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4:29 pm
Fri December 6, 2013

Budget Deal May Be On The Horizon

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:58 am

Congressional budget committee leaders are working to pull together a budget deal by the end of next week. Republic Congressman Paul Ryan and Democratic Senator Patty Murray are reportedly discussing how to increase revenue without raising taxes.

A main provision of the agreement would be a partial easing of the next two spending sequesters. It was only in October that a deadlock over federal spending led to the first government shutdown in 17 years.

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The Two-Way
3:39 pm
Fri December 6, 2013

Pantone's 'Orchid' Is A Purple Hue That Doesn't Seem The Same

'Radiant Orchid' is Pantone's Color of the Year for 2014.
Pantone

Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 7:35 pm

An "enchanting harmony of fuchsia, purple and pink undertones" known as Radiant Orchid is Pantone's Color of the Year for 2014, unseating the more verdantly inclined Emerald that dominated the previous 12 months.

Pantone Color Institute, which describes itself as a global authority on color, describes its latest pick as "a captivating, magical, enigmatic purple" whose "rosy undertones radiate on the skin, producing a healthy glow when worn by both men and women."

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The Two-Way
2:46 pm
Fri December 6, 2013

Shanghai's Choking Smog Registers 'Beyond Index'

A building under construction is covered with haze in Shanghai on Friday. The city's pollution index is at its highest ever, officials say.
Eugene Hoshiko AP

In the latest smog-related health scare in China, officials in Shanghai on Friday ordered schoolchildren to stay indoors, halted all construction and even delayed flights in and out of the city, which has been enveloped in a thick blanket of haze, reducing visibility in places to less than 150 feet.

NPR's Frank Langfitt reports from Shanghai that the commercial capital's Air Quality Index soared above 500 for the first time ever, according to government sensors. He says officials described the readings as "beyond index" — in layman's terms, off-the-charts awful.

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The Two-Way
2:41 pm
Fri December 6, 2013

Italian Court Convicts Egyptian Cleric Abducted By CIA

An Egyptian cleric abducted in 2003 in Milan, Italy, under the CIA's program of extraordinary rendition was convicted of terrorism charges Friday in Italy and sentenced in absentia to six years in prison.

The cleric, Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, now lives in Egypt and is unlikely to return to Italy to serve the sentence.

Italy had been in the process of investigating Nasr, who they suspected of terrorism, when he was snatched and transferred to Egypt via Germany. Nasr said he was tortured in Egypt.

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Television
2:35 pm
Fri December 6, 2013

Delightful 'Six By Sondheim' Leaves You Wanting Six More

The life and work of composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim is examined in Six by Sondheim, a documentary from James Lapine, who also directed several of Sondheim's shows.
Jerry Jackson HBO

Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 3:06 pm

On Monday, HBO presents the premiere of Six by Sondheim, a new TV special that's part biography, part music-appreciation lesson and part performance piece. It's all about the life and music and lyrics of Stephen Sondheim, in which he explains, among many other things, how and why he became a musical theater composer and lyricist, and the inspirations for some of his most familiar songs. If you're new to the works of Stephen Sondheim, this TV special should entice you. If you're already a fan, it should delight you.

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The Salt
2:20 pm
Fri December 6, 2013

What Separates A Healthy And Unhealthy Diet? Just $1.50 Per Day

A Safeway customer browses in the fruit and vegetable section at Safeway in Livermore, Calif.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 9:09 am

If you want to eat a more healthful diet, you're going to have to shell out more cash, right? (After all, Whole Foods didn't get the nickname "Whole Paycheck" for nothing.)

But until recently, that widely held bit of conventional wisdom hadn't really been assessed in a rigorous, systematic way, says Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, a cardiologist and epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health.

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Shots - Health News
1:58 pm
Fri December 6, 2013

23andMe Bows To FDA's Demands, Drops Health Claims

23andMe will still perform genetic tests, but it won't be making health-related interpretations of the results.
YouTube

The maker of a $99 personal genome test blinked.

Silicon Valley's 23andMe said late Thursday that it would comply with the Food and Drug Administration's demand that the company stop marketing health-related genetic tests.

People will still be able to pay 23andMe to have their DNA analyzed to learn about their ancestors. And customers will get a file of their raw genetic info.

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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
1:48 pm
Fri December 6, 2013

Science And Its Reality: Take 2

Will it always rise?
ISS/Expedition 7 NASA

I agree with commenters on my post last week who challenged the idea that religion and science are competing theories. They are not.

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Movie Reviews
1:34 pm
Fri December 6, 2013

Great Soundtrack Aside, 'Inside Llewyn Davis' Hits A Sour Note

In the Coen brothers' latest film, down and out Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) is trying to make ends meet as a folk singer in New York in the early 1960s.
Alison Rosa Long Strange Trip/CBS Films

Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 3:05 pm

The films of Joel and Ethan Coen pose a challenge: How do we reconcile their wildly disparate tones? Consider O Brother, Where Art Thou?, a burlesque of Homer's Odyssey centering on three stumblebums — but with a soundtrack assembled by T Bone Burnett of heartfelt historical gospel and country music. Ditto The Ladykillers: venal idiot characters, soaring African-American spirituals. The ridiculous and the sublime sit side by side, with no spillover.

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Health Care
1:18 pm
Fri December 6, 2013

Dissecting America's $3 Trillion Medical Bill

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 11:54 am

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. Do you know that what the number one reason for people filing bankruptcy in this country is? What's the number one reason? Not a lost job. It's not damage from earthquakes or floods. It's medical bills. My next guest says our high-priced medical treatments are responsible for some 60 percent of personal bankruptcies. And if you think you're safe because you have insurance, he says think again.

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Science
1:18 pm
Fri December 6, 2013

Speech Science: Tongue Twisters and Valley Girls

Drawing from research presented at this year's Acoustical Society of America conference, psycholinguist Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel untangles tongue twisters to look at speech planning patterns, and professor Amalia Arvaniti discusses the "Valley Girl" dialect.

Television
1:18 pm
Fri December 6, 2013

The Simpsons' Secret? It's Written by Math Geeks

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 11:54 am

Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF 'THE SIMPSONS' THEME)

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

That, of course, is the theme of the longest running sitcom in American history. "The Simpsons" kicked off its 25th season this year. And if you've ever seen the show, you know how Homer Simpson is no math genius. He's more interested in the pie of pastry than 3.14. But in the episode "The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace," Homer does something extraordinary. He seems to have found a counter example to the notorious math problem Fermat's Last Theorem. What's going on here?

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Shots - Health News
1:15 pm
Fri December 6, 2013

Hoped-For AIDS Cures Fail In 2 Boston Patients

The HIV virus has proven once again that it can evade detection in the body.
BSIP UIG via Getty Images

HIV has reappeared in the blood of two Boston patients who scientists had hoped had been cured of their infections.

This disappointing development, reported by The Boston Globe's Kay Lazar, is yet another cautionary tale of how researchers can never afford to underestimate the human immunodeficiency virus's ability to hide out in patients' bodies and overcome their most ingenious efforts to eliminate it.

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The Two-Way
12:57 pm
Fri December 6, 2013

U.S. Flags Lowered For Mandela, A Rare Honor For Foreign Leaders

The U.S. flag flies at half-staff over the White House in Washington, D.C., in honor of former South African President Nelson Mandela.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 3:44 pm

After the death of Nelson Mandela, President Obama ordered that U.S. flags on government buildings be flown at half-staff until Monday evening — a symbolic gesture of a nation in mourning.

It's a tradition observed by countries around the world, one that began as early as the 17th century. Mental Floss reports:

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The Two-Way
12:49 pm
Fri December 6, 2013

World Cup 2014 Draw Is Set: U.S. Will Face Germany, Portugal, Ghana

FIFA Secretary-General Jerome Valcke shows a paper with the name of the Korea Republic as Brazilian presenter Fernanda Lima looks on during the final draw of the Brazil 2014 FIFA World Cup Friday.
Christophe Simon AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 2:53 pm

The final draw of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil was announced Friday. The U.S. team will face Germany, Portugal and Ghana in Group G; host Brazil will face world No. 16 Croatia in Group A. Only the top two teams of each group advance to the next round.

The draw puts the U.S., currently ranked as the world's No. 14 team, in the same group with the world's No. 2 (Germany) and No. 5 (Portugal). Ghana is ranked 24th. The showdown with Germany has the potential to be bittersweet for Jürgen Klinsmann, the coach of the U.S. team who was a star for German World Cup teams in the 1990s.

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