NPR News

Food Stamp Program Makes Fresh Produce More Affordable

Jan 16, 2018

Rebeca Gonzalez grew up eating artichokes from her grandmother's farm in the central Mexican state of Tlaxcala. But for years after emigrating to the U.S., she did not feed them to her own kids because the spiky, fibrous vegetables were too expensive on this side of the border.

When she prepared meals at her family's home in Garden Grove, Calif., Gonzalez would also omit avocados, a staple of Mexican cuisine that are often costly here.

Federal wildlife officials say the nation’s once-threatened population of Canada lynx is in recovery, and can be taken off the endangered species list. The move caps years of controversy over the species’ health in Maine.

Recent scientific reviews have found substantial evidence that marijuana can be useful in easing at least some types of chronic pain. Yet even for the majority of Americans who live in states that have legalized medical marijuana, choosing opioids can be much cheaper.

This story was originally published Jan. 8, 2017 at 5:22 p.m. ET.

New England electricity customers could get a direct benefit from a cut in federal corporate taxes — lower utility bills.

Consumer advocates in New England are calling on regulators and utilities to turn over to ratepayers any savings from a reduction in the corporate income tax rate, which the recent tax law knocked down by 40 percent.

6,000 Salvadorans In Mass. Will Lose Protected Status

Jan 8, 2018

The Department of Homeland Security announced Monday that it will not renew Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Salvadorans.

The temporary immigration status has allowed Salvadorans to stay and work without fear of deportation in the United States in the wake of devastating back-to-back earthquakes that hit the Central American country in 2001.

Updated at 9:25 p.m. ET

A massive winter storm has brought hurricane-force winds, blizzard conditions and damaging coastal flooding to eastern New England, one day after it delivered unusual cold and snow to the South.

Many pet owners are aware of the dangers to dogs and cats in extreme heat, but the risks can be even greater during a cold snap.

The recent cold spell has spurred oil-fired power plants throughout New England into action. But the operator of the regional electricity grid says pollution control regulations could throttle supplies from those sources.

Over the last decade, relatively low-polluting natural gas has been New England’s dominant fuel for electricity generation. But in winter, demand for gas can skyrocket from consumers who need it to heat their homes, and that can limit supplies for electricity generation.

For the most part, the minimum wage gap among New England states will narrow in 2018.

Updated at 2:10 p.m. ET

So much happened in 2017, it's hard to believe.

Ranking the top stories of the year is nearly impossible, especially with so many consequential, eye-popping and fast-moving things that happened.

About half of New England’s households are on septic systems. That’s the highest proportion in the country. 

The U.S. has ended a temporary residency program for almost 60,000 Haitians who had been allowed to legally enter the United States after an earthquake in 2010. The program, called temporary protected status, allows people from nations hit by conflict or natural disaster to remain legally but temporarily in the U.S. for up to 18 months. TPS has often been extended, allowing some people to remain in the U.S. legally for several years.

A day after President Trump said the Affordable Care Act "has been repealed," officials reported that 8.8 million Americans have signed up for coverage on the federal insurance exchange for 2018 — nearly reaching the 2017 number in half the sign-up time.

That total is far from complete. Enrollment is still open in parts of seven states, including Florida and Texas, that use the federal HealthCare.gov exchange but were affected by hurricanes earlier this year.

A basic cooking technique that’s described in one of Europe’s oldest cookbooks has become the “secret sauce” to Latin American and Puerto Rican cuisine. It’s called sofrito and it’s the flavorful base for traditional Christmas dishes like Roasted Pork Pernil and rice and chicken. WSHU’s Cassandra Basler visited a family in New Haven that supplies the fresh blend of veggies, oil, herbs and spices to New England. 

Brian Mitchell’s pretty busy this time of year. He’s got a full time job as a grocer in Windsor, Vermont, and his nights are spent monitoring the 50,000 music-synchronized lights that cover his property.

The day I caught him on the phone, he’d already been working on it for months.

"About April or May I’ll start dabbling with it again, and if I have any projects in mind I’ll start working on those. So it’s a full-year hobby. And then all the programming of the songs, which takes a lot of time."

New Hampshire's Great Bay and the Piscataqua River estuary have been in bad shape for years – and the latest data doesn't show a lot of improvement.

But scientists say there's still hope for the watershed, and they're trying to home in on things people can control.

Dartmouth College is one of about 30 schools in the country to be hit by a new provision taxing endowment returns under the Republican-backed tax overhaul.

The measure targets private schools with large endowments relative to their student population — specifically, endowments that represent more than $500,000 per student.

The final witnesses gave testimony on the Northern Pass transmission line Thursday, after eight months of hearings and years of planning.

Day 70 of adjudicative hearings at the New Hampshire site evaluation committee centered on wetlands and property values.

Ray Lobdell, with the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, testified in the morning session on whether Northern Pass would affect more sensitive habitat than expected.

Merely Torres-Garcia has been living in a hotel room in Hartford, Conn., with her husband and two kids after losing part of her house in Puerto Rico to Hurricane Maria. She said spending the Christmas season in the northeastern cold has been hard for her family. But on Saturday night, in the noisy atrium of Hartford City Hall, it felt a little bit like Christmas on the island.

"My kids are happy. We feel like home in here right now," she said.

Rory Gawler bought a big, old farmhouse in Lebanon about seven or eight years ago. It has beautiful views of the Mascoma River valley and a little orchard in the backyard. 

It’s mostly surrounded by open space, but next door — and really, right next door — is another house that’s not in good shape. Lebanon’s property records list it in “very poor” condition. It’s run-down and sprawling, with low ceilings and peeling walls. There’s even trees growing up through the pool outside, Gawler said. 

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