National & World News from NPR

President Biden's new Education Secretary, Miguel Cardona, hit the ground running Wednesday. Just one day after being sworn in, Cardona traveled to his hometown of Meriden, Conn. with first lady Dr. Jill Biden, on a tour of schools meant to push for the return of in-person learning and to send a clear message to the American people — that the Biden Administration is doing all it can to get children back in classrooms.

Here's a few things you probably didn't know about malaria and the U.S.

At least eight U.S. presidents had it, including George Washington (infected in Virginia), Abraham Lincoln (infected in Illinois) and John F. Kennedy (infected in the Solomon Islands during World War II).

The current U.S. caseload is zero (with the exception of Americans who contract the disease abroad).

As the speed of COVID vaccinations picks up, so do the reports of doses going to waste. And it's more than just a handful at the end of the day because of a few appointment cancellations. Health officials are trying to address the problems that lead to waste, but without slowing down the roll out of the lifesaving vaccinations.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Home is Not a Country was absolutely a book I read for the title. It spoke to me as a third culture kid who has lived around the world, in constant search of what home could mean and how I could create it for myself. But it also felt like a love letter to anyone who has ever been an outsider, or searched to understand their history, no matter where they come from.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Updated at 12:22 p.m. ET

In her time as former President Donald Trump's transportation secretary, Elaine Chao repeatedly used her position and agency staff to help family members who run a shipping business with ties to China, in potential violation of federal ethics laws, according to an Office of Inspector General report.

NPR's Steve Inskeep talks to Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut about the Biden administration's decision to conduct airstrikes on targets in Syria without the approval of Congress.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Federal efforts aim to help schools reopen. Tighten security follows reports extremists may try again to breach the U.S. Capitol. Pope Francis on Friday will become the first pope to visit Iraq.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

No reasonable filmgoer came away from a screening of Guillermo del Toro's 2013 film Pacific Rim or its 2018 sequel (directed by Steven S. DeKnight) thinking, "You know what that needed? More lore."

A judge sentenced former NFL tight end Kellen Winslow II to 14 years in prison Wednesday for rapes and other sexual offenses against several women in Southern California.

San Diego County Superior Court Judge Blaine Bowman, who presided over Winslow's trial, called the former player "a sexual predator," according to news reports.

Updated on Thursday at 12:50 p.m. ET

The House has once again passed a bill aimed at protecting and expanding voting rights and reforming campaign finance laws. The Wednesday-night vote was 220-210. But the measure is not expected to advance in the Senate, where Democrats hold a narrow majority, and Republicans on Capitol Hill argue the proposal is a political effort to federalize elections.

Updated Thursday at 10:40 a.m. ET

House lawmakers on Wednesday passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, a reform bill that would ban chokeholds and alter so-called qualified immunity for law enforcement, which would make it easier to pursue claims of police misconduct.

The 220-212 vote, mostly along party lines, came nine months after Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, was killed by Minneapolis police officers last spring.

A leading member of the Proud Boys was ordered to be released Wednesday when federal prosecutors failed to convince a judge he was a danger to the public while he awaits trial in the U.S. Capitol riots on Jan. 6.

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voiced concern on Wednesday about the recent climb in the number of new cases of the coronavirus, warning that pandemic fatigue and the loosening of restrictions may be setting the stage for yet another surge this spring.

Twenty-eight-year old Alek Minassian was found guilty on 26 charges that include murder and attempted murder Wednesday for purposefully driving a van through a crowd in Toronto nearly three years ago.

How 2 Skiers Conquered Yosemite's Half Dome

Mar 3, 2021

At the end of last month, two skiers achieved an unprecedented feat: descending the summit of Yosemite National Park's iconic Half Dome into the valley below.

In 1865, a report declared that the rock formation — at more than 8,800 feet above sea level — was a path that "never will be trodden by human foot."

Since then, Half Dome has become a popular, but challenging, hike.

But on Feb. 21, Jason Torlano and Zach Milligan made the nearly 5,000-foot trek down on skis.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Dr. Rochelle Walensky has been head of the CDC for just over a month. And for most of that time, she was looking at hopeful signs - a sharp drop in new coronavirus cases, more people getting vaccinated and a third vaccine coming on the market. Now, it's starting to look like a mixed picture. New cases and deaths are creeping up. Texas and Mississippi are dropping statewide mask requirements and fully reopening for business.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Dr. Rochelle Walensky has been head of the CDC for just over a month. And for most of that time, she was looking at hopeful signs - a sharp drop in new coronavirus cases, more people getting vaccinated and a third vaccine coming on the market. Now, it's starting to look like a mixed picture. New cases and deaths are creeping up. Texas and Mississippi are dropping statewide mask requirements and fully reopening for business.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Dr. Rochelle Walensky has been head of the CDC for just over a month. And for most of that time, she was looking at hopeful signs - a sharp drop in new coronavirus cases, more people getting vaccinated and a third vaccine coming on the market. Now, it's starting to look like a mixed picture. New cases and deaths are creeping up. Texas and Mississippi are dropping statewide mask requirements and fully reopening for business.

Colombian President Iván Duque has won praise from the Biden administration, the United Nations and Pope Francis for his decision last month to provide temporary legal status to undocumented migrants from neighboring Venezuela. But according to Duque, what's been lacking from the international community is money to pay for a crisis that's similar in scope to the outflow of Syrian refugees in the 2010s.

Updated at 8:38 p.m. ET

President Biden said on Wednesday that states like Texas and Mississippi are making a big mistake by ending mandates to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at a time when the nation is making a push to boost vaccinations.

"The last thing — the last thing — we need is the Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime, everything's fine, take off your mask. Forget it. It still matters," Biden told reporters as he met with a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the Oval Office.

In his first press briefing since three women came forward with claims of sexual harassment, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo apologized for acting "in a way that made people feel uncomfortable," but denied touching anyone inappropriately and said he would not resign.

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