NPR Staff

This story is part of All Things Considered's "Men in America" series.

Marvin Ramos found out he was going to be a father when his girlfriend, Stephanie, called him during a basketball game. He says he sat down on a bench and looked up at the sky. He was 16. Stephanie was 19.

Summer is a great time to take a break from some of the stressors in our lives. For many of us, that stress is brought on by too much screen time and the pressure to stay connected.

Five areas across the country have been designated as "Promise Zones" by the federal government. These zones, announced by President Obama in January, are intended to tackle poverty by focusing on individual urban neighborhoods and rural areas.

In the five Promise Zones — located in Philadelphia, San Antonio, southeastern Kentucky, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and Los Angeles — the idea is to basically carpet-bomb the neighborhoods with programs like after-school classes, GED courses and job training to turn those areas around.

What Happens In The Zone?

Aaron Swartz was a programmer, a hacker, a freedom of information activist — and a casualty of suicide.

Playwright and author Samuel Beckett, who died 25 years ago, wrote lasting works of literature like Waiting for Godot and Endgame. But a previously unpublished short story of his — now being released for the first time — was not so appreciated.

Transcript

TAMARA KEITH, HOST:

This story is part of All Things Considered's "Men in America" series.

On Independence Day, ceremonial swearing-in ceremonies of new citizens are traditional — a celebration of the country's past and its evolving future. On Friday, 7,500 people from across the country will take the Oath of Allegiance and become naturalized U.S. citizens.

Most foreign citizens who live in the U.S. are here legally but are not citizens. So on the anniversary of the day when Americans declared themselves no longer subjects of the King of England, what does citizenship means to those who do choose to naturalize?

Just over a year ago, NPR's Emily Harris packed up and moved to Jerusalem, where she covers plenty of politics and everything else related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

NPR continues a series of conversations about The Race Card Project, where thousands of people have submitted their thoughts on race and cultural identity in six words. Every so often NPR Host/Special Correspondent Michele Norris dips into those stories to explore issues surrounding race and cultural identity for Morning Edition.

You may have heard that 250 more emojis, the little smiley face icons and other symbols you can send in text messages, are coming to a cellphone near you.

The story of the emoji starts in Japan in the mid-1990s. Back then, pagers were all the rage with teenagers.

The federal minimum wage for tipped workers has been $2.13 since 1991. That pay rate tends to get lost in the larger debate over whether to raise the national minimum wage for nontipped workers, which is $7.25 an hour.

In theory, the money from tips should make up the difference in pay — and then some. But according to a White House report, tipped workers are more than twice as likely as other workers to experience poverty.

Living On Tips

Transformers: Age of Extinction has smashed its way to the No. 1 spot at the box office. Director Michael Bay's film franchise has consistently topped charts since the first film arrived in theaters in 2007.

The live-action films have embraced the latest in visual affects — but the movies have also called back to the series' past, through the voice of Peter Cullen.

In Iraq this weekend, government forces launched an offensive against the Sunni militant group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. On Sunday, the government said it was using Russian-made jets to attack Sunni militants in the northern cities of Tikrit, the hometown of the late dictator Saddam Hussein, and Mosul. Both cities remain under insurgent control.

It's May, 1977, in small-town Ohio, and the Lee family is sitting down at breakfast. James is Chinese-American and Marilyn is white, and they have three children — two girls and a boy. But on this day, their middle child Lydia, who is also their favorite, is nowhere to be found.

That's how Celeste Ng's new novel, Everything I Never Told You, begins.

The video game BioShock Infinite received widespread praise for having a rich narrative packed with philosophy when it debuted last year. The game sold millions of copies.

This summer, All Things Considered is exploring what it means to be a man in America today. In some ways, the picture for men has changed dramatically over the past 50 years. More women than men are going to college, and the economy is moving away from jobs that traditionally favored men, like manufacturing and mining. Attitudes have also changed on the social front, with young men having more egalitarian attitudes toward women and expectations of being involved fathers.

The summer months are upon us again. It's the season to sit outside, decompress and finally put those accumulated sick days to good use: It's vacation season.

Vacation traditionally means taking a break from all of the stresses, worries and routines of our daily lives. We put the work down in order to pick up a cool drink and a new novel.

So let's make sure we have everything:

Flip-flops? Check.

Suntan lotion? Check.

Cellphone? Laptop? iPad? Hmm.

Athletes aren't the only ones battling for supremacy on the World Cup pitch: Shoe brands are fighting for glory, too.

For the most part, it's the fluorescent Nike Vapors versus the Adidas Adizero Battle Pack cleats. But while those brands dominate the soccer market, Kyle Stock of Bloomberg Businessweek says Puma has a counterattack: the mismatched pink and blue soccer cleats called Tricks.

"You see a lot of yellows out there and oranges and reds, but in the blur of the feet, you notice [the Tricks]," Stock tells NPR's Arun Rath.

People with vitiligo gradually lose pigment in their skin, often in patches that appear randomly and grow over time.

But that wasn't the case for Cheri Lindsay. The white pigment on her skin spread rapidly across her body and around her eyes, "like a mask," over the past four years, she says.

She imagines that she's dealt with it better than most, in part because of the example set by her father.

It’s being called the house call of the future: ambulance crews who rush when you call 9-1-1, but instead of taking you to the emergency room, they treat you at home.

Community paramedicine, as it’s called, is a growing trend across the country. It’s aim is to bring down hospital costs, but there are concerns about who’s going to end up paying for the service.

The vast majority of debris in the ocean — about 75 percent of it — is made of plastic. It can consist of anything from plastic bottles to packaging materials, but whatever form it takes, it doesn't go away easily.

While plastic may break down into smaller and smaller pieces, some as small as grains of sand, these pieces are never truly biodegradable. The plastic bits, some small enough that they're called microplastics, threaten marine life like fish and birds, explains Richard Thompson, a professor of marine biology at Plymouth University in the U.K.

The British singer Sam Smith broke through with a dance song: His is the voice snaking through "Latch," by the electronic-music duo Disclosure. It became an international club anthem.

In the U.K, he's mentioned in the same breath as superstars Adele or Florence and the Machine. He already has a sold-out U.S. tour, and he has performed on Saturday Night Live. Smith, 22, is now releasing his debut album, In the Lonely Hour. His songs of love and loss are powered by his moody, soulful voice.

The mortgage crisis that devastated the economy has received endless attention, but it's not just homeowners who have suffered badly in this economy.

As of 2012, renters made up 35 percent of American households. Their numbers are growing, reversing a decades-long uptick in homeownership.

And in the past 50 years, the percentage of income they're spending on the rent has increased dramatically. A quarter of renters are spending more than half their income on rent.

On a Wednesday night, just a few days before Fathers Day, a group of young men gather in a classroom on the fourth floor of Children's Hospital in Los Angeles. There's food — pizza, soda and cookies — and the men stack their paper plates high before settling into their seats around the table in the center of the room. The meeting is about to begin.

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