Laurel Wamsley

Pictogram people become unlikely MVPs

One of the most striking sequences in the Tokyo Olympics' opening ceremony revolved around pictograms. Tokyo organizers have been touting their "kinetic pictograms," which show figures bursting into motion across dozens of disciplines. For Friday's ceremony, they brought all 50 of those pictograms to life.

While the delta variant of the coronavirus has quickly become the dominant strain in the United States, it's not the only variant circulating in the population.

Updated July 20, 2021 at 12:47 PM ET

Wearing a cowboy hat under the West Texas morning sun, Jeff Bezos crossed the bridge to enter the capsule made by his company Blue Origin. He was accompanied by three others – his brother Mark Bezos, female aviation pioneer Wally Funk and 18-year-old Oliver Daemen.

Then the shuttle hatch closed and just before 9:15 a.m. ET, the four blasted into space on the first human flight on Blue Origin's New Shepard launch vehicle.

England has lifted most of its domestic COVID-19 restrictions, marking a milestone as the country moves into a new phase of pandemic life — what some have dubbed "Freedom Day."

Young people gathered at nightclubs just after midnight to celebrate the return of crowds to raucous indoor spaces. "This is what life's about," one clubgoer said.

Richard Branson, the British billionaire, plans to blast into space on Sunday from New Mexico aboard a rocket made by his company Virgin Galactic.

Nine days later, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is scheduled to rocket into space from West Texas in a capsule made by his company Blue Origin.

In many ways, American life is returning to normalcy: Masks are no longer required in many locations, schools and universities are slated to reopen and the days of social distancing have begun to fade as

The assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse at his home threatens to exacerbate Haiti's already rampant problems.

"Everything that could go wrong seems to be going wrong," says Robert Fatton, an expert on Haitian politics at the University of Virginia, and a native of Haiti himself.

The Western portion of the island of Hispaniola, Haiti is perched in the Caribbean just 600 miles southeast of Florida. It threw off French rule with a successful revolt, becoming the first Black-led republic in 1804.

Updated July 6, 2021 at 11:31 AM ET

Less than a week after trustees at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill belatedly voted to grant tenure to New York Times reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones, Howard University announced Hannah-Jones will instead be joining its faculty.

Starting immediately, an applicant for a U.S. passport can simply check "M" or "F" as their gender – without needing to provide medical certification if that gender doesn't match their other documents. And soon applicants will have the option to select a gender marker that isn't male or female, the State Department said Wednesday.

Studies have found that Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine is effective against several variants of concern, including the delta variant, the biotech company announced.

Moderna said Tuesday that recently completed studies have found the vaccine to have a neutralizing effect against all COVID-19 variants tested, including the beta, delta, eta and kappa variants.

While rescuers continue to search for survivors amid the rubble from the building collapse in Surfside, Fla., law enforcement detectives and crime scene personnel are working to identify the human remains recovered from the wreckage.

Before a large portion of Champlain Towers South came smashing down, the building's condo board sent a letter to residents noting significant deterioration and explaining the need for a $15 million special assessment to be paid by members.

The letter obtained by NPR, and first published in full by The Wall Street Journal, was sent before the condominium association's board meeting in April. It is signed by Jean Wodnicki, president of the board of directors of the condo association.

Updated June 28, 2021 at 8:18 PM ET

Researchers from a government agency that investigated the collapse of the World Trade Center on 9/11 are already on-site at Surfside, Fla.

A team from NIST, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, is in the preliminary stages of an investigation into what caused the apparent building failure early Thursday at the Champlain Towers South condo building north of Miami Beach.

Updated June 25, 2021 at 8:33 PM ET

The family of George Floyd and their attorneys said Friday that the sentencing of Derek Chauvin offers closure, accountability — and a step toward healing for both the family and the nation.

They also demanded political action for lasting change.

Updated June 25, 2021 at 4:41 PM ET

A Minnesota judge sentenced former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin to 22 1/2 years in prison Friday for the murder of George Floyd.

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