David Welna

Amid widespread alarm about the ability of the embattled U.S. Postal Service to deliver mailed election ballots on time, pandemic-wary voters are now being told that in-person voting this fall may not be as risky as initially thought.

Of the many sectors of the American economy slammed by the coronavirus pandemic, the businesses and individuals who provide child care to an estimated 12 million children under age 5 are among the hardest hit.

A sweeping purge of executives at U.S. government media outlets widened this week.

At least six of the top 10 executives at the U.S. Agency for Global Media were removed from their posts on Wednesday. Critics say the housecleaning threatens to destroy the firewall meant to separate government news entities from the White House. They warn it could turn broadcasters such as the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe into distributors of propaganda on behalf of the Trump administration.

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.

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.

A death penalty sentence against confessed Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was thrown out Friday by a federal appeals court in Boston.

Citing errors by a lower court, a three-judge panel from the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sent the widely publicized case back to the federal District Court that had convicted Tsarnaev in 2015 and ordered six death sentences for him as well as 11 concurrent life sentences.

After voting for President Trump in 2016 and staunchly defending him in conservative publications, a Federalist Society leader appears to be having some very public buyer's remorse.

Steven Calabresi, co-founder of the powerful conservative legal organization, is now calling on the House of Representatives to do again what it has already done once this year: impeach Trump.

A federal judge in New York issued two strongly worded rulings on Wednesday that put a temporary freeze on restrictive Trump administration immigration policies.

The measures, which are now on hold, had broadened the grounds under which immigrants could be considered "public charges," a label that can harm the chances of obtaining either a green card or entry to the United States.

Economic output in Germany — the powerhouse of Europe — shrank during this year's second quarter by 10.1% compared with the same period last year. That double-digit downturn is the steepest since that country's Federal Statistical Office began tracking quarterly economic data a half-century ago.

In a slap at a longtime ally frequently reviled by President Trump, Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced Wednesday that the U.S. plans to withdraw roughly a third of the 36,000 American forces stationed in Germany.

Nearly 5,600 of the 11,800 troops to be removed from Germany would be sent to other NATO allies in Europe, including Poland. Another 6,400 would return to the U.S., although they or similar units would be redeployed to other European countries on what Esper described as a "rotational" basis.

A 900-pound bronze statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee has stood on the same spot at the Virginia state Capitol where the Confederate leader took command of the Army of Northern Virginia in 1861.

On Friday morning, that statue of Lee clad in a Confederate uniform was gone. So were the busts of seven other Confederates that had occupied places of honor in Virginia's Old House Chamber for decades, including those of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Confederate Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson.

Updated at 6:18 p.m. ET

Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Friday unveiled a policy change that effectively blocks the public display of the Confederate battle flag at all U.S. military installations without specifically naming that controversial banner.

Esper's announcement follows a lengthy internal debate as well as recent bans on displaying the flag by both the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Navy.

The Vatican on Wednesday published a handbook for clergy and church lawyers that lays out the steps to follow when investigating and reporting alleged cases of sexual abuse of minors and others by priests, deacons and prelates.

A Vatican official described the "vademecum," as the document is titled in Latin, as simply a "tool" for correctly conducting probes into such allegations.

Relations between the more than 25,000 U.S. military forces on Okinawa and that Japanese island's 1.5 million residents have long been strained over pollution, crime and overcrowding associated with the 31 U.S. military bases there. Now a new outbreak of COVID-19 cases among American service members stationed on Japan's southernmost territory is fraying things further.

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

The U.S. Supreme Court in an emergency ruling Thursday evening temporarily blocked a lower court's decision that, citing the COVID-19 pandemic, would have made it easier for residents of three Alabama counties to vote by absentee ballot in July 14 primary runoff elections.

An abnormal stall in an otherwise routine promotion of an Army officer who testified last year in the House hearings on the impeachment of President Trump could result in a highly unusual Senate hold blocking the pending promotions of more than 1,000 other Army officers.

A decade after being banned amid concerns about wildfires and groundwater pollution, and despite protests by Native Americans and recommendations from public health officials to avoid public gatherings, fireworks will once again be exploding over Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills of western South Dakota on Friday, anticipating the Fourth of July.

Thanks to their efforts to steer clear of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Navy says two American warships that set sail in mid-January broke the modern record on Thursday for consecutive days at sea for U.S. naval surface vessels.

The official name of the smallest U.S. state is Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. Some of its residents have been trying for the past three decades to drop the phrase "and Providence Plantations," which they consider an offensive reminder of the state's once-dominant role in the trade of enslaved Africans.

U.S. Navy Capt. Brett Crozier, who raised alarms in late March about a serious coronavirus outbreak aboard the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier he commanded, will not be reinstated after being stripped of that command post.

A headlong race to come up with a viable vaccine for COVID-19 that is being championed by a science-averse American president seeking reelection prompted some skeptical questions Thursday on Capitol Hill.

When protests erupted in Minnesota following the death of George Floyd — the black man who died after a white Minneapolis policeman kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes — many of the law enforcement agencies from the Twin Cities metropolitan area that responded were recent beneficiaries of free excess military materiel from a Pentagon program originally meant to support counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism operations.

Updated at 6 p.m. ET

Ten days after leaving the White House with President Trump and walking with him across a park that had been forcibly cleared of protesters, the nation's most senior military officer is calling that excursion "a mistake."

All of the approximately 1,600 active duty soldiers who were airlifted to military bases near Washington, D.C., earlier this week are being ordered back to their home postings, according the Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy.

When Russian-speaking troops showed up in Ukraine six years ago, they were dubbed "little green men": armed forces whose green fatigues bore neither insignia nor identification.

A similar genre of unidentified, armed personnel clad in insignia-free uniforms has appeared policing street protests in Washington, D.C., in recent days, and Democratic lawmakers are demanding answers about just who these anonymous enforcers are.

Updated at 7 p.m. ET

In a move that possibly placed his job in peril, Defense Secretary Mark Esper publicly disagreed Wednesday with President Trump's threatened use of the 1807 Insurrection Act to quell widespread unrest over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck.

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

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 has reached a somber milestone: As of Wednesday afternoon, the highly infectious viral disease has taken more than 100,000 lives nationwide.

In mid-April, when President Trump declared, "Today I'm instructing my administration to halt funding of the World Health Organization," Jimmy Kolker did a double take.

"We were already in arrears before he said anything," says Kolker, who was an assistant secretary for global health affairs during the Obama administration.

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