NPR Stories

Scotland has passed a bill that has made period products such as tampons and pads free to all who need them.

Publishing company Simon & Schuster has been sold to its competitor Penguin Random House. The news was announced Wednesday by Simon & Schuster's parent company, ViacomCBS.

The $2.175 billion sale is expected to close in 2021, pending regulatory approvals.

Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a message of congratulations to President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday, saying he hopes China and the United States can focus on cooperation and keep their differences in check, according to Chinese state media.

The message comes three weeks after the election, making Xi one of the last major world leaders to wish the former U.S. vice president well.

Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer, Ala., have notified federal labor authorities of their plans to hold a unionization vote, teeing up a potentially groundbreaking labor battle at the retail giant known for its opposition to unionizing.

A filing, posted by the National Labor Relations Board, says Amazon workers at the fulfillment center outside of Birmingham want to form a bargaining unit of all 1,500 full- and part-time employees at the facility, to be represented by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.

The Duchess of Sussex has revealed that she suffered a miscarriage earlier this year. In a personal account published Wednesday in The New York Times, the former Meghan Markle said she had been pregnant, expecting her second child with Prince Harry, when a "sharp cramp" overwhelmed her in July.

More votes were cast in the 2020 presidential election than in any other U.S. election in history, and the turnout rate was the highest in more than a century.

President-elect Joe Biden has now earned 80 million votes, and ballots are still being counted. That is by far the most votes cast for any presidential candidate in U.S. history. President Trump holds the distinction, however, of earning the second-most votes all time. About 74 million Americans voted for him.

New claims for unemployment benefits jumped last week for the second week in a row, signaling ongoing weakness in the job market as coronavirus infections continue to soar.

The Labor Department reported 778,000 people applied for state benefits in the week ending Saturday, an increase of 30,000 from the previous week.

Adam Woodrum was out for a bike ride with his wife and kids on July 19 when his son, Robert, who was 9 at the time, crashed.

"He cut himself pretty bad, and I could tell right away he needed stitches," says Woodrum.

Because they were on bikes, he called the fire department in Carson City, Nev.

"They were great," says Woodrum. "They took him on a stretcher to the ER."

Robert received stitches and anesthesia at Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center. He's since recovered nicely.

Then the denial letter came.

Officials in Illinois have ordered an independent investigation into a coronavirus outbreak that killed 27 people at a state-operated veterans' home. The state's Department of Veterans' Affairs announced the decision in a statement Tuesday, pledging to "immediately address any findings from that investigation."

Signs of a tattered, but resilient, voting system were on full display this week as one of the most contentious elections in U.S. history rolled toward completion.

After record-breaking wildfires this year, thousands of people across the West are still clearing piles of charred debris where their homes once stood in the hope of rebuilding their lives.

With climate change fueling bigger, more destructive wildfires, rebuilding offers an opportunity to create more fire-resistant communities by using building materials that can help homes survive the next blaze.

Federal health officials are likely to shorten their recommendation for how long people should quarantine to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus from the current 14 days to as few as seven.

Updated at 9:36 p.m. ET

The White House has given its blessing for President-elect Joe Biden to receive the summary of intelligence reports contained in the presidential daily brief that President Trump receives, according to a White House official and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

For weeks now, the message from public health officials has been clear: The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is with members of your immediate household only.

Top officials from Operation Warp Speed, the government's program to fast-track the development and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, announced they've allocated 6.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to states based on their total populations.

Looking ahead to his remaining administration appointments, President-elect Joe Biden says he is open to including Republicans as well as progressive former rivals Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

"We already have significant representation among progressives in our administration, but there's nothing really off the table," he said in an interview with NBC News' Lester Holt.

However, he said it would be "difficult" to take influential members of Congress out of their positions to build out his administration.

When the Department of Health and Human Services released Pfizer's $1.95 billion coronavirus vaccine contract with Operation Warp Speed last Wednesday, the agreement revealed that the Trump administration didn't include government rights to intellectual property typically found in federal contracts.

State officials were flying over southeastern Utah looking for sheep as part of a routine task. Instead they found something straight out of a sci-fi movie.

From a helicopter, officers from the Utah Department of Public Safety spotted a large metal monolith — a single block of metal — last week. It was sitting in Utah's Red Rock Country in the southeast. Officials have no idea how or when it got there — or who might have placed it.

Black people are disproportionately getting sick and dying of the coronavirus, but surveys suggest they're more hesitant to get a vaccine than other racial and ethnic groups in the U.S.

The U.S. government has agreed to freeze any planned deportations of the immigrant women alleging abuse at a detention facility in Georgia. In a consent motion filed in U.S. District Court Tuesday, authorities and the accusers' attorneys jointly notified the court that the alleged victims — and others with "substantially similar factual allegations" — will not be removed from the United States.

At an orphanage in Mosul, Iraq, the woman and the girl sitting on the long, gray sofa communicate mostly through touch — the girl leans against the woman, playing with her blue bead bracelet. The woman smiles as she removes the bracelet and puts it on the child's own slender wrist.

Tesla's skyrocketing share prices have made Elon Musk the world's second-richest person, with a net worth of nearly $128 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Musk edged past Bill Gates on Tuesday. Only Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is worth more.

Updated at 2:38 p.m. ET

President-elect Joe Biden stressed a return to multilateralism Tuesday as he introduced key national security and foreign policy appointees and nominees for his incoming White House Cabinet, moving forward with the traditional transition process even though President Trump still hasn't formally admitted defeat.

The parents of Harry Dunn have lost their case before the U.K.'s high court, which ruled that the U.S. driver who police say fatally struck their son did have diplomatic immunity.

Dunn, 19, was riding his motorbike last August when he was hit by a car being driven on the wrong side of the road by Anne Sacoolas, the wife of a U.S. diplomat, as she left a nearby air force base used by the U.S. military.

In Ethiopia, health clinics for teenagers once supported by U.S. foreign aid closed down. In Kenya, a decades-long effort to integrate HIV testing and family planning unraveled. And in Nepal, intrepid government workers who once traversed the Himalayas to spread information about reproductive health were halted.

As coronavirus cases continue to surge both in the U.S. and around the world, there's promising news on the vaccine front.

It was Memorial Day when then-candidate Joe Biden made his first public appearance since the coronavirus shut down in-person campaigning. Before he went out to place a wreath at a veterans memorial in Delaware, Biden and his team decided he would wear a mask. It wasn't a difficult decision, an aide said when asked about the choice.

After a three-year pause, Twitter is going to let you ask for those little blue check marks again.

The company said Tuesday it will start reviewing applications in 2021 under newly released guidelines.

The blue check, which means Twitter has verified a user's identity, is seen as a status symbol on the platform but the process by which the checks were issued has long been murky and inconsistent.

A lot will be missing about Thanksgiving this year. It's a holiday that's celebrated on a bedrock of bringing family and friends, near and far, together for a big meal and lots of catching up, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges: "As cases continue to increase rapidly across the United States, the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to celebrate at home with people you live with."

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