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For hundreds of public employees in the state of Washington, where a new vaccine mandate for state employees went into effect this week, Monday was their last day on the job. That includes a sergeant with the Washington State Patrol who told KUOW that he had made an appointment to turn in his patrol car and equipment.

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Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep. Suppose you're in heavy traffic, you blow your horn, and it sounds like this.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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Lawmakers looking to gain or keep a political edge during redistricting over the years have carved up some inventive electoral districts: Ohio's "snake by the lake," Pennsylvania's "Goofy kicking Donald Duck," and two centuries ago, the snake-like district in Massachusetts that inspired the term "gerrymander."

In Virginia, House of Delegates District 72, sometimes called the "toilet bowl" because of how it curves around Richmond, became the gerrymandering poster child in the state as advocates pressed for a redistricting commission to create fairer political maps.

Natalie Saldana would love to put her 1.5-year-old daughter in a quality child care program while she works and goes to school, but the $700 monthly price tag makes it impossible.

"Seven-hundred dollars is almost my rent," Saldana said.

Most orchestras emphasize music by composers we're all familiar with: Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms and so on. But a small organization received a big honor this month at the Gramophone Classical Music Awards for its extraordinary service to overlooked American composers of the 20th and 21st centuries.

The American statesman Colin Powell died on Monday due to complications from COVID-19. He was 84 years old.

Yasmin Williams: Tiny Desk (Home) Concert

Oct 19, 2021

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.

Head football coach Nick Rolovich was fired by Washington State University for refusing to get a COVID-19 vaccine as required by a mandate for state employees.

Four of Rolovich's assistant coaches — Ricky Logo, John Richardson, Craig Stutzmann and Mark Weber — were also terminated by the university for failure to get fully vaccinated by Monday.

Colin Powell became a household name because of the four stars on his Army uniform and his iconic statements about Iraq.

In the first Iraq war in 1991, he famously described what the U.S. would do to the Iraqi army that had invaded neighboring Kuwait: "We're going to cut it off, and then we're going to kill it."

Such chilling bravado — and the subsequent victory over Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein — made him one of the most formidable and admired public figures.

Updated October 18, 2021 at 10:29 PM ET

Former President Donald Trump is suing the Democrat-led House select committee that's investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, as well as the National Archives, to try to stop documents related to the riot from being turned over to the panel.

Updated October 18, 2021 at 5:02 PM ET

Colin Powell has died at the age of 84 from COVID-19 complications, according to his family. He had also been treated in recent years for multiple myeloma, a blood cancer, and had Parkinson's disease.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in favor of police officers in two cases involving qualified immunity, the controversial legal doctrine that protects police officers accused of misconduct.

The two cases concerned police officers accused of using excessive force when responding to domestic disturbances. In one, officers used beanbag rounds and a knee on the suspect's back to subdue him; in the second, officers shot and killed the suspect after he approached them while raising a hammer.

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An Unlikely WNBA Champ

Oct 18, 2021

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Basically no one picked the Chicago Sky to win the WNBA title when the playoffs started last month. The Sky barely broke even in the regular season, so they were a long shot, to say the least. But last night on ESPN, the Chicago Sky wrapped up a month of proving just about everyone wrong.

Fewer cars on the road during lockdowns was good news for frogs and salamanders

Oct 18, 2021

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Wildlife biologist Greg LeClair has been obsessed with amphibians since he was a kid, when one rainy day, a black and yellow spotted salamander stumbled into his driveway in Maine.

Updated October 18, 2021 at 7:34 PM ET

The murder trial has started for Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William "Roddie" Bryan, the three men accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery as he was out for a jog.

It comes more than a year and a half after Arbery, who was Black, was gunned down on a residential street in southeastern Georgia. The three men charged in his murder are white.

Video of the killing sparked national outrage and helped spur a wave of protests for racial justice in the summer of 2020.

ESPN college basketball and football reporter Allison Williams has joined a small minority of workers who have quit or been fired from their jobs over a vaccine mandate.

"I have been denied my request for accommodation by ESPN and the Walt Disney Company, and effective next week, I will be separated from the company," she said in a video posted to Instagram on Friday.

Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction. It certainly was in Spain last week.

During an event to award the country's prestigious Planeta literary prize, the famed but reclusive crime novelist Carmen Mola was actually revealed to be the creation of three male writers.

Antonio Mercero, Agustín Martínez and Jorge Díaz not only created a series of highly successful novels in Mora's name, but also invented the author herself.

Sinclair Broadcast Group, which operates dozens of TV stations across the U.S., said Monday that some of its servers and work stations were encrypted with ransomware and that some of its data was stolen from the company's network.

The company said it started investigating the potential security incident on Saturday and on Sunday it and found that certain office and operational networks were disrupted.

The Republican Party has tackled countless controversies since its birth in the 1850s, but it is hard to find a precedent for the posture it finds itself in today.

Most of what Republicans espouse as a unified minority in Congress comes straight from the party's identical platforms for 2016 and 2020.

But a glaring new feature has been added to the party's agenda at the insistence of former President Donald Trump. Its adoption among Republican candidates and officeholders bespeaks his undiminished grip on the GOP's most passionate voters.

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It's a familiar story - a majority Black town in Michigan has high levels of lead in the water. Officials have known about it for years. People wait in long lines for water to bathe, cook and brush their teeth with. But we're not talking about Flint here. This time it's Benton Harbor in the southwestern corner of Michigan. Last week, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer set an 18-month goal for replacing the lead pipes throughout the city. Marcus Muhammad is the mayor of Benton Harbor, and he joins us now.

Welcome to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

For Candace Parker, Sunday's WNBA final was the culmination of a personal goal: to bring a WNBA title to her hometown of Chicago.

She pulled it off, along with the rest of the Chicago Sky, beating the Phoenix Mercury 80-74 in Game 4. It marks the team's first WNBA championship win in franchise history.

Updated October 18, 2021 at 2:20 PM ET

LONDON (AP) — Facebook said it plans to hire 10,000 workers in the European Union over the next five years to work on a new computing platform that promises to connect people virtually but could raise concerns about privacy and the social platform gaining more control over people's online lives.

New Yorker Charlie Freyre's sinuses had been bothering him for weeks last winter, during a COVID-19 surge in the city. It was before vaccines became widely available.

"I was just trying to stay in my apartment as much as possible," Freyre says, so checking in with his doctor via an online appointment "just seemed like a more convenient option. And you know, it was very straightforward and very easy."

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Five members of a congressional committee say Jeff Bezos and other Amazon executives misled lawmakers and may have lied under oath, according to a Monday letter to Andy Jassy, who succeeded Bezos as CEO in July.

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