At a 10,000-foot summit in Yosemite National Park, Frank Gehrke clicks into his cross-country skis and pushes off down a small embankment onto a meadow of crusty snow. He's California's chief of snow surveys, one of the most influential jobs in a state where snow and the water that comes from it are big currency. He's on his monthly visit to one of a dozen snowpack-measuring stations scattered across the high country of the Sierra Nevada.
This winter's intense cold has brought a fringe benefit to people who live around southern Lake Superior: They can walk to the uniquely beautiful, and currently frozen, sea caves of the Apostle Islands. It's the first time the lake's ice in that area has been thick enough to walk on since 2009.
Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 1:50 pm
If you wanted to pursue a career in politics, you could have done worse than appearing in the 1987 movie Predator.
That movie featured not only Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jesse Ventura — future governors of California and Minnesota, respectively — but Sonny Landham, who later ran for governor and senator in Kentucky.
Here's another way congressional Democrats are using the Budget Office report in support of the Affordable Care Act. They're defending an obscure provision in the law that serves to backstop insurance companies participating in the health plan exchanges. And in a flip of party stereotypes, this has Democrats standing up for the insurance companies and Republicans clashing with big business.
On Tuesday, economists with the Congressional Budget Office announced findings that indicated the new health care law may result in hundreds of thousands leaving the workforce. The findings spurred new debate on the merits of the law and its economic impact. NPR's Scott Horsley has more on the reactions to the report.
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
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And I'm Audie Cornish. Now, the strange story of Tyrone Hayes. The biologist has devoted much of his career to studying a common herbicide used on corn, called atrazine; specifically, its effects on amphibians. Hayes believes the chemical impedes the sexual development of frogs, and he's publicly argued against the use of atrazine and criticized the corporation that makes it, Syngenta.
CVS CEO and President Larry Merlo joins Audie Cornish to discuss his company's big decision to eventually discontinue its sales of tobacco products. The decision didn't simply make headlines on Wednesday; it could also signal a shift in plans for the pharmacy giant's future.
The pharmacy giant CVS plans to eliminate cigarettes and other tobacco products from its stores by October. The company says it made the decision because the drug store business is changing and that selling cigarettes is no longer consistent with its mission. Medical experts and the White House hailed the move. NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports.
For the last two weeks, the barrel bombing of the rebel-held area of Aleppo in Syria has intensified. Warplanes drop leaflets on neighborhoods warning civilians to flee — and it seems they're listening. Residents of Aleppo districts held by the regime say they are seeing an influx of families, while aid agencies working in Turkey say hundreds of thousands of the displaced are trying to get in.
And finally this hour, a U.S. Olympic athlete in her own words. Kacey Bellamy plays defense for the U.S. women's hockey team. This is her second trip to the Olympics. She was on the team that made it to the final round in Vancouver in 2010. They lost to Canada, 2-0. Bellamy grew up in Westfield, Massachusetts. And as she prepares for this year's games, she took some time to reflect on the role her family has played in her career.
2013 saw a record number of exonerations in the U.S.; 87 prisoners were set free after they were shown to have been falsely convicted of crimes. That's according to a study of exoneration, released this week by law school researchers who study these cases.
Craig Watkins has been a trailblazer in re-examining questionable convictions. And what's surprising is that he's a prosecutor. He's the district attorney of Dallas County. When he took office, he created a Conviction Integrity Office, the first of its kind in the country.
Originally published on Wed February 5, 2014 3:34 pm
Part of an antitrust agreement with the European Union regulators, Google has agreed to tweak its search results in Europe.
The search giant has agreed that when a user searches for a product, for example, the search results of its rivals — Amazon, let's say — will be displayed along with those of advertisers paying Google for prominent space.
Disputes between Palestinians and Israelis are a constant in their decades-old conflict, and that's what the wider world usually hears about.
But there are also near constant internal disagreements among Israelis. And Palestinians have divergent views too. On a recent trip through the Jordan Valley, which is deep inside the Israeli-occupied West Bank, near the border with Jordan, I spoke with Israelis and Palestinians about their internal differences.
Hackers who broke into Target's computer network and stole customers' financial and personal data used credentials that were stolen from a heating and air conditioning subcontractor in Pennsylvania, according to digital security journalist Brian Krebs.
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is stepping down as chairman of its board and into a new role, which the company is calling "technology adviser." The change comes as a new CEO — Satya Nadella — takes the helm. Gates says he will actually be spending a little more time at Microsoft. Microsoft watchers say if he manages his new role well, it will be good for the company.
Originally published on Sun February 9, 2014 3:39 pm
California's drought is getting very serious — so serious that even those water refills you didn't ask for at restaurants are now under scrutiny.
"We have not had this dry a time period in all of California's history since we've been keeping records — that's how bad it is," Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif., who represents a district in the Central Valley, told reporters on Tuesday.
Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 11:00 am
The White House on Wednesday rolled out a high-profile plan to help farmers and ranchers adjust to climate changes that have already begun to upend growing seasons and threaten livestock.
The "climate hub" initiative was praised by environmentalists, though they were quick to warn President Obama that it would not provide him cover on another environmental issue in the headlines: the Keystone XL pipeline.
William S. Burroughs was a counterculture icon: In more than two dozen books, including the landmark novel Naked Lunch, helaid down an original vision that influenced everyone from political activists to punk rockers, filmmakers to sci-fi writers.
In 1962, writer Norman Mailer described himas "the only American novelist living today who may conceivably be possessed by genius."
Count Sandra Fluke out — at least on a national level, for now.
After suggesting that she was gearing up for a possible congressional campaign, the women's rights activist and lawyer has announced she won't be entering the race for California Rep. Henry Waxman's soon-to-be-available seat after all.
Instead, Fluke says she's pursuing a different route: She plans to run for the state Senate spot currently held by Ted Lieu.
Lieu is running for Waxman's job, as is former City Controller Wendy Greuel, a finalist in last year's Los Angeles mayoral race.
David Beckham's career in American soccer isn't over, despite his recent retirement from the field. Beckham confirmed Wednesday that he will create a Major League Soccer expansion team in Miami. Details about the team's stadium and start date are still being worked out.
Originally published on Fri February 7, 2014 11:49 am
Ladies, if that Super Bowl Sunday pitch from '90s heartthrob John Stamos didn't leave you craving more yogurt, here's some science that might do the trick: There's tantalizing new research suggesting that some friendly bacteria commonly found in yogurts may help women shed more weight while on a diet and keep it off.
"Make it work," fashion guru Tim Gunn tells young designers on Project Runway. But life hasn't always "worked" for Gunn. "I can't even recite the number of schools I went to as a kid because I was constantly running away from them," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "It's so ironic that I would become a career educator because I hated school so profoundly. It wasn't the learning experience that I hated. I hated the social aspects."