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The Two-Way
9:54 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Jobless Claims Fell Sharply Last Week

A "help wanted" sign earlier this year in the window of a clothing store in Pasadena, Calif.
Kevork Djansezian Getty Images

Just as last week's figures may been distorted by temporary factors related to the holiday season that made things look worse than they really are, the word Thursday that there's been a sharp drop in claims for unemployment insurance needs to be accompanied by the same sort of caveat.

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The Two-Way
9:18 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Greenpeace Activists Start Getting Visas To Leave Russia

In St. Petersburg on Thursday, Greenpeace International activist Anthony Perrett, a British citizen, showed the Russian transit visa that's now in his passport.
Olga Maltseva AFP/Getty Images

The next step has been taken in what some observers say is Russian President Vladimir Putin's bid to burnish his country's reputation before February's Winter Olympic Games in Sochi:

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The Two-Way
7:47 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Apologies, Promises From UPS And FedEx About Delivery Delays

UPS delivery man Vinny Ambrosino was dressed for the holiday season on Tuesday as he delivered packages in New York City. Not all the things ordered for Christmas got to their destinations on time.
Carlo Allegri Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 8:28 pm

Update at 8:20 p.m. ET. Amazon, UPS, Offer Refunds:

The Washington Post reports:

"Amazon and UPS said Thursday they would offer refunds to customers who did not receive their Christmas orders on time, after a surge in last-minute online shopping caught the shipping giant off guard."

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The Two-Way
6:56 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Japan's Abe May Have Hoped To Anger Others With Shrine Visit

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, follows a Shinto priest during his visit to the Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo on Thursday.
Franck Robichon EPA/LANDOV

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 10:01 am

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe surely knew that his visit Thursday to a Shinto shrine honoring Japan's dead from World War II would be followed by protests from China and South Korea.

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Business
4:50 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Pacific Northwest Suffers After China Bans Shellfish Imports

A geoduck farm near Totten Inlet, Washington.
KBCS/Bellvue/Seattle/Flickr

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 10:23 am

China has closed its doors to all shellfish imports from an area that stretches from northern California to Alaska. The state of Washington says it's losing as much as $600,000 a week.

Among the shellfish not being harvested is the geoduck, a long-necked clam that can fetch up to $150 per pound in China. It's a major export for the Pacific Northwest.

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The Salt
3:18 am
Thu December 26, 2013

More People Have More To Eat, But It's Not All Good News

The Brazilian agricultural sector exported for a value of $94,590 million in 2011. One of its largest exports is soybeans, like these in Cascavel, Parana.
Werner Rudhart DPA /Landov

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 9:03 am

Among the things to celebrate this holiday season is the fact that there are fewer hungry people in the world. Just how many? Well, since 1965, researchers in Europe have been tracking the world's food supply and where it's going.

The good news is: The percentage of the world's population getting what the researchers say is a sufficient diet has grown from 30 percent to 61 percent.

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Shots - Health News
4:47 pm
Wed December 25, 2013

A Texas Social Worker Weighs Her Insurance Options

Tammy Boudreaux (right) with her partner, Laura Perez. Boudreaux is weighing the cost and benefits of purchasing health insurance.
Courtesy of Tammy Boudreaux

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 8:23 pm

Texas has the highest rate of uninsured people in the country, with almost 1 in 4 people going without coverage.

One of them is Tammy Boudreaux.

Boudreaux, 43, lives just outside of Houston and works as a freelance psychiatric social worker, with no benefits.

She has been skipping mammograms and other checkups for years. "It's worrisome," she says. "It's like gambling. Gambling with my health, and it is very frustrating."

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The Two-Way
1:59 pm
Wed December 25, 2013

In Christmas Message, Snowden Tells Britons 'Privacy Matters'

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in an address televised Wednesday on Britain's Channel 4.
Screengrab/Channel 4

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 2:14 am

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden had a Christmas Day warning for Britons: "A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all."

Britain's Channel 4 televised Snowden's short address as the network's "Alternative Christmas Message," an annual address delivered by a public figure that mimics the style of Queen Elizabeth's Royal Christmas Message. You can watch the full 1:43 video at Channel 4's website.

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Shots - Health News
1:03 pm
Wed December 25, 2013

Diabetes Gene Common In Latinos Has Ancient Roots

The skull of a female Neanderthal, who lived about 50,000 years ago, is displayed at the Natural History Museum in London.
Rick Findler/Barcroft Media Landov

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 11:02 am

When it comes to the rising prevalence of Type 2 diabetes, there are many factors to blame.

Diet and exercise sit somewhere at the top of the list. But the genes that some of us inherit from Mom and Dad also help determine whether we develop the disease, and how early it crops up.

Now an international team of scientists have identified mutations in a gene that suggests an explanation for why Latinos are almost twice as likely to develop Type 2 diabetes as Caucasians and African-Americans.

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The Two-Way
10:17 am
Wed December 25, 2013

U.S. Embassy In Kabul Hit By Indirect Fire

Afghans stand near a crater from an attack reportedly targeting the U.S. Embassy in Kabul on Wednesday.
Ahmad Nazar AP

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 2:10 am

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, was hit by indirect rocket fire Wednesday morning, officials say. NPR's Sean Carberry reports for our Newscast unit that no one was injured.

"They hit in an open area; they didn't strike any of the embassy buildings. There was no damage to embassy facilities, and there were no causalities," he said.

Embassy officials say they are investigating. Taliban insurgents claimed they fired rockets at the embassy, but they often make claims that turn out to be exaggerated or untrue.

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Krulwich Wonders...
8:03 am
Wed December 25, 2013

This Is Bo, Who's Putting New Beats In New Places. You Should Meet Him

boburnham YouTube

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 9:34 am

Every so often — and it isn't often, because while I'm always looking, always hoping, it's so rare to find — but this week it happened. A friend sent me an email that said, "You've got to check out this video."

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The Salt
6:03 am
Wed December 25, 2013

When Is Cinnamon Spice Not So Nice? The Great Danish Debate

Ah, the cinnamon swirl: They're beloved by the Danish, but the traditional recipe for these pastries may be too spice-laden for European Union law.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Sat December 28, 2013 11:15 am

Who doesn't love a Danish pastry?

And in Denmark, they like their pastries sprinkled with plenty of cinnamon.

But now, Denmark's bakers are being told that their time-honored recipe for the beloved kanelsnegle — or cinnamon swirl — may be unhealthy and against the law. Recent testing by the Danish government found that a large number of the rolls had too much cinnamon — more than the recommended limits set by the European Union.

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The Salt
3:21 am
Wed December 25, 2013

Why We Hold Tight To Our Family's Holiday Food Traditions

Mark Karney found the recipe for his mother's Hungarian nut roll in a dusty recipe box after she passed away. After lots of experimentation, he figured out how to make it and has revived it as a Christmas tradition.
Courtesy of Mark Karney

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 9:58 am

Around Thanksgiving, The Race Card Project brought us the story of a woman who grew up in a Filipino family but desperately wanted to be anything but Filipino. When Melanie Vanderlipe Ramil was a child, she shied away from her family's traditional meals, including the rice that's a staple in Filipino cooking.

But recently, she's become committed to keeping those food traditions alive.

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