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Several Democrats joined Republicans in the Senate to confirm former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue as the next secretary of agriculture.

The vote was 87 to 11. Perdue's cousin, Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., voted "present" and presided over the vote.

Sonny Perdue grew up on a farm in central Georgia and has owned several agriculture companies. He is not associated with the food company Perdue or the poultry producer Perdue Farms.

NPR's Geoff Bennett reports for our Newscast unit:

For only the third time ever, the government released today a national report card examining the knowledge, understanding and abilities of U.S. eighth-graders in visual arts and music.

And in many ways, the numbers aren't great, with little progress shown in most categories since the last time the assessment was given in 2008. One bright spot: The achievement gap between Hispanic students and their white peers has narrowed. But Hispanics and African-Americans still lag far behind white and Asian eighth-graders.

As a hurry-up execution schedule plays out in Arkansas this week, the U.S. Supreme Court and Arkansas Supreme Court have stepped in to block two of the eight executions initially scheduled for an 11-day period.

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Max Nesterak

Armand Melk-Johnson gives me a tour of his host family’s home, a one-and-a-half story bungalow in Minneapolis.

He’s staying with his host mom Alicia and her two young kids, Mariel and Thomas.

Melk-Johnson is 15 and a ninth-grader at Minnehaha Academy, a private school in Minneapolis, that's doing something different. It’s running a program called City Stay, which offers students the chance to immerse in a new culture for one week. Currently, the program places students with Latino, Somali and Hmong host families.

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Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

The Trump administration is contemplating sending US reinforcements to try to stabilize Afghanistan. Defense Secretary James Mattis is visiting the capital, Kabul, to assess the situation.

However, Mattis can't meet with his Afghan counterpart, or the head of the Afghan military, as those guys quit Monday. Their resignations came after a military disaster last Friday, in which Afghanistan's army suffered its biggest loss of the war.

Insurgents overran a base near the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif and killed at least 100 soldiers.

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Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters

The Trump White House has doubled down on its demand that a government spending bill include $1.4 billion for a wall on the US-Mexico border. 

But a determined group of US lawmakers is prepared to stand in the president's way.

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Courtesy of "Almost Asian"

When I stumbled across Katie Malia’s YouTube series “Almost Asian,” I thought, "Oh my goodness, I have found my half-Japanese sister from another mister."

I watched every episode, back-to-back, laughing, even guffawing at times. The short scripted series follows the half-Japanese actress navigating show business in Los Angeles. In an industry where looks really matter, Malia finds herself floundering in a no-man’s land where she’s not quite Asian enough, or white enough.

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Courtesy of the Goldman Environmental Prize

Rodrigo Tot is a 60-year-old farmer and an indigenous land rights activist from Guatemala. He represents an isolated, small Q’eqchi farming and fishing community of about 270 members in the long-running fight to secure legal ownership over their communal lands.

Tot and his community stood up to the government and nickel miners expanding into their land in Agua Caliente.

And now he's won one of the world's most prestigious activism awards, the Goldman Environmental Prize.

In the 1950s, television producer Albert Freedman captivated audiences with his carefully crafted game show Twenty-One, which had been foundering before he helped turn it into the most popular program in the country.

Updated at 7:30 p.m. ET

An article on a State Department website about President Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort has been removed after criticism that it was an inappropriate use of taxpayer funds.

Critics complained that resources were being used to tout the for-profit club, which Trump refers to as the Winter White House. The club, in Palm Beach, Fla., is held in Trump's trust, of which he is the sole beneficiary.

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