NPR Blogs

The Salt
3:16 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

Now A Test Can Tell If Your Pricey Cup Of Cat Poop Coffee Is Fake

A civet cat eats red coffee cherries at a farm in Bondowoso, Indonesia. Civets are actually more closely related to meerkats and mongooses than to cats.
Ulet Ifansasti Getty Images

Originally published on Thu September 5, 2013 1:25 pm

From gross to gourmet. That pretty much sums up civet poop coffee.

The beans are literally harvested from the feces of the tree-dwelling civet cat in Indonesia. The idea is that a trip through the animal's digestive tract partially ferments the beans and imparts a much-sought-after flavor to the coffee.

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The Two-Way
3:14 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

Mexico Summons U.S. Ambassador, Seeking Answers To Spying Claims

New reports allege that the NSA spied on Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, seen here walking with President Barack Obama in June, when he was a candidate for office. Mexico and Brazil have demanded a response to charges of U.S. spying on their internal affairs.
Ben Stansall AFP/Getty Images

Allegations that U.S. agents spied on Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto when he was a candidate during last year's campaign have led Mexico to summon U.S. Ambassador Anthony Wayne and demanded "a thorough investigation."

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The Two-Way
2:42 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

U.N. Chief: Use Of Force Is Legal Only In Self-Defense Or With U.N. OK

Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon arrives for a news conference about the situation in Syria at the United Nations on Tuesday, in New York City.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Wed September 4, 2013 10:40 am

The United Nations' Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says if his inspectors find that chemical weapons were used in Syria, it would represent a "serious violation of international law and an outrageous war crime."

"Our common humanity compels us to ensure that chemical weapons do not become a tool of war or terror in the 21st century," Ban said before departing for a G-20 meeting in Russia. "Any perpetrators must be brought to justice. There should be no impunity."

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The Two-Way
2:18 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

Bay Area's New Span Truly Is A Troll Bridge

Who goes there? On the Bay Bridge, the new troll will want to know.
BayBridgeInfo

Would there be a troll under the new Bay Bridge that links San Francisco and Oakland?

That seemingly silly question was being taken pretty seriously by some in California until Monday evening, when the official Twitter page of the San Francisco-Bay Bridge put out the word that, yes, there will be a little fellow under the new span. He'll be there to "protect" travelers.

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The Two-Way
1:49 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

Two Alligators Topping 720 Pounds Each Caught In Mississippi

Beth Trammell of Madison, Miss., poses with the 723.5-pound alligator she and five others caught over the weekend.
Ricky Flynt Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks Department

Originally published on Tue September 3, 2013 6:24 pm

Two alligators, each weighing more than 720 pounds, were caught in Mississippi this past weekend, setting a new state record for heaviest male alligator. Both animals measured more than 13 feet in length; it took hours to get the trophies into the hunters' boats.

The huge reptiles were brought down on the same day, setting a state record that stood for less than two hours before it was broken again.

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Krulwich Wonders...
1:25 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

How To Build Little Doors Inside Your Shell: The Secrets of Snail Carpentry

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Tue September 3, 2013 3:03 pm

"I am going to withdraw from the world," says a snail in Hans Christian Andersen's tale The Snail and the Rosebush. "Nothing that happens there is any concern of mine."

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Shots - Health News
1:22 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

Facebook Chats Prompt At-Risk Minority Men To Get HIV Tests

Latinos and African-Americans are more active on social media. Could that help promote HIV testing among minorities?
Brendan Smialowski Getty Images

It didn't take long for people to figure out that Facebook could be a great place to connect with other people dealing with the same health problems. But public health officials have moved cautiously, lest their efforts backfire. Do you really want to "like" STDs?

But there is now evidence the social media approach can help, even when the health condition is sensitive. Facebook can play a role in persuading people at high risk of HIV/AIDS to use a home HIV test kit, a study finds.

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The Two-Way
12:35 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

'Death Ray II'? London Building Reportedly Roasts Cars

A man reacts to a shaft of intense sunlight reflected from the glass windows of the new "Walkie Talkie" tower in central London on Aug. 30.
Leon Neal AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue September 3, 2013 2:17 pm

A skyscraper under construction "melted my Jag," reads the headline from London's City A.M.

"Beam of light from Walkie Talkie skyscraper 'melts man's Jaguar,' " says London's Metro.

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The Two-Way
12:07 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

Boehner, Pelosi Unite Behind President On Syria

President Obama met with more than a dozen lawmakers, including House Speaker John Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, at the White House on Tuesday to press his case for a military strike in Syria.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Tue September 3, 2013 2:30 pm

President Obama's call for Congress to give him the go-ahead to strike targets in Syria has put House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on the same side of an important issue for one of the few times in recent years.

Calling Syrian President Bashar Assad's alleged use of chemical weapons "a barbarous act," Boehner emerged from a meeting at the White House to say he supports Obama's request.

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The Two-Way
12:02 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

U.S. 'Space Fence' Radar System Goes Silent, After 50 Years

A computer image generated by NASA shows objects orbiting Earth, including those in geosynchronous orbit at a high altitude. The objects are not to scale.
NASA

Originally published on Tue September 3, 2013 12:51 pm

The Space Fence is down. That's the message we get from the SatWatch site, following up on our report last month that the U.S. Air Force was poised to shut down the radar system that tracks thousands of objects orbiting Earth. It had been in operation since 1961.

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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
11:31 am
Tue September 3, 2013

Sometimes, The Old Ways Are The Best Ways

There's a symphony going on in there. Pay close enough attention in Adam Frank's class and you'll be able to read the notes yourself.
SOHO/ESA NASA

Originally published on Tue September 3, 2013 4:03 pm

Today I'll walk into a classroom of advanced undergraduate physics students and begin teaching them about the stars. It will take 13 weeks, beginning with the basic principles of astrophysics and ending with the structure of the Milky Way. I will chart that path, as I do every year, by kickin' it old school with chalk on a blackboard. And today, as I do every year, I'll wonder if I'm doing the right thing.

In a world of PowerPoint, YouTube, automated homework and massive open online courses, what the hell am I doing with a stick of chalk in my hand?

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Shots - Health News
11:12 am
Tue September 3, 2013

With Health Exchanges Opening Soon, Consumers Start To Focus

What about those health insurance exchanges?
iStockphoto.com

If the volume of reader email is any indication, people are finally thinking hard about how the health care overhaul will affect them.

Online health insurance marketplaces will open in less than a month. Some people who get insurance through employers want to know if it's OK to buy a plan on an exchange instead. The answer is yes, but the purchasers may not qualify for subsidies.

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The Two-Way
10:33 am
Tue September 3, 2013

Syria Resolution Will Hit Mark, Obama Predicts

Originally published on Tue September 3, 2013 11:25 am

The White House is working with congressional leaders to shape a resolution that authorizes the type of military action that would send a "clear message" to President Bashar Assad and cripple the Syrian leader's "capability to use chemical weapons not just now but in the future," President Obama said Tuesday.

Sitting with leaders from both major parties, the president also said he is confident lawmakers are "going to be able to come up with something that hits that mark."

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The Two-Way
9:30 am
Tue September 3, 2013

The Lava Lamp Has Turned 50; Here's Some Groovy Video

Far out.
Superfloop Flickr

Originally published on Tue September 3, 2013 12:52 pm

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The Two-Way
9:27 am
Tue September 3, 2013

McCain Says Right Strikes Can Hurt Assad's Capabilities

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., met with President Obama on Sunday at the White House.
Jewel Samad AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue September 3, 2013 1:18 pm

By "taking out Bashar Assad's delivery capabilities of chemical weapons" the U.S. can make it much harder for the Syrian leader to wage war against his people and perhaps level the fighting field or turn it in favor of Assad's opponents, Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona said Tuesday on Morning Edition.

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