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Stories for January 28, 2014

On The Plains, An Oil Boom Is Transforming Nearly Everything

Jan. 28
Kirk Siegler / NPR
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A remarkable transformation is underway in western North Dakota, where an oil boom is changing the state's fortunes and leaving once-sleepy towns bursting at the seams. In a series of stories, NPR is exploring the economic, social and environmental demands of this modern-day gold rush.

Inside The State Of The Union: What The President Proposed

Jan. 28
NPR Staff / NPR
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After a long spell of partisan trench warfare and gridlock, President Obama called for "a year of action" Tuesday as he focused on themes that are central to his second-term agenda. The changes he proposed in his annual State of the Union speech were relatively modest, but flashes of ambition showed in his promise to move forward, with or without Congress, to address issues of income inequality.

Morrie Turner 1923-2014: Drawing Gentle Lessons In Tolerance

Jan. 28
NPR
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Before Jesse Jackson debuted his vision of the Rainbow Coalition as a multiracial organization devoted to racial and economic equality, Morrie Turner envisioned Rainbow Power--and he gave it to America in the digestible form of a regular cartoon panel called Wee Pals. In it, his multiracial group of young friends discussed racism, sexism, classism and a bunch of other social problems with deft humor and juvenile frankness. Turner was the nation's first black nationally syndicated cartoonist.

Las Vegas Braces Itself For Record Highs -- In The Low 70s

Jan. 28
Bill Chappell / NPR
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It may just be a marketing stunt. It might be a general nose-thumbing at all the people who freak out over the fact that winter is occurring... as it does every year. But Las Vegas is not hiding the fact that it could break its record high temperature for late January this week.

San Diego Police Reporting To City Council On Racial Data Collection

Jan. 28
By City News Service

A report on how the San Diego Police Department collects racial data during traffic stops is scheduled to be delivered to a City Council committee Wednesday.

3,000 San Diego Streetlamps Getting LED Upgrade

Jan. 28
By City News Service
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The city of San Diego and General Electric announced Tuesday that a program to replace 3,000 streetlamps around the downtown area with energy-efficient LED lighting is underway.

Border Patrol Seizes $1.4M In Cash At Oceanside Checkpoint

Jan. 28
By City News Service
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A 27-year-old Uzbekistan national was caught smuggling $1.4 million in cash at the Oceanside checkpoint. On Sunday, a man headed south was found carrying nearly $60,000 in cash.

Obama Vows To Flex Presidential Powers In 2014 State Of The Union Address

Jan. 28
By Claire Trageser and Julie Pace, Associated Press
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Viewership is declining. Washington seems increasingly dysfunctional and irrelevant to the daily lives of Americans. The presidency isn't the bully pulpit it used to be.

Food Stamp Cuts, Cold Weather Put Extra Strain On Food Pantries

Jan. 28
Eliza Barclay / NPR
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Scrounging to feed yourself and your family can be brutal. But add the bone-chilling cold to it and it's a whole other level of misery.

San Diego Biotech Research Firm Gets $275M Gift From Anonymous Donor

Jan. 28
By City News Service

The $275 million gift is the largest ever in San Diego County and puts Sanford-Burnham well on its way to its goal of raising $500 million in 10 years.

Marine Says He Was 'Devastated' By Word Of Murder Retrial

Jan. 28
Associated Press
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A Marine sergeant said he was devastated when he learned the corps will retry after twice-overturned murder convictions — the latest twist in a nearly decade-old Iraq war crime case.

A Homemade Wooden Luge Track Launches Teen To Sochi

Jan. 28
Craig LeMoult / NPR
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It's single-digit cold as Brett West steps into the snow in his backyard in Ridgefield, Conn., and points to a wooden monstrosity. It stands 32 feet high and looks kind of like a wooden roller coaster.

In The Pocket: The Price of Getting Elected Mayor Of San Diego

Jan. 28
By Sandhya Dirks
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San Diego mayoral candidate Kevin Faulconer claims that the unions are trying to buy the election for his opponent, David Alvarez. But no one's hands are cash-free in this election.

In Vermont, A Network Of Help For Opiate Addicted Mothers

Jan. 28
Steve Zind / NPR
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It came as a surprise to many people when Vermont's governor recently devoted his entire 2014 State of the State address to what he called a "full-blown heroin crisis."

San Diego Housing Prices Mark First Month-To-Month Decline In 12 Months

Jan. 28
By City News Service

San Diego's home prices were flat in November, compared to the previous month, according to a housing report released Tuesday.

Who Are The Long-Term Unemployed? (In 3 Graphs)

Jan. 28
Quoctrung Bui / NPR
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When you are out of work and looking for 27 weeks or longer, you become part of a group the Bureau of Labor Statistics calls long-term unemployed. The share of long-term unemployed workers hit its peak in May 2010, when 46 percent of the unemployed were long-term unemployed. It has hovered around 40 percent of the unemployed in the three years since.

Congress Calls For Inquiry Into Radiation Contamination On USS Reagan (Video)

Jan. 28
By Beth Ford Roth
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Congress has called upon the Pentagon to submit a report on the possibility that radiation contamination sickened sailors aboard the USS Ronald Reagan as the crew participated in humanitarian efforts after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

A Chinese Company Brings Hope To Former GM Workers In Ohio

Jan. 28
Lewis Wallace / NPR
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For years, industrial cities across the U.S. have watched factories pack up and leave, taking their operations to Mexico or China. But here's something relatively new: increasing numbers of Chinese companies are bringing manufacturing to the United States.

Separating Alvarez From Faulconer: The Political Issues

Jan. 28
By Sandhya Dirks
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Looking beyond the personal, what are the political issues defining the race between David Alvarez and his opponent, Republican Kevin Faulconer?

Illinois Train Conductor's Challenge: Keep The Beer From Freezing

Jan. 28
Bill Chappell / NPR
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In a railyard outside Chicago, the deep cold of winter can threaten a Midwest staple: beer. The large distribution hub regularly holds more than 1 million cases, according to Crain's Chicago Business. A Crain's reporter spent a night on the job with the man who must keep the beer safe.

Hawking

Jan. 28
By Jennifer Robinson
Hawking Tease photo

This is the intimate and revealing story of Stephen Hawking’s life. Told for the first time in Hawking’s own words and with unique access to his home and public life, this is a personal journey through Hawking’s world. The audience joins him at home, under the care of his nursing team; in San Jose as he “wows” a packed theatre audience; in Silicon Valley as he meets a team of technicians who hope to speed up his communication system; and as he throws a party for family and friends.

'Los Palillos' Mexican Drug Trafficking Leaders Begin Death-Penalty Phase

Jan. 28
By City News Service

Opening statements are scheduled Tuesday in the penalty phase of trial for two leaders of the Mexican drug trafficking gang, Los Palillos, who face the death penalty or life in prison after being convicted of several murders and kidnappings in San Diego County.

What Can City Heights Residents Do In Response To Albertsons Store Closure?

Jan. 28
Midday Edition
Evening Edition
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The largest supermarket in the community of City Heights is shutting its doors next month. The loss of Albertsons might increase the neighborhood's reputation as a "food desert."

City Council Approves Election-Related Updates To San Diego City Charter

Jan. 28
By City News Service
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The City Council Monday unanimously approved placing two election-related revisions to the City Charter before voters, the beginning of what could be a years-long series of changes to San Diego's version of a constitution.

"Loren Nancarrow Day" Slated To Honor The Late TV Personality

Jan. 28
City News Service
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The San Diego City Council is scheduled to proclaim Tuesday "Loren Nancarrow Day" in honor of the late local television personality.

Sushi Chefs Aren't Feeling California's New Glove Law

Jan. 28
Miles Bryan / NPR

On Sunday, we told you about bartenders who are up in arms about a new California law that makes it illegal for culinary workers to touch uncooked food with their bare hands. Turns out, sushi chefs are ticked off, too.

Cartoonists At The Opera

Jan. 28
Evening Edition
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San Diego Opera kicked off its 2014 season with “Pagliacci” (playing Friday and Sunday matinee) and at the dress rehearsal there were cartoonists on hand to sketch the action.

As California's Drought Continues, Feds Could Seize Water

Jan. 28
Associated Press
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With no end in sight to California's drought, farmers in the San Joaquin Valley fear federal officials could seize water in the San Luis Reservoir intended for their crops.

NOVA: Ghosts Of Murdered Kings

Jan. 28
NOVA: Ghosts Of Murdered Kings   Tease photo

In the hills of Ireland’s County Tipperary, a laborer harvesting peat from a dried-up bog spots the remnants of a corpse — a headless torso almost perfectly preserved and stained dark brown by the bog. Archaeologists recognize it as one of Europe’s rare bog bodies: prehistoric corpses flung into the marshes. The corpse eventually will be dated to the Bronze Age, more than 4,000 years ago. NOVA follows archaeologists and forensic experts in their hunt for clues to the identity and the circumstances of this and other violent deaths of bog body victims.

College Students Can Learn To Drink Less, If Schools Help

Jan. 28
Maanvi Singh / NPR
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Drinking remains one of the biggest health risks for college students, with 80 percent of students drinking alcohol and more than one-third binge drinking.

Military Fighter Jets Train For Super Bowl Security (Video)

Jan. 28
By Beth Ford Roth
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Fighter jets from NORAD - the same group that helps track Santa Claus on Christmas Eve - are training this week in the skies above MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., ahead of the Super Bowl on Sunday, Feb. 2.

CBP Grounds Entire Fleet Of Drones After Crash Off San Diego Coast

Jan. 28
By Michel Marizco
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The United States has grounded its border drone fleet after one crashed off the California coast late Monday night.

Obama's State Of The Union, Playing On A Second Screen Near You

Jan. 28
Elise Hu / NPR
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Viewership is declining. Washington seems increasingly dysfunctional and irrelevant to the daily lives of Americans. The presidency isn't the bully pulpit it used to be.

How A Divorce Can Boost Health Insurance Subsidies

Jan. 28
Michelle Andrews / NPR
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As the enrollment period continues for health coverage on the state health insurance marketplaces, people continue to have many questions about buying a plan there.

Mexican Businessman Tied To Campaign Finance Scandal Hires D.C. Lawyers

Jan. 28
By Amita Sharma
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A Mexican tycoon at the heart of a federal campaign finance probe in San Diego has hired high-powered Washington, D.C. law firm Williams & Connolly to help in a potential defense.

Pete Seeger, Prolific Folk Singer, Dies At 94

Jan. 28
Paul Brown / NPR
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A tireless campaigner for his own vision of a utopia marked by peace and togetherness, Pete Seeger's tools were his songs, his voice, his enthusiasm and his musical instruments. A major advocate for the folk-style five-string banjo and one of the most prominent folk music icons of his generation, Seeger was also a political and environmental activist. He died Monday at age 94.

California Bill Would Ban So-Called "Affluenza" Court Defense

Jan. 28
Max Pringle / Capital Radio News
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A bill in the California legislature would prohibit people from claiming that their privileged backgrounds made them unable to distinguish right from wrong.

5 Things To Expect In Obama's State Of The Union Address

Jan. 28
Frank James / NPR
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As President Obama prepares to deliver his State of the Union speech Tuesday evening, he does it against a backdrop of some of the lowest voter-approval ratings of his presidency, with a divided Congress that has largely stalled his second-term agenda and with Washington's collective focus starting to shift toward the midterm elections and beyond.

Pete Seeger Dies; Folk Music Icon And Activist Was 94

Jan. 28
Mark Memmott / NPR
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Pete Seeger, "a tireless campaigner for his own vision of a utopia marked by peace and togetherness," died Monday at the age of 94.

Brothers Levin Near The End Of A 32-Year Congressional Partnership

Jan. 28
David Wellna / NPR
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At tonight's State of the Union address, Michigan Democratic Senator Carl Levin will be doing the same thing he's done for decades -- he'll be sitting with his older brother Sandy, who's a House Democrat from Michigan.