This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And I'm David Greene. Good morning. Well, now that summer is officially here, we thought this might be a good time to check in with some of our colleagues to find out how the federal budget cuts known as sequestration are playing out. These cuts went into effect in the spring, and it is becoming clear that some federal agencies and programs are feeling the brunt, while others have largely escaped.
Washington is still trying to determine how much damage has been done as a result of Edward Snowden's revelations about NSA surveillance. Snowden allegedly encrypted the files he took with him, but some officials fear Chinese or Russian intelligence services gained access to Snowden's computers.
To understand why Bosnian Rainbows' music stands out, you have to go back to 2007 in Guadalajara, Mexico. A singer named Teresa Suarez has taken the stage name Teri Gender Bender — adopted as a feminist statement while at the head of a band called Le Butcherettes.
What if we could get our gasoline, diesel fuel and jet fuel from yeast instead of from oil wells? That's not as crazy as it sounds. In fact, it's already happening on a small scale. And there's a vigorous research effort to ramp this up on a massive scale.
One of the more innovative approaches uses a new technology called "synthetic biology." Jay Keasling is one of the leaders in this hot field.
The U.S. is ready for tornadoes, but not tsunamis.
That's the conclusion of a panel of scientists who spoke this week on "mega-disasters" at the American Geophysical Union's science policy meeting in Washington, D.C.
The nation has done a good job preparing for natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes, which occur frequently but usually produce limited damage and relatively few casualties, the panelists said. But government officials are just beginning to develop plans for events like a major tsunami or a large asteroid hurtling toward a populated area.
Climate change seems like this complicated problem with a million pieces. But Henry Jacoby, an economist at MIT's business school, says there's really just one thing you need to do to solve the problem: Tax carbon emissions.
"If you let the economists write the legislation," Jacoby says, "it could be quite simple." He says he could fit the whole bill on one page.
Basically, Jacoby would tax fossil fuels in proportion to the amount of carbon they release. That would make coal, oil and natural gas more expensive. That's it; that's the whole plan.
The interest rate on government-backed student loans is going to jump from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent Monday.
Republicans, Democrats and the Obama administration could not agree on a plan to keep it from happening. Lawmakers say a deal is still possible after the July 4 recess. But if they don't agree on a plan soon, 7 million students expected to take out new Stafford loans could be stuck with a much bigger bill when they start paying the money back.
It has been one of the more heated debates in Washington this year.
Developers in Phoenix are scrambling to keep up with another frenzied demand for housing. During the Great Recession, homebuilders in the suburbs abandoned neighborhoods that were only half-built. These so-called zombie subdivisions left a ring of unfinished construction around the city.