NPR Stories

As the nation gears up for a massive vaccination effort, the Trump administration is doubling down on a novel, unproven injection device by providing more than half a billion dollars in government financing for something still awaiting Food and Drug Administration approval.

A satellite scheduled to launch from California later this month will measure sea level rise and provide other crucial data to scientists who study how global warming is affecting the Earth's oceans.

Updated at 10:40 a.m. EST 11/20/20

Choosing an attorney general is a critical task for a new president in normal times.

But after nearly four years of attack from President Trump, who pushed the Justice Department to punish his enemies and protect his friends, these are not normal times, as former Solicitor General Don Verrilli pointed out recently to an online audience at the Brennan Center for Justice.

In Florida, this is the time of year for "snowbirds," people who flock south when the weather turns cold up north. Many own homes or condos. Others rent or come with their own RV's. But with COVID-19, this year, some of Florida's most faithful seasonal visitors — Canadians — are staying home.

Signs posted at the entrance to the grocery store in northwest Montana told customers to wear a mask. Public health officials in Flathead County urged the same. Coronavirus infection rates here are among the highest in the state. Infection rates in the state are among the highest in the United States.

And still, Craig Mann walked out of the grocery store, past the signs and toward his truck, maskless and resolute.

The pandemic that everyone's talking about?

Torey Edmonds has lived in the same house in an African-American neighborhood of the East End of Richmond, Va., for all of her 61 years. When she was a little girl, she says her neighborhood was a place of tidy homes with rose bushes and fruit trees, and residents had ready access to shops like beauty salons, movie theaters and several grocery stores.

What to make of the tenure of U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos depends, like beauty itself, on the eye of the beholder.

Members of the Australian special forces allegedly killed 39 people during operations in Afghanistan in violation of international law, according to the findings of a long-awaited report.

There's been a significant suspension for doping in Major League Baseball.

MLB announced Wednesday that New York Mets second baseman Robinson Canó will miss all of next season, without pay, after he tested positive for an anabolic steroid banned by baseball.

Canó's ban is 162 games, the length of a normal MLB regular season. He also has to forfeit his $24 million salary for 2021.

On Election Day, Geoff Brown watched lines of text flow by on monitors at New York City Cyber Command in downtown Manhattan.

Brown, the head of the city's cybersecurity operation, was plugged into a bank of virtual conference rooms, checking in with partners at the local, state and federal levels working together to monitor election systems for any security breaches or disinformation campaigns that might target the voting process.

After all the waiting, after months of hardening defenses, the serious threats never came.

Former Special Forces Captain Guilty Of Espionage

Nov 18, 2020

Former Army Green Beret Peter Rafael Dzibinski Debbins could spend the rest of his life in prison after pleading guilty to charges of espionage Wednesday.

Debbins, a 45-year-old Virginia man with Minnesota roots, had an illustrious military career. He spent seven years on active duty, three of them serving in special forces, spying for Russia during that time and after he left the Army.

The United States has surpassed yet another devastating milestone in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic: 250,000 Americans have now died from the disease. That's more than twice the number of U.S. service members killed in World War I.

Coronavirus case numbers are exploding across the country at the beginning of what is shaping up to be a difficult winter of illness in America.

Georgia election officials expect to release the results of a statewide audit by noon Thursday, as a handful of counties finish data entry from a full hand recount of 5 million presidential votes.

Gabriel Sterling with the secretary of state's office said Wednesday afternoon that at least 21 of 159 counties show their risk-limiting audit is still in process, including some of the large jurisdictions in metro Atlanta. The deadline for the audit is 11:59 p.m. Wednesday.

As companies around the world race to develop coronavirus vaccines, hundreds of thousands of people in China were inoculated with a vaccine before its efficacy was proven in trials. Now, researchers have released preliminary results that show the vaccine produces an immune response, although it's too early to say whether it can prevent disease.

Apple on Wednesday agreed to pay $113 million to settle consumer fraud lawsuits brought by more than 30 states over allegations that it secretly slowed down old iPhones, a controversy that became known as "batterygate."

A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the Trump administration to stop deporting minor immigrants on the grounds that they are a coronavirus threat. The government has already expelled nearly 9,000 children who crossed the border alone, seeking protection, citing a public health order issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nearly 46 years ago, terrorists placed bombs in Birmingham, England. The explosions ripped apart two pubs, killing 21 people and injuring about 200.

Six men were sentenced to life in prison in 1975 in connection with the terrorist act, but 16 years later their convictions were thrown out. The men were released and compensated in one of the country's most notorious miscarriages of justice.

For years the case has been quiet, with no additional arrests.

In the past 10 days, President Trump has fired the defense secretary as part of a leadership shake-up at the Pentagon. His administration has announced troop cutbacks in Afghanistan and Iraq. And the president huddled with his national security team and discussed possible military action against Iran.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

Updated at 12:13 p.m. ET

President Trump's campaign announced Wednesday morning it is filing a petition to formally ask election authorities to conduct a recount in two Wisconsin counties. President-elect Joe Biden won the state by a little more than 20,000 votes.

The lone customer at the Simple Café in Kabul has high hopes for America's president-elect.

"Biden won't withdraw American forces from Afghanistan. He'll stay and fight the Taliban," says Sakina Hussaini, a 23-year-old arts student.

She gestures to the empty cafe; it used to be a popular hangout. Now, most people are staying home because of an uptick in deadly car bombings, gunfights and other attacks on civilians across the capital and the country.

When news broke that Florida voters had approved a ballot measure raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, Terrence Wise celebrated from 1,000 miles away.

"If we can get it in the Deep South, you know, down there in Florida, it's bringing all workers closer to $15 an hour minimum wage on a national level," says Wise, a McDonald's worker in Kansas City, Mo., and a leading voice of the Fight for $15 movement.

Updated at 11:36 a.m. ET

Officials in Michigan's most populous county reversed course and certified its election results Tuesday evening, just a few hours after a surprising party-line deadlock suddenly cast the certification of more than 800,000 votes in doubt. Wayne County voted overwhelmingly for President-elect Joe Biden.

Updated at 4:55 p.m. ET

After 20 months on the tarmac following two fatal crashes, Boeing's troubled 737 Max airliner has been given the green light to resume passenger flights, the Federal Aviation Administration announced Wednesday.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created after the last financial crisis to be the tough cop on the beat, making sure people don't get taken advantage of by lenders, debt collectors or other companies. It's returned $12 billion to people harmed by financial firms.

"This agency was designed to be a watchdog," says Deepak Gupta, a former top enforcement lawyer at the bureau. "That mission is more important than ever."

With millions of Americans in desperate financial straits due to the pandemic, he says, more people are vulnerable to predatory practices.

For years, immigrants in the Atlanta suburbs lived in fear that a routine traffic stop would lead to deportation. Thousands of immigrants in the country illegally have been deported for minor offenses, advocates say, because of close ties between county jails and immigration authorities.

But now, there are some new sheriffs in town.

"I'm the sheriff of Gwinnett County for everybody, regardless of your race, regardless of your gender, regardless of your immigration status," said Keybo Taylor, the sheriff-elect in Gwinnett County, outside Atlanta.

Lately, Echo Fridley has had a raspy voice and a sore throat. Not from illness but from many hours on the phone talking with other students about quarantine and isolation, as a contact tracer at Syracuse University.

"I'm definitely super-overwhelmed," says Fridley, a junior studying public health and biology. "We've seen such an explosion of cases."

President Trump's slash-and-burn rhetoric against China may have brought few lasting economic benefits so far, but it has succeeded in one fundamental way: No administration can now afford to play nice with the United States' biggest rival.

Trump made hostility toward China a centerpiece of his "America First" trade agenda, launching bitter attacks against Beijing's policies and setting off a trade war by slapping tariffs on two-thirds of Chinese imports.

There was a debate in the runup to this year's presidential election about whether it would be a base election or a persuasion one. In other words, what would matter more for a candidate — turning out one side's core voters, or winning over undecideds and wavering supporters of President Trump?

Based on an NPR analysis of the more than 3,000 counties, it was, in fact, mostly a base election with some key persuasion in Democratic-leaning suburbs that went for Joe Biden by wider margins than they did for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Updated at 1:21 p.m. ET

Nancy Pelosi has been reelected speaker of the House by her caucus for the next session of Congress, marking what will be her fourth term with the gavel. The caucus vote was conducted virtually, but Pelosi was approved by a voice vote.

Pelosi, 80, did not face any challenge for her post, but she will also need to secure a simple majority — 218 Democratic votes — by the full House of Representatives in January to be sworn in again as speaker. She indicated after the vote that the upcoming term could be her last.

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