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For the last two and half months, Gladis Blanco has been out of a job.

Blanco has worked in housekeeping at the Bellagio Resort and Casino in Las Vegas for the last eight years. She has mixed feelings about going back to work.

The best thing about being 17, according to Shawn Richardson, is freedom.

"I'm able to go out more with my friends," he says. "I can do things solo."

Shawn is a rising high school senior in Minneapolis. School is fine, but what he really loves is track. His friend timed him running the 100-meter dash in 10.71 seconds.

The track season was canceled because of COVID-19. But if he can run that time officially, he will have the school record. Distance running isn't his thing. Shawn is a sprinter.

"It's like gathering energy and then just letting it go," he says.

Catholics cannot tolerate racism and also "claim to defend the sacredness of every human life," Pope Francis says, commenting on the upheaval that has followed the death of George Floyd in police custody.

The pope is urging the U.S. to reach a national reconciliation, after days of protests and violence.

"My friends, we cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life," the pope said on Wednesday.

Jazz musicians have always faced systems of discrimination in America. One insidious example was the cabaret card, a form of identification required for any musician to work in a New York nightclub from 1940 to 1967. The New York Police Department administered these licenses and revoked them for any minor infraction. As a result, some of the biggest names in the music at the time, like Billie Holiday and Charlie Parker, lost their right to work at a crucial points in their careers.

One effect of the widespread protests across U.S. cities this week has been to renew discussions of what role the police should play in society.

For many Americans, it goes without saying that the police are critical in maintaining public safety. Have an emergency? Call the police. But many others — especially black people and poor people — have long countered that the police pose more of a threat to their safety than a boon. See a police officer? Walk in the other direction.

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Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar is with us next. Before being elected to the Senate, she served as the prosecutor for Hennepin County, which includes Minneapolis. Senator, welcome back to the program.

Brit Bennett's first novel, The Mothers, was the sort of smashingly successful debut that can make but also possibly break a young writer by raising expectations and pressure. Four years later, her second, The Vanishing Half, more than lives up to her early promise. It's an even better book, more expansive yet also deeper, a multi-generational family saga that tackles prickly issues of racial identity and bigotry and conveys the corrosive effects of secrets and dissembling.

Sixth-graders who used the power of two languages — Mandarin and English — to express how Asian students in their city suffered during the early days of the coronavirus.

And high school seniors who looked at inequality — and the activism that seeks to change it — to demand they be heard in the fight against climate change.

Meet the grand prize winners of the 2020 NPR Student Podcast Challenge!

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Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep. Protests across this country have taken many forms. Some people march in the streets, others sing. A few do this.

(SOUNDBITE OF POTS AND PANS CLANGING)

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And now let's go to London's Hyde Park, where thousands of people today have turned out for a rally in solidarity with the protests in America.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: Say his name.

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So how did the protests in the United States look in China? NPR's Emily Feng is in Beijing. Hi, Emily.

EMILY FENG, BYLINE: Hey, Steve.

INSKEEP: How big a story is this for the state-controlled media where you are?

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NOEL KING, BYLINE: In cities across this country, police are confronting protesters - sometimes violently. Reporters say the police are targeting them, too. Here's NPR's media correspondent David Folkenflik.

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