Ode - Holiday Joy & Mayhem
Ally Karsyn

Ode: Holiday Joy & Mayhem

Holidays are hard. There, we said it. Often, stress runs high, money runs low, and there are all these expectations of how things should be.

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the eighth episode in the widely popular intergalactic series, ascended to first place among American and Canadian movie-goers in its debut weekend.

From Friday through Sunday, it brought in an estimated $220 million domestically, making it the No. 1 debut of the year, according to Disney. Its weekend haul also earns it the title of the second biggest domestic debut of all time, behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens, its predecessor released in 2015.

Opponents of special counsel Robert Mueller ramped up their attacks over the weekend with a new claim that he improperly collected thousands of emails from President Trump's transition team and is using them as an illegitimate basis for much of his investigation.

Mueller's office said his team has obtained all the evidence it's using in its investigation properly. And Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed him, told Congress last week that he monitors Mueller's operation closely and has seen nothing improper.

Police have launched an investigation after a woman working at the British Embassy was found strangled on a roadside outside the capitol city of Beirut on Saturday, Lebanese officials said.

NPR's Ruth Sherlock has confirmed with the embassy that the victim is Rebecca Dykes, a British national.

"We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Rebecca," her family said in a statement, released by the Foreign Office. "We are doing all we can to understand what happened. We request that the media respect our privacy."

As was her habit, 22-year-old Bethany Stephens took her dogs for a walk in the woods near her childhood home in Goochland, Va., about 30 miles outside Richmond. But when she did not return home by Thursday night, her father grew concerned and called police, who made a terrible discovery. Stephens had been attacked and killed by her own pit bulls, police say.

As the year winds down, three new crew members are set to begin a mission aboard the International Space Station. Early Sunday, an American, a Russian and a Japanese astronaut blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in a Soyuz spacecraft.

So far the reaction has been swift and strong to our investigation into Ballou High School in Washington D.C., where we shed light on chronic absenteeism and a pressure teachers say they felt to pass failing students and get them to graduation.

A secret Pentagon program existed for at least three years and spent more than $20 million in research on UFOs, according to multiple media reports published Saturday.

The program reportedly examined cases including incidents of military pilots claiming to have seen flying objects that appeared to "defy the laws of physics."

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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