National News

Grant County Veterans Service Officer Bob Kelley, right, works with World War II Army veteran Frederick Kern at the Grant County Government Building in Marion, Ind., on Monday.

Indiana's Veterans Service Officers Help Vets Get More Benefits

NPR — along with seven public radio stations around the country — is chronicling the lives of America's troops where they live. We're calling the project "Back at Base." This story is part two of a three-part series about veteran benefits.

Math scores at McMichael High School have improved.

North Carolina Rethinks The Common Core

It's shaping up to be an interesting year for the Common Core, barely five years after 45 governors embraced it. A few states have already repealed the new math and reading standards. Others are pushing ahead with new tests, curriculum and teaching methods aligned to the Core.

And in some states, its future hangs in the balance. North Carolina is one of them.

It was one of the first states that quietly adopted the Common Core, and it moved quickly to put the standards in place.

Former NFL player John Lynch is one of the football players involved in the project.

Ads Say 'No More' To Domestic Violence, But Will Audience Listen?

NFL games remain among the most popular television programs in America, but this has been a disastrous season for the league's brand.

When footage from an elevator video of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocking out his then fiancé became public, the league's handling of domestic violence cases became the subject of national scrutiny. The NFL's effort to respond to criticisms has led to an unlikely partnership, and a powerful set of public service announcements.

Health Insurance Startup Collapses In Iowa

It was a heck of a Christmas for David Fairchild and his wife, Clara Peterson. They found out they were about to lose their new health insurance.

"Clara was listening to the news on Iowa Public Radio and that's how we found out," Fairchild says. They went to their health plan's website that night. "No information. We still haven't gotten a letter about it from them."

Mercedes-Benz, Ford and Volkswagen workers block the Anchieta highway in Sao Bernardo do Campo, near Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Monday. Thousands of metalworkers marched to protest layoffs by carmakers expecting little or no rebound from a sharp 2014 downturn, adding to a mounting crisis in a politically sensitive industry.

In Brazil, A Once-High-Flying Economy Takes A Tumble

It was a terrible Christmas season for stores in Brazil. For the first time in more than a decade — since 2003 — sales went down.

Roberta Pimenta owns a small shop selling children's clothes at the Butanta mall in Sao Paulo, which is aimed squarely at the middle-class shoppers who live in the area.

"It was the worst drop in sales since I've had this store," Pimenta says. "In seven years it was the worst year I had. And every year you have a 10 percent increase of employees' salary, 10 percent increase in the rent, 10 percent in everything, so it is horrible."

South Carolina's Poet Laureate Marjorie Wentworth was surprised that her poem won't be featured at the governor's inaugural ceremony.

For S.C.'s Poet Laureate, An Inauguration Poem Without An Inaugural Audience

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley starts her second term today. But absent from the inaugural ceremony will be a long-standing tradition: a poem read by the state's poet laureate.

State officials say they cut the 2-minute poem for time, but some residents suspect it was the mention of slavery that got it tossed.

Poet Laureate Marjorie Wentworth has written poems for South Carolina's last three inaugurations. She describes those efforts as "safe."

The poems leaned heavily on nature and animals.

In this May 22, 2014, photo, Kurt Busch walks with Patricia Driscoll before a race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. The former couple has been in court over Driscoll's claim that Busch assaulted her.

NASCAR's Kurt Busch Testifies That Ex-Girlfriend Is An Assassin

Testifying about a request for a protective order against him, race car driver Kurt Busch told a Dover, Del., court this week that his former girlfriend is an assassin. Patricia Driscoll, who dated Busch for four years, requested the order last November, shortly after their relationship ended.

Driscoll has also filed a criminal complaint against Busch, alleging that he grabbed her and slammed her head into the wall of his motor coach at Dover International Speedway last fall. Busch denies those claims, which the authorities have been considering separately.

Democratic Congressman André Carson of Indiana says he converted to Islam as a teenager after witnessing Muslims "pushing back on crime" in his neighborhood.

Rep. André Carson To Become First Muslim On House Committee On Intelligence

Rep. André Carson of Indiana's 7th district soon will be the first Muslim lawmaker to serve on the House intelligence committee, according to Politico.

The report says Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif, made the announcement in a closed-door meeting today. Neither Pelosi's nor Carson's office would comment.

The first-ever college football playoff championship turned in record ratings, attracting an average of 33.4 million viewers.

College Football Championship Sets A New Cable Ratings Record

Monday night's game between Oregon and Ohio State was a hit with viewers, as the first-ever college football playoff championship turned in the highest ratings in the history of both ESPN and cable TV. The broadcast averaged 33.4 million viewers.

"That was a 21 percent increase over the ratings for last year's BCS National Championship between Florida State and Auburn, which was a far closer game," NPR's Nathan Rott reports.

Alex Sanchez with his wife, Blanca, and sons Duvan and Irvin. Sanchez has been eligible to live and work legally in the U.S. since 2001, when his home country, El Salvador, experienced a major earthquake.

For Some Immigrants, Temporary Life In U.S. Can Mean A Long Stay

Earlier this month, the U.S. government gave more than 200,000 Salvadorans living here temporarily the opportunity to stay for at least another 18 months.

These immigrants are on something called Temporary Protected Status, or TPS. It's for immigrants who are already living in the United States illegally when a natural or humanitarian disaster hits their home country.

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