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The United States has seen many fundraisers headlined by an Obama in recent years, but this week it won't be the president or the first lady — it will be his step-grandmother, Sarah Obama, who is raising funds to build a school and hospital in her hometown, Kogelo, Kenya.

Digging for wild ginseng pays: It sells for thousands of dollars in overseas markets. But it is illegal to take ginseng from national parks, where authorities are working to thwart poachers.

They come to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and Jim Corbin, a plant protection specialist with North Carolina's agriculture department, is out to protect wild ginseng root from the poachers.

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It's not certain that a grand jury decision in a Ferguson, Mo., case will be announced this weekend, but officials, protesters and city leaders have been preparing.

The grand jury, which will decide whether a white police officer who shot an unarmed black 18-year-old will face charges, met behind closed doors Friday. The city is bracing for what comes next.

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This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

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Starfish Illness Harms Other Sea Creatures

Nov 22, 2014
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The country of Oman once ran a vast maritime trading network. Today, a group there devotes itself to preserving that legacy by recreating the traditional boats that sailed the seas back then. This story originally aired on All Things Considered on Nov. 19, 2014.

What's your temperature?

That's the question of the hour. The Ebola virus has made taking your temperature part of everyday conversation. People in West Africa are doing it. People returning from the region are doing it. And so are the overly paranoid in the United States.

For anyone who's been exposed to the virus, a body temperatures of 100.4 or higher has been deemed the point of concern. The goal, of course, is that magic number: 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

Except 98.6 degrees isn't so magical after all. In fact, that might not be your normal temperature.

Winter is creeping down on northern Pakistan from the Himalayan Mountains. The skies are cloudless and bright blue. The air is as cool and refreshing as champagne.

This is the season for swaddling yourself in a big woolen shawl. And it's also the season when Pakistanis try not to ... let the bustards get them down.

I'm talking about the Houbara bustard. It's a bird, about half the size of a turkey, and with the same rotten luck this time of year.

After a nearly two-year investigation, the final report by the House Intelligence Committee concludes that the CIA "ensured sufficient security for CIA facilities in Benghazi and ... bravely assisted the State Department" on Sept. 11, 2012, during a deadly attack on U.S. facilities in Libya.

That's the first conclusion of the report, the result of thousands of hours of investigation into the events that led to the deaths of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

Business groups have long been active players in the nation's immigration debate. They represent employers who need to recruit workers, after all — employers who are sometimes investigated, even prosecuted, for hiring workers who are not approved to work in the U.S. legally.

Many big employers have been pushing for reforms that would allow them to keep more science and technology workers and skilled laborers in the country. But the executive action President Obama announced Thursday leaves out much of what the business lobby has been advocating for.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, added another meeting today in Vienna in the push toward an agreement on Iran's nuclear program.

Iranian news reports had earlier said Zarif was returning to Tehran for further instructions. And Kerry had been scheduled to leave Vienna for Paris – something he could still do while talks continue — before adding the late Friday meeting.

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Electric Bikes, On A Roll In Europe, Start To Climb In U.S.

Nov 21, 2014

For Joel Bowman, decades of bike commuting started feeling like hard work. So the 66-year-old Atlanta resident recently switched to an electric bicycle, and now when he rides Bowman feels like the wind is at his back.

An e-bike looks a lot like a regular bike, but with an integrated electric motor, and it doesn't burn gasoline like an old-fashioned moped. As you pedal, an e-bike gives you a powered boost when you need it.

They are getting more popular in Europe, but in the United States, e-bikes still have to overcome the stigma of being just a toy for old people.

We need more stories and books that treat Mexican immigrants as humans — novel idea, right? But far too often, the media and authors cast them as sinners or saints, with little deviation from cliches established decades ago.

That's why I recommend the writer Sam Quinones, and his two collections: True Tales from Another Mexico and Antonio's Gun and Delfino's Dream: True Tales of Mexican Migration.

Read them both, you'll see something rare: his migrant characters are brilliant, maddening, flawed and very human.

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One reason the Ebola virus is so terrifying is that it's so lethal. Researchers estimate that the strain circulating in West Africa is killing upward of 70 percent of those it infects. Even among those getting care, as many as 64 percent are dying.

Texas Hits The Books

Nov 21, 2014

In the education world, all eyes were on Texas Friday.

For the first time since 2002, the Texas State Board of Education voted to adopt a new generation of social studies products. That includes some 89 textbooks, workbooks and other classroom materials. The vote matters because, with about 5 million students, the state has a big impact on the national textbook market.

The Texas State Board of Education has voted to approve the use of 89 history and social studies books across the state.

The 10-5 vote in the Republican-controlled panel was along party lines. The Texas Tribune has more:

A bus in Britain is making headlines for running on gas — and we're not talking about petroleum or natural gas. The Bio-Bus runs on biomethane gas that's produced by human sewage and food waste.

The Bio-Bus has 40 seats and a range of around 186 miles on a full tank. When it officially goes into service next week, it'll run as a shuttle between the city of Bath and the Bristol airport, along with other routes.

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A federal appeals court has ruled that a man who has spent about 40 years in solitary confinement in a Louisiana prison should have his conviction overturned.

Albert Woodfox, the only member of the so-called Angola 3 still incarcerated, was convicted of the 1972 murder of a young prison guard named Brent Miller. Woodfox was found guilty along with fellow inmate Herman Wallace.

The executive actions that President Obama announced Thursday are wide-reaching and complicated. Even the top-line numbers — such as how many people will be affected — are tough to pin down, because they are based on estimates of a population that Obama himself has said is living the shadows.

The countdown to Thanksgiving has begun. And for those of us who already feel short on time during a regular week, the pressure is on to figure out just how to squeeze in all that extra shopping, prep work and cooking ahead of the holiday.

To Stay Energy Efficient As You Age, Keep On Running

Nov 21, 2014

Walking is a simple thing that becomes really, really important as we age. Being able to get around on our feet for extended periods of time not only makes everyday life easier, it's linked to fewer hospitalizations and greater longevity. As we get older, though, the body takes about 15 to 20 percent more energy to cover the same terrain.

This is the third time Cumming has starred in the musical. He talks about the new production — everything from his costume (which he calls a "Wonder Bra" for men) to the darker themes of the show.

Originally aired April 28, 2014.

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Nichols directed such movies as The Graduate and Birdcage and Broadway musicals such as Spamalot. He won nine Tony Awards. Nichols died Wednesday at 83. He talked with Terry Gross in 2001.

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