National News

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Prince Andrew is stripped of his royal patronages and military titles

Updated January 13, 2022 at 12:59 PM ET

One day after Prince Andrew lost his bid to quash a sex-abuse lawsuit, he has been stripped of his military affiliations and royal patronages, Buckingham Palace announced Thursday.

The move comes with Queen Elizabeth II's "approval and agreement," the palace said.


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Quebec's 'unvaxxed tax' has people rushing to get vaccinated

Quebec's plan to put a "significant" health tax on unvaccinated people — who account for a large share of COVID-19 hospitalizations — quickly drove a rush of new appointments this week, health officials say.

"It's encouraging!" said Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé, in a tweet announcing the new gains.

Dubé said the number of new vaccine appointments shot up in the 48 hours around the announcement, reaching what he called a record for several days.


AP

Republicans threaten to skip traditional general election debates

Updated January 13, 2022 at 2:24 PM ET

This may be the end of presidential debates as we have known them.

The Republican National Committee has informed the Commission on Presidential Debates, which has hosted presidential and vice presidential debates for general elections for over three decades, that it will change its rules to prohibit the party's nominees from participating in CPD debates.


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Amtrak paid $2 million to travelers with disabilities in a discrimination settlement

The rail transportation company Amtrak has paid over $2 million to more than 1,500 people with disabilities who experienced discrimination while traveling by train or trying to, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Wednesday.

The money is part of a settlement agreement to resolve the United States' determination that the company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to make certain stations accessible to travelers with disabilities.


NASA/Lauren Hughes

Scientists think they've found a big, weird moon in a far-off star system

The hunt for moons outside our solar system has just turned up another possible lunar world, a moon bigger than Earth that's orbiting a Jupiter-like planet.

The planet and its moon — if it really is a moon — orbit a Sun-like star that's over 5,000 light years away, according to a report in the journal Nature Astronomy.


AP

U.K. ministers are closing ranks around Boris Johnson amid calls for his resignation

LONDON — With varying degrees of enthusiasm, senior British government ministers on Thursday expressed support for Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson and rejected demands he resign for attending a garden party during the country's first coronavirus lockdown.

Many other Conservatives held their tongues, waiting to see whether the crisis threatening Johnson's premiership will fade or intensify.


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In a landmark case, a German court convicts an ex-Syrian officer of torture

KOBLENZ, Germany — The world's first criminal trial over torture in Syria's prisons ended Thursday with a guilty verdict and life sentence for a former Syrian intelligence officer.

The ruling came in a German case against Anwar Raslan, who was accused of more than 30 counts of murder, 4,000 counts of torture and charges of sexual assault from when he oversaw a notorious prison in Damascus in 2011 and 2012.

The landmark trial marked the first time a high-ranking former Syrian official has faced Syrians in open court in a war crimes case.


AP

Virginia's first Black woman lieutenant governor says we need to move on from slavery

On Saturday, Republican Winsome Sears will make history in Virginia by becoming the first Black woman to hold statewide office when she is sworn in as lieutenant governor alongside the governor-elect, Republican Glenn Youngkin.

Sears will preside over the state Senate and cast tie-breaking votes that could prove decisive on her political priorities, including restricting abortion and adding new charter schools. The Jamaican-born Republican frames her success as proof that the U.S. is progressing when it comes to race.


Errata Carmona for NPR

More than 1 million fewer students are in college, the lowest enrollment numbers in 50 years

More than 1 million fewer students are enrolled in college now than before the pandemic began. According to new data released Thursday, U.S. colleges and universities saw a drop of nearly 500,000 undergraduate students in the fall of 2021, continuing a historic decline that began the previous fall.

"It's very frightening," says Doug Shapiro, who leads the research center at the National Student Clearinghouse, where the new data comes from. "Far from filling the hole of [2020's] enrollment declines, we are still digging it deeper."


Xinhua via AP File Photo

China is doubling down on its 'zero-tolerance' COVID policy ahead of the Olympics

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Just weeks before hosting the Beijing Winter Olympics, China is battling multiple coronavirus outbreaks in half a dozen cities, with the one closest to the capital driven by the highly transmissible omicron variant.

With the success of the Games and China's national dignity at stake, Beijing is doubling down on its "zero-tolerance" COVID-19 policy.

Across China, more than 20 million people are in some form of lockdown, with many prevented from leaving their homes.


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