Emily Alfin Johnson

According to the National Weather Service, at 3:20 p.m. EDT today, the Autumnal Equinox (the moment when the length of daylight and darkness are almost perfectly equal) occurs.

At some point over the last 18 months, each of us has probably thought about taking up some new pastime. Some of us have even followed through — a gesture at self-improvement or just a way not to go stir-crazy in COVID times.

Last fall, Brigitte Xie took up the piano. Now, just a year later, she's become the youngest winner of the prestigious Elite International Music Competition. The prize? A performance on stage at Carnegie Hall.

Even more impressive: Brigitte is 4 years old.

Here she is performing recently on ABC's Live With Kelly & Ryan.

Happy National Dog Day!

Especially during the pandemic our pets have valiantly served as our work-from-home supervisors, jogging buddies, occasional zoom guest stars and all-around best friends.

So in celebration of National Dog Day, let us introduce you to some of Morning Edition's radiant pups for your enjoyment (and let's be honest — ours too!)

As of Thursday morning, the Taliban now have control of 10 provincial capital cities — effectively putting them in control of two-thirds of Afghanistan.

NPR's Morning Edition spoke to Lynne O'Donnell, a journalist based in the capital of Kabul for Foreign Policy.

O'Donnell said things on the ground in Kabul "feel like a city under siege in a besieged country":

  • People are flooding into Kabul from neighboring regions.

Fire crews in Oregon are working hard to contain the Bootleg Fire. There are firefighters on site from as far west as Alaska and as far south as Puerto Rico.

Every morning, outside a small town called Silver Lake, Emery Johnson and hundreds of her coworkers climb out of their tents and RVs and gather around a large map. It displays the 647 square miles in Oregon that are on fire.

Authorities warn current conditions are ideal for more fires. Officials say embers from the Bootleg Fire can travel long distances on the current 25 mph winds.

One-third of COVID-19 cases nationwide last week occurred in Florida and Texas, according to Jeffrey Zients, the White House's COVID-19 response coordinator.

This comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports a 44% increase in daily new cases in the last week of July. Last week's average of daily new COVID-19 cases is "higher than our peak of last summer," according to the CDC's director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky.

If you think parenting is stressful, imagine parenting while also competing as a Paralympic athlete.

Lora Webster, who competes in sitting volleyball, is a mother of three, with number four on the way.

"This baby is a surprise and also the timing of it. I never planned to go to Tokyo pregnant," she says.

Pandemic protocols have kept Olympic venues primarily fan-free, required extra precautions and testing for athletes and staff and prevented many loved ones from cheering their teams on in person.

But one COVID-19 concession may actually make for a beautiful new Olympic tradition.

For all the socializing that can't happen this year at the Olympic village because of COVID-19 restrictions, Olympic TikTok is giving everyone (those in Tokyo and those stuck at home) a socially distanced way to connect.

The U.S. women's soccer team is advancing to the knockout stage of the Tokyo Olympics soccer tournament after a nervy, 0-0 draw against Australia.

In what was an unusual sight for these Olympics, there were a small number of fans in the stadium for the game. About 1,000 schoolchildren had been given tickets.