On the Indonesian island of Sumatra, a backhoe stacks freshly cut trees to be made into pulp and paper. Asia Pulp and Paper, or APP, is Indonesia's largest papermaker, and the company and its suppliers operate vast plantations of acacia trees here that have transformed the local landscape.
When I recommend books to kids or grown-ups, I can almost always get them interested if I add "Oh, and after you read this book, you could go on a field trip to the museum/zoo/baseball stadium/library ... or just take a little road trip!" Spring 2013 has been a very good year for children's books that spark the imagination and make kids (and grownups) want to do a little more exploring.
Books like these can be the start of amazing adventures. Enjoy!
Mara Alpert is a librarian in the Children's Literature Department at the Los Angeles Public Library.
The Transportation Security Administration has told Congress that it's finished retrofitting airport scanners to blunt a widely criticized technology that shows graphic detail of a passenger's body as he or she goes through security checkpoints.
There are risks aplenty for a U.S. lawmaker who makes a surprise visit to a war zone, as Sen. John McCain recently did when he crossed the border from Turkey into Syria.
The perils to life and limb go without saying. But there are also other risks: trying to tell the good guys from the bad guys; or being victimized by disinformation from unfriendly Middle Eastern interests.
While McCain got out unscathed from Syria, where he visited rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces, he may have had less success navigating the other risks.
It might come as a surprise that for centuries the French have been sans a term for "French kiss."
But, voila! The newest edition of the Petit Robert 2014 dictionary has rectified that with a new verb — "galocher," meaning "to kiss with tongues." It's a clever derivation of la galoche, a word for an ice-skating boot, and so evokes the idea of sliding around the ice — or the lips and tongue.
The clock is ticking for those who hope Illinois will become the 13th state to legalize same-sex marriage.
The Illinois General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn its spring session Friday night, and the marriage equality bill still has not been called for a vote in the state House, where supporters are struggling to round up the 60 votes necessary to pass it.
Pull into the Bourbon Drive-In just off U.S. Highway 68 near Paris, Ky., and it's like stepping back in time. Patricia and Lanny Earlywine own the 7-acre drive-in. It's been connected to the family since the theater opened in 1956. Even the popcorn machine is original.
"To do a drive-in, it sort of gets in your blood. You have to love it," Patricia says.
If you stand in front of Almena and Sidney Poray's house in Baton Rouge, La., and look straight down the street, past the other houses and the shade trees, you see more than a dozen plumes of exhaust in various hues of gray and white.
"That's something you see every day, the same thing if not more," says Almena Poray. "Sometimes it's a darker gray; sometimes it's a black smoke coming out."
From New Mexico to New York, 10 state university systems have announced they are joining the ranks of elite institutions embracing the massive open online course, or MOOC, system.
On Thursday, they unveiled a landmark partnership with Coursera, a for-profit tech company with 3.5 million registered students. It's the biggest effort to catapult degree-granting institutions into the world of global education.
When Herman Boudreau joined the U.S. Army in 1941, he set in motion a lifetime of public service. Boudreau, who died in April at age 93, served in the Army in New Zealand and the South Pacific during World War II.
He spent more than two years fighting the Japanese, and years later shared many of his war experiences with his daughter, Nancie Smith. In one incident, she says, he had to secure an airfield while removing the last Japanese resistance on three occupied islands.
U.S. shot putter Adam Nelson has been awarded a gold medal from the 2004 Athens Olympics, after his rival at those games, Yuriy Bilonog of Ukraine, was stripped of the victory last December for violating doping rules. The International Association of Athletics Federations and the International Olympic Committee made the change official Thursday.
Over the course of his career, Michael Caine has played big parts and small parts, all of them memorable. His films include everything from Alfie to The Man Who Would Be King, from The Cider House Rules to The Dark Knight.
"I've been very fortunate," Caine tells NPR's Robert Siegel, "because I spent my life doing something that I love doing so much, I used to do it for nothing. So you can't have a better life than that."
There was great fanfare when the Mars Science Laboratory launched in November 2011, and again when its precious cargo — NASA's Mars rover Curiosity — touched down on the red planet in August 2012.
The eight months in between had drama of their own. Curiosity was constantly bombarded with radiation as it traveled through space — high-energy protons thrown out by the sun, and galactic cosmic rays slicing through the solar system from distant supernovas.