Melissa Block

As special correspondent, Melissa Block produces richly reported profiles of figures at the forefront of thought and culture, as well as stories and series on the critical issues of our day. Her reporting spans both domestic and international news. In addition, she is a guest host on NPR news programs.

Great reporting combined with compelling storytelling is vital to NPR's future. No one exemplifies that blend better than Block. As listeners well know, she has an amazing ability for telling the important stories of our age in a way that engages both the heart and the mind. It is why she has earned such a devoted following throughout her 30-year career at NPR.

As co-host of All Things Considered from 2003 to 2015, Block's reporting took her everywhere from the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to the heart of Rio de Janeiro; from rural Mozambique to the farthest reaches of Alaska. Her riveting reporting from Sichuan, China, during and after the massive earthquake there in 2008 helped earn NPR broadcast journalism's top honors, including a George Foster Peabody Award, duPont-Columbia Award, Edward R. Murrow Award, National Headliner Award, and the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi Award.

Block began at NPR in 1985 as an editorial assistant for All Things Considered and rose to become senior producer. From 1994 to 2002, she was a New York reporter and correspondent. Her reporting after the attacks of September 11, 2001, helped earn NPR a Peabody Award.

Drive down gravel Road 22 in Nebraska's York County, past weathered farmhouses and corn cut to stubble in rich, black loam soil, and you'll find a small barn by the side of the road.

Built of native ponderosa pine, the barn is topped with solar panels. A windmill spins furiously out front.

Known as the Energy Barn, it's a symbol of renewable energy, standing smack on the proposed route of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline — a project of the energy giant TransCanada.

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Keystone XL - for years now, the pipeline has been tied up in polarizing argument about energy, jobs and the environment. Keystone's been argued in the U.S. Congress, in state court, at protests around the country and on late-night television.

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This will not be your average kayaking story.

IDA PARKER: I did see the shark grab the kayak and flip it over.

Regulations passed in Texas, which affected clinics that perform abortions there, were set to go into effect on Sept. 1. On Friday, a federal judge blocked those regulations, on the grounds that they unconstitutionally restricted access to legal abortion.

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The mother of slain journalist James Foley says in an interview with NPR's All Things Considered that the family did not want him to return to Syria after a brief trip back to the United States in 2011.

"We really did not want him to go back," Diane Foley tells host Melissa Block. "I must be honest about that," she says of her son, who was killed by Islamic State militants in Syria earlier this month.

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It has become a cliche for news reporters and anchors.

(SOUNDBITE OF VARIOUS NEWSCASTS)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: We are inside the Beltway.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: Inside the Beltway.

College athletes scored a major victory in court Friday. A federal judge issued a ruling that the NCAA violated antitrust law by prohibiting athletes from payment for the use of their names, images and likenesses. The ruling addressed football and basketball players in particular.

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OK, grab the tissues, get a firm shoulder to lean on. It's time for a big cry.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ANCHORMAN")

WILL FERRELL: (As Ron Burgundy) (Crying).

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President Obama has asked Congress for $3.7 billion in emergency funds to address the influx of immigrant children at the U.S.-Mexico border. The Senate Appropriations Committee is holding a hearing Thursday about the request.

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Now to a modern twist on an old tale of an anthropomorphic egg.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, BYLINE: This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

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At Arlington National Cemetery on this memorial day President Obama paid tribute to the country's war dead. The President had just returned from a weekend visit to Afghanistan.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVAL RECORDING)

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

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And I'm Melissa Block.

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This next story is literally about the word...

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Literally.

CORNISH: ...literally. As in a literal sense or manner.

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Today Cotulla, Texas, is reaping the benefits of an oil and natural gas boom in the Eagle Ford Shale. But in 1928, the South Texas town was incredibly poor — and that's how Lyndon Johnson saw it when he had his first job there at age 20.

South Texas is in the midst of a massive oil boom. In just a few years, it has totally transformed once-sleepy communities along a crescent swoosh known as the Eagle Ford Shale formation and has brought unexpected prosperity — along with a host of new concerns.

Among the towns drastically changed by the drilling is Cotulla, southwest of San Antonio, about 70 miles up from the border with Mexico. The area is called brush country — flat, dry ranch land, scrubby with mesquite and parched by drought.

Flags are fluttering at half-staff across Killeen, Texas, after yesterday's shooting at Fort Hood. This is a city that's all too familiar with spasms of extreme gun violence: a shooting rampage at Luby's Cafeteria in 1991 that left 23 dead.

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Texas is in the midst of a population boom and demographic sea change. It's grown faster than any other state and has more than doubled its population in just 40 years, from 11 to 26 million people.

And overwhelmingly, the fastest growth is among Hispanics who now make up 38 percent of the state's population and will be the largest single group in Texas by 2020.

Majority Minority State

A deceptively simple leg brace is changing the lives of hundreds of wounded service members. Soldiers with badly injured legs who thought they'd have to live with terrible pain can walk and run again, pain-free.

Earlier this month, Army Spc. Joey McElroy took his first steps in the Intrepid Dynamic Exoskeletal Orthosis, or IDEO (pronounced: eye-DAY-oh). The device squeaked a bit as he stepped briskly on an indoor track.

McElroy was hit by a car and thrown from his motorcycle on Dec. 5, 2012.

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Now, let's cook up something tasty to eat.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW)

NICK PRUEHER: (As Chef Keith Guerke) How about a mashed potato ice cream cone?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: That's fun.

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The home of Sean Morey bears the impressive signposts of his 10-year career in the NFL: a Vince Lombardi trophy for his Super Bowl championship with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2006. A hefty Super Bowl ring. A framed photograph showing Morey in midair, launching himself like a missile to block a punt. With that play in 2008, his Arizona Cardinals became the only team in NFL history to win a game in overtime with a blocked punt.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

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