In the two-year, $2 trillion budget deal that cleared the Senate last week, one item, worth just one-sixth of 1 percent of that total, was the reason many senators said they voted against it.
That item would produce some $6 billion in savings by shaving a percentage point off annual cost-of-living adjustments, and it would apply only to military pensions. Not all military pensions — just the retirement paid to veterans younger than 62.
Volunteering while traveling isn't really a novelty anymore. But sometimes that work you're doing, say, in a developing country, well, it could be doing more harm than good. On this week's travel segment, Winging It, we look at what it means to travel ethically.
We're going to hear now from the woman charged with streamlining the Pentagon's roughly $700 billion annual budget.
CHRISTINE FOX: We have to curb the growth of the compensation of our force. It's grown 40 percent above inflation over the last decade. And it's fully half of our budget. So, we have to slow the growth.
In studying the connection between economics and yearly trends in what he calls "shark-human interactions," shark attack expert George Burgess spotted a pattern. NPR's Rachel Martin asks Burgess about going to the beach.
It was a year of turmoil in Egypt. After being democratically elected following Hosni Mubarak's ouster, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi was removed from power. The military-led government has since consolidated its power and cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood. NPR's Rachel Martin and foreign correspondent Leila Fadel review this year's tumultuous developments.
Joseph's House is a hospice in Washington, D.C., for people who don't have a home. Started in 1990, it's a spot where people with end-stage AIDS and cancer can come to receive food, shelter, medication and community. NPR's Rachel Martin checks in for the holidays.
We all know the neighbor who goes a little bit overboard with the Christmas lights display. Well, we now take you to a perfectly manicured street in Palm Springs, where artist Kenny Irwin has taken holiday decorations to a new extreme. Sandhya Dirks of member station KPBS has this tour of a post-apocalyptic fantasy land.
SANDHYA DIRKS, BYLINE: Walk into Kenny Irwin's winter wonderland and you soon recognize it's not like anything you've ever seen before:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. The people of Seattle are puzzled by a mystery unfolding underground: the world's biggest tunneling machine is stuck about 75 feet under street level where it's digging a nearly two-mile-long highway right under downtown Seattle. As NPR's Martin Kaste reports, engineers say it'll take until January to figure out what is causing the block.
Bryan McGrath spent 21 years in the United States Navy before retiring. He now works as a defense contractor, and he believes that it's not necessarily a bad thing that military pensions are changing. NPR's Rachel Martin reports.
Monday's game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Detroit Lions came down to the kicker. NPR's Rachel Martin and sports reporter Mike Pesca discuss the role of the NFL kicker and whether that job is getting more respect from fans and players.
On-air challenge: Every answer is a familiar two-word phrase or name in which, like Santa Claus, the first word starts with the letters S-A, and the second word starts with C.
Last week's challenge from listener Pete Collins of Ann Arbor, Mich.: Name an island in which some of the letters appear more than once. Drop exactly two instances of each repeated letter. The remaining letters can be rearranged to name something to eat. What is it?
Originally published on Sun December 22, 2013 10:15 am
Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former oil tycoon who was pardoned by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday after serving a decade in prison, says he will dedicate the rest of his life working for the release of other political prisoners.
"I would like to devote this time to pay off my debt to people who are worst off," Khodorkovsky said through an interpreter provided by Russia Today, a state-funded, English language news outlet.
Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 10:15 am
I tend to like my heroes strong and capable; not self-important, yet with a certain brand of assurance. But in literature, as in life, profound truths often come to us not through confidence but through wrestling — through the quest for who we are and what we hope to become. Three newly-translated novels star not exceptionally robust heroes but unexceptional, aimless ones, each exploring the inward struggles that make us human.
These three international voices offer no barrage of answers. Instead, they remind us of the importance, and the power, of simply asking the questions.
Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 6:03 am
December is supposed to be the time of year filled with family gatherings and holiday good cheer. For medical residents, quite the opposite is true.
There are no school breaks during residency. Being a medical resident is a real job, and a stressful one at that. Residents work long shifts, even with caps that max out at 16 hours for the newbies and up to 28 hours for those beyond the first year.
Originally published on Mon January 6, 2014 4:47 pm
Working in radio, you learn one uncomfortable truth faster than you would have otherwise: Few things make a story more difficult to tell than having a listener expecting to hear it. A microphone can make even the most relentless gabber stammer and become self-conscious.
When you think about a scrumptious meal, airline food does not come to mind.
There are plenty of challenges to tasty airline meals, like the fact that many airlines now charge you for anything more than a tiny bag of chips and a plastic cup of non-alcoholic drink, at least on domestic flights. Plus, you can't cook on an airplane, so anything you're served has probably been chilled, then reheated. And flight delays certainly don't help with the freshness factor.
As the year winds down, we here at NPR are looking at a few key numbers that explain the big trends of 2013.
Today's number: 1.6 million.
That's 1.6 million acres — about the area of the state of Delaware.
That's how much land was removed this year from the federal Conservation Reserve Program, or CRP, which pays farmers to keep land covered with native grasses or sometimes trees. Most of that land now will produce crops like corn or wheat.
Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 8:48 am
Laurel Morales covers Indian Country as a reporter for NPR member station KJZZ from a base in Flagstaff, which is on the edge of the country's largest reservation.
The Paris auction of 27 sacred American-Indian items earlier this month marks just the latest in a series of conflicts between what tribes consider sacred and what western cultures think is fair game in the marketplace.
At 10 on a crisp West Texas morning, five camel-trekkers stand under the open sky of the Davis Mountains. A few feet away, guide Doug Baum and Jason Mayfield load up five camels.
Baum, a former zookeeper, runs the Texas Camel Corps. The group guides camel treks around the world. In the Big Bend region, camels were for a brief time widespread, and the guides have brought them back.
'As Good As They Come'
You have to like a man who brings his own camel to a camel trek. On Mayfield's arm is a tall, beautiful blond named Butter.
Charles Dickens was a celebrity of the Victorian era. His books and plays continue to be celebrated around the world, particularly around Christmas. The new film, The Invisible Woman, focuses on a lesser-known part of his life — his relationship with a young woman named Nelly Ternan.
Felicity Jones plays the young mistress and muse, and Ralph Fiennes, who also directed the film, plays Dickens.
Turning back to this country and the controversy surrounding the National Security Agency. This week, it became clear that President Obama will likely make some changes to how the spy agency does its work. How far those changes go? Well, that's an open question. Will they, for example, adjust or even end the bulk collection of phone records? At his press conference yesterday, the president said that is part of the discussion.
The online magazine Ozy covers people, places and trends on the horizon. Co-founder Carlos Watson joins All Things Considered regularly to tell us about the site's latest feature stories.
This week, Watson tells host Arun Rath about an Iranian-American chef hoping to bring basic cooking genius to the masses, and the "CEO Whisperer" who is a secret weapon for many powerful business leaders.
From NPR West, this is ALL THING CONSIDERED. I'm Arun Rath.
We're going to begin the program tonight in Africa where four U.S. servicemen were injured when their aircraft was fired on while flying over South Sudan. They were there to rescue Americans trapped in South Sudan where a political conflict threatens to escalate into a full-blown civil war.
NPR's Gregory Warner is in Nairobi where the injured soldiers were taken. Greg, what can you tell us about what happened today?
Before we come back to Earth, here's a little space history with a holiday touch. Fifty-five years ago this week on December 19, 1958, the first radio broadcast was transmitted from space. An American satellite beamed down the voice of Dwight D. Eisenhower via shortwave.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
PRESIDENT DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER: This is the president of the United States speaking. Through the marvels of scientific advance, my voice is coming to you from a satellite circling in outer space.