Monika Evstatieva

The Dulles Expo Center outside Washington, D.C., is usually reserved for home and garden or gun shows. Now the cavernous center hosts thousands of Afghan refugees. It's wall to wall with cots and now includes a medical center and cafeteria — serving halal food — for the steady stream of people.

There are stacks of pillows and blankets, and soldiers and government workers walk through the crowd of men and women in traditional garb.

The quick collapse of the Afghan National Army stunned many, including the Pentagon's top military officer, Gen. Mark Milley. He told reporters this week that the U.S. intelligence community estimated that if U.S. forces withdrew, it would be weeks, months, even years before the Afghan military fell to the Taliban.

Instead, it was just 11 days.

So what happened? How could U.S. officials be so wrong?

A year after several American businesses sprang up to manufacture much-needed masks and N95 respirators within U.S. borders, many of those businesses are now on the brink of financial collapse, shutting down production and laying off workers.

The nationwide vaccination campaign, combined with an influx of cheaper, Chinese-made masks and N95 respirators, has dramatically cut into the companies' sales and undermined their prices.

Updated December 3, 2021 at 4:13 PM ET

Editor's note: This story was first published on Feb. 9, 2021. It is regularly updated, and includes explicit language.

The Strategic National Stockpile, which the U.S. has traditionally depended on for emergencies, still lacks critical supplies nine months into one of the worst public health care crises this country has ever seen, an NPR investigation has learned.

A combination of long-standing budget shortfalls, lack of domestic manufacturing, snags in the global supply chain and overwhelming demand has meant that the stockpile is short of the gloves, masks and other supplies needed to weather this winter's surge in COVID-19 cases.

Conspiracy theories need just the right ingredients to take off within a population, and the COVID-19 pandemic has been a breeding ground for them. A Pew Research Center survey recently asked people if they had heard the theory that the COVID-19 outbreak was intentionally planned by people in power. Seventy-one percent of U.S. adults said they had. And a third of those respondents said it was "definitely" or "probably" true.

In the wake of George Floyd's death, a flashpoint in the debates over police reform has been the push to ban chokeholds nationwide. Advocates believe that enshrining a ban into law will deter police violence.

And it's gaining traction. Congressional Democrats have proposed a legislative package that calls for a ban on all neck restraints. President Trump, though he stopped short of full support of a ban, said late last week that police should avoid using chokeholds. And the state of New York passed a law banning the tactic.

For Mother's Day this year, indie rock star Lucy Dacus did better than sending flowers or a card.

Before sunrise and illuminated by lantern light, the faithful gathered to pray, as they have many times before, at La Lomita chapel in Mission, Texas.

The chapel is made of simple white adobe, and Roy Rogers' song "Blue Shadows On The Trail" plays from a battery-operated radio in the chilly pre-dawn gloom as Rev. Roy Snipes makes his way down the aisle to preside over the Mass.

Guards of honor carry a photo of Brig. Gen.

For all the talk of how Democrats running for re-election in states President Trump won are a protective shield for Senate Republicans, Nevada's Dean Heller has the opposite problem.

Who's the most famous person in Russia? That's easy: Vladimir Putin.

But the second most famous person in Russia? Arguably, that would be Ksenia Sobchak, a name that's not familiar to most Americans.

The huge former reality TV star has millions of followers on social media, and is running for president in Russia's elections on March 18 — a description that might sound familiar.

While the 36-year-old, who is also a journalist, is trying to channel President Trump, her outspokenness is of a different nature.

Just off the Las Vegas Strip, there's a big white building in a run-of-the-mill office complex where tourists can pay as little as $50 to shoot 25 rounds from an AK-47. A billboard out front with a busty woman wielding a machine gun advertises the "ultimate shooting experience."

From the parking lot, you can see the Mandalay Bay. That's the hotel where 58 people were killed and nearly 500 were wounded on Sunday night during a country music festival.

When's the last time you had a glass of cow's milk?

Americans are drinking a lot less milk than they used to. According to the U. S. Department of Agriculture, the average person drinks 18 gallons a year. Back in the 1970s it was more like 30 gallons a year. We once hoisted a glass with dinner, soaked our breakfast cereal or dipped into the occasional milkshake. This habitual milk drinking was no accident.