NPR: Eric Westervelt

NPR foreign correspondent Eric Westervelt recently wrapped up a multi-year assignment in the Middle East covering Israel and the Palestinian Territories. He took up his new position as a Berlin-based European Correspondent for NPR in May 2009.

Westervelt has reported on conflicts and their repercussions across the Middle East region for NPR, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the second Lebanon war between Hezbollah and Israel, and the on going Palestinian-Israel conflict, including fighting in the Gaza Strip ranging from internal Palestinian violence to multiple Israeli offensives in the territory. He reported in-depth on issues across the occupied West Bank and Israel. He has also reported from the Horn of Africa, Yemen and the Persian Gulf region.

Westervelt reported on the war in Iraq from the initial US-led ground invasion in 2003, traveling with the lead unit of the Army's Third Infantry Division. He later helped cover the insurgency; sectarian violence; and the on-going struggle rebuild the country in the post Saddam Hussein-era.

Westervelt's coverage at home and abroad has helped NPR win broadcast journalism's highest honors, including contributions to a 2002 George Foster Peabody Award to NPR for coverage of the September 11th terrorist attacks in the US and its aftermath; a 2003 Alfred I. DuPont - Columbia University award for NPR's coverage of 9-11 and the war in Afghanistan; as well as duPont-Columbia University top honors again in 2004 and again in 2007 for NPR's coverage of the war in Iraq and affect on Iraqi society, among other awards.

Westervelt's reports are heard on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and NPR's hourly newscasts, and appear online at npr.org

Prior to his Middle East assignment, Westervelt covered military affairs for NPR News reporting on a wide range of defense, national security and foreign policy issues. Before that Westervelt reported for NPR's National Desk, covering some of the biggest stories in recently memory, including the shootings at Columbine High School, the explosion of TWA flight 800 and the Florida presidential recount. For the National Desk Westervelt also reported on national trends in law enforcement and crime fighting, including police tactics, use of force, the drug war, racial profiling and the legal and political battles over firearms in America. Westervelt's work on the National Desk also contributed to another Peabody Award for an NPR series on the most influential American musical works of the 20th Century.

Before joining NPR, Westervelt worked as a reporter in Oregon and a news director and reporter in New Hampshire and reported for Monitor Radio, the broadcast edition of the Christian Science Monitor.

Westervelt is a graduate of the Putney School. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in American Studies from Reed College in Portland, Oregon. He and his wife Lisa currently live in Germany.

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There's about 10 feet between Judge Craig Hannah's courtroom bench and the place where a defendant stands to be arraigned here in Buffalo City Court.

But for 26-year-old Caitlyn Stein, it has been a long, arduous 10 feet.

"This is your first day back! Good to see you!" Judge Hannah says as he greets her.

"Good to see you," Stein says, smiling.

"We've got to do that after picture. We did the before," Judge Hannah reminds her.

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And we start this hour in Las Vegas where investigators continue to sift through clues into Sunday's mass shooting. Authorities have now identified all but three of the 59 people killed in the attack, and they say the number of people injured remains around 500.

"Never forget" became a national rallying cry after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Yet America's schools — where collective memory is shaped — are now full of students who never knew because they weren't alive then. Many teachers now struggle with whether and how to teach the attacks and their aftermath.

According to one survey, only about 20 states include anything in depth about the events of that fateful day in their high school social studies curriculum.

And when they are taught, critics say, it's often through a narrow lens.

Updated at 8:42 p.m. ET

Organizers of what was being called a "freedom rally" Saturday in San Francisco had hoped to draw an audience for their conservative causes.

Instead, they say rhetoric from politicians and groups on the left compromised their safety by attracting extremists. On Facebook Friday afternoon, one of the organizers, Joey Gibson, announced that the event at San Francisco's Crissy Field was canceled and would now be a news conference at Alamo Square Park.

In the dawn hours of July 16, Edward French, a professional film and TV scout and avid photographer, stood atop Twin Peaks, the famed San Francisco hillside with its panoramic views of his hometown.

French, 71, had his camera with him, as he always did.

"He knew beautiful places. He was trying to catch the sunrise coming up Sunday morning, especially the way the city's skyline is changing," says Brian Higginbotham, French's longtime partner.

Public defenders in Baltimore say hundreds of criminal cases could be tossed out after two incidents discovered on police body cameras this summer show officers allegedly planting drug evidence.

So far some 40 criminal cases have been dropped, mostly involving drug and weapons-related felonies.

But lawyers there say that's just the beginning.

The cubist revolution, now in its eighth year, is thriving.

That's Minecraft cubes, of course.

The game where you build virtual Lego-like worlds and populate them with people, animals and just about everything in between is one of the most popular games ever made; it's second only to Tetris as the best-selling video game of all time. There's gold in them thar cubes: More than 120 million copies have sold since Minecraft launched in 2009.*

So what's behind the game's enduring appeal?

The Department of Homeland Security announced Tuesday that it would waive environmental and other laws to ensure the "expeditious construction" of barriers and roads near the U.S.-Mexico border in the San Diego region. Environmentalists have warned that extending the border wall could damage ecosystems and threaten wildlife habitats.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is taking his shot helping narrow the opportunity and equity gaps with his Skyhook Foundation and Camp Skyhook. The Los Angeles nonprofit helps public school students in the city access a free, fun, weeklong STEM education camp experience in the Angeles National Forest.

The Golden State Warriors earned their second NBA title in three years with a 129 to 120 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers in Oakland Monday night, led by All-Star forward Kevin Durant's 39 points and strong bench scoring.

Durant's stellar play all season and throughout the playoffs vindicated Golden State's massive payout to the superstar in a controversial off-season deal.

Fellow All-Star Stephen Curry added 34 points.

But it was Durant, who left Oklahoma City for Oakland at the end of last season, who carried the team.

Stanford physics and education professor Carl Wieman won a Nobel Prize for his innovative, break-through work in quantum mechanics. Wieman has since levered the prestige and power of that prize to call attention to the need to transform undergraduate teaching, especially science education.

Pankaj Rayamajhi hears something. Senioritis?

The director of school logistics and operations has a kind of sixth sense about that unique Spring affliction as he roams the hallways of Columbia Heights Education Campus, a public middle and high school in Washington, D.C.

Rayamajhi quickens his pace, walkie-talkie in hand, and turns a corner into a stairwell. Yep, senioritis. When they see him, the small group of students loitering on the stairs scatters back to class.

What makes a high-quality learning program effective not just for the child but the whole family? What else, besides a well-run early ed or pre-K program, is essential to help families break out of intergenerational poverty?

Mayor Bill de Blasio this week pushed ahead with plans to make New York City one of nation's few big cities to offer free, full-day preschool for all 3-year-olds­­.

The plan would serve, when fully rolled out over several years, more than 60,000 children a year. It builds on one of de Blasio's signature accomplishments of his first term – universal pre-K for 4-year-olds.

Organizers of Saturday's nationwide March for Science have some pretty lofty goals: supporting science "as a pillar of human freedom and prosperity." Promoting "evidence-based policies in the public interest." Oh, and don't forget highlighting "the very real role that science plays in each of our lives and the need to respect and encourage research that gives us insight into the world."

Whoa, that's a lot of exalted ground to cover with one cardboard sign!

Activists took to the streets in Washington, D.C., and several other cities Saturday — the traditional Tax Day (which officially falls on April 18 this year) — to try to pressure the president to release his tax returns. Liberal protests are fast becoming a fixture of Donald Trump's presidency.

A broad coalition of groups across the nation is encouraging women to participate in Wednesday's strike, called "A Day Without A Woman."

The organized protest comes on International Women's Day and follows the successful Women's March in January.

Trump administration policies toward refugees and immigrants, as well as a recent racially-charged shooting in Kansas, have some international students thinking twice about enrolling in American colleges and universities.

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During Betsy DeVos' bitter confirmation hearing last month for education secretary, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet pointed to Denver as a potential national model of a big city school district that's found an innovative, balanced approach to school choice.

There hasn't been a more controversial pick for secretary of education, arguably, in recent memory than Donald Trump's choice of Betsy DeVos. The Senate confirmation hearings for the billionaire Republican fundraiser and activist from Michigan start today.

On campuses today almost every educational interaction leaves digital traces. Assignments and feedback are given through online portals; debates and discussions happen via learning management systems as well as in classrooms, cafes and dorm rooms.

Those and other digital crumbs give technologists the opportunities to examine the processes, practices and goals of higher education in ways that were largely impossible a decade or so ago.

'Tis the day after Christmas and all through the house many kids aren't stirring... They're joyfully lost in their new smartphones, tablets or smart TVs.

And it's likely mom and dad are a little digitally distracted too.

In many households, screens are omnipresent. That reality has some big implications for children. Researchers, for example, have found language delays in those who watch more television.

Companies use lots and lots of data, including your daily Web surfing, to help them sell you stuff. They follow you across the Internet with annoying ads, and the data they collect is now essential for their business.

So why aren't the best minds in higher education doing more to tap all that information to improve teaching and learning?

Now, some of them are. Schools such as Valencia College in Orlando, Fla., are wading into the data streams of what's being called "predictive and learning analytics."

If you got 13 percent back on your investments every year, you'd be pretty happy, right? Remember, the S&P 500, historically, has averaged about 7 percent when adjusted for inflation.

What if the investment is in children, and the return on investment not only makes economic sense but results in richer, fuller, healthier lives for the entire family?

The unofficial motto of a public charter school co-founded by Betsy DeVos — President-elect Trump's choice to lead the Department of Education — could be "No Pilot Left Behind."

Nearby a small maintenance hangar that's part of the West Michigan Aviation Academy, one of the school's two Cessna 172 airplanes chugs down the tarmac of Gerald R. Ford International Airport. The school is based on the airport's grounds, just outside Grand Rapids.

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