Viewed out of context, recent Washington revelations paint a disturbing portrait of the vast amount of electronic data the nation's spy agencies are collecting. But the blockbuster news stories belie a simple truth: Personal privacy rights have been under sustained assault since well before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. And it's not just government that's vacuuming up information.
Oprah Winfrey gave $12 million Tuesday to help build the Smithsonian's new National Museum of African American History and Culture, seen here in a scale model (lower center). The facility is expected to open in 2015.
Media mogul Oprah Winfrey is giving a multimillion-dollar boost to the Smithsonian's new facility, the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). She gave the museum, which is being built in Washington, D.C., $12 million Tuesday, in addition to a previous $1 million donation.
"I am so proud of African-American history and its contributions to our nation as a whole," says Winfrey, chairman and CEO of the Oprah Winfrey Network. "I am deeply appreciative of those who paved the path for me and all who follow in their footsteps."
Jasmine Chestnut at her internship at the Center for American Progress in Washington. An at-risk student, Chestnut had almost given up on college when a nonprofit network supported by the government's Social Innovation Fund helped her get back on track.
Credit Gabriella Demczuk / NPR
Nonprofits supported by federal and private dollars through the Social Innovation Fund say they have helped thousands of people like Chestnut since the fund's inception.
"We're going to use this fund to find the most promising nonprofits in America," he said when announcing the plan. "We'll examine their data and rigorously evaluate their outcomes. We'll invest in those with the best results that are the most likely to provide a good return on our taxpayer dollars."
Reaction was swift to the Obama administration's announcement Monday night that it was dropping a long-running legal battle to keep age restrictions on one type of the morning-after birth control pill.
But like just about everything else in this decade-long controversy, the latest decision has pleased just about no one.
If you're a member of Congress and you didn't know about the National Security Agency's phone records program before it was disclosed last week, President Obama has this to say to you: Where have you been?
"When it comes to telephone calls, every member of Congress has been briefed on this program," Obama said to reporters last Friday.
Millions of bats live in Bracken Cave, in a rural area near San Antonio. Conservationists are worried that plans for a multithousand-unit housing development will disrupt the bat colony.
Credit Eric Gay / AP
Millions of bats emerge from Bracken Cave, near San Antonio, in 2011. The cave is located in a rural area, but conservationists are worried that a planned housing development nearby will disturb the bat colony that lives here.
The Bracken Bat Cave, just north of San Antonio, is as rural as it gets. You have to drive down a long, 2-mile rocky road to reach it. There's nothing nearby — no lights, no running water. The only thing you hear are the katydids.
The cave houses a massive bat colony, as it has for an estimated 10,000 years. Bat Conservation International, the group that oversees the Bracken Cave Reserve, wants it to stay secluded, but the area's rural nature could change if a local developer's plan moves forward.
A Predator drone operated by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Air and Marine taxis for a flight over southern Arizona near the Mexican border on March 7 from Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista, Ariz.
Credit John Moore / Getty Images
The equipment hanging from the Customs and Border Protection drone's underbelly includes a night camera, a day camera, a low-light camera and laser target illumination.
The runways at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., are busy. This is where the Army tests its military drones, where it trains its drone pilots, and where four Customs and Border Protection drones take off and land.
From here, the CBP drones survey the Arizona-Mexico border — mainly looking for immigrants and drug smugglers.
Walk into any bookstore or library, and you'll find shelves and shelves of hugely popular novels and book series for kids. But research shows that as young readers get older, they are not moving to more complex books. High-schoolers are reading books written for younger kids, and teachers aren't assigning difficult classics as much as they once did.
Egypt's leaders are negotiating with Ethiopia over a Nile River dam project the Ethiopians have begun building, according to reports. The news comes after a week of forceful talk about the dam project, including one session with Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi in which politicians discussed armed intervention, apparently not aware their words were being broadcast on live television.
In order to make tough cuts of beef more tender, the industry uses a mechanical tenderizing process that involves piercing the meat with needles.
This is effective in breaking up the tough muscle fibers, but there's a downside, too: a higher risk of surface bacteria making their way into the cut of meat, which can set the stage for food poisoning. That's a particular concern when it comes to the center of meat cuts, which don't get heated to the same temperatures as the exterior.