Tens of thousands of freshman have just finished their first month in college. They've signed up for classes, met a bunch of other people and, if history is any guide, asked themselves a question: What am I doing here? Everyone else is smarter and better adjusted than I am. And for some, that question totally changes the college experience, may even cause them to drop out, which is why a researcher was determined to intervene. He told his story to NPR's Shankar Vedantam, who's here to tell it to us. Hi, Shankar.
This could be the last day the United States is assured of its borrowing authority. Congress could forestall this crisis by raising the debt ceiling, as it has roughly a hundred times before. But the debt ceiling is tied to the same confrontation that's kept much of the federal government shut down.
As a commentator, Frank Deford gets a lot of suggestions about prominent subjects that he should take to task. Usually, he has already sounded off on these suggested topics, and most of them are cut and dried, with nothing new to add. But here, Deford takes on 12 of these familiar issues — this time with brief updates.
Irene Adams cooks supper for husband, Luke, and 2-year-old son, Cole, at their home in Fayetteville, Ark. She used to serve lots of green beans, but switched to edamame after tasting it at a local restaurant.
"[Cole] used to split his green beans and take out the little seeds inside," Adams says. "So I told Luke we should try edamame, because it's bigger seeds and has more flavor, so that's why we decided to try it and he loves it."
The record-breaking wildfire in Yosemite National Park is almost fully contained, two months after it started. The blaze calls attention to a problem across the western U.S.: After a century of having its fires routinely extinguished, the forests are overloaded with fuel.
A heated debate has flared up about what to do with that forest fuel. California is hoping to reduce its fire risk through renewable energy, but some worry about the environmental costs of thinning the forests.
Many governments around the world have expressed outrage over the National Security Agency's use of the Internet as a spying platform. But the possible response may have an unforeseen consequence: It may actually lead to more online surveillance, according to Internet experts.
Some governments, led most recently by Brazil, have reacted to recent disclosures about NSA surveillance by proposing a redesign of Internet architecture. The goal would be to give governments more control over how the Internet operates within their own borders.
Want to get cash for gold, buy furniture, find a tanning salon or rent an apartment? You could look those things up online, but in many cities if you just drive around, you probably won't have to go far before you see a person spinning a giant sign that will point you in the right direction.
Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 5:02 pm
That pink pile of pickled ginger that comes with your sushi is probably from China or Japan. And unless the slices are beige, chances are this garnish, next to the green wasabi, contains food coloring. So it's refreshing when you first see that cream-colored fresh "baby" ginger is naturally, yet shockingly, pink at its tips from where green stems shoot forth.
Tuesday, Oct. 15,is the filing deadline for the roughly 12 million Americans who received an extension on their 2012 taxes. And having 90 percent of its staff furloughed in the partial government shutdown doesn't mean the IRS doesn't want your money.
"The IRS is shut down, but the tax law is never shut down," says Joshua Blank, professor of tax practice and faculty director of New York University Law School's Graduate Tax Program.
Among the bargaining chips in the budget crisis on Capitol Hill, there's the small but persistent issue of taxing medical device manufacturers.
The 2.3 percent sales tax covers everything from MRI machines to replacement hips and maybe even surgical gloves. The tax was imposed to help pay for the Affordable Care Act. It didn't attract much attention at first — at least, not outside the world of medical device manufacturers.
But they have waged a persistent campaign to undo the tax, and right now is the closest they have come to succeeding.
Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 9:14 am
The Supreme Court has agreed to review an Obama administration policy that requires new power plants and other big polluting facilities to apply for permits to emit greenhouse gases.
To get these permits, which have been required since 2011, companies may have to use pollution controls or otherwise reduce greenhouse gases from their operations — although industries report that so far they haven't had to install special pollution control equipment to qualify for the permits.
The rule is part of a larger effort by the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases.
Originally published on Tue October 15, 2013 7:03 pm
It's one of the oldest axioms in politics: Voters always say they want to "throw the bums out," except when it comes to their own representative. That's why the re-election rate for House members is typically over 90 percent.
Heading into the 2014 midterms, that long-standing rule appears to be holding true. But against the backdrop of the federal government shutdown, a potential default and general dysfunction in Washington, there are signs it's reaching a straining point.
Fitch Ratings, one of the big three credit ratings agencies, issued a warning shot today, saying that while it affirmed the United States' AAA credit rating, it was placing it on "rating watch negative."
In other words, it was placing the country's long-term credit rating under review for a potential downgrade.
Originally published on Tue October 15, 2013 6:25 pm
Neither of them is over 35 years old. One of them played in ATP World Tour events just months ago; the other did so last year. But none of that will keep recently retired tennis players Andy Roddick, 31, and James Blake, 33, from joining a circuit of senior players.
Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 2:33 pm
This week NPR is debuting its newest t-shirt, and it's unlike any other we've had before. NPR teamed up with Threadless earlier this year and challenged designers all around the world to create the ultimate NPR t-shirt. More than 80,000 votes later, we have a winner, a new shirt and a new way for people to support public radio.
Rapper Pitbull (Armando Christian Pérez) is the latest in a long list of celebrities lending their star power to the flourishing charter school movement. Alicia Keyes, Denzel Washington, Shakira, Oprah — all support or sponsor charter schools.
Authorities in Moscow have rounded up more than 1,600 migrant workers after an ethnic riot took place over the weekend. Russian nationalists and soccer hooligans attacked a market area in a gritty industrial suburb of Moscow that's home to many migrant workers from the North Caucasus. The riot broke out after police announced that they were searching for a North Caucasian man suspected in the stabbing death of a young, ethnic Slav man. The situation highlights Russia's immigration problem — the country needs migrant labor, but fears what it perceives as foreign influence.