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Mary Louise Kelly

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

President Biden imposed a tough new round of sanctions on Russia today.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

How did a little state that rests alongside the banks of a mighty river make so many contributions to American letters and literature?

That's the question posed early on in A Place Like Mississippi, Ralph Eubanks' new book about his home state. And he's got a point: The state produced Eudora Welty, Richard Wright, William Faulkner, Jesmyn Ward, and so many others, all spinning stories of the South and class and gender and race.

With the signing on Thursday of President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, Democrats in Washington have now secured their first major achievement since winning control of the White House and both chambers of Congress.

Ready for a good mystery to distract you from the news cycle? Us too!

Enter The Postscript Murders, which opens with a 90-year-old woman — with a heart condition — found dead.

Sad for her friends and loved ones, but hardly newsworthy. Except that it turns out her bookshelves were stuffed with a remarkable number of crime novels, each of which includes a postscript, "PS: For PS." (The dead woman's name was Peggy.)

A year ago, everything changed for Americans as a new, highly infectious disease began spreading across the country.

Two scientists, longtime friends and colleagues became two of the most public faces of the U.S. efforts to fight what ultimately became the coronavirus pandemic: Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of former President Trump's White House coronavirus task force, and his boss, Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health.

Hunger has been weaponized in the war in Yemen, says a former U.N. official who is currently in the country.

"We are seeing a relentless countdown to a possible famine that the world hasn't seen since Ethiopia in the 1980s," says Jan Egeland, who is now secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council.

So much of the news from Syria consists of sad stories of chaos, of brutality, of war. But a new book — while a story about Syria and about war — brings us a refreshing story of hope, of female courage, and of heroes.

The new book The Daughters of Kobani: A Story of Rebellion, Courage, and Justice is about an all-women militia facing off against ISIS. It's about a group of women deciding go up against a group that raped and enslaved women.

An 8-year-old from Minneapolis recently pointed out a big problem with NPR's oldest news show, All Things Considered. Leo Shidla wrote to his local NPR station:

My name is Leo and I am 8 years old. I listen to All Things Considered in the car with mom. I listen a lot.

President Biden said last week that the Saudi-led war in Yemen "has to end," as he pledged to end "all American support for offensive operations."

The complex war started in 2014, when Houthi militants supported by Iran overthrew the unpopular Saudi-backed government in Sanaa, Yemen's capital. A coalition of Gulf states — led by Saudi Arabia and with support from the U.S., France and the U.K. — responded with airstrikes starting in 2015.

When it comes to domestic extremists such as those who stormed the Capitol, a longtime CIA officer argues that the U.S. should treat them as an insurgency.

That means using counterinsurgency tactics — similar in some ways to those used in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Robert Grenier served as the CIA's station chief for Pakistan and Afghanistan in 2001. He went on to become the CIA's Iraq mission manager and then director of the CIA Counterterrorism Center from 2004 to 2006.

Updated at 5:52 p.m. ET

Four-hundred lights around the Lincoln Memorial's reflecting pool were lit Tuesday evening to honor the 400,000 people in the U.S. who have died from COVID-19.

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris both spoke.

Next week marks one year since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the first coronavirus case in the United States.

Dr. Robert Redfield, the outgoing CDC director, has been heading the federal public health agency's response to the pandemic from the start.

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

And I'm Mary Louise Kelly in Georgia, where canvassers have been knocking on how many doors?

NSE UFOT: We are a couple of minutes away from knocking on our 2 millionth door.

KELLY: In Georgia.

UFOT: In Georgia.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

With millions of kids still learning remotely, the learning losses are piling up.

As the U.S. marks 300,000 dead, it's impossible to capture the grief families around the country are experiencing.

Each person who dies of COVID-19 has a story. But many of those left behind no longer have access to the traditional ways of remembering the dead. Funerals are often happening over Zoom or as stripped-down, socially distant affairs.

Hugs aren't safe anymore.

John le Carré, master of the spy thriller, has died at the age of 89.

James Ramos, the first member of a California Native American tribe to serve in the state legislature, authored a trio of new laws bolstering the rights of Native Americans in the state.

The measures, signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom in September, will go into effect on Jan. 1. One such law will make it easier for tribes in the state to reclaim sacred artifacts and the remains of their ancestors that have been held by museums and other institutions for decades.

Like much of the response to the coronavirus across the United States, the approach to housing during the pandemic has been an uneven patchwork.

Forty-three states and Washington, D.C., put in eviction moratoriums starting in March and April, but 27 of them ended in the spring and summer. Then in September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ordered a national stop to evictions.

Journalist John Yang volunteered to take part in a Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial not for "great altruistic reasons," but because he wanted to get a vaccine sooner rather than later.

"It started off with self-interest — I wanted to get the vaccine sooner," Yang, special correspondent for the PBS NewsHour, tells NPR's All Things Considered. "Then when I found out that it was the Moderna trial, a new technology, one that has never been approved for a human vaccine before, I got sort of excited. It sort of piqued the science nerd in me."

Midshipman 1st Class Sydney Barber will become the first Black woman to serve as brigade commander at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

It's the top leadership post for midshipmen — in civilian terms, the equivalent of a student body president — and she is the 16th woman to serve in the position in the 44 years women have been allowed to attend the Naval Academy.

Poised to take over the role as leader of 4,400 midshipmen next semester, Barber told NPR's All Things Considered that there was a time when she had no desire to attend the Naval Academy.

One week ago, President Trump fired his defense secretary, Mark Esper, and quickly installed Christopher Miller, a relatively low-profile counterterrorism official, in the role on an acting basis. Trump then shifted key loyalists into other senior Department of Defense jobs.

As COVID-19 cases continue to increase in multiple states, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is encouraging Ohioans to wear masks, socially distance and wash hands just as he has for months in an effort to contain the pandemic.

DeWine's approach hasn't been shared by President Trump. So how does he square his calls for masks and distance with a president who is not doing the same?

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

The return of live music may still be a distant hope, but Jeff Tweedy has found plenty to keep him busy during the pandemic. The leader of Wilco has a new solo album called Love Is the King, on which he's traded his usual bandmates for people he's been quarantining with — his sons Spencer, who's 24, and Sammy, who's 20.

Colorado is among the states experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases. In August, the state logged about 2,000 new cases a week. Last week, that number jumped to more than 8,000.

The state's Democratic governor, Jared Polis, warns that the situation could worsen in the coming months.

Have you ever had this experience? You were having the most awful, terrible day and a stranger does something kind, and it nearly brings you to tears.

Maybe they wave you on instead of honking when you cut them off in traffic. Or maybe you get to the front of the coffee line to find the guy in front of you already paid for your drink.

Former CIA Director John Brennan is no fan of Donald Trump, having called the president a "disgraced demagogue" who belongs "in the dustbin of history."

But these days, Brennan is rooting for the president, who returned to the White House from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Monday night. Trump had been at the hospital since Friday night, after revealing his positive coronavirus test early that morning.

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