National News

In the rundown Ukrainian town of Perewalsk, near the Russian border, 80-year-old Lida Vasilivna has just planted a garden. "Business just went belly up," she says about her town's hard times, after asking, "Are you gonna put this granny on TV?"

In Ukraine's Rust Belt, A Mix Of Nostalgia And Nationalism

To say that the town of Perewalsk in eastern Ukraine has fallen on hard times would be an enormous understatement. The small industrial town near the Russian border is a collection of concrete buildings with no windows, falling-down houses and empty, abandoned factories; there's a chemical smell in the air.

In the middle of this dystopian landscape, there's an even more unexpected sight: an 80-year-old woman in a bright purple coat and headscarf, happily digging with a shovel in the dirt.

She introduces herself as Lida Vasilivna.

NPR's Jackie Northam reporting from Rwanda during the country's genocide in 1994.

A Reporter Reflects On Rwanda: 'It's Like A Madness Took Over'

There was a thin mist in the early morning air when we set off for the Rwandan capital, Kigali, on April 11, 1994. The genocide had begun four days earlier.

There were no flights into the country, so I and three fellow journalists crossed into Rwanda from neighboring Burundi, hitching a ride with a French priest who was shuttling Tutsi nuns out of the country. He took us to the town of Butare, where a Belgian inn keeper rented us an old cream-colored Renault and drew us a map of how to get to Kigali.

The health care industry spent millions preparing for a huge upgrade of coding for medical diagnoses and procedures that has now been delayed.

Doctors' Billing System Stays Stuck In The 1970s For Now

For doctors, hospitals and insurance companies, all the complexities of medicine get boiled down into a system of codes.

These codes are used to track and pay for every procedure you can think of. There's 813.02 for mending a broken forearm, and 800.09 for treating a concussion. There's even 960.0 for being hurt in an "unarmed fight or brawl."

But this coding system is now four decades old. The codes were scheduled to be upgraded in October, but last week Congress delayed the switch.

"We saw a lot of customers come in, look for a table, not find one and leave," owner Jodi Whalen says. "It was money flowing out the door for us."

No Laptops, No Wi-Fi: How One Cafe Fired Up Sales

Customers chat, read the paper and order sandwiches and espresso drinks at the counter of August First Bakery & Cafe in Burlington, Vt., but there's something different here. Where there used to be the familiar glow of laptop screens and the clicking of keyboards, now the devices are banned.

"I was here working on my laptop when I looked over and saw that there's a sign that says 'laptop-free,' " says Luna Colt, a senior at the University of Vermont.

Turmoil in Ukraine Clouds The Region's Economic Outlook

When Americans envision the European economy, they may think of modern factories churning out sleek German cars and chocolatiers perfecting Belgian truffles.

That developed part of Europe is perking up. The International Monetary Fund said this week that, coming out of a crushing recession, Eurozone growth should be around 1.2 percent - sluggish but steady this year.

Why My Wife Didn't Choose A Double Mastectomy

Yet another entertainment figure has gone public with her decision to have a double mastectomy after a breast cancer diagnosis. Samantha Harris is the latest in a series of entertainers who've decided on that surgery as treatment for the disease.

The Heartbleed bug has exposed up to two-thirds of the Internet to a security vulnerability.

What To Do Now That The Heartbleed Bug Exposed The Internet

With a name like Heartbleed, it's no surprise it's bad. A vulnerability in OpenSSL — the Internet's most commonly used cryptographic library — has been bleeding out information, 64 kilobytes at a time, since March 2012.

"I would classify it as possibly the top bug that has hit the Internet that I've encountered, because of it being so widespread, because it's so hard to detect," says Andy Grant, a security analyst at iSEC Partners.

Ritually slaughtered lamb is delivered at a halal butcher shop in The Hague, Netherlands, in 2011. Denmark, Sweden and Norway are among the countries requiring animals to be stunned before slaughter. Dutch lawmakers took up the issue in 2012.

Banning Traditional Animal Slaughter, Denmark Stokes Religous Ire

In a conflict that pits animal welfare against religious rights, Denmark has ordered that all food animals must be stunned before being killed. The move effectively bans the ritual slaughter methods prescribed in both Muslim and Jewish tradition.

(Yes, this is the same country that recently made news for killing an "extra male" giraffe at the zoo and dissecting it in public.)

A male lesser prairie chicken in the Texas Panhandle. The bird's entire habitat includes parts of Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

Federal Plan To Save Prairie Chickens Ruffles State Feathers

It's prairie chicken mating season!

Still, it's tough being a lesser prairie chicken these days. This type of grouse once spanned an enormous area, though now they survive mainly in pockets of Oklahoma and Kansas. Their numbers are plummeting; in 2012, the population dropped by half.

But after they were recently listed as a threatened species by the U.S. government, complaints of federal overreach and lawsuits have followed.

A pro-Russian activist speaks at the Security Services building, which was seized in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine. The standoff is one of three taking place in the region, and Luhansk is considered particularly volatile because the Security Services building contains many weapons.

Ukrainian Protesters Seize Weapons, Raising The Stakes

The drive to Luhansk takes you past fields of corn and sunflowers that are just beginning to sprout. You pass the town of Yennakieva, where the ousted Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych, was born. Eventually the fields give way to factories, and about 15 miles from the border with Russia, you hit the industrial city of Luhansk.

Police have blocked off the center of town. The last few blocks to the heart of the protest, at the occupied security services building, is a journey by foot, past graffiti that say, "Luhansk is a Russian City."

Pages