Hansi Lo Wang

Hansi Lo Wang is a National Desk reporter based at NPR's New York Bureau. He covers issues and events in the Northeast.

He previously reported on race, ethnicity and culture for NPR's Code Switch team. Since joining NPR in 2010 as a Kroc Fellow, he's contributed to NPR's breaking news coverage of the 2013 tornado in Moore, Okla., the trial of George Zimmerman in Florida and the Washington Navy Yard shooting. He has also reported for Seattle public radio station KUOW and worked behind the scenes of NPR's Weekend Edition as a production assistant.

In 2014, he won the National Journalism Award for General Excellence in Radio from the Asian American Journalists Association for his profile of a white member of a Boston Chinatown gang. He was also a finalist for a Salute to Excellence National Media Award from the National Association of Black Journalists.

A Philadelphia native, Wang speaks both Mandarin and Cantonese dialects of Chinese. As a student at Swarthmore College, he hosted, produced, and reported for a weekly podcast on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

African-American women have been wearing fancy hats to church for generations. That tradition is being celebrated at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture, which officially opens in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 24. Vintage turbans, caps and fascinators that span a half-century are on display — all from the shop of one woman.

Her name is Mae Reeves.

Mules named Sal are hard to find these days along the Erie Canal. But almost two centuries after workers began digging its route across upstate New York, you can still see barges pushed and pulled through what some consider the first superhighway of the U.S.

As the canal prepares to celebrate its bicentennial next July, some are questioning whether the canal is still worth subsidizing.

Before Scott Kopytko joined the New York City Fire Department, he worked as a commodities broker in the South Tower at the World Trade Center. On Sept. 11, he rushed up the stairs of his old office building, trying to save lives with his fellow firefighters before the towers fell.

"He went to work, and he never came back," says his stepfather, Russell Mercer.

Fifteen years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the World Trade Center is still one of the world's most scrutinized construction sites.

Developers have had to balance honoring the dead while reviving some of the most valuable real estate in the world.

Back in 1972, John Lennon hired Leon Wildes, an immigration attorney who had no idea who he was.

Wildes' son, Michael, remembers his father coming home to tell his mother about their first meeting.

"And he said, 'A singer by the name of Jack Lemon and his wife Yoko Moto,' " Michael recalls. "My mom looked at him like he wasn't well. 'Are you talking about the Beatles and John Lennon?' My father said, 'Yeah!' "

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Even if fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad doesn't medal at the Rio Olympics, she is set to make the history books.

Once she hits the fencing strip for her first bout in the women's individual sabre competition on Aug. 8, she will become the first U.S. Olympic athlete to compete while wearing a hijab.

As tens of thousands of politicians, party delegates and protesters swept through the City of Brotherly Love this week for the Democratic National Convention, dozens of homeless Philadelphians and out-of-towners pitched tents on a grassy lot.

They were part of a protest over the four days of the convention organized by Cheri Honkala, a Philadelphia-based activist with the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

How many times last year did police pull a Taser on suspects nationwide?

Just like the total number of people shot by police, no one knows for sure.

Connecticut is the first state to require police to fill out a form for every time they pull a Taser. And it just released the first-ever statewide report on how police use them.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The Obama administration is taking steps to name the first national monument dedicated to the struggle for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.

A likely location is in New York City, where the Stonewall riots sparked the modern gay-rights movement almost a half-century ago.

"It sounded like screaming and real cries of agony and desperation finally being released," recalls Martin Boyce, 68, who participated in the riots in the early hours of June 28, 1969.

In the marshy woods of Secaucus, N.J., a mosquito can make a happy home.

With water and shade under a canopy of maple trees, you could barely ask for more to start your own bloodsucking family.

For Gary Cardini, though, this is a battleground.

"You want to get them in the water before they're flying," explains Cardini, who supervises the field team for Hudson County Mosquito Control. "In the water, they're captive. You know where they are."

A legal battle between refugee students and the school district of Utica, N.Y., may soon come to an end.

A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit claiming that refugees in Utica, a Rust Belt city located about four hours north of New York City, have been illegally blocked from attending the local high school.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The next presidential primary battle has arrived in a state with one of the country's largest Asian populations.

For more than a century, mug shots have helped police catch criminals. Those photos of a person's face and profile trace their roots to Paris in the late 19th century.

Now, some of the earliest mug shots ever taken are on display at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The black-and-white photos were once on the cutting edge of how police identified suspects.

They were taken by a French criminologist named Alphonse Bertillon, and his techniques set the template that police use today.

Rise Of The Modern Mug Shot

Whether or not you're a citizen in New York state, you have a right to attend a public high school and earn a diploma until you're 21. That was Pawsansoe Bree's plan after she left a refugee camp in Thailand when she was almost 19.

On Thursday nights near the Brooklyn, N.Y., waterfront, an old firehouse turns into a schoolhouse, where the drills are in Chinese.

The students are some of New York's bravest. About a dozen firefighters, EMTs and paramedics are taking the first Mandarin classes funded by the New York City Fire Department Foundation. It's the start of a voluntary program that organizers hope to expand into other Chinese dialects and Asian languages in the future. For now, these first responders spend two hours a week learning Mandarin from Lily Cheung.

In New York City, there's a little-known island where as many as a million people are buried. It's a public cemetery for homeless people, stillborn babies and unclaimed remains. Visiting Hart Island is a challenge — even for families of the deceased, and now, some of those families are trying to change that.

The only way relatives of the deceased can visit the graves on Hart Island is by ferry across the Long Island Sound once a month. They can also travel to the island with the general public one other day each month, but to an area away from the gravesites.

If you want to meet some of the newest Chinese immigrants of New York City, don't go to Chinatown in Manhattan.

Take the train to the Queens neighborhood of Flushing, where you'll find newcomers who are reshaping the largest Chinese community of any city outside of Asia.

For decades, most Chinese immigrants in the U.S. have come from China's southern provinces. But in recent years, more immigrants are coming from the north and landing in Flushing — including Geng Lei, an immigrant from the northern province of Shandong.

Immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally are often reluctant to report crimes.

That's why Congress created what's known as the "U visa" program. It gives legal status to victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and other serious crimes — if they help law enforcement with criminal investigations.

Around the country Monday, hundreds of airport workers protested in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

From Newark, N.J., to Washington, D.C., to Chicago and Miami workers called for a minimum wage increase to $15 an hour.

In Newark, workers carried picket signs of Martin Luther King through the airport.

"If Dr. King were alive today, he would be standing alongside of us," said Kevin Brown, New Jersey's state director of the local service employees union, 32BJ SEIU.

Back in 2012, President Obama took executive action to create a program for unauthorized immigrants who entered the U.S. as children before June of 2007, and who are currently younger than 34.

That program has come to be known as DACA — Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — and since it was instituted, it has temporarily protected almost 700,000 people from deportation.

Authorities are still trying to determine how the San Bernardino shooters got the two assault-style rifles they used in the attack.

The guns were registered to Enrique Marquez, long-time friend of shooter Syed Farook. But it's not clear exactly how those guns wound up in the shooters' hands.

Buying guns from licensed dealers for someone else is illegal. "Straw purchasers" break the law by fraudulently filling out a form that says they're the actual buyer, but they're actually buying the gun for another person — someone who might be avoiding a background check.

Edit note: Since this story was first published, former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was found guilty of taking nearly $4 million in bribes and kickbacks. We have updated the story to reflect this change.

Las Vegas has The Mob Museum. Washington, D.C., has the International Spy Museum. And if a concerned citizen has his way, there will be a Museum of Political Corruption in Albany, N.Y.

A street drug made of various chemicals sprayed on tea leaves, grass clippings and other plant material continues to send thousands of people suffering from psychotic episodes and seizures to emergency rooms around the country.

In 2015, calls to poison control regarding the drug already have almost doubled, compared to last year's total, and health professionals and lawmakers are struggling to keep up with the problem.

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