trends

This is the canary in the coal mine.

Several big states have seen alarming drops in enrollment at teacher training programs. The numbers are grim among some of the nation's largest producers of new teachers: In California, enrollment is down 53 percent over the past five years. It's down sharply in New York and Texas as well.

In North Carolina, enrollment is down nearly 20 percent in three years.

Board any city bus in Portugal's second-largest municipality, Porto, and you've got free Wi-Fi. More than 600 city buses and taxis have been fitted with wireless routers, creating what's touted as the biggest Wi-Fi-in-motion network in the world.

When admiring such enticing items at the grocery store as an avocado for $1.50, an $8 chocolate bar or fresh wild Alaskan salmon for $20 a pound, you've probably experienced sticker shock.

Indeed, retailers and restaurants offer myriad opportunities to blow your food budget in one fell swoop.

A pair of llamas on the loose in Sun City, Ariz., riveted the nation this afternoon.

Updated at 2 p.m. ET.

This week, a man was sentenced to die in Saudi Arabia because he renounced his faith in Islam; a Hindu leader in India made a new accusation against Mother Teresa; a mosque near Bethlehem was set on fire.

Studies, research papers, doctoral dissertations, conference presentations — each year academia churns out thousands of pieces of research on education. And for many of them, that's the end of it. They gather dust in the university library or languish in some forgotten corner of the Internet.

A few, though, find their way into the hands of teachers, principals and policymakers. Each year the American Educational Research Association — a 99-year-old national research society — puts out a list of its 10 most-read articles.

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Connecticut ranks near the bottom of the list when it comes to weekly church attendance, according to a new Gallup poll on religion in the United States.

Gallup's annual poll of church, synagogue and mosque attendance ranked Utah, with its high concentration of Mormons, at the top of the list.

Fasten your seat belts, true believers. If you haven't flipped through a comic book in a while, you might be in for quite a surprise come May. The entire Marvel multiverse is collapsing.

Forget about seeing the Wolverine we knew any time soon. And the current Ghost Rider? Before long, his current story line will be gone like, well, a ghost. In the new Marvel universe, coming in May, characters and continuities will be reimagined.

Karl-Ludwig Poggemann / Creative Commons

Go for a drive through Sweden and you’ll find some of the safest roads in the world. But that hasn’t stopped the small country from rolling out a plan to make its roads even safer. The goal of Sweden's Vision Zero Initiative is to eliminate the number of national road deaths and injuries.

Meanwhile, much of the United States is still trying to figure out what to do about a lot of its traffic and infrastructural issues. In Connecticut, Governor Dannel Malloy has proposed making changes like widening I-95. But some question whether that’s really the best way to improve traffic flow along the congested interstate.

This hour, we talk with the Vision Zero Initiative's project manager to find out how Sweden is improving its road systems, and find out what we can learn from its approach to traffic safety. We also hear the story of one man's proposal to build a skating lane in Edmonton, Alberta. Dread your work commute? Why not strap on your blades and skate there? 

This story is part of the New Boom series on millennials in America.

For the past few months, NPR has been telling stories of the millennial generation — the largest and most diverse cohort in American history. To help give them a face, we asked 18- to 34-year-olds to take a selfie. (Groanworthy, I know. Stay with me.)

Moving from crisis to crisis — for too long that's been America's strategy for dealing with the challenges of an aging transit infrastructure, from roads to bridges to ports. The result is a system that's crumbling and in desperate need of attention, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The massive study both looks at the current state of the country's transportation systems and forecasts the challenges that lie ahead.

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People have been predicting the death of the sitcom since at least 1999, but the current TV season has been so toxic towards them that some observers have wondered whether the sitcom, which has been around since the birth of television, has anything left to say to us. But then again, what is a sitcom? Do sitcoms have to air on network television? Do they have to have a laugh track? Or fill a half-hour time slot? Do they even have to be comedies?

This hour, we consider the art form of the sitcom with producers and critics of the genre. What is your favorite sitcom and what makes it your favorite?

Chion Wolf / WNPR

It’s not easy being a teenager today. Teens need to do well in school, give back to the community, participate in extracurricular activities, and keep up with a social scene intensified by social media. We also ask them to act responsibly, make good choices, and think about their future.

We're looking for "adult behavior" from people forced to live under our rules. It's a tough balancing act that comes with a lot of pressure.  

Sometimes, their friends are looking for something different and peer pressure can lead to bad decisions and risky behaviors.

It may not sound like they have to deal with much -- but that’s part of the problem. Adults have a tendency to underestimate what teens feel, and how powerfully they feel it.

And if kids have friends, don’t get in trouble, and get pretty good grades, parents and teachers don’t always notice the kids struggling to cope with emotions hidden beneath the surface.

The World Health Organization says depression is the most common cause of illness and disability for teens between 10 and 19 years old and suicide is the third most common cause of death in adolescents...just behind traffic accidents.

Ricky Aponte / Creative Commons

More young people are moving to the heart of cities, according to a report from think tank City Observatory. This includes cities that we usually think of as “economically troubled,” like Buffalo, Cleveland, and, yes, even Hartford. Some of these cities have been losing their overall population, but gaining in their numbers of college graduates in their 20s and 30s.

Cliff / Creative Commons

Connecticut’s urban areas remain among of the most economically productive areas in the world, even while they struggle to recover from the great recession. In fact a new study from the Brookings Institution pegs Hartford as having the second highest economic output in the country, and the fourth highest in the world.

The Global Metro Monitor takes the economic temperature of 300 major cities around the world. Greater Hartford lies fourth in the world in terms of gross domestic product per capita, a measure of how much economic value is produced compared to the size of a metro area, including corporate profits as well as personal incomes. Only Zurich, Oslo and San Jose rank higher. Bridgeport, whose metro area include Fairfield County, lies eighth.

But another story is told by the most recent data on recovery from 2014. 

Do We Approve of Torture? Depends on How You Ask

Jan 16, 2015
Val Kerry / Creative Commons

The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee’s torture report released last December revealed that the CIA lied about the effectiveness of torture in gaining important information from terrorism suspects. But that didn't change America's opinion of using such tactics. 

When upscale food trucks roared into popularity a few years ago, the folks running them praised their rolling operations as far cheaper and simpler to launch than a bricks-and-mortar restaurant.

Now, entrepreneurs are finding similar advantages in food bikes.

Brewers, chefs, baristas and even farmers are turning to pedal-powered vehicles to bring their goods to consumers — and, sometimes, actually produce them on the street.

Lewis Hine / U.S. National Archive

The Internet has changed almost everything... especially newspapers. For many years, readers were able to access newspaper articles for free online. Stories were reaching more readers, but losing revenue. On WNPR's Where We Live, newspaper reporters and editors discussed the controversial "paywall."

Earlier today, Julianne Moore got an Oscar nomination for "Still Alice." She is by far the betting favorite to win the best actress award. But you may remember her better as Franny Hughes Crawford on "As The World Turns." And four or five years before Ellen said "I'm gay," Bill Douglas came out as a gay teenager on One Life to Live. That character was played by Ryan Philippe. In fact, Leo DiCaprio, Maria Tomei, Tommy Lee Jones, Parker Posey, Kevin Bacon, Meg Ryan, they all worked on soaps before they moved on. 

Now there are only four soap operas left – drawn out, dramatic stories that used to be sponsored by soap manufacturers, and now are struggling to maintain relevance to house wives who have a lot more options in the middle of the day. We'll talk about this slice of Americana with those in the industry, and a professor who co-directs “Project Daytime.”

The bat disease known as white-nose syndrome has been spreading fast, killing millions of animals. But for the first time, scientists are seeing hopeful signs that some bat colonies are recovering and new breakthroughs could help researchers develop better strategies for helping bats survive.

Tony Webster / Creative Commons

Homicides and shootings are at a four-year low in the city of Hartford, and overall violent crimes are down since last year, too, according to 2014 crime statistics released Monday. 

Roger Reuver / Creative Commons

For the past several years, I have taught an informal, one-credit seminar at The Hartt School called "Communicating With Your Audience."

Although it wasn't a great year for the shows themselves, it was a good year for programming, says TV critic David Bianculli.

"In terms of what was happening on television, in terms of new and old formats and new, exciting players coming into the mix — [it was] another good year," Bianculli tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "I'm actually kind of encouraged."

Bianculli reflects on how far TV has come.

"This is a very, very depressing year for film," critic David Edelstein tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross, "because none of the great material came from Hollywood studios."

Studios, he says, direct their financial resources into sequels and comic-book movies, which leaves little room for "creative expression, and for doing something weird and potentially boundary-moving."

CintheaFox / Creative Commons

We're nearing the end of another news-filled year. Take an entertaining and informative look back at 2014 as we benefit from the wisdom of the WNPR audience: below are ten most-viewed stories you shouldn't miss from our newsroom. 

L.L. Bean's iconic rubber and leather boots — long worn by practical and preppie New Englanders — have swung back into fashion with young people and are more popular than ever.

The recent surge in demand has the company scrambling to fill orders, upgrading its manufacturing equipment and adding a third shift at its Maine boot factories.

Native-born Americans are making up a smaller percentage of those living in some areas of the U.S. as immigration moves to become the key factor in population growth within the next quarter-century, according to a new analysis by the Pew Charitable Trusts that examined county-level census data.

As The Conversation About Serial reaches a fever pitch in certain circles, those of us behind Code Switch and Monkey See have been talking quite a bit about the show. Here's the first part of our exchange, from Code Switch editor Matt Thompson:

Hi Linda, Kat and Gene,

I think we're still far enough away from the conclusion of Serial (ostensibly next Thursday) that predicting its ending is both brave and foolhardy, so let me lay it on you.

Many things made with paper have become relics because of computers and the Internet: the Rolodex, multivolume encyclopedias, even physical maps.

Now take a look in your mailbox or somewhere around your house. There's a good chance you'll see a shopping catalog, maybe a few of them now that it's the holiday season.

"I ignore them," says Rick Narad, a professor at California State University, Chico. "I get them in the mail sometimes, and they don't make it into the house. I walk past the recycling bin, and they go right in."

A common complaint I've long heard was that current athletes were selfish and not politically involved like their passionate forebears –– players like Jim Brown, Billie Jean King, Bill Russell and Arthur Ashe.

My response was, "Well, how many of the modern athletes' peers are especially engaged in social controversy?" It wasn't fair to compare the sensibility of the athletes of, say, 1995 or 2005 to those of 1965; the apt comparison is with other members of their own cohort.

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