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Updated at 8:46 p.m. ET

The House passed a stopgap funding bill Thursday evening, though the measure now faces uncertainty in the Senate as Republican congressional leaders work to avert a government shutdown by late Friday night.

Republicans need 60 votes in the Senate to proceed on the four-week continuing resolution, which would extend funding only until Feb. 16. That is looking more and more difficult after most Democrats and at least three Republican senators have said they won't vote for the bill.

This past year, 2017, was among the warmest years on record, according to new data released by NASA and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration.

The planet's global surface temperature last year was the second highest since 1880, NASA says. NOAA calls it the third warmest year on record, because of slight variations in the ways that they analyze temperatures.

Both put 2017 behind 2016's record temperatures. And "both analyses show that the five warmest years on record have all taken place since 2010," NASA said in a press release.

When Army Capt. Mark Nutsch and 11 fellow Green Berets jumped off their helicopter into the swirling dust of northern Afghanistan in October 2001, their Afghan partner informed them they would be battling the Taliban — on horseback.

"In that situation, they're certainly not going to give you their very best horses," Nutsch said dryly.

Updated at 12:39 p.m. ET

Health care workers who want to refuse to treat patients because of religious or moral beliefs will have a new defender in the Trump administration.

The top civil rights official at the Department of Health and Human Services is creating the Division of Conscience and Religious Freedom to protect doctors, nurses and other health care workers who refuse to take part in procedures like abortion or treat certain people because of moral or religious objections.

In the competition for Amazon's second headquarters, just 20 metropolitan areas remain in the running.

Last year, Amazon set off a hyper-competitive proposal process, saying that it plans to invest $5 billion in building a second headquarters that could create up to 50,000 high-paying jobs.

The Seattle-based company, which is a financial supporter of NPR, says it reviewed 238 proposals in the U.S., Mexico and Canada. Here are the metropolitan areas that made the cut:

Abdullah Shrim's phone almost never stops ringing. Most of the calls and messages are from other Yazidis asking for help to find their relatives. Others are from people threatening to kill him.

Shrim, a gregarious man with a ready smile, so far has rescued 338 members of the Yazidi religious group held captive by ISIS — almost all of them from Syria. It's a long way from his background as a beekeeper and businessman.

China is reporting its fastest economic growth in seven years, saying its gross domestic product grew by 6.9 percent in 2017. It's the first time since 2010 that the speed of China's economic growth went up rather than edging down.

In releasing the number Thursday, the National Bureau of Statistics of China said, "The economy has achieved stable and healthy development."

Hugh Wilson — the creator of the sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati, who was also a director and an Emmy Award-winning writerhas died at 74.

Wilson died Jan. 14 at his home in Charlottesville, Va. His wife, Charters Smith Wilson, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he had been battling lung cancer and emphysema.

Wilson began in television by writing scripts for The Bob Newhart Show and The Tony Randall Show.

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