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News From NPR

In a tale the stuff of yard-sale legend, a small porcelain bowl sold at its $35 asking price has turned out to be a rare, 15th-century Chinese artifact worth up to half a million dollars.

Updated at 3 p.m. ET

Rep. Ronny Jackson made sexual and denigrating statements about a female subordinate, smelled of alcohol while on duty and humiliated his staff during his long stint as a White House physician, according to a scathing new report from the Defense Department's inspector general.

Seven years ago this April 14, armed Boko Haram terrorists kidnapped 276 school girls in the remote Nigerian town of Chibok. Fifty-seven of them managed to escape by jumping onto the highway as the trucks into which they'd been forced were driving away. The Boko Haram convoy continued on, taking the remaining 219 hostages to a destination, and a fate, unknown.

Updated at 5:47 p.m. ET

The House of Representatives has canceled its Thursday session after the U.S. Capitol Police said it is aware of a threat by an identified militia group to breach the Capitol complex that day.

The Senate plans to remain in session on Thursday to debate amendments to the COVID-19 relief bill.

Dutch police in a town north of Amsterdam are investigating an explosion outside of a coronavirus test center early Wednesday.

Police say the explosion went off at about 6:55 a.m. outside of the center in Bovenkarspel, a town about 40 miles northeast of Amsterdam. There were no injuries from the blast. Investigators told local media that the explosion appeared intentional, as remnants of an exploded metal cylinder were found outside of the building.

Germany's domestic intelligence agency has put the country's largest opposition party under surveillance as a potential threat to the country's constitution, according to public broadcaster ARD and other media outlets. The move affects dozens of lawmakers who are in the right-wing Alternative for Germany, or AfD, party.

Updated at 3:01 p.m. ET

It took more than three hours for former President Donald Trump's Defense Department to approve a request for the D.C. National Guard to intervene in the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, the commanding general of the outfit told senators on Wednesday.

Michelle Queen does not consider herself part of QAnon, but she does believe some of its most outlandish conspiracies – including that Satan-worshipping elites in a secret pedophile cabal are killing babies and drinking their blood.

"When you are evil, you're evil," says Queen, 46, from Texas. "It goes deep."

Updated at 11:15 a.m. ET

In a day of protests that was among the deadliest in Myanmar since last month's coup, at least 18 people were reportedly killed on Wednesday, a day after Southeast Asian foreign ministers issued a tepid call to end to the violence.

Country music legend Dolly Parton got a taste of her own medicine on Tuesday when she received a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine whose research she helped fund.

Parton, 75, documented the moment in a video posted to social media in which she encouraged eligible viewers to get the shot and broke into a modified rendition of "Jolene" to that effect.

A number of states are breaking with federal guidelines and starting to vaccinate people by age group, drawing criticism from essential workers and people with underlying conditions who are getting bumped back in line.

In Connecticut, officials say they're trying to balance equity with speeding up the pace of vaccinations. Under a new vaccination plan that began on March 1, educators are still prioritized but essential workers like grocers, security officers and janitors, who would have been next in line, now have to wait until their age group comes up.

A conspiracy theory sown by former President Donald Trump and his allies to cast doubt on his loss last year has trickled down to county-level politics, impeding one Ohio county's ability to purchase new voting equipment ahead of local elections this year.

President Biden said on Tuesday that a key milestone in the fight against COVID-19 could be reached two months faster than earlier projected. By the end of May, there should be enough vaccine doses for every adult in America, he said — a dramatic improvement to his initial timetable for late July.

A turning point in speeding up that pledge came a few weeks ago, on a Sunday afternoon in early February, during a phone call with Johnson & Johnson executives that had been planned for 15 minutes but stretched for longer than an hour, two senior administration officials told NPR.

When Congress reconvened the night of the Jan. 6 riot to finish certifying the electoral college results, Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., huddled with top Democrats on the House floor.

"I was on the dais with the [Speaker Pelosi], and the speaker and I, and also [House Administration Chair Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif.], had a conversation about a bipartisan approach and a bipartisan commission, or a bicameral commission, to move things forward to find out what went wrong," he told NPR. "Unfortunately that bipartisan discussion didn't last too long."

For Americans factories, business is good these days. Almost too good.

Unexpectedly strong demand for furniture, appliances and other manufactured goods is providing a windfall to many of the country's industries.

But as factory gears spin faster to meet the surging demand, a big headache is emerging: Supply chains are getting stretched more than ever, and critical components are proving a lot harder to procure.

Take the word of Drew Greenblatt, the president of Marlin Steel in Baltimore.

"The economy is snapping back in a big way," Greenblatt said.

When U.S. diplomat Maryum Saifee was based at the U.S. Consulate in Lahore, Pakistan, she oversaw a program that brought together tech entrepreneurs from Austin, Texas, and businesses in Pakistan's Punjab region. The goal: to expand investment and business opportunities in both countries.

"We have mayors and governors already engaging with their overseas counterparts, and they've been doing this for years," Saifee says.

The year of the pandemic was also the year of the gun. Shootings took off in almost every city, large and small. New York saw shootings double, and nationally, non-suicide gun deaths jumped about 25%, according to the independent Gun Violence Archive.

When Latoya Jenkins talks about her mom, she likes to focus on happy memories like the games she used to play with her kids.

"She used to buy two bottles of dish soap," Jenkins said. "One bottle was for the dishes. The other bottle was for rainy days. She would take us outside and we would make bubbles."

Jenkins, who lives in upstate New York, says her mom, Sonya Hughey, had a hard life, first using crack cocaine when she was a teenager.

Concern about new coronavirus variants has grown quickly in recent months.

First, scientists in the United Kingdom spotted a more contagious coronavirus strain that spread like wildfire through the London area. Then, researchers in South Africa spotted one that appears to evade the immune system. Next, another variant was flagged in Brazil because it looked like it could infect people who had already been infected once before.

As a House panel is set to meet on new spending to ramp up Capitol security, military and federal officials will testify in a Senate hearing that is part of several congressional probes into what fueled the deadly Jan. 6 riot.

There may be light at the end of the tunnel for the pandemic, but one piece of the virus will live on.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, who became the public face of the government's coronavirus response with daily press conferences and media interviews, on Tuesday donated his personal model of the SARS-CoV-2 virion to the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. The model will be housed within the national medicine and science collections.

Many residents of Jackson, Miss., remain without running water three weeks after a winter storm hit the city.

The water outages in Jackson began Feb. 15 as a winter storm swept across the state. The storm brought devastating, bitter cold to the South and hit the region's critical infrastructure hard--highlighting major vulnerabilities in the area's power grid and water system.

For the first time since a late fall spike of COVID-19 infections, San Francisco will allow indoor dining and, gyms, movie theaters and museums to open to the public Wednesday morning.

Mayor London Breed and Grant Colfax, San Francisco Director of Health, announced the easing of coronavirus restrictions Tuesday. The changes will allow many businesses that were forced to shut last fall to reopen at some capacity, a news release said.

Just in time for pothole season, the latest report card on the nation's infrastructure shows that the needs are great but funding is lacking.

Many of the country's roads, bridges, airports, dams, levees and water systems are aging and in poor to mediocre condition. And they're in need of a major federal investment to keep from getting worse and to withstand the harsh effects of a changing climate, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers.

At least eight journalists in Myanmar have been detained by authorities while covering protests against a coup that took place last month. Six of those journalists, including 32-year-old Associated Press reporter Thein Zaw, have been charged with violating a public order law.

Utah lawmakers are considering creating a new state park in celebration of a spectacular find of dinosaur bones.

The proposal for Utahraptor State Park, approved by the state House last week and now moving through the Utah Senate, would create a park near the spot where a geology student found a bone sticking out of the sun-bleached ground in 2001.

The Trump administration was all about loosening rules for businesses. But Gary Gensler, President Biden's nominee to head the Securities and Exchange Commission, has a very different mantra.

"When there are clear rules of the road and a cop on the beat to enforce them—our economy grows and our nation prospers," Gensler told members of the Senate Banking Committee.

The need for a tough cop on the beat during the pandemic is clear to Rohit Chopra - Biden's pick to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Neera Tanden has withdrawn her name as President Biden's nominee to head the Office of Management and Budget. Her nomination has been controversial, mostly because of disparaging comments she's made in the past about Republican lawmakers. White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez is with us now for more.

Hi, Franco.

FRANCO ORDOÑEZ, BYLINE: Hi, Ari.

SHAPIRO: What did the White House and Tanden say this evening?

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.

Updated at 7:11 p.m. ET

Neera Tanden, President Biden's controversial nominee to head the Office of Management and Budget, has withdrawn her nomination. Biden said in a statement Tuesday he had accepted her request.

"I have the utmost respect for her record of accomplishment, her experience and her counsel, and I look forward to having her serve in a role in my Administration," Biden said. "She will bring valuable perspective and insight to our work."

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