Around the Nation
6:55 am
Sun July 1, 2012

Firefighting Planes Battle Wildfires And Old Age

A firefighting air tanker drops fire retardant on the Tea Fire in Montecito, Calif. in 2008. In 2000, The U.S. Forest Service had contracts for 43 air tankers. These days, that number is only nine.
David McNew Getty Images

Originally published on Sun July 1, 2012 11:05 am

As wildfires continue to burn in the West, the U.S. Forest Service is going to battle this summer with fewer air tankers. The number of planes that drop retardant on fires has shrunk significantly over the past 12 years.

In Boise, Idaho, the shortage of air tankers has led to some unexpected repurposing of aircraft.

"This particular aircraft was used as Air Force One at one point," explains pilot Lyle Ehalt, standing next to his shiny white-and-green tanker at the Boise Airport.

Read more
Asia
6:55 am
Sun July 1, 2012

Hong Kong Speaks 'Truth' To New Man In Power

Hong Kong's new Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying attends the flag-raising ceremony to mark the 15th anniversary of the Hong Kong handover to China in Hong Kong Sunday.
Kin Cheung AP

Originally published on Sun July 1, 2012 5:17 pm

China's President Hu Jintao has sworn in a new leader for Hong Kong amid huge public protests.The island is marking the 15th anniversary of its return to Chinese sovereignty, but mistrust toward China is at its highest level since Hong Kong's handover in 1997.

Sunday morning began with the pomp of a flag-raising ceremony, and a fly-past by helicopters bearing the Hong Kong and national Chinese flags. Then Hong Kong's new leader, self-made millionaire Leung Chun-ying, took his oath of office.

Read more
It's All Politics
4:54 am
Sun July 1, 2012

Defeated Democrats Find 'Vindication In Spades' In High Court's Health Care Ruling

Back in October 2010, Democrat Jim Oberstar was running for his 19th term in the U.S. House. But he'd voted for the Affordable Care Act and was beaten that November. Today, he says the Supreme Court's ruling that upheld the act is "vindication in spades."
Julia Cheng AP

James L. Oberstar was riding pretty high in Congress. Over the course of 18 elections, the Democrat had never received less than 59 percent of the vote in his northeastern Minnesota district, and he had finally realized a longstanding ambition by chairing the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Then, he voted for the big health care bill in 2010. Oberstar soon lost his seat, along with 63 other House Democrats.

He doesn't regret it.

"The Supreme Court decision is vindication in spades for me and I hope for others who voted for it," he says.

Read more
Energy
4:49 am
Sun July 1, 2012

Ahead Of Alaska Drilling, Shell Practices Cleaning Up

Trainees with Royal Dutch Shell learn to deploy oil spill booms in the waters near the port of Valdez in Alaska. The company is training about 200 spill responders.
Richard Harris NPR

Originally published on Mon July 2, 2012 12:02 pm

Royal Dutch Shell could drill several exploratory oil wells into the waters off the north shore of Alaska this summer. The potential prize is huge, but so is the risk, should there be an oil spill in this pristine and remote region. And that risk is on everyone's mind since the BP blowout in the Gulf of Mexico two years ago.

Shell is now training hundreds of workers to confront oil in icy waters. But for now, the training is taking place in the calm, ice-free waters far to the south, near the port of Valdez.

Read more
Politics
4:44 am
Sun July 1, 2012

Asian And All-American: A Political Star Rises In N.Y.

The seat Grace Meng holds on the New York Assembly was once held by her father, Jimmy Meng.
Bebeto Matthews AP

Originally published on Sun July 1, 2012 12:58 pm

Earlier this week, Taiwanese-American attorney Grace Meng won the Democratic primary for New York's newly redrawn 6th Congressional District. She says she thinks of herself as an all-American kid, even if others didn't always see her that way.

"Growing up as a kid in Queens, there weren't really many Asians at all," Meng says. "I remember one day, my mom gave me dumplings to bring to school, and people were all like, 'What is that?'"

Meng says she would have preferred peanut butter and jelly.

Read more
Americandy: Sweet Land Of Liberty
4:44 am
Sun July 1, 2012

In 'Sponge Candy Crescent,' Addicts Hoard 'Heaven'

To get their summertime fix, sponge candy lovers on the shore of Lake Erie have to plan in advance.
Melisa Goh NPR

Originally published on Fri July 13, 2012 10:09 am

The eastern shore of Lake Erie is known as the "Sponge Candy Crescent." During the region's long winter months, this crunchy, chocolatey candy is a mainstay — especially for large gatherings and holidays. But come hot weather, you can't get the temperamental treat.

Ko-Ed Candies sells a lot of chocolate Easter bunnies, candy bars and other sweets, but co-owner Sandy Whitt says her customers mostly crave sponge candy.

Read more
Middle East
5:25 pm
Sat June 30, 2012

Sanctions May Squeeze Iran ... And Raise Oil Prices

European countries have agreed to stop importing Iranian oil as of Sunday. This could make it harder for Iran to find markets for its crude. Iran has been filling up tankers off its coast, but analysts say it could run out of storage capacity. This photo shows oil tankers off Iran's coast in January.
Kamran Jebreili AP

The sanctions noose around Iran is set to tighten Sunday as the European Union imposes a total embargo on all purchases of Iranian oil.

The new sanctions are aimed at putting pressure on the Islamic Republic to make concessions on its nuclear program. Iran insists the program is limited to peaceful, civilian purposes, but many Western nations believe Iran has nuclear weapons ambitions.

The move against Iran comes at a time when oil prices have been dropping for the past couple of months.

Read more
Sports
4:56 pm
Sat June 30, 2012

For Italy's Balotelli, Racism On And Off The Field

Transcript

LAURA SULLIVAN, HOST:

This past week, a star was born.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Oh, Balotelli. Mario's moment to shine.

SULLIVAN: That was the call on ESPN of the heroics of 21-year-old Mario Balotelli. He scored both of Italy's goals in their win over Germany in the Euro 2012 soccer tournament. The Italians now advance to the final tomorrow.

Read more
Environment
4:56 pm
Sat June 30, 2012

The Trickiness Of Tracking Severe Weather

Weekends on All Things Considered guest host Laura Sullivan talks with Heidi Cullen, chief climatologist at Climate Central, a non-profit science journalism organization in Princeton, New Jersey. They discuss wildfires and extreme heat in the Midwest this week and how these climate conditions are tracked by Earth-observing satellites.

Around the Nation
4:39 pm
Sat June 30, 2012

Synthetic 'Bath Salts' An Evolving Problem For DEA

Use of synthetic "bath salts," compounds sold legally but used as a controlled substance, has been on the rise since 2010.
Brian Peterson Minneapolis Star Tribune

Originally published on Mon July 2, 2012 6:22 am

One night a little more than two years ago, a 24-year-old man was rushed into the emergency room at Tulane University Medical Center in Louisiana. He was extremely agitated and hallucinating.

Dr. Corey Hebert figured the man was on drugs, probably PCP or a stimulant. But a few minutes later, the man became paranoid.

"He started doing some self-mutilating actions [and] was pulling out his eyebrows and eyelashes," Hebert tells weekends on All Things Considered host Laura Sullivan.

Read more

Pages