U.S. News

World War II veteran Earl Shaffer is believed to be the first American to walk the Appalachian Trail in one season, and his diary details the 124-day south-to-north trek. Back in 1948 Shaffer said he wanted to "walk the Army out of his system." Some newer war veterans have the same idea, and NPR tagged along as they finished the 2,100-mile trek.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

For D.C.'s LGBT Community, A Police Liaison Who Can Relate

Oct 6, 2016

Sgt. Jessica Hawkins remembers Feb. 11, 2014, clearly.

It was a sunny, cold Tuesday in the District of Columbia — the day she would go to work at the Metropolitan Police Department as a woman for the first time.

Hawkins is transgender. She has known since she was 5 years old, when Wonder Woman was her favorite superhero and she liked to dress up in her mother's clothes.

Nurse practitioner Kim Hamm talks in soothing tones to her 14-year-old patient as she inserts a form of long-acting contraception beneath the skin of the girl's upper arm.

"This is the numbing medicine, so you're going to feel me touch you here," she says, taking the teen's arm. "Little stick, one, two three, ouch. And then a little bit of burn."

Zero. That's the stated goal of transportation officials in the U.S., no traffic fatalities by 2046. Zero deaths is a movement that began in Sweden. There, it's called Vision Zero. The idea is simple. "No loss of life is acceptable." That is the one sentence motto of Sweden's campaign.

Rod Temperton has been called pop music's "Invisible Man" because few knew his name. But his songs were megahits in the 1970s and 80s. Along with big hair, wide lapels and bell bottoms, his music helped define the disco era. Temperton died of cancer last week in London, according to a statement from his publisher. He was 66.

Six years ago, Marine Sgt. John Peck had all four of his limbs blown off by an explosion in Afghanistan. Today, thanks to a double arm transplant, he is talking about the miracle of holding his fiancee's hand and feeling the pressure when she squeezes.

"That truly is a special gift," the retired Marine told reporters at a news conference at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

The Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in the case of Duane Buck, a convicted Texas murderer sentenced to die after a psychologist testified that he was more likely to commit violent crimes in the future because he is black.

Buck shot and killed his ex-girlfriend in front of her three children while she begged for her life. He killed the man he thought she was sleeping with and he shot his own stepsister, Phyllis Taylor, who survived the horrific night.

Mike Cruse is the father of a new baby. His daughter Olivia was born in July. But like most fathers in the U.S., he doesn't get paid parental leave. That means his wife, Stephanie, will have to take care of the baby mostly herself — an already difficult task that may be even harder for her since she's dealing with postpartum anxiety.

Cruse, who manages the warehouse for a lighting company, had to take vacation days from his job to stay home and help for those first 10 days. Now he has no vacation left for the next calendar year.

Episode 521: The Town That Loves Death

Oct 5, 2016

Note: This episode originally aired in February 2014.

People in La Crosse, Wisconsin are used to talking about death. In fact, 96 percent of people who die in this small, Midwestern city have specific directions laid out for when they pass. That number is astounding. Nationwide, it's more like 50 percent. La Crosse is such an exception thanks to one guy who decided that people in this town needed to make plans for their death.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The idea behind the company Blue Apron is simple: Each week, it sends customers a box with recipe cards and fresh ingredients to make a handful of meals, each of them in just under 35 minutes.

The company has grown quickly since its founding in 2012: It delivers around 8 million meals per month.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Human life spans have been increasing for decades thanks to advances in treating and preventing diseases and improved social conditions.

In fact, longevity has increased so much in recent decades that some researchers began to wonder: What is the upper limit on human aging?

What's Behind Oregon's Marionberry Mania?

Oct 5, 2016

Blackberries grow so voraciously in the Pacific Northwest that it's not rare to stumble across rural barns or abandoned homes that have been completely consumed by the thorny vine. Let them grow too close to a window, and they'll break the glass. They're common — easy to forage and hard to get too excited about. At least compared to the marionberry, a type of blackberry that has become an Oregon obsession.

One of the reasons the marionberry is so beloved is because it is entirely a product of Oregon. It's "born and raised" in state, so to speak.

It's 8:30 a.m. and the sun is already heating up the artificial turf at Banning High School's football field. Some 70 ninth- and 10th-graders line up on their stomachs for push-ups.

For some of these kids, the "push-up ready" pose looks like a cross between an aborted yoga position and a nap.

"Come on! Butts down, hips off the ground, shoulders over your hand!" barks Los Angeles Fire Capt. Eddie Marez.


"One, sir!" the sleepy students shout.

"Didn't say 'up' yet. Start all over!" Marez yells.

The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Wednesday in the case of Duane Buck, a convicted Texas murderer who was sentenced to die after an expert witness testified that Buck was more likely to commit violent crimes in the future because he is black.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Indiana Republican Gov. Mike Pence and Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine met Tuesday evening for the only vice presidential debate of 2016. Many expected the 90-minute face-off at Longwood University in Farmville, Va., to be a cordial affair, and it largely was, but each came armed with plenty of barbs to throw at the other.

Tax avoidance has been in the news from Apple to Donald Trump. A new study by Citizens for Tax Justice looks at how widespread the the practice is.

Vice presidential candidates Tim Kaine and Mike Pence debated Tuesday night in their only official matchup of the election season.

NPR's politics team, with help from reporters and editors who cover national security, immigration, business, foreign policy and more, live annotated the debate. Portions of the debate with added analysis are underlined in yellow, followed by context and fact checks.

Just when you thought U.S.-Russia relations couldn't get worse, diplomatic deals on both Syria and nuclear security fell apart this week.

Moscow went first, announcing that it was pulling out of a landmark agreement on plutonium. Russia's President Vladimir Putin blamed "unfriendly actions" by the United States.

Hours later, Washington said it was breaking off talks on a ceasefire in Syria. "This is not a decision that was taken lightly," State Department spokesman John Kirby wrote in a statement. "Unfortunately, Russia failed to live up to its own commitments."

How do you lose more than $900 million?

"I think a good part of it was mistakes," said Barbara Res, a former executive vice president at the Trump Organization who managed construction at Trump Tower.

Res said the mistakes started in the 1980s, when Trump paid $365 million for the Eastern Air Lines Shuttle and $400 million for the Plaza Hotel.

"He overpaid for all that stuff," said Res. "Those were not wise decisions. Those were mistakes on his part."

Rising wages and cheap loans are setting the stage for a strong holiday season, according to retailers, consultants and pollsters.

On Tuesday, the National Retail Federation predicted a 3.6-percent increase in holiday sales, compared with 2015. That's considerably better than the 10-year average gain of 2.5 percent for the holiday period.

Sabrina Chang, 30, didn't know much about the global refugee crisis. "I think I could spit out headlines that I've seen, but that's about it," she says.

Edit note: This report includes some graphic scenes.

The Aryan Brotherhood of Texas originated in prison in the early 1980s as a protection racket for white inmates, but as the tattooed gang members were released into the free world, they became one of the most violent crime syndicates in America.

Two years ago, the Justice Department trumpeted that it had "decapitated" the leadership of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, or ABT. Seventy-three gang members were convicted, including all five regional generals.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.


Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.