National & International News

We follow stories about America and the world, with help from NPR.

Updated at 9:27 p.m. ET

President Trump's lawyers tore into Democrats' impeachment allegations on Monday with a legal and political pageant that culminated with a rejection of the relevance of new allegations from John Bolton.

Retired law professor Alan Dershowitz closed the day's arguments with a stemwinder about what he called the constitutional weaknesses of the case against Trump.

It is a universally acknowledged truth that a curious reader in want of a good book needs only direct their footsteps (and questions) to the nearest librarian. Librarians, after all, are always a font of good book suggestions.

Updated at 7:30 p.m. ET

Investigators are now poring over the scene where former NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven other people died Sunday in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif. It's not clear why the craft went down, although weather conditions at the time were difficult. The National Transportation Safety Board has sent a team to the site and is now leading the probe.

New imagery from commercial satellites that was shared with NPR suggests Iran is making repairs and preparing for a space launch, following a recent string of failed attempts.

The imagery, taken Sunday by the commercial firm Planet and shared via the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, shows vehicles parked at a building used to assemble Iran's space rockets at the Imam Khomeini Space Center in northern Iran. A second group of vehicles is visible at a circular launch pad that was heavily damaged during failed launch preparations last year.

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This is FRESH AIR. Jim Lehrer, the respected journalist and a nightly fixture on PBS for more than three decades, died Thursday at his home in Washington. He was 85. Lehrer is best-known for co-anchoring "The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour" from 1983 to '95 with co-host Robert MacNeil and then, when McNeil retired, "The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer" until his retirement in 2011.

Updated at 1:49 p.m. ET

A plane crashed Monday in Afghanistan's eastern Ghazni province, and within hours, a swarm of conflicting reports had coalesced around the wreckage.

According to a U.S. official, the plane — a U.S. Bombardier E-11A — had two people on board, both of whom died in the crash. The official told NPR that the plane went down because of mechanical problems.

But that's not the only account of the incident.

Income inequality in the U.S. is at an all-time high, according to the Census Bureau. And a recent poll from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health shows that regardless of their income, Americans generally view this as a serious problem.

A mortar attack landed a rare direct hit on the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad's Green Zone on Sunday night, damaging buildings and reportedly leaving at least one person with minor injuries. Iraq's prime minister condemned the strike, saying it could turn the country into a battlefield and complicate efforts to get the U.S. to withdraw troops from Iraq.

Top election officials from all 50 states are meeting in Washington this week to prepare for 2020 — a gathering amid widespread concern over whether the upcoming elections will be fair and accurate, as well as free of the kind of foreign interference that marred the 2016 campaign.

The majority of Americans have health insurance that includes coverage for prescription drugs. But unfortunately that doesn't ensure that they can afford the specific drugs their doctors prescribe for them.

In fact, many Americans report that their insurance plans sometimes don't cover a drug they need — and nearly half the people whom this happens to say they simply don't fill the prescription. That's according to a poll released this month on income inequality from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Alina Dabrowska was 20 years old when she first heard about Auschwitz. She was an inmate at a prison in Nazi-occupied Poland — incarcerated for helping Allied forces — and one day in 1943, while walking the grounds, a new arrival warned her about it.

"She said, 'You're all going to Auschwitz! Do you know what kind of camp that is?' " Dabrowska recalls. "She told us that if someone is out of strength, they were immediately killed. She told us many horrible things. None of us believed her."

As the second week of the Senate impeachment trial begins, President Trump is making sure not to fully cede the spotlight to Democrats' effort to oust him.

Trump is set to meet Monday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then Netanyahu's political rival, Benny Gantz, as the administration plans to release its plan for Middle East peace.

Hundreds of tech workers pack an auditorium for a recent networking event in Toronto. The evening's host glides around the room on a hoverboard, equal parts game show host and tech bro.

"Who here is new to Canada?" asks Jason Goldlist, the co-founder of TechToronto, an organization that helps newcomers navigate the city's fast-growing tech ecosystem.

Updated at 9:15 p.m. ET

As President Trump's legal team pressed the case for acquittal on Monday, they repeatedly made two points: the charges against Trump do not meet the constitution's criteria for impeachment. And if the president is removed from office for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, it will set a "dangerous" precedent.

"You cannot turn conduct that is not impeachable into impeachable conduct simply by using words like quid pro quo," said one of Trump's lawyers, Alan Dershowitz, calling the charges "vague, indefinable."

By the end of the 62nd Grammy Awards on Sunday evening, a major star had been crowned: 18-year-old singer Billie Eilish, who swept all four of the night's biggest prizes — Best New Artist, Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Album of the Year — along with honors for Best Pop Vocal Album.

But that rush of awards came only at the tail end of a long, strange and emotionally ambivalent ceremony held Sunday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Updated at 1:20 a.m. ET

Democrats are pressing the Senate to call former national security adviser John Bolton to testify in President Trump's impeachment trial following a new report that House impeachment managers describe as "explosive."

Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Maria Onore Bryant, known as "GiGi," died in a Sunday morning helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif. They were among nine people on board, all of whom were killed in the crash.

The news of Bryant's death sent shock and sadness throughout the sports world and beyond. Stars from across the NBA, fans and friends poured their emotions into tributes on social media to honor one of the greatest players in basketball history.

A fifth U.S. case of coronavirus has been confirmed, this one in Arizona's Maricopa County. A statement released on Sunday from the Arizona Department of Health Services described the patient as "a member of the Arizona State University community who does not live in university housing."

A week after the killing of a young female artist and activist, protesters in the Mexican border city of Juárez took to the streets with a message to authorities: Don't let this crime go unpunished like all the rest.

The slaying of 26-year-old Isabel Cabanillas de la Torre on Jan. 18 has reopened old wounds in a city with a gruesome history of violence against women.

Updated at 8:23 p.m. ET

Basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday in Calabasas, Calif., the city's mayor has confirmed. Bryant was 41.

A flurry of qualifying polls released Sunday has put tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang back on the Democratic debate stage.

Yang is the seventh candidate to qualify for the Feb. 7 debate in Manchester, N.H., which is just four days ahead of the primary there.

A man in Arizona was pulled over last week for attempting to disguise a fake skeleton as a passenger in his car so he could stealthily drive in the HOV lane.

The 62-year-old received a penalty ticket on Thursday when a trooper noticed the skeleton wearing a camouflage bucket hat and tied upright in the passenger seat with a yellow rope, the Arizona Department of Public Safety told the AP.

Updated at 3:32 p.m. ET

Health officials in two California counties have reported over the weekend two new cases of Wuhan coronavirus in the state, bringing the total number of cases in the U.S. to four.

The Orange County Health Care Agency reported Saturday that a man in his 50s tested positive for the infectious disease and is currently being treated in isolation at a local hospital.

There's probably more written on how to kill a bigleaf maple tree than how to grow one, according to Neil McLeod of Neil's Bigleaf Maple Syrup, a farm in the tiny northwestern Washington burg of Acme.

"It's hard to kill," McLeod says with a wry smile. "A great tree. Perfect weed. It makes good syrup."

In a new recording made public on Saturday, President Trump can be heard speaking with two men he has claimed to not know and ordering the firing of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.

The hour-long recording from April 2018 captures a meeting between Trump and a group of donors that includes two associates of his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, who in recent weeks have emerged as central figures in the impeachment inquiry: Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas.

One day after a contentious interview that was followed by an expletive-filled verbal lashing of NPR host Mary Louise Kelly, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is publicly accusing her of lying to him — "twice."

In a statement released by the State Department on Saturday, Pompeo says Kelly first lied "in setting up our interview."

Iraqi security forces launched a major crackdown on anti-government protesters Saturday from Baghdad to cities across the south after an influential Shiite cleric instrumental in the demonstrations withdrew his support.

Updated at 12:26 p.m. ET

Saturday's Lunar New Year celebrations were dampened in China by fears over the coronavirus outbreak and travel restrictions affecting 46 million people.

On the first day of the Lunar New Year, China's President Xi Jinping stressed the urgency of controlling the outbreak — which has seen hundreds more confirmed cases since Friday — and urged state authorities to prioritize containment efforts.

Updated at 3:24 p.m. ET

Two astronauts aboard the International Space Station conducted their fourth and final spacewalk Saturday to finish a series of repairs aimed at extending the functioning of a cosmic ray detector attached to the spacecraft.

The six-hour, 16-minute foray outside the space capsule began shortly after 7:00 a.m. ET and ended at 1:20 p.m.

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