NPR

Updated at 3:45 p.m. ET

Ukraine's national police are investigating whether U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was under surveillance in Kyiv last spring — something implied in a series of WhatsApp messages between a little-known Republican political candidate and an associate of Rudy Giuliani, President Trump's personal lawyer.

Updated at 6:20 p.m. ET

A federal watchdog concluded that President Trump broke the law when he froze assistance funds for Ukraine last year, according to a report unveiled on Thursday.

The White House has said that it believed Trump was acting within his legal authority.

Updated at 12:15 p.m. ET

A volcano that has thrown a blanket of ash over much of the Philippines' main island of Luzon in recent days is somewhat quieter, but tremors continued and authorities warned people that a deadly new eruption was still possible.

Updated at 6:30 p.m. ET

President Trump on Thursday defended students who feel they can't pray in their schools — and warned school administrators they risk losing federal funds if they violate their students' rights to religious expression.

Trump held an event in the Oval Office with a group of Christian, Jewish and Muslim students and teachers to commemorate National Religious Freedom Day. The students and teachers said they have been discriminated against for practicing their religion at school.

Teri Hines was in her mid-40s when she started to notice that her body was changing.

Her period became irregular and more intense. "It increased in frequency, it increased in intensity and it increased in duration," she says.

She began to have hot flashes, gained weight and her energy levels took a nosedive.

"I just did not have the energy to do the things I wanted to do," she says, like the long morning walks she loved to take with her dogs, or planning solo travel.

In early December at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, two anxious scientists were about to send 20 years of research into orbit.

"I feel like our heart and soul is going up in that thing," Dr. Emily Germain-Lee told her husband, Dr. Se-Jin Lee, as they waited arm-in-arm for a SpaceX rocket to launch.

Back in 2016, as she campaigned for Hillary Clinton, Laura Hubka could feel her county converting.

"People were chasing me out the door, slamming the door in my face, calling Hillary names," Hubka recalled.

Hubka is the chair of the Democratic Party in Howard County, Iowa. It's a tiny county of just about 9,000 people on the Minnesota border, and it's mostly white, rural and, locals say, religious.

Updated at 3:10 p.m. ET

Amid much pomp and circumstance, the Senate took some of its first steps on Thursday to prepare for next week's impeachment trial of President Trump, just the third such trial in Senate history.

Chief Justice John Roberts, having crossed First Street from the Supreme Court building over to the Capitol, joined senators in the chamber and then was sworn in by Senate President pro tempore Chuck Grassley of Iowa. Roberts will preside over the trial.

Shane MacLeod spent 14 years in federal prison for armed robbery and he's covered from head-to-toe in tattoos. The only things not covered are his butt cheeks and the tops of his feet.

Inmates often tattoo one another with makeshift tools. Some get gang-related tattoos, which they consider a matter of survival. Others, such as 41-year-old MacLeod, are simply lured by the art.

Updated at 12:24 p.m. ET Thursday

Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders shared a tense moment after Tuesday night's Democratic debate. Warren appeared to shun Sanders' attempt to shake her hand, and they exchanged words that were inaudible on the broadcast. Then, Sanders turned and walked away.

A 19-year-old man from Virginia appeared in court on Wednesday in connection with allegations that he made fake bomb and shooting threats to draw extreme law enforcement responses on unwitting people, as a member of a swatting ring linked to a neo-Nazi group.

John William Kirby Kelley, who went by "Carl" and "BotGod" online, was charged with conspiracy to make threats by the Department of Justice last week.

There were some acerbic and personal comments from the justices of the Supreme Court on Wednesday, as they heard an age discrimination case that could affect more than a million federal workers over the age of 40.

The federal law says that "all personnel decisions" made in the federal workforce "shall be made free from age discrimination."

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has long interpreted that to mean that if a federal worker can show that age was a factor in denying her a job or promotion, the worker is entitled to back pay or other remedies.

When Jason Crow went to Congress last January after becoming the first Democrat to win his swing district in the eastern Denver suburbs, he was one of only 15 members of his party who did not vote for Nancy Pelosi to be speaker of the House.

Just over a year later, Pelosi announced that she had picked Crow to be one of the seven House Democrats who will be impeachment managers in the Senate trial of President Trump.

When a government expert in mental health visited one of the largest immigration detention centers in the U.S. in 2017, she knew the conditions that detainees there sometimes face. A past inspection had found that staff often failed to obtain adequate mental health histories, leading to faulty diagnoses and, in some cases, treatment plans that were incorrect.

Researchers have conducted a controversial study that involved paying dozens of young women at a hospital near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, to get artificially inseminated so their embryos could be flushed out of their bodies and analyzed for research purposes.

The study showed that embryos created that way appear to be as healthy genetically as embryos created through standard in vitro fertilization. Physically, the embryos appear to, possibly, even be healthier, the study found.

Updated at 5:27 p.m. ET

The Trump administration is releasing its hold on billions of dollars of aid to Puerto Rico after a months-long delay. But it is still unclear exactly when those funds will reach the hurricane-ravaged island.

The tranche of money, more than $8 billion, is allocated through a Department of Housing and Urban Development disaster recovery fund. It was supposed to be released months ago to help the island rebuild in the wake of devastating Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.

Fearing potential violence, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is declaring a state of emergency and is banning firearms and other weapons on the Capitol grounds in Richmond ahead of a gun rights demonstration planned for next week.

"We have received credible intelligence from our law enforcement agencies that there are groups with malicious plans for the rally that is planned for Monday," Northam said during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

The International Court of Justice in the Netherlands announced Wednesday that it is poised to make a decision on whether it will order Myanmar to put an end to what human rights watchers say has been a campaign of genocide against the country's Rohingya Muslim minority.

The United Nation's top court says the order will be handed down on Jan 23.

Virginia became the pivotal 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment after its Senate and House of Delegates voted Wednesday to approve the change to the U.S. Constitution.

The ERA's provisions include a guarantee that "equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex."

"The Virginia Senate voted 28-12 and the House of Delegates 59-41 to approve the ERA," NPR's Sarah McCammon reports.

Book-length critiques of the presidency of Donald Trump keep piling up on American reading tables, so it seems time for a one-volume wrapup on what we have learned so far.

Imagine, for a moment, a high-octane courtroom prosecutor summing up for the jury a case built on the vivid testimony of multiple eyewitnesses.

Last year was the second hottest on record globally, according to the latest climate data collected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA.

It's the latest confirmation that the Earth is steadily getting hotter — the planet has already warmed about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (or almost 1 degree Celsius) compared with in the mid-20th century — and that robust greenhouse gas emissions are causing global warming to continue unabated.

Pope Francis has announced that he is appointing a woman for the first time to a managerial role in the Secretariat of State, one of the most important departments in the Vatican.

Francesca Di Giovanni, who has worked at the Secretariat for 27 years, will be elevated to the position of undersecretary for the section for relations with states. She'll manage the Vatican's relationships with multilateral organizations such as the United Nations.

Updated at 6:15 p.m. ET

A federal judge in Maryland has blocked the Trump administration's executive order allowing state and local governments to turn away refugees from resettling in their communities.

Updated at 7:59 p.m. ET

Andrea Miller first heard about the Equal Rights Amendment from her mother.

"It basically went, 'I'm very interested in the Equal Rights Amendment; I disagree with it a little — I think women are superior to men — but we'll settle for being equal,' " Miller said with a laugh. "That was basically what my mother told me."

Updated at 3:35 a.m. ET on Thursday

In one dramatic stroke, the Russian Cabinet has been emptied.

The principal ministers of the Russian government, from Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on down, resigned Wednesday in a move designed to ease a constitutional overhaul recently proposed by President Vladimir Putin. The president accepted Medvedev's resignation and said he would appoint his longtime loyalist to the Russian Security Council.

Updated on Jan. 16 at 5:30 p.m. ET

The seven legislators who will act as the prosecution team presenting the House Democrats' case in the Senate trial make up a diverse group with a common link: strong legal backgrounds.

"The emphasis is on litigators. The emphasis is on comfort level in the courtroom," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said of the team that is a mix of some familiar faces from the House inquiry and some lesser-known members.

Updated at 10:18 p.m. ET

A lawyer for former U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch is calling for an investigation after materials released Tuesday night as part of the impeachment inquiry suggested she was under surveillance by individuals linked to President Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday weighed whether to make life more difficult for prosecutors in public corruption cases.

The modern-day court has made it increasingly difficult to prosecute public officials who abuse their power but don't personally enrich themselves. The court has thrown out multiple public corruption convictions in recent years, all but eviscerating broad statutes aimed at ensuring the honest services of public employees.

Her Israeli critics have called her a traitor and devil's advocate for representing Palestinians facing terrorism charges in Israeli courts. She calls herself a "losing lawyer," losing case after case, defending Palestinian suspects for nearly five decades.

Now the fiery Lea Tsemel, 75, is the subject of an award-winning documentary — and a target in the latest battle between Israel's liberal filmmakers and right-wing activists led by the country's nationalist culture minister.

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has announced its 35th annual class of inductees, honoring six musical acts — Depeche Mode, The Doobie Brothers, Whitney Houston, Nine Inch Nails, The Notorious B.I.G. and T-Rex — as well as veteran rock journalist, producer and artist manager Jon Landau.

The inducted musicians were chosen from a ballot of 16 finalists, which meant fans of Pat Benatar, Dave Matthews Band, Judas Priest, Kraftwerk, MC5, Motörhead, Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, Todd Rundgren, Soundgarden and Thin Lizzy will have to wait at least another year for Rock Hall validation.

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