Emily Sullivan | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Emily Sullivan

Santa Claus takes many forms throughout the holiday season: there's the work party Santa, the parade float Santa and the illustrious mall Santa. In Baltimore, there's the Santa on a cargo bike carrying several hundred pounds worth of Christmas trees, trailed by the scent of slow-cooked pork.

Baltimore's newest mayor, Brandon Scott, represents a changing of the guard in Baltimore politics, but the 36-year-old progressive Democrat inherits divides that existed long before the pandemic began.

Scott, the city's youngest mayor in more than a century, campaigned on a platform of building racial equity, professionalizing city government and treating the city's homicide rate — one of the highest in the nation — as a public health crisis.

Copyright 2020 WYPR - 88.1 FM Baltimore. To see more, visit WYPR - 88.1 FM Baltimore.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Anonymous hackers breached the city of Baltimore's servers two weeks ago. Since then, those servers' digital content has been locked away — and the online aspects of running the city are at an impasse.

Government emails are down, payments to city departments can't be made online and real estate transactions can't be processed.

Copyright 2020 WYPR - 88.1 FM Baltimore. To see more, visit WYPR - 88.1 FM Baltimore.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

By law, only you and the U.S. Postal Service are allowed to put things in your mailbox. But what if companies like FedEx and UPS could do it too?

That could happen under a recommendation by the Trump administration.

A White House task force said in December that USPS should "explore franchising the mailbox as a means of generating revenue."

The Postal Service could use the cash.

The partial government shutdown is inflicting far greater damage on the U.S. economy than the Trump administration previously estimated, the White House acknowledged.

President Trump's economists have now doubled projections of how much economic growth is being lost each week.

Updated at 4:03 p.m. ET

Despite enormous pressure from President Trump, the U.S. Federal Reserve announced Wednesday it is increasing interest rates by a quarter point.

The Fed said in a statement it is raising the key borrowing rate to a range of 2.25 percent to 2.50 percent — the highest level in a decade, when the economy was in the early stages of the financial crisis and the beginning of the Great Recession. The Dow ended the day down 352 points, or 1.5 percent, after the Fed announcement. The index was up nearly 300 points earlier.

Updated at 3:31 p.m. ET

Kathy Kraninger, a White House official, has been confirmed as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's new director over objections by critics who highlighted her lack of experience in consumer protection.

The Senate voted 50-49 Thursday to back Kraninger as head of the consumer protection watchdog agency. She has worked for the Office of Management and Budget since March 2017.

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko on Friday barred Russian men of military age from entering the country, saying the order was needed to prevent an infiltration in what appeared to be an allusion to Moscow's 2014 takeover of Crimea from Ukraine.

Poroshenko's decree comes days after he assumed martial law powers in Ukraine following a maritime skirmish in the Kerch Strait that joins the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov through Crimea. That encounter saw Russian warships fire on and seize three Ukrainian navy vessels, wounding several of their crew.

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