rejected an ultimatum given by Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.

The Cleveland Browns made a rare visit to the win column Thursday night, ending a streak of frustration and futility by beating another NFL team for the first time since Christmas Eve 2016. The win set off celebrations – including a promotion campaign that had offered free beer if the team won a game in 2018.

Rejection By The King Of Nepal Was Not The End Of The Road

21 hours ago

Kul Chandra Gautam was born in a rural village with no electricity or running water, no doctors and schools. The nearest town with a market was a five-day walk away.

He left home at age 7 to study — and study he did. He was one of the first people in the world to learn English from a Peace Corps volunteer, and his outstanding grades eventually won him a full scholarship to Dartmouth.

But getting there wasn't easy.

101 Ways To Thwart A Reporter In Pyongyang

22 hours ago

If, on a recent Wednesday morning, you had happened to find yourself in the cavernous lobby of Pyongyang's Yanggakdo Hotel, you might have witnessed the following exchange, between a pleasant-looking North Korean man and an exasperated-looking American news team.

"You must be tired," says Mr. Kim. "You will want to rest at the hotel this morning."

Nope, we're good. Ready when you are.

"Well, I am tired."

Today we have some incredible, never-before-seen footage of John Lennon recording his seemingly cutthroat song, "How Do You Sleep?" It's a song he released in 1971 and directed at his former Beatle bandmate Paul McCartney. Here's just a sample of the lyrics:

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