Schools have been open for a couple of weeks across much of Florida, but not all of the students know who their teachers are yet. There's typically a lot of teacher turnover during the summer break, and schools can't always get vacant teaching positions filled by the time school starts.
Russia has been facing troubling demographics ever since the Soviet breakup two decades ago. The population has contracted by several million people over this period. The birth rate is low. Life expectancy for men is still less than 65 years.
And there is also a sense that many educated, talented people are leaving the country.
To take one example, the world of science lit up in July, when a billionaire Internet investor named Yuri Milner announced nine prizes for some of the world's most innovative thinkers in physics.
Well, the Southeastern Conference season has begun. I have it on good authority that other college football teams around the country will also be playing games this fall.
I don't know when exactly the SEC took over America. I know this is hard to believe, but the epicenter of college football used to be in the Midwest. I'm so old, I can remember when Notre Dame actually mattered, and the real tough players were supposed to come from Western Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 6:55 am
There were a lot of preliminaries, but it was Michelle Obama's show Tuesday night at the Democratic National Convention, and she used it masterfully â€” carrying a rapt crowd along with a narrative of family, hard work, and truth-telling.
Largely wrung of politics, the first lady's speech plotted parallels in her life and that of her husband, President Obama. She pointedly tracked their humble beginnings and strivings in an unspoken but clear contrast to the privileged upbringing of GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 9:51 pm
On Tuesday, NPR's Frank James hosted a live chat during the Democratic convention. He was joined by Neal Carruth, NPR's elections editor; political science professors Sarah Treul of the University of North Carolina and Melody Crowder-Meyer of Sewanee: The University of the South; and Jake Silverstein, editor of Texas Monthly.
We've also compiled five things that struck us about the night:
'Mom In Chief' Takes A Stand: There is no question that the first night of the convention belonged to first lady Michelle Obama, who delivered a sweeping, personal and dramatic endorsement of her husband, President Obama.
Originally published on Thu September 6, 2012 11:53 am
They billed the gathering in a Charlotte, N.C., Holiday Inn conference room Tuesday as the first national meeting of Mormon Democrats.
Don't laugh. Crystal Young-Otterstrom says she figures there are 1 million of them out there, and she's determined to find them.
"It's like a missionary effort," Young-Otterstrom said in a room packed with the curious, the media and a cadre of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints making the argument that the Democratic Party best represents their personal and religious values.
Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 4:37 am
Defense Department officials say that No Easy Day, former Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette's book about the secret mission to kill Osama bin Laden, includes classified information that may harm U.S. military operations. The book went on sale yesterday despite the Pentagon's warnings of possible legal action last week.
Originally published on Tue September 4, 2012 4:27 pm
Over the past four years, the presidential narrative has shifted for African-Americans like Louisiana state Rep. Patricia Haynes Smith of Baton Rouge.
"I'm 66 years old," said Smith, at an event Tuesday in Charlotte, N.C., for black state legislators here for the Democratic National Convention. "And before 2008, I didn't think I'd live to see a dream come true."
Good evening from Charlotte, N.C., where Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz gaveled the convention to order promptly at 5 p.m. ET. in Charlotte's Time Warner Cable Arena.
Schultz, who is also the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, said that throughout the next three days, "we will demonstrate we need to keep President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden four more years."
Some people run for charity; some run for their health. And some run because it's the only way to escape the ravenous brain-eating zombies who chase them. No, that's not a movie plot. It's essentially the pitch for Run for Your Lives, a "zombie-infested 5K obstacle race" whose popularity has surprised even its organizers.
Cities around the nation have tried a variety of approaches to revitalizing their urban cores. Some have turned to repurposing old infrastructure to breathe new life into neighborhoods.
One such effort is under way in the nation's capital, where the redevelopment of a bridge linking a wealthy part of the city with a lower-income one may present an opportunity â€” if an ambitious park plan can be brought to fruition.
Hebrew scripture is a "message in a bottle," says Yoram Hazony, and in The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture, he tries to decipher that message. Hazony's new book makes the case for a different reading of the ancient texts â€” and argues that the Hebrew Bible is a work of philosophy in narrative form.
South Africa's mining industry is under heavy scrutiny after 44 people died during protests at a platinum mine near Johannesburg. Now, the industry is facing challenges on another front: Lawyers have filed a class-action lawsuit against three of the country's biggest gold mining companies.
They're suing on behalf of miners who worked during the apartheid era and now have lung disease.
A settlement in the case â€” and another like it â€” could reach into the billions of dollars.
A federal judge in Boston today "ordered state prison officials to provide a taxpayer-funded sex-reassignment surgery to a transgender inmate serving life in prison" for murder, The Associated Press writes.
When students and teachers at School 16 in Rochester, N.Y., start the new school year in a newer school building, they'll leave their old building's laundry list of infrastructure problems behind.
As teachers finish unloading boxes and setting up their new classrooms, they hope the newer, nicer digs will give students renewed pride in their school. Education experts say the move could also bring a bump to the school's flagging test scores, because better school buildings actually improve academic performance.
As Aspen Public Radio's Marci Krivonen has reported for All Things Considered, encounters between humans and bears are up sharply across the western U.S. The bears are having to cover more territory because of droughts that have dried up some of their natural foods, including berries.
In his 16 years in Congress, Republican Mickey Edwards came to a strong conclusion: Political parties are the "cancer at the heart of our democracy," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.
In his new book, The Parties Versus the People, the former Republican congressman from Oklahoma details how party leaders have too much control over who runs for office, what bills make it to the floor and how lawmakers vote.
Originally published on Wed September 19, 2012 2:13 pm
McDonald's, home of the iconic Big Mac, is going vegetarian. Well, at least in India, where 20 to 42 percent or more of the population (depending on how you count) eschews meat, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization.
It was the absence of feathers that got conservation biologist Thor Hanson thinking about the significance of them. Hanson was in Kenya studying the feeding habits of vultures, and he noticed the advantages that vultures had relative to other birds because of their bare, featherless heads.
"Having lost their feathers allows [vultures] to remain much cleaner and more free from bacteria and parasites and disease," Hanson tells Fresh Air contributor Dave Davies.
Recently, I was listening to a new tribute album covering the songs of Fleetwood Mac, and thought once again how dreadful most tribute albums are: They don't add much to the legacy of the artists being saluted, while inadvertently freezing vital old music in an amber of sentimentality. Then I turned to When I'm President, an album of new songs by Ian Hunter.
Originally published on Sun September 9, 2012 6:32 am
The Bab al-Salam border crossing, on Syria's northern border with Turkey, has settled into an orderly routine.
Back in July, rebel brigades wrested this border post in Syria's strategic Aleppo province from President Bashar Assad's army in a fierce battle. Now, passports are stamped and cars inspected by the rebels â€” polite, young, bearded men who wear mismatched military uniforms or civilian clothes.
While the military confrontation was a joint operation, bringing together many rebel brigades, the Northern Storm brigade retains exclusive control of the border post.