NPR News

Mixed feelings for landfill run deep in Tennessee

May 27, 2015
Gigi Douban

Back in 2008, an estimated 1.1 billion gallons of toxic coal ash was released into the Emory River in Tennessee when a dam breached at the Kingston Fossil Plant. It was the biggest coal ash spill in the nation. Much of that coal ash was hauled to a landfill in Perry County, Alabama. Residents of the poor, mostly African-American county have filed a lawsuit saying they're suffering as a result of the coal ash. But the landfill is also a vital part of the local economy.

Cleveland looks to firms to help fund police reform

May 27, 2015
Nancy Marshall-Genzer

The U.S. Department of Justice started investigating the Cleveland Police Department in 2013, concluding in a report last December that the department used unreasonable and sometimes unnecessary force.

Cleveland has reached an agreement with the DOJ that avoids a long, expensive court fight. But, “Everything has to be paid for," says Steven Dettelbach, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.  

Taco Bell to go au naturale

May 27, 2015
Kai Ryssdal

Common sense wins a rare victory over corporate America.

Taco Bell, as you may have heard, has decided to take artificial flavors and colors out of its offerings.

For the detail-oriented among you, the company's going to switch from using artificial black pepper to, and this is a quote, "natural black pepper flavor."

Which does raise this very hair-splitting question, I grant you: is there a problem with, you know, actual black pepper?

Marketplace for Wednesday, May 27, 2015

May 27, 2015

Football, brought to you by Goldman Sachs

May 27, 2015
Kai Ryssdal and Alberta Cross

About 15 years ago, investment banker Greg Carey helped the New England Patriots secure the money for a stadium. He soon took his talents to Goldman Sachs.

Over a decade later, Goldman Sachs has become a leader in stadium finance, securing money for the 49ers’ Levi Stadium in Santa Clara, California, and the new Yankee Stadium in New York. Goldman Sachs doesn’t just provide the money however, it also helps make stadiums as profitable as possible.

Feeling anxious? A bit panicky? Fear not — cartoonist and self-proclaimed World Champion Overthinker Gemma Correll is here to help you laugh about it.

In A Worrier's Guide to Life, Correll dishes out her dubious and droll advice on everything from health and hypochondria to attaboy stickers for grownups. (Sample: "I did the laundry.")

It was 95 degrees in unforgiving heat, with teenagers and twentysomethings packed under a festival tent that did little more than cover our heads. Inexplicably, the musicians onstage were dressed in full suits and turtlenecks as they hurled themselves into every beat, the vocalist punctuating every word with tossed carnations and knee-busting drops to the floor.

Updated at 2:45 p.m. ET

Residents of southeastern Texas woke up Wednesday morning to another flash-flood warning, as a new round of thunderstorms rumbled across parts of the already flood-soaked state.

The National Weather Service forecasts more storms for Wednesday across the region, some of them possibly severe.

Near Dallas, the Padera Lake dam was breached for a time, forcing evacuations before officials drained the lake to reduce pressure on the earthen structure.

Updated at 11:45 a.m. ET

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit has blocked an Arkansas law that bans abortion after 12 weeks of pregnancy. The case was filed by two doctors on their own and their patients' behalf.

The court's ruling notes:

"By banning abortions after 12 weeks' gestation, the Act prohibits women from making the ultimate decision to terminate a pregnancy at a point before viability. Because the State made no attempt to refute the plaintiffs' assertions of fact, the district court's summary judgment order must be affirmed."

Giving every kid a computer and a connection

May 27, 2015
Adrienne Hill

When VIDA Middle School in Vista, California, received a grant to hand every one of its 680 students an iPad with a free 4G connection, parents were excited.

VIDA Principal Eric Chagala They were also a little nervous.

"We have a large population of students who walk," says Principal Eric Chagala. "The fear was, you are putting a $700 or $800 device in my 11-year-old's hand, and they have to get home."

Tripling a penalty that was announced this spring, Penn State has shut down the school's Kappa Delta Rho fraternity chapter for three years, after an inquiry over a Facebook group page that collected pictures of nude women also uncovered other transgressions.

Sometimes a story takes odd turns as you report it. Every once in while it goes off the rails. That's what happened as I reported on a new study purporting to explain how a childhood vaccine helps prevent leukemia. The experience reaffirmed the lessons I've learned in my years of reporting on vaccines and other scientific research: Be wary of grand claims, get outside perspectives on new research and never, ever rely only on the press release.

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It's one of the biggest challenges in higher education today: What do you do with the nearly one in five working-age adults who have some college experience, but no degree?

Sokeo Ros was one of them. "I just hated" community college, he says. "I wasn't being challenged."

Ros, 34, was born in a Cambodian refugee camp in Thailand. He dropped out of two colleges, switching majors several times.

Updated to reflect that Santorum is now officially in the race.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is praying for political lightning to strike twice.

Even after pulling an upset win in the Iowa caucuses four years ago and going on to survive the longest against eventual nominee Mitt Romney, the GOP presidential hopeful is again the underdog in a much more crowded 2016 field.

Updated to reflect that Santorum is now officially in the race.

After taking the silver medal in the 2012 GOP presidential primary, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is making a second bid for the White House. But Santorum faces a very different — and much larger — field than four years ago.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

As candidates hit the campaign trail, NPR looks at four major issues the next president will face from Day 1 in office.

When President Obama took office back in 2009, "cybersecurity" was not a word that everyday people used. It wasn't debated. Then, mega-breaches against consumers, businesses and the federal government changed that.

U.S. Indicts 14 In FIFA Corruption Inquiry

May 27, 2015

Updated at 2:50 p.m. ET

Arrest and search warrants have been executed against senior FIFA officials and several executives for what the Justice Department says was a corrupt scheme that gleaned "well over $150 million in bribes and kickbacks" over the course of 24 years.

The department announced that it has indicted 14 people from the U.S. and South America — including nine senior officials with FIFA, soccer's international governing body. Seven of the FIFA officials were arrested in Switzerland early Wednesday.

The world is losing some of the most powerful tools in modern medicine. Antibiotics are becoming less and less effective at fighting infections. The problem has gotten so bad that some doctors are starting to ponder a "post-antibiotic world."

Common infections that have been easily treatable for decades could become deadly if the current growth of antimicrobial resistance continues.

There is hardly a sport that has not named a version of its annual multiple championships. Two wins is not enough; you have to win three (a "Crown") or four (a "Grand Slam"). For example, if you win the three major races in thoroughbred racing, it's called the Triple Crown. In men's and women's tennis and men's golf, to win all four majors is to earn a Grand Slam.

Editor's note: This story contains language that some may find offensive.

This story is part of an occasional series about individuals who don't have much money or power but do have a big impact on their communities.

If you're transgender in America, you're far more likely than other people to be unemployed, homeless and poor. And there's a 4 in 10 chance you've tried to kill yourself.

It can be a confusing and lonely life.

I confess. I'm a notebook nut. I own dozens and dozens of them. Everything from cheap reporter's notebooks to hand-crafted Italian leather beauties.

I wondered: Am I an analog dinosaur, or are there others out there like me?

The first stop in my investigation was, frankly, discouraging.

At first glance, a Starbucks on the campus of George Washington University points to the dinosaur conclusion. So plentiful are the laptops and tablets that they outnumber the double-mocha-half-caf-triple-shot-Frappuccinos.

In Texas floods, homeowners count the cost

May 27, 2015
Nova Safo

Floods in Oklahoma and Texas have claimed lives and destroyed numerous homes.

Rebuilding those homes and reimbursing homeowners will take months, if not a year or more. But some of those homeowners may not get all the help they will need, because they don't have flood insurance.

In Wimberley, a vacation town in between San Antonio and Austin which is situated on a river that rose 40 feet, flood waters washed away hundreds of homes and businesses.

The financial backdrop to Postal Service union talks

May 27, 2015
Annie Baxter

Wednesday is the deadline for negotiators at the U.S. Postal Service to reach a new collective bargaining agreement with the American Postal Workers Union, which represents nearly 200,000 workers, including clerks, mechanics and vehicle drivers.

The talks are unfolding against a bleak financial backdrop. USPS’s financial losses have moderated a bit recently, but it’s still very much in the red. It reported a $1.5 billion net loss in the second quarter of the year, compared to a $1.9 billion loss in the period a year earlier.

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