National News


Photos: Dramatic scenes from Kazakhstan's massive protests and crackdown

This week, Kazakhstan has seen some of its largest public protests since gaining independence from the Soviet Union over 30 years ago — and a deadly crackdown by its authoritarian government in response. The president said Friday he has authorized security forces to shoot to kill.

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Kids are back in school — and struggling with mental health issues

When Millis Public Schools opened its doors for the start of the 2021-22 school year, teachers and staff were looking forward to seeing their students back in real classrooms.

"We were so excited that everyone was coming back to begin the school year," says Bob Mullaney, the superintendent of the suburban Boston school district.

But the transition has been more fraught than anticipated.

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What crying baby mice could teach us about human speech

When baby mice cry, they do it to a beat that is synchronized to the rise and fall of their own breath. It's a pattern that researchers say could help explain why human infants can cry at birth — and how they learn to speak.

Mice are born with a cluster of cells in the brainstem that appears to coordinate the rhythms of breathing and vocalizations, a team reports in the journal Neuron.


FDA shortens the wait time between Moderna vaccine and booster to 5 months

The period between getting the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and the first booster shot has been shortened to five months from six for people ages 18 and up, the Food and Drug Administration says.


All 3 white men convicted of Ahmaud Arbery's murder are sentenced to life in prison

Updated January 7, 2022 at 3:10 PM ET

Travis and Greg McMichael, who were convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, have been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. William "Roddie" Bryan, who was also convicted in the case, was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole — meaning he must serve at least 30 years before he's eligible for release.

Commerce Street Brewery

A pub that let people buy beers for Betty White will now donate the money to charity

Every small town should have a dream. And in Mineral Point, Wis., the long-running dream was that some day, Betty White would come back for a visit.

The local brewpub was ready. On its chalkboard that tracks beers people buy in advance for buddies who might pop in, White's name has long been the most popular on the list.

In 2019, she had more than 40 beers waiting for her at the Commerce Street Brewery, just in case she stopped by.


Employers added only 199,000 jobs in December even before omicron started to surge

Hiring slowed again last month as employers continued to struggle to find workers in an economy now confronting the full impact of the omicron variant.

U.S. employers added just 199,000 workers to payrolls in December, according to data from the Labor Department Friday. That was well below expectations of around 400,000 jobs created, marking a second consecutive month of disappointing employment growth.

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What it really takes to keep schools open during the omicron surge

Brittany Gonzalez has 10 students, and only five of them consistently wear masks. She teaches special education to second- and third-graders in Lee County, Fla.

"It is a foreign piece of cloth on their face," she says. "And not all of them have the level of understanding as to why we're doing it and what it means and how to wear it."

Gonzalez knows that showing up to work every day in person, as she has since fall 2020, means risking exposure to COVID-19.


U.S. women's ski jumpers won't compete in the Beijing Olympics. They failed to qualify

American women helped lead the international fight to include women's ski jumping in the Winter Olympics, and the U.S. team was once ranked No. 1 in the world.

But in a major blow to the program, American women failed to garner enough points in qualifying competitions to send any athletes to the Beijing Games.

"It's disappointing because all of us want to be Olympians," said Anna Hoffmann, 21, who won the U.S. women's ski jumping trials last month in Lake Placid, N.Y.

Claire Harbage/NPR

The Western megadrought is revealing America's 'lost national park'

On a turquoise lake in a sandstone desert, Ross Dombrowski is trying to figure out what to do about the rock growing behind his houseboat. The rock, spectacular and rust red, like most in southern Utah, wasn't visible below the water's surface when Dombrowski moored his houseboat on Lake Powell last year.

Today, it's three stories tall.

"I would never think it would get to this," he says, looking at the shrinking lake. "But it has."