When the Affordable Care Act was working its way through Congress, Gary Lauer was nervous. Part of the bill sounded grim. It said people could buy required health coverage online, but only through websites run by state and federal governments.
"That was going to pretty much delete us from the landscape," he says.
The Japanese city of Narita is best known to the outside world for its major airport that serves Tokyo, the nation's capital city.
Narita is also a rural area of Chiba Prefecture, however, with a long tradition of rice farming.
Toward the end of the summer, Narita's rice farmers gather to pray for bountiful harvests. They dance, play music and ride elaborate festival carts. From afar, the wagons appear to glide through a sea of lush green paddy fields as villagers pull them down Narita's placid country lanes.
How often do whales clean their ears? Well, never. And so, year after year, their earwax builds up, layer upon layer. According to a study published Monday, these columns of earwax contain a record of chemical pollution in the oceans.
The study used the earwax extracted from the carcass of a blue whale that washed ashore on a California beach back in 2007. Scientists at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History collected the wax from inside the skull of the dead whale and preserved it. The column of wax was almost a foot long.
We will go to NPR's business news in a moment. Right now, let's get an update on what we do know about a shooting at the U.S. Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. today. We have to begin by being frank. What we do not know exceeds what we do. NPR's Jennifer Ludden is on the scene of that shooting today - or near it - and she's on line. And Jennifer, what have you been learning?