Vanessa Romo

Microsoft is investing $500 million to help develop affordable housing and address homelessness in the Seattle area as the growth of tech companies in the region continues to flood the real estate market with high-salaried workers, leaving many other people behind.

While Shakespeare's Romeo spent only about two days banished in Mantua, away from his beloved Juliet, Romeo the frog has remained in complete isolation — sans love interest, cousins, friars or friends — living in a laboratory for the last 10 years. But that's all about to change.

Underpaid au pairs who have worked in homes across America, taking care of children, often cooking, cleaning, playing chauffeur and providing a range of other duties, will finally receive back pay they say they are owed.

On Wednesday, 15 of the companies authorized by the State Department to recruit young foreigners to provide low-cost child care in U.S. households reached a $65.5 million settlement in a class-action law suit filed by nearly a dozen au pairs in a Denver federal court.

A former Uber driver charged with killing six people during an hours-long shooting rampage in Michigan nearly three years ago, pleaded guilty to all charges on Monday, defying his attorney.

A blistering report released on Wednesday by an investigative panel looking into the Valentine's Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida last year, exposes a litany of school security breaches and chaotic protocol leading to the deaths of 17 students and faculty, and it recommends arming teachers to prevent or slow future on-campus attacks.

Bob Einstein, the gravelly-voiced comedic actor who delighted viewers by playing inept stuntman Super Dave Osborne and, more recently, by vexing Larry David on HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm, died on Wednesday at age 76. He was recently diagnosed with cancer.

As hope for a last-minute resolution to the political standoff that has triggered the government shutdown all but evaporates, Smithsonian officials announced Thursday that all of its museums, as well as the National Zoo, will be shuttered on Jan. 2 unless a deal is reached.

"There's no getting around it," Linda St. Thomas, chief spokeswoman for the Smithsonian, told NPR.

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.

More than a dozen members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus called for an independent investigation into the death last week of a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl in U.S. custody, saying the absence of medically trained agents and a series of "disturbing systematic failures" prevented government officials from providing adequate care for the child.

Disgraced former CBS CEO Les Moonves, who's been accused of sexual harassment and assault, has been denied the controversial $120 million severance package contained in his contract, the network's board of directors announced on Monday.

Actress Eliza Dushku reached a confidential $9.5 million settlement with CBS last year after claiming she was written off one of the network's most successful shows following her complaints of sexual harassment by the program's leading man.

Updated at 7:07 p.m. ET

James Alex Fields Jr., who rammed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters during a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., last year was found guilty on Friday of killing Heather Heyer and injuring dozens of others.

A for-profit college chain mired in financial troubles announced on Wednesday it is shutting down dozens of campuses across the country by the end of the month. The abrupt decision comes a day after the company lost its accreditation and funding, leaving frantic students scrambling in the final days of the year to enroll in new schools.

Updated at 3 p.m. ET

Nearly two months after a rocket malfunction forced NASA and the Russian space agency Roscosmos to abort the launch of a Soyuz mission, a new crew blasted off on Monday for the International Space Station and arrived safe and sound.

Updated at 7 a.m. ET

Spain's right-wing anti-Muslim party claimed a dozen seats in one of the country's regional parliaments in elections Sunday — outpacing expectations in what is being described as a major blow to the new socialist prime minister.

The surprising gains for the Vox Party mark the latest in a wave of right-wing sentiment that has swept across Europe in recent months.

Paul Sherwen, one of the best-known pro-cycling commentators who is widely credited with introducing the English-speaking world to the sport, died on Sunday at his home in Uganda. He was 62.

Starbucks announced on Thursday it will do next year what it promised to do two years ago — it will begin blocking pornography and illegal content on its free Wi-Fi networks in stores throughout the U.S.

"We have identified a solution to prevent this content from being viewed within our stores and we will begin introducing it to our U.S. locations in 2019," a Starbucks spokeswoman told NPR in an emailed statement.

Over the last week two renowned international auction houses have canceled upcoming sales of rhino horn artifacts, capitulating to mounting pressure and criticism from wildlife conservation groups who argue the legal sale of parts of endangered species promotes illegal poaching and rampant slaughter.

Londoners riding the tube have only a few more months to feast their eyes on cheesy, greasy burger ads and other high-calorie treats on promotional posters.

As of February, the city will ban junk food advertising across all of London's public transportation network, the mayor's office announced on Friday. It is part of the city's larger plan to stem rising childhood obesity rates.

It might be too late for readers who are already stuffing their faces with turkey. But for those who are still tidying up the house in anticipation of Thanksgiving dinner guests, take note: Don't throw out old lottery tickets without checking the numbers first.

As of Thursday morning, President Trump was still ruminating on a rare upbraiding from Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, continuing attacks against the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and calling it "a complete & total disaster."

"It is out of control, has a horrible reputation," Trump wrote on Twitter.

As many readers may be brining, trussing or spatchcocking turkeys in advance of Thanksgiving, we have a different kind of bird story for you. One of a well dressed, bedazzled pigeon who appears to have gone on the bird equivalent of a rumspringa.

For the first time since women have been allowed to apply, a female soldier is one step closer to becoming a member of the Green Berets.

The Army opened its special operations jobs to women in 2016 but none has ever made it past the initial Special Forces Assessment and Selection process, a 24-day program designed to push soldiers to the brink of mental and physical exhaustion.

A ruling by a federal judge last month seemed like it would end a long legal battle between Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and tens of thousands of student loan borrowers waiting to have their debts canceled. But as of Tuesday, there is a new round of litigation.

The former director of Peru's National Police was among 14 people arrested early Tuesday morning in a series of raids that rounded up alleged members of a baby-trafficking ring.

Authorities have not suggested the role Gen. Raúl Becerra played in the criminal organization but the group is suspected of targeting poor pregnant women and convincing them to sell their newborn infants, the national police said in a statement.

The man accused of sending more than a dozen pipe bombs to prominent Democrats and critics of President Trump will be held without bail, a judge ruled on Tuesday.

Cesar Sayoc made his first court appearance in Manhattan, after being transferred from Florida to New York's federal Metropolitan Correctional Center on Monday. The charges against Sayoc were filed in the Southern District of New York.

The 56-year-old appeared in court wearing a blue T-shirt with his gray hair pulled back in a tight pony tail. He did not wear handcuffs or shackles.

A small, dark sign with white lettering offers a gentle suggestion in etiquette: "Please respect our neighbours' privacy." The five words offer a hint of the legal squabble that is pitting a handful of luxury apartment dwellers against one of London's most important — and free — art museums.

The placard is located on the 10th floor viewing deck of the Tate Modern's Blavatnik Building, which opened in 2016. The sign is intended to discourage museum visitors from gawking into the glass-enclosed living rooms of the wealthy residents only 200 feet away.

The Regional Commissioner of Tanzania's largest city announced the creation of an anti-gay surveillance squad that is expected to begin a roundup as early as Monday.

In an interview with Dizzim TV on Monday, Paul Makonda ordered residents throughout Dar es Salaam to report gay people to a phone hotline in advance of the widespread sweeps.

"Report them to me," Makonda urged, as translated from Swahili by NPR, adding that "from next Monday we start arresting them."

The man accused of killing 11 people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh was indicted on 44 federal counts, including hate crimes, federal prosecutors said on Wednesday.

A remote northwestern Hawaiian island has nearly vanished after Hurricane Walaka barreled through the Pacific last month, eliminating — at least for now — a critical habitat for endangered species.

Only two minuscule slivers of East Island have resurfaced since the Category 5 storm struck the region and washed away the 11-acre strip of sand and gravel that is part of the French Frigate Shoals.

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