At the Central Iowa Shelter and Services in Des Moines, Iowa, health insurance navigator Andrea Pearce stood in a crowded dining hall on a recent day, shouting instructions on how residents can sign up for Medicaid.
"If you do not have insurance and you want to enroll and you have an e-mail address where you know the password," she said, "come to the computer lab we will guide you through the application."
Utah's surprise decision to legalize same-sex marriage caps a landmark year for gay rights. The last 12 months saw a huge string of victories, from state legislatures, to Congress, to the Supreme Court.
As the U.S. economy continues to recover, it has been getting some help from an unexpected place. After decades of massive job losses, manufacturing firms have been steadily creating jobs — many of them well-paying. One particularly bright spot is a new generation of high-tech manufacturers.
The nation's capital is not exactly a beach town. But the cherry-tree-lined Tidal Basin, fed by the Potomac River, laps at the steps of the Jefferson Memorial. And, especially since Superstorm Sandy, officials in Washington have a clear idea of what would happen in a worst-case storm scenario.
"The water would go across the World War II memorial, come up 17th Street," says Tony Vidal of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "And there are actually three spots where the water would come up where we don't have ... a closure structure right now."
Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 11:12 am
Whether or not you like the NFL's Dallas Cowboys, this news may warm your heart:
Jon Kitna, who is coming out of retirement to be the team's emergency quarterback on Sunday, plans to donate his $53,000 paycheck from the game to the Tacoma, Wash., high school where he now teaches math and coaches football.
Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 6:09 am
Go to the doctor with knee pain, and they might say you've got a meniscus tear and need surgery to fix it. But surgery for this common problem might not be any better at relieving pain than having no surgery at all, according to researchers who went to the trouble of performing fake surgery to find out.
The gold standard for medical research is a randomized controlled trial, but it's hard to sign people up if they might undergo pretend surgery.
Some of the most painful stories of 2013 came from a small community in Oklahoma, the town of Moore. It was hit by a monster F5 tornado in May. Two dozen people died. More than a thousand homes were wiped away. The damage was estimated at $2 billion. But when NPR's Wade Goodwyn returned to Moore recently, he found the worst damage might not be visible.
WADE GOODWYN, BYLINE: Stand in the middle of Lakeview Drive in Moore, and you're surrounded by a lot of wide-open Oklahoma. Turns out an F5 tornado can clear quite a stretch of land.
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel. And now, the latest in our series Number of the Year. We're taking numbers and exploring what they tell us about the year that was 2013. Today, NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports on the number 13. That is the estimated percentage of how much home prices have risen this year.
Christmas is less than merry and far from bright for hundreds of thousands of families from the upper Midwest to the far northeast and into Canada, where ice storms have downed power lines, leaving many households in the cold and dark.
This is the worst holiday week in the 126-year history of Michigan's largest power company, Consumers Energy. The outages began over the weekend, affecting nearly 350,000 customers. Power has been restored to many, but more than 120,000 remain in the dark.
When Jerral Hancock came home from serving in Iraq six years ago, he received a hero's welcome in the Mojave Desert town of Lancaster, Calif. He'd been severely wounded but looked forward to returning to his family and getting on with his life.
But sometimes, celebrated homecomings can be short-lived. Things took a painful turn for Hancock a few years ago; his wife left and he became a single father of two. But with the help of an enterprising group of young people, Hancock and his children have brighter days ahead.
Six brand new Challenger corporate jets sit on a showroom floor waiting to be picked up here at the Bombardier Aerospace plant on the outskirts of Montreal. Manager Frank Richie watches as technicians polish the gleaming aircraft and make last-minute adjustments. Each one is personalized, from the leather trim inside to the fancy paint job on its exterior.
Through a side door, you enter an enormous assembly line for more than a dozen other Challenger jets. The factory floor spans nearly 900,000 square feet.
Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 12:14 am
Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden had a Christmas Day warning for Britons: "A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all."
Britain's Channel 4 televised Snowden's short address as the network's "Alternative Christmas Message," an annual address delivered by a public figure that mimics the style of Queen Elizabeth's Royal Christmas Message. You can watch the full 1:43 video at Channel 4's website.
As we approach the end of 2013, we've been looking at numbers that tell the story of this year in different ways. Today's number: 38. That's the percentage of Americans who live in a state where same-sex marriage is now legal. Supporters of same-sex marriage say that percentage is likely to grow dramatically in just a few more years. NPR's Richard Gonzalez reports.
RICHARD GONZALEZ, BYLINE: When the history of the legal and political battle over same-sex marriage is written, this will likely go down as the banner year.
Around Thanksgiving, The Race Card Project brought us the story of a woman who grew up in a Filipino family but desperately wanted to be anything but Filipino. When Melanie Vanderlipe Ramil was a child, she shied away from her family's traditional meals, including the rice that's a staple in Filipino cooking.
But recently, she's become committed to keeping those food traditions alive.
Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 5:56 pm
You'll soon need some 3-cent stamps to go with those 46-cent ones.
Regulators on Tuesday authorized the increase, and beginning Jan. 26, it'll cost 49 cents to send a first-class letter. Bulk rate mail, periodicals and package service rates will go up 6 percent, The Associated Press says.
Regulators rejected a request to make the price hike permanent and say instead that it will last no longer than two years, by which time the U.S. Postal Service should have recouped $2.8 billion in losses.
Decking a house in thousands of lights is one way to spread holiday spirit. It can also serve as an education in American culture. Ibby Caputo, of member station WGBH, took a tour of Christmas lights in Manchester, New Hampshire. She went with a group of global refugees.
IBBY CAPUTO, BYLINE: On a chilly winter evening, Amadou Hamady ushers people from all over the world onto a school bus.
It's easy to forget that the tea party movement is still less than 5 years old. Its successes include the 2010 midterm elections, when it helped the GOP win back the U.S. House.
It was once again a noisy and resurgent player in American politics in 2013. But that doesn't mean it was a year of victories: The movement's campaign to repeal Obamacare failed, and public approval hit near-record lows after the tea party forced a partial government shutdown. Even tea party events aren't as large as they once were.
Ryan Begin hasn't always been the life-loving pot smoker he is today. Back in 2005, the sergeant nearly lost half his arm to an IED while serving in Iraq and was sent home for reconstructive surgery. Upon his return to Belfast, Maine, Begin was plagued by physical pain and outbursts of aggression. He was prescribed a cocktail of drugs as his treatment.
"They took the soul out of me. All that stuff, it drained my soul, it blackened my soul," Begin says.
Begin's mother, Anna, noticed the prescription drugs seemed to exacerbate his post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms.
For a lot of families, Christmas tree tradition spark household debate. For instance, tinsel or beads; white lights or multicolored; star or angel on top. And for some people, it's not how to decorate the tree. It is when to put it up, early or late, late being now, Christmas Eve. NPR's Martin Kaste falls into that last category.
MARTIN KASTE, BYLINE: Yes, I belong to that small and shrinking tribe. We're the ones lurking in the Christmas tree lots at the last possible moment. You guys shutting down already?
Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 3:08 pm
The close of 2013 has been marked by a vigorous national debate over income inequality, the plight of low-wage workers in America and the effect of boosting mandatory minimum wages.
The debate was magnified when Wal-Mart got unwanted attention for a store-based holiday food drive for its own needy workers, and when President Obama announced his support for legislation that would raise the national minimum hourly wage of $7.25 for the first time since 2007.
A new law lets adopted people in Ohio see their original birth certificates — but opponents say it comes at a cost to the birth parents. Guest host Celeste Headlee takes on the topic with law professor Carol Sanger, birth mother Jodi Hodges, and advocates Adam Pertman and Betsie Norris.
Since the recent arrest of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, US-Indian relations have been strained. Guest host Celeste Headlee speaks with Deepa Iyer, Executive Director of South Asian-Americans Leading Together and Sandip Roy, Culture Editor for the Indian news site FirstPost.com.
Another deadline for the Affordable Care Act has been pushed back. Guest Host Celeste Headlee speaks to Kaiser Health News reporter Mary Agnes Carey and Washington Post reporter Sarah Kliff and what the decision means and how the healthcare rollout is going across the country.