U.S. News

Poisoned Places: Toxic Air, Neglected Communities
1:01 am
Thu May 30, 2013

Breathing Easier: How Houston Is Working To Clean Up Its Air

The Houston Ship Channel is home to a wide range of heavy industry, including chemical processing plants and petrochemical refineries.
Richard Harris NPR

Originally published on Fri May 31, 2013 10:18 am

The Houston area produces about a quarter of the nation's gasoline, and about a third of the plastics that are in our cars, cupboards and just about everywhere else. So it is no surprise that this heavily industrial area has a problem with air pollution. But in the past decade, Houston's air has improved dramatically.

How that happened is a tale of good science, new technology and a Texas law that prompted companies along the Houston Ship Channel to disclose their emissions.

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The Two-Way
4:33 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

Police Say Ricin-Laced Letters Sent To New York Mayor Bloomberg

New York Mayor Bloomberg speaks out for gun reform at a March news conference in New York.
John Moore Getty Images

Originally published on Thu May 30, 2013 4:11 am

Police in New York say preliminary tests of two threatening letters sent to Mayor Michael Bloomberg contained traces of ricin.

The anonymous letters, both addressed to Bloomberg, were opened Friday in New York at the city's mail facility and Sunday in Washington, D.C., at the headquarters of the nonprofit started by Bloomberg, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, according to authorities.

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U.S.
4:24 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

Soldier Accused Of Killing Afghan Civilians To Plead Guilty

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 5:18 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The American soldier accused of killing 16 villagers in Afghanistan last year plans to plead guilty in order to avoid the death penalty. Lawyers say Staff Sergeant Robert Bales will plead guilty to 16 counts of premeditated murder next week and that his sentencing trial will be held in September.

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The Two-Way
4:23 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

Former Justice Official In Line To Be Named FBI Chief

Former Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey waits to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington on May 15, 2007. NPR has learned that Comey is in line to become President Obama's choice as the next FBI director.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Thu May 30, 2013 4:25 am

NPR has learned that former Justice Department official James B. Comey is in line to become President Obama's choice as the next FBI director, according to two sources familiar with the search.

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Around the Nation
4:22 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

Sing-Spelling At The National Bee

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 5:18 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

There is no shortage of wonders on display at the Scripps National Spelling Bee, under way this week outside Washington, D.C. Students are easily spooling off words such as wiesenboden and machicotage. But even the Scripps Bee judges were flummoxed when 7th grader Katie Danis made this request today.

KATIE DANIS: Would you mind if I were to, like, sing the letters, it would help me. I could do that.

BLOCK: The judges conferred, and said OK. So here's Katie Danis, sing-spelling stabilimeter.

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It's All Politics
4:07 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

Bachmann's Legacy: A Trailblazer, For Better And For Worse

Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., speaks during the Family Research Council Action Values Voter Summit in Washington.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 4:55 pm

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann's announcement Wednesday that she won't seek a fifth term unleashed a torrent of tweets and blog posts on the left lampooning the short-lived 2012 presidential candidate.

Yet the response — her retirement effectively dominated the news cycle — provided a glimpse of Bachmann's impact on Washington.

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It's All Politics
3:49 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

Why Obama Wants To Change The Key Law In The Terrorism Fight

President Obama speaks at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C., on May 23.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 5:18 pm

Almost all of the federal government's actions against terrorism — from drone strikes to the prison at Guantanamo Bay — are authorized by a single law: the Authorization for Use of Military Force.

Congress passed it just after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Now, President Obama says he wants to revise the law, and ultimately repeal it.

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Remembering American Heroes Of WWII
3:49 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

For Tuskegee Airman George Porter, Failure Was Not An Option

George Porter, one of the original Tuskegee Airmen, at his home in Sacramento, Calif., in 2007. Porter joined the armed forces in 1942 and served as a crew chief, squadron inspector and flight engineer with the Army Air Forces and the Air Force.
Paul Kitagaki Jr. MCT/Landov

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 5:18 pm

Sixteen million men and women served in uniform during World War II. Today, 1.2 million are still alive, but hundreds of those vets are dying every day. In honor of Memorial Day, NPR's All Things Considered is remembering some of the veterans who died this year.

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It's All Politics
3:39 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

The 10 Biggest Tax Breaks (And How Much They Cost)

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 4:01 pm

The 10 biggest breaks, deductions and credits in the U.S. income tax code are costing the Treasury $900 billion this year, with more than half of that total benefiting the wealthiest 20 percent of taxpayers.

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It's All Politics
2:46 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

Public Employee Unions Take Issue With Immigration Overhaul

Chris Crane, president of the union that represents deportation agents, officers and employees of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee in April. Crane has been a vocal opponent of the proposed immigration overhaul.
Andrew Harnik The Washington Times/Landov

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 5:18 pm

A bill that would overhaul the nation's immigration laws is headed to the Senate floor early next month, where it will need all the friends it can get to pass. The measure would give the estimated 11 million immigrants in the United States illegally a path to citizenship, as well as tighten border protections.

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Economy
2:11 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

Home Prices On The Rise Across U.S.

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 5:18 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

House prices are going up. According to the S&P/Case-Shiller house price index in March, prices were up nearly 11 percent over the past year in the 20 cities surveyed. That's the fastest increase in seven years.

The cities with the three biggest increases were Phoenix, San Francisco and Las Vegas. For Vegas, prices have risen over 20 percent. It reminded me of touring ample vacant housing there with realtor Terri Monroe about a year-and-a-half ago.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED INTERVIEW)

TERRI MONROE: They're asking 219.

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The Two-Way
1:32 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

What's The Meaning Of This? A New Twist In The Spelling Bee

Minka Gill of Kokomo, Ind., participates in Round 2 of the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee on Wednesday.
Alex Wong Getty Images

If Snigdha Nandipati, the 14-year-old who won last year's Scripps National Spelling Bee, had been asked to define her winning word, "guetapens," things might have turned out differently.

This year, a vocabulary test with word definitions is, for the first time in the bee's 86-year history, part of the competition. Preliminary and semifinal contestants must pass the test to get to the finals of the grueling competition.

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News
9:26 am
Wed May 29, 2013

Zimmerman And Martin Attorneys 'Concerned' After Pre-Trial Hearings

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 9:45 am

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Now we want to turn to a case that's captured the attention of many people in this country. It's the trial of George Zimmerman. He's the self-appointed neighborhood volunteer who fatally shot the unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin back in February of 2012. Zimmerman's trial on charges of second degree murder is set to begin June 10, but there was some preliminary business yesterday, including a request by the defense to delay the trial once again.

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Shots - Health News
8:14 am
Wed May 29, 2013

Health Differences May Explain Medicare Spending Variation

Where a person lives seems to have an effect on Medicare spending. But why?
iStockphoto.com

The idea that uneven Medicare health care spending around the country is caused by wasteful practices and overtreatment — a concept that has influenced portions of the federal health law — took another hit in a study published Tuesday.

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The Two-Way
6:28 am
Wed May 29, 2013

Tuesday's Tornadoes To Be Followed By More Storms Wednesday

Where the weather is expected to be the worst Wednesday.
National Weather Service

Tuesday's warnings about more severe weather and the likelihood of tornadoes across much of the nation's midsection proved accurate.

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The Two-Way
5:57 am
Wed May 29, 2013

Cleveland Hero Charles Ramsey Says No Thanks To Free Burgers

Charles Ramsey on the day three young women (and one of the women's daughters) were rescued from a Cleveland home. He gained fame for his accounts of what happened.
Scott Shaw The Plain Dealer /Landov

We need to update the news that a dozen Cleveland area restaurants said they would give Charles Ramsey "free burgers for life" because of the way he helped rescue three young women and a little girl from the home where police say they had been held captive and brutalized for years.

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The Two-Way
5:12 am
Wed May 29, 2013

Moms Are Now Primary Breadwinners In 40 Percent Of Homes

Dawn Heisey-Grove of Alexandria, Va., hands off son Zane to father Jonathan Heisey-Grove after a midday feeding. The couple were both working full time when Jonathan lost his job as a graphic designer two years ago. She's a public health analyst. He's now a stay-at-home dad.
Kainaz Amaria/NPR

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 8:11 am

"A record 40 percent of all households with children under the age of 18 include mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income for the family," the Pew Research Center reported Wednesday as it released data that certainly won't surprise many Americans but will underscore some dramatic shifts over recent decades.

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National Security
12:53 am
Wed May 29, 2013

For Ailing Vets In Rural Areas, Tele-Medicine Can Be The Cure

Tommy Sowers, assistant secretary for public and intergovernmental affairs at the Department of Veterans Affairs, meets with vets at the VFW Hall in Nome, Alaska.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 7:05 pm

Howard Lincoln of White Mountain, Alaska, doesn't always hear it when people knock on his door. He's 82 and he still has a little shrapnel in his jaw from a mortar shell that nearly killed him in the Korean War 60 years ago.

"We heard it whistling, but I was the third one in line running toward the bunker," he recalls.

Wounds to his face, arm and hip laid him up in a Tokyo hospital for quite a while. But he recovered, came home to Alaska in 1955 and says he never applied for Veterans Administration (now the Department of Veterans Affairs) benefits.

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Sweetness And Light
8:03 pm
Tue May 28, 2013

One More Swing: 'Casey At The Bat'

Paul Sancya AP

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 9:03 am

Frank Deford puts aside his gripes this week to pay tribute to the poem by Ernest Lawrence Thayer, first published in the San Francisco Examiner 125 years ago June 3.

The Outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville nine that day:
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play.
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

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The Two-Way
5:00 pm
Tue May 28, 2013

Head Of White House Economic Council To Step Down

Alan Krueger, Chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, shown in November.
Jacquelyn Martin Associated Press

Originally published on Tue May 28, 2013 5:13 pm

Alan Krueger, the chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers, says he will step down to return to Princeton to resume his post as a professor of economics.

Krueger, who has served as CEA chairman for the past two years, will return to Princeton in time for the beginning of the fall term. The Associated Press quotes a source familiar with the situation as saying Jason Furman, who served in President Obama's 2008 campaign, will be tapped as a replacement.

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Environment
4:38 pm
Tue May 28, 2013

Gulf Coast States Get Creative With BP Oil Spill Money

Tourists watch as workers clean oil from the sand along a strip of oil that washed up on the beach in Gulf Shores, Ala., in 2010 after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded off the Louisiana coast.
Dave Martin AP

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 9:29 am

Gulf Coast states are lining up to spend $1 billion from BP on coastal restoration. The money is part of BP's legal responsibility to restore the Gulf of Mexico's natural resources in the aftermath of the worst oil disaster in U.S. history.

But the nature of some of the state projects, including boat ramps and a beachfront hotel, is raising questions about just what counts as coastal restoration.

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Around the Nation
4:38 pm
Tue May 28, 2013

Budget Cuts At National Parks May Affect Nearby Communities

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 6:43 am

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

The summer travel season has begun but lots of communities that depend on tourism because they're near national parks are worried. The fear is camp closures, reduced programming, and other budget cuts under sequestration will keep visitors away this year. And in some places there are already signs that is happening.

Maine Public Radio's Jay Field reports from Bar Harbor, outside Acadia National Park.

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It's All Politics
3:59 pm
Tue May 28, 2013

For Chris Christie, Obama Connection Has Risks, Rewards

President Obama and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie walk along the boardwalk in Point Pleasant, N.J., on Tuesday. Obama traveled to New Jersey to join Christie in touring the Jersey Shore and inspecting its recovery efforts from Superstorm Sandy.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Tue May 28, 2013 4:51 pm

President Obama's second trip to New Jersey to meet with Republican Gov. Chris Christie post-Superstorm Sandy was accompanied Tuesday with a familiar flurry of speculation.

The first time, last fall, Christie's gracious welcome of the president raised questions about whether it might affect Obama's re-election just weeks later.

This time, the questions were inverted: How might Christie's own presidential aspirations be affected by his friendly proximity to the president?

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Fine Art
3:15 pm
Tue May 28, 2013

Proposal To Sell Detroit's Art To Save The City Draws Outrage

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 6:43 am

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Perhaps you know what these artworks have in common: Van Gogh's "Portrait of the Postman Roulin," his ample beard falling in two symmetric lobes over the collar of his navy blue uniform; Brueghel the Elder's "Wedding Dance," in which some of the exuberant contact seems to go beyond dancing; Diego Rivera's fresco of workers on an assembly line: Detroit Industry, South Wall.

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Around the Nation
3:15 pm
Tue May 28, 2013

Spelling Bees Have Roots In The Renaissance

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 6:43 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

So why is it called a spelling bee anyway? Here to unlock the etymology behind the bee is lexicographer Peter Sokolowski, editor at large for Merriam-Webster. Peter, thanks for coming in.

PETER SOKOLOWSKI: It's great to be here.

BLOCK: We think of a quilting bee, a spelling bee. Where does the word bee come from?

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Around the Nation
3:15 pm
Tue May 28, 2013

Obama And Chris Christie Tour Rebuilding On Jersey Shore

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 6:43 am

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

Today, President Obama toured the Jersey shore, surveying the recovery work that's been done since Superstorm Sandy devastated the area seven months ago. The visit was also a reunion for the president and an unlikely political ally, the Republican governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie. NPR's Mara Liasson reports on their bipartisan relationship and the political benefits for both men.

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Law
3:15 pm
Tue May 28, 2013

'Virtual Currency' Used To Hide Large Money Laundering Scheme

Originally published on Tue September 10, 2013 9:16 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

Today in New York, federal authorities unsealed indictments against seven men connected with what may be one of the largest money laundering operations ever uncovered.

From member station WNYC, Ilya Marritz reports the bank at the center of the case allegedly used virtual currency to help its customers break the law.

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Law
3:15 pm
Tue May 28, 2013

Florida Judge Denies Delay To George Zimmerman Trial

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 6:43 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

In Sanford, Florida, a state judge has ruled that George Zimmerman will go to trial as scheduled early next month. Zimmerman is the Neighborhood Watch volunteer who shot and killed teenager Treyvon Martin. His defense had asked for more time to prepare.

And that wasn't the only bad news for George Zimmerman today. The judge also prohibited his team from using in court several personal details from Martin's life, including evidence of drug use and trouble in school.

NPR's Greg Allen reports from Sanford.

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Business
3:15 pm
Tue May 28, 2013

Cruise Industry Adopts Passenger 'Rights' As Incidents Mount

Damage on the Royal Caribbean ship Grandeur of the Seas is visible as the ship docks in Freeport, the Bahamas, on Monday.
Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 6:43 am

About 2,200 passengers were being flown back to Baltimore on Tuesday, a day after their cruise ship caught fire on its way to the Bahamas. There were no injuries aboard Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas.

But in the wake of the incident and others like it, the cruise ship companies have something of a black eye. The industry is now trying to reassure passengers it's OK for them to sail, adopting what it called a passenger "bill of rights."

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Around the Nation
3:15 pm
Tue May 28, 2013

Forgotten For Decades, WWII Alaskans Finally Get Their Due

Frankie Kuzuguk, 82, gets a hug from his daughter Marilyn Kuzuguk at Quyanna Care Center in Nome, Alaska, after receiving an official honorable discharge and a distinguished service coin from visiting Veterans Affairs officials. The VA is still tracking down the few surviving members of the World War II Alaska Territorial Guard or delivering benefits to their next of kin.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 6:43 am

Alaskan Clyde Iyatunguk grew up hearing stories about the U.S. Army colonel, Marvin 'Muktuk' Marston, who helped his father trade his spear for a rifle, to protect his homeland during World War II.

Marston is a household name with Native Alaskans. The nickname comes from an Eskimo eating contest — muktuk is whale skin and blubber, eaten raw.

After the Japanese reached the Aleutian Islands in 1942, Marston traveled by dogsled across Alaska looking for volunteers who knew how to fight and survive in the Arctic terrain.

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