Ashley Westerman | Texas Public Radio

Ashley Westerman

Ashley Westerman is a producer who occasionally directs the show. Since joining the staff in June 2015, she has produced a variety of stories including a coal mine closing near her hometown, the 2016 Republican National Convention, and the Rohingya refugee crisis in southern Bangladesh. She is also an occasional reporter for Morning Edition, and NPR.org, where she has contributed reports on both domestic and international news.

Ashley was a summer intern in 2011 with Morning Edition and pitched a story on her very first day. She went on to work as a reporter and host for member station 89.3 WRKF in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where she earned awards covering everything from healthcare to jambalaya.

Ashley is an East-West Center 2018 Jefferson Fellow and a two-time reporting fellow with the International Center for Journalists. Through ICFJ, she has covered labor issues in her home country of the Philippines for NPR and health care in Appalachia for Voice of America.

A single season playing football might be all it takes to change a young athlete's brain.

Those are the preliminary findings of research presented this week in Chicago at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.

Researchers used special MRI methods to look at nerve bundles in the brain in a study of the brains of 26 young male football players, average age 12, before and after one season. Twenty-six more young males who didn't play football also got MRI scans at the same time to be used as a control group.

Chrissy Houlahan has done a lot with her industrial engineering degree over the last 30 years including serving in the Air Force, working in the aircraft manufacturing industry, being the COO of a sports apparel company and even teaching high school chemistry.

Houlahan says her science, technology, engineering and mathematics – or STEM – background has allowed her to be fluid in her career by helping her tackle everyday problems through a unique lens.

Strong, dry winds are expected to continue through the early part of this week in California as the state battles several wildfires.

The Camp Fire in Northern California, which started Thursday, is the state's most destructive fire ever, scorching more than 113,000 acres north of Sacramento and killing 29 people so far, according to state officials on Monday. In Southern California, officials say the Woolsey Fire, which also started Thursday, has killed at least two people and burned more than 91,000 acres.

Roger Chui first learned about the mass shooting that killed 12 people in a packed bar Wednesday night in Thousand Oaks, Calif., when he woke up the morning after and turned on his phone.

"And I was like 'Oh, that seems really soon after Pittsburgh and Louisville,' " says the software developer in Lexington, Ky. "I thought we'd get more of a break."

Chui feels like these kinds of shootings happen in the U.S. so often now that when he hears about them all he can think about is, "Oh well, it happened again I guess."

He's not alone.

For years, Australia has employed a controversial policy for migrants coming by sea without proper documents for entry: It sends them to offshore holding facilities.

The law was passed in 2013, during a time when many refugees and migrants were attempting to cross the ocean from Indonesia to reach Australia. Many died or went missing en route. Those caught by Australian authorities were transferred to centers on Australia's Christmas Island, the island nation of Nauru and Manus Island, which is part of Papua New Guinea.

Major issues such as trade, security and China's expansion are up for discussion when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo travels to Southeast Asia this week. On the first leg of his trip, in Malaysia, he'll be checking in on a new government for the first time.

Other than the campaign posters plastered across Cambodia's capital Phnom Penh, there's little sign that general elections are coming up this Sunday, July 29. Traffic hums along as usual. And save for the occasional car spouting ruling party propaganda through a bullhorn, there's no canvassing or active campaigning in the streets and scant open talk about the vote.

"Recently, people are keeping quiet," says May Titthara, executive editor of the Khmer Times newspaper.

Updated, 4:20 a.m. ET Wednesday:

Former Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak on Wednesday pleaded not guilty to charges levied against him in court in connection with the 1MDB scandal, which involved the misuse of billions in government funds.

Najib was charged with three counts of criminal breach of trust and one count of corruption. His case was immediately moved to High Court, where Najib pleaded not guilty to all the charges, according to The Associated Press. The case will now proceed to trial.

The United Nations and Myanmar have signed a pact that aims to start the process of repatriating some of the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who fled a brutal crackdown by the government's army last year.

The memorandum of understanding was signed Wednesday in Yangon and is the first agreement of its kind between the two entities. The pact promises to create conditions for the "voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable" return of some of the 700,000 Rohingya who are now living across the border into neighboring Bangladesh in squalid refugee camps.

Updated at 7:53 p.m. ET

Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia's former prime minister who came out of retirement in his 90s to challenge his own party's embattled incumbent, has won a surprise victory in elections — ending more than six decades of rule by the country's dominant party.

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