NPR News

Across New York state this week, some students are refusing to take a test, and they're not getting punished for it. The test is the Common Core-aligned, federally mandated test, and students, parents and educators are part of what they're calling the opt-out movement.

Opt outs made news last week in several states: Colorado, Florida, Oregon, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, to name a few. The objections are similar everywhere. But no state is posting numbers like New York.

Last week, as a big storm bore down on Rockford, Ill., students in a Purdue University classroom prepared to track its effects using Twitter.

Using software jointly developed by Purdue, the Department of Homeland Security and the National Weather Service, they huddled around laptops to analyze a tiny sample of the tweets from the storm's immediate vicinity. They were looking for keywords like "damage" or "tornado" and for pictures of funnel clouds.

Cinderella. Billboard. Mo Money. Lady Gaga.

What do they all have in common?

They are a few of the unusual English names young Chinese have adopted over the years in hopes of mixing more easily with Westerners. Such offbeat names, though, sometimes have the opposite effect, generating puzzlement and the wrong kind of smiles.

Lindsay Jernigan, an American entrepreneur, has set up a new website, bestenglishname.com, to help Chinese choose more appropriate names.

This makes total sense: When you're engaged in an activity you truly enjoy, you're happy. And, when you're happy you're not dwelling on all the negative things in life, nor are you stressed about obligations or problems. Certainly this is a good thing from an emotional point of view, but it also has physical benefits.

We know exercise reduces stress, but it turns out that more simple stationary things, like doing puzzles, painting or sewing can help, too.

Five years ago, BP's out-of-control oil well deep in the Gulf of Mexico exploded. Eleven workers were killed on the Deepwater Horizon rig. But it was more than a deadly accident — the blast unleashed the nation's worst offshore environmental catastrophe.

In the spring and summer of 2010, oil gushed from the Macondo well for nearly three months. More than three million barrels of Louisiana light crude fouled beaches and wetlands from Texas to Florida, affecting wildlife and livelihoods.

Today, the spill's impacts linger.

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