as a weekly practice I listen to npr and do a little sketch on one of the stories. take a look, you can click on the illustration to make it bigger!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Banksy Hits New Orleans

As New Orleans faces another potentially destructive storm, the street artist known as Banksy has created more than a dozen murals around the city, including the one shown above. The murals depict a variety of scenes, including Abraham Lincoln as a homeless man pushing a basket, a marching band wearing gas masks, an old man in a rocking chair with an American flag below the words “No Loitering,” and a boy on a swing made out of a life preserver. According to a statement released by Banksy on Thursday, the murals were created in response to Fred Radtke, an antigraffiti campaigner also known as the Gray Ghost, who uses gray paint to cover up graffiti. The statement also said, “Three years after Katrina I wanted to make a statement about the state of the clean up operation.”

-excerpt from the NYT

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Clinton: 'Barack Obama Is My Candidate'

Hillary Clinton delivered an impassioned plea for party unity in a forceful address to the Democratic National Convention Tuesday night, declaring, "Barack Obama is my candidate and he must be our president."

Clinton, who narrowly lost the race for the Democratic nomination to Obama, delivered her anxiously awaited speech before a packed house at the Pepsi Center in Denver, jokingly giving her thanks "to my sisterhood of the traveling pantsuits" while wearing an orange pantsuit.But she also challenged her supporters, many of whom have been reluctant to transfer their allegiance to Obama. "I want you to ask yourselves: Were you in this campaign just for me? Or … were you in it for all the people in this country who feel invisible?"

Clinton called presumptive Republican nominee John McCain a colleague and friend but said the nation doesn't "need four more years of the last eight years." She said it made sense that McCain and George Bush would be together for next week's Republican convention "in the Twin Cities, because they're awfully hard to tell apart."

'Psychological Release'

Clinton was given an extended ovation before and after her address. And at least some of her supporters were mollified by her remarks. "I feel psychologically released," said Clinton delegate Deborah Hauser of New Haven, Conn. "She reminded me I didn't vote just for Hilary but for progressive ideals."

-excerpt from NPR

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Texas students pack bookbags; teachers pack heat.

Along with normal first-day jitters and excitement, students in this tiny district started school Monday wondering which teachers might be toting firearms. "It was kind of awkward knowing that some teachers were carrying guns," said Adam Lira, 17, a senior. "I don't feel like they should be, 'cause we already have locked doors and cameras. But I didn't feel threatened by it."

Several parents said they had no idea that employees of the K-12 school were allowed to carry concealed guns on campus until recent publicity about the school board's policy, approved quietly last fall. They said they were upset that the rural community near the Oklahoma border had not been able to give input.

While some parents said they felt their children were safer, others opposed the plan, which appears to be the first of its kind nationwide. "As far as I'm concerned, teachers were trained to educate my children — not carry a gun. Even police officers need years of training in hostage situations," said Traci McKay, whose three children are among the 110 students in the red-brick Harrold school. "I don't want my child looking over her shoulder wondering who's carrying a gun."

-excerpt from NPR

Friday, August 22, 2008

Obama To Announce VP Via Text Message

Presidential candidate Barack Obama says his pick for a running mate — he's made a decision but isn't giving out a name just yet — had to meet three standards to join the Democratic ticket: Prepared to be president, able to help him govern and willing to challenge his thinking.

Those criteria did little to narrow the guessing game as Obama prepared for a massive rally in Illinois on Saturday to present his No. 2 to the nation and undertake a pre-convention tour of battleground states. He planned to disclose his choice by unleashing text messages to supporters, perhaps as early as Friday.

-excerpt from NPR

Thursday, August 21, 2008

To Lower Blood Pressure, Open Up And Say 'Om'

In his 20 years as director of the hypertension program at Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr. Randy Zusman has maintained a rather traditional approach. He writes plenty of prescriptions for standard medications to treat high blood pressure. But in recent years, Zusman has gotten more assertive with patients about lifestyle choices.

"You're going to have to change your diet, you're going to have to lose weight, exercise, stop smoking," Zusman tells patients. "If it's not an important priority, keep doing what you're doing, I'll give you the pills. But if you really want to be there, you're going to have to change."

Zusman says that about 40 of the 60 patients trained in the relaxation response had positive results. "Their blood pressure dropped, and they dropped some of their medication. It was striking. It was statistically significant, but more important it was clinically significant to these people," he says.

What helps to explain these results, Zusman says, is the relatively new understanding of how the relaxation response assists the body. It helps increase the formation of a compound called nitric oxide, which causes blood vessels to open up. This, in turn, lowers blood pressure. "It's basically a plumbing problem. You're pushing the same amount of blood through a bigger pipe," Zusman says. "And that's what nitric oxide — which all of us make in our body — does in response to relaxation response."

-excerpt from NPR

Monday, August 18, 2008

Powered By Grease, Drivers Race to Greece

In the Grease to Greece road rally kicked off in London Saturday. Teams are heading for Athens in vehicles powered by used cooking oil. The object isn't necessarily who can get to Athens first, rather it's who can get there the greenest. Andy Pag speaks with Robert Smith.

link: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=93671637

-excerpt from npr

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

In Ohio, Inmate Mothers Care For Babies In Prison

At the Ohio Reformatory for Women, a dozen babies are spending time behind bars. Too young to say the word "crime," they are participants in a program that enables inmate mothers to raise their children in their cells. The program is one of many across the country designed to meet the unique needs of mothers who are locked up. Women are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. prison population. At the Ohio Reformatory, the warden estimates that 75 percent of the 2,300 inmates housed there are mothers.

Only a handful of U.S. prisons offer an in-house nursery program like the one at the quickly expanding Ohio complex, located about 30 miles from Columbus. Only nonviolent offenders who arrive at the prison pregnant or with infants and are serving relatively short sentences can qualify. The Achieving Baby Care Success program began in June 2001. The 12 mothers currently participating live in a special wing of the prison. The babies sleep in identical cribs in their mothers' cells. Between prison roll calls, mothers take their children to the in-house nursery for scheduled activities.

The ultimate goal, says warden Sheri Duffey, is to reduce recidivism and keep the next generation out of prison.

-excerpt from NPR

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

8-year-old guitar wiz has reason to play the blues

When Tallan "T-Man" Latz was 5, he saw Joe Satriani playing guitar on TV. "I turned around to my dad and said, 'That's exactly what I want to do.'" Three years and countless hours of practicing later, 8-year-old Tallan is a blues guitar prodigy. He's played in bars and clubs, including the House of Blues in Chicago, and even jammed with Les Paul and Jackson Browne. He has a summer of festivals scheduled and has drawn interest from venues worldwide.

And what, you might ask, would a kid not even in the third grade have the blues about? The state of Wisconsin for one, and some possibly jealous older musicians for another. An anonymous e-mail sent to state officials complained that Tallan was too young to perform in taverns and nightclubs because of state child labor laws. His booking agent even got an anonymous letter threatening her with death if she keeps booking him.

When Tallan's father read him the state's letter saying he couldn't play clubs anymore (he can still play festivals), the boy's response — like his music — seemed beyond his years. "He goes, 'It's not how many times you get knocked down but it's how many times you get back up and go forward,' Carl Latz said his son told him. "And I told him that's exactly what this is all about and if nothing else this letter just taught you a life lesson."

The lesson can be stiff: Each day he performs, the employer can be fined $25 to $1,000 and the parent from $10 to $250.

-excerpt from NPR

Monday, August 11, 2008

Scientists closer to developing invisibility cloak

Scientists say they are a step closer to developing materials that could render people and objects invisible. Researchers have demonstrated for the first time they were able to cloak three-dimensional objects using artificially engineered materials that redirect light around the objects. Previously, they only have been able to cloak very thin two-dimensional objects.

The findings, by scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, led by Xiang Zhang, are to be released later this week in the journals Nature and Science. The new work moves scientists a step closer to hiding people and objects from visible light, which could have broad applications, including military ones.

People can see objects because they scatter the light that strikes them, reflecting some of it back to the eye. Cloaking uses materials, known as metamaterials, to deflect radar, light or other waves around an object, like water flowing around a smooth rock in a stream. Metamaterials are mixtures of metal and circuit board materials such as ceramic, Teflon or fiber composite. They are designed to bend visible light in a way that ordinary materials don't. Scientists are trying to use them to bend light around objects so they don't create reflections or shadows.

It differs from stealth technology, which does not make an aircraft invisible but reduces the cross-section available to radar, making it hard to track. The research was funded in part by the U.S. Army Research Office and the National Science Foundation's Nano-Scale Science and Engineering Center.

- excerpt from AP

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Real Bikers Don't Drink Lattes

Writer Marcos McPeek Villatoro recently bought a Harley — not unlike the one his father and mother drove across the country before he was born. But, tuckered out after a short ride and an espresso-stop, he realizes he'll never be as cool as they were.

-excerpt from npr

Monday, August 4, 2008

Study: Restaurant kids' meals loaded with calories

Parents looking for healthy meal choices for their children are likely to find slim pickings on the menus of the nation's top restaurant chains, according to a report released Monday by a nonprofit public health group. Nearly every possible combination of the children's meals at Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell, Sonic, Jack in the Box, and Chick-fil-A are too high in calories, the report by the Center for Science in the Public Interest said.

The report looked into the nutritional quality of kids' meals at 13 major restaurant chains. The center found 93 percent of 1,474 possible choices at the 13 chains exceed 430 calories — an amount that is one-third of what the National Institute of Medicine recommends that children ages 4 through 8 should consume in a day.

For example, Chili's Bar and Grill has 700 possible kids' meal combinations, but 658, or 94 percent, of those are too high in calories. One Chili's meal consisted of country-fried chicken crispers, cinnamon apples and chocolate milk contained 1,020 calories, while another comprised of cheese pizza, homestyle fries, and lemonade contained 1,000 calories. Burger King has a "Big Kids" meal with a double cheeseburger, fries, and chocolate milk at 910 calories, and Sonic has a "Wacky Pack" with 830 calories worth of grilled cheese, fries, and a slushie.

While there are some healthy choices on restaurant menus, "parents have to navigate a minefield of calories, fat and salt to find them," the report said.

-excerpt from NPR

Friday, August 1, 2008

Unemployment Rate Rises to 4-Year High

The unemployment rate climbed to a four-year high of 5.7 percent in July, as employers cut 51,000 jobs amid a slumping economy, a Labor Department report showed Friday. The U.S. lost non-farm jobs for the seventh straight month in July, hitting teenagers looking for summer jobs the hardest. The total number of jobs lost for the year stands at 463,000.

The report showed that employers remain cautious as a lack of credit stunts their expansion plans. Fallout from the housing slump and high energy prices are also weighing on employers.

The increase in the unemployment rate came as many young people streamed into the labor market looking for summer jobs. This year, however, fewer of them were able to find work, the government said. The unemployment rate for teenagers jumped to 20.3 percent, the highest since late 1992.

-excerpt from NPR