NPR Blogs

Shots - Health News
5:52 pm
Wed October 9, 2013

Why Scientists Held Back Details On A Unique Botulinum Toxin

The botulism toxin comes from Clostridium botulinum bacteria, seen here in a colorized micrograph.
James Cavallini Science Source

Originally published on Tue March 18, 2014 3:51 pm

Scientists have discovered the first new form of botulinum toxin in over 40 years, but they're taking the unusual step of keeping key details about it secret.

That's because botulinum toxin is one of the most poisonous substances known. It causes botulism, and the newly identified form of it can't be neutralized by any available treatment.

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The Two-Way
5:36 pm
Wed October 9, 2013

Man Opens Fire On Federal Building In West Virginia

Originally published on Wed October 9, 2013 7:15 pm

Using an assault-type rifle, a man fired 15 to 20 shots at a federal building in Wheeling, W.Va. on Wednesday, the U.S. Marshals Service tells the AP.

Authorities said the suspect was killed by police during the assault.

The wire service reports:

"Chief deputy Mike Claxton of the Marshals Service in northern West Virginia says one officer was hurt by shattered glass inside the courthouse during Wednesday's shooting but no other injuries were reported.

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The Two-Way
4:49 pm
Wed October 9, 2013

Obama Nominates Janet Yellen To Head Federal Reserve

President Obama claps during a press conference to nominate Janet Yellen to head the Federal Reserve in the State Dining Room at the White House on Wednesday.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Saying "American workers and families will have a champion in Janet Yellen," President Obama officially nominated her to chair the Federal Reserve, once Ben Bernanke completes his term in January.

Yellen "is the kind of person who makes everybody around her better," Obama said, adding that Yellen is "extremely well qualified" and "renowned for her good judgement."

Obama made the announcement at the White House on Wednesday, flanked by Yellen and outgoing Fed chief Ben Bernanke. If confirmed, Yellen will be the first woman to head the American central bank.

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Shots - Health News
4:18 pm
Wed October 9, 2013

Even Mild Strokes Take A Toll On Quality Of Life

Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., gets help entering the Capitol from Vice President Joe Biden (right) in January 2013, one year after suffering a stroke at age 52.
Jewel Samad AFP/Getty Images

Having even a small stroke can be a scare. Some people recover well, while others struggle to talk, move or live as they did before.

Quality of life in the years after a stroke is something that's gotten surprisingly little attention, even though so-called quality-adjusted life years are a common measure for the cost-effectiveness of medical treatments.

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Shots - Health News
2:52 pm
Wed October 9, 2013

Activists Sue U.N. Over Cholera That Killed Thousands In Haiti

Haitians protest against United Nations peacekeepers in Port-au-Prince in 2010.
Hector Retamal AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu October 10, 2013 8:32 am

Human rights activists are suing the United Nations on behalf of five Haitian families afflicted by cholera — a disease many believe U.N. peacekeeping troops brought to Haiti in the aftermath of the devastating 2010 earthquake there.

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The Two-Way
2:51 pm
Wed October 9, 2013

'Hero' Passenger Lands Small Plane After Pilot Fell Ill

Cessna light aircraft are pictured beside the runway at Humberside airport in north-east England, on October 9, 2013. A passenger with no flying experience made an emergency landing at Humberside airport in a light aircraft after the pilot became ill.
Lindsey Parnaby AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed October 9, 2013 2:52 pm

It feels like this kind of thing happens in the movies all the time: A pilot falls ill and, then, it's up to a passenger to land the plane.

Last night in Britain's Humberside airport, this happened for real on a small aircraft carrying two friends. As The Independent tells the story, John Wildey — whom the paper calls a "hero passenger" — had to take control of a Cessna 172 after his friend and pilot got sick and became unresponsive.

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The Two-Way
2:40 pm
Wed October 9, 2013

Shinseki: Shutdown Means Veterans Will Not Get Benefits

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki testifies on Capitol Hill in April.
Evan Vucci AP

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki warned lawmakers on Wednesday that the partial government shutdown means that about 3.8 million veterans will not receive disability compensation next month.

Shinseki, in testimony before the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, said pensions to more than half a million vets or surviving spouses will also be derailed if the stalemate over a temporary spending measure drags on into late October.

The Associated Press reports:

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The Salt
2:02 pm
Wed October 9, 2013

Sweet. Tart. Crunchy: How To Engineer A Better Apple

The just-released Riverbelle is one of well over 100 new apple varieties to hit markets around the world in the past six years.
Courtesy of Honeybear Brands

Originally published on Wed October 9, 2013 4:04 pm

Browsing farmers markets this fall, you may find some new apple varieties mixed in with the Granny Smiths, McIntoshes and Fujis. Susan Brown, head of the apple breeding program at Cornell University, estimates that there have been 130 new apples released around the world in the past six years.

This summer, she contributed two more to that tally: the SnapDragon and the Ruby Frost.

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The Two-Way
1:30 pm
Wed October 9, 2013

Jupiter Or Bust, But First A Quick Fly-By Of Home

NASA's flight path for its Juno space probe, which is expected to buzz Earth at 3:21 p.m. ET on Wednesday.
NASA

After traveling for more than two years and some 1 billion miles, NASA's Juno mission to Jupiter is back where it started. Almost. At 3:21 p.m. ET Wednesday, the Juno space probe will be 347 miles away from Earth, just above the southern tip of Africa.

(As an aside, at around 11:30 a.m. ET, it was more than 90,000 miles away.)

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The Salt
12:25 pm
Wed October 9, 2013

Meet Dave, A 19-Year-Old Craft Beer With A $2,000 Price Tag

Hair of the Dog releases a few bottles of Dave a year. In September, the 12 bottles of Dave on sale for $2,000 apiece sold out within a few hours.
Courtesy of Alan Sprints

Originally published on Fri October 11, 2013 6:00 pm

Hair of the Dog Brewery in Portland, Ore., makes a beer so rare, and so sought after, that it can fetch $2,000 a bottle.

It's called Dave. And no, it's not something out of a Portlandia sketch.

Dave is a barleywine — a strong, dark beer with 29 percent alcohol content. It's been aged for 19 years, first in oak barrels and then glass bottles.

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The Two-Way
12:15 pm
Wed October 9, 2013

NYPD Officer Charged In Connection With Videotaped Biker Attack

Edwin Mieses Jr.'s family provided this photo of the motorcyclist struck by an SUV during a rally in New York last month. Doctors put Mieses in a medically induced coma.
AP

Originally published on Wed October 9, 2013 3:13 pm

An undercover New York City police officer has been arrested and charged in connection with the beating of an SUV driver last month by a group of motorcyclists. The attack was videotaped and went viral on YouTube.

Wojciech Braszczok, 32, was part of the motorcycle rally on Sept. 29. As The Associated Press says, the rally "began with a reckless motorcycle group ride on a Manhattan highway ... [and ended when] one motorcyclist was run over, and the SUV driver was dragged from behind the wheel and beaten on a street."

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The Two-Way
11:19 am
Wed October 9, 2013

Boston School Bus Drivers Back Behind The Wheel After Strike

School buses sit idle in a lot at Veolia Transportation, Boston's school bus contractor, on Tuesday
Stephan Savoia AP

Originally published on Wed October 9, 2013 3:52 pm

Hundreds of Boston school bus drivers are back on the job following a one-day strike that sent parents scrambling to find ways to get their kids to and from school.

The drivers' union said Wednesday that it had agreed to return to work after the company contracted by the school to run bus services, Veolia Transportation Inc., agreed to a meeting with the union. About 600 drivers had walked off the job.

Boston.com says:

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Shots - Health News
9:32 am
Wed October 9, 2013

Nobel Goes To Scientists Who Took Chemistry Into Cyberspace

Classical mechanics, represented by Isaac Newton, typically doesn't play nicely with quantum mechanics, represented by Schrodinger's cat. But the 2013 Nobel laureates for chemistry figured out a way to get the two to work together.
Courtesy of the Nobel Prize

Originally published on Wed October 9, 2013 11:08 am

This year's Nobel Prize for chemistry is shared by three international scientists, who moved chemistry out of the lab and into the world of computing.

Together they developed tools for studying complex molecules — such as enzymes in the human body and plants' photosynthesis machinery — inside cyberspace.

These computerized tools allow scientists to design drugs more quickly and cheaply by doing their experiments with computer programs instead of inside rats and monkeys.

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The Two-Way
9:30 am
Wed October 9, 2013

U.S. Suspending Millions In Military Aid To Egypt

Armored vehicles blocking Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, in August.
Amr Nabil AP

Originally published on Wed October 9, 2013 5:36 pm

Update at 4:39 p.m. ET. Recalibrating Assistance:

The State Department says the U.S. is "recalibrating" the assistance it provides Egypt.

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Monkey See
9:10 am
Wed October 9, 2013

Virtual Strangers: A 'Journey' With Anna

A screenshot from Journey.
thatgamecompany

Originally published on Wed October 9, 2013 11:00 am

Not long ago, when I got a PlayStation 3, the recommendations started rolling in: play this, play that, play my favorite game.

But a bunch of people said, with a sort of excited urgency — particularly people who know me — "Play Journey."

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