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Matthew S. Schwartz

Matthew S. Schwartz is a reporter with NPR's news desk. Before coming to NPR, Schwartz worked as a reporter for Washington, DC, member station WAMU, where he won the national Edward R. Murrow award for feature reporting in large market radio. Previously, Schwartz worked as a technology reporter covering the intricacies of Internet regulation. In a past life, Schwartz was a Washington telecom lawyer. He got his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center, and his B.A. from the University of Michigan ("Go Blue!").

In a nearly empty St. Peter's Basilica, Pope Francis celebrated Easter in virtual solitude on Sunday, calling for the world to come together in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

The world is "oppressed by a pandemic severely testing our whole human family," Francis said, according to a translation provided by the Vatican. In the midst of that suffering, Francis said, the message that Christ has risen is "the contagion of hope."

By most accounts, Saturday in the southeastern United States was beautiful, filled with blue skies and sunshine. Sunday could be the polar opposite, as the region faces the prospect of heavy storms, hail, damaging winds and violent tornadoes.

During dangerous weather, communities often open storm shelters. But shelters can get crowded — a potentially dangerous situation of its own at a time of social distancing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

So how are states balancing the possible spread of the coronavirus, versus the potential for severe storms?

Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, killed in a drone strike early Friday, is getting the vast majority of the media attention. But several others were also killed in the attack, including militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. For years, Muhandis has been one of the most important military figures in Iraq, as the deputy commander of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces.

More than 100 Gold Star families are suing several major defense contractors, alleging they made illegal "protection payments" to the Taliban — thereby funding the Taliban's insurgency efforts that killed or wounded thousands of Americans in Afghanistan.

It's illegal under the federal Anti-Terrorism Act to provide material support to the Taliban. The U.S. has warned defense contractors that protection payments are against the law, but according to the lawsuit, the practice has proliferated because defense contractors feel it's a cost of doing business.

One of the largest school districts in the country is trying something new: Starting next month, students in Fairfax County, Va., can take one day off per school year to engage in political activism.

The plan has its roots in the 2018 shooting at a Parkland, Fla. high school that left 17 dead. In its aftermath came a rise in student activism unlike anything the Fairfax school district had ever seen, Fairfax School Board member Ryan McElveen tells NPR.

Forever Stamps have gotten a lot more expensive, relatively speaking.

The price of a first-class Forever Stamp went up by a nickel Sunday, from 50 cents to 55 cents. That 10 percent increase "is the biggest price increase by total cents in the history of the Postal Service," according to The Associated Press.

The Postal Service has been running a multibillion-dollar deficit for years, and the price increase is an attempt to contend with a United States that just doesn't send as many letters as it used to.

Updated at 5:58 p.m. ET

A federal judge in Pennsylvania has blocked the Trump administration from implementing a rule allowing employers to decline to offer contraceptive coverage on moral or religious grounds.

U.S. District Judge Wendy Beetlestone in Philadelphia imposed a nationwide injunction Monday which has wider effect than a similar ruling issued Sunday by a federal judge in California.

That's one giant leap for China.

China state television announced Thursday that China's Chang'e 4 lunar explorer, which launched in early December, "became the first ever probe to soft-land on the far side of the moon." The probe touched down at 10:26 Beijing time, the China Global Television Network said.