NPR Blogs

The Salt
6:14 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Congressional Work On Farm Bill Likely To Spill Into 2014

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., during a Dec. 4 break in negotiations on the farm bill. On Tuesday, Stabenow said the bill likely won't pass Congress until January.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 7:14 pm

House and Senate negotiators working to finish a farm bill say it is unlikely their work will be completed before the end of the year. The House is only in session for the rest of the week, and according to one of the negotiators, this week's snowy weather has delayed some numbers-crunching needed to figure out how much elements of a possible deal will cost.

"We're going to pass it in January," said Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., as she left a closed-door meeting to negotiate details of the five-year farm bill.

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The Two-Way
6:05 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Woman Pleads Guilty To Mailing Ricin To Obama, Bloomberg

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 7:36 pm

A former actress who sent ricin-laced letters to President Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has pleaded guilty in federal court in Texarkana, Texas, as part of a deal to limit her sentence to no more than 18 years.

Shannon Guess Richardson, a mother of six from Texas, had minor roles in The Walking Dead and The Blind Side. She mailed three ricin-laced letters from New Boston, Texas, near Texarkana, and then contacted police to say that her estranged husband had done it.

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Shots - Health News
5:44 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Popular Antacids Increase The Risk Of B-12 Deficiency

Drugs that reduce acid production can make it harder for the stomach to absorb vitamin B12.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 4:22 pm

Acid-inhibiting drugs like Zantac and Prilosec have become hugely popular because they're so good at preventing the unpleasant symptoms of heartburn and acid indigestion.

But the drugs also make it more likely that a person will be short on vitamin B-12. And that can contribute to health problems including depression, nerve damage and dementia.

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The Two-Way
4:56 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Missing Couple, Four Kids Found Safe In Nevada Mountains

This undated family photo provided by the Pershing County Sheriff's Office shows Shelby Fitzpatrick (left) and Chloe Glanton, two of the children who were found "alive and well" after an extensive search in northern Nevada.
AP

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 7:42 pm

A couple and four children who had been missing since Sunday in the mountains of northern Nevada amid subzero temperatures have been found in good shape, officials said.

"We have located the people. They have been taken to the hospital. They are alive and well." Pershing County Undersheriff Thomas Bjerke said Tuesday. "They are in pretty good shape."

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Shots - Health News
4:38 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

To Fight Meningitis Outbreak, Princeton Tries European Vaccine

The Ivy League school has begun vaccinating nearly 6,000 students to try to stop an outbreak of type B meningitis in an unusual federal government-endorsed administration of a drug not generally approved for use in the U.S.
Mel Evans AP

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 4:49 pm

Princeton University has started vaccinating students against type B meningitis in an effort to stop an outbreak that's infected at least eight people.

The vaccine isn't approved for general use in the United States, though it is available in Europe, Australia and Canada. But the meningitis strain that hit the New Jersey campus isn't fazed by the vaccines typically used in the U.S. The Food and Drug Administration is allowing a Novartis vaccine that's usually sold in other countries to be administered on the Princeton campus.

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The Two-Way
4:36 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Will A Handshake Lead To Better U.S.-Cuba Relations?

In this image from TV, President Obama shakes hands with Cuban President Raul Castro at the memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
AP

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 7:00 pm

In everyday life, a handshake is rather ordinary. But when President Obama shook hands Tuesday with Cuban leader Raul Castro at a memorial service for the late South African President Nelson Mandela, this was how it was described:

-- "a simple gesture that signaled possible thawing between the leaders of the two Cold War foes"

-- "an unprecedented gesture"

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Shots - Health News
4:29 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Despite Big Market In Florida, Obamacare Is A Hard Sell

Enroll America outreach workers talk to congregants at the Mt. Calvary Church in Jacksonville, Fla.
Eric Whitney

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 2:39 pm

Getting people to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act remains an uphill battle in much of Florida.

Politicians in the state erected roadblocks to the law from the beginning — from joining in the 2010 lawsuit to thwart the law to placing restrictions on what insurance helpers called navigators can tell people seeking advice.

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The Two-Way
3:53 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

WATCH: Goats Escape Avalanche

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 6:08 am

Gawker brings us this video posted on Monday of a herd of chamois goats that make a seemingly miraculous escape from an avalanche on an Alpine mountain face. It occurs in the Rhone-Alpes near Pralognan-la-Vanoise, not far from the border between France and Italy.

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The Two-Way
3:31 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Regulators Approve Rule To Rein In Banks' Risky Trades

President Obama with Paul Volcker at the White House in 2009. Volcker, who headed the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board, lent his name to a new rule aimed at curbing risk-taking on Wall Street.
Brendan Smialowski Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 8:33 pm

The Volcker rule, a centerpiece of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial law aimed at stopping some of the risky banking practices that contributed to the economic meltdown, was approved by five key regulators on Tuesday, clearing the way for its implementation.

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission became the fifth and final body to approve the rule. The Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. were also among the agencies that gave the green light.

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The Salt
3:30 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Elevenses And Then Some: How To Prepare A Feast Fit For A Hobbit

Precious snack: In Tolkien's books, lembas was a special bread made by elves that could stay fresh for months — perfect for sustaining travelers on a long journey (or engaging in an all-day movie marathon.) Try it for elevenses.
Beth Accomando for NPR

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 11:23 am

"If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world." — J.R.R. Tolkien

Each year, I swear I will never do this again.

And yet, for the third year in a row, I am preparing to host a day-long Lord of the Rings movie marathon – and cooking up a seven-course hobbit-themed feast, plus dessert, to serve my guests. Maybe it's because, like Tolkien, I too would like the world to be a merrier place.

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The Two-Way
1:59 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Ouster Of North Korea's Jang Noted With Unease In China

A South Korean man watches TV news about the dismissal of Jang Song-Thaek, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's uncle, at a railway station in Seoul on December 3.
Jung yeon-je AFP/Getty Images

The recent, very public ouster of North Korea's Jang Song Thaek, the uncle of Kim Jong Un and formerly the country's No. 2 leader, has been noted with some concern in China, which is more or less Pyongyang's only friend in the region.

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The Two-Way
1:00 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Using Satellite, Scientists Pinpoint Coldest Place On Earth

Sastrugi stick out from the snow surface in this photo near Plateau Station in East Antarctica. Most of Antartica looks quite flat, despite the subtle domes, hills, and hollows.
Atsuhiro Muto National Snow and Ice Data Center

Using data from a NASA satellite, scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) say they have now pinpointed the coldest place on Earth.

On a 1,000 kilometer swath of the highest section of the East Antarctic ice divide, scientists measured temperatures of -134 to -137 degrees Farenheit.

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The Two-Way
12:29 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

U.K. Rescue Center Overrun With Orphaned (And Adorable) Seal Pups

Men take pictures as they try to move a seal pup away from a house, which has fallen into the sea, during a storm surge in Hemsby, eastern England, on Dec. 6.
Darren Staples Reuters/Landov

We guarantee this is the saddest and cutest story you'll hear about all day: About 263 seal pups were swept away from their mothers by a massive tidal surge near Norfolk in the U.K. recently.

Now, a wildlife center is struggling to cope with about 100 of them, who will need to be bottle fed and rehabilitated.

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The Two-Way
11:48 am
Tue December 10, 2013

In Qatar, Hagel Tours Command Center That May Or May Not Exist

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel visited the Combined Air and Space Operations Center in the tiny Persian Gulf nation of Qatar on Tuesday morning, the last leg of a tour that has also taken him to Bahrain, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

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Shots - Health News
11:39 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Don't Count On Insurance To Pay For Genetic Tests

After genetic testing revealed a heightened risk for breast cancer, Angelina Jolie had a precautionary double mastectomy.
Alastair Grant AP

The day when a simple blood test or saliva sample can identify your risk for medical conditions ranging from cancer to Alzheimer's disease seems tantalizingly close.

But genetics specialists say the hype around many of these tests has outstripped the science. Insurers generally only cover a test if there's strong scientific evidence that it can provide a health benefit to patients.

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