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As a tech journalist for the website The Verge, Casey Newton established himself as something of a Silicon Valley institution. Known for a mix of original reporting and gimlet-eyed analysis, his writing has become essential reading for those who want to better understand the industry.

This fall, he quit his steady job at The Verge to start an email newsletter with Substack, a San Francisco-based startup.

Updated at 4:52 p.m. ET

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer say a $908 billion coronavirus relief proposal should be the starting point for bipartisan aid.

It is the first time Pelosi, D-Calif., and Schumer, D-N.Y., have accepted any COVID-19 legislation other than the $2.2 trillion bill that passed the House of Representatives in October. But their shift to the moderates' plan comes after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., already rejected the bipartisan proposal.

Campbell County, Va., is taking a stand against Gov. Ralph Northam's COVID-19 restrictions as its Board of Supervisors endorsed a measure Tuesday night that calls on county agencies not to enforce Northam's crowd-size limits and other orders.

Early on in the coronavirus pandemic, as governments scrambled to find rapid and reliable coronavirus tests, three states ended up turning to a small public company that just months earlier had no major customers and was losing millions of dollars.

Is a non-unanimous jury verdict in a criminal case ever constitutional?

Just months ago, the Supreme Court ruled for the first time that such verdicts violate the Sixth Amendment's right to a jury trial. But the 6-3 decision applied only to future cases. The justices, apparently divided at the time over whether the decision should apply to past cases, left that question for another day.

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For those fighting the COVID-19 pandemic — and those hit hardest by it — a vaccine could be just weeks away, as the Food and Drug Administration weighs emergency approval for two vaccines. On Tuesday, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel recommended that the first vaccines should go to health care workers and residents and staff of long-term care facilities.

The Afghan government and the Taliban have agreed to forge ahead with substantive negotiations aimed at ending decades of almost continuous war in the country, representatives from the two sides said in near-twin tweets on Wednesday.

Although peace talks ostensibly began on Sept. 12 in Qatar, the negotiations quickly bogged down in procedural matters, like which form of Islamic law should govern disputes between negotiators.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered mass immunization against COVID-19 as Russia races to reverse a surge in coronavirus cases and be the first in the world to distribute its vaccine widely.

Putin issued the order in a videoconference with officials, just hours after health authorities in Britain approved Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine.

The U.N. Commission on Narcotic Drugs voted to reclassify cannabis Wednesday, taking it off the strict Schedule IV list that includes dangerous and highly addictive drugs such as heroin. The U.N. still deems cannabis a controlled substance. But the move, which the U.S. supported, could ease restrictions on research into marijuana's therapeutic use.

While Democrats remain more likely than Republicans to support new measures aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19, a majority of U.S. adults from both political parties now agree more steps are needed to fight the pandemic, according to the latest results from a large ongoing survey.

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This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

President Trump is being urged to use his remaining time in office to grant preemptive pardons to people close to him, including family members and maybe even himself.

Sean Hannity, whose Fox News program is closely followed by Trump, said on his radio show this week that the president, "out the door, needs to pardon his whole family and himself because they want this witch hunt to go on in perpetuity, they're so full of rage and insanity against the president."

Dr. David Satcher grew up in the segregated south. He went on to serve as the 16th U.S. surgeon general and director of the CDC. We talk to him about race, health and the pandemic.  

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.

After weeks of bloody conflict in the northernmost reaches of Ethiopia, international aid groups have obtained access to its war-torn region of Tigray. The United Nations said Wednesday that it has reached a deal with Ethiopia's government, which opens the door to humanitarian groups seeking to help civilians caught in the internecine fighting.

Updated at 12:50 p.m. ET

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has revised its guidelines for people who may have been exposed to the coronavirus. Now, instead of the standard 14-day quarantine it has been recommending, the CDC says that potential exposure warrants a quarantine of 10 or seven days, depending on one's test results and symptoms.

If individuals do not develop symptoms, they need only quarantine for 10 days; if they test negative, that period can be reduced to just one week.

Aaron David Miller (@aarondmiller2), a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, served for more than two decades as a State Department Middle East analyst, adviser and negotiator in Republican and Democratic administrations. He's the author of The End of Greatness: Why America Can't Have (and Doesn't Want) Another Great President.

In the village of Solagh in the Sinjar region of northern Iraq, surrounded by fields where no crops grow, laborers in masks and white protective suits carefully sift through the sand and dirt of a former fish farm.

They take turns shoveling the sand into a rectangular, coffee table-size wire sifter to make sure they don't lose small pieces of bone.

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Nikita Chinchwade moved from India to the U.S. last fall to get a master's degree.

"It had been a dream of mine for a very long time because of the quality of education here," she says.

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Early in the pandemic, Xiomy De la Cruz was working at a fast food restaurant, but her work hours were cut back. She is a Peruvian refugee single mother with two children and another on the way. Like many families, she found herself in various pantry lines to make ends meet.

"So I said to myself one day, 'why not fill up my car with food and take it to my house?' There are so many moms who don't have access to a car for transportation," De la Cruz said. "I filled up my van and put a 'free food' sign on my door."

In a contest with historic turnout, President-elect Joe Biden topped President Trump by nearly 7 million votes, and 74 votes in the Electoral College, but his victory really was stitched together with narrow margins in a handful of states.

A trio of young Hong Kong opposition activists have been sentenced after pleading guilty to organizing a demonstration last year as part of a larger protest against Hong Kong's receding autonomy.

Their sentencing on Wednesday is the latest blow to the region's opposition movement, which seeks to preserve Hong Kong's limited autonomy from Beijing.

Updated at 4:30 a.m. ET

The U.K. has formally approved Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine, becoming the first Western country to OK its use for the general public.

The British regulatory agency, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority, or MHRA, announced early Wednesday the approval of the vaccine from Pfizer and the German company BioNTech for emergency use. The vaccine promises up to 95% protection against COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

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