With the government on the brink of a shutdown, Republicans and Democrats in Congress have come together to compromise on helium. Legislation passed late last week will keep the gas used in party balloons flowing from a national reserve.
The helium bill's passage shows that compromise is still possible in the fractious political climate. But finding agreement over this inert gas was tough. The new law came after more than a year of intensive lobbying by some of America's largest businesses and academic institutions.
I confess I'm not much of a museum tourist. On a recent visit to Croatia's capital, Zagreb, I strolled past three museums without feeling any urge to step inside. Then I came across one I just couldn't ignore: the Museum of Broken Relationships.
"It's a collection of objects donated by people who have broken up," says Drazen Grubisic, a co-owner of the museum. "Each item has an accompanying story."
Some are amusing, others sarcastic and a few are just plain heartbreaking.
It has been a deadly year for the people who fight wildfires. In total, 32 people have lost their lives fighting fires in 2013; the highest number in nearly 20 years, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
Just one incident accounts for most of those deaths, the Yarnell Hill fire in Arizona. In June, the blaze blasted through a firefighting crew known as the Granite Mountain Hotshots; 19 of the 20 men died.
When Gary Wade first started working at Vermont's state institution for people with developmental disabilities, it was already on its way out. The Brandon Training School had been in operation since 1915.
Before it closed for good in 1993, Wade was sorting through the paperwork and found letters written during the 1940s and '50s. One of his favorite clients, Flossie Howe, was asking to leave. "I don't feel like I belong here. I think I have a job in Pittsford, " Flossie wrote.
North Korea remains one of the most closed places in the world. And that makes Tim Sullivan kind of a rarity: As the Asia correspondent for the Associated Press, he's spent about six weeks in the country over the course of two trips.
In addition to his stories for AP, Sullivan also wrote an article entitled "The Real North Korea" that's in the October issue of National Geographic.
John Foster Dulles and Allen Dulles were the forefathers of using covert operations to upset foreign governments — with the aim of overthrow.
They learned the reach of American power abroad when they were partners at an influential New York law firm. Later, with John Foster Dulles serving as secretary of state and Allen Dulles as CIA chief, they shared power in the President Dwight Eisenhower's administration.
The Affordable Care Act requires nearly every American to have health insurance or pay a penalty, beginning Jan. 1. The so-called "individual mandate" has been controversial ever since the law was passed.
But for people who fall into a few select categories, the mandate doesn't apply. Like Native Americans who get health coverage through the Indian Health Service, or people who are incarcerated.
In The Faithful Scribe, Shahan Mufti examines the history of Pakistan and its relationship to the United States. He also explores how his own family story is part of the tumultuous story of the world's first Islamic democracy.
"A huge impetus for me in writing this book was actually being on both sides of this present conflict, where America is involved in this war in Afghanistan," Mufti tells NPR's Arun Rath. "As we know, the place of Pakistan in this conflict is very dubious and questionable."