NPR Stories

Lawmakers in a Michigan county are vowing to return $65,000 in bonuses they gave themselves using federal coronavirus relief funds.

Updated July 27, 2021 at 3:04 PM ET

Each week, we answer frequently asked questions about life during the coronavirus crisis. If you have a question you'd like us to consider for a future post, email us at goatsandsoda@npr.org with the subject line "Weekly Coronavirus Questions." See an archive of our FAQs here.

The racers stood ready, primed to dive into Tokyo Bay to start the men's Olympic triathlon. A camera aboard a media boat captured the moment as the start time neared — and unfortunately, it kept capturing the moment after the official start signal blared. Roughly half of the 51 competitors sprang into the water, but the rest were blocked from diving in by the position of the boat, forcing an unusual false start.

Britney Spears' recently named lawyer, Mathew Rosengart, promised when he came aboard on July 14 that he would act speedily towards setting a new course for the pop icon and her conservatorship. On Monday, he filed a petition on Spears' behalf with Los Angeles Superior Court asking for Jason Rubin to be named as the new conservator of her estate. If approved, Rubin would replace Spears' father, Jamie Spears, who has controlled her money and financial decisions since 2008. Rosengart has also filed a petition asking for Jamie Spears to be removed from his position.

Surfing has deep roots, but for the first time, surfers are competing for medals at the Summer Olympics. At Tsurigasaki beach, 40 miles from Tokyo, they're also riding big waves ahead of a tropical storm.

"The incoming tide push over the afternoon does look to provide a lot of fun waves," reports Kurt Korte, the official surf forecaster for the Tokyo Olympics. He works for Surfline, a company based in Huntington Beach, Calif. He says while it might rain at Tsurigasaki beach, it should be a great day for the surfing finals at the Olympics.

Two U.S. women's teams will compete for gold early Tuesday, as the gymnastics and softball squads try to put their mark on the Tokyo Olympics. They headline a busy day for Team USA.

Here's a quick guide to what could be a dramatic day in Tokyo:

Gymnastics women's team final, 6:30 a.m. ET

Simone Biles leads the U.S. team into a showdown with Russia, which finished first in qualifying on Sunday.

A lawsuit against the men who spoke at a rally before the Capitol riot on Jan. 6 is putting the Justice Department in a tricky position.

The department is considering whether those federal officials acted within the scope of their jobs that day, which would trigger a form of legal immunity. Government watchdogs said the case has serious implications for who's held accountable for violence that delayed the election certification and contributed to the deaths of five people.

Elia Garrison was already considering holding her son Dominic back from starting kindergarten before the pandemic hit in 2020.

Coronavirus, she says, cemented that choice.

Dominic is the fifth of six children, and Garrison, a blogger in Perkasie, Pa., watched how tumultuous classes were for her older ones when the pandemic started. "I didn't want Dominic to have that experience with kindergarten, because kindergarten is such an important year for them," she says.

Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz made history Monday, winning the Philippines' first gold medal at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The country had been trying to reach the podium's top spot for nearly 100 years: It sent its first Olympic delegation to Paris for the 1924 Games.

Diaz won gold in the 55-kilogram category of women's weightlifting — and in the process, she also set an Olympic record with her combined weight total of 224 kilograms across two successful lifts.

Superstar gymnast Simone Biles says she is feeling the pressure of competition after the U.S. women's gymnastics team posted lower-than-expected scores during qualifiers on Sunday.

"[I]t wasn't an easy day or my best but I got through it. I truly do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times," Biles said on Instagram.

Paullette Healy isn't sure yet where her 13-year-old son, Lucas, will go to school this fall.

She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and says New York City school buildings are in "disarray," with overcrowded classrooms and windows that barely open. She worries about classroom ventilation and social distancing.

PARIS — France's parliament approved a law early Monday requiring special virus passes for all restaurants and domestic travel and mandating vaccinations for all health workers.

Both measures have prompted protests and political tensions. President Emmanuel Macron and his government say they are needed to protect vulnerable populations and hospitals as infections rebound and to avoid new lockdowns.

KABUL, Afghanistan — More women and children were killed and wounded in Afghanistan in the first half of 2021 than in the first six months of any year since the United Nations began systematically keeping count in 2009, a U.N. report said Monday.

The war-torn country saw a 47% increase in the number of all civilians killed and wounded in violence across Afghanistan in the first six months of the year, compared to the same period last year, according to the report.

TOKYO — If you've been tuning in to Olympic events, you might have noticed that every medal winner carries a small bouquet of yellow, green and deep-blue flowers tied with a blue bow.

But they're more than just flowers. The elements of the bouquet carry a deeper story, and they are years in the making.

They're meant to symbolize Japan rising from the devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2011, which left about 20,000 people dead or missing. Homes were swept away and whole areas were deserted.

Plenty of mere mortals want to host Jeopardy!

NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers, for example. And actor Mayim Bialik. And Jeopardy! champ Ken Jennings. All intelligent, charismatic ... and in the running as the legendary trivia show tries out hopefuls before naming a new host.

But they're not LeVar Burton.

Updated July 26, 2021 at 10:22 AM ET

TOKYO — U.S. beach volleyball player Jake Gibb was facing a nightmare scenario at the Tokyo Games.

The four-time Olympian, 45, has been paired with Taylor Crabb since 2017. They were the top U.S. men's team to make it to the Olympics, after an arduous qualification process that started nearly three years ago.

More than 200 of the world's leading climate scientists will begin meeting today to finalize a landmark report summarizing how Earth's climate has already changed, and what humans can expect for the rest of the century.

Updated July 26, 2021 at 9:00 PM ET

President Biden is in a tough place on immigration.

On one side, he faces growing pressure from supporters who want his administration to stop turning away asylum-seekers — and to invest more political capital on creating a pathway to citizenship for the nation's 11 million undocumented immigrants.

Before she got COVID-19, Cassandra Hernandez, 38, was in great shape — both physically and mentally.

"I'm a nurse," she says. "I work with surgeons and my memory was sharp."

Then, in June 2020, COVID-19 struck Hernandez and several others in her unit at a large hospital in San Antonio.

"I went home after working a 12-hour shift and sat down to eat a pint of ice cream with my husband and I couldn't taste it," she says.

The loss of taste and smell can be an early sign that COVID-19 is affecting a brain area that helps us sense odors.

#FreeBritney protesters gather outside the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in Los Angeles.

Updated July 26, 2021 at 8:48 AM ET

TOKYO — Thirteen-year-old Momiji Nishiya dazzled during the Olympic women's skateboarding street competition. She skated through a park of rails, ramps and stairs meant to mimic city street parks at the Ariake Urban Sports Park.

When she finished, she became Japan's youngest-ever gold medal winner and one of the youngest Olympic champions of all time. Nishiya shared the podium with two other teenagers.

Tobacco giant Philip Morris International says it will stop selling cigarettes in the United Kingdom within the next decade — including the company's iconic Marlboro brand.

"It will disappear," the company's CEO Jacek Olczak said in an interview with The Mail on Sunday. "The first choice for consumers is they should quit smoking. But if they don't, the second best choice is to let them switch to the better alternatives."

Tennova Healthcare-Lebanon doesn't exist anymore as a hospital. But it still sued Hope Cantwell.

A knock came on the door of Cantwell's East Nashville apartment early this year. She hadn't been vaccinated yet and says she wasn't really answering the door to strangers. So she didn't.

But then several more attempts came over the course of a week. Eventually she masked up and opened. A legal assistant served her a lawsuit; she was summoned to appear in court.

Civil rights leader Robert "Bob" Moses, a soft-spoken and self-effacing grassroots organizer who championed Black voting rights, died on Sunday at age 86.

Born and raised in Harlem, N.Y., Moses went to the South to join the nascent fight for civil rights in the early 1960s, ultimately becoming a central figure in the movement.

It wasn't the start to the Tokyo Games that Katie Ledecky, the biggest star of U.S. swimming, was looking for.

Australia's Ariarne Titmus narrowly edged her out of gold in the 400 meter freestyle final. Ledecky finished 0.67 seconds behind her, taking silver.

Ledecky holds the world record in this event, set at the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016. Titmus did not break that record today – she was 0.23 seconds off, with a time of 3:56.69.

Ledecky and Titmus are fierce rivals, especially after Titmus beat her at the World Championships in 2019.

Robert Parris Moses, a civil rights activist who was shot at and endured beatings and jail while leading Black voter registration drives in the American South during the 1960s and later helped improve minority education in math, has died. He was 86.

Moses, who was widely referred to as Bob, worked to dismantle segregation as the Mississippi field director of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee during the civil rights movement and was central to the 1964 "Freedom Summer" in which hundreds of students went to the South to register voters.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has appointed Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, one of the rare vocal critics inside the Republican Party of former President Donald Trump, to serve on the special committee charged with investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

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