Refinery Explosions Raise New Warnings About Deadly Chemical

In the predawn hours of June 21, explosions at the Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery in South Philadelphia shook houses, sent fireballs into the air and woke up nearby residents. "Three loud explosions, one after the other, boom, boom boom !" says David Masur, who lives about two miles from the plant and has two young kids. "It's a little nerve-wracking." Masur watched as the refinery spewed black smoke above the city, easily visible from his home. But what he didn't know at the time was...

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Updated at 4:42 p.m. ET

Iran's military apparently seized two foreign-owned oil tankers — the U.K.-flagged Stena Impero and the Liberian-flagged Mesdar — as they were passing through the Strait of Hormuz on Friday. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy told Iranian state media that it confiscated the Stena Impero; it has not yet addressed reports about the Mesdar.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats has installed a new czar to oversee election security efforts across the spy world, he announced on Friday.

A veteran agency leader, Shelby Pierson, has been appointed to serve as the first election threats executive within the intelligence community, or IC, Coats said.

"Election security is an enduring challenge and a top priority for the IC," said Coats.

Updated at 3:37 p.m. ET

An American citizen suspected of becoming a sniper and weapons trainer for the Islamic State has been brought back to the United States and charged with aiding the terrorist group.

The charges against Ruslan Maratovich Asainov are contained in a criminal complaint unsealed Friday in federal court in the Eastern District of New York.

It's not easy giving money to people in need.

In some countries, poor people may not have a bank account where a charity can transfer funds for financial aid. They may not have the ID — say, a birth certificate — required to cash a check at a bank.

And in an emergency situation — say, the aftermath of an earthquake — banks may not even be operating.

Could a single global digital currency — one that can be transferred through mobile phones — be a solution?

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli, editor of the website TV Worth Watching, sitting in for Terry Gross.

A former National Security Agency contractor who pleaded guilty to stealing vast troves of classified material over the course of two decades has been sentenced to nine years in prison.

Harold Martin III, 54, apologized before U.S. District Judge Richard Bennett handed down the sentence on Friday.

"My methods were wrong, illegal and highly questionable," Martin told the court in Baltimore, according to The Associated Press.

Updated at 4:11 p.m. ET

More than 3,100 people will leave Bureau of Prisons custody starting Friday, part of what Justice Department officials call "a truly monumental effort" to comply with the First Step Act, a criminal justice law passed by Congress last year.

Most former Dalton School students agree on at least one thing: Jeffrey Epstein was charismatic.

"If you had had him [as a teacher] then, you would've liked him, too," says Eve Scheuer Lubin, who was Epstein's student during his brief tenure as a teacher in the mid-70s. The Dalton School, where he taught, is a private school in Manhattan with a reputation for attracting talented students and affluent parents.

Something strange is happening to Pengyin Chen's soybean experiments at the University of Missouri's Fisher Delta Research Center in Portageville, Mo.

"You see how small they are?" says Chen, gesturing at a field filled with thousands of small plots of soybeans.

Updated at 3:25 p.m. ET

The USS Boxer used electronic measures to take down a drone that the U.S. says was operated by Iran's military, according to Pentagon sources familiar with the situation. The Navy says the drone was destroyed in the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday after it came close to the vessel and repeated warnings went unheeded.

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