At Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan, Staff Sgt. Michael Johnson exercises under a long, steel framework set on a wooden platform. It looks like a giant jungle gym. Above his head are pull-up bars and rings. A climbing rope is off to one side.
It's here where he and dozens of other soldiers and sailors will remember the fallen, just after sunrise, on Memorial Day. They'll all take part in a grueling exercise regimen, part of CrossFit, the popular high-intensity workout program.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is being criticized for the shortfall in care for almost a million veterans who can't get timely compensation and have been waiting hundreds of days for help, often to no avail.
Frustration with the agency came to a head last Thursday when VA Secretary Eric Shinseki was called before a closed-door meeting of the House Appropriations Committee.
"We are aggressively executing a plan that we have put together to fix this decades-old problem and eliminate the backlog, as we have indicated, in 2015," Shinseki said after the meeting.
Mynor Sanchez, a resident of Moore, Okla., lives a few blocks away and three houses down from major destruction. He is volunteering Friday in the neighborhood with his church, Templo El Alabanza, trying to do any tasks with which residents need help.
Credit Katie Hayes Luke for NPR
Eli and Maria Sanchez with their daughter, Kaylee, 6 at their home in Moore, Okla., on Friday.
Pastor Chano Najera calls out T-shirt sizes in Spanglish to volunteers waiting for their uniforms.
It's easy to spot Najera in this crowd — just look for the cowboy hat. He preaches in Spanish at Templo De Alabanza in Oklahoma City. On this morning, though, he's wrangling a group of young Latino volunteers as they wheel cases of water bottles onto trucks headed for Moore, Okla., where an EF-5 tornado ripped through neighborhoods last week, but spared Najera's home.
Chongqing Municipality Communist Party Secretary Bo Xilai attends the opening ceremony of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference at the Great Hall of the People on March 3, 2012, in Beijing, China.
Credit Feng Li / Getty Images
Wenguang Huang is a writer, journalist, translator and author of the memoir <em>The Little Red Guard.</em>
On Feb. 7, 2012, Wang Lijun, a former Chinese police chief, showed up at the American Consulate in Chengdu, China. He said his life was in danger, asked for asylum and said he had information implicating Bo Xilai, an important member of the Chinese political elite, in the murder of a British citizen.
The incident set off an international media deluge, and the ensuing scandal sent ripples throughout the ruling Communist Party that are still being felt.