NPR Blogs

The Two-Way
10:02 am
Thu August 22, 2013

Lawyer Rejects Guantanamo 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' Claim

Books in the detainees library at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, are seen in this Aug. 8, 2013, photo. A prisoner at the facility handed over a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey to his lawyer.
AFP AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 11:20 am

Weeks after detainees at Guantanamo Bay were said to be voracious readers of Fifty Shades of Grey, one lawyer says that, at least in his client's case, that idea is bogus.

Attorney James Connell says his client, Ammar al-Baluchi, turned over a copy of the bestselling erotic novel and had never heard of it before guards gave him a copy on Monday.

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The Two-Way
10:00 am
Thu August 22, 2013

Comet Flies Into The Sun, Goes Out In A Blaze Of Glory

Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 2:13 pm

Like Icarus, the mythological character who plunged to his death after flying too close to the sun, a comet took a solar swan dive earlier this week. NASA has captured its final moments on video.

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The Two-Way
9:59 am
Thu August 22, 2013

Jobless Claims Rose Last Week; Still Around 5-Year Low

Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 10:46 am

There were 13,000 more claims for unemployment insurance last week than during the week before, the Employment and Training Administration says.

According to the agency, 336,000 first-time claims were filed, up from 323,000 the week before.

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Shots - Health News
8:15 am
Thu August 22, 2013

Popularity Of Circumcision Falls In U.S., Especially Out West

Where a boy is born has a big influence on whether he'll be circumcised, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show.
CDC

Originally published on Fri August 23, 2013 7:09 am

Boys born in the West are more likely to skip circumcision than they are to have the once common procedure.

It's a dramatic change over the past 32 years. Back in 1979, about two-thirds of boys out West got circumcised in the hospital soon after they were born. By 2010, only 40 percent were.

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The Two-Way
7:42 am
Thu August 22, 2013

Book News: FBI Suspected William T. Vollmann Was The Unabomber

Author William T. Vollmann poses in his studio in Sacramento, Calif., in 2005.
Rich Pedroncelli AP

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

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The Two-Way
7:02 am
Thu August 22, 2013

Chemical Weapons Claims Spur Calls For Force Against Syria

Gas mask in one hand and rifle in the other, a Free Syrian Army fighter sits inside a house in the city of Homs early Thursday.
Yazan Homsy Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 3:11 pm

  • From the NPR Newscast: The BBC's Nick Bryant reports

Claims by the opposition in Syria that President Bashar Assad's forces used chemical weapons during an attack Wednesday near Damascus — killing scores of people, they say — are being followed Thursday by word that:

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The Salt
2:53 am
Thu August 22, 2013

In Canada, Maine Lobstermen Get Both A Rival And A Tutor

Sternman Scott Beede returns an undersized lobster while checking traps in Mount Desert, Maine.
Robert F Bukaty AP

Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 12:43 pm

There's nothing quite like the sweet, succulent taste of Maine lobster. And fishermen off the state's rocky coastline have been catching more and more of the tasty crustacean over the past five years.

But that surging supply has overwhelmed Maine's limited marketing and processing capabilities and driven down the prices paid to lobstermen.

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The Two-Way
6:44 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

Soldier Who Admitted To Massacre Hears From Afghan Survivors

A courtroom sketch shows an Afghan man named Faizullah testifying in a courtroom at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., on Tuesday. His father and brother were shot and wounded when Staff Sgt. Robert Bales attacked their village in Kandahar province last year.
Peter Millett AP

Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 6:11 am

Details of the massacre of 16 Afghans by a U.S. soldier last spring are emerging in a courtroom near Tacoma, Wash., where survivors of that attack traveled to confront Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales. A six-member military jury is hearing testimony at a sentencing hearing for Bales.

At least seven people made the trip from Afghanistan to Washington state to speak at the hearing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, where Bales' Army unit is based.

The AP describes the night in question:

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The Salt
5:38 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

Inside The Beef Industry's Battle Over Growth-Promotion Drugs

Beef cattle stand in a barn on the Larson Farms feedlot in Maple Park, Ill.
Daniel Acker Landov

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 4:39 pm

When the drug company Merck Animal Health announced plans to suspend sales of its Zilmax feed additive last week, many observers were shocked.

Yet concern about Zilmax and the class of growth-promotion drugs called beta agonists has been building for some time. In an interesting twist, the decisive pressure on Zilmax did not come from animal welfare groups or government regulators: It emerged from within the beef industry itself, and from academic experts who have long worked as consultants to the industry.

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The Two-Way
5:18 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

Secret Court: NSA Surveillance Program Was Unconstitutional

An image taken from the FISA court opinion released Wednesday. The document reveals instances in which the court saw the NSA overstepping in its surveillance efforts.
NPR

Originally published on Mon August 26, 2013 8:53 am

A secret federal court found that the National Security Agency violated the civil rights of Americans when it collected thousands of emails and other digital messages between Americans, according to a 2011 opinion released Wednesday.

The FISA court ruled parts of the program to be unconstitutional and ordered them to be revised. The government made changes and the court signed off on the program in November of 2011.

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Shots - Health News
4:51 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

Deadly Middle East Coronavirus Found In An Egyptian Tomb Bat

So cute, but not cuddly. The Egyptian tomb bat, Taphozous perforatus, is a likely carrier of the Middle East respiratory syndrome virus, or MERS.
Courtesy of Jonathan H. Epstein/EcoHealth Alliance

Originally published on Fri August 23, 2013 7:09 am

For nearly a year, disease detectives around the world have been trying to track down the source of a mysterious new virus in the Middle East that has infected 96 people and killed 47 since September.

Now it looks like they've pinpointed at least one place where the virus is hiding out.

Scientists at Columbia University have detected the Middle East respiratory syndrome virus, or MERS, in a bat near the home of a man who died from the disease. The team found a small fragment of the virus's genes in the animal that matches perfectly with those seen in the patient.

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The Two-Way
2:31 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

Journey Of The Ring: Lost In WWII, Now Back With POW's Son

The ring that finally found its way home after nearly 70 years. David Cox, an American pilot, traded it for some food while he was a prisoner of war in Germany.
Courtesy of Norwood McDowell

Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 6:11 am

  • David Cox Jr. talks with NPR's Melissa Block about the journey of his father's ring
  • David Cox Jr. talks with NPR's Melissa Block about how his father would have loved getting his ring back

"I can't touch it or pick it up without thinking about him and I can't pick it up without thinking about this journey of the ring."

That's David C. Cox Jr. of North Carolina talking Wednesday about the rather amazing saga of the ring his father had to trade for food in a German prisoner of war camp during World War II — a ring that has now made it back to the Cox family after seven decades.

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Shots - Health News
2:03 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

Ebola Treatment Works In Monkeys, Even After Symptoms Appear

The Ebola virus forms threadlike structures under the microscope.
Cynthia Goldsmith CDC

Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 8:58 pm

Ebola, your days as one of the world's scariest diseases may be numbered.

A team of U.S. government researchers has shown that deadly Ebola hemorrhagic fever can be vanquished in monkeys by an experimental drug given up to five days after infection — even when symptoms have already developed.

An antibody cocktail aimed at Ebola's outer surface rescued three of seven macaques infected with lethal doses of the hemorrhagic virus in the U.S. Army's high-security labs at Fort Detrick, Md.

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Krulwich Wonders...
1:50 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

'Why This Compulsion To Run Long Distances?' A Runner's Beautiful Confession

From Racing the Antelope

Biologist Bernd Heinrich was in Zimbabwe, in the field, eyes down, looking for beetles, when for no particular reason he looked up and saw ... well, at first he wasn't sure what it was, so he stepped closer, leaned in, and there, painted on the underside of large protruding rock, were five human figures "running in one direction, from left to right across the rock face." They weren't very detailed, just "small, sticklike human figures in clear running stride" painted by a Bushman, two, maybe three thousand years ago.

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