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On the second full day of the Trump presidency, all of the top White House aides gathered in the East Room to be sworn in by Vice President Pence. They raised their right hands and swore to defend the Constitution.

2018 has been an explosive year for the Catholic Church, with renewed revelations of clergy sexual abuse and cover up from one coast to the other. Dioceses across the country continue to deal with the fallout of a stunning grand jury report that detailed decades of abuse in Pennsylvania. For some parishioners and reform advocates, the church as a whole isn't taking the crisis seriously enough.

When Aaron Sorkin first sat down to write a stage adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird, it didn't go well.

"My first draft of To Kill a Mockingbird was terrible," he says. "Really the best thing that you could say about it was that it was harmless — which is not something you want to say about a play."

The death toll from a tsunami that hit the Sunda Strait coastline of Indonesia over the weekend has risen to 429, according to authorities who issued new warnings on the grim anniversary of a 2004 earthquake and tsunami that killed a staggering 230,000 people across 14 countries.

NPR's Julie McCarthy reports that relief operations continue for thousands of victims, including many who have lost their homes.

With no deal in sight to keep the government funded, hundreds of thousands of federal employees will either not be returning to work after holiday vacations or will be back on the job but without pay.

President Trump reiterated Tuesday that he is in no mood to compromise over funding for a wall along the southern border, and Democrats who oppose the measure are showing no signs of budging either.

Updated at 5:24 p.m. ET

The stock market came roaring back Wednesday with a rally that pushed up the Dow Jones Industrial Average by more than 1,000 points. It is the largest single-day point gain in the history of the Dow. In percentage terms, that's a gain of nearly 5 percent. The S&P 500 was up by a similar amount and the Nasdaq composite index was up even more — 5.8 percent.

After bombing as Grace Kelly, Nicole Kidman is currently on a gratifying roll, stealing scenes as a Southern Christian mom awakening to her gay son's plight in Boy Erased, as a deceptively prim PA to a quadriplegic Bryan Cranston in the upcoming The Upside, and in television's Big Little Lies and Top of the Lake. With any luck, Kidman's golden streak has only hit pause with her turn as a rogue cop in Karyn Kusama's dispiriting Destroyer.

Two films open this week with titles that make them sound a lot sexier than they are: On the Basis of Sex and Vice.

They're both biopics — Sex about a liberal Supreme Court justice, Vice a conservative vice president. But they differ in ways that go far deeper than politics.

On The Basis Of Sex

You know exactly what you're getting from the opening moment, when a very young Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Felicity Jones) strides into Harvard Law School surrounded by a sea of grey, black, and navy business suits.

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The Good News About These Short Days

Dec 25, 2018

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Updated at 1 a.m. Dec. 26

The setting was perfect. The fire was beautifully ablaze, the trees enormously enormous, as the first couple sat beside dainty telephone tables ready to delight young callers in search of Santa.

But what happened next could be considered less than perfect — especially for a young girl named Collman or her family, who might have had some explaining to do after the brief phone call.

Updated at 9:15 a.m. ET Wednesday

An 8-year-old boy from Guatemala has died in government custody, U.S. Customs and Border Protection says.

The boy died just before midnight on Monday, at a hospital in Alamogordo, N.M. He is the second child this month to die in CBP custody after being apprehended by the agency.

The Guatemalan Foreign Service has identified the boy as Felipe Gomez Alonso, NPR's Carrie Kahn reports.

In the little town of Bethlehem, Santa hops out of a red minivan, adjusts his round, gold-rimmed glasses and is briefed by his chauffeur, Mohammed Battah.

"Martin and Christina," the driver says, handing him two wrapped boxes.

"Martin!" Santa calls out, rapping his cane and ringing a golden bell as he ascends a stone staircase.

Four-year-old Martin cries at first, scared of the stranger with the white beard. Then, when he understands the man is Santa bringing his Christmas gift, he runs into his arms.

Delivering his Christmas Day address to tens of thousands of people gathered in St. Peter's Square in Vatican City, Pope Francis appealed for fraternity and peace, especially in violent conflicts around the world.

More than 40 people died Monday in a bombing and attack at a government building in Kabul, Afghan government officials say.

A suicide bomber detonated a vehicle outside a public welfare building in the country's capital, before gunmen entered the building and held out for hours against security forces, as NPR's Diaa Hadid reports.

It's almost comical — how hard it is to get this pie out of its box. Inside the well-taped cardboard, there are packing peanuts around another box that's inserted so tightly, lifting it out is like playing a game of Operation.

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The inside of one of the buildings at Washington Corrections Center for Women looks like a prep site for a construction project. It's full of cinder blocks, wheelbarrows, and large standing wood frames. About a dozen inmates wearing orange safety vests and hardhats are pounding nails into the frames.

Steve Petermann is the instructor keeping watch. "There's a method here," Petermann says. "They have to do so many nails in so many minutes and they have to [pound] those nails down, on the side, and overhead."

How Do You Teach Kids To Be Honest?

Dec 25, 2018

Let's say you're a student in class. There are boxes full of delicious snacks on a table in front of the room: muffins, peanut brittle, candy, samosas (deep-fried potatoes wrapped in a packet of dough). There's a money box next to the snacks.

It's up to you whether to pay or not. And nobody's watching.

Would you be an honest citizen and toss some coins into the box? Or would you walk off with a snack without chipping in?

That's the premise of the honesty shop – an unattended business that relies on the customer to do the right thing.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit


Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit


Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit


Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit


Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit


Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit


It's been a bad year for ethics in Washington. That's true even when you set aside the Russia mess. NPR's Peter Overby has the story.

One November afternoon inside a raised ranch in Rhode Island, Kristal and Chris' 13-year-old son was just getting home from school.

"How's school?" Chris says.

"Bad!" Dylan says. He's a skinny kid with glasses – still small enough for his mom to wrap him in a bear hug if he gets out of control.

He's had a lot of bad days. Dylan's parents review the daily reports his school sends home.

The prairie town of Enid, Okla. — population 50,122 — is best known as the state's "wheat capital." Enid is also home to a community of around 2,000 people who were born in the Marshall Islands. Most are low-income and struggling to get health care.

Dow Suffers Record-Breaking Christmas Eve Losses

Dec 24, 2018

Updated at 6:40 a.m. ET

The stock market was only open for half a day Monday, and that was more than enough time for the Dow Jones Industrial Average to drop 2.9 percent to 21,792.20, breaking 1918's record for the worst Christmas Eve performance.

Other U.S. indexes fell too. The Nasdaq lost 2.2 percent to 6,192.92. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 2.7 percent to 2,351.10.

A Massachusetts district court has issued a criminal complaint against actor Kevin Spacey for allegedly sexually assaulting an 18-year-old.

His arraignment is scheduled for Jan. 7, according to a statement released Monday by Nantucket District Attorney Michael O'Keefe.

Clerk Magistrate Brian Kearney issued the complaint for "indecent assault and battery," a felony offense, following a public show cause hearing on Thursday. The criminal charges stem from former Boston news anchor Heather Unruh's accusation last year that Spacey had assaulted her son.