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Russia, China and Uzbekistan are among the countries that the U.S. says are not doing enough to combat modern-day slavery. That was one of the many findings in the State Department's annual human trafficking report released this afternoon.
NPR's Michele Kelemen tells us more.
MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: Luis CdeBaca runs the State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.
Oglala Lakota activist Debra White Plume (left), tribal president Bryan Brewer (center) and other protesters create a blockade to prevent trucks from delivering beer to a liquor store in Whiteclay, Neb. The town, which borders the Pine Ridge Reservation, has been the site of recurring protests over alcohol.
Credit Charles Michael Ray/SDPB
Beer delivery truck drivers wait in Whiteclay on Monday as protesters block their way. Liquor stores in the town sell millions of cans of beer annually to residents of the reservation.
Credit Charles Michael Ray/SDPB
Protests against alcohol deliveries are a recurring event in Whiteclay. Authorities have accused the protesters of vandalizing beer trucks, while activists say a liquor store owner has hired people to intimidate them.
At the Pine Ridge Reservation just outside the town of Whiteclay, Neb., an upside-down American flag flies on a wooden pole next to a teepee. About 60 people gathered here Monday to protest as beer truck drivers unloaded cases into a Whiteclay liquor store a few hundred yards away.
Heather Liljengren, a field taxonomist with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, examines the seed pods of the Virginia spiderwort at Oakwood Beach, Staten Island. Liljengren collects seeds from across the region for a seed bank of native plants.
Credit Andrea Hsu / NPR
Seeds are coaxed out of dormancy in the nursery at the Greenbelt Native Plant Center on Staten Island. The center considers its seed bank the "Library of Congress" for the region's native plants.
Across the New York region, people are still working to rebuild homes and businesses after the havoc wrought by Hurricane Sandy. But the storm also devastated the dunes and native flora of New York's beaches.
When the city replants grasses on those dunes, it will be able to draw on seeds from precisely the grasses that used to thrive there. That's because of a very special kind of bank: a seed bank run by the Greenbelt Native Plant Center on Staten Island.
Robert Siegel talks to Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) about the legislation he is co-sponsoring with Sen. Ron Wyden, to limit the federal government's ability to collect data on Americans without links to terrorism or espionage.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
We begin this hour with a financial forecast from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. He said today the economy is doing slightly better. And if the Fed's forecast holds, it will likely begin tapering off its economic stimulus later this year. By the middle of next year, the stimulus program could end, as NPR's John Ydstie reports.
Edward Snowden, the man commonly called "the NSA leaker" for his role in publishing documents that exposed a secret U.S. surveillance program, would reportedly not receive special treatment from the United Nations if he applies for asylum. The AP says Snowden is in "informal talks" with Iceland about applying for asylum there.
This artist rendering shows Supreme Court Justices (from left) Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, John Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Samuel Alito and Elena Kagan in 2012.
Anna holds the flag that was draped over Nick's coffin at his memorial service. She and her husband, Michael, <a href="http://longhaul.pro/shrine/">have created a shrine to Nick in their dining room</a>.
Credit Courtesy of Long Haul Productions
Anna Rodriguez tends the grave of her son, Nick. She learned shortly after Nick's death that, because his death was a suicide, <a href="http://longhaul.pro/memorial/">his name would not be included on a local memorial</a> to fallen soldiers. She has since found a memorial garden in York, Pa., that will add Nick's name to its memorial wall this summer.
Credit Courtesy of Long Haul Productions
Lance Cpl. Nicholas Rodriguez joined the Marines at the age of 21. He "wanted to go and help the world in some way," says his stepfather, Michael Geiger.
Last year, more U.S. service members took their own lives than died in combat. And despite the drawdown of troops from Afghanistan, the pullout in Iraq, and hundreds of new programs designed to help troubled servicemen and women, the number of suicides continues to rise.
Ever heard of the World Food Prize? It's sometimes called the "Nobel Prize for food and agriculture," but it has struggled to get people's attention. Prize winners tend to be agricultural insiders, and many are scientists. Last year's laureate, for instance, was Daniel Hillel, a pioneer of water-saving "micro-irrigation."
The National Hurricane Center has issued coastal warnings in the Gulf of Mexico regarding Tropical Storm Barry. The second named storm of the 2013 hurricane season, Barry is currently in the southwest corner of the gulf; it is expected to make landfall in Mexico Thursday morning.
The center says an Air Force reconnaissance aircraft determined Wednesday that the storm, formerly called Tropical Depression Two, had strengthened. Barry is currently about 75 miles east-northeast of Veracruz, Mexico.
I visited Toy Fair in New York City hunting for ideas for our summer series about kids' culture. One of the big takeaways was the increasing popularity of construction games such as Legos. Sales shot up nearly 20 percent last year. Now, it seems, every major toy manufacturer is scrambling to add new games geared toward kids building things.
The revelations about secret National Security Agency programs, leaked by Edward Snowden earlier this month, have stirred great controversy, but this type of surveillance is not entirely new, according to journalist Shane Harris.
In his 2010 book, The Watchers: The Rise of America's Surveillance State, Harris traced the evolution of these surveillance programs in the U.S.
It won't be quite like Bruce Willis in Armageddon, but maybe you'll feel just as much a hero.
The White House and NASA are seeking the public's help in hunting for asteroids that could someday smash into Earth. They're also looking for a perfect space rock to capture so that astronauts could go there and study it.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Wednesday that a fall in the unemployment rate would not automatically trigger a rise in interest rates. He spoke to the media after the central bank issued a policy update.
The Federal Reserve will continue its program of purchasing $85 billion in securities and will leave the target interest rate for federal funds untouched to support the U.S. economy, the U.S. central bank said in a policy update issued Wednesday afternoon.
Here's a summary of the state of the U.S. economy from the Fed, which concluded two days of meetings today:
Slow and steady wins the race, but sometimes, as in life, you need a moody sidekick to get you through it. (Or maybe that's just Daria.) Over the course of three mid-tempo albums, True Widow's stoner-rock and shoegaze mix (dubbed "stonegaze," of course) trudges with back-breaking heft. It's actually perfect music for hiking — tough and determined, yet as hypnotic as the rhythmic crunch of dead leaves beneath your feet.
The United Nations Refugee Commission says more than 45.2 million people were in "situations of displacement" around the world as of last year — the most since 1994.
A report from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says there were 15.4 million refugees in other countries, 937,000 people seeking political asylum and 28.8 million people forced out of their homes but still inside their own countries.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. The speaker clamps the Hastert Rule on immigration reform. Three Republican senators now support gay marriage. And the Bay State Senate race goes into its last week. It's Wednesday and time for a penultimate edition of the political junkie.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDINGS)
PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: There you go again.
VICE PRESIDENT WALTER MONDALE: When I hear your new ideas, I'm reminded of that ad: Where's the beef?
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. With school out, many college - and even some high school students - will spend the summer working as interns. It's a chance to beef up their resumes, gain on-the-job experience and make valuable contacts. Last week, a federal district court judge in New York issued a ruling that could change the system.
"You could call it a 'grave' mistake," says WNBC-TV of New York City.
The tombstone of Edward I. Koch, the city's colorful, three-term mayor who died in February, listed an incorrect birth date for him. Instead of showing Dec. 12, 1924, the year mistakenly read 1942 — until yesterday.
We didn't plan it, but somehow, it has turned into Potato Week here at The Salt. The latest twist in the tater tales takes us to Capitol Hill.
Americans love to pile on the potatoes – we consumed a whopping 112 pounds per capita last year. But lately, the potato industry has been playing the part of jilted lover and taking its heartache to Congress.
According to the National Potato Council, the U.S. Department of Agriculture "discriminates" against fresh, white potatoes.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is using drones on United States soil for surveillance purposes, the agency's director, Robert Mueller, told a Senate committee today.
"Our footprint is very small, and we have very few and of limited use, and we're exploring not only the use but also the necessary guidelines for that use," said Mueller , answering a question from Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.
Mueller, who was testifying in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said they were used in a "very, very minimal way and very seldom."
The sculptor Claes Oldenburg was born in Stockholm but grew up in Chicago, went to Yale and came to New York in 1956, where he became a key player in the pop art movement — the major counter-reaction to the abstract expressionism that dominated the 1950s. So much for art history.
Although Oldenburg is a serious artist, probably no artist in history ever created works that were more fun. In a new show at the Museum of Modern Art — really two shows — practically everyone, including myself, was walking through the galleries with a huge grin.
The White House says the United States will arm Syrian rebels, but a new poll shows most Americans don't like the idea. Guest host Celeste Headlee speaks with Shadi Hamid of The Brookings Institution, about America's current and future involvement in Syria.
Next we're going to talk to a young entrepreneur who's all about hair. Leanna Archer was just nine years old when she launched her own line of natural hair care products. Her great-grandmother in Haiti had a special recipe for hair pomade and Archer used that recipe to begin a line of oils, hairdressings, and conditioners.