National News

#NPRreads: If You've Got 2016 Winners Penciled In, Think Again

#NPRreads is a new feature we're testing out on Twitter and on The Two-Way. The premise is simple: Correspondents, editors and producers throughout our newsroom will share pieces that have kept them reading. They'll share tidbits on Twitter using the #NPRreads hashtag, and on occasion we'll share a longer take here on the blog.

With that, here's one from NPR White House Correspondent Tamara Keith:

Botanists say this plant is the fern equivalent of a human-lemur love child.

'Weird' Fern Shows The Power Of Interspecies Sex

The love between two ferns knows few bounds, it appears. A DNA analysis of a hybrid fern shows that its parents are two different species separated by nearly 60 million years of evolution.

"A 60 million year divergence is approximately equivalent to a human mating with a lemur," says Carl Rothfels, a fern researcher at the University of British Columbia, who headed the study. The hybrid is a record, he says.

A truck drives on top of a levee that protects a soybean field in New Madrid County, Mo., when the Mississippi River floods.

Army Corps Project Pits Farmland Against Flood Threat

For years, some small towns and farmers along the Mississippi River have been battling each other over a flood project set up by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

On the western shore, farmers in southeast Missouri need the project to protect their valuable farmland. But small river towns on the eastern side of the river say the project protects those influential farmers at the cost of their small communities. As a last-ditch effort, the opposition to the project is asking the Environmental Protection Agency to kill the project all together.

Drilling rigs dot the landscape near Calumet, Okla., in April 2013. Oklahoma's economy blossomed during the domestic fracking boom, but as the price of crude oil drops, that could change.

Analysts Fear A Prolonged Drop In Oil Prices Will Hurt Oklahoma's Banks

In Oklahoma, a state that largely rode out the recession on a gusher of new-found oil, things may be about to change.

Now it costs more to produce most of Oklahoma's oil than it's worth on the world market. That's triggering a sharp economic reversal, one that some say has the makings of a prolonged downturn.

"Over the last five years, the stars really aligned," says Roy Williams, president of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. "The community's investment in itself just blossomed, the energy industry blossomed."

Kindergarten classrooms at Weemes mark each day they have full attendance.

In LA, Missing Kindergarten Is A Big Deal

In kindergarten, kids are learning really important stuff. Basic reading skills. Numbers and math concepts. And to keep from falling behind, one of the major things they need to do is make it to school every day.

In Los Angeles, the nation's second largest school district, kindergarten absence is a big problem, with some students missing 10, 20, 30 days or more. In 2012, district officials say that almost 10,000 students were chronically absent from kindergarten. Last year that number it improved, but only slightly.

NPR recently asked Southern California millennials to share their thoughts on branding and advertising. One attendee got the word from his mother.

How Do You Market To Millennials?

For the last few months, NPR has been looking into millennials, as part of our series called New Boom. This group, some 80 million strong, spends by some estimates over 1 trillion dollars a year. We wondered: how should brands and advertisers go about reaching millennials, if they're so powerful, but also so different than generations before them?

Quinault Indian Nation President Fawn Sharp stands on the docks as tribal crabbers unload their catch. The tribe has vowed to fight the oil train-to-ship terminals proposed for Grays Harbor.

Washington State County Unsure If It Can Take Wave Of North Dakota Crude

Oil companies in North Dakota are looking for the fastest and cheapest way to get their product to refineries, and they've set their sights on moving more of their product by rail to the Northwest.

There are six new oil terminals proposed for Washington state. Half of them could be built in the small communities around Grays Harbor, a bay on the Pacific coast about 50 miles north of the mouth of the Columbia River.

President Obama, joined by Secretary of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson (left), delivers remarks at the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center on Jan. 13 in Arlington, Va., as  Obama discussed efforts to improve the government's ability to collaborate with industry to combat cyber threats.

As Homeland Security Steps Up Cybercrime Fight, Tech Industry Wary

The Department of Homeland Security has become the unlikely hero of the new White House campaign to stop cybercrime -- this despite a history of mismanagement and the looming cutoff of its funding. To succeed, the big bureaucracy will have to inspire trust and compete against similar efforts by the tech industry.

Cybercrime is just too easy. Often, hackers don't have to be innovative. They can take an attack — copy and paste it.

Television personality Bill O'Reilly waits for the start of an event in the East Room of the White House in February 2014. O'Reilly has for the past week fired back angrily at critics who have accused him of inflating his war-reporting record in a manner similar to suspended <em>NBC Nightly News</em> anchor Brian Williams.

Despite Furious Objections, Bill O'Reilly's War Claims Warrant Scrutiny

Give human invective machine Bill O'Reilly credit for consistency of performance.

Cuban baseball player Yoan Moncada sits in the dugout before the start of an exhibition game for major league baseball scouts, in the Enrique Torrebiarte Stadium in Guatemala City in November.

Reports: Red Sox Sign Cuban Phenom Moncada To Contract Worth At Least $30M

The Red Sox have signed 19-year-old Cuban phenom Yoan Moncada to a potentially record-setting contract worth at least $31.5 million, according to MLB.com and Yahoo Sports, citing unnamed industry sources.

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