Weekend Edition Sunday for December 22, 2013
Dec 22, 2013 — Last week's budget deal includes a reduction of military pensions for those under age 62. The provision has some Republican senators howling, saying that the cuts hit veterans too hard.
Dec 22, 2013 — Bryan McGrath spent 21 years in the United States Navy before retiring. He now works as a defense contractor, and he believes that it's not necessarily a bad thing that military pensions are changing. NPR's Rachel Martin reports.
Dec 22, 2013 — Christine Fox was recently named acting deputy defense secretary, making her the highest-ranking woman in Pentagon history. She talks with NPR's Rachel Martin about the Pentagon's budget challenges, her long career in defense and about inspiring Kelly McGillis' character in the movie Top Gun.
Dec 22, 2013 — In Seattle, an underground mystery has halted the digging of a new highway tunnel underneath downtown. The world's largest tunneling machine ground to a halt two weeks ago, and engineers are still trying to figure out why.
Dec 22, 2013 — Over the past decade, the government has been paying farmers to keep their land covered with native grasses instead of crops. But as grain prices have risen, the conservation reserve has shrunk by more than 25 percent. This decline in native grasslands means more soil erosion and less habitat for wildlife.
Dec 27, 2013 — The Polynesian society of Easter Island supposedly collapsed in the late 1600s after the population razed the island of every last tree. Recent evidence suggests a different story, one that hints not at environmental suicide but at successful adaptation. NPR's Rachel Martin talks with anthropologist Mara Mulrooney about her research.
Dec 22, 2013 — If you want to give back while you travel, volunteer vacations are your best bet. Here's how to find the best and most ethical ways to volunteer when traveling. NPR's Rachel Martin speaks with Shannon O'Donnell of Grassroots Volunteering, a website that shares low-cost opportunities.
Dec 22, 2013 — On a perfectly manicured street in Palm Springs, Calif., one man has turned his four-acre yard into a post-apocalyptic Christmas wonderland. Outsider artist Kenny Irwin uses every piece of trash he can get to make giant robots in a fantasy-scape that is part Christmas light show, part installation art.
Dec 22, 2013 — Every answer is a familiar two-word phrase or name in which, like Santa Claus, the first word starts with the letters S-A, and the second word starts with C.
Dec 22, 2013 — It's not just lack of quality or freshness that can put a damper on your in-flight meal: Our senses are scrambled at high altitudes. Those sweet and salty sensors might be off as much as 30 percent while in flight.