Greg Allen

As NPR's Miami correspondent, Greg Allen reports on the diverse issues and developments tied to the Southeast. He covers everything from breaking news to economic and political stories to arts and human interest features. He moved into this role in 2006, after four years as NPR's Midwest correspondent.

Allen was a key part of NPR's coverage of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, providing some of the first reports on the disaster. He was on the frontlines of NPR's coverage of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, arriving in New Orleans before the storm hit and filing on the chaos and flooding that hit the city as the levees broke. Allen's reporting played an important role in NPR's coverage of the aftermath and the rebuilding of New Orleans, as well as in coverage of the BP oil spill which brought new hardships to the Gulf coast.

As NPR's only correspondent in Florida, Allen covered the dizzying boom and bust of the state's real estate market, the state's important role in the 2008 presidential election and has produced stories highlighting the state's unique culture and natural beauty, from Miami's Little Havana to the Everglades.

Allen has spent more than three decades in radio news, the first ten as a reporter in Ohio and Philadelphia and the last as an editor, producer and reporter at NPR.

Before moving into reporting, Allen served as the executive producer of NPR's national daily live call-in show, Talk of the Nation. As executive producer he handled the day-to-day operations of the program as well as developed and produced remote broadcasts with live audiences and special breaking news coverage. He was with Talk of the Nation from 2000 to 2002.

Prior to that position, Allen spent three years as a senior editor for NPR's Morning Edition, developing stories and interviews, shaping the program's editorial direction, and supervising the program's staff. In 1993, he started a four year stint as an editor with Morning Edition just after working as Morning Edition's swing editor, providing editorial and production supervision in the early morning hours. Allen also worked for a time as the editor of NPR's National Desk.

Before coming to NPR, Allen was a reporter with NPR member station WHYY-FM in Philadelphia from 1987 to 1990.

His radio career includes serving as the producer of Freedom's Doors Media Project — five radio documentaries on immigration in American cities that was distributed through NPR's Horizons series — frequent freelance work with NPR, Monitor Radio, Voice of America, and WHYY-FM, and work as a reporter/producer of NPR member station WYSO-FM in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

Allen graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1977, with a B.A. cum laude. As a student and after graduation, Allen worked at WXPN-FM, the public radio station on campus, as a host and producer for a weekly folk music program that included interviews, features, live and recorded music.

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

Environmental activist Luis Jorge Rivera Herrera has worked to protect a pristine section of Puerto Rico's coastline. Now he's being honored with the Goldman Environmental Prize.

Puerto Rico's governor has signed a bill that puts the island's debt payments on hold until January 2017. Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla says the island's first priority is covering payments for essential services.

Puerto Rico acted this week following reports that a key financial institution, the Government Development Bank, is nearly insolvent. A group of hedge funds went to court to block public agencies from withdrawing funds from the bank. Within hours, the Legislature moved to pass the debt moratorium by approving the measure.

In a major concession to critics and animal welfare groups, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment Inc. says it will stop breeding captive killer whales.

SeaWorld's treatment of its killer whales, or orcas, was put in the spotlight three years ago by Blackfish, a documentary that examined the death of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau, who was killed by an orca named Tilikum. Since then, in a steady campaign on social media, critics have demanded SeaWorld end its orca breeding program.

SeaWorld says the health of one of its best-known killer whales is deteriorating. Tilikum is the orca that killed SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010 — her death and SeaWorld's treatment of its killer whales were at the center of the documentary Blackfish.

San Jorge Children's Hospital is Puerto Rico's largest pediatric hospital, drawing patients from throughout the Caribbean. It's a bustling facility in San Juan, with specialties in surgery, rheumatology and oncology. It also has brightly colored live parrots at every entrance.

"It just sends a message to the patient that they're in a friendly place," explains San Jorge's vice president of operations, Domingo Cruz Vivaldi. "That they're here to be treated, but they're also going to have a good time."

The Zika virus is a health threat not just to Latin America, but also to parts of the U.S. It's already a problem in Puerto Rico where there are nearly 120 cases so far, including five pregnant women. That's a concern, because Zika may be involved in causing birth defects.

The Zika virus now has a foothold in a U.S. territory. Puerto Rico is reporting at least 117 Zika cases, including at least five pregnant women. That's of special concern because of Zika's possible link to birth defects.

In Bayamon, a San Juan suburb, Monica Figueroa is waiting in line at a lunch truck. She's a nurse who works at a nearby clinic and she is pregnant — "about five months and a few weeks, something like that," she says in Spanish. Figueroa knows about Zika. She says she's wearing mosquito repellent but is not especially worried.

When people talk about Florida's Everglades, they often use superlatives: It's the largest protected wilderness east of the Mississippi River, and it's the biggest subtropical wetland in North America.

But it is also the site of a joint federal-state plan that is the largest ecosystem restoration effort ever attempted — one that is beginning to pay off after decades of work.

Florida is one of several U.S. states now reporting a few isolated cases of people infected with the Zika virus. In response, Florida's Gov. Rick Scott has declared a public health emergency in five counties in hopes of getting ahead of the virus's spread.

So far, just 12 cases of the mosquito-borne illness have been reported to health authorities in Florida, all of them among travelers who contracted the disease outside the U.S. But Scott figures it's only a matter of time before the virus starts showing up among mosquitoes in some regions of the state, too.

Florida's highest court on Tuesday will hear a case that may determine the fate of some 390 people on the state's death row. Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Florida's system for imposing the death penalty is unconstitutional.

Florida has an execution set for next week. The state's highest court now must decide whether it can go forward.

The rapid spread of the Zika virus has raised interest in a British company that has developed a genetically modified mosquito. Oxitec has produced a genetically engineered line of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the mosquito that carries dengue fever and chikungunya. Those tropical diseases have become common in Latin America and are now showing up in Florida.

Aedes aegypti also carries Zika, a disease whose symptoms include fever, like dengue. It has also been linked to a birth defect, microcephaly in children born to women infected with Zika.

Florida's Everglades is known for its alligators, and in recent years, pythons. Burmese pythons aren't native to the Everglades. But over the last two decades, the snakes, which can grow up to 20 feet, have become established there and taken a big toll on native wildlife.

With the pythons, there's another new Florida species — the python hunter. They've been featured on National Geographic and the Discovery Channel. And hunters are descending on the Everglades this month for a competition — the Python Challenge.

It won't be long until passengers will be able to take a ferry to Cuba from Miami, an idea that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago in a city that's home to Cuban exiles who fled from the Castro regime. The Obama administration approved licenses last year to companies that want to run ferries to Cuba. Several are interested. Still, it came as a surprise last week when the port of Miami said it's considering building a new ferry terminal on land that had been slated for development.

Hundreds of people were lined up when the gun show opened at the fairgrounds in Miami. It was mostly men, but there were quite a few women and even some kids. Winter is a busy time for gun sales in Florida. But this gun show was busier than usual.

Even before President Obama announced actions aimed at tightening controls on gun purchases, sales were up — partly in reaction to terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernadino.

There was an unusual scene at Florida's Capitol building in Tallahassee this week. To comply with a court order, legislative staffers used a computer program to randomly assign new numbers to Florida's 40 state Senate districts.

It's the latest in a series of moves that have reshaped politics in the Sunshine State. The political ground shifted recently when the courts approved new maps for congressional districts and the state Senate. The maps are the result of laws that aim to eliminate gerrymandering: drawing districts to benefit one political party or another.

There's been a breakthrough in an impasse that's left several thousand Cuban migrants stranded in Central America.

In Latin American cultures, Christmas Eve is Noche Buena and time for a big family celebration, often featuring a pig roast. There are lots of ways to cook a whole pig. But at Noche Buena parties in South Florida and, increasingly, around the country, the preferred method for roasting a pig involves something known as a "China box."

Since President Obama opened a door to Cuba, there's been progress in the past year. Americans can travel there. The two countries reopened their embassies and have agreed to re-establish commercial air travel.

But on the financial front, progress has been slow. After a year, there's just one U.S. financial institution doing business with Cuba — and it's a small bank in Pompano Beach, Fla.

While others are thinking about the holidays, in Florida November is the beginning of citrus season. Grower Jeff Schorner sells citrus fruit gift boxes by mail order and at his store, Al's Family Farm in Fort Pierce.

"We began our harvest about three weeks ago," he says. "And we'll harvest all the way about until the beginning of June." Right now, it's navel oranges. Next come tangerines, ruby red grapefruit and the popular honeybell tangelos.

The National Transportation Safety Board has completed its search of the wreckage of the El Faro, without finding the ship's voyage data recorder. The 790-foot container ship with 33 crew members aboard sank off the Bahamas on Oct. 1 during Hurricane Joaquin.

With their garish blooms, there's something special about orchids, and in the U.S., no place has more native species than Fakahatchee Strand Preserve. The state park in Southwest Florida was the setting for the 1998 book The Orchid Thief. Scientists there are working to bring back varieties lost through the years to poachers and habitat destruction.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Jeb Bush is trying to jump-start his campaign this week, with a new focus and a new slogan: "Jeb Can Fix It."

That's meant to highlight his two terms as governor of Florida, but it might also apply to his lackluster campaign.

Bush's hopes to dominate the race as front-runner are a distant memory, with outsider candidates like Donald Trump and Ben Carson leading the field since the summer.

But lately, Bush has been fighting more fiercely with a man he once mentored, Marco Rubio. When Bush was governor, Rubio served as speaker of the Florida House of Representatives.

White sand, waves, water and cars?

People have been driving on the hard-packed sand of Daytona Beach for more than a century. Races were held on the beach until they were moved to the Daytona International Speedway in 1959.

After the racers left, cars and trucks continued to cruise on the sand. But now, there's a debate raging about whether it's finally time to ban vehicles on Daytona Beach.

Like many locals, Cassie Brown has a favorite spot on Daytona Beach — one she visits almost every day in her car.

In Florida, federal and state officials have quarantined 85 square miles of farmland to combat a destructive pest: the Oriental fruit fly, which attacks hundreds of varieties of fruits and vegetables.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans today is smaller than when the storm hit, with 110,000 fewer people than the nearly half-million who had lived there. But the city's recovery is a story that varies with each neighborhood. In some neighborhoods, like the Lower Ninth Ward, many residents never returned. Others, like the French Quarter, have seen many newcomers and now have more households than they did in 2005.

A Florida judge will draw up new maps for the state's 27 congressional districts. After meeting in a two-week special session, Florida's House and Senate adjourned without agreeing on what the maps, ordered by the State Supreme Court, should look like.

This was the Florida Legislature's third attempt to draw congressional maps that comply with the state Constitution. Under an amendment adopted by voters in 2010, Florida's Legislature must compile maps for congressional and legislative districts that don't protect incumbents or political parties.

The flooded streets and destroyed homes of the New Orleans neighborhood known as the Lower Ninth Ward were among the most powerful and iconic images from Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath 10 years ago.

Now, much of New Orleans is back — more than half of the city's neighborhoods have recovered some 90 percent of their pre-storm population.

That's not the case for the Lower Ninth.

Today, there's a feeling of desolation on nearly every block of the predominantly African-American neighborhood.

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