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Stories for January 6, 2014

Texas Hires Coach Charlie Strong, And History Is Close At Hand

Jan. 6
Bill Chappell / NPR
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The University of Texas introduced Charlie Strong as the school's new head football coach Monday, hoping to usher in a new winning era by hiring a man known for strong recruiting and stubborn defenses.

Funding Could Dry Up For Kentucky's Noah's Ark Theme Park

Jan. 6
Scott Neuman / NPR
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Plans for a Christian theme park in Northern Kentucky featuring a 510-foot-long replica of Noah's Ark are likely to sink unless the project raises millions of dollars from investors in the coming weeks.

Ensenada Toll Road Collapse Affecting Tourism In Baja California

Jan. 6
By Jill Replogle
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The closure of part of the scenic highway that runs down the Baja California peninsula is affecting businesses in Ensenada.

California Republicans Pitch Ideas To Governor And Other Democrats

Jan. 6
Ben Adler, Capital Public Radio
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Legislative Republicans don’t have the power to block measures — or even tax increases. However, they’re hoping Democrats — and especially Gov. Jerry Brown — will support some of their ideas.

California Democrats Focus In On Financial Recovery

Jan. 6
Katie Orr, Capital Public Radio

The California Legislature is back in session and Democrats are again in control of both houses. Party leaders say they're focused on financial recovery and addressing key issues.

NOVA: Alien Planets Revealed

Jan. 6
NOVA: Alien Planets Revealed Tease photo

NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler Telescope has discovered thousands of exotic new worlds far beyond our solar system. Are any of them like Earth? And what sort of life could flourish on them? With vivid animation and input from expert astrophysicists and astrobiologists, NOVA takes you on a mind-bending exploration of these strange worlds and the possible creatures we might one day encounter there.

Letter From Gracie Mansion: The New Mayor Meets His City

Jan. 6
Margot Adler / NPR
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I've always wondered what it would have been like to be at the White House in 1829 when President Andrew Jackson was inaugurated. He threw open the White House to the public and some 20,000 people stomped through, apparently causing a rowdy mob scene.

Senate Confirms Janet Yellen As Federal Reserve Chair

Jan. 6
Bill Chappell / NPR
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The Senate has voted to approve the nomination of Janet Yellen as the next leader of the U.S. Federal Reserve. With Monday's vote, Yellen, 67, will become the first woman to serve as America's banking chief, heading an institution that was established in 1913.

Tighter Access To 'Death Master File' Has Researchers Worried

Jan. 6
Brian Naylor / NPR
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The "Death Master File." It sounds like a ledger the Grim Reaper might keep, but in reality, it's a computerized list containing some 86 million names and other data kept by the Social Security Administration.

Health Care Costs Grew More Slowly Than The Economy In 2012

Jan. 6
Julie Rovner / NPR
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Health care spending grew at a record slow pace for the fourth straight year in 2012, according to a new government report. But the federal officials who compiled the report disagree with their bosses in the Obama administration about why.

Democrats Tackle Politics Of Income Inequality

Jan. 6
Liz Halloran / NPR

President Obama and fellow Democrats, just back from a long holiday break, are immediately embracing a legislative agenda that would increase the minimum wage and extend unemployment insurance benefits to an estimated 1.3 million long-term jobless in America.

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: Poisoner's Handbook

Jan. 6
AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: Poisoner's Handbook  Tease photo

In the early 20th century, the average American medicine cabinet was a would-be poisoner’s treasure chest: radioactive radium in health tonics, thallium in depilatory creams, morphine in teething medicine and potassium cyanide in cleaning supplies. While the tools of the murderer’s trade multiplied as the pace of industrial innovation increased, the scientific knowledge (and political will) to detect and prevent the crimes lagged. This changed in 1918, when New York City hired its first scientifically trained medical examiner, Charles Norris. Based on the best-selling book by Deborah Blum.

4 Lessons From Liz Cheney's Ill-Fated Senate Run

Jan. 6
Frank James / NPR
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Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, ended her Wyoming Senate primary challenge Monday, saying in a statement that a family health situation is responsible for her decision. (ABC News reports that sources close to Cheney said one of her daughters has diabetes.)

Army Takes On Its Own Toxic Leaders

Jan. 6
Daniel Zwerdling / NPR
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Top commanders in the U.S. Army have announced publicly that they have a problem: They have too many "toxic leaders" -- the kind of bosses who make their employees miserable. Many corporations share a similar problem, but in the Army's case, destructive leadership can potentially have life or death consequences. So, some Army researchers are wondering if toxic officers have contributed to soldiers' mental health problems.

Update In Investigation Into Navy Broadcaster's Mysterious Death

Jan. 6
By Beth Ford Roth
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An unnamed U.S. service member is being held in what's called pretrial confinement as German authorities and the U.S. Air Force's Office of Special Investigation look into the Dec. 14, 2013 death of Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dmitry Chepusov.

Rants And Raves: Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Jan. 6
By Beth Accomando
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Joseph Gordon-Levitt is ridiculously talented. Check out his latest achievement, a new TV show called "HITRECORD on TV."

FRONTLINE: To Catch A Trader

Jan. 6
FRONTLINE: To Catch A Trader   Tease photo

In just over two decades, Steven A. Cohen has amassed a gigantic fortune: a sprawling 35,000-square-foot mansion on Connecticut’s gold coast; a $62-million beach house in the Hamptons; and several New York apartments, including a $115-million mid-town duplex – all of them furnished with some of the world’s most expensive art. How did he do it? From small-time options trader to King of Wall Street hedge fund managers, FRONTLINE investigates Cohen and his company, SAC Capital, and other Wall Street characters with never-before-seen video and incriminating FBI wiretaps.

Frostbite Tips For Novices: Skip Whiskey And Shed Your Rings

Jan. 6
Nancy Shute / NPR
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Frostbite isn't usually a major worry here in Washington, D.C., but with wind chills below zero forecast for half of the Lower 48 by Tuesday morning, millions of people from the Plains to the East Coast will have to start thinking like Arctic explorers while waiting for a school bus or heading to work.

Former Eagle Scout Says New Gay Policy Doesn't Go Far Enough

Jan. 6
Midday Edition
Evening Edition
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The Boy Scouts of America's new policy to allow young gay men and boys to become Scouts went into effect Jan. 1. But the change remains controversial.

Three San Diego County School Districts Each Receive $50,000 Grant

Jan. 6
By City News Service

The Coronado Unified, Grossmont Union High School and Valley Center-Pauma Unified school districts all received grants to assist specialized high school instruction programs on Monday.

California Appeals Court Upholds Plastic Bag Ban

Jan. 6
Associated Press

The California Appeals Court has upheld San Francisco's single-use plastic bag ban. Similar measures have been adopted in about 50 cities and counties in California and have survived legal challenges.

Video - US Coast Guard Icebreaker 'Polar Star' Joins In Antarctica Rescue

Jan. 6
By Beth Ford Roth
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The U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker called "Polar Star" is heading toward Antarctica to join in the rescue attempt of Russian and Chinese ships that have become stuck in ice.

US Soldier Killed In Afghanistan

Jan. 6
By Beth Ford Roth
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Army Sgt. First Class William K. Lacey, 38, was killed Jan. 4, 2014, in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan. The Department of Defense reports Lacey died of injuries suffered when his unit was attacked with rocket propelled grenades.

'Jihad Jane' Gets 10 Years In Prison

Jan. 6
Mark Memmott / NPR

The Pennsylvania woman known as "Jihad Jane" has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for her role in a failed al-Qaida plot to kill a Swedish artist.

Missing N.Y. Man Found In D.C. Thanks To AP Photograph

Jan. 6
Mark Memmott / NPR
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A photograph published on Sunday by USA Today along with a story about the frigid weather sweeping across much of the nation led to the discovery of a man from western New York state who had been missing since New Year's Day.

Supreme Court Puts Utah Same-Sex Marriage On Hold

Jan. 6
Associated Press

The Supreme Court on Monday put same-sex marriages on hold in Utah, at least while a federal appeals court more fully considers the issue.

San Diego County Emergency Services Unveil Improved Mobile App

Jan. 6
By Dwane Brown
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County authorities said the upgraded app for Apple and Android mobile devices will have more features for emergency planning.

San Diego Charter School To Close In Middle of School Year

Jan. 6
By Kyla Calvert

In the second such closure in less than a year, the leaders of one of the San Diego's 49 charter schools has volunteered to close down.

Princess Project in San Diego Accepting Donated Prom Dresses In January

Jan. 6
By Claire Trageser
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Throughout January, the nonprofit The Princess Project is collecting gently used prom dresses and evening gowns to distribute to high school girls from low-income families in San Diego.

San Diego Has Fallen Behind On Combating Police Racial Profiling

Jan. 6
By Megan Burks
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The San Diego Police Department often has failed to follow its own rules regarding the collection of racial data at traffic stops, saying the community isn't concerned about racial profiling.

Nation's Turning Blue As Temperatures Continue To Plunge

Jan. 6
Mark Memmott / NPR
Nation's Turning Blue As Temperatures Continue To Plunge Tease photo

Check out the National Weather Service's map of the Lower 48 for Monday night. If you need to know just how much of the nation's going to be freezing (or well below!), it offers a bone-chilling picture. Anywhere in the blue-to-purple shades is going to be cold -- and that's before accounting for wind chills.

Reports: Liz Cheney Drops Senate Bid; Family 'Health Issues'

Jan. 6
Mark Memmott / NPR
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Former Vice President Dick Cheney's daughter Liz is ending her primary challenge to Republican Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming, according to news reports.

An Honorable Last Wish For A Dying Marine

Jan. 6
Quil Lawrence / NPR
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Hal Faulkner is 79 years old and he's already lived months longer than his doctors predicted.

Figure Skater With 'Happy Feet' Hopes To Clinch Spot In Sochi

Jan. 6
Marci Krivonen / NPR
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As the Olympic Games get closer, athletes like figure skater Jeremy Abbott are focusing on making Team USA. With only two slots on the U.S. men's figure skating team, the competition is tough. But the three-time U.S. champion -- who has yet to deliver on the world stage -- wants 2014 to be the year he takes a medal in Sochi, Russia.

Dental Coverage Deciphered, And The Latest On Sign-Up Deadlines

Jan. 6
Julie Rovner / NPR

New Year's Day marked the halfway point to sign up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act for coverage this year.