Crews work a controlled burn in Geneva, Fla., in December. The state's forest service has rolled out a system to track equipment during fires, and hopes it can eventually be used to pinpoint firefighters, too.
Credit Joshua C. Cruey / Courtesy of the Orlando Sentinel
For crews fighting wildfires, the ability to get accurate information quickly is crucial. A breakdown in communication was one factor in a fire that killed 19 firefighters in Arizona last year, and in the deaths of two Florida firefighters in Arizona in 2011.
Florida officials hope to address some of those communication problems with a new tracking system designed to keep tabs on crews in the field.
President Obama's plan to bypass roadblocks in Congress and govern through executive order isn't going over well on Capitol Hill. Republican lawmakers are demanding to see the legal justification for some of the president's decisions on healthcare and the minimum wage. NPR's Carrie Johnson has that story.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block. The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court is beginning an investigation of possible war crimes in Central African Republican and we're going to check in now on the latest state of horrific sectarian violence in that country. Thousands of Muslims filled an enormous convoy of vehicles today fleeing the capital city of Bangui.
Olympic volunteers pet a stray dog in downtown Sochi, Russia, on Tuesday. The city's long-standing contract with a pest control company has animal right groups concerned about the fate of the many strays roaming the area.
Credit Kevin Dietsch / UPI /Landov
The Center to Protect Animals, an animal rights organization, operates a makeshift shelter on Sochi's outskirts. The group's volunteers are finding and housing as many strays here as they can, including Simba, the dog at front.
It's after dark in Sochi, and a pack of stray dogs is hogging the sidewalk like they own the place. There are a dachshund mix, several random mutts and one dog that looks like it may be part chow. They're cute and look like pets; seemingly well-fed and with decent pedigrees.
That is, until a fight breaks out. It's loud but ultimately more dog park than street fight, and the dogs quickly get back to prancing around and eating abandoned leftovers.
Michael Dunn (right), who faces first-degree murder charges in the death of 17-year-old Jordan Davis, stands with his attorney Cory Strolla (left) at Duval County Courthouse in Jacksonville, Fla., on Thursday.
They're events that took just several minutes, but in a courtroom in Jacksonville, Fla., on Thursday, prosecutors and the defense laid out different versions of how Michael Dunn, who is white, came to shoot and kill Jordan Davis, a black teen.
It was in 2012, the day after Thanksgiving, that Davis, 17, and three friends stopped at a gas station and convenience store in Jacksonville. They were in an SUV and were playing their music — loud.
Democrats and Republicans have exhausted themselves politically after failing to reach a grand bargain to reduce the debt. Now there's a new economic debate in Washington over economic growth, mobility and income inequality.
But without dealing with the debt, Republicans and Democrats might not be able to navigate even the issues they agree on.
On Friday, President Obama is scheduled to sign a new farm bill into law. It contains a provision that allows all dairy farms to be part of a safety net. The point is to offset risk when milk prices are too low or feed costs too high. But Abbie Fentress Swanson reports that even in good times, smaller dairy farms in traditional milk producing states are now giving up.
Police in Milwaukee have recovered a Stradivarius violin and arrested three suspects in its theft. The instrument, said to be worth approximately $5 million, was stolen in a brazen armed robbery from the concertmaster of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra late last month. Mitch Teich of WUWM in Milwaukee reports on the violin's recovery.
The city of Valdez, Alaska is no stranger to avalanches but this year has been a whopper. A series of massive avalanches buried the highway into the city, cutting off traffic for two weeks. Snowpack that crashed down the mountains filled a canyon and left the road covered with snow 40 feet deep for a quarter mile stretch. Well, yesterday, after the avalanche, debris was finally cleared, the Richardson Highway was opened to traffic again.
Volunteers with the Dan River Basin Association, graduate students from Duke University and staff with the environmental group Appalachian Voices collect water samples on the Dan River after a massive coal ash spill.
At a 10,000-foot summit in Yosemite National Park, Frank Gehrke clicks into his cross-country skis and pushes off down a small embankment onto a meadow of crusty snow. He's California's chief of snow surveys, one of the most influential jobs in a state where snow and the water that comes from it are big currency. He's on his monthly visit to one of a dozen snowpack-measuring stations scattered across the high country of the Sierra Nevada.
And finally this hour, a U.S. Olympic athlete in her own words. Kacey Bellamy plays defense for the U.S. women's hockey team. This is her second trip to the Olympics. She was on the team that made it to the final round in Vancouver in 2010. They lost to Canada, 2-0. Bellamy grew up in Westfield, Massachusetts. And as she prepares for this year's games, she took some time to reflect on the role her family has played in her career.
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is stepping down as chairman of its board and into a new role, which the company is calling "technology adviser." The change comes as a new CEO — Satya Nadella — takes the helm. Gates says he will actually be spending a little more time at Microsoft. Microsoft watchers say if he manages his new role well, it will be good for the company.
2013 saw a record number of exonerations in the U.S.; 87 prisoners were set free after they were shown to have been falsely convicted of crimes. That's according to a study of exoneration, released this week by law school researchers who study these cases.
Craig Watkins has been a trailblazer in re-examining questionable convictions. And what's surprising is that he's a prosecutor. He's the district attorney of Dallas County. When he took office, he created a Conviction Integrity Office, the first of its kind in the country.
Detroit's Belle Isle Aquarium is getting a little help from its friends in Washington, D.C. The National Aquarium closed late last year after more than 100 years. Thousands of dollars' worth of equipment went to the Motor City, where its own century-old aquarium is beautiful and historic — but starved for resources. Budget shortfalls forced its closure in 2005. But a scrappy team of volunteers has worked to open it to the public on a limited basis, and they hope the fake coral, fiberglass tank props, and other equipment from D.C. will help it regain some of its luster.
Pitmaster Rodney Scott seasons a roasting hog behind a barbecue restaurant in Birmingham, Ala. Scott has been touring the South with a makeshift barbecue pit to raise money to rebuild his family's cookhouse after it burned down in November.
Credit Debbie Elliott/NPR
Scott's whole hogs are butterflied down the middle and roasted for eight to 12 hours, then bathed in his family's secret sauce.
In the tiny town of Hemingway, S.C., the Scott family has been selling barbecue out of its roadside general store for nearly a half-century. The smoky, vinegary pork has reached legendary status around the South.
So when the Scotts' wooden cookhouse went up in flames late last year, barbecue brethren cooked up a plan to get them back in business. What resulted is a part road trip, part old-fashioned barn-raising tour called Rodney Scott's Bar-B-Que in Exile Tour.
Gun rights and gun control advocates demonstrate in Harrisburg, Pa., last year after the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show decided to ban certain guns. The show was canceled that year, but is back with a new name.
Credit Matt Rourke / AP
The NRA now runs the Great American Outdoor Show, but despite adding a shooting sports hall, the group says it's not a gun show.
Last year, organizers of one of the nation's largest outdoor shows tried to ban certain guns in the wake of the killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School. But the industry struck back with a boycott, and the Eastern Sports and Outdoor show was eventually canceled.
The 2011 Asparagus Queen, Megan Roskan, and runner-up Christine Merten wave to spectators during an Independence Day parade in Whitehall, Mich. With interests waning in agricultural pageants, organizers are relaxing the requirements to encourage more people to apply.
Think you've got what it takes to be the Asparagus Queen?
Mainstream beauty pageants still get tons of applicants every year (even after the dip in participation during the 2008 recession). The same can't be said for the rural festival pageant circuits, The Wall Street Journal's Lindsay Gellman tells Audie Cornish on All Things Considered.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block.
We're going to introduce you now to one unusual Republican running for Congress in this year's midterm elections. As a candidate, Allan Levene stands out for a bunch of reasons. He's a naturalized U.S. citizen, born and raised in London. He says the federal government should do away with corporate taxes and create a new Israel in Texas.
Hoffman (left) and Eddie Marsan, in a scene from the film <em>God's Pocket, </em>released in January.
Credit Lance Acord / AP
Joaquin Phoenix (left) and Hoffman in the 2012 drama <em>The Master</em>.
Linda Emond, Hoffman and Andrew Garfield take their opening night curtain call in Arthur Miller's <em>Death of a Salesman</em> at The Barrymore Theatre in New York City in 2012.
Credit Robert Pitts / Landov
Hoffman portrays Father Flynn and Meryl Streep portrays Sister Aloysius in the 2008 film adaptation of <em>Doubt</em>.
Credit Andrew Schwartz / AP
Philip Seymour Hoffman portrays writer Truman Capote in his Academy Award-winning role in the film <em>Capote</em>. The actor died Sunday at age 46, with a career that spanned screen and stage, comedy and drama.
Hoffman plays rock journalist Lester Bangs in the 2000 film <em>Almost Famous</em>.
President Barack Obama looks at a crank shaft as he tours General Electric's Waukesha Gas Engines facility on Thursday in Waukesha, Wis. as part of a four-stop tour he is making to expand on themes from his State of the Union address, including the economy.
In his State of the Union speech Tuesday, President Obama stepped up to a podium before Congress and the country and declared that the state of our union was strong.
"Here are the results of your efforts: The lowest unemployment rate in over five years; a rebounding housing market; a manufacturing sector that's adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s," the president said.
It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR West. I'm Arun Rath.
This week, NPR has been reporting on the effects of the fracking boom in the area known as the Bakken. Williston, North Dakota, offers a haven for a new working class. Tens of thousands of newcomers have flocked to the oil field over the past five years. The region is flush with high-paying, low-scaled work. It's bringing a lot of economic development, and some are hoping it can bring cultural development too. Montana Public Radio's Dan Boyce has the story.
Drug-related deaths are scarring families and communities across the country. The area around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has been hit especially hard. Twenty-two people have died there in less than two weeks, the latest in a wave of heroin overdoses. Police in Western Pennsylvania are blaming the deaths on an especially potent form of the street drug. After testing, they determined the heroin had been mixed with a prescription painkiller known as Fentanyl.
Where there's pot, there's pot brownies. But how do you make sure those high-inducing sweets are safe to eat?
Colorado regulators are wrestling with that question now that the state has legalized recreational marijuana. From sodas and truffles to granola bars and butter, food products infused with THC – the chemical in marijuana that gives you a high — are already for sale.