Xcel Energy mercury emissions reduction a 'remarkable achievement' State officials and energy companies announced today that Minnesota is three years ahead of schedule on its goal to reduce mercury emissions. Mercury is a neurotoxin that is especially harmful to children's brain development. The reductions have come about primarily through changes at power plants.5:20 p.m.
Frac sand mining raises environmental, health concerns in SE Minnesota Minnesota's abundant supply of high-quality frac sand is causing some turmoil. Local governments in southeastern Minnesota are preparing for a number of new permit applications to build or expand mines and processing plants for the special silica sand. Many area residents are concerned about possible environmental or health impacts. Industry representatives say they are addressing the concerns, but some state officials are encouraging caution.5:24 p.m.
Venezuela's Chavez Returns Home After Cancer Treatment
President Hugo Chavez made a surprise return to Venezuela on Monday after more than two months of cancer treatment in Cuba. He immediately was taken to a military hospital and has not been seen publicly. Venezuela has been in a leadership vacuum in his absence. Melissa Block speaks with NPR's Juan Forero for the latest on Chavez' ability to rule, and how Venezuelans are reacting.
Mexico Tries To Rein In Billionaire Carlos Slim
Regulators in Mexico are struggling to rein in what they say are grave and repeat monopolistic practices by the richest man in the world. Carlos Slim Helu, the owner of Mexico's telephone company, just received another multimillion-dollar fine from the country's fledgling anti-corruption regulatory agency. Slim has successfully appealed or fought previous fines. But lawmakers say they are determined to make him play fairly and by the rules.
How New Jersey's High-Flying Sen. Menendez Ran Into Turbulence
Robert Menendez was re-elected in a landslide and recently became chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee. But the Democratic senator has been hit with an ethics probe amid scrutiny over his ties to a wealthy Florida eye doctor and big political donor.
Greece's Economic Crisis Reveals Fault Lines In The Media
A system of favors among Greek media outlets, politicians and banks helped produce one of the most inflated media sectors in Europe. But the media have been hit hard by the country's massive austerity drive, and have taken a huge loss in terms of credibility.
Maker's Mark Reverses Course On Lower Alcohol Content
The iconic brand Maker's Mark had planned to cut its alcohol content from 90 proof down to just 84, due to dwindling supply. Now, after a serious backlash from fans, the company has reversed its decision and will stick to the original alcohol content. Melissa Block hears from one liquor store owner in Louisville, Ky., about his customers' reactions to the decision.
What Happens When Someone Else Gets Your Tax Refund
If you usually wait until April to file your taxes, you might want to hurry up — before identity thieves beat you to it. Using stolen names and Social Security numbers, these criminals file fake tax returns. This generates big, and fraudulent, refunds, before the real taxpayer gets around to filing.
Listeners Weigh In On Movies That Monitor The Audience
On Friday, we learned about a test of a plan to use body monitoring applied to movie viewing that would select alternate actions depending on what the audience wants. So we challenged listeners to tell us how this technology could work retroactively, reworking some of the past's almost great films. Melissa Block hears from some listeners.
New Project Would Map The Human Brain
Melissa Block speaks with Dr. Story Landis, director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, about the Brain Activity Map project written about in today's New York Times. If it goes forward, the project would seek to find treatments for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, autism, psychiatric disorders and more.
Quvenzhane Wallis: 'If I Have To Be Fierce, I'll Be Fierce'
The 9-year-old beat out thousands of other potential young actresses for the role of Hushpuppy in Beasts of the Southern Wild. Now, she's juggling being the youngest ever nominee for the best actress Academy Award with the equally challenging job as a fourth-grader.