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Planet Money
3:41 am
Thu March 28, 2013

When A Famous Hospital Didn't Want An Expensive New Drug

Andrei Tchernov iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu March 28, 2013 10:03 am

Last year, a new drug called Zaltrap was approved as a kind of last-chance therapy for patients with colorectal cancer. Studies suggested Zaltrap worked almost exactly as well as an existing drug called Avastin. In fact, the main difference between the two drugs seemed to be the price.

"I was rather stunned," Dr. Leonard Saltz, who specializes in colorectal cancer, told me.

Zaltrap costs about $11,000 per month — about twice as much as Avastin, Saltz said.

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Same-Sex Marriage And The Supreme Court
7:52 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

Justices Cast Doubt On Federal Defense Of Marriage Act

This artist rendering shows Paul Clement (second from left) with Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. (seated, right), addressing the Supreme Court on Wednesday. Justices pictured are (from left) Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Samuel Alito and Elena Kagan.
Dana Verkouteren AP

Originally published on Thu March 28, 2013 8:51 am

In the wake of the Supreme Court arguments Wednesday on the Defense of Marriage Act, same-sex marriage supporters have reason to be optimistic. Known as DOMA, the law bars federal benefits for legally married same-sex couples, even though those same benefits are automatically given to heterosexual married couples.

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The Two-Way
6:48 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

Ashley Judd Says She Is Not Running For Senate

Actress Ashley Judd addresses the crowd during a 2012 Tennesseans For Obama Benefit in Nashville, Tennessee.
Rick Diamond Getty Images

The actress Ashley Judd put an end to long-running rumors that she would challenge Sen. Mitch McConnell for his Kentucky seat in 2014.

Judd tweeted her decision, saying:

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The Two-Way
6:47 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

Obama's Labor Nominee Faces GOP Opposition Over His Role In A Supreme Court Case

Thomas Perez, the assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Fri April 12, 2013 12:33 pm

Thomas Perez, the president's nominee to lead the Department of Labor and a high-profile Latino advocate for civil rights, is scheduled for a Senate confirmation hearing April 18. But behind-the-scenes wrangling over his nomination, and his controversial role in a Supreme Court case, is already well under way.

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The Two-Way
6:25 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

Emerging Nations To Set Up Development Bank

BRICS leaders, from left, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Chinese President Xi Jinping, South African President Jacob Zuma, Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff and Russian President Vladimir Putin pose for a group picture during the BRICS 2013 Summit in Durban, South Africa, on Wednesday.
Sabelo Mngoma AP

Originally published on Thu March 28, 2013 12:53 pm

The leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – emerging economies that collectively are referred to as BRICS – announced Wednesday the creation of a development bank to fund infrastructure projects in developing nations.

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Shots - Health News
6:16 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

'Sponge' Drug Shows Promise For Treating Hepatitis C

Particles of the hepatitis C virus are imaged with an electron microscope.
James Cavallini Science Source

Originally published on Thu March 28, 2013 1:31 pm

With an estimated 2 million baby boomers infected with hepatitis C, the disease has reached epidemic levels among Americans age 48 to 68.

Doctors can now cure about 70 percent of hepatitis C cases, but the drugs' side effects can be severe. And many Americans are still left with a disease that can cause liver failure and cancer.

So doctors have been desperate for better treatment options.

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Around the Nation
6:14 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

86-Year-Old Music Teacher A Hit Among Jailed N.C. Youths

For many inmates, Gordon's music class is their first. "But when they discover they have some talent, it's very exciting," she says.
Briana Duggan WFAE

Originally published on Wed March 27, 2013 9:55 pm

Prisons are notoriously difficult places to work in for obvious reasons. But one prison in North Carolina has an employee who is indispensable: a grandmother.

Millicent Gordon is not a guard or doctor — she's a music teacher. And she not only brings her warmth to the state's only youth prison, but her popular butterscotch candies, too.

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Same-Sex Marriage And The Supreme Court
5:58 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

Justice Kennedy May Be Deciding Vote In Defense Of Marriage Act Case

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday in a case challenging whether the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) means the federal government can deny marriage benefits to same sex couples in states that allow gay marriage. Same-sex couples had reason to be optimistic afterward. Assuming the court can overcome procedural concerns, it looked as if a majority of justices was ready to strike down DOMA.

The Two-Way
5:46 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

James Holmes' Attorneys Say He's Willing To Plead Guilty To Avoid Death Penalty

James Holmes in a photo from the Arapahoe County (Colo.) Sheriff's Office.
AP

Originally published on Wed March 27, 2013 6:12 pm

The attorneys for James Holmes, who is alleged to have walked into a crowded Colorado movie theater and opened fire, killing 12 and wounding nearly 60, say he is willing to plead guilty to avoid the death penalty.

Colorado's 9 News reports that his defense attorneys made the offer public in a two-page filing that says the prosecution has yet to accept the offer because "it may choose to pursue the death penalty."

9 News adds:

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Movies
5:33 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

Hollywood's History Of Putting Gay Rights On Trial

Originally published on Wed March 27, 2013 9:55 pm

With the Supreme Court hearing arguments this week on same-sex marriage, I'd like to point out a parallel evolution in what I see as a Hollywood mini-genre: films in which gay characters are either taken to court or seek redress in court for issues involving their sexuality.

Arguably the most famous question ever asked in a courtroom about a line of poetry — "What is the love that dare not speak its name?" — was originally put to playwright Oscar Wilde in 1894 by a British prosecutor. It was an attempt to trap Wilde into admitting to then-illegal homosexual conduct.

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The Two-Way
4:49 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

Judge Awards $8,000 To A Man Who Got Stuck On Disney's 'Small World' Ride

A scene from the "It's A Small World" ride, seen at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif.
Damian Dovarganes AP

Originally published on Wed March 27, 2013 7:29 pm

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Around the Nation
4:33 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

Moving People From Welfare To Disability Rolls Is A Profitable, Full-Time Job

Originally published on Wed March 27, 2013 9:55 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

What should government do for the country's most vulnerable citizens, for people who just aren't making it? It's a fundamental question. And as we've been reporting this week, America's disability programs have become, in part, a default answer. There are several reasons for this. One has to do with changes we made to our social safety net back in the mid-1990s.

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Health
4:30 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

Simple Strategies Can Prevent Grain Bin Tragedies

Originally published on Thu March 28, 2013 8:40 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

We continue our series now on a dangerous and illegal practice that kills, on average, 16 people in the U.S. each year. It's called Walking Down the Grain. Employers at farms and grain elevators send untrained and ill-equipped workers into bins to break up wet or clustered grain. In the last four decades, more than 660 people have died because of the quicksand effect of grain.

But preventing these deaths is relatively simple, as NPR's Howard Berkes reports from inside a massive grain bin in Homestead, Iowa.

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Energy
4:30 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

Is The Sky The Limit For Wind Power?

Wind turbines at the San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm in Whitewater, Calif., in 2012.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 27, 2013 9:55 pm

Wind power is growing faster than ever — almost half of the new sources of electricity added to the U.S. power grid last year were wind farms.

But is the sky the limit? Several scientists now say it's actually possible to have so many turbines that they start to lose power. They steal each other's wind.

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Europe
4:30 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

Long After Its Fall, Berlin Wall Is Focus Of New Protests

American actor David Hasselhoff speaks to protesters next to a remnant of the Berlin Wall last week. Thousands of people turned out to oppose a plan to knock down one of the few remaining sections of the wall. A small part was removed Wednesday.
Odd Andersen AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 27, 2013 9:55 pm

Protected by scores of German police officers, workers removed sections of a key remnant of the Berlin Wall before dawn Wednesday despite earlier protests demanding the concrete artifact of the Cold War be preserved.

The removal came as a shock to residents, just as it did on Aug. 13, 1961, when communists first built the barrier that divided Berlin during the Cold War.

Tour guide Rolf Strobel, 52, was among the scores of people who came to gape at the holes in what had been the longest remaining stretch of the wall — about eight-tenths of a mile.

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