National & World News

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

Suzy Margueron, a retiree in Paris, usually walks five miles a day, so she knew something was wrong when she barely had the energy to make it to the grocery store in the spring. As it turned out, she was infected with COVID-19. She spent a week collapsed on her couch in March.

Even after recovering, the effects of the pandemic continue to create particular challenges for her. That's because Margueron lost nearly all of her hearing as a young woman — and trying to communicate with people wearing face masks makes daily life exceedingly difficult.

Prosecutors in New York have some required reading to do: a scathing opinion from a federal judge who identified a stream of mistakes and misconduct in a prosecution gone bad.

U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan directed the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York to ensure that all of its prosecutors read her decision.

But the matter won't end there.

The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a major cultural moment and has potential implications for the next generation of American society.

Just look at the images of people who crowded the Supreme Court's steps Friday night after news of her death broke.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is backing more House Democrats for reelection in at least a decade, prompting pushback from some of its strongest GOP allies in Congress.

"It is hypocrisy that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce would endorse these Democrats that are part of this socialist agenda that is driving this country out and is fighting this president," House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., recently told Fox News.

Weighing the president down in his reelection bid is his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and race relations, according to the latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll.

More than half of Americans — 56% — disapprove of the job President Trump has done handling the pandemic.

For months, protests over the police involved killing of Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, George Floyd in Minnesota and others around the country reinvigorated an intense debate over policing. Then when Greg Fischer, mayor of Louisville, Ky., recently announced the city would pay $12 million to Taylor's family and institute a number of police reforms, that highlighted an aspect less discussed — the financial impact of police misconduct on cities and taxpayers.

Monday, Sept. 21, was supposed to mark the start of in-person classes for New York City's 1.1 million public school students. It was the only big-city district planning to start the school year in person. But with just four days to go, Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) announced that only the youngest students, in 3-K and Pre-K, and those with significant special needs, would be coming back on Sept. 21. The rest of the students will phase in by grade level between through Oct. 1.

Former President Barack Obama paid tribute to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday, calling on Republicans to delay filling the vacancy left by her death until after the 2020 presidential election.

Ginsburg died from cancer complications earlier on Friday. She was 87.

Terri Cheney did not expect she would be weathering the pandemic so well. The author of Modern Madness: An Owner's Manual has been living with mental illness her entire life. She realizes now, this has been good preparation for the impositions of 2020.

"With anxiety," she said, "you're used to feeling unpredictable and always being afraid of what's going to happen. With depression, there's that loss of interest in things, the lack of productivity, and the loss of hope for the future."

Updated at 10:56 p.m. ET

President Trump called Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg a "titan of the law" in a statement late Friday night on her death.

"Renowned for her brilliant mind and her powerful dissents at the Supreme Court, Justice Ginsburg demonstrated that one can disagree without being disagreeable toward one's colleagues or different points of view," the statement said.

Updated at 12:15 a.m. ET

The Senate shouldn't take up the vacancy on the Supreme Court opened by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg until after voters have expressed their choice in the election, former Vice President Joe Biden said Friday.

The Democratic presidential hopeful kept in lockstep with his colleagues now in the Senate minority, who wasted little time after the announcement of Ginsburg's death in stating their belief that Washington must wait.

Republicans do not agree.

President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., already had remade the federal judiciary before the hinge of fate swung again on Friday night.

The Republican-controlled Senate has confirmed no fewer than 200 federal judges, many of them young, and each to a lifelong term, as NPR's Carrie Johnson has reported.

President Trump has revealed the names of people he'd consider nominating to the Supreme Court in the event of a vacancy like the one opened by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump's Democratic challenger, hasn't.

The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday at age 87 will inevitably set in motion what promises to be a nasty political battle over who will succeed her at the Supreme Court.

Just days before her death, as her strength waned, Ginsburg dictated this statement to her granddaughter Clara Spera: "My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed."

After a record-breaking year in 2019 for women's soccer, FIFA President Gianni Infantino suggested Friday that the FIFA Women's World Cup could be held every two years instead of every four.

Infantino addressed the annual FIFA Congress virtually and emphasized the need to build on the momentum of success that the FIFA Women's World Cup saw last year.

Updated on Sept. 23 at 10:29 a.m. ET

President Trump said it was a "situation that has to be."

Follow NPR's coverage of Ginsburg's death and the political aftermath here.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the demure firebrand who in her 80s became a legal, cultural and feminist icon, died Friday. The Supreme Court announced her death, saying the cause was complications from metastatic cancer of the pancreas.

The court, in a statement, said Ginsburg died at her home in Washington, D.C., surrounded by family. She was 87.

Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei said Friday he's tested positive for the coronavirus. Giammattei made the announcement to Sonora, a local radio station.

He said he feels well, is showing typical symptoms of high fever and body aches and has been treated at the Centro Medico Militar, one of the hospitals designated to treat COVID-19 patients in Guatemala City.

Puerto Rico is being promised nearly $13 billion in federal disaster funding to repair its electrical and education infrastructure three years after Hurricane Maria's devastation and six weeks before the presidential election.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency plans to award two separate grants to help rebuild Puerto Rico's electrical grid system and educational facilities, the White House announced Friday.

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."

OK, so I'd planned a flight to visit my grandkids last week because with cold weather and the flu season looming in the U.S., it seemed like late summer/early fall might be a good window of opportunity to travel.

President Trump on Friday said "every American" will have a vaccine for the coronavirus available by April, escalating already ambitious goals to fast-track a vaccine for the virus that has killed nearly 200,000 people in the United States.

Updated at 6:05 p.m. ET

Hurricane season, like many other aspects of life, has reached peak 2020.

When Tropical Storm Wilfred and Subtropical Storm Alpha formed on Friday, they became the 21st and 22nd named storms of the season. Not long after them, weather forecasters spotted Tropical Storm Beta.

Put another way, this marks just the second time in history that forecasters have had to resort to the Greek alphabet because available storm names have been exhausted.

If the coronavirus vaccines currently being tested don't pan out, don't expect new drugs to fill the gap any time soon.

Many drugs are in the works, and those that succeed could play a role in reducing symptoms and sometimes saving lives. But, given the way drugs are developed, it's unlikely that any single medicine will be anywhere as potent against the coronavirus as a successful vaccine.

Perhaps you're an avid reader — or you're just stuck at home and suddenly have more time to read. Either way, if you're looking for reading recommendations, why not start with one of the 50 works contending for a National Book Award?

The National Book Foundation released its annual book award longlists over the past few days, ending with fiction on Friday, featuring work from seasoned and debut writers alike, as well as a collection of short stories from an author who died last month.

The Government Accountability Office is investigating the Pentagon's interest in deploying a "heat ray" to control crowds around the White House, part of a broader review of the tactics and use of nonlethal weapons that have been leveled against social justice protesters this summer, NPR has learned.

A firefighter was killed Thursday in California's El Dorado Fire, according to officials at the San Bernardino National Forest.

"Our deepest sympathies are with the family, friends and fellow firefighters during this time," forest officials said in a statement. The cause is under investigation, and the name of the firefighter is being withheld until the notification of next of kin.

Former Vice President Joe Biden continues to lead President Trump in the 2020 presidential election nationally by a substantial margin, according to the latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll.

Biden leads Trump by 9 points, 52% to 43%, among likely voters, the survey finds. This is the first time this election cycle the poll has screened for likely voters — this narrower group is the most likely to actually cast a ballot, compared to the larger group of people who are registered to vote.

Updated at 2:41 p.m. ET

The Trump administration is banning Americans from downloading popular video-sharing app TikTok and limiting the use of WeChat because of national security concerns, the Commerce Department announced on Friday.

As of midnight on Sunday, TikTok will also not be able to receive system updates, which could affect its functionality, including slowing down the app, but the app's current version will still work for American users. Over time, however, TikTok may stop working altogether.

Never before has Israel had such a high need for those schooled in the rarefied art of shofar blowing.

The wail of the biblical shofar — made from the horn of a ram or a certain antelope species — is a hallmark of prayer gatherings on Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, which begins this weekend.

But because of the coronavirus pandemic, Israel is mandating smaller, socially distanced prayer gatherings — so the country needs many more shofar blowers than in years past.

This past Sunday at Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, it was life as usual.

Kids took rides on horses and camels. Families and lovers shared paddle boats in the lake at the center of the park.

Alice Nyambura and Lucy Wahu, both college sophomores, sat on the grass watching the boats. The sun was shining; the lily pads blooming. They had come here to get their minds off the pandemic.

"I don't think there is anything like corona," Nyambura said.

"It is there," Wahu corrected her. "But I think they are exaggerating the numbers."

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