Lucy Perkins

Our series, "Take A Number," is exploring problems around the world — and the people who are trying to solve them — through the lens of a single number.

158,000. That's roughly how many refugees are stuck in limbo in Europe right now.

In December, it's all but impossible to avoid brushing shoulders with holiday cheer. Tinsel, garlands, wreaths and twinkling lights — it can often seem the decorations are everywhere.

Among the most famous of these many attractions are the window displays at Lord and Taylor, on the busy Fifth Avenue sidewalk in New York City. They're far more complicated than a few mannequins in Santa suits; they're more like festive pieces of art.

It wasn't all in your head — last month was hotter than ever before.

Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report that July had the highest average temperatures in records since 1880.

And it's not just in the U.S. Average July temperatures around the world set heat records too, NPR's Kat Chow reports.

She tells our Newscast unit that:

"This confirms what NASA and a Japanese agency found using separate data.

The movie theater chain Regal Cinemas, which is run by Regal Entertainment Group, has announced that it is checking the bags of theatergoers.

In its admittance procedures online, Regal says that any bag or backpack is subject to inspection:

You may see new customer service technology at the airport soon. It's part of an effort by federal agencies to make it easier for people to give the government feedback, according to the Washington Post.

The equipment has a simple design, and it looks more like it belongs in a playroom than in an airport.

Thai police say they have video of a man who may be responsible for Monday's bombing in Bangkok. As we previously reported, the explosion killed at least 20 people.

As Michael Sullivan tells our Newscast unit from Bangkok, a sketch of the suspect was released Wednesday, and is based on images from surveillance cameras. The sketch shows a man apparently leaving a backpack at the Erawan shrine, minutes before the explosion took place.

When two men dressed as ninjas entered a convenience store in Pittsburgh with a foot-long knife, the store's cashier was prepared, writes the local CBS affiliate KDKA.

Security video from Perry Market shows Jewad Hayih fending off the would-be thieves — with a sword that's much bigger than their knife.

Two police officers responded to a 911 call in March 2014 that ended in the killing of James Boyd, 38, a homeless man camping in the foothills outside Albuquerque, N.M.

Now a judge says there is probable cause to try officers Dominique Perez and Keith Sandy for murder, The Associated Press reports.

The AP notes that during a hearing:

U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah, D-Pa., pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to charges of racketeering conspiracy, bribery and mail fraud, writes The Associated Press.

As we previously reported, the government alleged last month that Fattah was involved in a widespread conspiracy that involved the theft of charitable funds, the illegal use of campaign contributions and bribery.

NPR's Eyder Peralta explained:

Two women have completed the Army's tough Ranger School, officials say. Both are in their 20s and are lieutenants.

NPR's Tom Bowman reports that the women, whose names haven't been released, attended West Point and will graduate with the rest of their Ranger class on Friday.

The Pentagon has not decided whether they will be approved for ground combat.

"They'll now wear the Ranger tab on their uniforms," Tom says. "A coveted award among infantry soldiers."

Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh congratulated all the new Rangers in a press release:

The Army is deploying 200 soldiers to help fight wildfires that are burning through about 1.1 million acres across the Western United States. That's according to a press release from the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.

"It's been nine years since wildfire was so widespread all at once that active military troops joined firefighters battling blazes," NPR's Howard Berkes reports. "Four military C-130 cargo planes are also in use as air tankers."

United States Steel Corp. says it is shutting down its blast furnace and steelmaking operations at its plant near Birmingham, Ala., this fall.

More than 1,000 U.S. Steel employees at Fairfield Works in the town of Fairfield will lose their jobs, NPR's Debbie Elliott reports. She adds:

"The nearly century-old plant once rolled steel used to build ships during World War I and was long the center of Birmingham's steel industry. It's located in the suburb of Fairfield, established by U.S. Steel as a planned company mill town in the early 1900s."

A Colorado man plead guilty on Thursday to littering. He wasn't dumping trash, or toxic waste from a mine, but books, writes the Times-Call newspaper.

The paper reports that Glenn Pladsen, 62, got a ticket this spring after he tossed books along U.S. 287. Pladsen lives in Arvada, a town just outside of Denver, and apparently threw thousands of books out on the highway over several months because "he couldn't figure out another way to get rid of them."

U.S. government officials report that Kayla Mueller, the American who was kidnapped while doing relief work with Syrian refugees, was repeatedly raped by the top leader of the self-proclaimed Islamic State.

DNA tests confirm a captured grizzly bear was the animal that killed Lance Crosby while he was hiking in Yellowstone National Park last week. The bear was put down Thursday, according to a National Park Service news release.

The tests also conclude that, in addition to the adult grizzly, cubs were at the site of the attack, the statement says:

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