The Northern Mariana Islands are about 4,000 miles west of Hawaii. They look like the kind of tropical islands you see in the movies with bright blue water and white sand beaches.
The people who live on the islands are American. The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands is a U.S. territory. And just like a lot of U.S. states, the commonwealth has a pension plan for its government employees.
The final round of the 2012 National Geographic Bee takes place Thursday, with students between the fourth and eighth grades testing their knowledge of countries, canals and lava lakes. Of the 54 contestants who came to the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C., for the bee, only 10 remain.
Olympic officials meeting in Quebec City have reached a tentative agreement in a persistent revenue-sharing dispute responsible, in part, for keeping the Olympics out of the United States for at least 20 years.
The dispute centers on the American share of Olympic revenues. Since 1984, The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) has received the biggest portion of the billions of Olympic dollars paid by corporate sponsors and American television networks. And the rest of the Olympic world has resented it.
Polls have closed on a historic day in Egypt: For many it was the first time they had a say in who their leader will be. Hosni Mubarak, who ruled the country for 29 years, was ousted last year. And before him, for another 30 or so years, Egyptian presidents have run unopposed.
Kimberly Adams was at the polls in Cairo today for NPR. She filed this report for our Newscast unit:
"Many waited in line for hours to choose the replacement for President Hosni Mubarak, who was booted from office during the Arab Spring.
Shares of Facebook on Wednesday made up a little of the ground they've lost since the company's troubled stock offering last week. But the company and its lead underwriter, Morgan Stanley, still face a lot of legal problems.
Some of the investors who bought shares of the company filed a lawsuit alleging that the two companies concealed information about Facebook's expected performance.
Officials in Beijing have ruled that public restrooms in the Chinese capital can have no more than two flies in them at one time, the BBC reports.
New rules issued Monday by the Beijing Municipal Commission of City Administration and Environment also regulate ads within the bathrooms and state that no more than two pieces of trash can be left uncollected for more than a half-hour.
The rules apply to bathrooms in tourist spots such as parks, railway stations, supermarkets and malls.
CNN host Piers Morgan has been dragged into the U.K.'s hacking scandal once again.
This time, the host of the BBC's Newsnight told a media ethics inquiry that Morgan had showed him how to hack into a cell phone's voice mail.
SkyTV reports that Jeremy Paxman remembered a lunch from September 2002 for two reasons: First because Morgan seemed to imply that he had heard a conversation between another TV presenter Ulrika Jonsson and England football manager Sven-Goran Eriksson.
A storm is brewing in Washington that could darken political debate for months to come. It's about the debt, the deficit, taxes and spending — all hot topics lawmakers have been fighting about for years now.
This time, though, there's a deadline, and the consequences of inaction would be immediate. That has many in Washington saying: Here we go again.
In the past week, President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner have begun a new round of sparring over the U.S. debt ceiling.
Declaring that a "national emergency" exists in public education, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney shifted from his usual economic message to outline his education platform during a speech to a Latino business group Wednesday.
Romney pledged to provide federal funding for "every" child from low-income families, or those with special needs, to attend the public, public charter or, in some cases, private school of their parents' choice. The proposals are boilerplate Republican Party planks.
The director of the Secret Service assured a Senate committee, today, that a prostitution scandal involving his agents never compromised security. Mark Sullivan also apologized for behavior he said was reckless. It was Sullivan's first public testimony since news broke last month of Secret Service employees picking up prostitutes before a presidential visit to Colombia. He insisted this was an isolated incident.
But NPR's Tamara Keith reports, some on the committee weren't buying it.
The latest talks in Baghdad over Iran's nuclear program have prompted the usual arguments. Iran says it has only peaceful intentions. Israeli leaders scoff at that claim. Other world powers are unsure of Iran's intentions and demand that it take steps to show that it is not pursuing nuclear weapons.
The CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies, meanwhile, are sticking with the assessment they made in November 2007, when they reported that Iran "halted its nuclear weapons program" in 2003 and apparently had not restarted it.
Sufjan Stevens is a classically trained singer-songwriter whose recent work has leaned symphonic. Son Lux is a classically trained beatmaker whose solo albums do indeed evoke luxury. Serengeti is a self-trained rapper who creates voices for a panoply of full-fledged characters who range from scufflers to yuppies. Billed as s / s / s, this ad hoc trio has just released an EP called Beak and Claw that somehow synthesizes their specialties.
As part of what it calls "a multi-year restructuring," Hewlett-Packard announced it was cutting 27,000 jobs or 8 percent of its workforce.
HP said the cuts would happen over an extended period and should be done by the end of 2014.
"The restructuring is expected to generate annualized savings in the range of $3.0 to $3.5 billion exiting fiscal year 2014, of which the majority will be reinvested back into the company," the company said in a statement.
Richard Grenell, the former campaign staffer for Mitt Romney who resigned after some conservatives criticized the hiring of an openly gay adviser who favors same-sex marriage, said Wednesday that the issue should not determine how most Americans vote.
Filing your taxes may be a dreaded task. But eating healthy can be an even bigger struggle for many Americans.
According to the results of a new survey of more than 1,000 Americans, almost half of us think its harder to eat right than do our taxes. And genderwise, 55 percent of men say it's harder to figure out what you should be eating than it is to figure out how to do your own taxes. For women, it's slightly lower, at 48 percent. The survey comes from the folks at the International Food Information Council Foundation.
Poachers caught hunting tigers in India's Maharashtra state are on notice that they could be shot on sight.
The Times of India says the "stern stand against poachers" means "if the forest officials fire upon the poachers injuring or killing them, the action will not be considered a crime." Prior to this week's announcement by state officials, those guards were subject to prosecution for such actions.
We've all been there: Banging the back of a glass ketchup bottle, begging it to give you a dollop of the good stuff or battling with a plastic bottle coercing it into giving up the last of its contents.
Maybe that will be a thing of the past.
Six MIT researchers say they've solved that problem as part of an entrepreneurship competition. The result is a bottle coated with "LiquiGlide," a nontoxic material so slippery that the ketchup or for that matter mayonnaise just glides out when you turn it over.
DALTON, Mass. – If you were driving through this small town along the Housatonic River in the Berkshires, here's something you might not think about: All the bills in your wallet are visiting their birthplace.
The paper for U.S. currency, the substrate of everyday commerce, has been made here since 1879 by the Crane family.
Crane & Co. vice president Doug Crane represents the eighth generation descended from Stephen Crane, who was making paper before the American Revolution.
He gave NPR reporters a behind-the-scenes tour and talked about his company.
In all likelihood it won't change the minds of those who believe President Obama is ineligible to be president, but today Arizona's top elections official said he had put the "birther" issue to rest, when Hawaii sent him confirmation that Obama's birth certificate is legitimate.
Nearly 4 million people are members of CouchSurfing.org and can find a host in every country — including North Korea — free of charge.
New Yorker staff writer Patricia Marx became a member recently and stayed with seven friendly strangers, from a graduate student in Iowa City to a couple in Bermuda in their 60s. She wrote about her experience for the magazine.
Don Waters was 3 when his father, Robert Stanley Waters, abandoned the boy and his mother. But before Robert Waters died, he sent Don a short autobiography, hoping it would help him understand his father.
It took years before Don could bring himself to read it. When he did, he discovered an unsuspected past — and a shared passion for surfing. What he read prompted him to take a trip along the California coast, where his father played a part in establishing the surfer culture's first beachhead on the American mainland.
Mike Nichols has won every major entertainment award over a decades-long career that includes theater, comedy, television and film. He performed as half of the comedy team Nichols and May, won his first Academy Award directing The Graduate, and returned to Broadway with a revival of Death of a Salesman, which picked up seven Tony nominations. Nichols warns that the production may be his last.
When we first kicked around the idea of asking people to share their opinions about compensating organ donors, it was pretty clear that we were on to something. Everybody in the newsroom seemed to have a strong feeling about it.
It's safe to say that when it comes to recent presidents, Ronald Reagan is the most venerated, especially among Republicans but not exclusively so. Some even accuse conservatives of beatifying the 40th president as though he were on the road to sainthood.
So it's not surprising there would be a Reagan relic out there, specifically a medical-lab vial purportedly containing the dried remains of a blood sample taken from the president on the day he was nearly assassinated in March 1981.
For the most part, we don't hear novel arguments in favor or against the controversial issue of immigration. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been one of the few to take a different view. Last year, he advocated opening the door to new immigrants if they all moved to Detroit.