NPR Staff

On the hunt from a good public school for her son, Wednesday Martin moved from her old home in downtown Manhattan to a new one just a few miles north. The spots were no more than a short cab ride away from one another, yet she soon found they were galaxies apart in personality.

For one thing, the moms around her looked entirely different.

Nora Jane Struthers may never have become a singer-songwriter if her identity hadn't been stolen. Rebuilding her life allowed her to take a risk and do something she'd wanted to for years. It paid off: She has a new album out titled Wake.

Her story begins at a charter school in Brooklyn where Struthers worked as an English teacher.

"I started teaching sophomores and moved to teaching seniors in my last year," Struthers says. "I loved it."

The new movie San Andreas, starring Dwayne Johnson (better known as The Rock), is about a California earthquake so powerful that it destroys Los Angeles and San Francisco, and people can feel it all the way over on the East Coast.

Could this really happen? And can earthquakes ever be predicted, as one scientist (played by Paul Giamatti) succeeds in doing in this movie? We did some fact-checking with seismologist Lucile Jones of the U.S. Geological Survey.

More than a week ago, the Iraqi city of Ramadi, in Anbar province, was taken by the self-declared Islamic State.

The fall of that key city wasn't just a setback for Iraq: It was also a blow to the current U.S. strategy of trying to contain ISIS through air strikes.

Iraqi soldiers and Shiite militias allied with the Iraqi government continue to move against ISIS in Anbar Province. The battles bring back American memories. Some of the fiercest fighting in the Iraq War ocurred there, and many Americans died trying to win back the city of Ramadi from Sunni insurgents.

Jose Guadalupe Enrique Sanchez was a gardener for more than 50 years.

"He had, very dark skin, you could tell he spent his whole life out in the sun," Jose's grandson, Santiago Arredondo said to his wife, Aimee, during a recent visit to StoryCorps.

"His hands were those of someone who worked since the age of 6, but he was the cleanest gardener you would ever see, always wore button down shirts from JCPenney's," 32-year-old Arredondo said.

"And, as a kid, on top of me being overweight, I also stuttered," he continued.

The TV series Halt and Catch Fire tells a story you might not expect about the personal computer revolution of the 1980s. For one thing, it's set in Texas, not Silicon Valley. And though there are plenty of bearded, bespectacled men building things in garages, the resident software genius is a woman. Cameron Howe, played by actress Mackenzie Davis, is a punk, anarchist loner who intimidates many of her co-workers.

TV recently lost its manliest man — a small-town government employee named Ron Swanson. Actor Nick Offerman's run on NBC's Parks and Recreation ended when the show went off the air in February. He's since shaved his mustache and gotten back to his normal self.

Weekend Edition Sunday host Rachel Martin brings listeners an unexpected side of the news by talking with someone personally affected by the stories making headlines.

Brittany Ohman is a 41-year-old mother of two and a licensed social worker in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Ohman and NPR's Rachel Martin grew up together and were good friends through high school. When they were seniors, Ohman got pregnant and no one knew. She didn't even know — and she knows that sounds crazy. She has heard the question for years.

What if the devastating drought in the western U.S. doesn't end? A few years ago, the science fiction writer Paolo Bacigalupi started exploring what could happen.

Two climbers died May 16 as they attempted a wing suit flight in Yosemite National Park. Dean Potter and Graham Hunt were BASE jumping, a sport that involves parachuting from a fixed structure.

America's Funniest Home Videos has a new host.

The self-declared Islamic State gained a real grip on Iraq and Syria this week, capturing the cities of Ramadi and parts of Mosul in Iraq, and the ancient town Palmyra, Syria.

Most recently, ISIS has claimed credit for a suicide bomb attack inside Saudi Arabia on a Shiite mosque during Friday prayers. That attack killed at least 19 and could represent a significant escalation of the extremist group's operations in the kingdom.

Reddit, billed by its founders as "the front page of the Internet," has long been known as a place of unbridled free speech on the Web where users, known as Redditors, post text, pictures and videos.

But that unbridled free speech sometimes spills over into harassment, sexism and racism. Over the past couple of years, Reddit has been at the center of several controversies concerning harassment, including the release of hundreds of private celebrity photos. It's also become infamous for its unbridled vitriol.

A critic once called Jules Feiffer "one of the best cartoonists now writing" and "the best writer now cartooning." That quote is in Out of Line, a new book about Feiffer, a man who does both words and pictures.

To understand how heroin took hold in rural America, you need to go back two decades and look at the surge of prescription drug use in Portsmouth, Ohio, according to journalist Sam Quinones.

A Rust Belt town that had fallen on hard times by the 1990s, Portsmouth became a place where doctors dispensed prescription drugs more freely than anywhere else in the country, Quinones writes in his new book, Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic.

The challenge of strategizing the best route to work against the herd of other drivers can be as routine as the daily commute itself. A number of apps are out there to help shortcut one's route and evade traffic jams. But which ones are the most accurate? And how?

The All Tech Considered team put a few competing traffic apps to the test in Robert Siegel's usual short commute from Arlington, Va., to NPR's D.C. headquarters.

The Test Drive

This ride is about 15 minutes in no traffic. But it's now morning rush hour.

A new report on diversity in Silicon Valley shows that Asians and Asian-Americans are well-represented in lower-level positions — but, in comparison, severely underrepresented at the management and executive levels at five large, established tech companies.

Ascend, an Asian-American professional organization based in New York, found that although 27 percent of professionals working at those companies are Asian or Asian-American, fewer than 19 percent of managers, and just under 14 percent of executives, are.

The new Fox thriller Wayward Pines opens with a chilling scene. A man wakes up in the middle of the forest with cuts and bruises all over his body. Lost and confused, he stumbles into town. The audience soon learns the man is a Secret Service agent named Ethan Burke, played by Matt Dillon.

"He goes to the town of Wayward Pines, Idaho, looking for two other Secret Service agents who went missing there and pretty soon he finds out he can't leave," Chad Hodge, showrunner and creator, tells NPR's Arun Rath.

Editor's note: This conversation discusses plot points from the seventh season of Mad Men.

When budding TV personality Chris Harrison walked into the offices of ABC back in 2000, he didn't expect much.

The network wanted to jump on the new trend of reality competition shows, and had asked him to host a dating show, where one man would cull through a group of 25 women through a series of dates and cocktail parties, ultimately proposing to one final suitor. It was called The Bachelor.

"I was hoping [the show] would last a few hours," Harrison jokes. "I would meet someone at the network, and it would lead to a real job."

The U.S. is less Christian than it used to be, and fewer Americans choose to be a part of any religion, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center.

Of the more than 35,000 people surveyed, 70 percent say they are Christian — but the number of people who call themselves atheist and agnostic has nearly doubled in the last seven years.

You'd recognize actress Elizabeth Banks if you saw her — blonde, attractive, funny — whether she's playing an exhausted pregnant woman in What to Expect When You're Expecting, or an inappropriate a cappella judge in the 2012 movie Pitch Perfect.

Now she's taking on a different role: Directing Pitch Perfect 2. It's a tall order since the first one was such a surprise hit — it cost only $17 million to make, but earned more than $100 million worldwide.

Before Ferguson, Baltimore, Tamir Rice or Eric Garner, there was 13-year-old Nicholas Heyward Jr.

In 1994, he was playing in the stairwell of the Gowanus Housing Project, where he lived in Brooklyn, when a police officer shot and killed him.

"He was an amazing kid and I don't just say that because he was my son," Nicholas Heyward Sr. says during a recent visit to StoryCorps.

Think local Nebraska food, and Omaha's famous steaks may come to mind. The Great Plains are indeed an agricultural powerhouse when it comes to commodities like feed corn, soybeans, beef and pork.

But as food journalist Summer Miller tells Meghna Chakrabarti of NPR's Here & Now, there's much more on offer these days in Nebraska, as well as in its Great Plains neighbors Iowa and South Dakota.

Noelle Stevenson is making her mark in the world of comic books.

She's just 23 and already a writer and illustrator. She has co-authored a series for Boom! Studios, called Lumberjanes, and she has written for Marvel's new female Thor. But it's a tough world for women to be a part of, whether they're creators or fans.

Since October of last year, four teenagers in California's Palo Alto school district have taken their own lives. Tragically, it's not the first cluster of teen suicides this area has seen: In 2009 and 2010, five local teenagers killed themselves by stepping in front of trains, and more suicides followed the next year.

If you met the author Mark Danielewski on an elevator, here's how your conversation might go:

"What are you doing these days?"

"I'm writing a novel," he replies. "It's 27 volumes long."

"Wow," you might say. "What's it about?"

"It's about this little girl who finds a little kitten."

"Twenty-seven volumes, huh?"

"Ah, it's a very intense subject."

Imagine you're on the highway. You glance into the cab of the 18-wheeler next to you — and there's no driver. That day might be getting closer.

Automaker Daimler unveiled a truck last week that drives itself, called the Freightliner Inspiration. But the truck is not yet entirely autonomous.

Being a parent changes you in many ways — including when it comes to what you're willing to eat.

Parents eat their kids' leftovers — yes, it's true. And this can mean leftover scraps on their baby's tray ... or bits and pieces hanging off bibs and mouths. Hey, it can look strangely irresistible at the time.

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