Eric Westervelt

NPR foreign correspondent Eric Westervelt recently wrapped up a multi-year assignment in the Middle East covering Israel and the Palestinian Territories. He took up his new position as a Berlin-based European Correspondent for NPR in May 2009.

Westervelt has reported on conflicts and their repercussions across the Middle East region for NPR, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the second Lebanon war between Hezbollah and Israel, and the on going Palestinian-Israel conflict, including fighting in the Gaza Strip ranging from internal Palestinian violence to multiple Israeli offensives in the territory. He reported in-depth on issues across the occupied West Bank and Israel. He has also reported from the Horn of Africa, Yemen and the Persian Gulf region.

Westervelt reported on the war in Iraq from the initial US-led ground invasion in 2003, traveling with the lead unit of the Army's Third Infantry Division. He later helped cover the insurgency; sectarian violence; and the on-going struggle rebuild the country in the post Saddam Hussein-era.

Westervelt's coverage at home and abroad has helped NPR win broadcast journalism's highest honors, including contributions to a 2002 George Foster Peabody Award to NPR for coverage of the September 11th terrorist attacks in the US and its aftermath; a 2003 Alfred I. DuPont - Columbia University award for NPR's coverage of 9-11 and the war in Afghanistan; as well as duPont-Columbia University top honors again in 2004 and again in 2007 for NPR's coverage of the war in Iraq and affect on Iraqi society, among other awards.

Westervelt's reports are heard on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and NPR's hourly newscasts, and appear online at npr.org

Prior to his Middle East assignment, Westervelt covered military affairs for NPR News reporting on a wide range of defense, national security and foreign policy issues. Before that Westervelt reported for NPR's National Desk, covering some of the biggest stories in recently memory, including the shootings at Columbine High School, the explosion of TWA flight 800 and the Florida presidential recount. For the National Desk Westervelt also reported on national trends in law enforcement and crime fighting, including police tactics, use of force, the drug war, racial profiling and the legal and political battles over firearms in America. Westervelt's work on the National Desk also contributed to another Peabody Award for an NPR series on the most influential American musical works of the 20th Century.

Before joining NPR, Westervelt worked as a reporter in Oregon and a news director and reporter in New Hampshire and reported for Monitor Radio, the broadcast edition of the Christian Science Monitor.

Westervelt is a graduate of the Putney School. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in American Studies from Reed College in Portland, Oregon. He and his wife Lisa currently live in Germany.

 

On Thursday, Californians took part in an annual statewide earthquake preparedness event called The Great Shake Out. The event encouraged people to practice safety drills, check quake supplies and go over emergency plans with family, schools and employers.

While many Californians now know the mantra to "drop, cover and hold on," there's growing concern that people and companies are not adequately covered for the days after.

For Shiva Ghaed, the outdoor Route 91 Harvest country music festival one year ago was to be the capstone of a fun girlfriends' weekend in Las Vegas. But it became a struggle for survival when automatic weapons fire on the crowd began killing concertgoers.

In the days after the shooting, Ghaed, a clinical psychologist whose work includes treating veterans with PTSD, realized there were few services available for survivors dealing with the trauma of a mass shooting. So one week after the shooting, she began leading a support group for survivors.

For more than 15 years, Oakland's police department has been under federal oversight following a police abuse and racial profiling scandal.

As part of a negotiated settlement in 2003, the city agreed to work toward sweeping police reforms. The Riders Settlement mandated ongoing monitoring of the department, including the collection of data on police stops and an end to discriminatory policing.

But there's mounting frustration that federal oversight and better data collection have not led to real change, despite a massive price tag.

As legalization of recreational and medical marijuana continues to expand, police across the country are more concerned than ever about stoned drivers taking to the nation's roads and freeways, endangering lives.

With few accurate roadside tools to detect pot impairment, police today have to rely largely on field sobriety tests developed to fight drunk driving or old-fashioned observation, which can be foiled with Visine or breath mints.

A new report out Thursday by the federal government's auditing arm raises big concerns about how the Department of Veterans Affairs handles employees who report wrongdoing and managers found to have committed misconduct.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office's report says VA whistleblowers are far more likely than their colleagues to face discipline or removal after reporting misconduct.

Alan Hyde is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System. He served in Operation Desert Storm, where he suffered an in-service leg injury. But it's his time with the Central Alabama VA, he says, that has left him more rattled, frustrated and angry.

"It's a toxic environment there," Hyde says. "And I feel sorry for the veterans."

In the early hours of June 5, 1968, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy was gunned down in a kitchen hallway of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.

Kennedy was a top Democratic contender. He had just given a rousing victory speech after winning the California presidential primary. He died the following day.

Today, the hotel is gone. But in its place is a kind of living memorial to his ethos of social justice and fairness to everything from immigration to the environment.

On one level, it looks like all is mostly back to normal in the small, rural community of Rancho Tehama in Northern California. But just below the surface it's clear people here are still grappling with the aftermath of a local man's murderous rampage nearly three months ago that killed five and wounded 12 others.

There's about 10 feet between Judge Craig Hannah's courtroom bench and the place where a defendant stands to be arraigned here in Buffalo City Court.

But for 26-year-old Caitlyn Stein, it has been a long, arduous 10 feet.

"This is your first day back! Good to see you!" Judge Hannah says as he greets her.

"Good to see you," Stein says, smiling.

"We've got to do that after picture. We did the before," Judge Hannah reminds her.

"Never forget" became a national rallying cry after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Yet America's schools — where collective memory is shaped — are now full of students who never knew because they weren't alive then. Many teachers now struggle with whether and how to teach the attacks and their aftermath.

According to one survey, only about 20 states include anything in depth about the events of that fateful day in their high school social studies curriculum.

And when they are taught, critics say, it's often through a narrow lens.

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