NPR Blogs

Shots - Health News
10:18 am
Thu August 8, 2013

Scientists Disclose Plans To Make Superflu In Labs

Some scientists think new types of bird flus should arise only in chickens, not in labs. Here a worker collects poultry on a farm in Kathmandu, Nepal, where the H5N1 virus was infecting animals in October 2011.
Prakas Mathema AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 10:56 am

Who do these guys think they are, the Dr. Frankensteins of virology?

First, two teams of virologists created more dangerous versions of the deadly H5N1 flu. Now they want to give the H7N9 virus, which has already sickened at least 134 people and killed 43 people in Asia, a few new capabilities: drug resistance, faster transmission between people and the ability to sneak past the immune system.

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The Two-Way
9:48 am
Thu August 8, 2013

Fannie Mae Books $10.1 Billion In Second-Quarter Profits

Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 11:05 am

Driven by a recovery in the U.S. housing market, mortgage finance giant Fannie Mae netted profits of $10.1 billion in the second quarter, its sixth-straight quarter with positive results. The company, which has operated under federal conservatorship since 2008, reported its earnings Thursday.

Fannie Mae cited "a significant increase in home prices in the quarter," which nearly doubled that of last year's second quarter.

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The Two-Way
8:53 am
Thu August 8, 2013

Weekly Jobless Claims Hold Steady

The scene at a job fair in Manhattan earlier this year.
Mario Tama Getty Images

Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 10:54 am

There were 333,000 first-time claims for unemployment insurance last week, the Employment and Training Administration says. Claims were up 1.5 percent from the previous week's 328,000 — and basically remained at the lower end of the range where they've stayed for the better part of the last two years.

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Shots - Health News
8:00 am
Thu August 8, 2013

What Makes Good Bacteria Go Bad? It's Not Them, It's You

S.pneumoniae bacteria may look harmless, but don't rile them.
CDC

Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 10:01 am

Imagine a friend of a friend brings his family to stay with you — his family of tiny survivalists. For weeks or months you all live quietly side by side with no problems. You share meals. Your kids play together.

Then one day you get sick — maybe felled by a bad cold or the flu. Suddenly certain the end is near, your jittery houseguest breaks out an armory's worth of chemical weapons. He abandons his community to save himself and hunt for a new home, wreaking havoc on the way out the door.

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Krulwich Wonders...
7:58 am
Thu August 8, 2013

Watch Me Do Something Impossible In Three Totally Easy Steps

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Fri August 9, 2013 7:19 pm

Here's what the Swedish artist Oscar Reutersvard did. In 1934, he got himself a pen and paper and drew four cubes, like this.

Then he drew some more, like this.

And, then — and this is where he got mischievous — he drew one more set, like this.

He called this final version "Impossible Triangle of Opus 1 No. 293aa." I don't know what the "293aa" is about, but he was right about "impossible." An arrangement like this cannot take place in the physical universe as we know it.

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The Two-Way
7:43 am
Thu August 8, 2013

Book News: Publishers Object To Proposed Punishments For Apple

Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 10:15 am

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

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Shots - Health News
3:20 am
Thu August 8, 2013

Obamacare Foes Make Final Push To Stop Health Law's Implementation

FreedomWorks website, which is urging citizens opposed to the Affordable Care Act to opt out of the law's requirement to have insurance. It asks Americans to symbolically "burn your Obamacare card." In reality, no such card will exist." href="/post/obamacare-foes-make-final-push-stop-health-laws-implementation" class="noexit lightbox">
A screenshot from the FreedomWorks website, which is urging citizens opposed to the Affordable Care Act to opt out of the law's requirement to have insurance. It asks Americans to symbolically "burn your Obamacare card." In reality, no such card will exist.
FreedomWorks

Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 10:47 am

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The Two-Way
6:35 pm
Wed August 7, 2013

Military Veterans Accuse San Diego Mayor Of Sexual Harassment

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner entered a two-week behavioral therapy program on Monday.
Sam Hodgson Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Wed August 7, 2013 10:59 pm

Two military veterans are the latest women making allegations against San Diego Mayor Bob Filner.

Eldonna Fernandez, a retired master sergeant from the Air Force, and Gerri Tindley, an Army veteran, said Filner made unwanted advances back when Filner was serving his 10th term as a U.S. congressman in 2012. What's more, they told CNN in an interview, he did so knowing the two women had said they were raped while in the military.

CNN reports:

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The Two-Way
5:02 pm
Wed August 7, 2013

'Monument To Hell' Is No More: Cleveland Rapist's House Is Torn Down

The house of Ariel Castro, which was found to have served as a prison for three women for years, was reduced to rubble Wednesday.
Brian Bull WCPN

The house of kidnapper and rapist Ariel Castro, the man who was sentenced to life in prison plus 1,000 years last week, has been razed. Michelle Knight, one of the three women for whom the house became a prison for nearly a decade, was on hand for the demolition Wednesday.

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The Two-Way
4:35 pm
Wed August 7, 2013

Obama Will Deliver Speech On Steps Of The Lincoln Memorial

Marine One flys over the Lincoln Memorial with President Bill Clinton on board as he departed from the National Mall in May of 1999.
Joyce Naltchayan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed August 7, 2013 4:40 pm

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the civil rights' movement March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, President Obama will deliver remarks from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the White House said today.

It was on those same steps that 50 years ago on August 28, that Martin Luther King delivered his iconic "I Have A Dream" speech.

The Washington Post explains:

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Shots - Health News
4:13 pm
Wed August 7, 2013

Fix Is In For Congressional Obamacare Glitch

The new health law has left some 20,000 workers on Capitol Hill unsure of their health care options for the coming year.
Dwight Nadig iStockphoto

Finally, the federal HR department has released the health rule much of Capitol Hill has been waiting for.

There's now an explanation from the Office of Personnel Management on how members of Congress and much of their staff will get their health insurance starting next year.

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The Salt
4:03 pm
Wed August 7, 2013

Bring Home The Bacon Or Put It In A Meat Locker?

Time for a meat locker? One Flickr user's freezer after purchasing a large share of a pig.
Cowgirl Jules via Flickr

Originally published on Fri August 9, 2013 12:44 pm

Why buy 1 pound of hamburger meat from a local farmer when you can buy 5 pounds — plus another 20 pounds of stew meat, steaks and roast — for as little as half the price of what it all goes for at the market?

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The Two-Way
3:58 pm
Wed August 7, 2013

Arizona Firefighter's Widow May Fight City Over Benefits

Juliann Ashcraft, wife of late firefighter Andrew Ashcraft, receives a U.S. flag during a memorial service in July. Ashcraft says the city has refused to pay full benefits for her husband's death, calling him a seasonal employee.
David Kadlubowski AP

The widow of a man who died fighting a wildfire this summer as part of a "hotshots" team based in Prescott, Ariz., says her attempts to be paid her late husband's lifetime benefits have been denied. The city's explanation is that Andrew Ashcraft, 29, was a seasonal employee, Juliann Ashcraft said Wednesday.

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Shots - Health News
3:51 pm
Wed August 7, 2013

Redefining Cancer To Reduce Unnecessary Treatment

Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, explains why calling some conditions cancer creates problems.
Chris Hamilton American Cancer Society

A cancer diagnosis can be downright frightening. And after the initial shock, there can be gruelling rounds of treatment.

But sometimes treatment can be a waste, because the condition a doctor labels as cancer isn't really much of a health threat.

The National Cancer Institute convened a group of specialists last year to look at the problem of overdiagnosis and overtreatment of cancer. One idea: redefine what gets called cancer.

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The Salt
2:52 pm
Wed August 7, 2013

After Immigration Bust, Herb Grower Tries A New Path

Ted Andrews, CEO of HerbCo International, says the H-2A agricultural guest worker program needs improvements.
Liz Jones for NPR

Originally published on Wed August 7, 2013 10:58 pm

The ongoing immigration debate in Congress often spotlights the job market for people living in the U.S. illegally. Not long ago, that market included one of the country's top organic herb farms — until an immigration bust forced the business, based in Washington state, to clean up its payroll.

Ted Andrews, owner of HerbCo International, says he's learned some tough lessons during the transition to a legal workforce. Lesson No. 1: "There are events that can destroy a business in the snap of a finger," he says. "This was one of them."

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