On the way to school, my kids and I play a guessing game: How polluted is the air today? We use an app linked to the air pollution monitor at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, and we try to guess the day's exact level on the Air Quality Index, and whether the air is dangerous.
These days, chances are that it could well be. For more than half of the past 60 days, the air pollution has hit levels hazardous to human health. Experts estimate long-term exposure to such pollution could reduce life expectancy by as much as five years. But I don't tell the kids that.
Originally published on Wed December 7, 2011 8:36 am
After J.C. Penney advertised a shirt many people found sexist, Lauren Todd launched an online petition. This screengrab was taken from Change.org, after J.C. Penney removed the shirt from its inventory.
Angry consumers have been turning to online petitions to try to change what retailers put on their store shelves. This fall, J.C. Penney had to scrap a shirt that read "I'm Too Pretty To Do Homework, So My Brother Has To Do It For Me," after an online backlash by consumers calling the shirt sexist. Other retailers are also feeling the pressure.
George Allen, a former U.S. senator and Virginia governor, speaks to employees of an auto parts manufacturing plant near Roanoke, Va., on Oct. 5. Allen is trying to recapture the Senate seat he lost in 2006.
A debate in Richmond, Va., on Wednesday kicks off what promises to be one of the most closely watched and expensive U.S. Senate races in 2012.
The seat in question is being vacated by Democrat Jim Webb, who has chosen not to run for a second term. Running to replace him are two former Virginia governors: Republican George Allen, who held the Senate seat before Webb defeated him in 2006, and Democrat Tim Kaine, who recently served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
It's a race likely to revolve around two key issues: President Obama and the economy.
Riad al-Asaad says he's the leader of the Free Syrian Army, a group of Syrian defectors who recently posted this video on the group's Facebook page.
Credit Free Syrian Army / AP
In Syria, the clashes between the opposition movement and the government's security forces are starting to look more and more like a civil war. Protests across the country still remain mostly peaceful, but soldiers who have defected are assembling a force called the Free Syrian Army, which has been launching attacks on government targets. NPR's Kelly McEvers recently met up with members of the Free Syrian Army when she crossed from Lebanon into Syria on a secret nighttime excursion.
Tall grasses in the San Joaquin valley in California suck carbon dioxide out of the air and store it in the soil. It's one option that environmentalists are pursuing for greenhouse gas "offsets" that can be bought and sold in the state.
Credit Christopher Joyce / NPR
Second of a two-part series on California's climate policies. Read part 1.
Climate experts are exploring the concept of growing dense fields of weeds to help soak up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Just over a year from now, California will begin enforcing a set of laws that limit emissions of greenhouse gases from factories, power plants and, eventually, from vehicles.
The Marching 100, Florida A&M University's band, performs on the field before Super Bowl XLIV, Feb. 7, 2010. The band's director, Julian White, was fired in November after a band member died, allegedly from a hazing incident on a bus.
Credit Win McNamee / Getty Images
Every now and then, as a journalist, you want to think that you haven't just done a good "story," but maybe you've actually brought attention to something that can actually do good.
The Commonwealth of Kentucky has been cited by the federal government for water pollution related to road construction. The Environmental Protection Agency fined the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet $8,000 for the violation, which happened while widening US-421 in Frankfort.
Snake handler Subhendu Malllik holds up an Indian baby cobra hatchling after it emerged from an egg on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar, India, in June. The venomous snake is indigenous to South Asia.
Credit Asit Kumar / AFP/Getty Images
If you're poor and living in the Indian countryside, there's a life-threatening problem that can slither right into your life — a poisonous snake.
Snakebites in India are thought to have killed nearly 46,000 people alone in 2005. But the toll in India (the unfortunate leader of the snakebitten pack), Bangladesh and other countries that have lots of people and lots of poisonous snakes in close proximity hasn't been fully appreciated.