National News

Eliot Elementary in St. Louis, Mo., closed 10 years ago. The building remains empty.

The Struggle To Breathe Life Back Into Empty Schools

Virginia Savage lives in a part of north St. Louis, Mo., that's filled with vacant buildings, including Marshall Elementary. It has been closed for years now, and vines crawl into the building's smashed-out windows. The playground is littered with empty liquor bottles.

Savage went to school at Marshall as a young girl, and now she sees bigger problems beyond all those blemishes: "Drug dealers, drug users, eyesore. That's what I see."

In St. Louis, the student enrollment is one-fourth the size it was in the 1960s. That drop has led the district to close 30 or so schools.

Gary Broomell and his daughter, Debbie, pose behind a sign on their ranch in San Diego County. Their family has been growing citrus for generations, but lately, it's been hard staying in the black growing oranges, so they started a vineyard a few years ago.

Squeezed By Drought, California Farmers Switch To Less Thirsty Crops

Water scarcity is driving California farmers to plant different crops. Growers are switching to more profitable, less-thirsty fruits, vegetables and nuts.

Nowhere is this truer than San Diego County, where water prices are some of the highest in the state.

Grapefruit trees shade the entrance to Triple B Ranches winery in northern San Diego County. The tasting room is a converted kitchen festooned with country knick knacks.

Travis Moyer (center) drives the car that he built for the demolition derby in Kansas.

The Demise Of Old-Style Demolition Derby

Americans have been intentionally ramming cars into each other for sport for decades. And at this time of year, fans crowd into county fairs to see battered, souped-up cars bash each other to pieces.

This steel equivalent of blood sport draws a passionate following, and the drivers say it is deeply addicting.

"There's nothing better," says John Green, a demolition derby driver at a recent fair in Franklin County, Kan. "A lot of people say they would do it, but until you get in there and do it you never know the real feeling."

A Helsinki bomb shelter now serves as a shooting range for an archery club.

How Finns Make Sports Part Of Everyday Life

In Helsinki, sports facilities pop up all over the place, sometimes in some pretty odd nooks and crannies. One bomb shelter hosts an archery club, another an underground swimming pool and an ice hockey rink.

Though they hardly need it, there's a national plan in Finland to get people to sit less. It reminds them, in fact, that, "Under the Constitution ... physical activity is a basic cultural right."

Cooper is known as the Swim Whisperer. He's been teaching swimming full-time since 1995.

The 'Swim Whisperer' Teaches Kids To Be Water-Safe

If you looked at the children at the edge of Conrad Cooper's pool, you'd think you were watching an ad for something. Jell-O, maybe. Or a breakfast cereal kids like. They're that cute.

They're lined up on the steps in the shallow end, 10 little ones, ranging from age 2 to 5. The boys are in board trunks, many wearing rash-guard shirts like the weekend surfers they might become years from now. The girls wear bright one-piece suits and two-pieces that show their childish potbellies.

Greg Gianforte is distributing a brochure urging workers to "come home to Montana" and telework from there.

Tired Of The Big City? Consider Telecommuting From Montana

Most local economic development schemes focus on creating jobs. Many offer incentives to startup companies, or try to lure existing companies to relocate.

But a campaign in Montana is turning that on its head. It's not trying to recruit companies but rather employees to come to the sparsely populated state and telecommute.

David Blackburn works for a financial services firm in Jersey City, N.J. He and his wife both have six-figure incomes, but real estate in the New York City area is so expensive that they have to live kind of far from their jobs.

Boy Scouts Of America End Blanket Ban On Gay Leaders

The National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America today voted to end its longstanding ban on openly gay adult leaders and employees. Of those present and voting, 79 percent supported the resolution, which took effect immediately. The move comes after a recommendation by National Executive Committee earlier this month to end the ban.

At sign-up events like this one in Los Angeles in 2013, Covered California pledged "affordability" in health insurance as one of its main selling points.

California Health Insurance Exchange Keeps Rate Hikes Low — Again

Monthly premiums for California's 1.3 million Covered California customers will rise a modest 4 percent, on average, officials with the agency said Monday. This increase is slightly less than last year's increase of 4.2 percent for consumers who bought policies on the state's health insurance marketplace.

Some consumers could even achieve a reduction in their premium, of an average of 4.5 percent, if they choose to shop around.

Detainees at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Wash., gather for a Sikh prayer service.

With Religious Services, Immigrant Detainees Find 'Calmness'

When undocumented immigrants move through government-run detention centers in the U.S., it can take months before they find out if they'll be deported or allowed to stay in the country.

During this long wait, many become frustrated. And some turn to religion.

It's the job of the in-house chaplain to help connect detainees to religious services.

Keith Henderson, chaplain at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Wash., says, "I love it. I love the job," partly, he says, because he likes challenges.

A cell at New York's Rikers Island jail. About 1,000 people die in American jails every year, and about a third of those are suicides.

The 'Shock of Confinement': The Grim Reality Of Suicide In Jail

The case of Sandra Bland has raised anger and suspicions nationwide since she was found dead in a jail cell in Hempstead, Texas, two weeks ago. Bland's family and supporters have rejected the medical examiner's finding of suicide, and the criminal district attorney for Waller County, Texas, says he's recruited two outside lawyers to assist in the investigation of her death. The local investigation has been reviewed by the FBI, and local prosecutors have pledged to bring the case to a grand jury next month.

Pages