William Moody, who as the pro wrestling character Paul Bearer embodied a sense of theater that was equal parts morbid and absurd, has died at age 58. A portly man known for his wild-eyed stare and habit of carrying a brass urn under his arm, Paul Bearer was most notably the manager of The Undertaker and Kane.
Now, we want to turn to a hot button issue in education, something that might be going on where you live. In a number of cities around the country, officials are debating closing dozens - in one case, more than 100 - schools. Officials cite low enrollment at many of these schools and the cost of maintaining buildings that aren't fully utilized, but in many places, these school closings have sparked furious protests by parents who've said that they are unfair and that they are ripping communities apart.
Originally published on Wed March 6, 2013 11:16 am
The winter storm that has dumped several inches of snow from the Dakotas to Maryland is expected to linger over the mid-Atlantic on Wednesday, bringing another 5 to 9 inches to many areas in the east.
Federal government offices in the nation's capital were closed Wednesday in anticipation of the wet, heavy snow, and many schools were closed in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore. Hundreds of flights were canceled at Dulles and Reagan National airports.
John Kerry, on his first trip abroad as secretary of state, walks with French President Francois Hollande after their meeting at Elysee Palace in Paris on Feb. 27. Kerry's nine-day trip took him through Europe and the Middle East.
Secretary of State John Kerry describes himself as a recovering politician. He's just getting used to the fact that he can't speak quite as freely as he did when he was a senator.
"Each word means more, each relationship is played differently," he said in an interview with NPR, at the end of a nine-nation swing through Europe and the Middle East. "As a senator, you just don't have those stakes riding in it."
A judge in Alabama has blocked the state's governor from signing a school choice bill, after a lawsuit alleged that lawmakers bypassed state rules when they substantially revised the legislation in committee. The vote to pass the bill last week was marked by confusion, anger, and accusations of "sleaziness" and "hypocrisy," as AL.com reported.
Here was the scene last week, as the bill's backers sought to end debate and hold a vote:
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Every spring, you hear that almost anyone can win March Madness. Well, this year, it's true. There's no obvious favorite in this month's NCAA men's basketball tournament, at least a dozen contenders from schools big and small. And conference championships began today. So who knows which contender will fall on its face and which dark horse no one considered will emerge in the next two weeks?
Twelve former members of the Florida A&M marching band are charged in the hazing death of drum major Robert Champion. The charges have now been upgraded to manslaughter. Champion's parents said Tuesday that they are encouraged by the stiffer charges.
Becoming a citizen was a long path for Veralyn Williams. She came to the U.S. from Africa as an infant, and found as a teen, she couldn't even get a job at a fast food restaurant. This is the final chapter in her journey to citizenship.
Fred Butler has done many things in his 106 years, from serving in two military theaters of World War II to helping raise five children. But he had never gone to high school, or earned a diploma — the result of leaving school after the eighth grade to work full-time in a print shop to help support his family.
As Secretary of State John Kerry wraps up his first official trip overseas, he's walking a fine line on Syria. Kerry says the Obama administration has been stepping up assistance to rebels who are trying to topple the Syrian regime. But the U.S. is also worried about how all of this will play out. NPR's Michele Kelemen spoke with the secretary of State today in Doha, Qatar, and he said he's taking this one step at a time.
Democratic Senators Harry Reid and Mo Cowan have joined Republicans John McCain and Representative Peter King to call for the pardon of former heavyweight boxing champ Jack Johnson. He was the first black fighter to win that title, in 1908. Another win in 1910 sparked race riots nationwide, and his relationships with white women only added to the controversy. He was convicted of taking women across state lines for "immoral purpose." Audie Cornish has more.
The Masters Tournament is still a month away, but the green jackets that grace the winners' shoulders are already in the news, thanks to a lawsuit over a proposed auction of a former champion's jacket.
On one side is tournament host Augusta National Golf Club, which says the jacket, won by Art Wall Jr. in 1959, was stolen; on the other is Florida doctor Stephen Pyles and Heritage Auctions of Texas, who insist the jacket was obtained legally and can thus be sold to the highest bidder.
Hikers walk on the Mist Trail to Vernal Fall at Yosemite National Park in California. The National Park Service has to cut $134 million from sites around the country, including Yosemite, due to the lack of a budget deal in Congress.
Spring has come early to the Yosemite Valley, and the melting snow makes for a spectacular rush of water off the granite face of Yosemite Falls, the tallest in North America.
Early March is when park officials would normally be gearing up for the busy tourist season. Instead, they're figuring out how to cut $1.5 million from their budget. Without a budget deal, the sequestration has forced the Park Service to cut a total of $134 million from sites around the country.
Federal officials warned Tuesday that an especially dangerous group of superbugs has become a significant health problem in hospitals throughout the United States.
These germs, known as carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE, have become much more common in the last decade, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And the risk they pose to health is becoming evident.
Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 10:32 am
Americans are all for government efforts to get them to eat more healthfully, as long as they don't feel like they're being bullied into it. That's what people said in a new survey about government efforts to influence how we eat, like New York City's ban on supersized sodas.
In the past decade, state and federal governments have launched dozens of new laws and programs to promote healthful eating and exercise. They've put a lot of effort into measuring what works, but surprisingly little effort into finding out what the people at the receiving end think.
Washington State Rep. Ed Orcutt has apologized for saying "the act of riding a bike results in greater emissions of carbon dioxide from the rider," after an email with a bike shop owner sparked criticism. Here, a cyclist rides in Seattle last year.
Originally published on Tue March 5, 2013 11:19 am
Days after angering cyclists with his contention that people who ride bikes don't help pay for roads — and stating that "the act of riding a bike results in greater emissions of carbon dioxide from the rider," Washington State Rep. Ed Orcutt has apologized for his words, and any confusion they created.
Originally published on Tue March 5, 2013 11:36 am
Are you a "mega-commuter"?
That's a term used by the U.S. Census Bureau to describe people who commute at least 90 minutes and 50 miles to work. Nearly 600,000 Americans spend that much time in vehicles, carpool lanes, and trains and buses each day, according to the bureau.
This interactive map, created by WNYC, shows commute times, by ZIP code, across the country. Zoom into your area to see how your commute compares:
Fewer Americans are having babies. Instead, many are putting their careers or savings accounts first. But experts say the country's low birthrate could be disastrous for the economy. Host Michel Martin examines the trend with her parenting roundtable.
Tax season is here and like a Facebook relationship, 'it's complicated.' That's according to Kelly Phillips Erb, the self-proclaimed 'tax girl.' She joins host Michel Martin to answer common tax conundrums.
With President Obama nominating Ernest Moniz to be the nation's next energy secretary, he continued a relatively recent trend of putting scientists atop a part of the federal bureaucracy once overseen by political types.
If confirmed by the Senate, Moniz, an MIT physicist, will follow Nobel laureate Steven Chu, a University of California physicist who served as Obama's first-term energy secretary.
A mashup of innovation and old-school hacking (though none of the participants was bent on doing harm, we're assured), the goal of the competition was to improve the nation's health system and help people navigate the complexities of the Affordable Care Act.
The nation's last coal-burning ferry, the SS Badger, sits on Lake Michigan in the port town of Ludington, Mich. The EPA permit that has long allowed the ship to dump coal ash into the lake is now under review.
Credit John Flesher / AP
Sally Cole, co-owner of Cole's Antiques Villa in Ludington, Mich., displays some of the shop's memorabilia from the SS Badger.
Credit Denise Stocker / Chicago Tribune/MCT via Getty Images
The Badger pulls out of the Ludington harbor for its four-hour journey to Manitowoc, Wis.
On the shores of Lake Michigan, the tiny town of Ludington, Mich., is home port to the last coal-fired ferry in the U.S. The SS Badger has been making trips across the lake to Manitowoc, Wis., during the good-weather months since 1953. And as it runs, the 411-foot ferry discharges coal ash slurry directly into the lake.
An Environmental Protection Agency permit allows the Badger to dump four tons of ash into the lake daily. But now, the agency has put the permit under review — and that means the Badger could stop sailing.
President Obama will name Ernie Moniz as the next secretary of the Department of Energy. Moniz is a physicist and academic — but unlike his predecessor, he's a seasoned politico who knows Washington and Congress. Moniz will please and annoy both ends of the energy policy spectrum: He's a big solar and wind booster, but a fan of natural gas and nuclear power as well.
Sally Jewell was tapped last month for Interior Secretary but one of Alaska's senators, Republican Lisa Murkowski, announced she might block the nomination. At issue is a proposed gravel road in King Cove, Alaska. The town is so remote that the residents have no way to get in and out. The road would connect King Cove to a larger town nearby, but it would have to cut through a national wildlife refuge. Washington Post environment reporter Juliet Eilperin explains to Audie Cornish why the town of less than a thousand has an impact on a nomination for a national position