The nation's crime labs are no strangers to scandal. Last year in Massachusetts, bogus testing by former chemist Annie Dookhan called into question tens of thousands of cases and led to the release of more than 300 people from the state's prisons.
In November, 222,000 Californians opened their mailboxes to find a warning: Unemployment benefits were scheduled to end in December.
While Congress was inching closer to passing a budget, Emergency Unemployment Compensation was not part of the deal. That's the long-term jobless benefits: extra federal money that allows unemployed workers to collect payments for months longer than they could in better economic times.
Sure enough, on Dec. 18, Congress passed that budget and packed up for Christmas recess, leaving those extended benefits to expire just 10 days later.
Former first lady Barbara Bush is home after more than five days of treatment at a Houston hospital. She had pneumonia.
The Houston Chronicle reports that Bush family spokesman Jim McGrath says the 88-year-old wife of one president and mother of another had a couple "truly great days" in which she responded well to treatment.
Originally published on Sat January 4, 2014 12:26 pm
... there's no hot air left in Washington.
We bet Two-Way readers can do much better than that. Feel free to answer our headline's question in the comments thread.
The news, of course, is that "record breaking cold" is expected through Monday "from the Northern Plains eastward into the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley," according to the National Weather Service. It warns that:
There were "cheers and jeers" from rank-and-file union members late Friday when it was announced that a key new contract with aircraft maker Boeing had been approved by a bare majority vote, our colleagues at Seattle's KPLU report.
Alexandra Jones-Twaddell and Malley Chertkov add a Christmas tree to the growing line in Island Beach State Park in February 2013. Similar dune restoration projects — using trees as a foundation to trap sand — will be carried out this year all along the Atlantic Coast.
Credit Adam Cole / NPR
Near Jefferson, La., volunteers place recycled Christmas trees inside man-made wooden cribs in the shallow water of a local marsh in January 2011. The trees absorb wave action and protect fragile marshland from erosion.
Credit Jefferson Parish Department of Environmental Affairs / AP
Originally published on Sat January 4, 2014 6:38 am
NASA caught our eye earlier today when the space agency tweeted a composite image of the huge winter storm that has covered parts of the Midwest and Eastern U.S. with a deep blanket of snow.
The photos that make up the image were taken Thursday, NASA says, during several passes of its Aqua satellite. The craft used its Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer — MODIS — "to capture this true-color image of a massive winter storm moving up the eastern seaboard," the agency says.
At the start of this new year, a number of cities in the United States, including its five largest, have a common story to tell about crime. In 2013, they all saw violent crime rates drop significantly. Some also saw murder rates drop to historic lows. From Chicago, NPR's Cheryl Corley reports.
Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 6:32 pm
Updated at 7:55 p.m. ET
When Congress returns next week, House Republicans will welcome their Democratic colleagues with a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't vote.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., has let it be known that the House will vote on legislation ostensibly meant to protect Americans from HealthCare.gov data breaches. Several Republicans have introduced HealthCare.gov-related security bills, so Cantor has plenty of material to work with.
The National Security Agency headquarters at Fort Meade, Md. The agency has been trying to build a quantum computer, <em>The Washington Post</em> reports — but that news doesn't surprise experts in the field.
So the world's most clandestine spy agency is working on something called a quantum computer, The Washington Post tells us. It's based on rules Einstein himself described as "spooky," and it can crack almost any code. That's got to be top-secret stuff, right?
You can't buy these panties at your local Victoria's Secret. While they mimic the look of that brand's Pink line, they're actually part of a project by FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture.
Credit Courtesy of FORCE
Baltimore-based artists Rebecca Nagle and Hannah Brancato didn't like the way <em>Playboy</em>'s annual list of party schools described women. So they decided to make <a href="http://partywithplayboy.com/">a list of their own</a> — one that celebrates consent in <em>Playboy</em>'s distinctive voice.
Credit Courtesy of FORCE
Artist Hannah Brancato says that Victoria's Secret panties featuring phrases like "stop staring" turn "stop" and "no" into part of a flirtation. FORCE's consent-themed underwear is an attempt to change that culture.
The leftover prescription drugs you have around your house are at the center of a battle between small government and big pharmaceutical companies.
The immediate aim is to have the pharmaceutical companies take care of disposing of extra drugs. But Alameda County in northern California wants to make manufacturers think about the life cycles of their products — from their creation to what happens when they're no longer needed.
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.
After pummeling the Midwest, a big winter storm hit the Northeast today, dumping snow up and down I-95. Flights were canceled, major highways closed. Boston took on almost two feet. Up to 10 inches fell on New York City, where the new mayor has only been in office two days. And that's where our coverage begins this hour with NPR's Zoe Chace.
After the the school lunch program was overhauled in 2012 to curb childhood obesity, lots of kids began complaining that lunches were too skimpy.
Why? Because in some cases, schools had to limit healthy foods — such as sandwiches served on whole-grain bread or salads topped with grilled chicken — due to restrictions the U.S. Department of Agriculture set on the amount of grains and protein that could be served at meal-time.
In some districts, program participation dropped as more kids decided to brown-bag it and bring their own food to school.
President Obama speaks in April after the Senate rejected a bill that would expand background checks on guns. The White House is seeking to clarify rules that bar firearm possession due to mental health problems.
Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 4:58 pm
Federal agencies are proposing new rules for handling gun buyers' background checks, in changes the Obama administration says will "keep guns out of potentially dangerous hands." The changes include a clarification of rules barring firearm possession due to mental health problems.
Thousands of Americans rang in 2014 with new insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act. But will doctors and hospitals start feeling the crunch? Host Michel Martin speaks with Washington Post health reporter Sarah Kliff.
A very cold winter storm is engulfing much of the Northeast, dumping more than 20 inches of snow in some areas and bringing strong winds along with it. Schools are closed in Boston and New York City. Thousands of flights have been canceled. Officials around the region are asking people to stay home and let road crews do their work.
The Justice Department will answer a challenge Friday morning to a controversial provision in the new health care law. It requires most employers that offer health insurance to include birth control at no cost.
A group of Catholic nuns has objected to that, and this week they won a temporary reprieve from Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. It's an unusual test case, but it won't be the last one.
Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 6:07 pm
It's early January, and that means it's time for the Quadrantid meteor shower to peak. Despite winter weather that might cloud the skies in some areas, forecasters say this year's event is worth getting up for, citing lunar conditions that will darken the night sky.
If you haven't heard of the Quadrantids, don't worry. Even NASA calls them "a little-known meteor shower named after an extinct constellation."
Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 8:19 am
Police have a suspect in custody in connection with the murder of a popular priest in Northern California whose body was found on New Year's Day with unmistakable signs of "blunt-force trauma," authorities say.
Gary Lee Bullock, 43, of Redway was arrested by Humboldt County deputies on Thursday, police said in a statement.
When members of Congress return to work next week, at the top of the "to-do" list is whether to renew emergency unemployment benefits. An extension of the benefits expired at the end of 2013, which means 1.3 million out-of-work Americans are no longer getting unemployment checks.