NPR Stories

Updated at 8:37 p.m.

President-elect Joe Biden outlined his plans for economic relief from the coronavirus crisis on Thursday, citing the need for a more robust vaccination plan as well as for additional direct payments to American families to help recover the U.S. economy. His plan, called the American Rescue Plan, is expected to cost $1.9 trillion.

Updated Sunday at 9:40 a.m. ET

President-elect Joe Biden has chosen Jaime Harrison to head the Democratic National Committee, elevating the South Carolina Democrat who emerged as a party star during his unsuccessful attempt at unseating Sen. Lindsey Graham in 2020.

"Together, we'll organize everywhere, invest in state parties, expand the map, and elect Democrats who will be champions for the working people of this country," Harrison tweeted shortly after Biden's transition team announced his selection on Thursday.

Israel's health minister announced Thursday the country would vaccinate Palestinian prisoners against COVID-19, after Israel's president said withholding vaccines was against Israel's Jewish and democratic values.

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said the prisoners would be vaccinated early next week, on Monday or Tuesday. The minister informed NPR of the decision before making a public announcement.

A calico cat named Patches had belonged to Josie Gower, one of the 23 people killed in the mudslides that hit Santa Barbara, Calif., in January 2018. Patches was thought to have died too.

"We had kinda lost hope," Briana Haigh, Gower's daughter, told NPR. Her mom's several cats had slept in her garage, which was destroyed during the disaster.

Efforts to open the first "supervised injection site" in the U.S. for users of heroin, fentanyl and other opiates experienced a setback this week after a federal court ruled that it would violate federal law.

The Flint, Mich., water crisis resulted in charges Wednesday against former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, who is now facing two counts of willful neglect of duty.

Updated at 3 p.m. ET

New York Attorney General Letitia James has filed a lawsuit against the New York City Police Department, citing "a pattern of using excessive force and making false arrests against New Yorkers during peaceful protests" that sought racial justice and other changes.

Updated at 9:02 p.m. ET

Klete Keller, the Olympic gold medalist swimmer, is facing federal charges in connection with the insurrection last week at the U.S. Capitol.

He has been released from custody without posting bond but with orders to stay away from Washington, D.C., except for court hearings and to consult with his lawyers, according to The Associated Press. He appeared before a federal judge in Denver.

Updated 12:45 p.m. ET

President-elect Joe Biden may not have big crowds at his coronavirus-limited inauguration, but he won't be lacking for star power.

The Presidential Inaugural Committee announced Thursday that pop star Lady Gaga will sing the National Anthem and Jennifer Lopez will perform a musical number at the Capitol ceremony next week.

Updated at 9:35 a.m. ET

A team of 13 World Health Organization scientists have now arrived in Wuhan, China, where they will investigate the origins of the coronavirus that has caused a global pandemic. Nearly 2 million people have died due to COVID-19, with more than 92 million infections, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Some Republicans who broke from the GOP to back the Democrats' historic second impeachment resolution for President Trump are facing heat from their local Republican parties for how they voted.

More than a year ago, all House Republicans voted against the president's first impeachment. On Wednesday, 10 GOP members joined with every Democrat to impeach Trump, some of whom were the sole representative from their state's delegation to vote that way.

It's been more than a week since the Georgia Senate runoff elections delivered control of Congress to Democrats.

But inside the Bartow County, Ga., Senior Center on Tuesday, a dozen teams worked in pairs to do a hand recount of more than 43,000 votes cast in the Jan. 5 runoffs.

The final margin for the races are outside the threshold for a recount, and the voters in this county an hour northwest of Atlanta are about 75% Republican — so the result isn't close, or expected to change.

As COVID-19 deaths and illnesses mount, essential workers — who are denied the chance to work from home — are struggling to stay safe. And it's far from clear whether the federal government is doing enough to protect them, according to a former top federal workplace safety official.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration official, Deborah Berkowitz, said the Trump administration has neglected COVID-19 safety at meatpacking plants and many other workplaces.

Ten Republicans crossed President Trump on Wednesday and voted to impeach him for "incitement of insurrection."

Former President Barack Obama had six Cabinet members confirmed by the Senate before his Inauguration Day in 2009. President Trump had two. But when President-elect Joe Biden takes office next week, it's unclear whether he'll have any Cabinet members in place.

One week after a violent mob breached the U.S. Capitol, threatened lawmakers and forced evacuations, members returned to the House floor. What followed was an emotional, and often angry, debate about recrimination for the president who many argued incited the riot that resulted in five dead.

"The right decision" is how Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey characterized banning President Trump from the social media platform. But he lamented that the move was divisive and sets a precedent that Dorsey said is dangerous to a "free and open global internet."

In his 13-tweet thread, Dorsey said the "offline harm" posed by Trump's tweets drove the company to kick the president off of Twitter.

Updated at 8 p.m. ET Thursday

The U.S. Space Command selected Huntsville, Ala., as the preferred location for its headquarters Wednesday. Space Command is provisionally based in Colorado, but it has conducted virtual and on-site visits to six locations.

Updated at 9:28 p.m. ET

Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder was charged Wednesday for his role in the Flint water crisis, an environmental disaster that contaminated the majority Black city's drinking water with lead nearly seven years ago.

After several disruptive incidents and confrontations on flights to and from Washington, D.C., last week, federal authorities are now cracking down on unruly airline passengers.

The head of the Federal Aviation Administration signed an order Wednesday to enforce a "zero-tolerance" policy against passengers who engage in threatening or disruptive behavior on commercial airline flights.

In late December, the New York Police Department sent a packet of material to the U.S. Capitol Police and the FBI. It was full of what's known as raw intelligence — bits and pieces of information that turned up by scraping various social media sites. It all indicated that there would likely be violence when lawmakers certified the presidential election on Jan. 6.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday that residents 65 and older are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. He aims to administer an additional 1 million doses by the end of the week, a California Dept. of Public Health statement said.

President Trump has become the only president in U.S. history to be impeached twice.

The Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives delivered the historic rebuke to Trump on Wednesday afternoon — exactly one week after his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol building in a rampage that led to five deaths, including that of a Capitol Police officer.

One of the most enduring images of the assault on the U.S. Capitol was that of a long-haired, bearded man wearing a black sweatshirt with a skull and crossbones graphic and the words "Camp Auschwitz" in large letters.

The FBI, in an affidavit released prior to a court appearance Wednesday, identified him as Robert Packer, 56, of Newport News, Va.

Updated 3:15 p.m. ET

Local and federal security officials expect about 20,000 National Guard members to be involved in securing Washington, D.C., for President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration next week.

"I think you can expect to see somewhere upwards of beyond 20,000 members of the National Guard that will be here in the footprint of the District of Columbia," Washington Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee said on Wednesday.

Members of the insurrectionist mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol last week face what the federal prosecutor in charge calls a "mind-blowing" range of potential charges, from destruction of federal property, trespass and mail theft to possession of destructive devices and felony murder.

Updated at 7:13 p.m. ET

The House of Representatives voted Wednesday to impeach President Trump for "high crimes and misdemeanors" — specifically, for inciting an insurrection against the federal government at the U.S. Capitol.

Just one week before he will leave office, Trump has now become the first U.S. president to be impeached twice.

Wednesday's vote came a week after Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in a chaotic scene that left five people dead.

Updated Friday Jan. 15, 7:35 p.m.

A highly contagious version of the coronavirus is rapidly spreading across the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports Friday.

Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy added his name to a shortlist of Republicans in Congress who unequivocally blamed President Trump for the insurrection at the Capitol last week.

But with seven days to go in the Trump presidency, he said he will not be voting for impeachment and said he might instead be in favor of a fact-finding commission and possibly censure, items with even less teeth than impeaching but not removing a president.

States are taking steps to tighten security at their capitol buildings following a warning by the FBI to prepare for armed protests in the days leading up to the the presidential inauguration on Jan. 20. Many state capitals have already seen protests by people upset by President Trump's loss in the election.

On Wednesday, the president put out a statement responding to reports of more demonstrations.

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