Kelly McEvers

After many years in the Middle East, Kelly McEvers is back home and working as a national correspondent based at NPR West. She previously ran NPR's Beirut bureau, where she earned a George Foster Peabody award, an Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia award, a Gracie award, and an Overseas Press Club mention for her 2012 coverage of the Syrian conflict. She recently made a radio documentary about being a war correspondent with renowned radio producer Jay Allison of Transom.org.

In 2011, she traveled undercover to follow Arab uprisings in places where brutal crackdowns followed the early euphoria of protests. She has been tear-gassed in Bahrain; she has spent a night in a tent city with a Yemeni woman who would later share the Nobel Peace Prize; and she spent weeks inside Syria with anti-government rebels known as the Free Syrian Army.

In Iraq, she covered the final withdrawal of U.S. troops and the political chaos that gripped the country afterward. Before arriving in Iraq in 2010, McEvers was one of the first Western correspondents to be based, full-time, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

In 2008 and 2009, McEvers was part of a team that produced the award-winning "Working" series for American Public Media's business and finance show, Marketplace. She profiled a war fixer in Beirut, a smuggler in Dubai, a sex-worker in Baku, a pirate in the Strait of Malacca and a marriage broker in Vietnam.

She previously covered the former Soviet Union and Southeast Asia as a freelancer for NPR and other outlets. She started her journalism career in 1997 at the Chicago Tribune, where she worked as a metro reporter and documented the lives of female gang members for the Sunday magazine.

Her writing also has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, Foreign Policy, The New Republic, The New York Review of Books, The Washington Monthly, Slate and the San Francisco Chronicle. Her work has aired on This American Life, The World, and the BBC. She's taught radio and journalism in the U.S. and abroad.

She lives with her family in California, where she's still very bad at surfing.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

OK, that's the national picture. Let's zoom in on a region that stands out for its high unemployment, Central California's San Joaquin Valley. NPR's Kelly McEvers went to find out why it's so hard to get a job amid some of the most productive farmland on earth.

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UNIDENTIFIED MAN 1: Employment Development Department, work force services.

KELLY MCEVERS, BYLINE: It's first thing in the morning. And people are calling and lining up to sign up for unemployment benefits and look for jobs.

When the Democrat from Southern California announced his retirement earlier this year, he opened up a seat that had been occupied for decades. The top-two vote getters will face off in November.

Kenneth Ellis III was shot and killed by police in a 7-Eleven parking lot in Albuquerque, N.M.

He is among the dozens of people local police have shot over the last four years, 25 of whom have died. The U.S. Department of Justice issued a scathing report in April saying Albuquerque police have a pattern of excessive force that violates the Constitution.

Investigations and policy changes are in the works, while families of those who have been shot argue more needs to be done.

Building Cases

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

With immigration reform a non-starter in Congress, those advocating reform have been urging the Obama administration to make changes on its own. And the first of those changes was announced this week. It involves the guest visa program known as H1B that allows highly skilled professionals from other countries to come to work in the U.S. The change would allow nearly 100,000 spouses of H1B visa holders to work as well. NPR's Kelly McEvers has the story.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced an overhaul Monday of the agencies responsible for finding, identifying, and returning the remains of servicemen lost in past wars.

The Pentagon spends more than $100 million a year on the effort, but last year only identified 60 of the more than 80,000 missing.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced the creation of a new defense agency charged with merging the multiple divisions currently responsible for finding and identifying the more than 80,000 members missing from past conflicts. A five-month investigation by NPR and the independent news agency ProPublica had found the U.S. recovery effort to be slow, inefficient and stymied by outdated methods.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. With Linda Wertheimer, I'm David Greene.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

It was the middle of a sunny day when our road trip along the U.S.-Mexico border led us to one of the driest regions we'd seen.

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INSKEEP: For a moment there, the landscape made our producer, Selena Simmons-Duffin, think of "Lawrence of Arabia." We had sand dunes over sand dunes over sand dunes. But in that landscape was a slash of blue.

In part two of a joint investigation by NPR and ProPublica, we look at the agency charged with bringing home and identifying the 83,000 American war dead. It's stymied by an extreme aversion to risk. See the

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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The agency charged with bringing home and identifying American war dead is slow, inefficient and stymied by outdated methods, according to a joint investigation by NPR and ProPublica.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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My parents moved away from Lincoln, Ill., two decades ago, when I was in college. I hardly ever get back there. But my mom still works in Lincoln, and it was to Lincoln I headed to meet her this fall, after returning to the U.S. from the Middle East.

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