Amy Held

Amy Held is an editor on the newscast unit. She regularly reports breaking news on air and online.

Life lately in the tiny northern Minnesota town of Gilbert has resembled a scene out of an Alfred Hitchcock film. Birds, lots of birds, have been "flying into windows, cars and acting confused," according to the city police department, which has been fielding reports from anxious residents.

Florence may have concluded its crawl over the Carolinas, but officials are warning residents not to let the fairer weather deceive them. For days, the storm dumped relentless rain — in some places about 3 feet — and as all that water continues to make its way downstream, rivers keep on rising.

The storm's death toll ticked up to 41 people on Thursday; 31 people in North Carolina alone, which entered its 13th day under a state of emergency.

New life was breathed into a perennial debate this week, when a former Sesame Street writer revealed that not only did he consider beloved characters Bert and Ernie to be a gay couple, but he used his own relationship as creative inspiration.

On Sunday, Queerty published an interview with Mark Saltzman, who worked on the show in the 1980s and 90s, asking him if he thought of Bert and Ernie as a gay couple.

As Pope Francis sat down at the Vatican Thursday with a delegation of U.S. bishops and cardinals to discuss how to gain ground in the sexual abuse crisis engulfing the Catholic Church, fresh scandals emerged on both sides of the Atlantic.

A California man was arrested Thursday and charged with threatening violence against Boston Globe journalists in retaliation for the newspaper's coordination earlier this month of some 300 nationwide editorials denouncing President Trump's attacks on the media, according to federal prosecutors.

A high school social studies teacher who fired a gun inside his Georgia classroom in February, hitting a window and alarming students and staff just days after the Parkland, Fla., shooting massacre, was sentenced on Tuesday to two years in prison, followed by eight years probation, according to Conasauga Judicial Circuit District Attorney Bert Poston.

Cramped cabins, knocked knees, aggrieved elbows: all real problems for today's flyers. But the Federal Aviation Administration has said they aren't its problems — announcing Tuesday that it will not regulate airline seat size and legroom.

The decision came in the form of a letter responding to a lawsuit brought by the group Flyers Rights.

It's summertime in the Northern Hemisphere, and a couple of constants remain: Just as surely as it's going to be hot, people are going to want to talk about exactly how hot it is.

But the heat has been so notable in the past week or so that records are being stretched and scorched from Canada to Armenia, with roofs and roads going runny.

Updated at 3:27 p.m. ET

Kate Spade, the designer who built a billion-dollar brand of luxury handbags and accessories, was found dead in her Park Avenue apartment in Manhattan on Tuesday. She was 55.

New York Police Department officials said that police received a call around 10:30 a.m. and that officers found Spade unconscious and unresponsive in the bedroom of her Park Avenue apartment. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

"It was a suicide," NYPD spokeswoman Arlene Muniz told NPR, without providing further details.

It's not your imagination. A recent spike in home runs has hit professional baseball.

In 2015, Major League Baseball's home run rate averaged 1.01 per game (it had been 0.86 the year before). In 2016, it grew to 1.16. Last year it was 1.26.

Theories have abounded as to why, many centering on the balls having been altered, or "juiced."

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