Joe Palca Joe Palca is a science correspondent for NPR.
Gene Therapy May Bring Cancer-Killing Cells
Still Looking for Malaria Vaccine, 10 Years Later
New Tool Could Help Determine Cancer Treatment
DNA Snippet Sets Human and Chimp Brains Apart
Humans Keep Cool with Complex Internal Systems
Easier Rules for Kidney Transplants Urged
The National Desk's Greg Allen recently pulled up stakes in Kansas City and took over NPR's Miami bureau. "Bureau" in this case refers to a room in Greg's home where he'll have DSL for Internet access, an ISDN line to feed studio quality audio and telephone lines to make the calls a reporter has to make. Trouble is, the phone company hasn't been able to install the telephone or DSL, and although the ISDN line is working, Greg had to send the piece of equipment you need to use the ISDN line for audio back to NPR headquarters for repairs. And wouldn't you know, with all his infrastructure in disarray, Fidel Castro enters the hospital, the biggest story of the year in Miami. Greg says he's making do with his cell phone and a laptop. He even expects to have a piece on All Things Considered tonight. But it's not been easy. "It's like working in a hurricane zone," Greg says, "I'm working out of my car." One major difference. For high-speed Internet access, he heads to Starbucks. It's hard to get a latte in a hurricane.
It's an odd experience working with people you've never met. You hear their voice on the radio, and like most listeners, you feel a bit like you know them. But you don't. I've never met most of the people who are based overseas for NPR. When they're based in the hinterland -- or even in the "Republic of California" -- most of the people on the National Desk come through NPR's Washington headquarters at least once a year, so I catch a glimpse of them. Not so with the Foreign Desk. So when a strange face appeared at this morning's editorial meeting, I hadn't a clue who she was or why she was there. Turns out Rachel Martin has moved to Washington to take over the religion beat. For the past year, Rachel's been based in Berlin. Before that, she was stringing for NPR in Afghanistan. As one of only three European correspondents, Rachel has had a busy year. Four days after she arrived in Germany, she was sent off the London to cover the second round of Underground bombings. European news took a back seat during the Katrina catastrophe last fall, but then the German elections and the evolving U.S.-German relationship pushed Rachel back into the limelight. So now I can put a face with a name.