National & World News

Coverage of national and world news from New England Public Radio, NPR, and other NPR stations.

Chris Hodges, the principal of Gaylord High School in Otsego County, Michigan, never thought he'd be a contact tracer.

"I definitely thought, you know, 'Why — why am I doing this?'" he says with a laugh. "That's not what I went to school for."

Updated May 13, 2021 at 10:49 PM ET

This week has brought a few dizzying updates to the year-long school-reopening story.

After more than a year of telling Americans to cover their faces and keep their distance whenever they're in public, the Centers for of Disease Control and Prevention is now advising that masks aren't necessary in most indoor spaces, as long as someone is fully vaccinated.

"Now is the moment" to relax the guidance for vaccinated Americans, said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said on Thursday.

She credited a drop in infections, effective vaccines and availability of the shots to nearly everyone who wants one.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced new guidance that fully vaccinated people can safely do most indoor and outdoor activities without wearing masks or social distancing.

But much of the transportation sector still operates on pandemic-era rules. Here's what is and isn't changed by the updated guidance.

What does the new guidance mean for mask requirements on public transit and air travel?

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told senators on Thursday that in the midst of a surge of migrants trying to enter the U.S., the number of unaccompanied minors in U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody continues to fall dramatically.

Researchers have found just 12 people are responsible for the bulk of the misleading claims and outright lies about COVID-19 vaccines that proliferate on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

"The 'Disinformation Dozen' produce 65% of the shares of anti-vaccine misinformation on social media platforms," said Imran Ahmed, chief executive officer of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, which identified the accounts.

The battle over Medicaid expansion in Missouri reached a new boiling point Thursday as Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, announced that the state will not implement expansion, in defiance of a ballot measure passed by voters last year.

The decision stems from Republican state lawmakers' refusal to appropriate funds for the expansion to the state's Medicaid program, called MO HealthNet, in the state budget bill passed last week.

An active-duty officer in the U.S. Marine Corps has been arrested and charged for allegedly assaulting police during the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters.

Maj. Christopher Warnagiris was arrested Thursday in Virginia and charged with five counts, including assaulting or impeding an officer, obstruction and unlawful entry. Officials say he is believed to be the first active-duty military service member to be charged in connection with the Capitol insurrection.

Updated May 13, 2021 at 5:49 PM ET

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that fully vaccinated adults can safely resume activities indoors or outdoors without masks or distancing, in gatherings large or small. The announcement marks a major milestone in the effort to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic in the United States.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky announced the new guidance Thursday.

"You can do things you stopped doing because of the pandemic," Walensky said.

It's estimated that one in 10 women experience endometriosis during their reproductive years, a condition where cells that line the uterus go rogue by moving to other organs, taking root and spreading there, leading to terrible pain. Many women who have the disorder struggle to be properly diagnosed.

Updated May 13, 2021 at 3:23 PM ET

The trial on state charges facing Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao will be pushed back to March of 2022, a judge ruled Thursday. The former Minneapolis police officers are also facing federal charges over the killing of George Floyd that outweigh state charges of aiding and abetting.

President Biden says East Coast gas shortages brought on by the cyberattack on Colonial Pipeline should begin to alleviate as soon as this weekend as the pipeline reaches full capacity, but he warned it will take several days before gas supplies are completely replenished.

"It's not like flicking on a light switch," Biden said, and "there may be some hiccups along the way," noting the pipeline has never been completely shut down before.

Traces of rare forms of iron and plutonium have been found at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, after some kind of cataclysm in outer space created this radioactive stuff and sent it raining down on our planet.

Children's immunizations dropped dramatically during the pandemic, and health officials are eager to get kids caught back up on their routine shots before they return to school.

In the fashion world, a "lookbook" is a collection of photos highlighting, say, a fashion designer's work or a fashion model.

The African Lookbook has a different agenda: images that present a stereotype-busting way to look at African women, their relationship with fashion — and their ability to turn the sewing machine from a tool synonymous with toil, lack of choice and oppression into a means for them to achieve economic power.

The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., is rebranding itself, a move that the museum's director says "really emphasizes the 'National' in our name."

Some 1.8 billion Muslims around the world are marking Eid al-Fitr, the festival ending the holy month of Ramadan, but the celebration is muted for a second year in a row due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Airstrikes, rocket attacks and street violence are reaching new levels of intensity in Israel and Gaza, with at least 90 people dead from the unrest as of Thursday. Many large international air carriers have now halted flights to Tel Aviv, a key target of rocket barrages.

The violence has killed at least 103 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, including at least 27 children, according to Palestinian health officials. Israeli officials say seven people in Israel have been killed, including two children.

For cybersecurity experts, an attack on critical U.S. infrastructure was always the doomsday scenario. Now, less than a week after hackers managed to knock an essential East Coast pipeline offline, that fear has become reality.

Seniors at the University of South Carolina had already dealt with one disaster — the pandemic — when they took their socially distanced seats at the school's commencement ceremony last weekend.

Then came another train wreck.

It's called the "black fungus," and it can be deadly. It's also adding to India's growing COVID-19 woes at the moment.

On Sunday, the Indian Council of Medical Research and India's Health Ministry issued an advisory calling for better awareness, screening and management of mucormycosis, a rare but dangerous fungal infection.

The coronavirus pandemic has challenged all of us in big and small ways, but one of the toughest parts has been the isolation. Many people found creative ways to cope as they wear masks, work from home, or are alone more than usual.

One 87-year-old Kentucky woman spent the time whittling.

Boeing says it has received Federal Aviation Administration approval for a fix to about 100 of the company's 737 Max jets that were grounded last month due to an electrical issue.

Southwest Airlines, American Airlines and United Airlines – the only 737 Max operators in the U.S. — were among the carriers that temporarily pulled dozens of planes out of service after Boeing warned of the potential problem, which was linked to a backup power control unit in the cockpit of some recently-built airplanes.

After more than two years living in churches to avoid deportation to Jamaica, Clive and Oneita Thompson noticed some basic life skills had deteriorated.

The first time Oneita went to take out money from an ATM, she said, "'Wait a minute, what do you do again?' ... I truly did not remember how to use my card."

Sometimes, when Oneita wakes up in the morning, she needs to remind herself the family is free.

Updated May 13, 2021 at 4:43 PM ET

President Biden continued conversations with congressional Republicans on Thursday in the hopes of landing a bipartisan deal on an infrastructure package, but major hurdles persist over what items would be in the measure, and how it might be paid for.

Amid dropping vaccine demand in Ohio, Governor Mike DeWine announced five, weekly drawings of $1 million open to residents who've received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. A similar lottery for teenagers will provide the lucky names with a full, four-year scholarship to a public university in Ohio - room and board included.

Former Trump White House counsel Don McGahn will testify before the House Judiciary Committee about his role in former special prosecutor Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, the panel announced Wednesday.

McGahn will speak only to committee members in private, under an agreement negotiated by his attorneys, the committee and the Justice Department. The interview will be conducted "as soon as possible" and a transcript will be released publicly shortly thereafter, according to the court filing.

"I don't trust them — I don't," says Sandra Wallace. She's 60 and owns a construction company in Arizona. To her, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guidance has been inconsistent.

"It's all over the board," she says. "They say one thing one minute and then turn around and say another the next minute."

Traffic on and below a major bridge over the Mississippi River near Memphis, Tenn., could be halted for several days or longer, causing significant disruptions to motorists and shipping, officials said Wednesday.

Tesla is executing a rapid U-turn on Bitcoin.

Months after Tesla embraced Bitcoin, CEO Elon Musk said on Wednesday the auto maker would no longer accept the cryptocurrency for car purchases due to its environmental impact.

Bitcoin is very energy-intensive. The "coins" are created through a process called "mining," in which powerful computers solve difficult math problems. That requires electricity — a mind-boggling amount of it.

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