Hay is one of the basic materials on a farm. It's important. But dried grass is not the kind of thing most farmers or ranchers would keep under lock and key until recently. The ongoing drought has meant less hay to go around. Production of alfalfa, for instance, is down 15 percent this year. So hay prices are soaring and so is the number of hay thefts. Grace Hood of member station KUNC reports from Colorado, one of several states where hay rustling is on the rise.
Drug cartels are taking to the ocean. That's because security along the land border between the U.S. and Mexico has been beefed up. Smuggling off the coast of Southern California is up 30 percent this year, according to the government, and that has the Coast Guard and Homeland Security warning of an increasingly dangerous situation off the busy coast.
Our next story is an economic mystery. Our Planet Money reporter Chana Joffe-Walt stumbled over it while holiday shopping.
CHANA JOFFE-WALT, BYLINE: The other day, I went to Toys R Us after work to buy my son some Legos for Hanukkah. He's never had Legos before, so I was very excited. But did you know that a basic box of Legos cost 59.99? For just 102 DUPLO pieces, 60 bucks. They're plastic blocks.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #1: Legos cost a lot of money.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #2: Yeah, actually, they are expensive.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
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And I'm Audie Cornish.
Homecomings at the nation's military bases are treated as occasions of the highest order. This morning, more than 100 families at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, waited for hugs and kisses before the sun came up. Blake Farmer of member station WPLN was there.
BLAKE FARMER, BYLINE: The 747 touched down just before sunrise.
U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice withdrew her name from consideration for the Secretary of State job on Thursday. President Obama accepted her withdrawal and says she will continue in her role as U.N. ambassador.
Well, even if Americans largely agree on addressing the deficit with a combination of tax hikes and spending cuts, the consensus falls apart when you get specific about those spending cuts. And that may be why politicians have been wary of discussing cuts in too much detail. We're going to try to remedy that now with NPR's Scott Horsley. Hi, Scott.
SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Good to be with you, Robert.
Originally published on Thu December 13, 2012 4:54 pm
When most drivers get a ticket from a speed-zone camera, there's little they can do but pay the fine. After all, the ticket often includes photographic proof that their car was over the limit. But a Maryland driver is fighting his $40 fine precisely because of what the photos show: his car, sitting at a red light.
Federal and state authorities have received criticism after deciding not to indict HSBC on accusations that it laundered money for Mexican drug cartels and conducted prohibited transactions on behalf of countries like Iran and Sudan. Instead, they entered into a $1.9 billion settlement this week with the bank.
There's no question that HSBC is a massive, sprawling operation. It markets itself as the world's local bank. But watchdogs of the banking industry say mere size should never insulate an organization from the law.
Six-time Grammy nominee Miguel has been heating up the airwaves with his newest album, Kaleidoscope Dream. Miguel sat down with host Michel Martin to discuss his musical style and why he wants to challenge stereotypes about R&B. *Advisory: This conversation may not be suitable for all listeners.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, those apps you've been downloading to keep the kids occupied during car rides and sports practices? It turns out, according to federal regulators, they are collecting all kinds of information that they aren't telling you about. So we will. In a few minutes.
And finally today, we want to take a moment to remember a legend in Indian classical music. Ravi Shankar died this week at the age of 92. He played the sitar, a long six-stringed wood instrument. He used it to communicate Indian music and culture to an American audience, and in fact audiences around the world. Shankar is known both for his own musicianship and his collaborations with Western greats like the Beatles and John Coltrane. Here's a collaboration with American violinist Yehudi Menuhin. The album is called "West Meets East."
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, she is Palestinian, Muslim, she has cerebral palsy and she earns a living as a stand-up comic and that is no joke. We'll meet Maysoon Zayid in just a few minutes.
But, first, we want to talk about something you may want to have on your radar if you're still shopping for holiday gifts and one of the things on your list is a mobile device, especially one that a child might use or borrow.
Troy Evans preaches at Edge Urban Fellowship in a rundown Grand Rapids, Mich., neighborhood known for prostitution. Inside what looks like an abandoned office building are walls covered by graffiti. There are tattooed people wearing baseball caps and jeans. Three 20-year-old men holding mics get ready to bust out some elaborate dance moves.
It may seem like a hip-hop show, but it's actually church.
A woman with the Army Corps of Engineers documents a destroyed home last month in a residential area of New Dorp Beach on Staten Island in New York City.
Credit Robert Nickelsberg / Getty Images
<strong>Who's Next?</strong> A boat displaced by Hurricane Sandy was dropped on Staten Island. Because of sea level rise, the storm surge was more intense than it would have been in a non-climate changed world, NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco says.
It will take tens of billions of dollars to repair the damage wrought by Superstorm Sandy. But scientists who study climate change say repair is not enough. As the climate warms, ice sheets and glaciers will melt, raising the sea level. That means coastal storms will more likely cause flooding.
So New Yorkers, local politicians and scientists face a tough decision: How to spend limited funds to defend themselves from what climate experts call "the new normal."
Eric James and his partner, Zerxes Spencer, have spent the past year looking to adopt. To speed up the arduous process, the couple built a website about their lives to draw in interested birth mothers.
Credit Courtesy of Eric James
Eric James and his partner, Zerxes Spencer, have spent the past year looking to adopt. To speed up the arduous process, the couple created a website about their lives to draw in potential birth mothers.
When Eric James and his partner, Zerxes Spencer, decided to adopt last year, they signed on with Adoptions Together, a reputable agency close to their home in Maryland. They attended the agency's seminars to learn about the process, met other "waiting parents" and formed personal bonds with the staff. But there was just one problem.
Eighteen months ago Eden Full was finishing up her sophomore year at Princeton University. She was on the crew team as a coxswain. She had spent the previous summer in Kenya building an innovative, low-cost contraption to make solar panels more efficient.
Full was glowingly successful — the kind of college student who ends up profiled in alumni magazines.
A customer departs Total Wine of Towson, Md., with a gift pack of Belgium's Westvleteren 12 Trappist ale.
Credit Bill Chappell / NPR
For the first time, the vaunted Westvleteren 12 beer has hit U.S. beer store shelves in large numbers. The bottle's Latin inscription reads, <em>"Ad aedificandam abbatiam adiuvi</em>,<em>"</em> or, "I helped to build the abbey."
Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 4:39 pm
To many beer fans, the arrival of the Westvleteren 12 Trappist ale in American shops today is a chance to try a beer they've only read about on beer-geek blogs and sites — where it's often given a "world class" rating of 100.
But finding the beer can be tricky — it's not available in all states, and some stores sold out of their allotment within hours of opening Wednesday.
Brandon Woodard was murdered by a gunshot to the head in broad daylight in New York City earlier this week. Robert Siegel speaks with Wendy Ruderman, police bureau chief for The New York Times about the case, and why it is drawing national attention.
A crowd seeks help applying for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles in August. Schools have been inundated with requests for the documents needed to qualify.
In the six months since a new law opened a path to temporary legal status for some young immigrants in the U.S., more than 300,000 people have applied — and have rushed to request qualifying documents from their schools.
The law, Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, offers legal status, renewable every two years, to people ages 30 and younger who were brought to the country as children. Applicants must prove they were in the U.S. for five consecutive years — something most easily achieved through school transcripts.
A federal appeals court has thrown out Illinois' ban on carrying concealed weapons. Now, political leaders — particular those in Chicago — are trying to figure out what comes next. Audie Cornish talks to David Schaper.
Federal Reserve policymakers issued a statement Wednesday saying they will keep interest rates low until the unemployment rate falls to 6.5 percent. Identifying a specific target for unemployment is a big change for the Fed and is part of its effort to become more transparent.
Guatemala says it will deport software pioneer John McAfee to the United States. McAfee is wanted for questioning in Belize over the murder of one of his neighbors. Carrie Kahn talks with Audie Cornish on the latest.
The Federal Communications Commission recently passed rules that will mean more community groups across the nation can apply to be on FM airwaves in the coming year. The changes are lauded by those who say more diverse and local voices belong on the radio — especially in urban settings where issues important to the community are often absent in mainstream media. In Springfield, Ill., Mbanna Kantako has been broadcasting illegally for 25 years. He's a pioneer of a movement that led to the pirating of radio channels across the nation.
Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 10:54 am
No one can argue the setback to organized labor served up by Michigan's new law, which bars unions from requiring workers to pay dues even if they don't join their workplace bargaining unit.
Tuesday's passage of "right to work" legislation in a state dominated by the auto industry and the historically powerful United Auto Workers was a surprising "smack in the face" to unions, says labor expert Lee Adler, especially given President Obama's nearly 10-point win in the state last month.
In the small town of Claxton, Ga., two bakeries make more than 4 million pounds of fruitcake each year. Both bakeries say Claxton is the fruitcake capital of the world, despite a similar claim made by a company in Corsicana, Texas.
It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel.
Late today a federal bankruptcy judge gave the nod to a Chinese firm to buy a Massachusetts technology company. A123 Systems makes batteries for electric cars, but some in Congress are fighting to block the deal. Curt Nickisch reports from member station WBUR in Boston.