National News

President Obama surveys tornado damage with Vilonia, Ark., resident Daniel Smith on Wednesday.

At Times All A President Can Say After Disaster Is, 'We're Here'

Daniel Smith's house is barely standing after a tornado in Arkansas late last month killed 16 people. The EF4 tornado ripped a gash through the rural communities of Mayflower and Vilonia. Homes were wiped clean to their slabs, businesses shredded beyond recognition.

Wednesday, President Obama went to see the damage for himself, and to meet with residents like Smith. It's a task that he and many presidents before him have had to do far too often.

Wheat fields like this one could yield wheat with less zinc and iron in the future if they are exposed to higher levels of CO2, according to the journal <em>Nature.</em>

Less Nutritious Grains May Be In Our Future

In the future, Earth's atmosphere is likely to include a whole lot more carbon dioxide. And many have been puzzling over what that may mean for the future of food crops. Now, scientists are reporting that some of the world's most important crops contain fewer crucial nutrients when they grow in such an environment.

Elephants gather in the Dzanga bai, a forest clearing the size of several football fields. On some days more then 100 elephants at at a time visit the clearing.

Civil War Invades An Elephant Sanctuary: One Researcher's Escape

Ivory poachers are killing some 22,000 African elephants a year. Among the recent casualties was a group of rare forest elephants in the Central African Republic.

Those elephants were featured in an NPR program, Radio Expeditions, in 2002, when former NPR host and correspondent Alex Chadwick and sound engineer Bill McQuay went to central Africa to record them.

Legendary D.C. Law Firm To Pay Chevron In Ecuador Pollution Case

A long-running legal battle between a legendary Washington law and lobbying firm and a major oil company has been settled.

D.C.-based Patton Boggs has agreed to pay Chevron $15 million to settle a case that centers on pollution from drilling activity in the rainforests of Ecuador.

The case has gone on for more than four years, and the stakes were enormous for the two powerhouses.

Colorado Approves Financial System For Marijuana Industry

Colorado lawmakers have voted to create the a financial system for the state's burgeoning legal marijuana industry.

After Colorado legalized pot in 2013, it still had no financial mechanism for legal marijuana businesses. Washington has also approved the sale of marijuana for recreational purposes.

A photo from June 2012 shows Syrian rebels in Homs. The last of the insurgents were leaving the town on Wednesday under a cease-fire deal.

Syrian Rebels Leave Homs In Cease-Fire Deal

Syrian rebels were retreating from the besieged city of Homs on Wednesday, surrendering the "capital of the revolution" to President Bashar Assad under a cease-fire that gave them safe passage to other insurgent-held areas of the country.

The governor of Homs, Talal al-Barazi, was quoted by the state news agency Sana as saying some 2,000 people would be evacuated. Local activists said the first 600 to leave were wounded fighters and civilians.

Former IRS official Lois Lerner, during March 5 testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Lerner has repeatedly invoked the Fifth Amendment during congressional appearances on the scandal.

Congress Holds Former IRS Official Lois Lerner In Contempt

House Republicans on Wednesday voted to hold former IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress for repeatedly refusing to answer questions about her alleged involvement in targeting conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.

The vote was 231 to 187, with all Republicans voting in favor of the measure and all but a few Democrats voting against it.

<em>Jet</em> magazine founder John H. Johnson started the publication to spotlight black achievements and report on events that he thought were important to black communities. But as the media and political landscape around <em>Jet</em> changed, the magazine struggled.

After 6 Decades, 'Jet' Magazine Decides To Go All-Digital

When I was growing up, my aunt used to stack dozens of magazines high on a side table at the top of her stairs. It was an accidental library of black magazines — lots of Ebony and Essence, the stray Black Enterprise here and there, but especially the digest-sized Jet. When I was at that age where kids want to consume every written word, I would blow through those old issues of Jet by the pile. That's probably the only real way to "read" Jet, since every article seemed to be shorter than 300 words. It was black news, bite-size.

Snip Decision: Africa's Campaign To Circumcise Its Men

If you turn on a radio in Zimbabwe these days, it won't be long before you hear a public service spot featuring the voice of a deejay who goes by the name "Napster the Radio Master."

Napster tells his audience that just before he got married he decided to get circumcised "so that my wife would find me clean and desirable." He also notes that he later found out that circumcision helps protect women from contracting cervical cancer — adding, "Well, that was just the cherry on top!"

Some universities have stopped investing in coal companies, but many others don't see the point. An aerial view of the Coal Hollow Mine in Utah in 2012.

When Colleges Ditch Coal Investments, It's Barely A Drop In The Bucket

If the students at Stanford University believe they sent the coal industry a strong message this week, they should think again. The school's decision to eliminate coal from its portfolio did not send shock waves through the industry. In fact, representatives say it will have no financial impact on the industry at all. Nor will it curb the growing demand around the world for coal-generated electricity.