The signs came early that Abhina Aher was different.
Born a boy biologically and given the male name Abhijit, Aher grew up in a middle-class neighborhood of Mumbai, India. The son of a single mother who nurtured a love of dance, Aher would watch enthralled as she performed.
"I used to love to wear the clothes that my mother used to wear — her jewelry, her makeup," Aher, now 37, recalls. "That is something which used to extremely fascinate me."
Originally published on Fri April 18, 2014 7:46 pm
Few mixtures in American life are more emotionally combustible than the one formed by the combination of politics and race.
That helps explain why Democrats, in general, and President Obama, in particular, have tended to steer clear of overtly raising race as an issue to explain some of the opposition to Obama's presidency and agenda.
There seems to be a shift in recent days, however.
Top Democratic party officials have either directly or indirectly blamed race for some of the hostility to Obama, his policies, or both.
As soon as you drive into town, it's pretty clear that Long Beach, Wash., is all about the razor clam. The first clue is the giant frying pan. It's 14 feet tall and a relic of the clam festivals of the 1940s. And then there's the clam statue that spits when you insert a quarter.
But if you really want to see how much people here love their clams, you'd have to be like Karen Harrell and get up before dawn and drive out onto the blustery beach to go clam digging.
At a time when new technologies and social media are transforming politics, we turn to a decidedly old-fashioned campaign event. It's an annual festival known as the Shad Planking, a spring rite of Virginia politics for nearly 70 years.
It's a must-attend event for state politicians, who practice the oldest form of retail politicking among tall pine trees at a dusty campsite.
In Wakefield, about an hour southeast of Virginia's capital of Richmond, shad fish have been roasting by on an open fire since 5 a.m. They're nailed to oak planks.
Mohammed Ali Isaac's hands shook as he showed his Kenyan ID to the police officers. They let him pass, but his cousins weren't so lucky. The two women had forgotten their IDs at home, and the police were threatening to load them into one of three large trucks they'd brought for the purpose.
In the early 1990s, a young brain researcher named Ivan Soltesz heard a story that would shape his career.
His adviser told him about a school for children whose epileptic seizures were so severe and frequent that they had to wear helmets to prevent head injuries. The only exception to the helmet rule was for students who received an award.
"The big deal for them is that they can take the helmet off while they're walking across the stage," Soltesz says. "And that thing struck me as just wrong."
Originally published on Fri April 18, 2014 10:35 pm
Rescue workers still searching for bodies from the March 22 landslide that killed at least 39 people near the town of Oso, Washington, erected a simple, but moving memorial to the victims of the tragedy. Four people are still listed as missing.
NPR's Martin Kaste, who took the photo, says the rescue effort is in a "transition phase" as crews from other states are leaving and being replaced by fresh searchers.
When Regitze Visby, a tourist visiting San Francisco from Denmark, searched for accommodations for her trip and saw she could stay at one of the famed "painted ladies" on Alamo Square through Airbnb, she took it.
At $135 a night, "it was a good deal," she says.
But does she know if she's paying a transient occupancy tax or a hotel tax? "I have no idea," she says.
After the marathon, Boston sports fans will still have playoff hockey. If you pay attention to the National Hockey League, then you probably heard or maybe even said that there's nothing like the playoffs. And judging from the start of this year's playoffs, it's not an exaggeration. Here to talk more about it is sportswriter Stefan Fatsis. And, Stefan, the NHL playoffs began on Wednesday, but just how exciting have these first games been?
Hundreds of people gathered on the National Mall Friday to see if they could break the Guinness World Record for the largest group dressed as comic book characters ever assembled.
It was the kickoff to Awesome Con 2014, a comic book convention that will take place in Washington, D.C., this weekend. In the end, the group came up short by several hundred people to break the world record.
But with so much superhero power concentrated next to the U.S. Capitol, NPR had to ask: Did the caped figures have any advice for Congress?
This year's Boston Marathon will take place on Monday, and it will have a lot more security than in the past. Last year, of course, two bombs near the finish line killed three people and injured dozens more. Afterwards, Massachusetts authorities spent months developing a new security plan. The goal was to create an environment that's safe and secure but still allows people to have fun. Whether the plan can achieve that remains an open question, as NPR's Jeff Brady reports.
The Keystone XL pipeline remains a major point of contention within the Democratic Party, as green voters pull President Obama one direction and pro-energy senators and labor unions pull the other. It looks as though the "comment period" for the project will be extended, delaying a decision past the November elections.
Just ahead of peak climbing season on Mount Everest, tragedy has struck once again. At least 12 local climbers are dead and several more or missing after a massive avalanche this morning. The climbers, Nepalese Sherpas, were setting up ropes along a dangerous stretch of slope used by adventure tourism companies. This is looking to be the deadliest day in Mount Everest's history and the worst accident since 1996 when eight climbers died in a blizzard.
Originally published on Fri April 18, 2014 5:52 pm
In Bayonne, they take their ham very, very seriously.
This medieval fortress of a town is minutes from the French seaside ports of Barritz and St. Jean de Luz, and not far from Spain's St. Sebastian. It has reigned as a cultural and commercial center for a millennium, according to historian Mark Kurlansky in The Basque History of the World.
The State Department is giving federal agencies more time to review the Keystone XL Pipeline project. The additional time was given "based on the uncertainty created" by an ongoing legal battle in Nebraska, according to a State Department statement.
Three days of mourning have been declared in Puerto Rico following the death of salsa great Cheo Feliciano in a car accident there early Thursday. The singer was 78. "His music embodied the rhythm of Puerto Ricans living in New York City," U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) said in a statement, "and his lyrics helped tell our collective story."
Originally published on Fri April 18, 2014 3:12 pm
Japan says it will kill fewer whales when its seasonal Pacific hunt begins next week and will only observe whales in the Antarctic, after a U.N. court ordered it to stop taking the marine mammals from the Southern Ocean.
Originally published on Mon April 21, 2014 1:11 pm
It's a sunny afternoon at Kelly's Collective, a medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles, and Nikki Esquibel is getting stoned. But you wouldn't know it.
The 19-year-old, who has a medical prescription for marijuana, is "smoking" pot with a handheld vaporizer, or a vape pen. It's sleek, black, and virtually indistinguishable from a high-end e-cigarette.
That's the point, says Esquibel. "I use it mostly around my neighborhood. It's easy to hide." The vapor coming from the device doesn't even have much of an odor.
Originally published on Fri April 18, 2014 4:49 pm
A powerful magnitude 7.2 earthquake that struck near Mexico's resort town of Acapulco could be felt as far away as Mexico City, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or major damage.
The U.S. Geological Survey says the epicenter of Friday's quake was located about 80 miles northwest of Acapulco at a depth of about 15 miles. The effects, however, were felt 165 miles northeast in the Mexican capital, where shaking startled residents and lasted for about 30 seconds.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee. Michel Martin is away. This Sunday marks the 15th anniversary of the shootings at Columbine High School. That day, two students opened fire and killed 13 people.