Sometimes it can feel like a lot of what we hear is bad news. Well, we're going to hear next about some stories that inspire. All month, we've been collecting stories on NPR.org about good things Americans are doing, how they're working together to improve their communities.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
We call it Participation Nation. You've told us about a California doctor who turned a two-room free clinic into a community health center.
GREENE: A writing program to help young people in Maine become storytellers.
The United Nations role in Syria is changing and so too is its personnel. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon is expected to tap a veteran U.N. troubleshooter to take over from International Envoy Kofi Annan. At the same time, U.N. military observers are wrapping up their mission. NPR's Michele Kelemen has the latest.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And I'm David Greene. In Russia today, a judge has delivered a guilty verdict for three members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot. The band members were given a two-year sentence. They were found guilty of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, after staging a protest in Moscow's main cathedral last February.
Families often pull together to help finance a college education, with parents and grandparents chipping in or co-signing loans. And now, a SmartMoney report finds the U.S. government withholding money from Social Security recipients who've stopped paying on federal student loans.
At 40, Julie Sanders is a mother of three from Portland, Ore. But when she was 16, Sanders belonged to a white supremacist group — and one night in 1988, she witnessed a murder. Since then, she's kept the event a secret from most of her friends and family.
Before she sat down to talk about the incident with her friend Randy Blazak at StoryCorps, Sanders says, she had rarely talked about her past at all. She started out by recalling what her life was like in her teen years.
In 1991, a man named Stephen Mobley robbed a Domino's pizza in Hall County, Ga., and shot the restaurant manager dead.
Crimes like this happen all the time, but this particular case became a national story, in part because Mobley seemed so proud of his crime. After the robbery, he bragged about the killing and had the Domino's logo tattooed on his back.
But there was another reason Mobley's case became famous.
A school of Blue Tang fish swimming together off the Caribbean island of Bonaire. It has long been assumed that the schooling behavior of fish evolved in part to protect animals from being attacked by predators.
By tricking live fish into attacking computer-generated "prey," scientists have learned that animals like birds and fish may indeed have evolved to swarm together to protect themselves from the threat of predators.
"Effectively, what we're doing here is we're getting predatory fish to play a video game," says Iain Couzin, who studies collective animal behavior at Princeton University. "And through playing that game, through seeing which virtual prey items they attack, we can get a very deep understanding of as to how behavioral interactions among prey affect their survival."
Congressional Cemetery is home to 171 cenotaphs honoring members of Congress who have died. The tradition began in the early 19th century, when it was often impossible to transport bodies home for burial. Later, as this became less of an issue, members of Congress still chose to have a marker in the cemetery, even if their final resting place was elsewhere.
Washington funeral grounds like Congressional Cemetery often served as parks for the city's residents. Gravestones shaped like picnic tables encouraged people to come and spend the day, and even have a picnic.
In the 1990s, as the cemetery fell into disrepair, a small group started paying to mow the grass. That group grew to become the K9 Corps — an official organization of the Association for the Preservation of Historic Congressional Cemetery.
The cemetery that served as the first national burial ground remains an active cemetery. Here, the headstone of Rep. Tom Lantos of California, who died in 2008. The stones on top have been left by visitors as a mark of respect for Lantos, per Jewish tradition.
Among the cemetery's many luminaries is Washington native John Phillip Sousa, the bandmaster of the Marine Corps Band, who wrote more than 300 compositions. Each year on Sousa's birthday, the Marine Band pays a visit to the cemetery to play a musical tribute.
Rebecca Roberts serves as program director at Congressional Cemetery and is the co-author of a new book on the cemetery and its history. Her grandfather Hale Boggs, a representative from Louisiana, has a cenotaph in the cemetery. Boggs was aboard a plane that disappeared over Alaska in 1972 and presumably crashed; his body has never been recovered.
Back at the turn of the 19th century, Uriah Tracey was something of a trendsetter. The Connecticut senator was one of the first to fight in the Revolutionary War — and then one of the first to attempt secession from the Union. And in 1807, he was the first member of Congress buried in what later became known as Congressional Cemetery, in Washington, D.C.