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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.