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Murder hornets. They're back.

Authorities in Washington state have announced that they've confirmed the first U.S. report this year of an Asian giant hornet, or Vespa mandarinia, in a town north of Seattle.

"Basically the only information we have is that a slightly dried out, dead specimen was collected off of a lawn in Marysville," said Sven Spichiger, managing entomologist with the state agriculture department, during a press conference.

From the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, the governors of California and Florida have taken almost polar opposite approaches to managing an unprecedented health crisis: California Gov. Gavin Newsom shut down his state early, prioritizing public health; Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis largely kept his state open for business, prioritizing the economy.

California just fully reopened on Tuesday, while Florida has been open all year, save for a short lockdown last spring.

The 2021 Tiny Desk Contest closed for entries on June 7. We've heard songs from every state in the country, from big bands and solo artists, in a huge range of genres and styles — and we've seen an equally huge range of desks to match. Now, our judges will start to comb through our entries to find a winner. Here are some of the best entries we've seen recently.


The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed legislation Wednesday to establish Juneteenth National Independence Day, a federal holiday to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States.

The bill recognizes June 19, 1865, the day when Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger led soldiers to Galveston, Texas to deliver the message that the Union had won the war and the ending of slavery would be enforced.

LUSAKA, Zambia — Zambia's first president and champion of African independence Kenneth Kaunda has died at the age of 97, the country's president Edgar Lungu announced on Facebook Thursday evening.

Zambia will have 21 days of mourning, said Lungu.

Kaunda's son, Kamarange Kaunda, also gave the news of the statesman's death on Facebook Thursday.

"I am sad to inform we have lost Mzee," Kaunda's son wrote, using a Swahili term of respect for an elder. "Let's pray for him."

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul says it is suffering from a major COVID-19 outbreak that has largely confined staff to their quarters and is disrupting many of its operations. Earlier this week, the embassy announced that it was suspending in-person visa interviews for Afghans who had worked for the U.S. military.

Lordstown Motors launched with huge ambitions — and a redemption story. Today it's scrambling for cash and trying to assuage investor anxieties.

The stumble of the much-hyped electric truck manufacturer offers a glimpse at the do-or-die moment facing many electric vehicle startups. They successfully sold an idea to investors. But now can they actually deliver vehicles to buyers?

It all started when the electric truck startup bought the giant Lordstown, Ohio, auto plant that General Motors had just shut down.

It's been a little more than a month since adolescents as young as 12 became eligible in the United States to receive the Pfizer vaccine against COVID-19, and nearly all reports have been positive: The vaccine is very effective in this age group, and the vast majority of kids experience mild side effects, if any — the same sore arm or mild flu-like symptoms seen among adults who get the shot.

To the Code Switch family,

We are thrilled (and, frankly, devastated) to announce that Shereen Marisol Meraji will be leaving Code Switch in August for a couple of amazing new opportunities.

The maker of the Snapchat app is eliminating a feature known as the "speed filter" that lets users capture how fast they are moving and share it with friends, a company spokesperson told NPR.

The move is a dramatic reversal for Snap, Inc., which fintroduced the feature in 2013.

Portland musician Aaron Nigel Smith calls the genre he works in “family music.” He writes songs for kids and their families to enjoy together. For Juneteenth this year he’s releasing a special collaboration album with songs from 23 other artists. The album is called All One Tribe, and it’s a celebration of Black musicians, children, and families. Aaron Nigel Smith joins us, along with the musician Shine, to talk about the album.

Updated June 17, 2021 at 11:39 AM ET

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday sided with Catholic Social Services in a battle that pitted religious freedom against anti-discrimination laws in Philadelphia and across the country. The court declared that the private Catholic agency was entitled to renewal of its contract with the city for screening foster parents, even though the agency violated city law by refusing to consider married LGBT couples.

Officers with the Portland Police Bureau’s Rapid Response Team — the unit responsible for policing protests in the city — resigned from the team together Wednesday night, according to multiple sources speaking on background.

Copyright 2021 Oregon Public Broadcasting. To see more, visit Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Updated June 17, 2021 at 10:21 AM ET

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act for the third time on Thursday, leaving in place the broad provisions of the law enacted by Congress in 201o. The vote was 7 to 2.

The opinion was authored by Justice Stephen Breyer who was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch dissented.

We are marking a milestone, 50 years of NPR, with a look back at stories from the archive.

On June 17, 1972, a band of five burglars broke into the Democratic National Committee's headquarters at the Watergate Complex in Washington, D.C. After failing to wiretap the office's phones during their first break-in, they returned with a new microphone. However, before successfully carrying out their plan, a security guard had noted that the doors' locks were taped. The police were called, and the burglars were arrested.

Portland, Ore. is home to a small but vibrant hip-hop community that's received some buzz in recent years. But like many local music scenes, it was devastated by the fallout of the pandemic and rocked by social justice protests that swept across the country last year. Portland was at the center of those protests and, in many ways, so were its hip-hop artists. As live music comes back to the city, a new generation of resilient young artists — inspired in part by activism — are leading the way.

California Braces for Hottest Weather of the Week

The operator of the state’s power grid is urging Californians to conserve energy on Thursday as the first major heatwave of the year continues. A Flex Alert calls for Californians to conserve power between 5 and 10 p.m.Reporter: Lily Jamali, The California Report 

Container Traffic Rolling Through Port of Los Angeles

It's still a mystery. How did the pandemic begin?

There is the leading hypothesis among scientists: The virus hopped from an animal — possibly a bat — to a human, or to some other animal, which later spread the disease to humans.

And then there is the lab leak hypothesis: The virus somehow escaped from the Wuhan Virology Institute.

Ever thought about what it would be like to own the World Wide Web? Now you sort of can — well, a digital representation of its source code anyway.

Next week, British computer scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee, dubbed the "Father of the Web" will auction the original source code for the World Wide Web as an NFT.

The saxophonist and composer Anthony Braxton has been a galvanizing figure in American music for more than 50 years – and at 76, he's definitely not slowing down. Braxton has two new box sets out this month, totaling more than 20 hours of music.

Hundreds of millions of brainless purple sea creatures are attacking the delicate ecosystem of the West Coast. Purple sea urchin population is up 10,000% in recent years, and they pose a serious risk to kelp forests. They’re also delicious.

Purple sea urchins are recognizable by their spiny bodies and deep purple color. They have retractable tube-like arms that pop up through their sharp spines.

Pride month is in full bloom at Filoli, a country estate built in 1915 by a gold mining magnate nestled in the hills about 25 miles south of San Francisco.

There are extravagant floral arrangements, rainbow flags, and — perhaps surprisingly for visitors un-steeped in the world of 1980s TV soap operas — an exhibition and other related programming related to “Dynasty.”

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

In the last decade, Hiatus Kaiyote has been synonymous with a kind of understated cool that sometimes gets mistaken for pretentiousness. The band — made up of lead singer and guitarist Nai Palm, bassist Paul Bender, keyboardist Simon Mavin and drummer Perrin Moss — is known for its intricate, genre-hopping style. Its propensity for trying on and melding different styles — R&B, hip-hop, funk, soul — has led to repeated misclassifications by music journalists and even casual fans as to the kind of music it makes.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

On the West Coast, you can find Chinatowns from Seattle to San Diego. The Bay Area is home to two of the oldest Chinatowns in San Francisco and Oakland.

San Jose also has a rich history of Chinatowns — there have been five Chinatowns in its history. So, why doesn’t San Jose have a Chinatown today?

Bay Curious

Art and government make prickly bedfellows. When President Harry Truman wanted to add a balcony to the White House, the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts advised against it. Truman built it anyway and let those commissioners' terms expire.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A sudden power failure left more than 337,000 customers in the dark across Puerto Rico late Wednesday, enraging many who were recovering from a massive outage that hit the U.S. territory just days ago.

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