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Top Senate Democrats warn that the Trump administration is deliberately undermining the independence of immigration courts.

In a bluntly worded letter to the Justice Department, which oversees the immigration courts, the senators accuse the administration of waging an "ongoing campaign to erode the independence of immigration courts," including changing court rules to allow more political influence over decisions and promoting partisan judges to the Board of Immigration Appeals.

Updated at 1:33 p.m. ET

The U.S. House has voted to remove the deadline on ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment in an attempt to revive the amendment. The 232-183 vote fell largely along party lines with five Republicans supporting the measure and zero Democrats opposing it.

Coming off a shift at Tuen Mun Hospital in Hong Kong on Wednesday night, cardiologist Alfred Wong was getting ready to go to dinner with his wife. The last time they ate together, she brought the meal to the courtyard below their apartment, placed it on a bench, then sat down at least 10 feet away.

From across the patio, they ate. On separate benches. Looking at each other.

Updated at 10:12 a.m. ET

The long slide in the U.S. newspaper industry took another dramatic turn Thursday.

Sudan says it has signed a deal to settle claims related to the bombing of the USS Cole 20 years ago — a move that could end lawsuits filed by victims and their families and also improve Sudan's chances of getting off the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Sudan's transitional government has made it a priority to get off that punitive list since it took charge last spring.

It's the season for colds and flus — and a newly identified respiratory disease, COVID-19.

To cut your risk of catching a respiratory illness on your next flight, experts offer two pieces of common-sense advice: Wash your hands frequently and keep a distance from people who are sick.

Where to sit to prevent getting sick

A 2018 study suggests that to minimize contact with other passengers, you should pick a window seat and stay put.

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Updated at 4:37p.m. EST.

The U.S. Department of Education says it is opening an investigation into Yale and Harvard universities for failing to disclose hundreds of millions of dollars in gifts and contracts from foreign donors.

The two Ivy League schools have been singled out in a federal crackdown on institutions of higher learning for allegedly not reporting foreign donations of more than $250,000, as required by law under Section 117 of the Higher Education Act.

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Contests in New Hampshire and Iowa have done little to resolve the Democratic Party's divisions between moderates and progressives.

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As the Democratic primary season rolls on, one big lesson already is sinking in from the party's caucus-night meltdown in Iowa: Secrecy isn't a strategy.

State Democratic chair Troy Price declined to answer questions a month ago about what sorts of tests were conducted on the smartphone app the party was planning to use on caucus night or detail backup plans should it fail.

But he did promise some sort of transparency.

For centrist Democrats the most important theme to emerge from the New Hampshire primary was "don't count us out."

For weeks they have been grappling with the reality that Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., a self-proclaimed democratic socialist, is shaping up to be their party's front-runner for president. Moderates say surging support for two more moderate Democrats is a signal that their wing of the party has a chance to take the nomination. But there is growing pressure on centrists to unite around a single candidate before Sanders becomes unbeatable.

The head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection made a surprising admission this week about the agency's Seattle field office.

Last month, officers at a border crossing there pulled aside hundreds of Iranian-Americans — including U.S citizens and green card holders — and held them for hours.

"In that specific office," acting CBP commissioner Mark Morgan said at a briefing with reporters in Washington, "leadership just got a little overzealous."

China's Hubei province expanded its criteria for identifying new coronavirus infections on Thursday, causing a dramatic spike in reported cases at the epicenter of the disease, as Beijing moved to purge provincial party officials amid criticism of their handling of the epidemic.

A Utah bill that would reduce polygamy among consenting adults from a felony to an infraction — on par with a traffic ticket — was unanimously endorsed by a state Senate committee earlier this week, despite opposition from critics who argue the law could potentially protect abusers.

The move advances Senate Bill 102 to the full chamber for a vote.

"Vigorous enforcement of the law during the mid-twentieth century did not deter the practice of plural marriage," Sen. Deidre Henderson told NPR.

Updated at 9:10 p.m. ET

Jared Kushner has been quietly trying to resurrect discussions to overhaul the U.S. immigration system, multiple people familiar with the conversations have told NPR.

President Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law has been meeting with business leaders, immigration hard-liners and other interest groups important to Republicans with the goal of rolling out a new immigration plan once Trump's impeachment trial ended.

One of the world's biggest trade shows has been cancelled as mounting concerns over the coronavirus outbreak ripple across the business world.

Organizers called off the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, after big-name participants pulled out.

With just weeks before the 2020 census is set to roll out nationwide, the Census Bureau is lagging behind on recruiting temporary workers and addressing IT and cybersecurity risks tied to the first primarily online U.S. count, a new report by the Government Accountability Office warns.

Updated at 6:03 p.m. ET

Editor's note: This report includes descriptions of alleged sexual assault.

Two Ohio State University football players were arrested on rape and kidnapping charges Wednesday after what local police describe as a violent sexual encounter with a woman last week. The men are scheduled to be arraigned on first-degree felony charges Thursday.

Police charged 21-year-olds Amir Riep and Jahsen Wint, both of whom played on the Buckeyes' Big Ten Championship team this past season.

Scientists can get very excited about what they study, and that means they can be pretty jazzed when what they study gets turned into one of the official emojis of the world and enters our shared visual language.

But sometimes that enthusiasm is tempered by more complex feelings, which is the case with some of the latest emojis that are about to hit our smartphones.

Consider the "rock" emoji.

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There's a seasonality to many viruses. Flu and cold viruses tend to peak in winter months, then die down with warmer weather.

Will the newly identified coronavirus and the disease it causes — COVID-19 — follow a similar pattern?

Before that question can be answer, let's consider how seasons and temperature influence the spread of viruses.

The remains of 2,411 fetuses found in Illinois last year after the death of a former abortion provider have been buried, but authorities say they're no closer to knowing why the doctor had been keeping them.

Updated at 10:49 p.m. ET

The quarantine of the Diamond Princess cruise ship has spawned several online communities, with passengers forming groups on WhatsApp and Facebook to break through the isolation and share information. While they exchange information, they also focus on keeping each other's spirits up.

"We check on each other to see how we are each doing daily," passenger Aun Na Tan of Australia said in a message to NPR.

About 50,000 years ago, ancient humans in what is now West Africa apparently procreated with another group of ancient humans that scientists didn't know existed.

There aren't any bones or ancient DNA to prove it, but researchers say the evidence is in the genes of modern West Africans. They analyzed genetic material from hundreds of people from Nigeria and Sierra Leone and found signals of what they call "ghost" DNA from an unknown ancestor.

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