NPR News

Wells Fargo has agreed to pay $3 billion to settle charges that the bank engaged in fraudulent sales practices for more than a decade.

The company acknowledged collecting millions of dollars in fees for bank accounts, debit cards and other products that customers neither asked for nor needed. The illegal practices were carried out by thousands of Wells Fargo employees in order to meet unrealistic sales targets.

The Horn of Africa, one of the world's most impoverished regions, is being ransacked by billions of tiny invaders.

Farmers look on in horror as desert locusts moving in vast cloud-like swarms darken the sky. The insects blast through fields of crops at an astonishing pace, decimating livelihoods in the process.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has now spent some $452 million on advertising since entering the Democratic presidential race in late November, according to the ad-tracking firm Advertising Analytics.

The multibillionaire, who is self-funding his campaign, has already spent more than $401 million on television and radio ads alone. That surpasses the $338.3 million that President Barack Obama's campaign spent on those ads during his entire 2012 campaign, according to Advertising Analytics.

Democrats take the debate stage. President Trump issues a round of pardons. Former DOJ prosecutors call for AG Barr’s resignation. The roundtable is here.

Guests

Astead Herndon, national political reporter for The New York Times. (@AsteadWesley)

Betsy Woodruff Swan, political reporter for The Daily Beast. (@woodruffbets)

How To Fix The Local News Crisis

Feb 21, 2020

Local newspapers have steadily gone out of business throughout the digital age. We’ll dig into the fate of local journalism and what can be done to save it.

Guests

John Thornton, co-founder of the American Journalism Project, a venture philanthropy organization dedicated to local news. Founder of the Texas Tribune. (@thorntonaustin)

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

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

A homicide that shocked Lesotho has become more shocking still: Police say Prime Minister Thomas Thabane will be charged in the killing of his estranged wife.

But rather than appear in court as he was supposed to Friday, the 80-year-old leader has gone to South Africa to seek medical treatment. "He's not fled the country," Thabane's son Potlako told Reuters. The prime minister's office says he will go to court when he returns.

Inside Sajaegi, K-Pop's Open Secret

Feb 21, 2020

Last fall, Malvo, an indie K-pop artist, was walking to the parking lot after a long day. He had just finished a show at a university festival near Seoul, South Korea. In the lot, a middle-aged man approached the musician, saying he had a "marketing opportunity" for Malvo and his songs. He didn't give his phone number, or his name.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Updated on Feb. 24 at 5:54 p.m. ET to include comments from Twitter and Facebook.

The coronavirus outbreak has sparked what the World Health Organization is calling an "infodemic" — an overwhelming amount of information on social media and websites. Some of it's accurate. And some is downright untrue.

On the ground floor of the concrete high-rise that became the headquarters of the protest movement in Baghdad's Tahrir Square, slogans scrawled in black and a mural of a fish dressed in a suit disappear under coats of white paint.

The young Iraqis erasing the murals are followers of Muqtada al-Sadr, an influential Shiite Muslim cleric whose support fueled the largely secular protests against government corruption that broke out last October.

China has put more than half a billion people under partial or total lockdown in what it is calling an all-out "people's war" against the spread of the new coronavirus. It's equivalent to restricting the movement of the entire population of North America.

Iran is holding national elections Friday, as voters choose members of parliament from a list of candidates winnowed down to feature hardliners and conservatives. Midterm elections are also being held for the Assembly of Experts, the clerics who have the power to select the country's supreme leader.

Updated at 8:57 a.m. ET

Afghan forces, the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan and the Taliban militia will begin a seven-day "reduction in violence" across the country beginning Saturday midnight local time (2:30 p.m. ET Friday) — a possible prelude to a broader peace deal following two decades of war, according to U.S. and Afghan officials.

The quasi cease-fire was hammered out during protracted negotiations in Qatar that began in 2018. It could ultimately lead to a significant reduction of the approximately 12,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Karen Keating's eighth-grade English students at Lower Dauphin Middle School in Hummelstown, Pa., fire up their laptops and gather a bundle of snowball microphones. With the click of a mouse, their laptops become studios, and they're ready to record.

Keating's class is writing, producing and editing podcasts that they'll submit to the NPR Student Podcast Challenge, and, like many teachers, Keating is using apps to help them make it happen.

The music sounds, at first, like it belongs in a power yoga studio: electronic and rhythmic, rising and falling like breaths. But then a higher pitch juts into the mix, and the strains of sound diverge, becoming faster-paced and a bit more like electronic dance music. The rise and swell fluctuates, not entirely predictable. The artists at work are, ostensibly, plants: a philodendron, two schefflera and a snake plant.

Companies around the world are embracing what might seem like a radical idea: a four-day workweek.

The concept is gaining ground in places as varied as New Zealand and Russia, and it's making inroads among some American companies. Employers are seeing surprising benefits, including higher sales and profits.

The Democratic presidential primary is heading west for the third contest in the 2020 race. Nevada Democrats are hoping their caucuses avoid similar problems that plagued Iowa earlier this month.

Follow NPR's coverage for the latest updates, analysis and results as the caucuses get underway.

A few dozen volunteers are spending a Saturday morning in a hotel conference room in Macon, Ga., for a boot camp of sorts on fighting voter suppression.

"We are walking into a year that's going to be exciting, a little bit stressful," explains Hillary Holley, organizing director for Fair Fight Action. The group is waging a campaign against voter suppression in the 2020 election.

"We're gonna be working a lot, but we're ready for it," she says.

The Trump administration has revived the debate over "end-to-end encryption" — systems so secure that the tech companies themselves aren't able to read the messages, even when police present them with a warrant.

"It is hard to overstate how perilous this is," U.S. Attorney General William Barr said in a speech last fall. "By enabling dangerous criminals to cloak their communications and activities behind an essentially impenetrable digital shield, the deployment of warrant-proof encryption is already imposing huge costs on society."

Florida is planning a major expansion of its highways with a series of toll roads that would open new parts of the state to development.

Exactly where the roads will go hasn't been announced yet, but opposition to the highways is growing in rural areas such as Jefferson County in North Florida. Mike Willis' family has lived there since before Florida became a state. He likes to refer to it as "the other Florida."

"Most people think of Florida as palm trees, white sandy beaches," he says. "We have rolling clay hills and beautiful pine forests."

China reported 889 new cases of novel coronavirus infection on Friday, including more than 200 from a prison, and an additional 118 deaths – all but three in the province of Hubei, bringing the total deaths in the country to more than 2,200.

The latest count came as South Korea, with the highest number of cases outside China, reported another jump in infections to 204.

And residents clashed with police in a central Ukrainian town where evacuees from Wuhan, the Chinese province where the epidemic began, arrived for a two-week quarantine.

More than two decades after it went missing, a ceremonial crown dating back to the 18th century has found its way home to Ethiopia. The country's prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, received the glistening artifact at a ceremony Thursday in Addis Ababa, in a triumphant end to a twisty saga that transcends national borders.

David Brooks wants Americans to ditch the idea of the nuclear family. In his latest piece for The Atlantic, Brooks declares the end of the era of mom, dad and two and a half kids. We’ll hear why.

Guests

David Brooks, op-ed columnist for the New York Times. Author of “The Road to Character.” (@nytdavidbrooks)

Forever 21, the fast-fashion mall standby that filed for bankruptcy last year, will live on. Three companies announced Wednesday that they are jointly acquiring the retailer aimed at young shoppers and that they plan to continue to operate its U.S. and international stores.

The buyers are Authentic Brands Group, which owns major brands such as Barneys New York, Aeropostale and Nine West; and real estate companies Simon Property Group and Brookfield Property Partners.

What's it like living with a coronavirus infection, isolated in a biocontainment unit? For Carl Goldman, diagnosed this week in Nebraska, his condition doesn't feel any different from a typical cold, he told NPR's Noel King. But the treatment is unusual: Doctors visit him each day wearing hazmat suits, and hospital staff wave at him from behind double-sealed windows.

The latest adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma is as handsome, clever and rich as its famous heroine — and I mean "rich" in the caloric sense, as well. I wanted to snack on every pastel-hued surface of Kave Quinn's production design, which suggests nothing less than a frosted cupcake come to life — a feast of lace bonnets and high collars, gilded frames and glass chandeliers.

It has been nearly a decade since actor Claire Danes first appeared as CIA agent Carrie Mathison on the Showtime series Homeland. Now that the show is in its eighth and final season, Danes is feeling reflective about its run.

"I started the show as a barely married person, and I'm leaving the show as a mother of two. [We] just celebrated our 10-year wedding anniversary," she says. "It's going to be a while before I can understand and I can appreciate what this is all meant to me. ... More than anything, I'm filled with gratitude."

Updated at 3:23 p.m. ET

A federal judge sentenced Roger Stone, a political adviser to President Trump, to more than three years in prison on Thursday amid an uproar about what critics call Trump's interference in the workings of justice.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson found herself in the middle of a political sandstorm as she and the parties closed in on sentencing for Stone following his conviction last year.

Stone also was ordered to pay a $20,000 fine and to serve two years of supervised release.

Pages