Ublester Rodriguez could not have anticipated that his life would be profoundly changed by kitchen and bathroom countertops.

He says that he grew up poor, in a small Mexican town, and came to the United States when he was 14. He spoke no English, but he immediately got a job.

"In the beginning I was working in a Chinese restaurant, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. It was all day, so I never had time to go to school," he recalls. "I was a dishwasher."

Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick made a late entry into the Democratic presidential primary. He went to South Carolina to introduce himself to voters this week.

NPR's Ari Shapiro speaks with actor Mark Ruffalo and the real life attorney he plays, Robert Bilott, in the new film Dark Waters.

Updated at 6:15 p.m. ET

President Trump has signed a temporary spending bill to fund federal agencies, averting a possible government shutdown, according to an administration official.

The Senate passed the bill earlier Thursday, hours ahead of the midnight shutdown.

The upper chamber voted 74-20 to approve the measure to fund the government through Dec. 20. The legislative measure, known as a continuing resolution, or CR, will extend current funding levels at government agencies.

2020 Affordable Care Act Health Plans: What's New

2 hours ago

During Wednesday night's Democratic presidential debate, candidates touched on "Medicare for All," "Medicare for all who want it" and other ways to reform the American health system.

But in the backdrop, it's once again sign-up season for Affordable Care Act health plans.

Despite repeated efforts by Republicans in Congress to undo the ACA, the controversial law's seventh open-enrollment period launched earlier this month to relatively little fanfare. It ends Dec. 15.

Updated at 9:05 a.m. ET

Candidates seeking the Democratic presidential nomination took to the debate stage for the fifth time Wednesday night. There weren't any groundbreaking or game-changing moments, but here are five things that stood out:

1. Impeachment hearings may have taken some steam out of the debate

Let's face it: The biggest story of Wednesday was not the debate, it was the impeachment testimony of Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union.

Updated at 4:40 p.m. ET

Fiona Hill, who served as the top Russia expert on the National Security Council before resigning last summer, criticized Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee for advancing theories that Ukraine, and not Russia, interfered with the 2016 presidential election.

Testifying on the third and final day of impeachment hearings before the panel this week, Hill said, "I would ask that you please not promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests."

Two more witnesses testify Thursday morning in front of the House Intelligence Committee, marking the end of this week's public impeachment hearings.

Fiona Hill, the former Russia director for the National Security Council, and David Holmes, a U.S. diplomat from the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, are appearing before investigators.

Over the past three days, lawmakers have spent hours questioning a total of nine U.S. officials (including Hill and Holmes).

No additional hearings have been announced by the Intelligence Committee.

Fiona Hill

Updated at 11:45 a.m. ET

A judge has blocked the U.S. government's plan to begin executing federal prisoners for the first time in nearly 20 years. U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan issued a preliminary injunction Wednesday halting four executions set to begin next month over concerns about the government's lethal injection method.

Updated at 3:40 p.m. ET

Israel's attorney general has decided to file charges against longtime Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in three corruption cases, according to a statement Thursday from the country's Justice Ministry. Israel has been mired in political uncertainty for months as it awaited the decision.

Netanyahu is Israel's first sitting prime minister to be indicted. He has long denied the allegations, saying they are politically motivated.

A federal jury in Tucson, Ariz., has acquitted a humanitarian aid worker who was charged with harboring a pair of migrants from Central America after Border Patrol agents reported seeing him provide food and shelter in the Arizona desert.

It was the second time federal prosecutors had put Scott Warren of the faith-based border aid group No More Deaths on trial.

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's team filed paperwork for a presidential run on Thursday — but he's not in the race yet.

While Bloomberg's team filed a statement with the Federal Election Commission on Thursday creating a presidential campaign committee, aides to Bloomberg say the move should not be viewed as a final decision or announcement.

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There's reason to believe today's open impeachment hearings could get heated. One of the witnesses is a Russia expert who spent 2 1/2 years on President Trump's National Security Council. And we have an early copy of Fiona Hill's opening statement.

Copyright 2019 Michigan Radio. To see more, visit Michigan Radio.

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Lakeshore Sports

Debatably, Merrillville has the toughest assignment among the four area teams still in the prep football tournament.  So, what will it take for the Pirates to advance past their semistate game with Carmel?  Lakeshore Game night correspondent Gary Graban will share his take on the subject right here on sports.

Pence Speaks On Workforce Policy In Indianapolis

19 hours ago

Vice President Mike Pence made no mention of the ongoing impeachment inquiry during a speech in Indianapolis Wednesday night. Instead, he highlighted several Trump administration workforce policies.

Amid a slew of public impeachment hearings, Democratic presidential candidates are gathering in Atlanta to debate once again. This round also comes less than three months before the first primaries and caucuses.

Ten candidates made the cut, down from a record of 12 in October's debate.

City Scenes: Inside Milwaukee's Emo Revival

21 hours ago

It's amazing how one band can shape an entire scene's reputation. In the '90s, Milwaukee spawned one of Midwest emo's most celebrated bands, The Promise Ring, whose 1997 classic Nothing Feels Good landed at No. 3 in Rolling Stone's recent ranking of the 40 Greatest Emo Albums of All Time. But despite the outsize impact of one influential act, Milwaukee was never particularly an emo hotbed.

President Trump, Vice President Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and much of officialdom was "in the loop" throughout the Ukraine affair, a key witness told Congress on Wednesday in watershed testimony.

Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, rejected the idea that he was part of any back channel or shadow effort.

He said he conferred with the State Department and the National Security Council all this year as he and other envoys worked to try to get concessions for Trump from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Battling criticism over his association with convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, Britain's Prince Andrew said Wednesday that he is stepping away from his public duties "for the foreseeable future."

The announcement comes amid public scrutiny that has been building for months around the prince's ties to Epstein, who killed himself in a jail cell this summer.

Special Operations Chief Eddie Gallagher may be stripped of his status as a Navy SEAL, potentially setting up a confrontation between the Navy's top brass and the commander in chief.

On Wednesday, Gallagher and three of his supervising officers were notified that a review board will be convened to determine whether the men should be allowed to remain in the elite SEALs.

Updated at 9:10 p.m. ET

Nebraska's Department of Motor Vehicles has agreed to share its state driver's license records with the U.S. Census Bureau, the bureau and the state's DMV said Wednesday.

The confirmation makes Nebraska the first state to cooperate with the Trump administration's efforts to produce data about the U.S. citizenship status of every person living in the country. So far, no other state has signed a similar agreement with the Census Bureau, Michael Cook, a spokesperson for the bureau, tells NPR.

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Wednesday's Democratic presidential debate in Atlanta took place in the middle of a flurry of impeachment hearings and less than three months away from the first primary votes.

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The public phase of the House impeachment inquiry has pushed Republican Jim Jordan to center stage.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JIM JORDAN: You use clear language, clear understanding and commitment. And those two things didn't happen, so you had to be wrong.

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