Matthew S. Schwartz

Matthew S. Schwartz is a reporter with NPR's news desk. Before coming to NPR, Matt worked as a reporter for Washington, D.C., member station WAMU, where he won the national Edward R. Murrow award for feature reporting in large market radio. Previously, Matt worked as a technology reporter covering the intricacies of Internet regulation. In a past life, Matt was a Washington telecom lawyer. He got his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center, and his B.A. from the University of Michigan ("Go Blue!").

For years he has played a high-school history teacher who accidentally became president of Ukraine. On Sunday, Ukraine's voters made that fiction a reality.

With nearly all the ballots counted, the 41-year-old Volodymyr Zelenskiy took 73% of the vote, trouncing incumbent President Petro Poroshenko, who received less than 25%. Zelenskiy's victory is widely seen as a rebuke of the status quo, a response to perceived corruption within the political establishment, and a reflection of malaise over the lackluster economy and ongoing conflict with Russia in eastern Ukraine.

Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno seemed annoyed when he announced an end to the seven-year residency of Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London:

"We've ended the asylum of this spoiled brat," he said.

But what about the asylum of Assange's cat?

New Hampshire is poised to become the 21st state to abolish the death penalty.

The state Senate voted 17-6 Thursday to end capital punishment, adding its voice to the state House which voted for repeal last month by a vote of 279-88. The bill changes the penalty for capital murder to a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Interstates were closed for hundreds of miles in the Midwest and Plains Thursday, as a "bomb cyclone" brought a major winter storm to states in those regions. Some towns that just days ago were experiencing sunshine and temperate weather are now under 1 or 2 feet of snow.

Most of Nebraska and South Dakota remained under a blizzard warning Thursday afternoon, as snow continued to cause dangerous conditions. Minnesota, Wisconsin and much of Michigan's Upper Peninsula face a winter storm warning. Eastern North Dakota is under a flood warning.

Less than one month after a gunman killed 50 people in an attack on two mosques in Christchurch, the New Zealand Parliament voted Wednesday to ban most semi-automatic and military-style weapons.

The law makes it illegal to possess the prohibited weapons in New Zealand. Current owners of the now-banned firearms will have until the end of September to return their weapons for compensation under a buyback program. If they don't return them, they could face up to five years in prison.

On Facebook, people linger long after death.

A friend's photo might pop up on a timeline. A child's video might show up in Facebook "Memories," highlighting what happened on this date in years past. Sometimes these reminders bring a smile to the faces of friends and family left behind.

But Facebook's algorithms haven't always been tactful. Unless someone explicitly informs Facebook that a family member has died, Facebook has been known to remind friends to send birthday greetings, or invite a deceased loved one to an event.

A tongue-in-cheek NPR.org headline comparing the fetching abilities of cats and dogs revealed a truth known by countless cat owners: Some cats do fetch.

"Cats Don't Fetch, But Know Their Names As Well As Dogs, Researchers Say," the original headline proclaimed. This didn't sit well with some readers.

"In what world do cats not fetch?" Kate Haffey commented on Facebook.

"Artemis knows her name and fetches," Brandi Whitson said on Twitter. "She's obsessed."

Updated at 8:54 a.m. ET

Call a dog by its name, and its tail wags, it starts panting happily, and it showers you with love and affection.

Call a cat by its name and ... well, cats are a bit harder to read. Does the cat even know what its name is?

So researchers in Japan set out to answer the question: Can a cat understand the difference between its name and any other random word that sounds like it?

Prosecutors dropped murder charges Monday against a woman who smeared the VX nerve agent on the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Doan Thi Huong of Vietnam pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of causing bodily harm. Her lawyers say she could go free as early as next month.

A well-known journalist critical of the Philippines government, who was arrested in February for libel, was arrested again on Friday.

Maria Ressa has long been an outspoken critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, who has accused reporters of being "spies." Ressa says her arrest is reflective of a hostile atmosphere toward journalists in the Philippines, which has drawn condemnation from journalists around the world.

Pages