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Live from NPR news I’m Jeanine Herbst.

President Biden spoke to Saudi King Salman today, focusing on regional security, and the US commitments to help the Kingdom defend itself from Iranian aligned groups. The call comes ahead of the expected White House release of an intelligence report on the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, he was an US based journalist and a Saudi royal family critic, who was killed in Istanbul.

Scientists are studying yet another possibly concerning new corona virus variant that has been detected in the United States. NPR’s Rob Stan has more.

The variant was spotted in New York City, it’s raising concerns because it has the same mutation that was first detected in South Africa. It helps the virus invade the immune system, this variant also maybe spreading quickly. But researchers say they need to do a lot more research to know whether it’s really something to worry about. Virus mutate all the time, most of the time mutations that look like this could be a problem don't turn out to be a threat. But researchers are still very concerned about 3 variants that first emerged in the UK, South Africa and Brazil, and are spreading in this country. Rob Stan NPR news.

Fracking for natural gas is now banned in Pennsylvania, and southern New York State, the Delaware River Basin Commission voted today to make permanent to long standing de facto moratorium on gas drilling in the region, from member station WHYY Susan Philips has more.

All four member states, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and New York agreed to a permanent ban. The agency’s executive director Steve Tambini cited a decade worth of scientific evidence. That fracking contaminates water, surface water and ground water.

“The fluids released or migrating would contain pollutants including salts, metals, radioactive materials, organic compounds, endocrine-disrupting and toxic chemicals, and chemicals for which toxicity has not been determined.”

Two lawsuits challenging the agency’s authority to regulate gas drilling are pending in federal court, for NPR news I’m Susan Philips in Philadelphia.

The federal government is extending several mortgage relief programs as NPR’s Kate reports many were set to expire in March.

Borrowers with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may get a reprieve for an extra 6 months in making their payments. The federal housing finance agency announced that borrowers can now get up to 18 months of forbearance, that’s up from 12 months before. With the pandemic grinding on into a second year, the announcement is part of series of measures intended to provide struggling home owners with some financial relief. That’s been a key priority for the Biden administration, as many home owners and renters are facing serious financial strain. Kate NPR news.

Wall Street sharply lower by the close, the Dow down 559 points, NASDAQ down478, S&P500 down 96.
This is NPR.

Boeing has agreed to pay 6.6million dollars in penalties after the federal aviation administration said it failed to comply with the 2015 safety agreement. The penalties include 5.4 million dollars for not complying with the agreement to change its internal process to improve an prioritized regulatory compliance and 1.2million to settle 2 pending FAA enforcement cases.

India has announced new guide lines to regulate content on social media, this comes after a series of tussles between the government and online platforms over disputed content. Pata has more.

The new rules require social media companies such as Face Book and Tweeter to swiftly remove posts the government says are illegal. Earlier this month, in response to violent farmer protest in January, the Indian government ordered Tweeter to block hundreds of accounts. Tweeter complied at first, but soon unblocked some of the accounts, including that of a news magazine, after an outcry for press freedom. The new guide lines also cover digital news outlets, Cabinet Minister Prakash Javadekar told reporters press freedom is crucial for democracy.

Our freedom has to be responsible freedom.

Javadekar also announced similar rules for streaming platforms including Netflix and Amazon. For NPR news, I’m..in Bombay.

Crude oil prices ended the day higher, gaining 31cents to end 63dollars 53 cents a barrel in New York Mercantile Exchange.

I’m Jeanine Herbst and you are listening to NPR news.
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