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When Amanda Gorman was asked to write a poem for President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on Wednesday, she didn't know where to begin. The nation has just been through a bitter election. Americans are as divided as ever. And the pandemic continues to rage.

"It was really daunting to begin the poem because you don't even really know the entry point in which to step into the murk," she said in an interview Monday with NPR's Steve Inskeep.

Filmmaker Ken Burns has spent his career documenting American history, and he always considered three major crises in the nation's past: the Civil War, the Depression and World War II.

Then came the unprecedented "perfect storm" of 2020 — and Burns thinks we may be living through America's fourth great crisis, and perhaps the worst one yet.

Federal investigators say they have arrested several alleged members of extremist and white supremacist groups who participated in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol building.

At least eight people allegedly affiliated with organizations such as The Three Percenters, The Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, Texas Freedom Force, and other self-described Nazis and white supremacists were among those who joined the thousands that stormed the U.S. Capitol building, according to federal investigators.

Updated at 1:55 p.m. ET

The day before Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, five of his Cabinet nominees will answer questions from Senate panels handling their confirmations. The busy committee calendar is ramping up at the same time an impeachment trial is expected to start, posing a split-screen challenge for the Senate, which is still reeling from an attack less than two weeks ago.

As President Trump is set to leave the White House after a tumultuous and chaotic four years, having been the first president to ever be impeached twice and having his last year dominated by a worldwide pandemic, most Americans say he will go down as either below average or one of the worst presidents in U.S. history, according to an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist survey.

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

That report was produced by NPR senior arts editor Tom Cole, which we would not normally mention, except Tom is retiring this week after 33 years at NPR. Congratulations, Tom. Our critic Bob Mondello has thoughts.

Updated at 9:09 p.m ET

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville is firing its head football coach, two assistant coaches and seven other team staffers after an outside investigation found "serious violations of NCAA rules."

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Every January, in the middle of the night, thousands of volunteers and outreach workers try to count the nation's homeless population. They search highway underpasses, wooded areas, abandoned buildings, sidewalks for those living outside. Due to the pandemic, this year's street count has been canceled or modified in hundreds of communities, even as the numbers appear to be on the rise. NPR's Pam Fessler reports.

Every January, in the middle of the night, thousands of volunteers and outreach workers spread out across the country to count the nation's homeless population. They search highway underpasses, wooded areas, abandoned buildings and sidewalks to locate those who are living outside.

But this year, because of the pandemic, the annual street count has been canceled or modified in hundreds of communities, even as the nation's unsheltered population appears to be growing.

Guatemala security forces are attempting to block thousands of Honduran migrants from heading north towards Mexico and the U.S. border.

On Sunday, police and soldiers in riot gear confronted a caravan of migrants from Honduras on a highway near Chiquimula in southeastern Guatemala. After a tense standoff, in which police fired tear gas and attempted to beat back the migrants with batons, the surging crowd broke through a phalanx of soldiers.

Updated at 10 a.m. ET Tuesday

What do Walt Disney, Whitney Houston, Dolley Madison and Frederick Douglass have in common? They're part of an extensive list of 244 people that President Trump says he wants to honor as statues in the proposed "National Garden of American Heroes."

But with just two days left before he leaves office, Trump has run out of time to build the garden, which has not received any funding from Congress, and is highly unlikely to be pursued by incoming President-elect Joe Biden's administration.

Just over a year after the world's first coronavirus cases were identified in China, the country's economy has bounced back from the ravages of the pandemic.

China's economy grew by 2.3% last year, according to data published Monday by the country's National Bureau of Statistics. The steady economic recovery was largely expected, and puts China on a track that other countries haven't achieved.

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