Melissa Block

As special correspondent and guest host of NPR's news programs, Melissa Block brings her signature combination of warmth and incisive reporting. Her work over the decades has earned her journalism's highest honors, and has made her one of NPR's most familiar and beloved voices.

As co-host of All Things Considered from 2003 to 2015, Block's reporting took her everywhere from the Mississippi Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to the heart of Rio de Janeiro; from rural Mozambique to the farthest reaches of Alaska.

Her riveting reporting from Sichuan, China, during and after the massive earthquake in 2008 brought the tragedy home to millions of listeners around the world. At the moment the earthquake hit, Block had the presence of mind to record a gripping, real-time narration of the seismic upheaval she was witnessing. Her long-form story about a desperate couple searching in the rubble for their toddler son was singled out by judges who awarded NPR's earthquake coverage the top honors in broadcast journalism: the George Foster Peabody Award, duPont-Columbia Award, Edward R. Murrow Award, National Headliner Award, and the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi Award.

Now, as special correspondent, Block continues to engage both the heart and the mind with her reporting on issues from gun violence to adult illiteracy to opioid addiction.

In 2017, she traveled the country for the series "Our Land," visiting a wide range of communities to explore how our identity is shaped by where we live. For that series, she paddled along the Mississippi River, went in search of salmon off the Alaska coast, and accompanied an immigrant family as they became U.S. citizens. Her story about the legacy of the Chinese community in the Mississippi Delta earned her a James Beard Award in 2018.

Block is the recipient of the 2019 Murrow Lifetime Achievement Award in Journalism, awarded by the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University, as well as the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Fulbright Association.

Block began her career at NPR in 1985 as an editorial assistant for All Things Considered, and rose through the ranks to become the program's senior producer.

She was a reporter and correspondent in New York from 1994 to 2002, a period punctuated by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. Her reporting after those attacks helped earn NPR a George Foster Peabody Award. Block's reporting on rape as a weapon of war in Kosovo was cited by the Overseas Press Club of America in awarding NPR the Lowell Thomas Award in 1999.

Block is a 1983 graduate of Harvard University and spent the following year on a Fulbright fellowship in Geneva, Switzerland. She lives in Washington, DC, with her husband — writer Stefan Fatsis — and their daughter.

President Biden will mark International Women's Day on Monday by signing two executive orders geared toward promoting gender equity, both in the United States and around the world.

According to an administration official speaking on background, the goal of the orders is "restoring America as a champion for gender equity and equality."

The first executive order will establish a Gender Policy Council within the White House, reformulating an office from the Obama administration that was later disbanded by former President Donald Trump, and giving it more clout.

How do we wrap our minds around the fact that nearly half a million people have died of COVID-19 in the United States alone?

The nation is on the cusp of that milestone: 500,000 lives lost, in just one year.

Shortly after President Trump arrived at the White House, he disbanded an office specifically focused on women's issues. Now President Biden is resurrecting it just as quickly.

They gathered long distance via Zoom, garlanded with pearls in homage to Kamala Harris's signature neckwear, and with champagne bottles ready to pop.

Eight Black women, who for the past 25 years have belonged to what they call the Brown Girls Book Club, could not miss the opportunity to join together for this historic moment: the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, who becomes the first woman, first African American, and first Asian American vice president.

Last Wednesday, just before a mob of pro-Trump extremists stormed the U.S. Capitol in an insurrection that left five dead, the president stood before a huge crowd gathered in front of the White House for a so-called "Save America" rally.

Trump whipped up his supporters, repeating a false claim that he has made over and over in the weeks since Nov. 3: "We won this election, and we won it by a landslide," he insisted. "This was not a close election!"

With Kamala Harris poised to become the country's first female vice president, she brings with her another historic first: America's first second gentleman, her husband, Doug Emhoff.

Emhoff, 56, is already shaking up gender stereotypes, a point highlighted by Joe Biden when he appeared for the first time with Harris as his running mate in August. Addressing Emhoff with a grin, Biden said, "Doug, you're gonna have to learn what it means to be a barrier breaker yourself in this job you're about to take on."

When Vice President-elect Kamala Harris delivered her victory speech on Saturday night, she spoke directly to a certain slice of the population.

"Every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities," Harris said.

Throughout her primary campaign, Harris was known to pay special attention to girls who came to her events, at times offering advice on leadership or encouraging ambition.

Three civil rights groups filed a federal class-action lawsuit Thursday challenging the Trump administration's recent crackdown on diversity training.

On Aug. 26, 1920, the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution officially took effect when Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby signed a proclamation certifying its ratification.

The amendment promised women that their right to vote would "not be denied" on account of sex.

The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified 100 years ago this week, and it comprises just 39 words:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

When Major League Baseball launches its shortened, COVID-delayed season on Thursday, there will be no fans in the stands. But it will sound like there are.

In Richmond, Va., the former capital of the Confederacy, a bronze statue of Confederate general Stonewall Jackson sitting triumphantly astride his horse, Little Sorrel, no longer towers above that city's Monument Avenue.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NOEL KING, HOST:

It had been a long, hot day of protests in Washington, D.C. As dusk descended on the nation's capital on June 3, a man in the crowd held up a microphone. The man, Maryland-based singer Kenny Sway, asked the protestors to kneel — and to turn on their cell phone flashlights.

"I asked them if we can light the city up tonight," Sway says.

Virtual vigils, streamed live on Facebook.

Websites that collate the names and photos of the dead.

Video projections of those we have lost, shining onto building facades.

In the absence of collective public gatherings, people are coming up with new ways to memorialize those who have died from COVID-19.

As the novel coronavirus continues its global rampage, scientists around the world are racing to stop its spread.

Dozens of projects have been launched under great pressure to deliver a vaccine as quickly as possible.

For the latest COVID-19 statistics, updated in near real time, millions of people around the world have been turning to an interactive, Web-based dashboard created by a small team at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

As hospitals across the country fill with COVID-19 patients, medical personnel are sounding the alarm about shortages of drugs essential to those patients' care.

"We have seen an increase in demand on pharmaceuticals that's unprecedented," says Daniel Kistner, who manages the pharmacy program for Vizient, a group purchasing organization that negotiates lower prices with drug manufacturers. "Never seen anything like this before across the whole country."

Professor Alice Kaplan has been scrambling to revise her lectures for the French literature class she teaches at Yale University.

On the syllabus, coincidentally, for her online class is The Plague, Albert Camus' 1947 novel about a plague epidemic that ravages a quarantined city in Algeria.

"I never imagined I would be teaching this novel in the midst of an epidemic," Kaplan says. "I never imagined I'd need to give a trigger warning for teaching Camus' The Plague."

In the weeks leading up to Mardi Gras on Feb. 25, the streets of New Orleans are filled with a series of extravagant parades organized by local krewes.

Saturday night's parade was a glittering, glowing procession of Wookiees, Trekkies, and other self-proclaimed sci-fi geeks and super-nerds: the tenth annual parade of the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus.

The Ohio River Valley has seen some of the largest jumps in mortality rates among people in midlife — those between ages 25 and 64 — in recent years.

Among the key figures embroiled in the impeachment inquiry into President Trump is Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who announced last week that he will be resigning later this year.

Gun control has emerged as a key issue in next month's off-year elections in Virginia, a state that is seen as a bellwether of what could come in national elections in 2020.

Republicans currently hold a razor-thin majority in both houses of the state legislature, and with all 140 seats on the ballot this year, Democrats hope to turn those chambers blue.

One race where the discussion of guns is especially fraught is in Virginia Beach, the 8th State Senate district.

The other day, I went down to the National Mall here in Washington, D.C., and heard the sound of hope in sweet, strong, young voices.

A youth choir and chamber ensemble from Haiti are on a U.S. tour that's taken them from Maine to Manhattan to Kentucky over the past month. This stop was in a lush garden of the Smithsonian museums. The tour is meant to showcase Haiti's rich musical heritage — and to raise awareness of the country's rebuilding efforts.

This summer's mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, accelerated calls for more red flag or extreme-risk laws in those states, as well as helped jump-start bills in Congress. The laws allow courts to order the seizure of firearms from those believed to pose an imminent danger to themselves or others. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have passed such laws.

But, while the political focus may be on mass shootings, states are using the laws far more often to prevent cases of individual gun violence, including suicide.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

This week, the Olympic champion runner Caster Semenya of South Africa filed an appeal in a case that hinges on her right to compete as a woman. It's the latest chapter in a fight that's gone on for years, and that raises thorny questions about fairness and ethics in sport.

This story is part of American Anthem, a yearlong series on songs that rouse, unite, celebrate and call to action. Find more at NPR.org/Anthem.

Editor's note: This story includes discussions of depression, addiction and suicide.

Arivaca, Ariz., is a tiny village, population about 700, with an outsize problem.

It sits just 11 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border and has become a magnet for self-styled militia groups from out of state that say they want to patrol the border and stop migrants. Their presence has strained a town that has long prided itself on its live-and-let-live, cooperative spirit.

When the women of Arivaca gather for Monday afternoon gentle yoga, there are certain topics they know to avoid.

When blues legend Buddy Guy calls you the real deal, that's no small compliment. Recently, Guy bestowed that honor on Mary Lane. After years of flying under the national radar, Lane has released a new album and is getting a well-deserved burst of recognition.

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