Ryan Shank-Rowe, 9, takes part in a therapeutic riding program at Little Full Cry Farm in Clifton, Va., last month.
Credit Melissa Forsyth / NPR
Thelma Balmaceda, age, 4, pets Viola, the resident canine at the Children's Inn on the campus of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. Families stay at the inn when their children are undergoing experimental therapies at NIH.
Credit Maggie Starbard / NPR
Cathy Coleman is a speech pathologist for the Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program. She uses a horse named Happy in her therapy sessions with 9-year-old Ryan Shank-Rowe, who has autism.
Those of us who own pets know they make us happy. But a growing body of scientific research is showing that our pets can also make us healthy, or healthier.
That helps explain the increasing use of animals — dogs and cats mostly, but also birds, fish and even horses — in settings ranging from hospitals and nursing homes to schools, jails and mental institutions.
A welder at Specialty Fab in North Lima, Ohio, works March 1 on a piece of a compressor skid frame that is bound for the Ohio Shale project. Manufacturing companies such as Specialty Fab could receive tax breaks if a proposal from the Obama administration goes through.
Credit Anne Shybunko / Courtsey of GSE Dynamics
An employee at GSE Dynamics, a small manufacturing company that makes parts for the Navy and Air Force.
The White House says restoring the U.S. manufacturing sector is an essential part of getting the economy back on track.
GOP candidate Rick Santorum wants to see tax breaks for manufacturing companies, and the Obama administration proposed something similar last week. But economists say tax breaks may not be the best way to help manufacturers right now.
Over the years, the steady loss of good factory jobs is a big reason why wages have stagnated for people who never went to college, says Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.
This campaign season, inconsistency seems to be, well, almost everywhere. Each flip-flopping politician revels in pointing out the flip-flopping ways of his opponents.
Why are politicians and those of us who vote for them so obsessed with inconsistency? We take that question on from three angles: how our brains are wired; the psychology of judging what's consistent; and how consistency plays out in leadership styles.
Pedestrians walk along a section of Jamaica Avenue in Woodhaven, Queens, New York. The neighborhood is part of an area targeted for congressional redistricting, but the process is still dragging on as the state's primary draws near.
By now, most states around the country have redrawn their political boundaries based on the 2010 census — and then there's New York.
For voters in the Forest Hills section of Queens, it has been rough. A year ago, they were represented by Democrat Anthony Weiner, who tweeted his way to infamy. Now, they're represented by Republican Bob Turner, who won a special election after Weiner resigned.
Right now, nobody even knows what district they're in.
Zumba isn't just a fitness craze; it's an international business with more than 12 million enthusiasts in its classes. You can buy Zumba CDs, a Zumba video game and Zumba clothes. For many students — who show up in spandex to body-roll, fist-pump and booty-shake — it's their first taste of Latin music and dance steps. Now, some Latin dancers are trying to make more of a distinction between their art — and what happens in a Zumba class.
Ohio is one of 10 states holding contests to pick their party's presidential nominee on Super Tuesday, but it has been the main focus of attention for GOP candidates because it will be a major battleground state in the general election this November.
The conventional wisdom has been that whoever takes Ohio in the general election goes on to win the White House, which gives Tuesday's contest a lot of potential momentum for the eventual winner.
Two mysterious men pull up to the courthouse and head to the public records office. They're strangers, and they ask a lot of strange questions like, "I'd like to look at Mayor John Doe's property deeds." Or, "I want to see Congressman Smith's voting records."
Adele Jedynak makes monkey sounds to a group of kids who are steps away from playing Sock Monkey bowling and plush-primate parachuting. It's all part of the Sock Monkey Madness Festival, the eighth annual festival dedicated to the sock monkey in Rockford, Ill.
Every so often, pieces of heaven crash into Earth.
They can come from our own solar system, or millions of light years away. Few of us are lucky enough to get our hands on one of these space rocks. But for meteorite hunters and dealers such as Ruben Garcia, touching a piece of outer space is a daily routine.
The Best Hunting Grounds
One of Garcia's favorite spots to go meteorite hunting is an enormous dry lake bed in southern Arizona.
The vast majority of the 175 indigenous languages still spoken in the United States are on the verge of extinction.
Linguist Elizabeth Little spent two years driving all over the country looking for the few remaining pockets where those languages are still spoken — from the scores of Native American tongues, to the Creole of Louisiana. The resulting book is Trip of the Tongue: Cross-Country Travels in Search of America's Lost Languages.
There's a Mystery Machine sitting outside Andrew Borakove's nondescript warehouse on a quiet street in Lincoln, Neb.
"I can never be depressed driving around town, because there's always some 4-year-old waving to me manically," Borakove says.
The mystery about the Scooby Doo replica van starts to fade, however, once you notice the bumper stickers on the back. Black background, white font, like a "Got Milk?" ad: "Happiness Is a Warm Gong." "Gongs, Not Bongs." "My Child Is an Honor Gong Player."
Spanish politicians spent $220 million on the sparkling new Castellon airport on Spain's Mediterranean coast — $40 million alone was spent on TV ads and other marketing. They also paid $600,000 for ferrets and falcons to kill birds that endanger aircraft.
Yet no plane has yet taken off. Construction, which began in 2004, went over budget, partly to fund a 75-foot statue of a local politician out front.
GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney received a key endorsement Sunday morning when House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia endorsed Romney on NBC's Meet the Press.
Cantor cited the economy as the top issue of the campaign.
"What I have seen is a very hard-fought primary. And we have seen now that the central issue about the campaign now is the economy," Cantor said. "I just think there's one candidate in the case who can do that, and it's Mitt Romney."
Residents in parts of the Midwest and South are recovering from a wave of deadly and destructive tornados and storms. Host Rachel Martin speaks with Pastor B.J. Donahue of Piner Baptist Church in Piner, Ky., who describes what his town looks like now.
Russians are voting today in an election that's expected to return Vladimir Putin to the presidency. There's not a lot of suspense about the choice, but there are big questions about whether a growing segment of Russian society will accept the result. Russia's parliamentary elections, in December, were tainted by allegations of massive vote fraud. This time, thousands of volunteer poll watchers have been deployed to try to curb any attempts to rig the vote.
When President Obama meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Monday, he is expected to try to convince Netanyahu to put off any plans his government may have to attack Iran's nuclear facilities. Host Rachel Martin speaks with Martin Indyk, director of the Foreign Policy Program at the Brookings Institution and a former U.S. ambassador to Israel.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney pulled ahead of his rivals in Washington State's presidential straw poll on Saturday, with more than one-third of the votes. Romney finished well ahead of Ron Paul, who himself squeaked past Rick Santorum by just over 500 votes. Newt Gingrich had to settle for about one vote in 10.
Suzanne Ciani's start in music was traditional enough. She was classically trained, majored in music at Wellesley College, and got a fellowship to study composition at UC Berkeley. But when she arrived there in the mid-1960s, just in time to witness the student protests that consumed the Bay Area during that decade, her focus shifted.
In Israel, a country where citizens serve a mandatory military service of two to three years, the exemption of some is a topic of heated debate. That debate is even fiercer now that Israel's Supreme Court has struck down a law that excused ultra-Orthodox Jews from serving in the military.
The decision highlights growing tensions between the religious and secular elements of Israeli society. As the ultra-Orthodox population continues to grow, many are asking what part they will play in the Jewish state.
In southern China, a village that rebelled against corrupt Communist officials has elected the main protest leaders as its new village committee leaders. Reformers are hoping this could be a template for defusing unrest through grassroots democracy, but others say the experience of the rebellious village is unique.
Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh apologized today to a Georgetown University law student he called a "slut" and a "prostitute" this week. His comments about Sandra Fluke, who testified on Capitol Hill that insurers should provide no-cost contraception, outraged women's groups and others, including the president, who called her on Friday.
Former Judge Mark Ciavarella leaves the federal courthouse in Scranton, Pa., in 2009. Ciavarella was convicted last year of racketeering and conspiracy for taking nearly a million dollars from the developer of two for-profit prisons.
Credit Matt Rourke / AP
Ciavarella sentenced Hillary Transue to a wilderness camp for building a MySpace page that lampooned her assistant principal.
More than 2,000 young people in Pennsylvania are trying to put one of the nation's worst juvenile justice scandals behind them. It's been a year since a former judge was convicted in the so-called "kids for cash" scandal.
New rules intended to protect the rights of children took effect this week, but questions about Pennsylvania's juvenile justice system remain.
A cross with the words "Promises Made"-- referring to statements from BP and government officials — stands in front of a pile of crosses symbolizing things that were impacted by the spill, in a front yard in Grand Isle, La.
The deal was announced late Friday and prompted a federal judge in New Orleans to postpone a Monday trial, but the proposed settlement solves only one piece of BP's legal exposure from the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.
The animal disease center that the Homeland Security department has maintained since Sept. 11 has fallen into disrepair. A proposed new location in Kansas has been riddled with neighborhood concerns, safety threats and escalating costs. Laura Ziegler of Harvest Public Media reports.