National News

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 and Yahoo Sports, citing unnamed industry sources.

Daina Bouquin competes in the first Winter Swimming Championships in North America on Saturday on Lake Memphremagog in Newport, Vt. The event drew swimmers from around the world to race in icy water that was below 32 degrees.

'Cold Actually Feels Good' At The U.S. Winter Swimming Championship

One way to test your mettle in winter is to take one of those quick penguin plunges in icy water. But some stoic swimmers actually carve pools out of frozen lakes and race each other.

The sport of winter swimming is popular abroad, especially in Russia, Scandinavia and China. But last weekend, a newly formed organization to promote winter swimming in the United States held its first national competition on the Vermont-Quebec border.

Crew members pull an oyster dredge in Tangier Sound of the Chesapeake Bay near Deal Island, Md., in 2013. A study found that the Chesapeake Bay shellfishery is a "hot zone" for ocean acidification.

Acidifying Waters Are Endangering Your Oysters And Mussels

Bad news for bivalves comes this week from scientists studying ocean acidification.

Ocean water in parts of the world is changing. Its chemistry is very slowly becoming more acidic, like lemon juice, and less alkaline, a la baking soda.

The change so far is small — you wouldn't notice if you swam in the ocean or even drank it (not recommended, in any case). But numerous scientific studies show that it could get worse. One reason is that as humans produce more carbon dioxide, a lot is absorbed into the oceans. That makes the water more acidic.

Some colleges and police departments are starting to use software that scans social media to identify local threats, but most tips still come from members of the public. <strong> </strong>

Awash In Social Media, Cops Still Need The Public To Detect Threats

On Valentine's Day weekend, Jonathan Hutson found himself exchanging tweets with somebody unpleasant: a Holocaust-denying anti-Semite, by the look of things.

Then Hutson looked up the person's earlier tweets. This guy was tweeting about shooting up a school. He said that he wanted to execute 30-plus grade-school kids."

So Hutson decided to draw the person out — "engage with him," as he puts it — to see if the threats were real.

In Africa, land that borders forests is increasingly used for farming.

Good News: More Crops! Bad News: More Plague!

Africa needs more food.

And to get more food, you need more farmland.

There's a relatively simple solution — it's called "land conversion," and it can mean creating new fields to grow crops next to fragments of forest.

Only there's a catch. The rats of the forest are drawn to the crops of the farmland — and to the grains that farmers often store outside their homes. And those rats can carry the bacteria that causes plague — the very same plague responsible for claiming millions of lives during the Middle Ages.