Steve Inskeep

Mass shootings as defined by the FBI happen about every two weeks in America. For nearly a decade, USA Today has been tracking these incidents on a website that paints a grim picture.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

On a perfect spring morning, Jan Scruggs walks along the site overlooking the wall of the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial in Washington, D.C. Contrasting the bright colors of blooming trees and flowers is the black granite carved with the names of more than 58,000 Americans who served during the war.

Scruggs, a veteran himself, is credited with getting the memorial built. He's now preparing to retire. Morning Edition met Scruggs to learn the story of how the memorial was built, honoring the dead from a war that ended 40 years ago, on April 30, 1975.

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I've rarely seen President Obama speak in such definite terms on a thorny issue as he did yesterday about the nuclear agreement with Iran.

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Outgoing Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, speaking to NPR's Morning Edition, says he's concerned about retaining qualified U.S. military service members amid the "stress and strain" of more than 13 years of continuous warfare in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

We're covering President Obama's State of the Union speech this morning, and our own Steve Inskeep joined colleagues from a range of beats to check some of the facts and add some context.

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Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is spending the holidays thinking about his future. Rubio was a prominent member of the contentious Congress that just ended. Some analysts labeled it the "worst Congress ever."

Shortly, Republicans will take control of both chambers. The new Congress, Rubio hopes, will be seen as "one whose work is relevant to people's daily lives."

"And right now, across America, that is, people that are reading all this news about how great the economy is doing, but they're not feeling it," he tells NPR.

Updated at 9:30 a.m. ET

Sen. Elizabeth Warren failed to stop a change in bank regulations last weekend, but she raised her profile yet again.

The Massachusetts Democrat tells NPR that her fight over a provision in a spending bill was a "warning shot." She intends to continue her fight against what she describes as the power of Wall Street, even though that fight brought her to oppose leaders of her own party.

In a shift driven partly by culture and largely by the economy, the number of grandparents living with their grandchildren is up sharply. According to recent U.S. census data, such families have increased by about a third over the past generation.

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Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is one of two independents in the Senate. Now, the self-described socialist says he may run for president.

Sanders is aligned with Senate Democrats, but he has spoken lately of a problem with the Democratic coalition that elected President Obama. He says working-class white voters have abandoned Democrats in large numbers. The party, he says, has "not made it clear that they are prepared to stand with the working-class people of this country, take on the big money interests."

I never meant to play you this story. Let me tell you why I had to.

Every so often I record interviews as part of a school benefit. People ask me to question their parents, or grandparents, to preserve family history. The stories that emerge are a little like our series StoryCorps.

Sometime after the polls close Tuesday night, we'll find out if Republicans managed a spectacular feat.

The party that lost the last two presidential elections is seeking a comeback, adding control of the Senate to control of the House. Republicans aim to dominate Congress with a fresh presidential election looming in 2016. It would be, in one of the hackneyed phrases of journalism, "a remarkable transformation."

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Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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The new commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection says he is reviewing scores of incidents in which agents have used deadly force.

R. Gil Kerlikowske made that statement during an exclusive interview with NPR's Morning Edition. It was his first extended conversation about controversial incidents in which the Border Patrol has killed civilians without apparent accountability. (Click here for a full transcript of the interview.)

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Another federal court ruling this week cast more attention on the U.S. Border Patrol. An appeals court said the family of a Mexican teenager can sue the Border Patrol agent who shot and killed their son. The court set aside a claim that U.S. law should not apply since the agent was shooting from the American side of the border while the teen was on Mexican soil. As we heard on the program earlier this year, my colleague Steve Inskeep visited the site of that shooting with the mother of teen victim.

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The Department of Transportation on Friday announced that it's ordering General Motors to pay a $35 million civil penalty for the handling of its ignition switch problems.

It's hard enough to drive through the Arizona desert, where the sun is harsh and the distances immense. This is the story of people who walk it.

In particular, it's the story of Brenda, who asked us to use only her first name. She told us yet another of the unbelievable stories you hear in the Borderland.

We met her in Nogales, Sonora, on the northern border of Mexico opposite Arizona. She was living in a shelter for deported people, where she told us of her brief and difficult stay in the United States.

At a rural high school outside El Paso, Texas, the principal tries to inspire poor immigrants or kids of immigrants to go to college, though many have never seen one.

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About midway through our road trip along the U.S./Mexico border, my colleagues and I rode up a mountain. Okay. Should we hop in?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Hop in.

INSKEEP: We boarded a tram car suspended by a cable.

KAINAZ AMARIA: Are we going that way?

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ARUN RATH, HOST:

A dust-covered car has been in our parking lot at NPR West this week. It was the vehicle that took Steve Inskeep and several colleagues along the entire border between the U.S. and Mexico. We've been hearing what they found in recent days, stories of people and goods and culture that cross the border. Steve's in our studio now with a rather difficult story to tell. Steve, what is that?

We drove 2,428 miles on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border, and it's safe to say that for much of the road trip, we were being watched.

Border Patrol agents, customs officers, cameras, sensors, radar and aircraft track movement in the Borderland. None of that has stopped the struggle to control the border, or the debate over how best to do it.

My colleagues and I drove 2,428 miles and remained in the same place.

We gathered a team, rented a car, checked the batteries in our recorders and cameras. We moved from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean. We crossed deserts, plains and mountains. But all the while, we were living in Borderland — zigzagging across the frontier between Mexico and the United States.

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