Marc Silver

It's World Kindness Day today.

Yes, it's kind of a made-up holiday. But really, it's not a bad idea to celebrate kind words and deeds.

In Washington, D.C., today, NPR staffers rescued a beautiful, black-and-white hen that was darting about busy North Capitol Street by our headquarters.

In the latest batch of Hillary Clinton emails to be released, there was a list of topics that she presumably wanted to look into some more, dated Oct. 18, 2010. One line in particular stood out: "Plumpy'nut?"

You may be wondering: Plumpy what?

For those who work in global health, the word is instantly recognizable.

It was a story that brought the NPR interpreter to tears.

As part of our series on 15-year-old girls around the world, reporter Jason Beaubien and producer Rebecca Davis were looking for a 15-year-old Syrian refugee. The group World Vision helped lead them to Fatmeh, who lives with her family in a makeshift shelter on a farmer's land in Lebanon. Fatmeh wanted to tell her story: She used to live in a nice house, have a computer, loved going to school.

A woman finds a lump in her breast.

And for a long time, she doesn't tell anybody. Not her family. And not her doctor.

That happens all too often in low- and lower-middle-income countries, says Dr. Ben Anderson, a surgical oncologist who is the director of the Breast Health Global Initiative at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

Sustainable, sustainable, sustainable.

Sustainable. Sustainable.


Oh, excuse me. I was just counting the number of times the word "sustainable" (and its close cousin, sustainability) appear in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that the U.N. will endorse this coming weekend.

I got 75. And I probably missed a few.

The SDGs, as they're called, aim to improve life on earth, especially in poor countries — no more extreme poverty, the eradication of "a wide range of diseases," education and equal rights for all, taking care of the planet.

We're welcoming an unseen guest to our Jewish holiday celebrations this fall: My mother-in-law, Jan Dale, who died in 2005.

Since her passing, I've tried to keep Jan a presence at our festive meals with my attempts to bake some of her favorite recipes. For instance, to mark the start of Yom Kippur Tuesday night, I've made a batch of Jan's crumbly, cinnamon-scented mandelbread — that's Yiddish for "almond bread," a twice-baked cookie that's the Jewish version of biscotti.

But getting here has taken a bit of detective work.

It's not exactly clear why Dahlia Yehia was in Nepal. Was she trekking? Did she want to volunteer to help earthquake victims?

Hello pencils, hello books, hello teacher's dirty looks.

Yes, school is back in session. And students are no doubt grumbling about the end of the carefree summer.

But in some parts of the world, there are kids who don't get a chance to complain about what a drag it is to go back to school. Because they really want to go to school ... only they're not able.

Taylor Swift's video for her new song "Wildest Dreams" launched a storm of Internet criticism, including a searing review on this blog.

Yes, it's a cliche: "Yoga saved my life."

Google the phrase, and you'll get 12 million matches!

But when Walter Mugbe says it, he really means it. It's not an exaggeration. It's the truth.

OK, so maybe it was the photo of the painted goat that first caught our eye. (After all, we are Goats and Soda).

But there are many other gems from the National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest.

Muhammad Yunus just had a milestone birthday. On June 28, he turned 75. It's a big moment for a man who's had many big moments in his life — most notably the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for founding Grameen Bank, which loans small sums, aka "microcredit," to the poor, mainly women, so they can start their own businesses.

Yunus stopped by NPR last week — he was in Washington, D.C., for a conference — wearing the long, open-necked "kurta" shirt of his native Bangladesh. "[A tie] looks funny on me," he joked.

The Trevor Noah countdown has begun. The South African stand-up comedian will begin hosting Comedy Central's Daily Show on Sept. 28. And what better way to get ready than ... by doing comedy.

Ruhy Patel, 17, lives in Doylestown, Pa. When she was 15 she was planning to run for student council office. "All the other people running were boys," she says, "and people were like, 'Well, you're not going to win.' You feel intimidated because you're the only girl in the room. It makes you question if you'd be OK in the field of politics."

Did she drop out? No.

Did she win? "I did!"

"I feel like it kind of makes you want to try harder when people say no," says Patel.

She was only 15 minutes late. That's amazing! After all, she is the first lady of the United States. She has a busy schedule. She was scheduled to speak to the Girl Up Leadership Summit at 11:15 a.m. And by 11:27ish she was in the house.

"You all look amazing," Michelle Obama told the 200-plus activists who represent some of the world's 1,000 Girl Up clubs. They'd come to Washington, D.C., to bond, to learn about girls' issues and to lobby Congress.

Update: New time is 1 p.m. ET

What's life like for a 15-year-old girl in Zambia? In Brazil? In Nepal? In the United States?

Starting this fall, NPR will be looking at the lives of 15-year-old girls: the challenges they face, the rules they break, the advice they'd give to a little sister.

What do you lose when one of the world's languages disappears?

Maybe it's a word that has two meanings — and the double meaning gives you a different way of thinking about things.

Like the word iya. In the endangered Latin American language of Kukama, it means "heart." But it also means "fruit."

Their gourds tell a story — and earn them a living. That gourd in the photo — the one on the left? It is covered with miniature pictures of a potato harvest in Peru. There's even a wee burro hauling the day's crop.

That gourd will sell for around $800.

A curious detail appeared in stories about the death this week of a 17-year-old boy from Ebola.

The world needs to count its girls!

That's the message that President Obama sent earlier this month when he signed the Girls Count Act into law. Congress had previously approved the act by unanimous vote.

There are 220 million children around the world who are uncounted. They were not registered at birth, and they don't have birth certificates.

A boy, a goat and a lion.

Those are the stars of an award-winning photo called Friendship.

Soda is at the crossroads.

The U.S. is still a world leader in taking the pause that refreshes (and causes weight gain).

But soda drinking is flat or declining in the West. The reasons are many: Health consciousness. Bottled water. Energy drinks.

So the Big Soda companies are spending money to develop new markets in low- and middle-income countries. In some of these places, people are earning a bit more than a few years before, so they have more money for soda.

Now that's a gaggle of goats!

There are about 700 of them in the video. They belong to the California business Goats R Us, which keeps 8,000 goats on hand, renting them out to graze on brush, thistles and other undesired plants.

When an email arrived the other day promoting an "Interfaith Service Focused on Below the Belt Cancers," I was intrigued.

It turns out Thursday, June 18, is the start of the third "Globe-athon to End Women's Cancers." To kickoff this continuing campaign, there will be two days of events in New York City dedicated to making people more aware of the cancers that strike more than 1 million women a year and figuring out the best strategies for diagnosis and treatment.

A new survey from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that sexual violence against children is a global problem.

Seven countries were surveyed from 2007 to 2013. The first was Swaziland, which wanted to assess and address the problem. The rate of sexual violence against girls was 36.7 percent. Additional countries asked to be surveyed as well. Young people from the age of 13 to 24 were interviewed, with a range of 1,000 to 2,000 for each gender.

It seems the bad news just won't stop coming.

That boat accident in China.

In September, the U.N. will vote to adopt 17 Sustainable Development Goals (aka SDGs). They cover issues like poverty, health and climate change. The idea is to encourage the 192 U.N. member states to establish policies that will make the world a better place over the next 15 years.

At least one SDG is turning out to be a bit controversial.

This particular goal calls for a reduction in "premature mortality" from non-communicable diseases like cancer, stroke and dementia by half in people younger than 50 and by a third among people from 50 to 69.

It's a "year of fear" for children.

That's how Gordon Brown put it in a speech this month. He's the former British Prime Minister who is now the U.N. special envoy for global education. And he's worried about kids.

"This is not the year of the child but the year of fear," he said, "with 2015 already the worst year since 1945 for children being displaced, the worst year for children becoming refugees, the worst year for children seeing their schools attacked."

So who does drink the most soda in the world, anyway?