NPR News

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

Marvel's new superhero movie Deadpool stars Ryan Reynolds, a fact that, up to now, would likely not have been considered much of a selling point. This is not, after all, Reynolds' first stint as a superhero. There was that catastrophic Green Lantern movie, his animated supersnail in Turbo, and he played this character very briefly in what's arguably the least of the X-Men movies.

As the Republican primary moves to South Carolina, political observers are predicting that the race could get nasty in the state that historically plays a major role in choosing the party's nominee.

"South Carolina is brutal. It's bare-knuckle. It is the toughest of tough political environments to play in," says Hogan Gidley, a former director of the South Carolina Republican Party.

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

Transcript

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

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

Transcript

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

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

Transcript

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

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

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

Transcript

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

North Dakota's economic fortunes have taken an abrupt turn for the worst. This is after 15 years of receiving almost entirely good news.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

Hollywood producer Ross Putman says he's read thousands of scripts during his time working in the film industry in Los Angeles, and over the years, he began to find one pattern particularly problematic: the way female characters are introduced.

Here's a sampling: leggy, attractive, blonde, beautiful, hot, gorgeous, pretty, sexy.

The odds of getting Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia are declining for people who are more educated and avoiding heart disease, a study finds. The results suggest that people may have some control over their risk of dementia as they age.

This isn't the first study to find that the incidence of dementia is waning, but it may be the best so far. Researchers looked at 30 years of records from more than 5,000 people in the famed Framingham Heart Study, which has closely tracked the health of volunteers in Framingham, Mass.

Melissa Melby, assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Delaware, was pleased to hear a pre-med undergraduate excitedly describe participating in a brief medical outreach program to an impoverished Central American community. That is, until the student proudly recounted how she had performed a pelvic exam on a patients at the local clinic.

Governors across the country are issuing their state budget plans and outlining policy proposals. Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson checks in with reporters in Kentucky, Wyoming and Connecticut, where the governors recently gave their State of the State addresses, to discuss some of the top issues in those states.

[Youtube]

This weekend marks the 2016 NBA All-Star Weekend. Included in that weekend is the annual NBA Slam Dunk Contest, which 30 years ago was won by Spud Webb in a David and Goliath-type match up. Webb, 5’7″, was the shortest player to ever win.

Bernie Sanders is the first Jewish candidate – in fact the first non-Christian ever – to win a primary.

Sanders would also be the oldest president. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, both in their late 60s, would be second-oldest after Ronald Reagan, who was 69 when he took office.

Clinton is also the closest a woman has come to being president, but it was Sanders who won 55 percent of the women’s vote in New Hampshire.

There are also two Latino candidates in this presidential race, Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. Marco Rubio, thought that has barely been raised.

Renewable energy is reaching record levels around the country, but fossil fuels aren’t going away anytime soon. As states look for ways to fight climate change, one idea is to capture the carbon pollution from power plants and store it underground. Despite millions in taxpayer dollars invested, it still remains largely just an idea. Lauren Sommer from Here & Now contributor KQED reports.

Surrounded by FBI agents in armored vehicles, the last four occupiers of a national wildlife refuge surrendered Thursday, and the leader of a 2014 standoff with federal authorities was criminally charged in federal court.

The holdouts were the last remnants of the group that seized the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Jan. 2 and demanded that the government turn over the land to locals and release two ranchers imprisoned for setting fires.

Einstein was right: gravitational waves do exist. Scientists confirmed Einstein’s theory with the groundbreaking discovery, announced today at the National Press Club, that gravitational waves were detected after a collision of a pair of unusual black holes.

Michael Turner, a professor of astronomy and astrophysics and director of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago, speaks with Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson about what this discovery tells us about our understanding of the universe.

As part of the budget plan unveiled this week, President Obama would dramatically increase spending on “clean transportation infrastructure,” including high-speed rail, self-driving cars and incentives for states to improve mass transit.

Texas State Representative Lyle Larson says the last time his state mattered in a presidential primary was in 1976, between Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan.

Larson proposes a rotating schedule during the primary election process to highlight more populous states, and those with more diverse communities. He talks with Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson about his proposal and the likelihood of it succeeding.

For this week’s edition of the Here & Now DJ Sessions, host Jeremy Hobson talks with Rhonda LeValdo, host of Native Spirit at KKFI community radio in Kansas City, Missouri. She plays music from Native American artists, ranging from traditional music to rock and rap.

A majority of Americans think that editing a baby’s genes before birth should be illegal, according to a new poll from STAT and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The poll finds that 65 percent of people think that altering an unborn baby’s genes for the sake of preventing a serious genetic disease should be illegal. And 83 percent believe that genetic editing for the sake of improving IQ or looks should be illegal.

Sure, people fight about superhero movies and sci-fi movies and who was the best James Bond. But if you want to see some deeply felt disagreement, get in a fight about romantic comedies. Or, if you don't care to, just enjoy this Twitter debate I had a couple of weeks ago with actor and comedian Kumail Nanjiani, who has almost as many opinions about such things as I do. (Almost. And I really do think we should have a podcast called "Isn't It Romantic?" where we fight about this weekly, because I think it would take a long time to run out of ideas.)

Deep in the heart of the arcane laws that give farmers a helping hand, there's something called "crop insurance." It's a huge program, costing taxpayers anywhere from $5 billion to $10 billion each year.

It's called an insurance program, and it looks like insurance. Farmers buy policies from private companies and pay premiums (which are cheap because of government subsidies) to insure themselves against crop failures and falling prices. It's mainly used by corn, soybean, cotton and wheat farmers. Defenders of the program call it a safety net.

Don't get pregnant.

That's the advice given to women by the governments of Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and El Salvador in light of a possible link between the Zika virus, which is spreading in those countries, and a birth defect called microcephaly, which results in an abnormally small head and possible brain damage. Brazil has reported thousands of cases of microcephaly since the outbreak began there last spring; researchers are trying to determine whether the virus is the cause.

After 41 days, the Oregon occupation is over: All four militants who remained at an occupied wildlife refuge have surrendered to the FBI.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

In the summer of 2014, a 23-year-old pregnant woman entered the military hospital at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan with a cut on her left cheek. The wound had been stitched up elsewhere, but she still wasn't quite right.

She said she'd been hit in the face by a ricochet back in her home village. What hit her exactly, she couldn't say for sure. She was upset, though, because the vision was bad in her left eye, even though there had been no apparent trauma to it.

For the Midwesterner who likes to eat local, this time of year is a challenge. Browse the produce shelves in middle America — or any place where snow falls in winter — and you'll find carrots from Mexico and peppers from Peru.

The push by Syrian government forces and their allies has put around 300,000 civilians in the northern city of Aleppo at risk of being placed under siege and cut off from food and humanitarian supplies, according to the U.N.

Since the start of last week, the offensive has displaced some 51,000 civilians from what was Syria's biggest city before the start of the war, the United Nations says.

Pages