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Gearing up for the fall is a big job for most school districts. But in Joplin, Mo., where a monstrous tornado killed 160 people and destroyed more than half of the district's classroom space in May, the task is massive.

Thanks to a very resourceful approach, plenty of help and hard work, though, school will start as scheduled — and that means a lot to the community.

The tornado ripped across Joplin on Sunday, May 22, graduation day. The devastation was vast and surreal: phones and power lines in tatters, desperate triage at swamped medical centers, scores missing.

The Federal Aviation Administration has been in a partial shutdown mode since July 22. And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says the shutdown will continue, with some 4,000 federal workers remaining on furlough.

"It'll be closed until... maybe not September, maybe more than that," he tells All Things Considered co-host Michele Norris.

Here at Shots, we've been watching the uproar over the alcoholic energy drink Four Loko ever since college kids last year reportedly started ending up in hospitals after drinking too much of the stuff.

For the Republicans vying to replace President Obama, the debate on the campaign trail has taken a back seat to the debate in Washington.

Among the GOP presidential hopefuls, the dominant position on the deal is thumbs-down, though some reluctantly supported the agreement.

But now, the issue of federal spending promises to become one of the leading topics of discussion as voters size up the Republican field.

The House of Representatives' vote to raise the debt ceiling Monday was upstaged by the surprise appearance of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), making her first visit to the chamber since being shot in the head in January during a visit to her home state.

Less than six months after he was toppled, former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is scheduled to go on trial Wednesday, and a guilty verdict could bring the death penalty.

Mubarak, who ruled Egypt for 30 years, is charged with multiple crimes that include corruption and ordering the killing of hundreds of protesters while he struggled to put down a popular uprising.

State television will broadcast the proceedings live, a show that is sure to grip the nation. That is, if it begins as scheduled — or at all.

Second in a three-part series

China basked in a moment of technological glory last November when it nudged out the U.S. as home of the world's fastest supercomputer.

The achievement was short-lived — after just six months, a Japanese supercomputer three times as fast supplanted the Chinese machine — but it generated intense national pride.

But questions remain as to whether China's much-vaunted supercomputing program will be able to live up to Beijing's high expectations.

A law signed into law last month in Missouri is making waves nationally, this week. A small part of the wide-ranging SB54, makes it illegal for teachers to be "friends" with students on any social networking site that allows private communication.

That means teachers and students can't be friends on Facebook or can't follow each other on Twitter for example.

Reaction was swift in Alabama on Tuesday after the Justice Department filed a lawsuit to block a new immigration law set to take effect next month.

Alabama's new law — considered the toughest in the country — requires authorities to confirm the status of anyone they stop if there's reasonable doubt that person could be in the U.S. illegally. The law makes it a crime for undocumented immigrants to work, rent an apartment or get a driver's license.

Confessed Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik's "manifesto" references many statistics and papers dealing with both science and global population studies. But what if you were a writer — and you learned that the man who killed 77 people had quoted some of your work?

With the Senate's passage of the debt-ceiling legislation and President Obama having signed it Tuesday afternoon, the nation no longer needs to worry about defaultmageddon, at least not until early 2013 when the U.S. Treasury once again runs out of the room to borrow again.

But even though there wasn't a default, the fight left plenty of wreckage laying about.

Among the casualties was Obama. Yes, he seemed to have narrowly averted becoming the first president to have the nation default during his term.

We all know that exercise is good for us, but sometimes it can seem too hard to even detach from the couch.

Plus, let's be honest, having the federal government tell us it's a terrific idea to get 2 1/2 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week doesn't really help our motivation much. Sorry.

The budget deal struck by President Obama and congressional leaders is enough to merit a triple-A credit rating from Fitch Ratings, one of the three big ratings agencies.

Politico reports:

"Agreement was reached on an increase in the United States' debt ceiling and, commensurate with its 'AAA' rating, the risk of sovereign default remains extremely low," the agency said.

The battle over the debt ceiling may be over, but Congress remains deeply divided.

"Republicans are now taking a well-deserved victory lap while the Democrats are in a state of near total dejection," says journalist Robert Draper. "The Republicans got some cuts, they kept some revenue off the table but most of all, what they've done is dramatically shift the ethos in Washington."

The Japanese women's soccer team stunned the United States a few weeks ago. After a tense match in which Team America seemed to have the upper hand throughout, Japan leveled the game with a late equalizer and then went on to win a penalty shootout.

In the years after Fidel Castro's Cuban revolution, Havana's neighborhoods went through an extraordinary upheaval. As wealthy and middle-class families fled, poorer Cubans moved into their homes.

Now, communist authorities are preparing to legalize property sales for the first time in 50 years, and the city's old racial and class divisions are already creeping back.

House Hunting

You know the feeling: You're driving and you spot a little-known memorial that makes you want to pull over and find out more. It could be a monument to some local hero or to a long-forgotten historical moment. NPR is taking a summer-long road trip and exploring the deep — and sometimes mysterious — histories of these spots. Click on the icons below to explore the series.

The military's four-legged warriors now have a more hopeful future in store.

Military working dogs were once euthanized when their service days were over.

But, their fate is changing as military and civilian families pressure the Defense Department to make it easier for handlers to adopt their canine colleagues.

Looking out over Camp Pendleton's K-9 training field in California, Marine Cpl. Daniel Cornier shares stories about Chaak, the dog he deployed with to Afghanistan.

His words are halting and emotional.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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