National & World News

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

There are two kinds of reactions to Beyoncé's new Black Is King video: lavish praise – and deep criticism. The praise comes from her many fans and from many reviewers. The criticism often comes from Africans.

We are both from Africa. Esther Ngumbi was born and grew up in Kenya. Ifeanyi Nsofor was born and grew up in Nigeria. We can understand the critiques – and have some of our own. But in the end, we think the positives outweigh the problems.

India is now the third country to record more than 2 million coronavirus cases. The country is enduring a terrible surge in new cases — 62,538 were reported on Friday alone. Only the U.S. and Brazil are reporting more.

India passed 1 million confirmed cases just three weeks ago.

In 1963, 11-year-old Klaus Teuber received a gift that would change his life: a board game. "When I opened the box of the game, I liked the scent of the game," he remembers, inhaling deeply. "Ah, so wonderful! There is adventure in this box!"

It was a game of Romans versus Carthaginians. "It was a tabletop game with wonderful painted figures, and you had to role the dice to fight against the others," Teuber recalls.

Updated at 8:45 a.m. ET

U.S. employers added 1.8 million jobs last month, as the unemployment rate dipped to 10.2%.

The pace of hiring slowed from June, when employers added a record 4.8 million jobs. That suggests a long road back to full employment for the tens of millions of people who have been laid off during the coronavirus pandemic.

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The United States needs as many as 100,000 contact tracers to fight the pandemic, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told Congress in June. We need billions of dollars to fund them, public health leaders pleaded in April.

Two weeks after President Trump signed an executive order "Lowering Drug Prices By Putting America First," the White House still hasn't released the text of the order. The unorthodox move is apparently a leverage play, an attempt to squeeze drug companies into offering concessions, but so far there's little indication Trump is getting the deal he was after.

Trump had American flags and women in white lab coats behind him, his big presidential sharpie marker in hand when he signed the order July 24.

A lanky, long-haired kid stands in front of a stack of shelves lined with more than a dozen varieties of canned beans. He's 10, and his name is Wiley. He's got a shopping list in his hand and a mask on his face. This is the first time he's been in a grocery store in over five months. His cart is loaded with onions, limes, yogurt, bell peppers, feta cheese. Now he needs chickpeas, and although he's peering at a can with a picture of chickpeas on the label, his brow is furrowed.

"It just says garbanzo beans," he says. "What are garbanzo beans?"

Ten years ago, Republicans flipped 20 state legislative chambers, seizing control of district mapmaking in many states after the decennial census. That cemented GOP dominance at the state and congressional levels for most of the last decade.

This time, Democrats are making sure they're mobilizing.

For the first few months of the coronavirus pandemic, correctional officer Kareen "Troy" Troitino says things were "pretty relaxed" at FCI Miami. There were no cases of COVID-19 at the low-security federal prison, which currently houses some 1,000 inmates.

That all changed, he says, early last month. "And then on the week of the Fourth of July, we had one case, and then it just spread in one week. I mean, tremendously. It's like wildfire. And you don't even see the fire because you don't know who has it until it's too late."

Updated 10:55 a.m. ET Friday

President Trump on Thursday invoked his emergency economic powers to impose broad sanctions against TikTok, a move that steps up pressure on the Chinese-owned app to sell its U.S. assets to an American company.

In the order, which takes effect in 45 days, any transactions between TikTok's parent company, ByteDance, and U.S. citizens will be outlawed for national security reasons.

By Dec. 1, the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 could reach nearly 300,000. That's the grim new projection from researchers at the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation — one of the more prominent teams modeling the pandemic. The new forecast, released Thursday, projects that between now and December, 137,000 people will die on top of the roughly 160,000 who have died so far.

Sweden's gross domestic product took its largest tumble in a single quarter in modern history during the second quarter of this year, despite the country's decision to not shut down its economy.

Amid deteriorating U.S.-China relations, further aggravated by a highly unusual trip to Taiwan this weekend by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Defense Secretary Mark Esper talked for 90 minutes on Thursday with his Chinese counterpart, Defense Minister Wei Fenghe.

Updated at 6:18 p.m. ET

Amid staggering job losses in March and April, Florida's unemployment system was the slowest in the country to process claims. Residents described nightmarish experiences as they tried to get benefits. By April 20, just 6% of Floridians who had applied for unemployment benefits had received a check.

A federal appeals court in San Francisco has denied the Justice Department's motion for a retrial in the case against Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who led an armed standoff against federal agents over cattle grazing near his ranch in 2014.

How much will vaccines against the coronavirus cost? Even though none has finished clinical testing, some clues about pricing are starting to emerge.

Cambridge, Mass.-based Moderna, one of the leading horses in the vaccine race, has already made deals at between $32 and $37 per dose of its experimental coronavirus vaccine in agreements with some foreign countries, rattling consumer advocates, who fear an unfair deal for U.S. taxpayers.

The State Department has lifted its Level 4 global travel advisory, the highest warning against U.S. citizens traveling internationally, citing changing conditions in the coronavirus pandemic.

Updated at 12:45 a.m. ET Friday

Some of Beirut's residents, angered by their city's seeming negligence that led to this week's deadly warehouse explosion, took to the streets late Thursday to demand reform.

Near parliament, Lebanese security forces fired tear gas as they clashed with anti-government protesters.

In the central square of Beirut's mostly destroyed downtown, a group of Lebanese, some carrying shovels to dig through the debris, shouted, "The people want the fall of the regime."

There are many approaches to making a vaccine against COVID-19. Some use genetic material from the coronavirus, some use synthetic proteins that mimic viral proteins and some use disabled versions of the virus itself.

But before any of these approaches can generate the antibodies to the coronavirus that scientists say are essential to protecting people from getting sick, the immune system has to be primed to make those antibodies.

That's the job of something called an adjuvant.

Michelle Obama said that she's dealing with "some form of low-grade depression" due to the coronavirus lockdown, racial strife in the U.S., and the Trump administration.

In the second episode of her new podcast, the former first lady spoke with her friend Michele Norris, the former longtime host of NPR's All Things Considered.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

Today, we're going into our archive to remember journalist Pete Hamill. He died yesterday at age 85 from complications following emergency surgery after falling and breaking a hip. Hamill was described in The New York Times as the quintessential New York journalist. Times columnist Dan Barry once wrote, if the pavement of New York City could talk, it would sound like Pete Hamill.

Updated at 10:35 p.m. ET

Hours after announcing he had tested positive for COVID-19, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said on Thursday evening that a second test for the virus came back negative.

DeWine announced that he was administered an antigen test in the morning and a PCR test in the afternoon, and was more confident in the results of the latter.

The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is off to a record start – and it will only get worse as the season's traditional peak begins next week and will run through October. The latest estimates call for nearly twice the normal number of named storms this year.

Even before Aug. 1, nine named storms had already formed – "the most ever recorded since the satellite era began in 1966," according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

When a Salvadoran woman grabbed her 4-year-old daughter and fled their home country in February, the coronavirus wasn't yet a global pandemic.

By the time they reached the U.S.-Mexico border a month later, that had changed. She crossed the Rio Grande, planning to ask for asylum. But Border Patrol agents took her and her daughter right back to Mexico, despite her pleas.

Updated at 2 p.m. ET

The attorney general of New York took action Thursday to dissolve the National Rifle Association following an 18-month investigation that found evidence the powerful gun rights group is "fraught with fraud and abuse."

Attorney General Letitia James claims in a lawsuit filed Thursday that she found financial misconduct in the millions of dollars and that it contributed to a loss of more than $64 million over a three-year period.

Joe Biden says that he believes prosecuting a former president would be a "very unusual thing and probably not very ... good for democracy," but he would not stand in the way of a future Justice Department pursuing criminal charges against President Trump after he leaves office.

The comments from the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee came during a virtual interview Tuesday with members from the National Association of Black Journalists and National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

Caitlin Boehne wasn't too happy that she had to vote in person during a recent primary runoff in Austin, Texas.

Boehne is under 65 and isn't disabled, so voting by mail wasn't available to her under current Texas law. She says it was a frustrating situation.

"The workers, the voters — everybody has to risk their health in order to participate in the democratic process," she says. "It's astounding."

The dawn of the nuclear age began with a blinding, flesh-melting blast directly above the Japanese city of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. It was 8:16 a.m. on a Monday, the start of another workday in a city of nearly 300,000 inhabitants. An estimated two-thirds of that population — nearly all civilians — would soon be dead.

"In a battle for facts, in a battle for truth, journalism is activism," says Philippine journalist Maria Ressa.

Ressa, who is internationally known and lauded for standing up to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's escalating attacks on the press, tells NPR that circumstances in the Philippines have forced her to evolve as a journalist.

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