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.

Terrorists groups using the Internet to spread propaganda. Criminal gangs inciting violence over social media. Sexual predators going online to groom children for exploitation.

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?

When a panhandler approaches a car in the intersection — his hand out, his eyes wide — that physical interaction is protected by the First Amendment, a federal district judge ruled Monday when he threw out an Arkansas city's panhandling ban.

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.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday blocked the execution of a Buddhist inmate on death row because prison officials wouldn't let his spiritual adviser be present in the execution chamber, even though they provide chaplains for inmates of some other faiths.

More than 100 migrants are in custody after they allegedly commandeered a Turkish cargo ship that rescued them off the coast of Libya.

The migrants' boat was sinking, officials say, when they were saved by a Turkish ship called the El Hiblu 1. But the rescue mission turned into a hijacking after the migrants realized they were being taken back to Libya.

In a move aimed at getting the public's attention, officials in New York's Rockland County have declared a state of emergency in response to an ongoing measles outbreak. Among the measures: a 30-day ban on any unvaccinated people under the age of 18 from being in public places.

A law making it harder for women in North Carolina to get an abortion after 20 weeks is unconstitutional, a federal judge has declared.

The law, which had been on the books since 1973, banned abortion after 20 weeks with only certain exceptions to protect the life of the mother. A 2015 amendment tightened those exceptions, criminalizing abortion unless the woman's life or a "major bodily function" were at immediate risk. Pro-abortion rights groups challenged the law, and on Monday U.S. District Judge William Osteen sided with them.

Updated at 12:30 p.m. ET

That is not one small step for women.

History was supposed to be made Friday when, for the first time, two female astronauts were scheduled to do a spacewalk together outside the International Space Station. However, one of the astronauts was switched out this week because of a lack of "spacesuit availability."

Updated at 12:50 p.m. ET

Four of five inmates who broke out of a North Carolina jail have been captured by authorities, but one of them remained at large Tuesday morning.

In a move that appeared aimed at what some view as a growing trend of political correctness on college campuses, President Trump signed an executive order Thursday to bar federal research grants to institutions that don't "avoid creating environments that stifle competing perspectives."

In the corridors of the Europa building in Brussels, European Union officials gathered around a small table, determining the fate of the country that had voted to reject them.

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May was relegated to another room while the rest deliberated: Would May get the months-long extension she had requested to give her time to negotiate a Brexit withdrawal arrangement with Parliament?

The "bomb cyclone" that swept through the Midwest this week has caused more than $1 billion of flood damage in Nebraska, the state's governor said Wednesday. At least three people have been killed in Nebraska and Iowa.

The enslaved man's name was Renty. His image adorns the cover of a Harvard publication that the university sells for $40.

Tamara Lanier says "Papa Renty" is the patriarch of her family. And in a lawsuit filed Wednesday, she says Harvard is using those photos without permission — and in so doing, profiting from photos taken by a racist professor determined to prove the inferiority of black people.

With just over a week to go until the deadline for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, the son of President Trump says that everything would be on track had British Prime Minister Theresa May taken his father's advice on Brexit.

Homer Simpson probably won't become the newest member of the Avengers, but anything's possible now that Disney owns 21st Century Fox.

One year after the Walt Disney Co. announced the $71.3 billion merger, it's official. The deal, which closed Wednesday at 12:02 a.m. Eastern time, reshapes the media landscape and makes Disney an even greater entertainment behemoth. In bolstering its trove of characters and stories, the acquisition also puts Disney in a stronger position to take on Netflix and other streaming companies when it launches its own service, Disney+, later this year.

As the barren California desert sprang to life, they descended. With their selfie sticks, their smartphones and their gee-whiz-look-at-all-the-flowers smiles, they seemed blissfully unconcerned that they were causing something close to a panic at the highest levels of local government.

Updated at 10:15 a.m. ET

A Facebook vice president said fewer than 200 people saw the Christchurch massacre while it was being streamed live on the site. But the video was viewed about 4,000 times before Facebook removed it, he added. Countless more views occurred in the hours afterward, as copies of the video proliferated more quickly than online platforms like Facebook could remove them.

New Zealand's cabinet has agreed "in principle" to tighten gun control laws, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Monday, promising the changes will make the country safer. "We've unified, there are simply details to work through," she said.

If you've ever been tempted to make a rude gesture at a police officer, you can rest assured that the Constitution protects your right to do so, a federal appeals court says.

The case against a Vietnamese woman accused of killing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's estranged half-brother will go forward, prosecutors in Malaysia said Thursday.

Two women were accused of smearing a toxic nerve agent on the face of Kim Jong Nam as he walked through a Kuala Lumpur airport terminal in 2017. The man was dead within 20 minutes, and the women — who said they thought they were taking part in a Japanese game show — were arrested and charged with murder.

A woman in California who says Johnson & Johnson baby powder caused her to develop mesothelioma was awarded $29 million by a jury Wednesday. J&J says it will appeal the judgment.

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