NPR Stories

At a CNN town hall on Tuesday night, President Biden was asked if he supported the idea of forgiving up to $50,000 of student loan debt for individuals.

His answer: No. He supports cancelling $10,000 in debt, he explained. But he said he is wary of erasing big chunks of loans for people who went to Ivy League schools: "The idea that ... I'm going to forgive the debt, the billions of dollars in debt, for people who have gone to Harvard and Yale and Penn ..."

When Chase Hensel in Alaska daydreams about life returning to some type of normal, he thinks of his two granddaughters living in London.

Both are learning to ride bikes, and he envisions himself flying there to pedal with them along a local park.

So Hensel bought himself a foldable bike, one that would be easy to travel with once it feels safe again.

Just a day after a bill banning most abortions in South Carolina was signed into law by Gov. Henry McMaster, a federal court blocked the measure.

U.S. District Court Judge Mary Geiger Lewis granted a two-week temporary restraining order on Friday while the case, brought by Planned Parenthood, works its way through the legal system.

I'm eligible for the COVID vaccine and due for a mammogram. Which should I do first?

South Dakota's Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg was charged Thursday with three 2nd-class misdemeanors for his role in a car accident that killed a man who was walking down the side of a highway in September.

Water pressure should be restored to most of Austin, Texas, over the weekend, Austin Water Director Greg Meszaros said at a news conference Friday. The state is recovering from the cold and snow and resulting power outages, which shut down water treatment plants.

It might not be full pressure, he said, but the main goal right now is to get every household water.

Meszaros noted there is still a boil-water notice in effect and asked that residents still conserve water.

The Justice Department charged six more people Friday it says are members of a right-wing militia group that plotted in advance of Jan. 6 to attack the U.S. Capitol.

The indictment offers the most sweeping evidence so far that members of the far-right extremist group known as the Oath Keepers had spent months allegedly planning to prevent Congress from certifying President Joe Biden's victory in a bid to keep former President Donald Trump in power.

Editor's note: This story was updated at 9:55 a.m. ET on Feb. 20 to include a statement provided by email from AstraZeneca.

The Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Keith Rowley, is not happy about how the global rollout of COVID vaccines is going. He's not happy at all.

"We are more than a little bit concerned that there is ... or is to be ... hoarding and price gouging," of vaccines, the Prime Minister said in a press conference on Thursday with the head of the World Health Organization.

Updated at 5:49 p.m. ET

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia said he is opposing President Biden's nominee to run the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden. The White House is standing by the nomination even as Manchin's opposition makes it more precarious.

Manchin cited negative comments about Republicans that Tanden made while running the left-leaning think tank Center for American Progress. The social media remarks have been scrutinized, largely on the right, since her nomination.

White House officials on Friday confirmed the extent of the weather's chilling effect on COVID-19 vaccine distribution, saying this week's storms created a backlog of some 6 million doses affecting all 50 states.

That number represents three days' worth of delayed shipments, said Andy Slavitt, senior adviser on the White House COVID-19 Response Team. He added that many states have been able to cover some of the delay with their existing inventory, and that the Biden administration expects to make up the backlog shortly.

After traveling nearly 300 million miles and surviving a heart-stopping 7-minute descent to the surface of Mars, NASA's Perseverance rover is preparing to get down to the real science – looking for signs of ancient life on the red planet.

On Thursday, Perseverance shed its "cruise stage" and began a blistering 12,000 mph drop to the Martian surface.

The U.S. Capitol Police has suspended six officers with pay for their actions on Jan. 6, when a pro-Trump mob attacked the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to stop the certification of President Biden's Electoral College victory, according to a department statement.

An additional 29 officers remain under investigation as part of the department's ongoing probe into the events that unfolded that day.

After nearly a year, it's easy to forget how suddenly the COVID-19 pandemic upended our lives. But looking back through the photos on our phones can show just how quickly everything changed.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Investigators are still trying to answer some key questions about the January 6 assault on the Capitol, like exactly who stormed the building that day? And what motivated them to be there? An NPR team has been analyzing the more than 200 cases the Justice Department has brought so far. The defendants include military men, extremists and hardcore Trump supporters. One thing they had in common - they were nearly all men. As Dina Temple-Raston of NPR's Investigations team explains, experts say gender likely played an outsized role in the way the day played out.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Investigators are still trying to answer some key questions about the January 6 assault on the Capitol, like exactly who stormed the building that day? And what motivated them to be there? An NPR team has been analyzing the more than 200 cases the Justice Department has brought so far. The defendants include military men, extremists and hardcore Trump supporters. One thing they had in common - they were nearly all men. As Dina Temple-Raston of NPR's Investigations team explains, experts say gender likely played an outsized role in the way the day played out.

Texas is slowly coming out of a historic deep freeze that left millions of residents without power and water for several days.

It's been a couple of years, but I can't get this viral tweet out of my mind. It was from 2019, and it asked: "Women, what is the dumbest thing a man ever said to you about ... menstruation, etc.?"

I remember laughing so hard at the thousands of replies:

"My husband thought I had to take a tampon out to pee."

Growing up in Russia, Elena Muraveva was taught the importance of self-reliance.

"I really don't like to complain," she said.

But her days are now defined by debilitating pain and frequent migraines. It's the result of a years-long battle with breast cancer that has also left Muraveva, 52, unable to work.

So she was relieved last year to learn she might qualify for disability benefits. She was given a piece of paper with the address of her local Social Security Administration field office in Philadelphia.

A dramatic arrest earlier this week of Spanish rapper Pablo Hasél, who was convicted of criticizing the monarchy and supporting a Basque separatist group in social media posts, has sparked days of protests across Spain and renewed debate over free speech in the country.

Thousands of Hasél supporters have taken to the streets in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, and Girona, since his arrest. But peaceful protests devolved into chaos as protesters clashed with police for a third night in a row Thursday. Dozens have been arrested across the country since the demonstrations began.

The rift within the Republican Party spilled out into full view this week.

After voting to acquit Donald Trump on an impeachment charge of incitement of insurrection following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell said unequivocally that the former president is to blame.

Updated at 12:45 p.m. ET

President Biden on Friday sought to turn the page on former President Donald Trump's "America First" ethos, declaring "America is back" and vowing to rebuild trust with European allies by working on challenges like arms control, COVID-19 and climate change.

Lila Kills In Sight lost her 81-year-old mother to COVID-19 on Nov. 23.

"I really don't know who to be mad at," she said. "Who do I take my frustration to, how do I deal with it?"

Kills In Sight, an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, is the first to say she's not dealing with it well. She had been keeping her mom sheltered mostly in her home in the remote community of Spring Creek as the pandemic raged in South Dakota. But in September she broke her hip. Then in November she fell.

Texas officials are cracking down on businesses they say have hiked the prices of food, water, and hotel rooms while the state continues to deal with shortages caused by unprecedented winter weather.

Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee, the chief civil attorney for Texas' largest county, and Linda Hidalgo, the Harris County Judge, said Houston area residents have complained of hotel rooms and bottled water being sold at exorbitant prices.

The United States said on Thursday it was ready to restart diplomacy with Tehran around a nuclear deal sealed between Iran and world powers, but which the Trump administration had abandoned in 2018.

"The United States would accept an invitation from the European Union High Representative to attend a meeting of the P5+1 and Iran to discuss a diplomatic way forward on Iran's nuclear program," State Department spokesman Ned Price said, referring to the U.N. Security Council's five permanent members and Germany.

All schools in New Zealand will offer free sanitary products to students starting in June, officials said Thursday. The initiative, which aims to combat period poverty, expands on a pilot program that launched last year.

Chicago police showed "confusion and lack of coordination" in their response to last summer's protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, according to a new watchdog report, which said officers frequently did not understand who was in charge or how to handle sometimes violent demonstrators.

This week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott appeared on local TV in Dallas and blamed the state's power crisis on the devastating storm that disrupted power generation and froze natural gas pipelines.

He didn't single out one power source to blame. Then he went on Fox News and gave a different story.

"Wind and solar got shut down," he said. "They were collectively more than 10% of our power grid, and that thrust Texas into a situation where it was lacking power on a statewide basis."

The winter storms gripping much of the United States have devastated many families and businesses, with frigid temperatures and power outages causing particularly dire conditions in Texas.

But for oil and gas producers that have managed to keep production going, this is proving to be a big payday. Jerry Jones, the billionaire owner of the Dallas Cowboys, appears to be one of the beneficiaries.

The extremely cold weather in Texas hasn't just shut down power and water to millions of people in the state. It's also hammered food supplies.

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