NPR Blogs

Shots - Health News
3:50 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Hot Air Ballooning: Transcendent, Until You Break A Leg

To ascend is divine. To land can be traumatic.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon January 13, 2014 10:06 am

Maybe your bucket list includes taking a hot air balloon ride. Sounds lovely. But before floating aloft, please note that coming back to Earth can hurt.

Almost half of the 169 hot air balloon crashes reported from 2000 to 2011 in the U.S. involved tourist flights, and 83 percent of the 78 tourist crashes caused at least one serious or fatal injury, a study finds. Five people died.

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The Two-Way
2:57 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

NSA Says It Would Welcome Public Advocate At FISA Court

The National Security Agency headquarters building in Fort Meade, Md.
Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 12:45 pm

  • NSA's John Inglis on why you need a haystack
  • NSA's John Inglis compares what Edward Snowden did to arson

The National Security Agency "would welcome" the creation of a public advocate's position at the court that oversees its electronic surveillance programs, said its outgoing deputy director.

John C. "Chris" Inglis, who retires Friday after more than seven years as the NSA's No. 2, told Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep that "I would only put the caveat on there that it needs to be operationally efficient."

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The Two-Way
1:48 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Watson, IBM's 'Jeopardy!' Champ, Gets Its Own Business Division

Jeopardy! contestant Ken Jennings, who won a record 74 consecutive games, concedes to supercomputer opponent Watson in February 2011.
Seth Wenig AP

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 6:06 am

Ever wonder what happens to all those Jeopardy! champions once they leave the stage? Watson, an IBM supercomputer, got its own business division.

You might recall that Watson, named after longtime CEO Thomas J. Watson, crushed its human opponents on the popular television game show back in February 2011.

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The Salt
1:40 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Is Sugar Addiction Why So Many January Diets Fail?

Indulge or resist? Sugar cravings can be a serious challenge.
iStock

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 2:34 pm

We've survived the stretch between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, when rich, sweet treats come at us non-stop. Now is the season of reform, when gym memberships, cleanse books and weight-loss plans sell like gangbusters.

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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
12:27 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

The Anthropology Of Walking

iStockphoto

Catching up on my journal reading over Christmas break, I came across a study by an international team of anthropologists which points to a fascinating pattern in how humans move across the landscape. Whether foraging for food in Tanzania or walking from Space Mountain to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride in Disney World, we tend to adopt what's called a Lévy walk, a type of random walk where groups of short step lengths are interspersed with longer movements.

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The Two-Way
11:50 am
Thu January 9, 2014

Aurora Watchers 'May Be In Luck' As Solar Flare Reaches Earth

A coronal mass ejection (CME) exploding off the surface of the sun in an image captured Tuesday by the European Space Agency and NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory.
Uncredited AP

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 5:32 pm

Update at 3:05 p.m. ET:

NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center now reports:

"The coronal mass ejection (CME), originally expected to arrive around 0800 UTC (3:00 a.m. EST) today, January 9, was observed at the ACE spacecraft just upstream of Earth at 1932 UTC (2:32 p.m. EST)."

The SWPC goes on to say that "the original forecast continues to be for G3 (Strong) Geomagnetic Storm activity on January 9 and 10."

"Aurora watchers may be in luck for tonight."

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Monkey See
11:44 am
Thu January 9, 2014

'Parks And Recreation': Good For Nerds, Good For America

Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope and Adam Scott as Ben Wyatt on NBC's deeply pro-nerd Parks And Recreation.
Colleen Hayes NBC

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 2:56 pm

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The Two-Way
11:28 am
Thu January 9, 2014

French Court Rules Controversial Comedian's Show Can Go Ahead

A French court has ruled that comedian Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala, seen here on May 13, 2009, can perform Thursday night in Nantes, France.
Remy de la Mauviniere AP

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 12:27 pm

A French comedian whose performances authorities want to ban because of the act's perceived anti-Semitism has been given the go-ahead to perform in the city of Nantes, France.

A court ruled Thursday that Dieudonne M'bala M'bala's show Thursday night that will open his nationwide tour can go ahead. About 5,000 tickets have been sold for the performance.

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The Two-Way
11:01 am
Thu January 9, 2014

While U.S. Shivers, Australia And Brazil Sizzle

At the Australian Bat Clinic in Queensland, 15 baby flying foxes (bats) were lined up and ready to be fed Thursday. They were brought there to get out of the extreme heat, which has killed hundreds of thousands of bats.
Trish Wimberley AP

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 12:18 pm

Temperatures across much of the U.S. are, as forecast, finally starting to get back to something close to normal after several days of dangerously cold air.

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Shots - Health News
10:49 am
Thu January 9, 2014

How Medigap Coverage Turns Medicare Into A Health Care Buffet

How about back surgery, a cardiac catheterization and an MRI scan?
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 3:01 pm

Restaurants know customers eat more at fixed-price buffets than when they pay a la carte. Economists have been saying for years that the same kind of behavior goes on in the federal Medicare program for seniors and the disabled.

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The Two-Way
10:39 am
Thu January 9, 2014

Pakistani Teen Dies Stopping Bomber From Striking School

Pakistani security personnel examine the site of a suicide bombing in the Ibrahimzai area of Hangu, Pakistan, on Monday. The bombing killed 15-year-old Aitizaz Hasan, who prevented the bomber from attacking a school.
Basit Shah AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 12:02 pm

A teenager who was killed after reportedly stopping a suicide bomber at a school in northwest Pakistan is being hailed as a hero.

Aitizaz Hasan, 15, was late for school on Monday and as a punishment wasn't allowed to attend assembly, the Express Tribune newspaper said.

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The Two-Way
9:40 am
Thu January 9, 2014

The Case Against Clemency: Expert Says Snowden's Leaks Hurt Security

The National Security Agency headquarters building in Fort Meade, Md.
Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 11:25 am

A former NSA general counsel tells NPR's Morning Edition that Edward Snowden advertised his theft of government secrets as an act of civil disobedience and should take responsibility.

"He did the crime — he should do the time," says Stewart Baker, also a former assistant secretary of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush.

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The Two-Way
9:03 am
Thu January 9, 2014

More Slow-But-Steady News: Fewer Jobless Claims Filed

Looking for work in Florida. At a November career fair in West Palm Beach, this man had a job application in hand.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 12:15 pm

There were 330,000 first-time claims filed for unemployment insurance last week, down 15,000 from the week before, the Employment and Training Administration says.

The claims data are the last bits of evidence about how the labor market is doing before Friday's scheduled release of figures on the December unemployment rate and payroll growth.

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The Two-Way
7:40 am
Thu January 9, 2014

Book News: Cache Of Letters From 'Frankenstein' Author Found

An image of author Mary Shelley, circa 1830.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

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