The number of U.S. families struggling to put enough food on the table remains at record-high levels, according to new figures out today from the government. Last year, 1 in almost 7 households were what the government calls "food insecure." That's about the same level as in 2010, but still far higher than before the recession.
A top U.S. general in Afghanistan says all 350,000 Afghan troops will be vetted once more in an effort to verify their loyalties and their backgrounds. Already the Afghans have removed as many as 300 Afghan troops who did not measure up. This year there has been a spate of insider attacks on U.S. and NATO troops.
In addition to surveying the planets, the Voyager mission also spent time studying the planets' satellites, or moons. This mosaic image, taken in 1989, shows Neptune's largest satellite, Triton. Triton has the coldest surface temperature known anywhere in the solar system.
The two Voyager spacecraft launched on Aug. 20, 1977, and Sept. 5, 1977, on a mission to explore Jupiter and Saturn. This true-color image, captured by Voyager 2 on July 21, 1981, shows the moons Dione (small dot at left) and Rhea (lower right) near Saturn.
As Voyager 1 passed by Jupiter on Feb. 5, 1979, it captured this image of the planet and its Great Red Spot, as well as three of its four largest moons — Io, Europa and Callisto.
The Great Red Spot on Jupiter, seen here in an image from Voyager 1 taken on Feb. 25, 1979, is a giant, hurricane-like storm in Jupiter's atmosphere. It's been documented for at least 400 years by astronomers viewing the planet through telescopes.
After the Voyager craft surveyed Jupiter and Saturn, NASA extended their mission and sent Voyager 2 on to Uranus and Neptune. Voyager 1 kept traveling outward. This image of Uranus was captured by Voyager 2 in 1986, when it was about 600,000 miles from the planet. Uranus' pale blue-green color is a result of methane in the atmosphere.
About three years later, in 1989, Voyager 2 reached Neptune, where it captured this high-resolution color image, which shows bright cloud streaks on the planet.
This image, also taken in 1989, was the first to show Neptune's rings in detail.
Violin with music score (Cavatina)
The Golden Record
Diagram of conception
Diagram of continental drift
Diagram of vertebrate evolution
Man from Guatemala
Children with globe
Demonstration of licking, eating and drinking
X-ray of hand
Street scene, Asia (Pakistan)
Astronaut in space
Credit NASA / JPL
The two Voyager spacecraft launched on Aug. 20 and Sept. 5, 1977, on a mission to explore Jupiter and Saturn. This true-color image, captured by Voyager 2 on July 21, 1981, shows the moons Dione (small dot at left) and Rhea (lower right) near Saturn.
Credit NASA / JPL
This artist's drawing shows one of the Voyager probes, which were launched in 1977. Voyager 1 is hurtling toward the edge of the solar system and might be close to reaching interstellar space, researchers say.
The Voyager 1 spacecraft's 35th anniversary is proving to be unexpectedly exciting, as scientists gathered this week to examine new hints that the spacecraft is on the verge of leaving our solar system.
Voyager 1 is now more than 11 billion miles away from Earth. It blasted off in September 1977, on a mission to Jupiter and Saturn. But it also carried a Golden Record filled with music and the sounds of our planet, in case it encountered intelligent life as it moved out toward the stars.
Originally published on Thu September 6, 2012 6:44 am
Many reports have stated that Matt Bissonnette, the former Navy SEAL who wrote the book No Easy Day, plans to give a large share of his profits to the Navy SEAL Foundation, a group that aids Naval Special Warfare personnel and their families. But the foundation says it won't accept any money from the book, which has sparked questions over whether it contains classified details that could put U.S. military personnel at risk.
A stump remains in the median of Manchester Boulevard as workers remove trees to clear a path for the space shuttle Endeavour in Inglewood, Calif., Tuesday. Residents are upset that 400 trees might be cut down to allow the shuttle to travel from the airport to its new home at a science center.
The space shuttle Endeavour will make its final trip next month, to the California Science Center in Los Angeles. But while most South L.A. residents are excited to have a piece of history nearby, many are also upset that the shuttle's 12-mile transit is forcing the city to cut down about 400 trees.
Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 6:13 pm
Ever see one of those Dos Equis beer ads featuring the "Most Interesting Man in the World," the dapper fellow of a certain age who fascinates all who meet him?
The Democrats' version of that guy will be the featured speaker Wednesday at their convention in Charlotte.
Yes, we are talking about former two-term President Bill Clinton, whose life of accomplishment, scandal, statesmanship and occasional political pettiness (just ask the man he'll be vouching for tonight) are the stuff of legend and lore.
Credit Alice Schalek / Hulton Archive/Getty Images
This image shows a Parsi Tower of Silence, circa 1955, near Mumbai, India. The bodies of the dead are left here to be disposed of by vultures.
Credit Kainaz Amaria / NPR
Zoroastrian priests pray to honor the dead inside a temple in Pune, India, on Aug. 18, 2010. Each of the dead is represented by a vase filled with flowers. Parsis forbid images of their funeral ceremonies, where the deceased are taken to the Tower of Silence and consumed by vultures and other birds of prey.
Credit Kainaz Amaria/NPR
Zoroastrian priest Ramiyar Karanjia fields questions during a meeting with young members of the faith in Pune, India, on May 13, 2010.
For any religion, keeping up traditions in the modern world can be a challenge. The Parsi community in India, however, faces a unique obstacle.
Parsis, who came to India from Persia (Iran) a thousand years ago with their Zoroastrian faith, have gone to great lengths to maintain their unique funeral rituals. But they've had to make a few adjustments to keep up with the times and to not upset the neighbors.
Parsi funerals begin in a way familiar to many faiths: prayers are chanted and mourners pay last respects.
When we heard that astronauts aboard the International Space Station took a spare toothbrush along on a spacewalk today and used it to help clean debris from around some bolts they needed to secure in order to install a power unit, it got us thinking.
Just how versatile are old toothbrushs? We know we've used them to:
-- Clean bike gears.
-- Get grime out of our hubcaps.
-- Get at the crust around a car battery's terminals.
Alex Zanardi celebrates winning the gold medal in the men's individual H4 time trial cycling final at the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Brands Hatch circuit, in Kent, southern England. Zanardi's legs were amputated after a racecar crash in 2001.
Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 7:33 pm
Alex Zanardi, who was a star racecar driver when he lost his legs in a 2001 crash, has won a gold medal in the London Paralympics. The Italian, 45, beat Germany's Nobert Mosandl by more than 27 seconds to win the men's handcycle time trial. The race took place at Brands Hatch, a track that Zanardi has previously tackled behind the wheel of high-powered racecars.
"Last time I was here I was going about five times faster but I still love this circuit," he said this week.
The image of the lone genius toiling in isolation, finally emerging with a brilliant new concept is compelling, even romantic. Too bad it's not true.
Instead, innovation thrives in ecosystems, much as microbes flourish in a warm, cozy petri dish.
"There's an important geography to where innovation happens," says AnnaLee Saxenian, dean of the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley, who studies how regional differences affect innovation.
Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 7:45 pm
In public, at least, they're the best of friends. And no one will have a more public role extolling President Obama than his Democratic predecessor, former President Bill Clinton.
Clinton, who has already been featured in an Obama campaign ad, is speaking tonight at the Democratic National Convention in what is traditionally the prime spot reserved for the vice presidential nominee.
"He's clearly the best asset the Democrats have," says GOP consultant David Carney. "Clinton is their best surrogate."
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. The Democratic National Convention is underway in North Carolina. We'll speak with the president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Philadelphia's Michael Nutter, about some of the local issues mayors are thinking about as they gather in Charlotte.
But first we want to talk about the message the Democrats are trying to send from the convention podium. Last night's keynote speaker was San Antonio's Mayor Julian Castro. He shared his American dream story.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Coming up, there are a lot of college ranking guides out there, but we're going to tell you about one of them that says it rates colleges and universities on their value to you and to the country. That's ahead.
But first, we're following the Democratic convention in Charlotte, and while the spotlight is on national debates during the convention, we remember that old saying that all politics is local.
Switching gears now, school is back in session in much of the country and for many high school students that means it's time to look at colleges and, increasingly now, as more students go to college than ever, they and their parents are turning to rankings, such as the one published by U.S. News and World Report, to try to figure out the best fit.
Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 2:48 pm
The Pacific coasts of Costa Rica, Panama and Nicaragua are no longer the focus of tsunami warnings, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center announced just after 1 p.m ET.
As we've been reporting, there was a strong — 7.6 magnitude — earthquake in Costa Rica this morning. At first, there were concerns about possible tsunamis from Mexico south to Chile. As the day continued, however, authorities gradually reduced their warnings.
Originally published on Wed September 19, 2012 4:12 pm
When it comes to candy, most people fit into two camps — either you savor your candy, or you devour it right away.
If you're a "savorist," you'll be happy to learn that certain spherical candies can take up to a half-hour to dissolve if you don't bite into them, at least according to some research recently submitted to the journal Physics Education.
Looking to stem the recent wave of "green on blue" attacks in which men wearing police or military uniforms have killed more than 30 U.S. or other international forces, Afghan officials said today that they have "arrested or discharged hundreds of their country's soldiers," NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports from Kabul.
Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 11:27 am
President Barack Obama will not be in a stadium full of supporters on Thursday when he delivers his acceptance speech.
The Democratic National Convention said that because of the threat of thunderstorms, it was moving the events of Thursday from Bank of America Stadium to the Time Warner Cable Arena, the host of the first two days of events.