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The horrifying crash last week of the Germanwings flight operated by Lufthansa has put a spotlight on what the airline knew — and what it should, or could have done — about its pilot's mental health.

Lufthansa could face unlimited liability, after the pilot allegedly brought the plane down deliberately. Here in the U.S., employment experts say monitoring employees' mental health status raises a thicket of complicated issues.

(This post was last updated at 8:12 p.m. ET.)

Sen. Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, has been indicted on federal corruption charges.

The indictment alleges that Menendez abused his office to benefit Salomon Melgen, a Florida eye doctor who was the senator's friend and donor. Menendez has always maintained his innocence.

During a press conference in Newark, New Jersey, Menendez said he was "confident that at the end of the day, I will be vindicated."

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson told state lawmakers Wednesday they should either amend or recall a bill that's dubbed a "religious freedom" measure. The governor changed his stance after the business community and gay rights activists complained about the measure.

Nineteen other states have religious freedom laws, and there's even a federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. NPR's Robert Siegel talks with Garrett Epps, professor of law at the University of Baltimore, who wrote about what separates Indiana's legislation from the others for The Atlantic.

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Driving from Baghdad north to Tikrit, we speed up a main road Wednesday through small towns that have been won back from the self-declared Islamic State, or ISIS. Some still have smoking buildings.

On the outskirts we pass through places that have obviously seen heavy fighting. Half-built houses are pocked with bullet holes, their windows shattered.

As we move into Tikrit proper, the excited fighters begin celebrating, Iraqi style, with gunshots into the air. They have reason to celebrate. A hard-fought battle appears to be nearing a conclusion.

In the 1960s and '70s, Howard Johnson's restaurants were the biggest chain in the country, with more than 1,000 locations.

Springtime means outdoor charity events, and there are plenty to choose from.

You can walk, run, bike, swim or even roll around in the mud to raise money for a cause. But some of the bigger, more established events aren't doing as well as they used to, and charities are trying to adjust.

More than 30 cities and states across the country have attempted to tax soda. Nearly all have failed.

Now, a community of about 250,000 people has found a way to tax not just sugary beverages, but also junk food. At the same time, it's making fresh produce more affordable in one of the hardest regions in the U.S. to buy it.

Updated at 4:33 p.m. ET

The Justice Department will not pursue criminal contempt charges against former IRS official Lois Lerner, who was at the center of a political storm over the agency's alleged targeting of conservative groups. The announcement came from Ronald Machen, the outgoing U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, to House Speaker John Boehner. (The letter is embedded at the bottom of this story.)

Gov. Jerry Brown instituted California's first-ever statewide mandatory water reductions on Wednesday, as the state endures its fourth year of drought.

"This historic drought demands unprecedented action," Brown said, mandating several new conservation measures:

  • A reduction in water use by 25 percent for California cities and towns.
  • New pricing structures by local water agencies to encourage conservation.

Hidden inside all of us are likely thousands of viruses — maybe more. They just hang out, harmlessly. We don't even know they're there.

But every once in a while, one of these viral inhabitants might help us out.

Young people infected with a type of herpes virus have a better immune response to the flu vaccine than those not infected, scientists at Stanford University report Wednesday. In mice, the virus directly stops influenza itself.

Editor's note: This post contains words and sentiments you might find deeply offensive.

The glow had barely dimmed on Comedy Central's unveiling of comedian Trevor Noah as the new host of The Daily Show when Noah's Twitter past came under fire. His critics have called some of his old tweets offensive, racist, misogynistic, homophobic and — the charge that seems to be getting the most attention — anti-Semitic.

The Iraqi government says its security forces have retaken Tikrit from militants with the self-proclaimed Islamic State. Recapturing the strategic city after a monthlong battle is considered a major setback for the jihadist group, also known as ISIS.

Sinus infections are miserable, and it's hard not to want to run to the doctor for relief. Rethink that, the nation's ear, nose and throat doctors say.

Most people who get sinusitis feel better in a week, the doctors say, and many of those infections are caused by viruses. Getting an antibiotic isn't going to help.

The creator of the 1999 BBC series Queer As Folk has made three new TV series about gay men and women — and two of them are coming to the U.S. later this month. They have the conspicuous names of Cucumber, Banana and Tofu. Russell T. Davies says the titles came from a study he read from a scientific institute in Switzerland that investigated men's sexuality.

There's a new entry in the ongoing series of Rough Guide music anthologies called Latin Rare Groove Volume 2. The mostly instrumental cuts draw on salsa, funk, soul and rock from vintage and new performers. Fresh Air music critic Milo Miles surveys the terrain and wonders what exactly to call this combination.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Matamoros, which sits across the bridge from Brownsville, Texas, used to be a laid-back border town famed for margaritas and manufacturing.

But for at least the past five years, it's grown more and more violent: first, when the Zetas broke away from the Gulf Cartel, and more recently as a new feud has broken out between two factions within the Gulf.

Updated at 5:20 p.m. ET

In what is believed to be a first in the United States, the Common Council of Madison, Wis., has voted to amend the city's equal opportunities ordinance "to add nonreligion as a protected class."

Eleven of 12 former public school employees in Atlanta were found guilty of racketeering in what is thought to be the biggest cheating scandal in American education, NPR member station WABE reports.

One defendant, teacher Dessa Curb, was acquitted of all charges, according to WSB-TV's Richard Elliot.

The U.S. wants to slap sanctions on cybercriminals. President Obama issued an executive order Wednesday creating the nation's first sanctions program to combat "malicious" cyberattacks and cyberspying.

President Obama said cyberthreats pose one of "the most serious economic and national security challenge" to the U.S., and that the executive order offers a "targeted tool" for countering that threat.

"It's my brother's car." That's what Leona Chin told four instructors about her high-powered sports car. She then stalled the stick-shift car in first gear and randomly turned the wipers on — before unleashing the skills she has honed as a professional driver. Havoc, and some panic, ensued.

Looking back on the clunky desktops of home offices, smartphones have expanded the definition of what it means to "go online." With all of the apps and mobile capabilities available to us now, it's no surprise that smartphone ownership has grown.

Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej has approved a request from the country's junta to lift martial law.

The announcement, which was made on television Wednesday, goes into effect immediately. But, as reporter Michael Sullivan is telling our Newscast unit, while the lifting of martial law is good news, critics say what it's being replaced with is worse.

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