Kirk Siegler

Kirk Siegler reports for NPR, based out of NPR West in California.

Siegler grew up near Missoula, MT, and received a B.A. in journalism from the University of Colorado.  He’s an avid skier and traveler in his spare time.

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Los Angeles is getting ready to elect a new mayor, and the field is down to two: city comptroller Wendy Greuel and city councilman Eric Garcetti. Now, while Garcetti speaks often of his Mexican ancestry on his father's side, neither candidate is seen as a product of L.A.'s Latino community or political establishment.

And this is notable because of all the attention paid to the current mayor's background when he came to office. Here's NPR's Kirk Siegler.

Wyoming has the highest per capita suicide rate in the nation. Guns are also a big part of everyday life: The state has one of the highest rates of gun ownership.

Guns are a big part of everyday life in Wyoming, and many residents have been directly impacted by a suicide in which a gun was used. The state has the highest suicide rate in the nation, and three-quarters of Wyoming's suicides are by firearm.

The rural state's relationship with guns has long made suicide prevention efforts challenging. But that may be starting to change.

Lax Gun Laws

Last year, there were more suicides in Natrona County than anywhere else in Wyoming.

The soft-spoken county coroner saw them all.

In the West, fights over water last a long time.

It's been almost 100 years since William Mulholland stood atop an aqueduct along the Owens River and said, "There it is, take it." He was referring to a diversion channel that started piping water to Los Angeles from 200 miles away. That water allowed L.A. to become the metropolis it is today.

But it also meant that the Owens River no longer flowed into the massive Owens Lake, which quickly dried up and became one of the biggest environmental disasters in the nation.

Spring has come early to the Yosemite Valley, and the melting snow makes for a spectacular rush of water off the granite face of Yosemite Falls, the tallest in North America.

Early March is when park officials would normally be gearing up for the busy tourist season. Instead, they're figuring out how to cut $1.5 million from their budget. Without a budget deal, the sequestration has forced the Park Service to cut a total of $134 million from sites around the country.

A meeting of finance ministers from the 20 leading industrial and developing nations wrapped up over the weekend in Moscow. The nations agreed to not to target the exchange rates of their respective currencies amid concerns that competitive devaluation could spark a currency war.

If you haven't been to Palisades Park — the famous oceanfront park in Santa Monica, Calif. — chances are you have seen its swaying palm trees and sweeping ocean vistas in movies and commercials.

Running up the wooden stairs that plunge to the beach is the workout to do in this city where it seems like you have to be fit to fit in. In fact, most early mornings before work hours, this park seems more like an outdoor gym than anything else, with running clubs, weight training and kickboxing classes.

How do you reach an audience of more than 200,000 people a day in an important swing state without buying an expensive TV ad?

If you're Sid Overton, you build a blimp and fly it alongside one of Colorado's busiest freeways.

"It says, 'Romney For President. He Creates Jobs,' " Overton told KUNC.

Colorado is a good venue for a presidential debate focusing on domestic issues. The first of three highly anticipated debates between President Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, will take place Wednesday at the University of Denver.

The state is known for its independent voting streak, and much like the rest of the country, there are sharp political divides about the role of government in the economy. In Colorado, those differences grow from two distinct population centers.

Watching the first 20 minutes of Saturday Night Live's season premiere in Denver, I counted at least four ads by the Obama campaign and liberal groups backing the president. Just one ad countering their message was aired in the same span by the Romney campaign.

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The deadly movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado has become a key issue in at least two tight congressional races in that battleground state. Since the attacks, two Democratic candidates - running in districts in and around Aurora - have called for stricter gun laws. But Republicans have accused them of trying to politicize the tragedy.

From member station KUNC, Kirk Siegler reports.

Some well-funded pro-Mitt Romney superPACs and other advocacy groups are pulling their TV ad dollars in Pennsylvania and Michigan and are doubling down on efforts in what they consider to be more crucial swing states — such as Florida, Ohio, Iowa and Colorado.

Those are states where President Obama has also been spending considerable time campaigning lately, but where he's facing a barrage of attack ads from his Republican rival and the conservative superPACs, such as American Crossroads, and nonprofit advocacy groups, like Americans for Prosperity.

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Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper is among the scheduled speakers at the Democratic Convention tonight. The former brew pub owner is one of the most popular governors in the country, and the Obama campaign hopes his popularity will help the party, once again, with the battleground state of Colorado in November. Kirk Siegler of member station KUNC has this profile.

Last month's deadly theater shootings in Aurora, Colo., are starting to play front and center in at least two hotly contested U.S. House races in the swing state.

The conservative lobbying group Compass Colorado this week announced it's beginning a slate of automated calls highlighting what the organization says is Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter's politicization of the July 20 attack that left 12 people dead and 58 injured.

When the Waldo Canyon Fire roared over the hill behind the Mountain Shadows neighborhood in Colorado Springs, Colo., in June, nearly 350 homes were destroyed. The blaze reduced this affluent neighborhood at the foot of the mountains to rubble.

C.J. Moore's home on Mirror Lake Court was among the casualties. The inferno was so hot, her stone driveway exploded. Only a few blackened trees sway eerily in the wind where her home used to stand.

President Obama is in Aurora, Colo., on Sunday, meeting with the families of the victims of the deadly theater shootings that killed 12 people and injured 58 more. He'll also attend a memorial service and meet briefly with local officials.

Outside the movie theater where Friday's rampage occurred, there's a makeshift memorial at the edge of a hot and dusty lot. There are hundreds of candles and flowers, American flags and signs memorializing the victims.

"It's a sad time, very sad time," said William Cloud, a local professor, who came by to pay his respects.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

In the southern Rocky Mountains, several destructive wildfires are burning across a vast stretch of parched land and firefighters are struggling to gain control. In Colorado, the High Park Fire which flared up this past weekend is huge, even for a region where wildfires are common. The fires quickly engulfed more than 41,000 acres, destroying dozens of homes and buildings. And there's no end in sight. Kirk Siegler of member station KUNC brings us this update.

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