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California's muddled county-based coronavirus vaccine distribution system has stoked confusion, frustration and angst for citizens across America's most populous state.

Boeing is trying to close the books on a dismal year. The aircraft manufacturer Wednesday reported that the company lost close to $12 billion in 2020, a record loss, as the pandemic depressed demand for new airplanes and the company continued to reel from its 737 Max debacle.

Calling it "a year like no other," Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun started a conference call on the company's 2020 financial results by stating an obvious but painful truth.

"2020 was a historically challenging year for our world, for our industry (and) for our business," Calhoun said.

Benee is just chilling. The New Zealander is hanging out in her room, like a lot of us, waiting for the pandemic to end. In another time she'd be on tour in the U.S., celebrating her breakout moment — a viral smash single, "Supalonely" — and the release of her debut album, Hey u x. Instead, she's being patient with the moment, knowing her time will come.

The Department of Homeland Security issued a bulletin on Wednesday warning of a continued threat from domestic violent extremists.

The bulletin did not cite any specific threat but described "a heightened threat environment across the United States, which DHS believes will persist in the weeks following the successful Presidential Inauguration."

In the early days of the pandemic, hip-hop producers Swizz Beats and Timbaland created a music industry monster: Verzuz, a live-on-Instagram music battle show that broke livestreaming records on social media. Now, the Caribbean has responded with its own version.

Actress Cloris Leachman portrayed women of wit and sass over a seven-decade career. She won an Oscar and nine Emmys, and her career was relentlessly inventive. The actress died Wednesday in Encinitas, Calif., of natural causes, according to her press representative, Monique Moss. She was 94.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, President Biden's nominee for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, pledged to take a tougher line against China and its push to exert influence over the multinational organization during her Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday.

"We know that China is working across the U.N. system to drive an authoritarian agenda that stands in opposition to the values of the institution," Thomas-Greenfield told lawmakers on the Senate Foreign Relations committee.

Hank Aaron, a hero of baseball and of civil rights, is being buried in Atlanta Wednesday, drawing friends, family and sports luminaries to say farewell to the widely respected slugger and activist.

Aaron's wife, Billye, their family and friends gathered in church and online to celebrate the man that Friendship Baptist Church Pastor Richard W. Wills Sr. called "this iconic marvel from Mobile."

Updated at 6:15 p.m. ET

Disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic and last-minute changes by the Trump administration, the U.S. Census Bureau announced Wednesday that the release of the first results of the 2020 census will likely be delayed by four months.

The latest state population counts used to determine each state's share of votes in the House of Representatives and the Electoral College for the next decade are now expected by April 30.

The union representing U.S. Capitol Police officers says the force's leadership failed to relay the known threat of violence adequately ahead of the Jan. 6 deadly riot, calling the acting chief's recent admission of prior knowledge of the threat to Congress "a disclosure that has angered and shocked the rank-and-file officers."

When the president speaks to a world leader, the contents of the call are typically released in a short statement known as a readout. But when President Biden spoke Tuesday with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, the White House instead released a video.

Emily Horne, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, said the video — the first one of its kind for the team — reflects the importance of the White House's support for NATO and for revitalizing trans-Atlantic relationships, which were frayed during the Trump years.

New coronavirus variants seem to be cropping up everywhere. There's one from the U.K., which is more contagious and already circulating in the United States. There's one from South Africa, which is forcing Moderna and Pfizer to reformulate their COVID-19 vaccines and create "booster" shots, just to make sure the vaccines maintain their efficacies.

One of six defendants charged with plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last fall pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to a single count of kidnapping conspiracy and agreed to cooperate with investigators.

As part of the plea agreement between Andrew Birge, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Michigan, and Ty Garbin, the government will not bring further charges against Garbin related to the alleged plot.

In the nine months leading up to her due date, Kayla Kjelshus and her husband, Mikkel, meticulously planned for their daughter's arrival.

Their long to-do list included mapping out their family's health insurance plan and registering for baby gear and supplies. They even nailed down child care ahead of her birth.

"We put a deposit down to hold a spot at a local day care following our first ultrasound," says Kayla Kjelshus, of Olathe, Kan.

The resurgence in the pandemic likely dealt a major blow to the U.S. economy in the last three months of the year, though it is not expected to have delivered a knockout punch.

Most economists expect fourth-quarter gross domestic product data on Thursday will show a significant slowdown compared to the July to September quarter, when the economy staged a sharp recovery from the early days of the pandemic.

Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm is expected to refocus the Department of Energy on climate change if she's confirmed as the next secretary of energy.

In a confirmation hearing Wednesday before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Granholm echoed President Biden's emphasis on new jobs created through achieving his goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Your local police department may know more about you than you think. Journalist Jon Fasman says local police are frequently able to access very powerful surveillance tools — including publicly accessible CCTV cameras, automatic license plate readers and cell phone tracking devices — with little oversight.

The Biden administration says the federal government needs to do a better job of acknowledging the ways that communities of color are blocked from fair and equal access to housing.

"Today the average Black family has just one-tenth the wealth of the average white family, while the gap between white and Black in home ownership is now larger than it was in 1960," Susan Rice, head of the White House Domestic Policy Council, said in a news briefing Tuesday.

A crew of private astronauts will pay around $55 million each to spend about eight days at the International Space Station next January in what would be a new step for joint private-public space missions. Axiom Space, a Houston company, says the trip will be led by former NASA astronaut and space station commander Michael López-Alegría.

Updated at 2:24 p.m. ET

At the first briefing by the Biden administration's COVID-19 response team on Wednesday, the message was clear: Science and scientists will lead the response. And the team has inherited a fractured and lagging strategy.

The briefing was led by Jeffrey Zients, a businessman who was a top economic adviser in the Obama administration. Asked how the Defense Production Act might be used to produce more vaccine doses faster, Zients said nothing has been ruled out.

The Lady and the Dale, a new HBO documentary miniseries co-directed by Nick Cammilleri and Zackary Drucker, has been promoted by the network with most of its secrets held in check. Tune in to this nonfiction biography series, the promos suggest, and learn the tale of a female automobile executive who took on the Detroit automakers and tried to market a gas-efficient car in the 1970s, at the height of the oil crisis.

One way to understand the capricious nature of life at Voice of America and its federal parent agency over the last seven months would have been to witness two men standing across a foosball table from each other, twisting knobs and shouting in the empty cubicles of the Spanish-language service.

Every day last summer, a senior agency adviser, Dan Hanlon, and an aide spent hours playing in offices abandoned for the pandemic. Their new CEO, Michael Pack, had sidelined them almost immediately after his arrival in June, telling others they were disloyal and untrustworthy.

Europe's aviation authority has given an all-clear for Boeing's beleaguered 737 Max plane, with modifications, to return to service. This effectively lifts the nearly two-year ban on the aircraft in the European Union following a pair of plane crashes that killed 346 people.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency said a modified version of the 737 Max will be allowed fly once again, after several upgrades to its software, electrical system, operational manuals and training of flight crews.

EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky called it "a significant milestone."

In The Center Will Not Hold, the 2017 documentary about Joan Didion directed by her nephew Griffin Dunne, he asks what she felt when she saw a 5-year-old tripping on LSD while reporting from Haight-Ashbury for her 1967 essay, "Slouching Towards Bethlehem."

The automatic response from most people might be, "I was horrified." But Didion, of course, is not most people. Her answer is chilling: "Well, let me tell you, it was gold...You live for moments like that if you're doing a piece, good or bad."

Updated at 2:30 p.m. ET

In an effort to slow the nation's contribution to climate change, President Biden has signed an executive order to begin halting oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters.

The much-anticipated move is one of several executive actions the president took on Wednesday to address the worsening climate crisis and the broader decline of the natural world, but it won't come without pushback.

Watch as Samin Nosrat walks through her process of putting together a meal without a recipe.
NPR / YouTube

If you want to try freestyling in the kit

How old should kids be when they start learning about the Holocaust? While many educators believe the appropriate age is 10, a new book by Caldecott honoree and MacArthur fellow Peter Sís is recommended for children ages 6 to 9.

Nicky & Vera: A Quiet Hero of the Holocaust and the Children He Rescued tells the true story of the Englishman Nicholas "Nicky" Winton, who rescued 669 children from the Nazis, including Vera Gissing.

Mount Merapi, Indonesia's most active volcano, erupted Wednesday, emitting a river of lava onto the mountain below and gas clouds into the sky.

The eruption set off the volcano's longest lava flow since the danger level for Merapi was raised in November, Hanik Humaida, the head of Yogyakarta's Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation Center, told The Associated Press. Sounds of the eruption could reportedly be heard almost 18 miles away.

The vast majority of mayors in American cities do not support sweeping changes to the funding of their police departments, and most say last year's racial justice protests were a force for good in their cities, according to a new survey of more than 100 mayors from across the U.S.

The Justice Department has ended the Trump-era "zero tolerance" policy for immigration offenses that allowed the U.S. government to separate thousands of children from their parents.

Acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson rescinded the policy Tuesday in a memo sent to federal prosecutors.

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