NPR Blogs

The Two-Way
5:55 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

MSNBC's Martin Bashir Steps Down Over Palin Remarks

Martin Bashir attends the Today show's 60th anniversary celebration, in January 2012.
Evan Agostini AP

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 7:27 pm

MSNBC host Martin Bashir has resigned from the network following controversial remarks he made about former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Some three weeks ago, Bashir referred to Palin as a "world-class idiot" for suggesting that U.S. indebtedness to China was akin to slavery. The television host quoted from plantation owner Thomas Thistlewood's diary describing a punishment for slaves that involved having others defecate in their mouths.

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Shots - Health News
5:55 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Fertility Drugs, Not IVF, Are Top Cause Of Multiple Births

Nurses tend newborns at Sloane Hospital for Women in New York City.
Pat Carroll Getty

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 9:29 am

Drugs that help women become pregnant have replaced in vitro fertilization as the main culprit behind high-risk multiple births, according to a study looking at births of triplets and higher-order multiples.

"IVF, which is usually the one we tend to point fingers at, was not the leading culprit," says Eli Adashi, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Brown University who was senior author of the study, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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The Salt
5:37 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

These Days, School Lunch Hours Are More Like 15 Minutes

Students at Lowell High School in Michigan sit down for lunch. Shorter lunch breaks mean that many kids don't get enough time to eat and socialize.
Emily Zoladz Landov

Originally published on Sat December 7, 2013 9:09 am

It's lunchtime at Oakland High School in Oakland, Calif., and that means fence hoppers. Several kids wear mischievous grins as they speedily scale a 12-foot-high metal perimeter.

In theory, anyway, Oakland High is a "closed campus." That's done in the interest of safety and security and to cut down on school-skipping. It means kids can't leave during school hours without parental consent, especially at lunchtime. But it doesn't stop several students from breaking out.

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The Two-Way
4:54 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Several Whales Dead, Dozens Stranded Off Florida Everglades

Dozens of pilot whales are stranded in shallow water in a remote area of Florida's Everglades National Park.
Lynne Sladky AP

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 5:22 pm

At least 10 pilot whales are dead and dozens stranded in the shallows off Florida's southwest coast, as wildlife workers struggle to redirect them back out to deep water.

Blair Mase, the marine mammal stranding network coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, says four of the whales had to be euthanized on Wednesday, and six others had already died since the stranding was first identified on Tuesday.

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The Two-Way
4:50 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

NSA Collecting 5B Cellphone Locations A Day, News Report Says

The National Security Agency building at Fort Meade, Md.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 5:59 pm

There's a new report Wednesday on the scale of surveillance by the National Security Agency: The Washington Post reports that the agency is gathering nearly 5 billion records a day on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world.

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The Two-Way
4:25 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Sunken Japanese Supersub From World War II Located Off Hawaii

An aircraft-carrying Japanese supersubmarine built during World War II has been found on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean off Oahu, nearly 60 years after it was hastily scuttled by the U.S. Navy in an effort to keep its technology out of Soviet hands.

Reuters reports:

"The accidental discovery of the 1-400 ... on the rock- and debris-littered ocean floor, some 2,300 feet beneath the surface, has solved the mystery surrounding a ship long thought to be further afield.

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

Second Meningitis Outbreak Erupts In Southern California

Administrators at University of California, Santa Barbara are encouraging fraternities and sororities to hold off on parties.
Damian Gadal Flickr

The University of California, Santa Barbara is experiencing a meningitis outbreak a lot like the one that hit Princeton earlier this year. The California university confirmed a fourth case of meningococcal disease on Monday.

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Shots - Health News
3:54 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Administration Says You Can Now Escape HealthCare.Gov 'Prison'

The HealthCare.gov jailbreak is on.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 9:32 am

The Obama administration says it has patched hundreds of software bugs infecting the government's health insurance website. That includes the notorious "prison glitch."

Martha Freeman of Pennsylvania encountered the bug when she tried to sign up for coverage for herself and her adult children. The website wanted documentation of the children's incarceration status.

Never mind they'd never been in prison. The website was soon locked up.

Freeman figured she was stuck in solitary, until she called the toll-free help line and discovered she wasn't alone.

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The Two-Way
3:53 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Accused LAX Gunman Ordered Held Pending Trial

Paul Ciancia, 23, the accused shooter at Los Angeles International Airport, has been ordered held without bond pending trial. The Nov. 1 shooting killed a TSA agent and wounded three other people.
FBI AP

The man accused of opening fire last month at Los Angeles International Airport, killing a TSA agent, was ordered Wednesday to be held without bond pending his trial.

Judge David Bristow determined that Paul Anthony Ciancia, 23, was a flight risk and a danger to the community.

Ciancia's appearance at a San Bernardino County jail facility where's he's being kept in federal custody is his first in public since the Nov. 1 shooting at LAX's Terminal 3. He was shackled at his hands and feet, and wasn't asked to enter a plea. If convicted, Ciancia faces the death penalty.

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The Two-Way
3:47 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Sandy Hook Elementary 911 Calls Reveal Panic From Inside School

Connecticut State Police walk near the scene of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on Dec. 14, 2012, in Newtown.
Douglas Healey Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 5:57 pm

Emergency calls from last year's Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting reveal 911 dispatchers who dealt with the situation calmly, urging callers to take cover and inquiring about the welfare of the children.

One caller told dispatchers that a gunman was shooting inside the building and that she could see him. The New Haven Register has put audio of the calls online here. (Warning: some of it might be graphic).

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The Two-Way
2:05 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Biden Visits Chinese Leader As Flight Zone Dispute Simmers

Vice President Joe Biden speaks after a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing Wednesday. Biden met with China's president to discuss issues that include China's recent claim of an air defense zone.
Lintao Zhang Getty Images

Vice President Joe Biden met with China's president in Beijing Wednesday, in a trip to Asia that has often touched on growing tensions over China's new air defense identification zone.

Biden's two-day visit to China was planned before the country's defense officials surprised neighboring Japan by declaring a defense zone in an area contested by the two countries. The topic of the air zone likely helped extend a closed-door session that had been scheduled for 45 minutes to its actual length of two hours.

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The Salt
1:18 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Mushroom Foraging: When The Fun(gi) Hunt Gets Out Of Hand

Hank Shaw, author of Hunt, Gather, Cook, snaps the end off a mushroom in a Washington, D.C.-area park. When broken, the inside turns blue, identifying it as an inedible species of bolete.
The Washington Post/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 11:26 am

The first heavy rains of the season fell two weeks ago at Salt Point State Park, on the northern California coast, and now ranger Todd Farcau is waiting anxiously for the forest floor to erupt with mushrooms.

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The Two-Way
1:01 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Income Inequality Is The 'Challenge Of Our Time,' Obama Says

President Obama talks Wednesday about the economy and growing economic inequality in Washington.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 4:46 pm

President Obama tried Wednesday to turn the conversation back to the economy, calling the growing income gap the "defining challenge of our time."

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The Two-Way
12:09 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Norman Rockwell's 'Saying Grace' Sells For $46 Million At Auction

Norman Rockwell's 1951 painting Saying Grace sold for $46 million Wednesday — a record for the artist.
AP

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 2:06 pm

Three Norman Rockwell paintings sold for a combined total of nearly $58 million at a Sotheby's auction Wednesday. The three paintings, which had long been displayed in a Massachusetts museum named for the artist, were among 10 Rockwell works sold at auction today.

By far, the star of the bunch was the 1951 masterpiece Saying Grace, which sold for $46 million — a record for Rockwell's art. The price includes a buyer's premium. The AP says the artist's previous record of $15 million had been set by Breaking Home Ties at a 2006 Sotheby's auction.

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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
11:58 am
Wed December 4, 2013

Probing The Unknowable Mysteries Of The Brain

iStockphoto

I write to you from Agra, India, where I've spent a week in a conference on the possible relationship between the foundations of quantum physics and the workings of the mind. The main focus of the conference was this: does quantum physics play a role in how the brain works? Or, more profoundly, is the mind, viewed as a collection of possible brain states, sustained by quantum effects? Or can it all be treated using classical physics?

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