NPR News

On the eve of the vote for the next chair of the Democratic National Committee, the crowded field is thinning out.

South Carolina Democratic Chair Jamie Harrison dropped out of the race Thursday and endorsed former Labor Secretary Tom Perez. The move comes days after another candidate, New Hampshire Democratic Chair Ray Buckley, exited the race and threw his support to Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota.

In the cavernous basement of St. Thomas Aquinas community center in South Philadelphia, a mock immigration raid is underway.

As one woman yells "Help! Help!" — pretending to be taken by federal immigration officers — volunteers being trained to disrupt a raid begin singing and sit down as one, blocking the officers' path.

“Unfortunately there’s no rest for the weary,” Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne told the Joint Budget Committee Thursday.  “We start today looking at the challenges we face for the next fiscal year.”

Just one day after ending a special session to address the shortfall in the current budget, Dardenne was presenting the governor’s proposal for the next budget.

Malaysian authorities say initial autopsy results show a chemical weapon — VX nerve agent — was used in the fatal poisoning of Kim Jong Nam, older half-brother of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un.

VX is an odorless substance that can exist as liquid or gas. It can kill within minutes if it's passed through the skin. It is 10 times more toxic than sarin and classified as a weapon of mass destruction.

The Justice Department may step up enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states that have voted to legalize its recreational use, according to White House press secretary Sean Spicer.

"I do believe think you'll see greater enforcement of it," Spicer said, during his daily press briefing. He added that the Department of Justice will be looking into the issue further.

The debate over transgender restrooms is nothing new in Gloucester County, Va. The largely rural county in the eastern part of the state is the home of Gavin Grimm, whose transgender-rights case is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Vice President Pence is no stranger to the Conservative Political Action Conference, having addressed the annual gathering nine times when he was an Indiana governor and congressman.

On Thursday morning, law enforcement entered the Oceti Sakowin camp to do a final sweep before officially shutting it down, ending a months-long protest against the completion of the nearby Dakota Access Pipeline.

The Oceti Sakowin camp was the largest of several temporary camps on the northern edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. Protesters have been living on this land for months, in support of members of the Standing Rock Sioux.

New Attorney General Jeff Sessions is rescinding an Obama-era memo that directed the Justice Department to reduce the use of private prisons, NPR's Carrie Johnson reports

Sessions writes in the order that returning to the Bureau of Prisons' earlier approach would provide flexibility.

The war against ISIS is entering a tough new phase, as Iraqi fighters with growing U.S. assistance push into western Mosul, warns the senior American commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend.

"ISIS is a brutal, brutal enemy," said Townsend, speaking in Erbil as Iraq's security forces were about to attack Mosul's airport with help from the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition.

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