Kelly McEvers

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

A major natural gas storage well in Southern California is still leaking, though less so than back in late October, when the giant gas leak was first reported. More than 5,000 families and two schools have been relocated since then, and the local utility that operates the facility is now facing several legal actions.

Utah has housed nearly all of its chronically homeless people — those who have a disabling condition, and who have been homeless for more than a year, or four times in the past three years. These days, there are fewer than 200.

But chronic homelessness is just a small part of a major problem.

A decade ago, Utah set itself an ambitious goal: end chronic homelessness.

As of 2015, the state can just about declare victory: The population of chronically homeless people has dropped by 91 percent.

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(SOUNDBITE OF FILM "THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY - PART 2")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 76th Hunger Games.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

The fourth and final film in "The Hunger Games" series is out now.

We know more than ever about concussions, the permanent brain damage of chronic traumatic encephalopathy and the other physical risks of football.

Yet so far this year, at least 19 students have died playing football, according to the University of North Carolina's National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research.

Though participation is slowly declining, football is still the country's most popular high school sport. Over a million high schoolers played last season.

The latest front in the debate over religious freedom is all about an 8 1/2-by-11-inch piece of paper.

This particular piece of paper is a notice — one the state of California will soon require to be posted in places known as crisis pregnancy centers. These resource centers, often linked to religious organizations, provide low-cost or free services to pregnant women, while encouraging these women to not have abortions.

Republicans in the U.S. House will take an initial vote Thursday on who they think should replace John Boehner as speaker of the House.

Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz recently announced his candidacy for speaker, but the front-runner for the job is current House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from Bakersfield, Calif.

And McCarthy's roots in California's Central Valley provide some clues about how McCarthy might run the House, if he's elected speaker.

In many countries, the decisions teens make at 15 can determine the rest of their lives. But, often, girls don't have much say — parents, culture and tradition decide for them. In a new series, #15Girls, NPR explores the lives of 15-year-old girls who are seeking to take control and change their fate. Warning: Some of the depictions and images in this story are graphic.

In May, a fight between two rival motorcycle clubs turned into a bloodbath in Waco, Texas. Nine people were shot dead, and at least 20 were injured.

In the end, 177 people were arrested and jailed on charges of engaging in organized crime.

But many of them say they had nothing to do with these "outlaw" motorcycle clubs — and nothing to do with the violence.

Among them are Walt and Ester Weaver. Walt says he's stunned by the way authorities handled the situation.

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

President Obama was at Stanford University last Friday where he headlined the first White House Cybersecurity Summit.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

The remains of a World War II soldier who died in a prisoner of war camp in the Philippines — and the subject of a joint NPR/ProPublica investigation last year — have been identified as Pvt. Arthur "Bud" Kelder. His identification came after a long legal battle between his family and the Pentagon.

King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud of Saudi Arabia has died. He was 90 and had been hospitalized for a lung infection.

Abdullah was born before Saudi Arabia was even a country. It was the early 1920s, and his father, Abdul Aziz ibn Saud, set out to conquer the tribes of the Arabian Peninsula. In one famous battle, ibn Saud surrounded the capital of a rival tribe.

"Famously, instead of executing everybody, he invited them to be his guests," says Robert Lacey, author of two books on Saudi Arabia.

There's a clearing in the jungle in central Liberia that now serves as an Ebola burial ground. Every day, a woman who works as a nurse in the nearby Ebola treatment unit, or ETU, changes from her scrubs into traditional dress, walks into that clearing and sings a song of mourning.

The song is meant to prepare the space for the dead. There is a burial every day. So far, nearly 100 people have been buried in this clearing. Sixteen are from one village about 45 minutes away, a place called Taylortown, or Taylata in the local dialect.

The Ebola outbreak started in rural areas, but by June it had reached Liberia's capital, Monrovia.

By August, the number of people contracting the Ebola virus in the country was doubling every week. The Liberian government and aid workers begged for help.

Enter the U.S. military, who along with other U.S. agencies had a clear plan in mid-September to build more Ebola treatment units, or ETUs. At least one would be built in the major town of each of Liberia's 15 counties. That way, sick patients in those counties wouldn't bring more Ebola to the capital.

There's a new phase of Ebola in Liberia. Epidemiologists call it pingponging.

Back in March, the disease was found in the rural areas. Then as people came to the capital to seek care, it started growing exponentially there. Now, some sick people are going back to their villages, and the disease has pingponged to the rural areas again.

So that's where we're headed — into the hot, thick jungle of Liberia to investigate a new Ebola hotspot.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

To understand the tension between the cops and some people in Albuquerque, you have to go back to a Tuesday in April.

It was after the Justice Department had accused the Albuquerque police of engaging in a pattern of excessive force. In March, a homeless camper named James Boyd was shot and killed. Then a 19-year-old woman was killed.

Music teacher Caro Acuna Olvera was eating dinner when a friend called her with the news.

Lynn Eldredge has worked hard for the past three decades. But somehow, it's still not quite enough.

Eldredge started his working life in the Air Force, and eventually found a steady job in a factory in Kansas. But then, in 2000, he was laid off — and has had six different jobs since then.

Over the past several decades in the U.S., wages have stayed flat or even gone down, while the cost of living has gone up. Economists say that's because jobs went overseas, technology replaced human labor and labor unions have seen their influence decline.

For All Things Considered's "Men in America" series, NPR's Kelly McEvers sent this report on Deep Springs College — the all-male college that her husband attended, and where he and McEvers have both taught.

About a hundred years ago, a man named L.L. Nunn was building power plants in the American West. He wanted a place where workers could be educated — and educated people could do work.

Kenneth Ellis III was shot and killed by police in a 7-Eleven parking lot in Albuquerque, N.M.

He is among the dozens of people local police have shot over the last four years, 25 of whom have died. The U.S. Department of Justice issued a scathing report in April saying Albuquerque police have a pattern of excessive force that violates the Constitution.

Investigations and policy changes are in the works, while families of those who have been shot argue more needs to be done.

Building Cases

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced the creation of a new defense agency charged with merging the multiple divisions currently responsible for finding and identifying the more than 80,000 members missing from past conflicts. A five-month investigation by NPR and the independent news agency ProPublica had found the U.S. recovery effort to be slow, inefficient and stymied by outdated methods.

My parents moved away from Lincoln, Ill., two decades ago, when I was in college. I hardly ever get back there. But my mom still works in Lincoln, and it was to Lincoln I headed to meet her this fall, after returning to the U.S. from the Middle East.

The past two weeks in Egypt have been a real test for the TV network Al-Jazeera. Accusations that the network is biased toward the Muslim Brotherhood and ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi have resulted in arrests, threats and resignations.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

NPR's Kelly McEvers struggled with intense, unexpected emotions during the Arab Spring, when friends were being kidnapped and worse. It made her wonder, why do otherwise intelligent people risk their lives to report on conflicts?

In early 2011, I started seeing things in slow motion. I cried unpredictably. It was the time of the Arab uprisings. Colleagues and friends were getting kidnapped. Some were getting killed.

The film on Syria's Alawite community isn't finished yet, but filmmaker Nidal Hassan's favorite scenes are beginning to take shape.

It opens with fireworks on New Year's Eve in Tartous, Syria. "May God preserve the president for us," one young man yells in a reference to Syrian leader Bashar Assad.

The Alawites of Syria were a poor, little-known Shiite minority until longtime dictator Hafez Assad, a member of the sect, rose to power in 1970. His son, President Bashar Assad, is now fighting to maintain that power in a country that has risen up against him. Now, even some Syrian Alawites say they are willing to denounce the regime, despite the risks.

A recent gathering in Cairo was much like other conferences hosted by the Syrian opposition — a flurry of activity in the hotel lobby, late-night conversations and lots of cigarettes.

It's been 10 years since the U.S. invaded Iraq. This week we're taking a look back, revisiting voices you first heard on NPR in 2007. We brought you the story of two sisters who had lost their parents. The older sister wore conservative clothes and recited poetry. The younger sister, just 13 at the time, appeared on the verge of becoming a prostitute.

Like so many stories in Iraq, especially sensitive ones involving shame and sex, this story has to be peeled away in layers, like an onion.

On the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, NPR is catching up with some of the people we encountered during the war. In 2006, at the height of the violence, we brought you the story of a woman who performed the Muslim ritual of washing and preparing the dead for burial. Kelly McEvers has this update on Um Abbas, who is now living in southern Iraq.

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