Elena Burnett

NPR's Mary Louise Kelly talks with writer Annalise Griffin about her efforts to avoid buying anything new during the holidays.

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Updated December 1, 2021 at 9:01 AM ET

Cyber Monday and Black Friday are behind us for the year, but the holiday shopping season isn't over just yet. It's always been a time when Americans buy more, but nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, and Americans are spending way more — outsize amounts of money on things.

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Across the country, the laws governing how Americans elect their public officials have become the focus of bitter partisan battles.

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A new essay titled "Black Cop's Kid" touches on an experience that sounds recent - news of a Black teenager killed by a white police officer and seeing the violent clashes between protesters and law enforcement that ensued.

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Not long ago, Denver Public Schools nurse Rebecca Sposato was packing up her office at the end of a difficult school year. She remembers looking around at all her cleaning supplies and extra masks and thinking, "What am I going to do with all this stuff?"

It was May, when vaccine appointments were opening up for the majority of adults and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were loosening mask guidance.

"I honestly thought we were trending down in our COVID numbers, trending up in our vaccine numbers," she says. "And I thought the worst was over."

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Russo's, a produce market in Watertown, Mass., for more than 100 years, is closing this fall, and that means shoppers are about to lose a favorite store and a dear and trusted friend.

SHERYL JULIAN: The town's bereft.

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Remember that phone call? July 25, 2019, the president of Ukraine speaking with the then-president of the United States.

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DONALD TRUMP: It was beautiful. It was just a perfect conversation.

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