U.S. News

Code Switch
8:15 am
Mon October 14, 2013

How Columbus Sailed Into U.S. History, Thanks To Italians

Though he sailed in 1492, Christopher Columbus was not widely known among Americans until the mid-1700s.
Spencer Arnold Getty Images

It's been 521 years since the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus "sailed the ocean blue/in fourteen hundred and ninety-two." Since then, there have been thousands of parades, speeches and statues commemorating Columbus, along with a critical rethinking of his life and legacy.

But the question remains, how did a man who never set foot on North America get a federal holiday in his name? While Columbus did arrive in the "New World" when he cast anchor in the Bahamas, he never made it to the United States.

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Shots - Health News
1:22 am
Mon October 14, 2013

So What's The Real Deadline For Obamacare Sign-Up?

Daniel Horowitz for NPR

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 11:06 am

The health exchanges are now open, though some have a lot of glitches. You still have lots of questions about how the Affordable Care Act affects you and your family.

And we have answers. In our ongoing series, we're addressing questions you've asked about the sign-up process.

With people having so much trouble logging onto the websites to get coverage, some are wondering how soon they have to sign up for coverage to avoid the potential penalties.

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The Race Card Project: Six-Word Essays
1:20 am
Mon October 14, 2013

Holding Onto The Other Half Of 'Mixed-Race'

Wilma Stordahl with her sons (from left) Kevin, Kazon and Kenneth at Kazon's high school graduation. "We think of Norwegians as being tall and blond and blue-eyed," Stordahl says. "My sons are tall — but they're not blond and blue-eyed."
Courtesy of Wilma Stordahl

Originally published on Mon October 14, 2013 10:14 am

NPR continues a series of conversations about The Race Card Project, where thousands of people have submitted their thoughts on race and cultural identity in six words. Every so often NPR Host/Special Correspondent Michele Norris will dip into those six-word stories to explore issues surrounding race and cultural identity for Morning Edition.

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Shots - Health News
1:19 am
Mon October 14, 2013

Exercise May Help Knees More Than Glucosamine And Chondroitin

With osteoarthritis, knees become swollen and stiff, and cartilage can degenerate.
Ted Kinsman Science Source

Originally published on Mon October 14, 2013 7:18 am

If you're among the estimated 27 million Americans who suffer from osteoarthritis of the knee or hip, then perhaps you've tried the nutritional supplements glucosamine and chondroitin. They've been marketed for joint health for about 20 years, and sales are still brisk. But do they help?

Some horses might say yes. The supplements were first tried in horses, and there's some evidence that the supplements might improve joint function for them.

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Business
3:53 pm
Sun October 13, 2013

15 Years Later, Where Did All The Cigarette Money Go?

So far, the tobacco industry has paid more than $100 billion to state governments as part of a settlement. While smoking is down among young people and even adults in some areas, it's still unclear where much of that money has gone.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Tue October 15, 2013 10:12 am

Fifteen years after tobacco companies agreed to pay billions of dollars in fines in what is still the largest civil litigation settlement in U.S. history, it's unclear how state governments are using much of that money.

So far tobacco companies have paid more than $100 billion to state governments as part of the 25-year, $246 billion settlement.

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Animals
3:53 pm
Sun October 13, 2013

Birds Of A Feather Spy Together

AFP/ Getty Images

Originally published on Sun October 13, 2013 4:12 pm

The scene: Two men in a chilly Soviet apartment converse in whispers, careful to protect their plans from enemy ears. Little do they know, the benign-looking raven outside their window is not merely a city scavenger hunting for food, but a spy for the U.S. government.

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Business
3:19 pm
Sun October 13, 2013

Shortage Of Workers Hampers Chili Harvest In New Mexico

Originally published on Sun October 13, 2013 4:12 pm

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR West. I'm Arun Rath.

Let's talk chili peppers. It's harvest time in New Mexico where the iconic crop has been grown for centuries. New Mexico still produces more chili peppers than any other American state. But production in the U.S. is a fraction of what's produced in India and China, countries with large pools of labor.

NPR's Ted Robbins reports that farmers in New Mexico could increase their harvest if they had the people to do it.

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The Two-Way
3:05 pm
Sun October 13, 2013

Sequester Emerges Anew In Senate Shutdown Debate

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), left, seen here speaking with Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) in an elevator Sunday, says that undoing the sequester cuts is "one of the sticking points" in budget talks. Congress is struggling to find a solution to end the government shutdown, now in its thirteenth day.
Andrew Burton Getty Images

Originally published on Sun October 13, 2013 4:15 pm

The federal government shutdown is in its 13th day, with little sign of a budget deal that could win the approval of both houses of Congress, as well as the White House. The debate now includes efforts to avoid a default if the government's debt limit isn't raised by Thursday.

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The Two-Way
11:28 am
Sun October 13, 2013

Barriers Breached At World War II Memorial On Mall

A crowd gathers at the World War II Memorial to call for reopening national memorials closed by the government shutdown. The rally drew support from military veterans, Tea Party activists and Republicans.
Andrew Burton Getty Images

Originally published on Sun October 13, 2013 1:52 pm

A crowd of demonstrators converged on the World War II Memorial on the National Mall on Sunday morning, protesting the government shutdown that has included blocking full access to monuments in Washington.

The "Million Vet March," protest was organized by groups including the Brats for Veterans Advocacy, which called on military veterans and others to march against the barricading of the memorial, which its website calls "a despicable act of cowardice."

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The Two-Way
8:09 am
Sun October 13, 2013

U.S. Olympic Committee Adds Sexual Orientation To Anti-Discrimination Rules

Originally published on Sun October 13, 2013 2:29 pm

Months ahead of the Winter Olympics in Russia, where controversy surrounds a law that targets homosexuality, the U.S. Olympic Committee adds protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation to its policies.

"The fact that we do not think it is our role to advocate for a change in the Russian law does not mean that we support the law, and we do not," USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said.

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Economy
3:07 pm
Sat October 12, 2013

How Washington Looks From A Global Financial Perspective

Zanny Minton Beddoes, the economics editor for The Economist, argues that the stalled budget negotiations and the government shutdown have already harmed U.S. standing in the world. She explains her position to host Arun Rath.

U.S.
3:07 pm
Sat October 12, 2013

Little Progress As Both Sides Call For Movement

There are five days left until the government hits the deadline on raising the debt limit, and the government is still in shutdown mode. Host Arun Rath talks to NPR's David Welna about maneuvers on Capitol Hill Saturday that produced little apparent progress.

The Two-Way
2:25 pm
Sat October 12, 2013

North Dakota's Delay In Reporting Oil Spill Raises Questions

Cleanup went on Friday at the site of an oil pipeline leak and spill north of Tioga, N.D. Officials took nearly two weeks to tell the public about the break in a Tesoro Corp. pipeline.
Kevin Cederstrom AP

The handling of an oil spill in North Dakota is raising questions, after a state agency waited to tell the public it had taken place. A wheat farmer was the first to recognize the spill had happened; it became public knowledge nearly two weeks later.

Here's how the AP describes the spill's discovery:

"Farmer Steve Jensen says he smelled the crude for days before the tires on his combines were coated in it. At the apparent break in the Tesoro Corp.'s underground pipeline, the oil was 'spewing and bubbling 6 inches high,' he said in a telephone interview Thursday."

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The Two-Way
10:48 am
Sat October 12, 2013

Senate Democrats Visit Obama; Boehner Says Talks Are Over

Speaker of the House John Boehner leaves after discussing the government shutdown with his fellow Republicans on Capitol Hill Saturday. Boehner reportedly told his colleagues that talks with the White House had ended without a deal.
Andrew Burton Getty Images

Originally published on Sat October 12, 2013 4:02 pm

President Obama hosted the Senate's leading Democrats at the White House for more than an hour Saturday afternoon, in a session that came the same day that Majority Leader Harry Reid met with Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell.

No details were available about the Democrats' discussion, which is one of several lines of communication that are aimed at reaching consensus on a budget deal. Earlier Saturday, House Speaker John Boehner said negotiations with the White House were over, after the president rejected the GOP's most recent plan.

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The Two-Way
9:47 am
Sat October 12, 2013

Grand Canyon And Other National Parks Reopen, On States' Dime

Tourists stop on the roadside near Mount Rushmore, after their visit was canceled due to the government shutdown. South Dakota and other states have reached an agreement to fund operations to reopen the parks.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Thanks to agreements between the Department of the Interior and several states, a dozen popular national parks are open again, at least temporarily. The parks range from the Statue of Liberty to the Grand Canyon; the states are paying to keep them open for up to 10 days.

State officials say it's particularly important to have the parks open during the Columbus Day holiday weekend. National Park Service employees began opening some facilities Friday; others will reopen today or Monday.

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The Two-Way
7:46 am
Sat October 12, 2013

Kerry And Karzai Meet To Discuss U.S. Presence In Afghanistan

Ahead of an expected — and repeatedly delayed — news conference, an Afghan worker leaves the area where Secretary of State John Kerry and Afghan President Hamid Karzai were expected to speak Saturday in Kabul.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat October 12, 2013 9:12 am

The U.S. desire to maintain a military presence in Afghanistan is the subject of talks today in Kabul, where Secretary of State John Kerry is in prolonged discussions with President Hamid Karzai. Most of the U.S. troops would continue training Afghan forces, while another contingent works against terrorist groups.

As for how many Americans would be posted to Afghanistan, NPR's Sean Carberry says a precise number hasn't emerged, but he adds that "through conversations and comments by military officials, the range is about 5,000 to 10,000."

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Simon Says
5:36 am
Sat October 12, 2013

Judge: 'You're Still Deceased As Far As The Law Is Concerned'

An Ohio judge ruled that Donald Miller is legally dead — despite the fact that he is very much alive.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Sat October 12, 2013 6:05 am

Now and then there's a news story to remind us that few things are as simple as they may seem.

Donald Eugene Miller Jr. remained dead this week, even though he was feeling well enough to stand up in the Hancock County, Ohio, probate court and ask Judge Allan Davis to recognize what sounds pretty obvious: He's alive.

Mr. Miller, who is 61, disappeared from his home in Arcadia, Ohio, in 1986.

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Arts & Life
5:36 am
Sat October 12, 2013

A Traditional Wedding Brings The Polish Highlands To Chicago

Dressed in traditional Polish Highlander garb, guests pile into carriages that will bring them to the church for the official wedding ceremony.
Linda Paul for NPR

Originally published on Sat October 12, 2013 6:05 am

Last weekend, a quiet block on the northwest side of Chicago appeared to be taken over by villagers from the mountains of southern Poland. That's because a Polish Highlander wedding was getting underway. But even before the couple arrived, there was a lot of pomp, circumstance — and moving of cars.

Any time now the bridal party will be arriving and Andy Zieba — father of the bride — is ringing doorbells, asking neighbors if they can please move their cars.

"Excuse me, ma'am? You don't know who's the Honda belong to?" he asks.

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Shots - Health News
5:36 am
Sat October 12, 2013

Health Insurance Exchanges Suffer Ills Of Geography

Alexandra Dixon is one of 350 "navigators" hired to help people sign up for health insurance in Maryland.
Jenny Gold for NPR

Originally published on Sat October 12, 2013 7:05 am

These first two weeks have been rocky for the state health insurance exchanges. The online marketplaces opened across the country Oct. 1, with computer glitches and staffing shortages.

Even the states that have agreed to run their own exchanges are having a hard time. In states that have not embraced the Affordable Care Act, the federal government is struggling to fill in the gap.

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The Salt
4:07 am
Sat October 12, 2013

Women, The 'First Brewers,' Lean Into Craft Beer-Making

Meg Gill is the president and co-founder of Golden Road Brewing in Los Angeles. Her brewery is favored to win awards at the Great American Beer Festival.
Melissa Kuypers NPR

Originally published on Sat October 12, 2013 8:09 am

Thousands of beer aficionados are in Denver this weekend for the Great American Beer Festival. Some 600 breweries from around the country are represented at the marquee event for the craft-brewing industry.

And while this annual competition has long been male-dominated, that's starting to change.

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StoryCorps
4:02 am
Sat October 12, 2013

With Veteran's Life In Peril, His Parents Take Up The Fight

The Schei family in 2010 (from left): Anneka, Gordon, Erik, Deven and Christine.
Courtesy of the Schei family

Originally published on Fri October 18, 2013 10:28 am

In October 2005, 21-year-old Army Sgt. Erik Schei was shot in the head during his second tour in Iraq. The bullet shattered the top half of his skull.

Christine and Gordon Schei got the phone call about their son's injury at around 4 a.m. Christine Schei says her husband was "white as a sheet" and shaking after answering.

A sniper had struck their son; a bullet "entered above his right ear and exited above his left," Gordon Schei says.

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Shots - Health News
1:53 am
Sat October 12, 2013

More Evidence Against Vitamin D To Build Bones In Middle Age

If only it was as simple as popping a supplement and being set for life. But alas, no.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Sat October 12, 2013 9:51 am

It's not easy being a wonder vitamin these days. Just when it looks like you're the solution to every health problem, some doctors come along and burst your bubble. Now it's happening to vitamin D.

The supplement has been widely promoted to prevent osteoporosis and fight a host of other ills. But recent studies haven't found much benefit, for bones or for general health.

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It's All Politics
4:57 pm
Fri October 11, 2013

Worst Since Nixon? Report Slams White House Leak Policy

President Obama arrives to make a statement to the press at the White House.
Charles Dharapak AP

The most open and transparent administration in history? That's not how some veteran members of the press see it.

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The Salt
4:38 pm
Fri October 11, 2013

Shutdown Leaves Some Seniors Worried About Their Next Meal

Seniors around the country depend on weekly deliveries of nutritionally balanced food from the USDA's supplemental nutrition program.
tmarvin iStockPhoto.com

Originally published on Fri October 11, 2013 5:27 pm

You've no doubt heard of Senior Meals on Wheels preparing hot meals delivered to the elderly. But there's a different meal program that's been put on hold because of the partial government shutdown. It's the USDA's Commodity Supplemental Food Program.

In Michigan's western Kent County alone, more than 1,300 low-income seniors depend on the program. For them, it's a nutrition lifeline: They can't just go to a food pantry for similar assistance.

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Business
3:42 pm
Fri October 11, 2013

At Global Gathering, Many Worry About U.S. Strength

The annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank began Thursday in Washington amid a partial government shutdown. Many delegates are concerned that the U.S. budget impasse may threaten global economic stability.
Jose Luis Magana AP

Originally published on Sat October 12, 2013 9:19 am

When you invite guests over, you probably straighten up the house to make a good impression.

This week, the nation's capital is welcoming guests from all over the world. Thousands of finance ministers, central bankers, scholars and industry leaders are in Washington, D.C., for the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

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National Security
3:22 pm
Fri October 11, 2013

View Of Snowden's Exile Life As He Gets Whistle-Blower Award

Originally published on Fri October 11, 2013 4:38 pm

On Thursday, we saw the first image of former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden since he was granted temporary asylum in Russia in August. He's shown in a photograph taken in Moscow getting an award for being a whistle-blower. Melissa Block talks to one of the fellow whistle-blowers who gave him the award, Thomas Drake, from Moscow to get a glimpse of Snowden's life of exile in Russia.

Around the Nation
3:22 pm
Fri October 11, 2013

Billionaire's Gift Reopens Some Head Start Programs

Originally published on Fri October 11, 2013 4:38 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

The government shutdown means that more than 9,000 children have been shut out of Head Start, which provides meals and preschool programs for low-income children. Last week, we heard from a regional director for Head Start in Alabama, Dora Jones. She told us she had to close programs serving 770 children in six counties.

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Politics
3:22 pm
Fri October 11, 2013

More Meetings But No Deal Yet On Debt Ceiling, Shutdown

Originally published on Fri October 11, 2013 4:38 pm

President Obama met this afternoon with Senate Republicans. There's no agreement yet but the parties appear to be working towards a deal to raise the federal debt limit and re-open the government.

Shots - Health News
2:50 pm
Fri October 11, 2013

Why A Peanut Butter Test For Alzheimer's Might Be Too Simple

University of Florida researcher Jennifer Stamps administers the peanut butter sniff test to a volunteer.
Jesse S. Jones University of Florida

Originally published on Tue October 15, 2013 10:47 am

Alzheimer's disease can be tough to diagnose, especially early on. Doctors can order brain scans and assay spinal fluids. But existing tests are imperfect and some can be invasive.

So you might understand the appeal of an alternative that researchers at the University of Florida in Gainesville tried. They had asked patients to sniff a dab of peanut butter during a routine test of cranial nerve function. Later, the team wondered if it could help them figure of it someone might be in the early stages of Alzheimer's.

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Education
2:31 pm
Fri October 11, 2013

Pledge Of Allegiance Past Its Prime?

Millions of American school children begin the day with the pledge of allegiance. But do they, or their teachers, really understand what it means? Host Michel Martin discusses the issue with journalist Mary Plummer, of KPCC, and Peter Levine, director of the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.

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