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Michel Martin

The road to full economic recovery from the pandemic may be steeper than anticipated.

U.S. employers added 266,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department reported Friday. That's far fewer than the nearly 1 million analysts expected given other recent signs of recovery: business reopening, consumer spending increasing, and new unemployment claims falling.

For a long time, Mazie Hirono thought of herself as one of the quiet ones — hardworking and well-prepared, caring but stoic — formed in the image of the Japanese American women who raised her.

But in recent years, Sen. Hirono, D-Hawaii — the only immigrant serving in the U.S. Senate — has turned heads for her increasingly tough, no-B.S. style and a willingness to challenge not just Republicans but her own Democratic party.

The turning point, she said in an interview with NPR, was catalyzed by the Trump administration and the conduct of the former president himself.

Updated April 12, 2021 at 11:48 AM ET

Voters in St. Louis last week delivered a historic victory for Tishaura Jones, the first Black woman elected mayor and the latest triumph for progressive candidates in the St. Louis region.

This week, a shooting attack at a grocery store in Boulder, Colo., left 10 people dead. Just days earlier, eight people were fatally shot in a rampage targeting spas in the Atlanta area.

As with almost every mass shooter in recorded U.S. history, both of the suspects in the recent attacks are men.

A staggering 98% of these crimes have been committed by men, according to The Violence Project, a nonpartisan research group that tracks U.S. mass shooting data dating back to 1966.

Tucked into President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief law are provisions meant to help Black farmers, who have faced generations of systemic discrimination.

As part of the American Rescue Plan, $4 billion is going toward debt relief for "socially disadvantaged" farmers to pay off debts that have prevented their farms from growing, the Department of Agriculture said. Another $1.01 billion is being used to create a racial equity commission.

So, you might not be surprised that a record titled Preacher's Kid by a musician whose father was a pastor would take the top spot on the iTunes Christian album chart. That happened last month, with a new album by Grace Semler Baldridge, who performs as Semler. But the lyrics on that album tell a different story than the one you might be expecting.

In Preacher's Kid, Semler explores faith and church life through a queer lens — everything from the meaning of the gospel and activism, to what really happens in youth group.

Updated at 8:35 p.m. ET

By the time a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, fueled by far-right conspiracies and lies about a stolen election, a group of researchers at New York University had been compiling Facebook engagement data for months.

The incoming head of the World Trade Organization says getting countries to drop export restrictions on vaccines and medical supplies needed to fight the coronavirus pandemic will be one of her top priorities.

Nigerian economist Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is set to become the WTO's director-general on March 1. She's the first woman and first African to lead the group that governs trade rules between countries.

During a career spanning more than six decades, Cicely Tyson has brought to life iconic roles in theater, film and television — from Sounder to The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman to Roots to How to Get Away with Murder. They've offered previously unseen images of the sweep and humanity of Black life.

And now, in a new memoir, Just as I Am, she finally sets forth her improbable journey, from the typing pool at the Red Cross to award-winning actor and icon of style.

When now Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris was "accused" of being "too ambitious" on the campaign trail, it spurred her niece, activist and author Meena Harris, into action.

"It really just stopped me in my tracks. ... I had had enough," Harris says.

So she wrote a children's book called Ambitious Girl, in the hope that no young woman in the next generation would have her dreams characterized as a liability.

The COVID-19 crisis in the U.S. is getting worse by nearly every metric. On Friday alone, there were more than 184,000 new confirmed cases and 1,400 deaths, the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center reported. Hospitals are reaching capacity.

If you're feeling stressed out or overwhelmed by ... you know, everything ... this may be a good time to hear this very important message from chef and cookbook author Ina Garten:

"I often say that you can be miserable before eating a cookie and you can be miserable after eating a cookie, but you can never be miserable while you're eating a cookie."

That's Garten, reading the opening line from her new cookbook, Modern Comfort Food.

Alicia Garza was an activist and organizer for more than a decade back in 2013 when her social media posts — along with the hashtag drafted and shared by her fellow activists Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometti — helped start what is now the global Black Lives Matter movement.

It is one of the most visible social justice movements in the world, and since its creation, Garza has continued to work and think about how both liberal and conservative movements start, thrive and evolve.

Ambassador John Bolton, who worked as national security adviser to President Trump from 2018 to 2019, told NPR's All Things Considered that he does not believe the United States is safer today than it was four years ago.

"I think unfortunately it's not safer, which is not to say that there haven't been some important positive decisions made and some important accomplishments," he said, including withdrawing from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and from a Cold War-era nuclear arms control treaty with Russia.

Months after dropping out of the Democratic presidential primaries, Pete Buttigieg is back with a warning: America, he says, is facing a crisis of trust. And he says building that trust, in both American institutions and fellow citizens, is the only way to address the other challenges facing the country.

Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., called trust one of his "rules of the road" during his presidential campaign.

An hour before the food distribution event began in Bethesda, Md., on a recent Friday, a long line of cars was already winding through the parking lot.

Volunteers from St. John's Episcopal Church worked to unpack boxes of bread, prepared meals and coffee — enough for the first 200 people to arrive. Nourish Now, a Maryland-based nonprofit food bank, provides food for the weekly events.

Waiting in his car, Peter Warner was sure to arrive early this time. Last week, the group ran out of meals within a half hour.

Rina Sawayama's self-titled debut album is a complex work of pop music, often calling to mind early 2000s R&B, nu-metal, and shuffling between genres in the same song. In the same way she flips through sounds, Sawayama also sings about a lot of complicated topics: her parents' messy divorce, her identity as Japanese British person and her burgeoning understanding of systemic racism, which she says she experienced while studying psychology, sociology and politics at Cambridge University.

Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams says the state's Tuesday primary performance was "an unmitigated disaster," pinning the blame on Georgia's Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

Polling locations all around Georgia experienced delays and long lines Tuesday due to a mix of logistical problems, technical issues with the state's new voting machines and COVID-19-related restrictions resulting in fewer available voting sites.

The Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 is one of the flashpoints of the Trump era.

The white-supremacist gathering devolved into violence with anti-racist demonstrators. One woman, Heather Heyer, was killed and others were injured. The event has taken on a deep symbolic meaning even beyond those terrible facts. Former Vice President Joe Biden began his run for the Democratic presidential nomination by invoking Charlottesville, and saying his campaign was a response, in part, to President Trump's divisive rhetoric.

Protests have erupted across the nation in response to the death of George Floyd, and some of the demonstrations have turned violent, leading political leaders and activists to debate over who is responsible.

Stephen Bruner, better known as Thundercat, is one of the music industry's most eclectic and prolific collaborators. Over the past five years, the virtuosic bass player has worked with everyone from Snoop Dogg and Kendrick Lamar to Michael McDonald. His latest album, It Is What It Is, was released on Friday and it features the same expansive range of genres and styles.

Last month, Habibi released Anywhere But Here, the band's first full-length album since its self-titled debut in 2014. Just like that first record and the EPs and singles over the past six years, the new album is full of Habibi's signature mix of psychedelic rock and Iranian music.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

For many Americans, the first moon landing remains the most memorable moment in the history of manned space travel.

It was a high-water mark in the space race, but as the United States and Soviet Union were rushing to prove their dominance, a lesser known chapter in that battle was taking place: America's effort to send a black man into space.

Black in Space: Breaking the Color Barrier, a new documentary on the Smithsonian Channel, brings light to the groundbreaking moment that almost came to be during the heights of the civil rights movement.

Quentin Baxter and Clay Ross first met as students at the College of Charleston in the 1990s, where they played together in a jazz band. Decades later, they reunited and last month won a Grammy together as members of Ranky Tanky, a band that specializes in blending contemporary American gospel and R&B with Gullah traditional music.

President Trump celebrated his acquittal this week by lashing out at political rivals and firing two officials who testified before impeachment investigators about his involvement in the Ukraine scandal.

In 2017, the all-woman collective Les Amazones d'Afrique introduced themselves to the world with their debut album, Republique Amazone. The songs showcased the group's two signatures: intoxicating, danceable rhythms and a message calling out violence and other forms of mistreatment of women all over the globe.

Their second album, called Amazones Power was released Friday, and it builds on many of those same themes. The group has grown since last time, with the core of women with roots in West Africa now supplemented by an international mix of men and women.

As swaths of red and green trim Chicago neighborhoods this holiday season, an unexpected pop of blue is lighting up the Wrigleyville neighborhood. And it's got nothing to do with the Cubs.

It's actually the 10,000-plus lights springing from 8 Crazy Nights — what appears to be the city's first Hanukkah-themed pop-up bar.

Kyle Bagley and Sam Stone, co-owners of the Graystone Tavern, decided to dress up the sports bar for the month of December. Neither owner is Jewish, but Bagley says they saw a void in the crowded pop-up scene. On top of that, they wanted to stand out.

Between the election of President Trump and Britain's ongoing debate over Brexit, the billionaire philanthropist George Soros recognizes that populism is on the rise and that his brand of liberal democracy is faltering.

"When I got involved in what I call political philanthropy some 40 years ago, the open society idea was on the ascendant — closed societies were opening up," Soros said in an interview with NPR's All Things Considered. "And now, open societies are on the defensive and dictatorships are on the rise."

Yet he remains optimistic.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York officially endorsed presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at a rally in Queens, N.Y., on Saturday.

Addressing an estimated crowd of more than 25,000 supporters, Ocasio-Cortez said she was proud to join the Vermont senator in bringing "a working-class revolution to the ballot box of the United States of America."

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