Fifty miles south of the U.S.- Mexico border, the Colorado River Delta and its once-rich estuary wetlands -- reduced by 95 percent since the river was restricted by dams -- are now as parched as the surrounding Sonoran Desert.
The Colorado River touches the lives of Americans coast to coast. The river begins in the Rocky Mountains and flows into Mexico's Sea of Cortez. Along the way, it feeds over a dozen tributaries across the American Southwest.
Many in the West rely on the Colorado for drinking water, and farmers depend on it to irrigate millions of acres of farmland. And if you've ever felt the cool relief of air conditioning in Las Vegas, there's a good chance the electricity was provided by the "mighty Colorado."
When Colum McCann came to the U.S. from Ireland in the early 1980s, he set out on a cross-country bicycle trip to get to know his new country and its stories. He's spent the years since telling those tales through prose. With his project, Story Swap, he's helping diverse communities better understand each other by sharing their own stories.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan at the Aspen Institute. News from the Middle East often focuses on problems: violence in Syria; political infighting in Egypt; bombs in the new Iraq; nuclear facilities in Iran; ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestinians.
Just days before student loan rates are set to double for millions of Americans, President Obama and congressional leaders haven't reached an agreement on legislation to keep those rates at 3.4 percent.
The debate reflects the growing concern over the debt burden many take on to get a college education. About two-thirds of bachelor's degree recipients borrow money to attend college, and collectively, student debt has topped $1 trillion.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, we recently met Lisa Dolan. She is a fashion designer and the owner of a plus-size clothing store who starred in TLC's reality program "Big Brooklyn Style." Now, she's going to tell us about the music that gets her creative juices flowing. It's our Inner Ear segment and it's coming up.
"These ideas of mine / percolate the mind," Fiona Apple sings in "Every Single Night," the song that opens her new album, The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do. Some people are going to listen to the entire record and come away with the feeling that the percolation in Apple's mind has bubbled over like a coffee pot left on a stove too long. But for me and perhaps for you, Apple's bubbling thoughts, words and music are thrilling — eager and direct, heedless about being judged or misunderstood.
In a seven-page letter (pdf) to President Obama, Rep. Darrell Issa, the Republican chair of the House oversight committee, says that President Obama's claim of executive privilege implies high level involvement the "Fast and Furious" scandal.
Fast and Furious is the failed gunrunning operation that sold weapons to drug cartels in Mexico. One of the victims of one of those guns was U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, who was gunned down in Arizona.
A boy walks past spray-painted graffiti that reads in Hebrew, "Death to Arabs" and "Revenge." The vandalism took place earlier this month in the mixed Arab-Jewish community of Neve Shalom in Israel.
Credit Ahmad Gharabli / AFP/Getty Images
Vandals slashed car tires and spray-painted graffiti in the village of Neve Shalom earlier this month. Here, Jewish Israeli and Arab Israeli men inspect a car that was spray-painted with the word "Revenge."
The Israeli village of Neve Shalom was founded decades ago as a place where Arabs and Jews could coexist in the volatile Middle East. The area has weathered regional wars and uprisings, but earlier this month, vandals targeted it and spray-painted anti-Arab epithets on the school's walls.
"We discovered first of all that a number of tires had been punctured, and then we noticed the damage at the school, slogans painted on the walls saying 'Death to the Arabs,' " says Howard Shippin, a longtime resident of Neve Shalom village. "Of course it's very disturbing."