National

The outlook for a key congressional investigation into potential ties between President Trump and Russia's election meddling remained in doubt Thursday, after an unusual, high-profile flap involving its top two members.

There's no denying it: Los Angeles isn't exactly gentle on the ears.

That's one lesson, at least, from a comprehensive noise map created by the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics. On the interactive U.S. map the agency released this week, which depicts data on noise produced primarily by airports and interstate highways, few spots glare with such deep and angry color as the City of Angels.

When House Speaker Paul Ryan says he wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act so that people can buy insurance that's right for them, and not something created in Washington, part of what he's saying is that he wants to get rid of so-called essential health benefits.

That's a list of 10 general categories of medical care that all insurance policies are required to cover under the Affordable Care Act.

Updated at 5:45 p.m. ET

On the final day of the confirmation hearings for Judge Neil Gorsuch, the Senate Democratic leader announced his opposition to the Supreme Court nominee.

In a speech on the Senate floor, Chuck Schumer said Gorsuch "will have to earn 60 votes for confirmation," setting up a showdown with Republican leaders who may attempt to change Senate rules.

Meals on Wheels brings food to hundreds of thousands of homebound seniors and people with disabilities. But President Trump's proposed budget has this community-based program, like many others, facing cuts.

On a hazy morning, Alan Zebker and and Vicki Kysella are organizing packages of food in the back of Zebker's SUV. They're volunteers with Meals on Wheels West in Santa Monica.

They've got their routine down.

"Alan packs the bags; I make the deliveries," Kysella says.

"When she's delivering, I pack more bags," Zebker says.

Thursday was the fourth and final day of the confirmation hearing for Judge Neil Gorsuch. Testifying about the Supreme Court nominee were experts and outside groups. Gorsuch himself did not take questions, or appear in the hearing room.

Those who spoke on his behalf were judges and former law clerks he has worked with, along with some law school professors and other attorneys. Witnesses called by Democrats, who have concerns about Gorsuch, included other law professors, and representatives from women's and environmental groups.

We are in the midst of a quiet revolution in school discipline.

In the past five years, 27 states have revised their laws with the intention of reducing suspensions and expulsions. And, more than 50 of America's largest school districts have also reformed their discipline policies — changes which collectively affect more than 6.35 million students.

In August 2016, an outbreak of mumps began in Arkansas. Since then, there have been nearly 3,000 cases of the disease across 33 counties in the state.

As a public health practitioner, I wondered: Why did this outbreak take off?

My team at HealthMap, a computational epidemiology lab based out of Boston Children's Hospital, began by rounding up as much data as we could.

The Affordable Care Act replacement plan championed by President Trump would hurt low-income people in rural areas that voted heavily for the Republican last fall, according to an NPR analysis of data on proposed subsidy changes from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Sears used to be the titan of American retailing. But now its future is in doubt.

Shares of the company's stock tumbled 12 percent today after the company acknowledged Tuesday in its annual 10-K filing that its future viability is not a sure thing. A 10-K is a report that public companies file with the Securities and Exchange Commission, giving a comprehensive summary of the company's financial performance.

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