Ford employees assemble parts for Ranger pickup trucks. The last Ranger rolled off the line weeks ago as the plant prepares to close.
Credit Jennifer Simonson for NPR
Ken Grady puts tires on trucks on the Ford Ranger production line.
Credit Jennifer Simonson for NPR
Steve Overby makes sure the hood of each Ranger pickup truck is flush before it comes off the production line.
Credit Jennifer Simonson for NPR
St. Paul resident Lois Neisen drives a Ranger truck off the line after workers inspected that the vehicle's hood, doors and gas cap. Neisen has worked at the Ford plant for 21 years. Her husband retired from the plant, and her son also worked at there for a time.
The Ford Motor Co. recently closed its historic Twin Cities Assembly Plant on a scenic river bluff in St. Paul, Minn. In better times, the parcel of land might have made condo developers drool, but in today's real estate market, redevelopment of the old factory could be a long way off.
The industrial architect Albert Kahn was particularly skilled at making factories blend into their surroundings. The 2-million-square-foot plant has a classical stone facade that flows along the Mississippi River bluff. The red tile roof of its hydroelectric plant glows in the sunlight.
Federal, state and local spending on roadways is down nearly 6 percent. That's made it a tough year for many in the road-building business — but not in Vermont. There, pavers, excavators and other companies have had one of their busiest years ever, thanks to a storm named Irene.
For the past several months, Steve Wilk and Doug Casella have spent a lot of time in and out of their pickup trucks, checking on their road crews. For a business meeting, they just pull off onto the rocky shoulder to talk about new guardrails and blacktop for a job they're working on.
As many as 5,000 private security contractors will be protecting U.S. diplomats in Iraq. The U.S. Embassy compound (above) and several consulates will have about 15,000 workers, making it the largest diplomatic operation abroad.
The U.S. troops have left Iraq, and U.S. diplomats will now be the face of America in a country that remains extremely volatile.
The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, along with several consulates, will have some 15,000 workers, making it the largest U.S. diplomatic operation abroad. Those diplomats will be protected by a private army consisting of as many as 5,000 security contractors who will carry assault weapons and fly armed helicopters.
This fall American police were confronted with something they hadn't seen in 40 years: prolonged, simultaneous political protests across the country. In most cities, police showed restraint. But there have been exceptions — sometimes involving copious amounts of pepper spray. Those flashpoints have become a cause for concern.
2011 was a good year for the word "swag". Not trinkets, or party favors, not an acronym for Stuff We All Get, "swag" comes from swagger. This year a term that hip-hop artists have been using for nearly a decade enjoyed a moment in the spotlight.
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Forget the ABCs or childhood friendships. Brooklyn band the Deedle Deedle Dees infuses its music with subjects as diverse as Gandhi's philosophy of nonviolence and the letters of John and Abigail Adams, coupled with catchy, sing-along choruses.
The new bio-pic My Week with Marilyn chronicles the making of The Prince and the Showgirl, in which Laurence Olivier acted with and directed Marilyn Monroe. Sarah Churchwell, author of The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe, talks to Robert Siegel about what elements of the film ring true.
A five-star hotel in Afghanistan may seem a risky business proposition. But not to the Marriott chain, which is going to manage a six-story hotel under construction in Kabul. Part of the U.S. and NATO security bubble, it will likely draw foreign businesspeople hoping to sign reconstruction deals.
More hospitals in Massachusetts and across the country are saying no to elective deliveries of babies before 39 weeks unless medically necessary. Doctors cite increased health risks associated with early deliveries, not costs — though Texas' Medicaid program has stopped paying for such births.
A Kemp's ridley sea turtle like this one traveled 4,600 miles across the Atlantic ocean in 2008. After being rehabilitated in Portugal, it is being reintroduced into its native Gulf of Mexico waters on Tuesday.
On Florida's Gulf coast Tuesday, there will be a celebrated homecoming. For a turtle. This is no ordinary turtle: Known as Johnny Vasco da Gama, after the 15th-century Portuguese explorer, it crossed the Atlantic twice — by sea and by air.
Johnny, as his human friends call him, is a critically endangered Kemp's ridley turtle. Only a few thousand of these sea-turtles exist, mostly in the Gulf of Mexico. Normally, they do not migrate across the Atlantic.
Dr. Ryan Zaklin and other doctors at Spaulding Hospital are wearing name tags in English and Arabic to help their Libyan patients. There are also small sticky notes with English words written on them scattered throughout the hospital to help the patients learn terms for common objects.
Credit Sacha Pfeiffer / for NPR
Libyan patients being treated at Spaulding Hospital in Salem, Mass., receive physical therapy for injuries to their hands, shoulders and arms.
Libya's civil war toppled a dictator and put the country on a path to democracy, but many of the rebel fighters who helped create that change are still recovering from battle injuries. Spaulding Hospital in Salem, Massachusetts, near Boston, is treating about two dozen of them — the only hospital in the country providing this kind of care.
Handwritten signs in Arabic are hung in a physical therapy room at the hospital, where several Libyan patients are getting rehab for injuries to their shoulders, hands and arms.
Originally published on Mon December 26, 2011 8:15 pm
1948 The Electronic Sackbut The history of touch technology begins with touch-sensitive music synthesizers. According to the Canada Science and Technology Museum, Hugh Le Caine's Electronic Sackbut, completed in 1948, is widely considered to be the first musical synthesizer. The Sackbut is played with the right hand on the keyboard and the left hand on control board above the keyboard. The right hand controls volume by applying more or less pressure on the keys, while the left hand controls four different sound texture options.
A supporter takes a photo with a cell phone as former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich greets supporters Dec. 22 in Richmond. Gingrich said then that he would gather enough signatures to make the Virginia ballot, but over the weekend he failed to qualify.
Every four years, a small subset of political junkies starts salivating over the prospect that no one candidate will garner enough delegates to win his or her party's nomination for the presidency. That would lead to the junkie's greatest fantasy: a brokered convention.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command keeps an eye on Saint Nick's progress from an Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo. NORAD volunteers in elf hats fielded more than 100,000 calls from kids checking on Santa.
The VA hospital in Milwaukee is shortening its residential mental health treatment programs. Doctors there say the shortened stay — from 90 to 45 days — will mean more intense treatment and will make it easier for veterans to transition back into society sooner. Some patients worry about being pushed out too soon.
Perhaps more than any other major professional sports league in this country, the National Basketball Association is star-driven. And yesterday, the stars did not disappoint. A Christmas slate of season-opening games featured the electric play of the league's Most Valuable Player, Derrick Rose, and the NBA's top scorer, Kevin Durant, and this guy named LeBron James as well. NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman monitored as much as he could of 13 hours of NBA action. And he joins me now.
Hurricanes topple plenty of trees, but when you think about it, the more amazing thing is that many trees can stand up to these 100-mile-per-hour winds.
Now a French scientist has come up with an explanation for the resilience of trees. And astonishingly, the answer was first described by Leonardo da Vinci 500 years ago.
Leonardo noticed that when trees branch, smaller branches have a precise, mathematical relationship to the branch from which they sprang. Many people have verified Leonardo's rule, as it's known, but no one had a good explanation for it.
The digital cloud became a household word in 2011.You can now store and share things via the Internet in ways you never could before. But what does the cloud look like, and where can we find it?
The section of the cloud we visited has a lot of concrete and security.
Behind a ballistics-grade door, data center owner David Sabey ushers us into a spotless Seattle-area facility the size of nine football fields. It's crammed full of racks upon racks of powerful servers, sophisticated computers that serve up information. There are lots of blinking lights and wires everywhere.