NPR News

Something is wrong in Florida's Indian River Lagoon.

Over the past year, record numbers of dolphins, manatees and pelicans have turned up dead in the 150-mile-long estuary that runs along Florida's Atlantic Coast. Bouts of algal blooms have flourished in the waters. All the signs point to an ecosystem that is seriously out of balance. The crisis has mobilized scientists, residents and elected officials in Florida.

An Ailing Lagoon

An initiative in Los Angeles County is trying to help the homeless by first connecting them with a place to live. The "housing first" model has been used in cities across the country in recent years to combat long-term homelessness.

In L.A. County, the Home For Good project focuses on those who are most at risk, aiming to end chronic homelessness in the area by 2016. Homeless-services providers are gathering information about the population and ranking individuals' vulnerability. Then, the goal is to move the most in need into permanent housing, quickly.

Just a few months ago, most Greeks had never heard of a teenager named Giannis Antetokounmpo.

At 6-foot-9, the baby-faced athlete was the towering star of a minor-league basketball team in an Athens suburb. Born in Greece to a Nigerian soccer player and a high-jumper, he was raised and educated in Athens. He only received his citizenship this May.

And then, on June 27 in New York, NBA commissioner David Stern announced that the Milwaukee Bucks had used the 15th pick in the first round of the NBA draft to select Antetokounmpo, who recently turned 19.

Alan Jackson has achieved huge success in country music, but he's not above trashing his own industry. The platinum-selling star once voiced his frustration with the narrow range of country music that receives radio play by writing a spot-on parody — "Three Minute Positive Not Too Country Up-Tempo Love Song" — that hit all the mainstream marks on the nose.

For a man who spent the bulk of his career as a public defender, Robert Listenbee's new role walking around the halls of the U.S. Justice Department may not be the most comfortable fit.

But Listenbee, who became administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention earlier this year, says his transition has been smooth. And besides, he says, he couldn't resist the "extraordinary opportunity."

A north Idaho school district is launching a campaign to curb bullying. The effort includes curriculum changes and focus groups with a cross section of student cliques.

Wednesday's Highlights

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz ended his marathon Senate floor speech at noon when his appointed time ran out.

At Georgetown University this week, an outdoor religious display looks more like a public art installation than a commandment from the Torah, Judaism's holy book.

First, the basics: It's called a sukkah, a temporary dwelling — translated from Hebrew as a "booth" — where observant Jews traditionally eat and sleep during the weeklong harvest holiday of Sukkot.

The holiday, which began the night of Sept. 18, also pays homage to the 40 years during which the Israelites wandered in the desert, living in temporary structures.

The U.S. State Department has renewed its global terror alert, following the attack in Nairobi, Kenya, by a group claiming to be part of the Somalia-based al-Shabab.

Because of the "continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence" toward Americans, the State Department said, U.S. citizens should "maintain a high level of vigilance."

The department adds:

When she left the Obama administration, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she just wanted to sleep late and walk her dog. But that hasn't happened.

OK, so it wasn't a real filibuster, as no Senate action was actually blocked or delayed. But Texas Republican Ted Cruz's talk-fest did succeed in one key measure: duration.

At 21 hours and 19 minutes, Cruz held the Senate floor 8 hours and 27 minutes longer than Kentucky Republican Rand Paul did in March when he staged an actual filibuster over the country's drone policy.

After releasing his latest album, last year's Spirit Fiction, saxophonist Ravi Coltrane put his decade-old quartet on hiatus, and has now assembled a new group. Had John Coltrane lived to see his son grow up, he might have told Ravi about how his own "classic quartet" broke up; he'd begun to incorporate new voices (including Ravi's mother Alice Coltrane) by the time his new band recorded live at the Village Vanguard in 1966.

Oracle Team USA has successfully defended the America's Cup, leaving challenger New Zealand in its wake off San Francisco after clawing back from a seven-race deficit in one of the most spectacular comebacks in yachting history.

A week ago, it looked to be all over for the U.S., with the Kiwis having built a seemingly unassailable lead and poised at one race away from taking the Auld Mug back to New Zealand.

When war broke out in the West African nation of Mali last year, one of the targets was that country's ancient music tradition. As Islamist rebels occupied northern Mali, they banned music and shut down clubs and record shops.

SEE: Baby Veronica Reunited With Adoptive Parents

Sep 25, 2013

We're a day late to this, but it's a story this blog has followed for a while and this latest development represents some closure.

On Tuesday, the 4-year-old known as "Baby Veronica" was reunited with her adoptive parents. As we reported, that was the same day the Oklahoma Supreme Court opened the door to that possibility.

As faces go, Entelognathus primordialis isn't much to look at, even for a fish.

But consider that the 419 million-year-old, armor-plated fish is the earliest known creature to have what humans might recognize as a face, according to research published Wednesday in Nature. That's mostly due to its bony, modern jaw.

As USA Today reports:

In Denmark, pigs outnumber people 2 to 1. No traditional Danish meal would be complete without something wrapped in, wrapped around, or topped with pork.

In 2012, the country exported close to $6 billion in pig meat, a figure that includes "carcasses" — which leads to the question: What does one do with a pig carcass?

All this is by way of explaining the hubbub that erupted following a recent headline: "Day Cares Ban Pork."

First-year college student Stephanie Ulan, from Queens, N.Y., had her sights set on New York University, in the heart of Manhattan's Greenwich Village.

She got her wish — sort of.

At first, the school offered her a generous scholarship but told her and her father they'd still have to take out big loans.

"My father is 62 years old," says Ulan, who plans to major in international relations. "There was a big scene and he flipped out and he was, like, 'I can't do that.' "

The FBI on Wednesday released some preliminary findings in its investigation of the Washington Navy Yard shootings that left 13 people dead including the shooter.

Raise your hand if you ever cut school to go buy a brand new album the day it came out. Raise your hand if you went to Tower Records, or The Wiz, and you did this in the 1990s. Raise your hand if you remember impatiently waiting for the doors to open, racing to the front of the register line and hoping to make it back to school before lunch — becoming the first to brag about owning the latest EPMD release or Illmatic.

Is Iran's Leader Sincere?

Sep 25, 2013

In keeping with his image as a moderate, Iranian President Hasan Rouhani brought his charm offensive to the United Nations this week and held out the possibility of improved relations with the U.S. after more than three decades of hostility.

"Prudent moderation will ensure a bright future for the world," Rouhani told world leaders Tuesday in New York.

So how is the world responding?

Senate Takes Next Step Toward Shutdown Showdown

Sep 25, 2013

After a dramatic 21-plus hours in which Republican Sen. Ted Cruz stood to express his opposition to President Obama's health care programs, the Senate early Wednesday afternoon voted 100-0 to move ahead and take up legislation that would avert a government shutdown next Tuesday.

As expected, the move by the Democratic-led Senate sets up what promises to be another showdown with the Republican-controlled House.

Loud music can lead to hearing loss. But it's not just rock musicians and their fans who are at risk.

In classical orchestras, horn players are particularly vulnerable to hearing damage from the tunes they and their colleagues play.

Some studies have found that horn players are blasted with some of the loudest sounds in the orchestra. The levels are so high that many countries' occupational health regulations would limit exposure like that to a half-hour a day, some studies have found.

Kenya's president says the siege of a mall in Kenya is now over. Host Michel Martin speaks to The Associated Press's Jason Straziuso in Nairobi for an update on the terror attack.

The Pianist Who Plays 'The Rascal And The Sparrow'

Sep 25, 2013

How do you make a piano sing? Italian-born pianist Antonio Pompa-Baldi tackles the question on his new album, The Rascal and the Sparrow, a tribute to Francis Poulenc and Edith Piaf, two titans of French song who each died 50 years ago. Pompa-Baldi shared his thoughts on the project in this email chat with NPR Music's Tom Huizenga.

Sometimes we at Parallels see a story that's so compelling, we make an extra effort to chase down the facts. So it's in that spirit, this story from Reuters caught our attention:

On a recent weekend, a group of reenactors gathered to bring to life the Oregon Trail -- that 2,000 mile route from the Missouri River to the great Northwest. But instead of going back to the 19th century, this group took its inspiration from a more recent era.

Many women have heard that they should be concerned about bone health as they age because there's a risk for crippling fractures.

But repeated bone scans that are supposed to help assess the risk do a crummy job of predicting who's actually going to break a bone.

That's the gist of a study of 802 women and men who are part of the ongoing Framingham Heart Study. They were screened for osteoporosis in 1987 and again in 1999. Most were in their 70s.

Vijay Iyer, Jeremy Denk Win MacArthur Genius Grants

Sep 25, 2013

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