Matthew S. Schwartz

Matthew S. Schwartz is a reporter with NPR's news desk. Before coming to NPR, Matt worked as a reporter for Washington, D.C., member station WAMU, where he won the national Edward R. Murrow award for feature reporting in large market radio. Previously, Matt worked as a technology reporter covering the intricacies of Internet regulation. In a past life, Matt 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!").

Updated at 1:03 p.m. ET

Faced with billions of dollars in potential liabilities from two years of devastating Northern California wildfires as well as the specter of future catastrophic blazes, California's Pacific Gas and Electric, one of the nation's largest utilities, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Tuesday.

The state is investigating PG&E's culpability in November's Butte County fire that killed at least 86 people and incinerated some 14,000 homes and buildings in and around the town of Paradise, Calif.

A glitch in Apple's FaceTime app let users hear the other person — and in some cases, see video — even if the recipient never accepted the call. The bug was widely reported late Monday, and confirmed by several technology reporters. Until it can offer a permanent fix, Apple says it has simply disabled group FaceTime calls altogether.

As government safety workers get back to work after the partial government shutdown that lasted more than a month, the National Transportation Safety Board is developing plans to work through the backlog — and realizing that some evidence might no longer exist.

Most investigations were put on hold when workers were dismissed. But 22 investigations never even began. That includes 15 aviation accidents resulting in 21 fatalities; three marine accidents; two railroad accidents causing two fatalities; and two highway accidents, which killed seven people.

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.

A prominent Chinese human rights lawyer has been sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison for subverting state power.

Wang Quanzhang is known for defending political activists, victims of land seizures and the banned religious group Falun Gong. His wife and former business partners say Wang committed no crime. Human rights groups are condemning the sentence.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has ordered preparations for a second summit with President Trump to discuss the prospect of denuclearization on the Korean peninsula, state media said Thursday.

Updated at 7:28 p.m. ET

The Microsoft search engine, Bing, is back online in China after apparently being blocked on Wednesday, a company spokesperson told NPR.

"We can confirm that Bing was inaccessible in China, but service is now restored," the spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.

The company declined to provide details about the cause of the disruption and return of the search engine.

Zimbabwean forces have engaged in "systematic torture" of protesters, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission has found. The torture, mostly consisting of "indiscriminate and severe beatings," follows several days of looting, fires and street barricades by protesters angry over high fuel prices.

Russell Baker, the Pulitzer Prize winning writer who penned thousands of columns for The New York Times, and hosted the PBS television program "Masterpiece Theatre," died Monday at his home in Leesburg, Va. He was 93.

Zimbabwe has constricted Internet access amid a week of deadly protests following an increase in gasoline prices.

Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, the country's largest mobile phone operator, said early Friday that it had been directed by the government to shut down all Internet access for the second time in a week.

Hundreds of Honduran migrants have crossed the Guatemalan border as they travel in the direction of the United States.

The group that reached Guatemala on Tuesday is the first wave of a caravan that could consist of thousands. It's the first national border crossed by the migrants on their journey that started Monday night.

It's a scene often observed in the White House. Men in bow ties light golden candelabras while the president of the United States stands behind a table containing small mountains of food on silver trays.

So far, so good.

But look closely, and you'll see the labels on the packages: "Quarter Pounder." "Filet-O-Fish." Chicken nugget dipping sauces sit in serving bowls off to the side. Behind the current president, Abraham Lincoln looks down, his hand on his chin, surveying the scene.

If only paintings could offer witty commentary.

The 18-year-old Saudi woman who secured asylum in Canada hopes other women will be inspired to follow in her footsteps.

Updated at 12:35 p.m. ET

The mayor of the Polish city of Gdansk, Pawel Adamowicz, has died a day after he was stabbed in the heart and abdomen at a charity event attended by thousands of people.

Adamowicz, 53, was onstage after speaking at Sunday's finale of the annual Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity event, which raises money for medical equipment to treat sick children. TV footage showed Adamowicz telling the audience it had been a "wonderful day" just before he was attacked, The Associated Press reports.

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.

Juan David Ortiz, a U.S. Border Patrol agent, pleaded not guilty Thursday to capital murder in the deaths of four women, The Associated Press reports. His "killing spree" might have continued, prosecutors say, had they not caught a "lucky break" when a fifth kidnapped woman escaped and contacted authorities.

A Nazi war criminal, living safely in the United States until his deportation to Germany last year, has died. He had been the last known World War II Nazi living in the U.S.

Australian police arrested a Shepparton man accused of mailing 38 packages containing a dangerous substance to diplomatic missions throughout southeast Australia.

Savas Avan was charged with sending dangerous articles through the postal service, Australian law enforcement officials said in a statement. The offense carries a maximum 10-year jail term.

A federal judge in Iowa says it's no longer a crime to go undercover at factory farms, slaughterhouses and any other ag-related operations. The 2012 law was a clear violation of the First Amendment, the judge said.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund, one of the plaintiffs in the case, called the ruling "a win for free speech and animal protection."

Updated at 10 a.m. ET

The young Saudi woman who captivated the world with her harrowing tweets claiming abuse has been granted refugee status by the United Nations.

"The UNHCR has referred Ms Rahaf Mohammed Al-Qunun to Australia for consideration for refugee resettlement," the Australia Department of Home Affairs told NPR in a statement, referring to the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. Australia will "consider this referral in the usual way, as it does with all UNHCR referrals."

After extending to an unexpected third day, trade talks between U.S. and Chinese officials have concluded, a spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry announced Wednesday morning. Delegates to the talks have not yet revealed what specifically was discussed, or if anything was agreed to. In a Tweet Tuesday morning, President Trump said the talks were "going very well!"

On Tuesday, the woman believed to be the oldest person in the U.S. passed away at her home in Cleveland Heights, the Associated Press reported. According to the Gerontology Research Group, which tracks and verifies the age of people aged 110 and older, Lessie Brown lived for 114 years and 108 days.

Updated at 9:05 a.m. ET

Florida's voting rolls are about to swell.

In November, Florida voters overwhelmingly voted to restore voting rights to most felons who have served their time. Today, as NPR Miami correspondent Greg Allen reports, the amendment to the state constitution goes into effect — and more than a million people will be able to register to vote.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has traveled to China at the request of Chinese President Xi Jinping, state media of both countries announced. It's Kim's fourth visit to China in a year.

The four-day visit could be a chance for the two leaders to coordinate ahead of a second summit between Kim and President Trump, NPR's international correspondent Anthony Kuhn reports.

U.S. and Chinese officials have begun talks aimed at ending the trade war that has imposed hundreds of billions of dollars in tariffs over the past year. The U.S. is seeking concessions in Chinese business practices; in exchange it will eliminate tariffs recently imposed on Chinese goods.

Updated at 10:30 p.m. ET

Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, the 18-year-old Saudi woman who barricaded herself in a Bangkok hotel room as she posted pleas for asylum over the weekend, will be allowed to stay in Thailand for up to a week while U.N. refugee agency officials study her case, according to Thai authorities.

Alqunun says her family in Saudi Arabia has abused her and might kill her if she is deported back home.

A third woman has crossed the threshold into the sacred Hindu Sabarimala temple in southern India, defying a centuries-old ban on women of menstruating age — between the ages of 10 and 50 — from entering the shrine, according to Reuters.

Updated at 11:35 a.m. ET

Edward Gallagher was a decorated 19-year Navy veteran on his eighth tour of duty. And military prosecutors say that while serving in Mosul, Iraq, in 2017, he snapped.

Gallagher plans to plead not guilty to multiple charges of war crimes at his arraignment hearing Friday at Naval Base San Diego, attorney Phillip Stackhouse told NPR.

The Houston Sheriff's Office has released a composite sketch of the man wanted in the killing of 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes.

In a press conference Thursday, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzales said the suspect is described as a thin white man in his 30s or 40s, wearing a black hoodie, with pale skin and blue eyes. What police originally described as a beard "looks more like a 5-o'clock shadow," he said.

North Korea's acting ambassador to Italy has disappeared from the diplomatic compound in Rome, according to South Korea's spy agency. NPR's Seoul Correspondent Anthony Kuhn reports the South Korean National Intelligence Service briefed lawmakers in a closed-door hearing Thursday.

Ambassador Jo Song Gil and his wife disappeared from the diplomatic compound in Rome in November, before his term was set to end later that month, Kuhn reports.

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