California

Ah, back-to-school season in America: That means it's time for the annoyingly aggressive marketing of clothes, and for the annual warnings of a national teacher shortage.

But this year the cyclical problem is more real and less of a media creation. There are serious shortages of teachers in California, Oklahoma, Kentucky and places in between.

The Army is deploying 200 soldiers to help fight wildfires that are burning through about 1.1 million acres across the Western United States. That's according to a press release from the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.

"It's been nine years since wildfire was so widespread all at once that active military troops joined firefighters battling blazes," NPR's Howard Berkes reports. "Four military C-130 cargo planes are also in use as air tankers."

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Just a couple of blocks off the 210 Freeway in San Bernardino, Calif., about an hour east of LA, rest a whole row of cheap, rundown motels. Some people stay for a night or two, others just by the hour.

But some rooms house families with kids — and these families aren't just stopping in.

This is home for them, at least for now. They've run out of other options for a roof over their heads.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

Just over two-thirds of Californians who did not have health insurance before the Affordable Care Act went into full effect in 2014 are now covered, according to a survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The newly insured are much less likely to say that paying for health care is a problem, compared to when they were uninsured.

The drought in California has gone on so long, and is so severe, that it's beginning to change the way people are designing residential communities — in unexpected ways, and unexpected places.

Planning is under way, for instance, for one of the first eco-friendly communities in California's predominantly agricultural Central Valley.

The site is in the town of Reedley, 30 miles southeast of Fresno.

There were a number of factors that distinguished Reedley, says Curt Johansen, the San Francisco developer who's spearheading the project.

Water scarcity is driving California farmers to plant different crops. Growers are switching to more profitable, less-thirsty fruits, vegetables and nuts.

Nowhere is this truer than San Diego County, where water prices are some of the highest in the state.

Grapefruit trees shade the entrance to Triple B Ranches winery in northern San Diego County. The tasting room is a converted kitchen festooned with country knick knacks.

A federal judge in California has ruled that immigration authorities improperly detained women and children who tried to enter the U.S. illegally. Immigrant rights activists are praising the ruling. Julia Preston, who covers immigration for The New York Times, explains the case.

As California's drought drags on, its almond industry has come under scrutiny. As you've probably heard by now, almonds use a lot of water — about one gallon per nut. Most growers are relying on groundwater even more this year, because their surface water has been cut off. But that brings a different problem all together: too much salt.

Not the salt added to make roasted almonds savory, but salt in groundwater – which is killing trees.

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