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On Thursday night, the federal government executed a drug trafficker responsible for seven murders in 1992, despite his attorneys having claimed moving forward with the execution would be "cruel and usual punishment" because of his recent COVID-19 infection.

Corey Johnson, 52, was executed at the federal prison complex in Terre Haute, Indiana and pronounced dead at 11:34 p.m. He is the 12th person to be executed by the government since July, after the Trump administration restarted federal executions following a 17 year hiatus.

Pandemic Fuels Record Overdose Deaths

Jan 14, 2021

After their son died, Jackie and Robert Watson found a stack of popsicle sticks in his Milwaukee apartment. He'd written an affirmation on each one.

"I am a fighter." "Don't sweat the small stuff." "My kids love me."

Brandon Cullins, 31, had been working with a drug counselor, who advised him to write the messages to himself.

Picking up the popsicle sticks, the Watsons were able to see how hard their son wanted to kick his battle with cocaine. But they also wondered why he hadn't asked them for help.

In Los Angeles, COVID-19 cases continue to soar at an astonishing rate. In the first seven days of the year, for instance, roughly seven people died each hour.

It's 8:45 a.m. on a weekday in Washington, D.C., and if anyone needs a reminder why the coronavirus vaccine is important, there's one arriving at the Takoma Metro stop: an almost empty train pulling up to an almost empty subway platform at the height of rush hour.

Updated at 8:37 p.m.

President-elect Joe Biden outlined his plans for economic relief from the coronavirus crisis on Thursday, citing the need for a more robust vaccination plan as well as for additional direct payments to American families to help recover the U.S. economy. His plan, called the American Rescue Plan, is expected to cost $1.9 trillion.

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Isolation from the pandemic has led some struggling with addiction to relapse. It has kept others from getting help. And overdose deaths last year are expected to be a record-breaking 81,000. Corrinne Hess with Wisconsin Public Radio reports.

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Isolation from the pandemic has led some struggling with addiction to relapse. It has kept others from getting help. And overdose deaths last year are expected to be a record-breaking 81,000. Corrinne Hess with Wisconsin Public Radio reports.

President-elect Joe Biden will choose South Carolina's Jaime Harrison to head the Democratic National Committee, a source close to the decision, who was not authorized to speak ahead of the formal announcement, told NPR's Scott Detrow.

Harrison is a former South Carolina Democratic Party chair, and his selection highlights the influence of another South Carolina Democrat, Rep. James Clyburn, the majority whip in the U.S. House.

Israel's health minister announced Thursday the country would vaccinate Palestinian prisoners against COVID-19, after Israel's president said withholding vaccines was against Israel's Jewish and democratic values.

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said the prisoners would be vaccinated early next week, on Monday or Tuesday. The minister informed NPR of the decision before making a public announcement.

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Updated at 3 p.m. ET

New York Attorney General Letitia James has filed a lawsuit against the New York City Police Department, citing "a pattern of using excessive force and making false arrests against New Yorkers during peaceful protests" that sought racial justice and other changes.

A calico cat named Patches had belonged to Josie Gower, one of the 23 people killed in the mudslides that hit Santa Barbara, Calif., in January 2018. Patches was thought to have died too.

"We had kinda lost hope," Briana Haigh, Gower's daughter, told NPR. Her mom's several cats had slept in her garage, which was destroyed during the disaster.

Updated at 9:02 p.m. ET

Klete Keller, the Olympic gold medalist swimmer, is facing federal charges in connection with the insurrection last week at the U.S. Capitol.

He has been released from custody without posting bond but with orders to stay away from Washington, D.C., except for court hearings and to consult with his lawyers, according to The Associated Press. He appeared before a federal judge in Denver.

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