Want to understand why House Republicans aren't onboard with an immigration overhaul? Take a close look at the districts they represent.
Hispanics today make up 17 percent of the nation's population and are the fastest-growing ethnic group. But an NPR analysis of U.S. census data shows they live disproportionately in districts represented by Democrats. The average Democratic district is 23 percent Latino; the average Republican district, less than 12 percent.
A train leaves the Rangeland Energy company's crude oil loading terminal near Epping, N.D. So far this year, 60 percent of all oil produced in North Dakota left the state by rail. One economist says there aren't enough oil tankers to fill the demand.
The oil boom in the United States is creating another boom — for the railroad industry.
So far this year, in North Dakota alone, 140 million barrels of oil have left on trains. Shipments of crude oil by rail are up almost 50 percent over last year — and this upward trend is expected to continue.
A visit to the world-famous Tehachapi Loop, part of a winding mountain pass in Southern California, demonstrates the scale and reach of the oil boom in the middle of the country. As a train full of oil tanker cars rumbles past, it's hard not to think of it as a pipeline on wheels.
Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 4:22 pm
Telemundo recently announced that its telenovelaEl Señor de los Cielos (Lord of the Skies) will be back for a second season; production began this week in Mexico City. This resurrection sets it apart from almost every other telenovela because, unlike American soap operas, telenovelas have a clear beginning and a definitive ending, airing for a set number of episodes.
U.S. soldiers look at a crane that tipped over while trying to move a CHU, or Containerized Housing Unit, at a small COP, or Combat Outpost, in southern Afghanistan. A dozen years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan have created a whole new military vocabulary.
Credit David Gilkey / NPR
A U.S. military helicopter takes off in southern Afghanistan. They may still be called "choppers" in the movies, but troops universally refer to them as "birds."
It's painful for U.S. soldiers to hear discussions and watch movies about modern wars when the dialogue is full of obsolete slang, like "chopper" and "GI."
Slang changes with the times, and the military is no different. Soldiers fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have developed an expansive new military vocabulary, taking elements from popular culture as well as the doublespeak of the military industrial complex.
The University of California, Santa Barbara is experiencing a meningitis outbreak a lot like the one that hit Princeton earlier this year. The California university confirmed a fourth case of meningococcal disease on Monday.
An aircraft-carrying Japanese supersubmarine built during World War II has been found on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean off Oahu, nearly 60 years after it was hastily scuttled by the U.S. Navy in an effort to keep its technology out of Soviet hands.
"The accidental discovery of the 1-400 ... on the rock- and debris-littered ocean floor, some 2,300 feet beneath the surface, has solved the mystery surrounding a ship long thought to be further afield.
Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 1:53 pm
The man accused of opening fire last month at Los Angeles International Airport, killing a TSA agent, was ordered Wednesday to be held without bond pending his trial.
Judge David Bristow determined that Paul Anthony Ciancia, 23, was a flight risk and a danger to the community.
Ciancia's appearance at a San Bernardino County jail facility where's he's being kept in federal custody is his first in public since the Nov. 1 shooting at LAX's Terminal 3. He was shackled at his hands and feet, and wasn't asked to enter a plea. If convicted, Ciancia faces the death penalty.
Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 3:57 pm
Emergency calls from last year's Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting reveal 911 dispatchers who dealt with the situation calmly, urging callers to take cover and inquiring about the welfare of the children.
One caller told dispatchers that a gunman was shooting inside the building and that she could see him. The New Haven Register has put audio of the calls online here. (Warning: some of it might be graphic).
A piece in Politico recently called first lady Michelle Obama a "feminist nightmare." So should the first lady use her voice for more than eating right and exercise? Or are her critics missing the point? Host Michel Martin hears from the Beauty Shop ladies: pop culture critic Mikki Kendall, freelance writer Deonna Kelli Sayed, and columnist Keli Goff.
Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 11:40 am
The investigation into the Bronx, N.Y., train crash that killed four people Sunday will continue without the direct involvement of the rail employees union the Association of Commuter Rail Employees. The move was in response to remarks the union's leader made at a Tuesday news conference regarding the train engineer's awareness level moments before a catastrophic derailment.
A federal judge has ruled Detroit qualifies for bankruptcy. But the cash-strapped city, laden with roughly $18 billion in long-term debt, faces a long road to regain financial solvency. Unions whose members face pension payment cuts are appealing the ruling, and the ultimate decision about paying the pensions may be made by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 12:19 pm
A scientist whose observations of drowned polar bears raised alarms about climate change has received $100,000 to settle a whistle-blower complaint against an agency of the Department of the Interior.
Under the settlement, wildlife researcher Charles Monnett retired from his job at the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on Nov. 15, and the agency agreed to remove a letter of reprimand that officials had placed in his file.
President Obama has made it a priority to choose federal judges who are diverse in terms of race or gender. But for the most part, he's avoided controversy for those lifetime appointments.
That's why the nomination of a Missouri lawyer named Ronnie White has raised the eyebrows of experts who've been around Washington for a while. Old hands remember that White was rejected for a federal judgeship back in 1999 after a party line vote by Senate Republicans.
Now, in what experts say could be an unprecedented step, he's getting another chance.
Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 10:02 am
A newer form of mammogram may do a better job of finding cancer, a study finds. But the technology is still too untested to know if it's going to be useful for most women or even to know for sure who might benefit.
It's called breast tomosynthesis, or 3-D mammography. Since being approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2011, the new type of scan has been touted by radiologists.
Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 6:44 pm
The editor-in-chief of The Guardian, which has turned leaks from Edward Snowden into a seemingly endless series of exposes concerning U.S. electronic surveillance activities, says the newspaper has published just 1 percent of what it's received from the former NSA contractor.
In testimony before Britain's Parliament, Alan Rusbridger told lawmakers that about 58,000 files obtained from Snowden, or "about 1 percent," had been used by the paper for its stories. However, he added: "I would not expect us to be publishing a huge amount more."
They're louder than a jet on takeoff and they make the earth tremble.
We're talking about fans of the NFL's Seattle Seahawks.
During the team's home game Monday night against the New Orleans Saints, "Seahawks fans jumping up and down during" a fumble return for a touchdown "registered about a magnitude 1 or 2 earthquake," The Seattle Times' The Today File blog reports.
Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 12:30 am
Updated at 2:00 a.m. ET Wednesday:
Federal investigators in New York announced late Tuesday that they had removed the rail employees union, the Association of Commuter Rail Employees, as a participant in the investigation. According to The Associated Press, investigators cited a breach of confidentiality after Anthony Bottalico, leader of the union, spoke to the media concerning comments train engineer William Rockefeller had made about what happened moments before Sunday's derailment.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel.
The city of Detroit is now officially bankrupt. A federal judge ruled today that the city meets the criteria for Chapter 9 protection. It is insolvent and went through the proper legal steps to file bankruptcy. As Quinn Klinefelter of member station WDET reports, Detroit still faces a long road to financial recovery and a number of legal hurdles.
Americans see U.S. power in the world declining. That is the key finding of a survey by the Pew Research Center. It also finds that most Americans think the U.S. should be engaged in the global economy, but ought to concentrate on solving domestic problems. Michael Dimock is here to talk about this poll. He's the director of the Pew Research Center. Good to see you again.
MICHAEL DIMOCK: Hi, Robert.
SIEGEL: And first, how many Americans say the U.S. role is declining and how significant a number is that?
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block. Vice President Joe Biden is in Tokyo today. He's there to reemphasize American support for Japan as it tangles with China over contested air space. China unnerved its neighbors late last month by declaring an air identification defense zone. The zone covers disputed islands in the East China Sea. NPR's Frank Langfitt has more from Shanghai on what's behind China's latest move.
While conceding that "more problems may pop up as they always do when you're launching something new," President Obama on Tuesday said the troubled HealthCare.gov website "is working well for the vast majority of users" and his Affordable Care Act "is working and will work into the future."
"We may never satisfy the law's opponents," Obama added during an afternoon event at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House. But, he said, "we know the demand [for health insurance] is there and we know the product on these marketplaces is good."
Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 12:03 pm
Merrill Newman, the 85-year-old American war veteran and tourist who was arrested in North Korea in October, once supervised a guerrilla group of "perhaps the most hated and feared fighters" of the Korean War, some of his former comrades say. That's according to The Associated Press, which offers details about Newman's service as a possible explanation for his detention.
Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 7:30 am
Overweight or obese people are indeed more likely to die prematurely than people of normal weight, say researchers who've analyzed the data. Their conclusion throws cold water on recent studies that have found some excess weight isn't so bad.
Earlier this year, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that overweight people actually live a bit longer than their skinnier peers.
A graphic released with the 2012 PISA results shows the annualized change in performance in average math scores between 2003 and 2012. The chart includes only nations that have comparable data from both 2003 and 2012.
Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 11:13 am
American 15-year-olds continue to turn in flat results in a test that measures students' proficiency in reading, math and science worldwide, failing to crack the global top 20.
The Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, collects test results from 65 countries for its rankings, which come out every three years. The latest results, from 2012, show that U.S. students ranked below average in math among the world's most-developed countries. They were close to average in science and reading.
OK. So federal judges, in secret, have blasted the National Security Agency for years, for violating rules governing U.S. surveillance programs. Then the judges have gone ahead and approved those programs anyway. We know this because of leaks by NSA contractor Edward Snowden, and from documents released by the government. They have revealed new information about how the secret court works. NPR's Carrie Johnson has this report on whether it is possible for the court to control the NSA.
San Francisco has long been a desirable place to live — and that's even more true today as the city is basking in the glow of another tech boom. But the influx of new money and new residents is putting a strain on the city's housing market.
The city has the highest median rent in the nation, and evictions of longtime residents are skyrocketing.
Ground zero for San Francisco's eviction crisis is the Inner Mission District. Until recently, this edgy neighborhood was home to a mix of working-class Latinos, artists and activists.
"Crazy-generous" tips, as Gawker says, have been showing up on checks across the nation as some anonymous good Samaritans known only as "TipsForJesus" add hundreds or thousands of dollars to their restaurant and bar bills.