NPR Blogs

The Two-Way
7:59 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Book News: World War I Diaries Of British Soldiers Digitized

British soldiers in the trenches, late 1914.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 16, 2014 3:14 pm

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

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The Salt
3:28 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Sometimes A Perfect Stranger Is The Best Dinner Host

A group gathers in a Ballston, Va., home for a supper club organized through the site Feastly. A new food trend gaining popularity in New York and other cities lets diners enjoy a meal prepared by a stranger in that person's home.
Courtesy of Noah Karesh

Originally published on Thu January 16, 2014 3:07 pm

With website names like Eat With, Side Tour, VoulezVousDiner and Feastly, a new food trend that is sweeping New York and other cities allows diners to enjoy fine meals inside someone else's home.

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Shots - Health News
3:25 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Florida Bill Would Allow Medical Marijuana For Child Seizures

Marilyn Budzynski takes care of her 20-year-old son, Michael, in Eustis, Fla., in September. Michael suffers from Dravet syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy.
Tom Benitez MCT /Landov

Originally published on Thu January 16, 2014 4:57 pm

Florida may soon become the latest state to allow doctors to prescribe marijuana. Advocates there are gathering signatures to put a medical marijuana referendum on the fall ballot.

But Florida's Legislature may act sooner to allow residents access to a particular type of marijuana. Advocates say the strain called Charlotte's Web offers hope to children with severe seizure disorders.

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The Two-Way
8:58 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Pregnant Women Warned Against Drinking Water In W.Va. Area

The Freedom Industries facility sits on the banks of the Elk River last Friday, in Charleston, W.Va., site of a chemical spill that has led to a ban on using tap water in the area. The CDC says pregnant women in affected areas should drink only bottled water.
Tom Hindman Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging pregnant women who live in the areas of West Virginia where a toxic chemical leaked into the water supply last week to drink bottled water, even in places where the no-use ban has been lifted. The move comes "out of an abundance of caution," the CDC and the state's Bureau of Public Health say.

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The Two-Way
8:09 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Rental Car Surprise: Comes With An AR-15 In The Back

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 8:43 pm

A Florida vacation got off to an odd start for Judith Fleissig, 58, of Rochester, N.Y., when she and her daughter realized the car they'd rented had an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle. More oddness followed: The gun was left there by the wife of Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, police say.

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The Two-Way
6:20 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Obama Nominates Maria Contreras-Sweet To Head SBA

President Barack Obama announces he will nominate Maria Contreras-Sweet, left, founder and board chairman of a Latino-owned community bank in Los Angeles, as the head of the Small Business Administration.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Former California official Maria Contreras-Sweet is President Obama's pick to lead the Small Business Administration. She was introduced and her official nomination announced at a White House event Thursday.

Born in Mexico, Contreras-Sweet became the first Latina to serve as a cabinet secretary in California when she led its Business, Transportation and Housing Agency from 1999-2003.

That post led Obama to tell this anecdote:

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The Two-Way
5:27 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

IMF's Lagarde: Any U.S. Budget Deal Is Better Than None

Christine Lagarde, who heads the International Monetary Fund, offered some positive comments about Congress on Wednesday.

Her assessment was a shade better than "faint praise," but something less than "Attaboy!"

Speaking at the National Press Club, Lagarde said she was pleased to see U.S. lawmakers have been moving forward "in a more orderly fashion" as they work on spending legislation.

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The Salt
5:21 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

German Farmers Fear For Europe's Bacon With U.S. Trade Deal

German farmer Rudolf Buehler and other opponents of the Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement protest with 17 pigs in front of the chancellor's office building in Berlin on Wednesday.
Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson NPR

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

When German farmers and activists descended upon Chancellor Angela Merkel's office building Wednesday morning, they brought along some special guests — 17 pigs. The stunt was the latest European backlash against a proposed free trade deal with the U.S. that could lift restrictions on American meat sold in Europe.

Under the watchful eye of German police officers, the pigs munched happily on straw strewn across the pavement to keep the herd from running amok.

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Shots - Health News
5:21 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

After Checking Blood Pressure, Kiosks Give Sales Leads To Insurers

SoloHealth owns 3,500 health screening kiosks like this one in San Francisco. In some states, the company sells customer contact information to insurers.
April Dembosky

Originally published on Thu January 16, 2014 4:56 pm

Those machines in drugstores and supermarkets that let people check their blood pressure also may be selling people's contact information to insurance companies trolling for new customers.

One of these kiosks sits in Aisle 10 of a Safeway in a city near San Francisco. Sitting down at the machine is like slipping into the cockpit of a 1980s arcade game. There are a big plastic seat and footrest for measuring weight and body mass index, a window for testing vision, and a blood pressure cuff. The kiosks don't charge people for the blood pressure measurement.

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The Two-Way
5:19 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

House Republicans Join In Passing $1 Trillion Spending Bill

House Speaker John Boehner and GOP leaders face reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Tuesday.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

The House on Wednesday passed a massive $1.1 trillion spending bill — a compromise that appeared to get past the bitter partisan showdowns that have caused an unpopular federal government shutdown and nearly tipped the U.S. into default.

The 359-67 vote was a sign of considerable support from Republicans, thanks to a bipartisan deal worked out last month laying out spending for the next two years.

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The Two-Way
4:18 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Regions Bank To Discontinue Payday Loan Program

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 11:15 am

One of several banks that offer payday loans is getting out of the business.

Regions Bank announced Wednesday that it will discontinue its "deposit advance" product known as Ready Advance.

Deposit advances are small, costly loans that bank customers take out between paychecks, and pay back automatically when a scheduled direct deposit comes through.

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The Two-Way
3:19 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Reports Of New Video Showing U.S. Soldier Held In Afghanistan

U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl watches as one of his captors displays his identity tag in the first of several videos of the soldier, in July, 2009.
Reuters/Landov

U.S. officials have reportedly received the first "proof-of-life" video in three years of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured in Afghanistan in 2009 and is believed held by the Taliban-aligned Haqqani network.

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The Two-Way
2:59 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

U.S. Official: Afghanistan Could Become 'Narco-Criminal State'

Soldiers in the Afghan National Army's 6th Kandak (battalion), 3rd company, search a local farmer's poppy field during a joint patrol with U.S. forces in Kandahar province in March of last year.
Andrew Burton Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 5:50 pm

Despite a $7 billion effort to eradicate opium production in Afghanistan, poppy cultivation there is at its highest level since the U.S. invasion more than a decade ago, sparking corruption, criminal gangs and providing the insurgency with hard cash, says John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction.

In testimony before the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, he warns Wednesday that Afghanistan could degenerate into a narco-criminal state.

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The Two-Way
2:50 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

5 Years Ago Sully Landed On The Hudson And Twitter Took Off

Jan. 15, 2009: As the U.S. Airways jet they had been on sinks into the Hudson River, passengers are rowed away. This isn't the iconic (and now copyrighted) photo that helped transform Twitter. But it does give a sense of what it was like that day, 5 years ago.
Bebeto Matthews AP

This day shouldn't pass without a mention of the "miracle on the Hudson."

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