NPR Blogs

Monkey See
5:06 am
Wed December 4, 2013

The Top 5 Reasons We're Taking A Break From Lists

This Christmas, NPR Books would like to find something other than lists in our stockings.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 11:30 am

You love lists. We love lists. Everyone loves lists. And in the past five years, NPR has brought you more than 80 year-end book lists — the best book club books, the best cookbooks, the best gift books, the best guilty pleasures. We listed. You clicked. Everyone was happy.

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The Salt
3:05 am
Wed December 4, 2013

Why $7-Per-Gallon Milk Looms Once Again

Sticker shock in the dairy aisle? If the government fails to pass the farm bill, milk prices could spike sometime after the first of the year.
George Frey Landov

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 1:29 pm

The leaders of the House and Senate agriculture committees are meeting Wednesday as they continue to try to work out the differences between their respective farm bills. If they fail, the country faces what's being called the "dairy cliff" — with milk prices potentially shooting up to about $7 a gallon sometime after the first of the year.

Here's why: The nation's farm policy would be legally required to revert back to what's called permanent law. In the case of dairy, that would be the 1949 farm bill.

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Shots - Health News
6:31 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Mammograms In 3-D May Be Better, But Hard Proof Is Missing

A woman is positioned for a traditional mammogram at Tufts Medical Center in Boston.
Bizuayehu Tesfaye AP

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 12:02 pm

A newer form of mammogram may do a better job of finding cancer, a study finds. But the technology is still too untested to know if it's going to be useful for most women or even to know for sure who might benefit.

It's called breast tomosynthesis, or 3-D mammography. Since being approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2011, the new type of scan has been touted by radiologists.

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The Two-Way
6:29 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Illinois Approves Rescue Of Its Ailing Pension System

Illinois Sen. Linda Holmes, a Democrat, discusses pension legislation at the state Capitol on Tuesday.
Seth Perlman AP

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 7:20 pm

Illinois lawmakers have approved a sweeping plan to close a $100 billion shortfall in the state's pension system, which would cut retirees' benefits. But the legislation faces promised legal challenges from public employee unions.

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The Two-Way
5:53 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

'Mastermind' Behind Doritos Locos Tacos Dies At Age 41

Todd Mills and his daughter.
Team Todd

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 10:03 am

He had a great vision. And despite naysayers, he stuck to his guns and eventually saw a hard-shell taco splattered with neon-orange cheese dust become a staple in the country's fast-food scene.

Todd Mills, the inspiration behind Taco Bell's Doritos Locos Tacos, died of cancer Thanksgiving morning.

He was 41.

USA Today brought Mills' story to our attention today. And it's an extraordinary tale. The paper reports:

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The Two-Way
5:49 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Guardian Editor: We've Published 1 Percent Of Snowden Files

Guardian Editor-In-Chief Alan Rusbridger speaks at a debate about the newspaper's NSA coverage, on Sept. 19.
Stephen Lovekin Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 8:44 pm

The editor-in-chief of The Guardian, which has turned leaks from Edward Snowden into a seemingly endless series of exposes concerning U.S. electronic surveillance activities, says the newspaper has published just 1 percent of what it's received from the former NSA contractor.

In testimony before Britain's Parliament, Alan Rusbridger told lawmakers that about 58,000 files obtained from Snowden, or "about 1 percent," had been used by the paper for its stories. However, he added: "I would not expect us to be publishing a huge amount more."

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The Two-Way
5:05 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Seahawks Fans Cause Earthquake, Set Noise Record

A Seattle Seahawks fan at Monday night's game, when he and other helped set a new noise record and made the ground rumble.
Elaine Thompson AP

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 7:23 am

They're louder than a jet on takeoff and they make the earth tremble.

We're talking about fans of the NFL's Seattle Seahawks.

During the team's home game Monday night against the New Orleans Saints, "Seahawks fans jumping up and down during" a fumble return for a touchdown "registered about a magnitude 1 or 2 earthquake," The Seattle Times' The Today File blog reports.

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The Two-Way
5:03 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Train Engineer 'Nodded At Controls,' Official Says

Monday, as a train on an unaffected track passed by (in the background) work continued on removing the commuter cars that derailed the day before.
Mark Lennihan AP

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 2:30 am

Updated at 2:00 a.m. ET Wednesday:

Federal investigators in New York announced late Tuesday that they had removed the rail employees union, the Association of Commuter Rail Employees, as a participant in the investigation. According to The Associated Press, investigators cited a breach of confidentiality after Anthony Bottalico, leader of the union, spoke to the media concerning comments train engineer William Rockefeller had made about what happened moments before Sunday's derailment.

Update at 8 p.m. ET:

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The Salt
4:52 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Moon Turnips? NASA Takes Gardening to New Heights

NASA's latest mission is one small step for turnips, one giant leap for plant-kind.
Carolina K. Smith iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 1:15 pm

The hyper-local food trend is really big right now. And apparently, NASA wants to make sure astronauts don't miss out. The agency recently announced plans to grow cress, turnips and basil on the moon.

And to protect the plants from the harsh cosmic radiation and the moon's lack of atmosphere, NASA researchers will be sending them off inside a seriously high-tech terrarium.

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The Two-Way
4:50 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

WATCH: Amazing Rescue Of Nigerian Man From Sunken Tugboat

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 6:18 pm

Video has emerged of the dramatic rescue in May of a cook aboard a sunken Nigerian tugboat. The man survived at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean for three days by breathing from an ever-dwindling pocket of trapped air and sipping on Coca-Cola.

Divers from a South African team expecting to find only bodies were stunned to locate Harrison Okene alive inside the sunken vessel on May 23. The video of the rescue was posted on YouTube on Monday and has quickly gone viral.

Here it is:

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The Two-Way
4:10 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

French Experts Say There Is No Proof Arafat Was Poisoned

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in 2002.
Chris Hondros Getty Images

Originally published on Sun December 8, 2013 8:17 am

Former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was not poisoned, French investigators have concluded.

After the results of the long-running investigation started to leak, Arafat's wife, Suha Arafat, told reporters in London that French scientists had ruled out the possibility that Arafat was poisoned with polonium-210.

Case settled? Not quite. This piece of news just means that the three teams tasked with the investigation have come to three different conclusions:

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The Two-Way
3:35 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

North Korean Leader's Uncle Reportedly Sacked From Top Post

In a photo from July, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (second left) is flanked by top advisers, including his uncle Jang Song Thaek, at far right in white uniform.
Wong Maye-E AP

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 4:24 pm

An uncle of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has reportedly been dismissed from a key post as the vice chairman of the country's National Defense Commission, an assessment by South Korea's intelligence service says.

In addition, two close aides of Jang Song Thaek were reportedly executed for corruption.

Jang, who is married to the sister of late leader Kim Jong Il, is said to have been fired last month. But, according to The Associated Press, purges against Jang have been reported in the past only to find him later back in power, apparently rehabilitated.

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The Two-Way
3:08 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

'This Law Is Working,' Obama Says Of Health Care

While conceding that "more problems may pop up as they always do when you're launching something new," President Obama on Tuesday said the troubled HealthCare.gov website "is working well for the vast majority of users" and his Affordable Care Act "is working and will work into the future."

"We may never satisfy the law's opponents," Obama added during an afternoon event at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House. But, he said, "we know the demand [for health insurance] is there and we know the product on these marketplaces is good."

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The Salt
3:03 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Cookie-Baking Chemistry: How To Engineer Your Perfect Sweet Treat

Engineering the perfect cookie: You can control the diameter and thickness of your favorite chocolate chip cookies by changing the temperature of the butter and the amount of flour in the dough.
Morgan Walker NPR

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 1:38 pm

Baking cookies is almost magical. You put little balls of wet, white dough into the oven and out pop brown, crispy, tasty biscuits.

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The Two-Way
2:28 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Man Killed In Shark Attack Off Maui

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 3:35 pm

Yet another shark attack in Hawaii, this time leading to the death of a man off Maui. It comes just three days after a woman survived a harrowing shark attack on the same side of the island.

The Associated Press reports that a shark bit the dangling foot of Patrick Briney, 57, of Stevenson, Wash., as he fished from a kayak between Maui and Molokini, a small island that is a popular diving and snorkeling spot.

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