National & World News from NPR

Updated at 8:47 a.m. ET

The coronavirus pandemic has pushed unemployment to its highest level since the Great Depression, but the pace of layoffs has been easing. And there are now some signs that the job market could slowly start to recover.

The Labor Department says another 1.87 million people filed claims for unemployment insurance last week. That's down 249,000 from the previous week. While still very high by historical standards, the number has been declining steadily from a peak of 6.8 million the week ending March 28.

In 1921, my grandmother moved from the Yorkville neighborhood of Manhattan to Rochester, New York to get married. There she lived until her death at age 109, outlasting my mother by eight years.

Nana lived in a high rise close to Mom's childhood home, a home I came to know after Mom died. Rochester was a stark and lonely place for me.

A nun in headphones is on the radio — offering expectant families advice for stimulating fetal development.

"Tell the husband to pat [your] tummy," she laughs. "And speak to the [baby]!"

When Sister Astridah Banda, a Catholic nun and social worker in Zambia, first went on the air, she recalls that people were jolted by her manner. "People are always surprised to see sisters can joke," she says. "They think you're always serious and praying – and in such instances, I look at myself and say 'Madame, you and I are one and the same."

Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says President Trump is a threat to the constitution, The Atlantic reports. Others have also spoken out about the White House's handling of nationwide unrest.

The nationwide unrest over George Floyd's killing is being felt deeply in Ferguson, Missouri, where widespread protests over police accountability 2014 made international news.

Trevon Ellis spent years building up his north Minneapolis barbershop, the Fade Factory, luring customers with smart haircuts, snacks and friendly conversation.

It took just one terrible night to destroy it all.

"Inside is totally burned down," Ellis says. "Everything was burned to a crisp."

The recent wave of protests against police brutality has left a trail of chaos and destruction in many city neighborhoods, with countless businesses looted and damaged.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

There's something about the video of the George Floyd killing that makes it very specific to the Twin Cities.

The video shows a white police killings seen nationwide — but there's a third identifiable person: an Asian American officer seen running interference with the crowd and standing watch. He's now-former Minneapolis police officer Tou Thao, a Hmong American — which is how you know this isn't "any" city. It's Minneapolis.

There are indications layoffs from the coronavirus pandemic may be easing. Initial claims for unemployment have been slowing, and as businesses start to reopen, some people are going back to work.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Thousands of people in Baltimore have joined multiple marches over the past week, mourning the violent death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and calling for less funding for the Baltimore Police Department and more money for education, health and local groups in predominantly African American neighborhoods in the city.

Casting a ballot by mail isn't a new way to vote, but it is getting fresh attention as the coronavirus pandemic upends daily life.

The voting method is quickly becoming the norm and quickly becoming politically charged, as some Republicans — and specifically President Trump — fight against the mail voting expansion that is happening nationwide.

Here are answers to key questions about mail ballots and the controversy around them.

As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases globally approaches 6.5 million, scientists are racing to develop a vaccine. Currently, there are 10 vaccine candidates in development around the world that are in the beginnings of human trials.

Retired Marine Gen. Jim Mattis, who resigned as President Trump's defense secretary nearly a year and a half ago over policy differences, has issued an extraordinary critique of the White House's handling of nationwide unrest, saying Trump has sought to divide Americans and warning against "militarizing our response" to the protests.

David McAtee, owner of Yaya's BBQ, was a beloved fixture in the Russell neighborhood of Louisville, Ky., remembered as a pillar of the community and known to give out his food free of charge, even to local police officers.

His death at the hands of law enforcement has come as a shock to those who knew him.

McAtee, a chef, was killed early Monday morning at his barbecue business when Louisville Metro Police Department officers and National Guard troops responded to reports of a crowd gathered after the city's 9 p.m. curfew near the corner of 26th Street and Broadway.

Venturing further into the public discourse he had largely held back from since relinquishing the Oval Office to President Trump, former president Barack Obama joined a virtual town hall Wednesday to advocate the kind of hope and change that once inspired a nation to twice elect him as its leader.

Some of Facebook's earliest employees are condemning CEO Mark Zuckerberg's hands-off approach to President Trump's inflammatory rhetoric about protests over police brutality.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

The cries of protesters angered by the death of George Floyd have spread from Minneapolis around the world. Demonstrators are paying homage to Floyd but also speaking out about police brutality and injustice they see in their own countries. They've taken to the streets in London, as we heard elsewhere in the show.

SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

The cries of protesters angered by the death of George Floyd have spread from Minneapolis around the world. Demonstrators are paying homage to Floyd but also speaking out about police brutality and injustice they see in their own countries. They've taken to the streets in London, as we heard elsewhere in the show.

SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

The cries of protesters angered by the death of George Floyd have spread from Minneapolis around the world. Demonstrators are paying homage to Floyd but also speaking out about police brutality and injustice they see in their own countries. They've taken to the streets in London, as we heard elsewhere in the show.

SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:

Gary Jones, the former president of the United Auto Workers, has pleaded guilty to embezzlement, racketeering and tax evasion as part of a larger scandal over union corruption that has shaken trust in the union and exposed it to a possible federal takeover.

Jones admits he conspired to embezzle more than $1 million out of dues paid by union members, the Department of Justice said Wednesday.

The day after eight states and the District of Columbia held primaries — amid both a pandemic and civil unrest — proponents of mail-in voting said there were lessons to be learned for November, when millions more voters are expected to use absentee ballots.

Protests across the United States in the wake of George Floyd's death have created an unlikely opportunity for China.

State TV has aired images of chaotic protest scenes during its widely watched evening news program, and offered searing commentary that has also highlighted the U.S. government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. "American politicians must ask themselves," one announcer said, "on what grounds do they spew their sanctimonious nonsense? Shouldn't they ask the American people for forgiveness?"

Hungary's government has asked American news outlets to apologize for what it calls "baseless" critical coverage of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's coronavirus emergency powers. Granting Orbán special powers was the latest in a series of steps by Hungary's government that have stripped the country of its democracy, critics say.

In an email Hungary's Embassy in the U.S. sent NPR late Tuesday, the Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Relations Zoltán Kovács wrote, "Hungary has been subjected to a barrage of attacks unparalleled elsewhere in Europe."

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was behind the pulpit in Atlanta in 1967, the year before he was killed, when he told churchgoers at Ebenezer Baptist Church that sometimes there is an "obligation" to break certain man-made laws.

"It is important to see that there are times when a man-made law is out of harmony with the moral law of the universe, there are times when human law is out of harmony with eternal and divine laws," the civil rights leader said at the time. "And when that happens, you have an obligation to break it."

Updated at 5:16 p.m. ET

Derek Chauvin now faces a charge of second-degree murder in addition to earlier charges, and three other former Minneapolis police officers who were involved in George Floyd's death face charges of aiding and abetting murder, according to new court documents.

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