NPR Blogs

The Salt
4:54 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Borscht Make Your Heart Beet? They're Serving 70,000 Gallons In Sochi

There are dozens of varieties of borscht — but at its most basic, it's a beet soup with potatoes, tomatoes and often beef or pork.
Flickr/Liz West

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 8:57 am

Russia's Soviet days are well behind it, but if you're headed to Sochi for the Winter Olympics, your dining options will still run deep red — as in borscht.

Organizers in Sochi expect to serve 70,000 gallons of this Russian staple — a hearty soup whose color comes from beets — to spectators. Borscht has graced both the high table of the Kremlin and the lowly tables of peasants across the former Soviet Union.

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The Two-Way
4:52 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Alex Rodriguez Sues Baseball, Players Union Over Suspension

Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees, playing for the Yankees' minor league affiliate Charleston RiverDogs, runs to first base during a game in July 2013.
Streeter Lecka Getty Images

Originally published on Mon January 13, 2014 8:25 pm

Baseball superstar Alex Rodriguez is suing Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association in federal court, trying to overturn a 162-game suspension.

The judge hearing the complaint also agreed to allow the Yankees third baseman and his lawyers to release an unredacted version of the decision handed down by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz.

ESPN reports:

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The Salt
4:35 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Sandwich Monday: The Breaded Steak Sandwich

The best sandwich photos are indistinguishable from crime scene photos.
NPR

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 2:17 pm

There are those who say "less is more," and there are those who say "less is stupid." The latter are responsible for taking a steak sandwich, deciding it needed more calories, and creating the Breaded Steak Sandwich. A thin cut of beef is breaded and fried, placed in a hoagie roll, and covered in what they call "red gravy." Ricobene's here in Chicago is famous for it.

Eva: It's the kangaroo of sandwiches. It's carrying around a slightly smaller breaded thing in its pouch.

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Shots - Health News
4:33 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Older Folks Get Modest Memory Boost From Brain Boot Camp

Study participants were trained in practical reasoning skills like managing medications.
Jorge Salcedo iStockphoto

Older people who took a few weeks of classes to train their brains say their ability to perform everyday tasks declined less than people who hadn't had the training, even years later.

But the difference between them was modest at best, and wasn't independently verified. So it's impossible to know if the people were really doing better at tasks like reading bus schedules or completing order forms, or if they just thought they should be.

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The Two-Way
2:56 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Chomp! Fish Snatches Bird In Flight: VIDEO

My what big teeth you have. An African tigerfish.
Smithsonian Channel

The Smithsonian Channel doesn't call it "the ferocious tigerfish" for nothing.

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The Two-Way
2:51 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Review Of Terrorism Cases Finds NSA Spying Helped Very Little

A graph from a study about the efficacy of NSA programs.
New America Foundation

Originally published on Mon January 13, 2014 3:53 pm

Surveillance programs run by the National Security Agency helped very little when it came to cases brought against individuals the United States says were linked to al-Qaida.

That's according to a review of 225 cases by the New America Foundation, which describes itself as a "nonpartisan public policy institute."

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The Two-Way
2:34 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Side Effect Of Legal Pot: Police Budgets Take A Hit

The legalization of marijuana could dry up a revenue stream for police, according to reports. Here, two men share a water pipe underneath the Space Needle shortly after a law legalizing the recreational use of marijuana took effect in Seattle in 2012.
Stephen Brashear Getty Images

Originally published on Mon January 13, 2014 3:04 pm

Some U.S. states are viewing the legalization of marijuana as a chance to gain new sources of tax revenue. Several states allow its use for medical reasons; Colorado has approved its recreational use, and Washington will follow suit this year.

But the decriminalization of pot also stands to remove a funding source for police: property forfeitures from drug dealers. Such funding is "going up in smoke," The Wall Street Journal reports.

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The Salt
1:44 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Italians To New Yorkers: 'Forkgate' Scandal? Fuhggedaboutit

In this image taken from video and provided by New York City Hall, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio eats pizza with a fork at Goodfellas Pizza on Staten Island on Friday.
AP

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 12:10 pm

Over the past week, two high-profile leaders in the New York metropolitan area found themselves at the center of unfolding political scandals. At least one, it seems, has some plausible deniability.

In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie's political future is in doubt over the ever-widening "Bridgegate" fiasco, as emails revealed that members of his closest inner circle were involved. But just across that bridge, New York City's newly installed mayor, Bill de Blasio, became embroiled in another kind of drama: "Forkgate."

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The Two-Way
1:00 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Letter: Kalashnikov Suffered Remorse Over Rifle He Invented

Russian President Vladimir Putin pauses by a portrait of Mikhail Kalashnikov at the arms designer's funeral in December.
Sergei Chirikov EPA/Landov

Originally published on Mon January 13, 2014 2:37 pm

Mikhail Kalashnikov, the inventor of the AK-47 rifle who died last month at the age of 94, wrote a letter in 2012 to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church expressing "spiritual pain" over the deaths caused by the ubiquitous weapon.

More than 100 million AK-47 and variants have been sold worldwide since it was first produced in the Soviet Union in 1949. The Kalashnikov rifle quickly developed a reputation for being cheap to make, reliable and easy to use, making it the weapon of choice for many of the world's infantry soldiers, freedom fighters and terrorists.

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The Two-Way
12:45 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Japan's Suntory To Buy Maker Of Jim Beam, Maker's Mark

Three bourbon whiskeys.
Rick Wilking Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Mon January 13, 2014 1:59 pm

A piece of legendary Americana will now be owned by a Japanese firm.

Beam Inc., the maker of the bourbons Jim Beam and Maker's Mark, will be sold to Japan's Suntory in a deal the companies say is worth $16 billion, including assumed debt.

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The Two-Way
11:52 am
Mon January 13, 2014

Pope Calls Abortion Evidence Of 'The Throwaway Culture'

Pope Francis received applause from hundreds of worldwide ambassadors to the Holy See on Monday as he entered a huge hall in Vatican City.
Osservatore Romano Press Office EPA/Landov

Originally published on Mon January 13, 2014 2:28 pm

Pope Francis, criticized by some conservative Catholics as not speaking out forcefully against abortion, said Monday that the practice is "horrific" and evidence of "the throwaway culture."

In an annual speech known as the pontiff's "State of the World" address, Francis told diplomats and journalists gathered at the Holy See that it "is horrific even to think that there are children, victims of abortion, who will never see the light of day."

Hunger, he said, is a threat to world peace, noting that food, like human life, is being discarded as unnecessary.

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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
11:21 am
Mon January 13, 2014

Why We Need Compassionate Conservation

A black rhino and a giraffe stop for a drink in Namibia's Etosha National Park. Only about 5,000 black rhinos remain in the world.
Frans Lanting DPA/Landov

Over the weekend someone at an auction in the United States paid $350,000 for a permit to kill a black rhino in Namibia. Black rhinos are endangered: only about 5,000 are still alive in the entire world.

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The Salt
11:09 am
Mon January 13, 2014

California's Pot Farms Could Leave Salmon Runs Truly Smoked

This dead juvenile coho salmon was found in a tributary of California's South Fork Eel River. About 20 large-scale marijuana farms are located upstream from the watershed pictured. All of them divert water from the stream.
Courtesy Scott Bauer

Originally published on Mon January 13, 2014 5:08 pm

For many users and advocates of marijuana, the boom in the West Coast growing industry may be all good and groovy. But in California, critics say the recent explosion of the marijuana industry along the state's North Coast — a region called the "emerald triangle" — could put a permanent buzz kill on struggling salmon populations.

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Monkey See
10:36 am
Mon January 13, 2014

Chris Christie And Pulling The Red Handle

Originally published on Mon January 13, 2014 7:16 pm

I'm going to tell you a story, and then we're going to talk about Chris Christie, and if you're not into those two things, you can tag out. I won't be offended.

Let's see. How to begin.

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The Two-Way
10:34 am
Mon January 13, 2014

Supreme Court Ends Arizona's Bid To Reinstate 20-Week Abortion Ban

Originally published on Mon January 13, 2014 1:59 pm

The United States Supreme Court on Monday refused to revisit a lower court ruling that struck down Arizona's ban on most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

The AP reports:

"The justices on Monday declined to reconsider a lower court ruling that the law violates a woman's constitutionally protected right to terminate a pregnancy before a fetus is able to survive outside the womb.

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