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Gage Skidmore / Creative Commons

When Bernie Sanders announced his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination, the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza said he "isn't, really, concerned about winning." But winning is just what the U.S. senator from Vermont did Tuesday night in New Hampshire.

Comedy and race will meet head-on at this year's Academy Awards on Feb. 28. Amid calls to boycott the Oscars over its lack of diversity, the host is one of today's most provocative black comedians. You can just feel the audacious Chris Rock rubbing his hands together in excitement.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

The 2016 presidential race is shaping up to be unusual, including in the decreased impact advertising has on polling.

Harriet Jones / WNPR

The number of empty offices in Fairfield County has declined slightly, according to one brokerage — the first time they’ve seen that trend in several years. 

Ninian Reid

National Review, a leading voice for conservatism, dedicated its issue last week to the opposition against Republican presidential front runner Donald Trump. David Frum joined WNPR's Colin McEnroe Show to talk about why, and to explain the origins of the revolt.

A bipartisan task force created by Congress issued "an urgent call to action" Tuesday to overhaul the nation's federal prisons and reduce the number of U.S. inmates by 60,000 over the next decade.

Ninian Reid

The Republican establishment is wringing its hands over the rise of Donald Trump. On Friday, National Review, one of the leading and oldest voices for conservatism, dedicated its latest issue to the war "Against Trump." But it didn't have the effect they were hoping for

To understand why General Electric would abandon its sprawling Fairfield, Connecticut, campus, for Boston’s waterfront, consider what one small, 30-person firm is looking for as it seeks out office space in the same neighborhood: showers.

“Because a lot of people are biking to work,” explained real estate broker Greg Hoffmeister. “They want to have that, or go running at lunch. So having a shower is pretty important.”

Mike Mozart / Creative Commons

Four Macy’s stores in Massachusetts and Connecticut are among dozens of locations slated for closure nationwide. The department store chain cites slow 2015 sales as the reason.

At the end of every year, U.S. meteorologists look back at what the nation's weather was like, and what they saw in 2015 was weird. The year was hot and beset with all manner of extreme weather events that did a lot of expensive damage.

December, in fact, was a fitting end.

When Saudi Arabia executed 47 people last week, it marked an ominous start to surpassing the number of people it put to death last year. Human rights groups believe at least 150 people were executed in the kingdom in 2015. Most were beheaded, killed by firing squad or stoned to death.

Robots were popular on the big screen this holiday season. The newly released film Star Wars: The Force Awakens brought us more of C-3PO, R2-D2 — those sweet and capable robots that have enchanted us for decades — and the debut of BB-8.

At this year's big consumer electronics show in Las Vegas, known as CES, there were more robots on display than ever. Some even looked like the Star Wars characters.

The most promising by appearance was Pepper. It has humanoid features — eyes, arms, a mouth. Pepper can even be a little self-conscious.

This fall, Secretary of State John Kerry stood at a lectern with a speech and an apple. He wasn't planning to snack, although the red, round fruit looked as he noted, "beautiful." It was a souvenir from Kazakhstan, made from local wool by artisans in Almaty, and just the right prop to introduce the idea that the world is hungry for crafts.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Earlier this month, the Partnership for Strong Communities released its annual report on housing access and affordability in Connecticut. This hour, we find out what it tells us about local housing conditions -- including efforts to end homelessness and increase affordable housing supply across the state. 

If you typed "Lamar Odom" into the Google search bar this year, you're certainly not alone.

The former NBA player and reality TV star was the most popular search item of the year, Google says.

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday announced liftoff for short-term interest rates — a launch that may send many borrowing costs higher in 2016.

The 0.25-percentage-point increase — to a range of 0.25 percent to 0.5 percent — in the federal funds rate was small but important because it signals the beginning of the end of easy money; the Fed wants to get back to normal after years of fighting economic stagnation with supercheap loans.

The death penalty is in decline no matter the measure, a new study released by the Death Penalty Information Center has found.

The report found that 28 people were executed this year, the lowest since 1991. The number of death sentences dropped by 33 percent.

Only six states executed convicts during the year, and Texas, Missouri and Georgia accounted for 86 percent of the executions.

Thawt Hawthje / Creative Commons

As world leaders in Paris approach what could be a historic agreement on climate change, a new Yale University survey finds Americans have very complicated attitudes about the environment.

Geoffrey Fairchild / Flickr Creative Commons

Violent crime in America has been dropping for years, reaching a point in 2012 that was roughly half of what it was in 1993. But that may be changing.

While there are a lot of reasons why violence is spiking, police officers note a growing willingness to use violence to settle minor disputes.

President Obama's request that American Muslims help "root out" and confront extremist ideology in their communities is getting mixed reactions. Muslim leaders say they want to help, but some are not happy that they are being singled out.

The shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., was the 355th mass shooting in the U.S. this year — or more than one per day on average so far in 2015 — according to groups monitoring such attacks in recent years.

Leland Francisco / WNPR

Long before evangelicalism became associated with the mostly white, conservative followers aligned with the Republican Party, a long line of progressive evangelicals led reforms to abolish slavery, give women the vote and improve public schools.

But the history of evangelicalism is complicated. It has a rich history of social activism on behalf of the marginalized, mixed with deep discomfort with the very people it seeks to help.

The Placebo Effect

Dec 1, 2015
Christian Schnettelker / Creative Commons

Placebo treatments have been making people feel better for a long time. They've been working since long before Franz Mesmer was run out of 18th-century Vienna for "mesmerizing" a young pianist into regaining her eyesight, after all hope for a medical cure had been lost.  

Doctors have long dismissed the placebo effect as inferior to conventional medical treatments that sometimes fail where placebo works well, including in surgical procedures like arthroscopy, a popular procedure that relieves the pain of arthritic knees. 

There's a building in Mountain View, Calif., where energy-saving technologies of the future are being tried on for size.

Step inside, and the first thing you notice is the building is dead quiet: no noisy air whooshing through louvers.

That's because the building uses passive cooling instead of traditional air conditioning. Cool ground water passes through a system of small tubes running below the ceiling.

Gretana / Wikimedia Commons

Here’s a question: If the things we’re made of — the particles, the fundamental elemental irreducible bits, the most basic littlest chunks of us — if those things are literally, actually indistinguishable from one another, from the tiniest simplest bits of everyone else, from the tiniest simplest bits of everything else… then what makes us us?

What even makes us anything at all, really?

Urban foraging might call to mind images of hipsters picking food out of the trash.

But one group in Massachusetts eats only the finest, freshest produce. The League of Urban Canners harvests fruit from trees in Cambridge and Somerville and turns it into jam.

Sam Christy, a local high school teacher, started the league four years ago.

Sujata Srinivasan

Connecticut lost jobs for the second month in a row in October, even as U.S. hiring was heating up.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

American Muslims say the media is failing to hear moderate voices, as rhetoric over the Paris attacks and the placement of Syrian refugees ratchets up.

Speaking on The Colin McEnroe Show on WNPR, Reza Mansoor of the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut said marginalizing mainstream Islam just leads to more hysteria.

The number of international students studying at U.S. colleges and universities jumped last year — in a big way. It's up 10 percent, to roughly 975,000, according to a new report by the Institute of International Education and backed by the State Department.

In 2014-15, China was still the largest source of students with 31 percent of the total. India was in second place with nearly 14 percent. And Indian students were a big reason for the overall jump.

The Islamic State's claim of responsibility for a trio of major attacks, including the assault on Paris, has led to a rapid reassessment of the extremist group and its aspirations.

Until a couple of weeks ago, ISIS appeared focused on building its self-declared caliphate, or Islamic empire, in its core areas of Syria and Iraq. But it now says it was behind attacks in France, Egypt and Lebanon that killed nearly 400 people in a two-week span.

Basic questions — like the group's goals or whether it's getting stronger or weaker — are being examined anew.

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