The Discovery Channel program MythBusters took safety precautions, going to a California firing range for a segment involving a cannon. They aimed the cannon at water-filled barrels and a concrete wall. But when they fired, the cannonball sailed over the targets, toward a house. People sleeping inside woke to find the cannonball ripped through the house and it struck a minivan.
President Obama put Congress on notice Tuesday in a speech in Osawatomie, Kan.
He said that unless a temporary payroll tax cut is extended this month, 160 million Americans would see their taxes go up next year by an average of $1,000. But there's concern on both sides of the political aisle that the payroll tax holiday might be undermining the solvency of Social Security.
Chinese walk to work midday as heavy smog hangs over downtown Beijing.
Credit Mark Ralston / AFP/Getty Images
These photos show pollution in Beijing on Dec. 5 (top), compared to a blue sky day (bottom) on Aug. 18. In recent weeks, heavy pollution — caused by coal-fired power plants and vehicle emissions — has led to hundreds of flight cancellations and road closures. Long-term exposure is leading to serious health costs.
Credit Louisa Lim / NPR
On a recent day, NPR correspondent Louisa Lim's 6-year-old son, Daniel, wears a protective mask outside.
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.
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.
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.
Tim Kaine, a former Virginia governor and Democratic National Committee chairman, says his ties to President Obama will work both ways in the fall. "I'm sure the fact that I worked closely with the president is something that some people like and some people don't," he says.
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.
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
The soil in the wetlands area is dark and rich in carbon. Flooding of the land traps carbon from the air in the reeds and soil.