NPR

News organizations and journalists' advocates are challenging restrictive new ground rules for reporters assigned to cover the Senate impeachment trial.

Correspondents who submit to an official credentialing process are granted broad access throughout the Capitol complex and usually encounter few restrictions in talking with members of Congress or others.

But now Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger has imposed new requirements for the impeachment trial, negotiated in part with Republican leadership:

The candidates in the top 1% have accounted for about 78% of the ad spending in the presidential race so far, according to new numbers.

The two self-funding billionaires in the Democratic primary, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg and activist business executive Tom Steyer, have spent the most by far — a combined $320 million, out of $409.8 million spent in the presidential contest up to Jan. 13.

The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences has placed its president and CEO, Deborah Dugan, on administrative leave in a major shakeup at the organization less than two weeks before this year's Grammy Awards ceremony.

A statement released by the Recording Academy's board of trustees referred to "a formal allegation of misconduct by a senior female member of the Recording Academy team" and said it had placed Dugan "on administrative leave, effective immediately."

Weeks after a powerful earthquake and dozens of aftershocks rocked Puerto Rico, citizens whose homes were damaged or destroyed by the quakes will be granted access to some financial relief, officials announced on Thursday.

President Trump "declared that a major disaster exists" in the southern regions of Puerto Rico and "ordered Federal assistance to supplement Commonwealth and local recovery efforts," the White House said in a statement.

Prosecutors in the U.S. Virgin Islands have unveiled a new lawsuit against the estate of Jeffrey Epstein alleging that over two decades he ran a conspiracy in which he transported young women and girls to his private Caribbean islands by helicopter and boat and then subjected them to sexual abuse.

Christopher Tolkien, who for decades preserved and extended the beloved literary fantasies of his father, J.R.R. Tolkien, has died at the age of 95. The son's death, announced Thursday by the Tolkien Society, ends a distinguished career devoted to his father's legacy and the world he crafted in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has always had ambitious goals. Make electric cars cool, save the world, all while making money as a brand new car manufacturer.

And from the start some people have been confident that he would fail. So they shorted Tesla stock — placing a bet that the company's stock value would collapse.

So far, that has been a phenomenally bad bet.

In the first two weeks of 2020 alone, short sellers were down some $2.6 billion, according to Ihor Dusaniwsky, the head of predictive analytics at S3 Partners.

Updated at 6:15 p.m. ET

The FBI says it plans to warn state and local election officials if it discovers cyberattacks this year. It hopes the new policy will build new bridges to more authorities involved with election security.

The federal government has been criticized for poor communication with election officials during and since the Russian attack on the presidential election in 2016.

The New York Mets have announced that they are parting ways with their brand-new manager, Carlos Beltrán, amid a sign-stealing scandal that has rocked Major League Baseball.

"This was not an easy decision," Mets COO Jeff Wilpon and general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said in a statement. "Considering the circumstances, it became clear to all parties that it was not in anyone's best interest for Carlos to move forward as Manager of the New York Mets."

A pair of Boeing 737 Max 8 jetliners plummeted from the sky in 2018 and 2019, killing hundreds of passengers and eventually prompting officials to ground the aircraft model worldwide — but the process that allowed the craft in the

Updated at 4:50 p.m. ET

The FBI has arrested three alleged members of The Base — which authorities describe as a "racially motivated violent extremist group" — on charges that range from illegal transport of a machine gun to harboring aliens, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Maryland.

It was a lifesaving mission as dramatic as any in the months-long battle against the wildfires that have torn through the Australian bush.

But instead of a race to save humans or animals, a specialized team of Australian firefighters was bent on saving invaluable plant life: hidden groves of the Wollemi pine, a prehistoric tree species that has outlived the dinosaurs.

For decades, scientists have been trying to create machines that mimic the way birds fly. A team from Stanford University has gotten one big step closer.

The team created the PigeonBot — a winged robot that it says approximates the graceful complexities of bird flight better than any other robot to date.

Microsoft has announced an ambitious plan to not just reduce its carbon emissions, but to actively remove carbon from the atmosphere — going "carbon negative" by 2030.

And by 2050, the tech giant pledges it will "remove from the environment all the carbon the company has emitted either directly or by electrical consumption since it was founded in 1975."

Copyright 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

The Transportation Security Administration is reminding airport travelers that it's fine to stuff carry-on bags with clothes and toiletries. Just don't pack any heat.

TSA announced that its officers seized 4,432 guns at checkpoints last year — the most in the agency's 18-year history. It also says that 87% of those guns (some 3,855) were loaded.

A medical condition that often escapes public notice may be involved in 20% of deaths worldwide, according to a new study.

The disease is sepsis — sometimes called blood poisoning. It arises when the body overreacts to an infection. Blood vessels throughout the body become leaky, triggering multiple-organ failure.

Cybercrime is booming, and victims are often at a loss about where to get help.

In theory, Americans should report the crimes to the FBI, via its Internet Crime Complaint Center. In practice, the feds get hundreds of thousands of complaints a year, and have to focus on the biggest cases.

But the other option, calling the police, can seem even less promising.

Since 2017, the Trump administration has placed layers of tough sanctions on Iran in an effort to deprive the regime of financial resources and to force it to negotiate a new nuclear deal.

Some wolf puppies are unexpectedly willing to play fetch, according to scientists who saw young wolves retrieve a ball thrown by a stranger and bring it back at that person's urging.

This behavior wouldn't be surprising in a dog. But wolves are thought to be less responsive to human cues because they haven't gone through thousands of years of domestication.

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.

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