Mary Louise Kelly

"I grew into love of my music and of my ministry because it was actually a way out," says Pastor T.L. Barrett, Jr. in an interview with NPR's Mary Louise Kelly. Barrett, now 77 years old, recalls his difficult youth; as a teenager, he turned to songwriting to express himself. And 50 years ago, in the years following the Civil Rights movement, he released his classic album, Like a Ship (Without a Sail). The title track described how he was feeling at the time.

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Judges for this year's Tiny Desk Contest waded and watched and debated through thousands of entries, but today we finally have a winner: Her family knows her as Mecca Russell – we'll come to know her as Neffy.

Today "has been absolutely wild," she tells All Thing Considered's Mary Louise Kelly in a conversation this afternoon, following the announcement of the news early this morning. "My mom is bursting at the seams," she says, adding that her parents are "really happy, and that makes me happy."

The COVID-19 response plan that President Biden unveiled last week aims to dramatically increase the accessibility of rapid tests for the coronavirus.

The Biden administration announced it was spending $2 billion on 280 million quick-turnaround tests to be distributed to community health centers, food banks, testing sites, shelters, prisons and other congregate settings. It's also leaning on Walmart, Amazon and Kroger to sell rapid tests at wholesale cost for the next three months.

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It has been a horrific day in Afghanistan.

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ISIS suicide bombers and gunmen targeted crowds outside Kabul's Hamid Karzai Airport. At least 13 U.S. service members and dozens of Afghan civilians are dead.

How is Afghanistan's health system faring amid the Taliban takeover?

To get a perspective, NPR spoke on Thursday with Filipe Ribeiro, the country representative for Doctors Without Borders, to find out where things stand for patients and health workers in the organization's hospitals and clinics across Afghanistan.

Updated August 16, 2021 at 7:30 PM ET

Kabul fell on Sunday, reestablishing Taliban rule over Afghanistan for the first time in 20 years. Leaders of the militant group who've spent years fighting are suddenly in control of the whole country, with their internal divisions and actions affecting the lives of millions of Afghans.

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Today in Paris, the Champs-Elysees was a party.

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At the height of his career, former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was one of the most influential leaders of the Catholic Church in the U.S., heading the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. Last week, he became the first U.S. Cardinal to be criminally charged with a sexual crime against a minor, making the 91-year-old the highest-ranking Catholic Church official in the country to face criminal charges for clergy sexual abuse.

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Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona is batting away criticism that her bipartisan approach to legislating is bad for her party.

To Sinema, a moderate, bipartisanship is the way Washington should work.

"We know that the American people are asking for us to take action," she told NPR's All Things Considered. "What they don't want to see is us sit on our hands, waiting until we get every single thing that we want. ... That all-or-nothing approach usually leaves you with nothing."

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In Scotland today, newspaper headlines shouted freedom. But read the small print. Another read, don't cry freedom. The headlines are a poke at Scotland's neighbor to the south. England declared so-called Freedom Day and lifted almost all COVID restrictions a few weeks ago. Scotland has charted a more cautious course. Scotland's first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, says most COVID restrictions will be relaxed next Monday.

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The U.S. military is leaving Afghanistan. The withdrawal will finish next month. Not all Americans are leaving, though. Diplomats will stay, and so will American spies. The CIA is there trying to gather intelligence on a country where the security situation is getting worse.

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WILLIAM BURNS: The trend lines that all of us see today are certainly troubling. The Taliban are making significant military advances. They're probably in the strongest military position that they've been in since 2001.

CIA Director William Burns says he has redoubled the agency's efforts to uncover the cause of Havana syndrome — the mysterious set of ailments that has afflicted more than 200 U.S. officials and family members around the world.

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A new novel set in late summer on Cape Cod is all about desire. Even the writing seems to drip with secrets and longing. Here's the author, Miranda Cowley Heller, reading from the first few pages.

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Jaimi Butler is a lifelong Utahan. She grew up near the Great Salt Lake.

JAIMI BUTLER: Great Salt Lake is a weird place. And it's smelly, and it is one of the buggiest places on the face of the earth.

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Coronavirus cases and deaths in the U.S. are down dramatically from last winter's peaks, but the road ahead could still be a long one, with the rapid spread of the delta variant — now the dominant strain of the virus in the U.S. — and mounting questions over how effective current vaccines are against it.

Hundreds of rescue workers are still searching for survivors in the rubble of the collapsed Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Fla. As of Tuesday, 32 people have been reported dead, and 113 are still missing.

Mental health counselors are also on the scene, helping families whose loved ones have been confirmed dead and those still waiting for news of missing loved ones.

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