Melissa Block | Connecticut Public Radio
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Melissa Block

For Alex Zeldin, it began as a normal Friday.

He was headed to Trader Joe's on New York City's Upper West Side to pick up some food for the Jewish Sabbath.

As usual, he was wearing his yarmulke, or skullcap. When he turned a corner, he realized that a couple of teenagers had started to follow him, spewing antisemitic insults.

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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

The Reverend Megan Rohrer has made history. They've been elected as the first openly transgender bishop in any mainstream American denomination - preferred pronouns they/them. But...

Updated May 3, 2021 at 7:36 PM ET

Do transgender women and girls have a constitutional right to play on women's sports teams? That question was argued before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday.

The landmark case stems from an Idaho law passed last year — the nation's first transgender sports ban.

Syrus Hall, a 17-year-old from Mobile, Ala., has heard it all before: "You'll grow out of it." "It's a phase." "You're just confused."

"It makes me mad," he says.

Hall is transgender and in the early stages of his transition; he gets weekly shots of a low dose of testosterone.

"I worked really hard to be able to transition," he says. "I dealt with bullying at school, and people being mean to me just because I exist. If I can deal with that, I know who I am. I'm not going to go back."

President Biden will mark International Women's Day on Monday by signing two executive orders geared toward promoting gender equity, both in the United States and around the world.

According to an administration official speaking on background, the goal of the orders is "restoring America as a champion for gender equity and equality."

The first executive order will establish a Gender Policy Council within the White House, reformulating an office from the Obama administration that was later disbanded by the Trump administration, and giving it more clout.

How do we wrap our minds around the fact that nearly half a million people have died of COVID-19 in the United States alone?

The nation is on the cusp of that milestone: 500,000 lives lost, in just one year.

Shortly after President Trump arrived at the White House, he disbanded an office specifically focused on women's issues. Now President Biden is resurrecting it just as quickly.

Last Wednesday, just before a mob of pro-Trump extremists stormed the U.S. Capitol in an insurrection that left five dead, the president stood before a huge crowd gathered in front of the White House for a so-called "Save America" rally.

Trump whipped up his supporters, repeating a false claim that he has made over and over in the weeks since Nov. 3: "We won this election, and we won it by a landslide," he insisted. "This was not a close election!"

When Vice President-elect Kamala Harris delivered her victory speech on Saturday night, she spoke directly to a certain slice of the population.

"Every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities," Harris said.

Throughout her primary campaign, Harris was known to pay special attention to girls who came to her events, at times offering advice on leadership or encouraging ambition.

Three civil rights groups filed a federal class-action lawsuit Thursday challenging the Trump administration's recent crackdown on diversity training.

On Aug. 26, 1920, the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution officially took effect when Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby signed a proclamation certifying its ratification.

The amendment promised women that their right to vote would "not be denied" on account of sex.

The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified 100 years ago this week, and it comprises just 39 words:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

When Major League Baseball launches its shortened, COVID-delayed season on Thursday, there will be no fans in the stands. But it will sound like there are.

In Richmond, Va., the former capital of the Confederacy, a bronze statue of Confederate general Stonewall Jackson sitting triumphantly astride his horse, Little Sorrel, no longer towers above that city's Monument Avenue.

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NOEL KING, HOST:

It had been a long, hot day of protests in Washington, D.C. As dusk descended on the nation's capital on June 3, a man in the crowd held up a microphone. The man, Maryland-based singer Kenny Sway, asked the protestors to kneel — and to turn on their cell phone flashlights.

"I asked them if we can light the city up tonight," Sway says.

Virtual vigils, streamed live on Facebook.

Websites that collate the names and photos of the dead.

Video projections of those we have lost, shining onto building facades.

In the absence of collective public gatherings, people are coming up with new ways to memorialize those who have died from COVID-19.

As the novel coronavirus continues its global rampage, scientists around the world are racing to stop its spread.

Dozens of projects have been launched under great pressure to deliver a vaccine as quickly as possible.

For the latest COVID-19 statistics, updated in near real time, millions of people around the world have been turning to an interactive, Web-based dashboard created by a small team at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

As hospitals across the country fill with COVID-19 patients, medical personnel are sounding the alarm about shortages of drugs essential to those patients' care.

"We have seen an increase in demand on pharmaceuticals that's unprecedented," says Daniel Kistner, who manages the pharmacy program for Vizient, a group purchasing organization that negotiates lower prices with drug manufacturers. "Never seen anything like this before across the whole country."

In the weeks leading up to Mardi Gras on Feb. 25, the streets of New Orleans are filled with a series of extravagant parades organized by local krewes.

Saturday night's parade was a glittering, glowing procession of Wookiees, Trekkies, and other self-proclaimed sci-fi geeks and super-nerds: the tenth annual parade of the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus.

The Ohio River Valley has seen some of the largest jumps in mortality rates among people in midlife — those between ages 25 and 64 — in recent years.

Among the key figures embroiled in the impeachment inquiry into President Trump is Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who announced last week that he will be resigning later this year.

Gun control has emerged as a key issue in next month's off-year elections in Virginia, a state that is seen as a bellwether of what could come in national elections in 2020.

Republicans currently hold a razor-thin majority in both houses of the state legislature, and with all 140 seats on the ballot this year, Democrats hope to turn those chambers blue.

One race where the discussion of guns is especially fraught is in Virginia Beach, the 8th State Senate district.

The other day, I went down to the National Mall here in Washington, D.C., and heard the sound of hope in sweet, strong, young voices.

A youth choir and chamber ensemble from Haiti are on a U.S. tour that's taken them from Maine to Manhattan to Kentucky over the past month. This stop was in a lush garden of the Smithsonian museums. The tour is meant to showcase Haiti's rich musical heritage — and to raise awareness of the country's rebuilding efforts.

This summer's mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, accelerated calls for more red flag or extreme-risk laws in those states, as well as helped jump-start bills in Congress. The laws allow courts to order the seizure of firearms from those believed to pose an imminent danger to themselves or others. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have passed such laws.

But, while the political focus may be on mass shootings, states are using the laws far more often to prevent cases of individual gun violence, including suicide.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

This week, the Olympic champion runner Caster Semenya of South Africa filed an appeal in a case that hinges on her right to compete as a woman. It's the latest chapter in a fight that's gone on for years, and that raises thorny questions about fairness and ethics in sport.

Arivaca, Ariz., is a tiny village, population about 700, with an outsize problem.

It sits just 11 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border and has become a magnet for self-styled militia groups from out of state that say they want to patrol the border and stop migrants. Their presence has strained a town that has long prided itself on its live-and-let-live, cooperative spirit.

When the women of Arivaca gather for Monday afternoon gentle yoga, there are certain topics they know to avoid.

Carmen Schentrup was one week away from celebrating her 17th birthday when she was killed in last year's mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

A talented musician and driven student, Carmen had dreams of becoming a medical researcher and finding a cure for the neurodegenerative disease ALS.

Now, her parents, Philip and April, wear teal bracelets printed with her name and the dates that mark her short life: 2/21/2001-2/14/2018.

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