Ailsa Chang | KUNR

Ailsa Chang

For the first time in nearly three decades, the state of Georgia voted to put a Democrat in the White House. Then it added two U.S. senators from the Democratic Party. And one person central to turning Georgia blue is the voting rights activist and former state legislator Stacey Abrams.

Abrams tells All Things Considered that the Democratic swing was "extraordinary," but "not wholly surprising," adding that the "numbers had been moving in our favor" in recent years.

The Navajo Nation has lifted a strict weekend curfew that has been in place for months to expand COVID-19 vaccination efforts.

Home: It's where a lot of us have been spending our time since March 2020. For Mike Milosh, leader of the R&B music collective Rhye, the word has taken on new meaning — he's gone from life on the road to a more permanent idea of home at his house outside Los Angeles, where he created his latest studio album. But the sound of this record was conceived well before the pandemic: It began with the idea of wanting to include a choir, which led to Milosh inviting the Danish National Girls' Choir to come to the U.S.

In Los Angeles, COVID-19 cases continue to soar at an astonishing rate. In the first seven days of the year, for instance, roughly seven people died each hour.

Former FBI Director James Comey's new memoir has the misfortune of rendering a verdict on the Trump presidency before what could be its most defining day.

Comey's book was already finished before the violent mob incited by the president stormed the Capitol last week, leading to five deaths.

As surging coronavirus cases push intensive care units across Los Angeles to the breaking point, Mayor Eric Garcetti says what's needed more than hospital space and safety equipment right now is trained health workers and more vaccine doses.

"The toughest thing right now isn't just space — though it's pinched — it's really personnel and getting enough people to be there for the shifts to save lives," Garcetti tells All Things Considered. "That's increasingly where we are feeling the crunch."

The Food and Drug Administration has found that there are "no specific safety concerns" that would stop the agency from approving the COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech for emergency use.

Career scientists at the FDA analyzed the data from the ongoing Pfizer trial to form their own conclusions about its safety and efficacy.

Stephen Hahn, who heads the FDA, says the public analysis is a "very, very important part of our promise to the American people that we won't cut corners in how we assess the safety and effectiveness of a vaccine."

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

All right. We know you readers love NPR's Book Concierge. It's got this cool way to sort by topics. You get to click on these gorgeous covers, all to find the best books from 2020. Well, one of my favorite books on that list was actually written for kids ages 10 and up. It's called "Everything Sad Is Untrue" by Daniel Nayeri. And it hooks you right from the opening line.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

DANIEL NAYERI: (Reading) All Persians are liars, and lying is a sin.

For weeks now, the message from public health officials has been clear: The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is with members of your immediate household only.

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

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Dr. Joel Zivot stared at the autopsy reports. The language was dry and clinical, in stark contrast to the weight of what they contained — detailed, graphic accounts of the bodies of inmates executed by lethal injection in Georgia.

It was Memorial Day, May 25th, 2020. The coronavirus had locked down the country for weeks. Tens of thousands had died. Millions were out of work. And in Minneapolis, a 46-year-old Black man named George Floyd went to buy a pack of cigarettes.

Floyd's stop ended with a police officer's knee dug into his neck for nearly nine minutes. Floyd begged for his life, called for his mother and repeatedly told the police, "I can't breathe." His cries went unanswered and he died in police custody.

With soaring synths, spiked hair and studded leather jackets, the Psychedelic Furs were the quintessential '80s rock stars. But once the '80s ended, so did the band. Now, 29 years after the group's last album, the Psychedelic Furs is back with a new record called Made of Rain. Singer Richard Butler says this time, the band made it on its own terms.

Historically Black colleges and universities have an extra factor to consider as they plan on how to operate this next school year: Black communities are disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

According to the COVID Racial Data Tracker, Black people are dying from the coronavirus at two and a half times the rate of white people.

COVID-19 has now killed more than 148,000 people in the U.S. On a typical day in the past week, more than 1,000 people died.

But the deluge of grim statistics can dull our collective sense of outrage. And part of that has to do with how humans are built to perceive the world.

Across the country, students of color have been demanding change from their schools. At one Denver school, the push for a more inclusive and diverse curriculum came last year, from a group of African American high school students at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Early College.

Pirette McKamey is fighting for anti-racist education.

Over her more than 30 years as an educator, the principal at Mission High School in San Francisco spent a decade leading an anti-racism committee.

In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that racial segregation in schools was unconstitutional. The decision is often framed as a landmark decision that transformed education for Black students, allowing them equal access to integrated classrooms.

In the weeks since police killed George Floyd in Minneapolis, people around the U.S. and the world have flooded the streets in rage and protest against police violence toward African Americans.

Looting, fires, vandalism and the National Guard on the streets — for many, the unrest of 2020 evokes memories of the destructive riots of 1992 in Los Angeles.

Both times the protests began in anger over police violence against black men — in 1992, when four police officers were acquitted of the brutal beating of Rodney King; now, when George Floyd died in Minnesota after a policeman knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

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