NPR Blogs

The Two-Way
2:27 pm
Thu August 8, 2013

U.S. 'Space Fence' Will Cease To Operate, Site Says

A rendering of objects currently in Low Earth Orbit (not illustrated to scale). According to NASA, "approximately 95 percent of the objects in this illustration are orbital debris, i.e., not functional satellites."
NASA

Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 4:54 pm

A U.S. radar system that tracks thousands of objects orbiting Earth — from satellites to harmful debris — has been slated for shutdown, according to the Space News site. The ground-based network known as the "Space Fence" may cease to operate in October.

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The Two-Way
2:01 pm
Thu August 8, 2013

Al-Qaida Conference Call? It Wasn't On Phone, Reporters Say

"Dial 1 if you're the conference host."
Mark Memmott NPR

Originally published on Fri August 9, 2013 6:16 am

One of this week's most-talked-about stories is The Daily Beast's report that "the crucial intercept that prompted the U.S. government to close embassies in 22 countries was a conference call between al Qaeda's senior leaders and representatives of several of the group's affiliates throughout the region."

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The Two-Way
2:00 pm
Thu August 8, 2013

Kazakh Students Indicted In Boston Bombing Probe

A courtroom sketch shows defendants Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov at the Moakley Federal Courthouse in Boston on May 1.
Jane Flavell Collins AP

Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 4:07 pm

This post last updated at 3:55 p.m. ET:

A federal grand jury has indicted two men on charges of obstruction of justice related to the Boston Marathon bombing investigation.

The U.S. Attorney's office for Massachusetts made the announcement on Thursday against two students from Kazakhstan, Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, both 19 at the time of the bombing. If convicted, they face up to 20 years in prison.

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The Salt
1:27 pm
Thu August 8, 2013

Can Chocolate Boost Brain Health? Don't Binge Just Yet

Researchers say one particular flavanol, (-)-epicatechin, may be the source of the brain benefits seen from consuming cocoa.
Philippe Huguen AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri August 9, 2013 2:10 pm

Wouldn't it be grand (and delicious) if we could boost our brain power with a daily dose of chocolate?

At first blush, a study published in the journal Neurology this week appears to offer tantalizing evidence that this may be the case, at least when it comes to seniors.

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The Two-Way
12:44 pm
Thu August 8, 2013

NASA: Sun Getting Ready For A 'Field Flip'

NASA/SDO

Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 3:05 pm

Our nearest star is about to pull a once-in-11-years move by swapping its north and south magnetic poles.

The sun's polarity switch is a natural part of "solar max" — the period of peak activity during what averages out to be roughly an 11-year cycle. According to NASA, this year will mark the fourth time since 1976 that scientists have observed the 180-degree pole flip.

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The Two-Way
12:41 pm
Thu August 8, 2013

'Dream 9' Activists Released From Immigration Detention

Nine young activists who have come to be known as the "Dream 9" were released from an immigration detention center on Wednesday, while their asylum cases come before a court.

The Los Angeles Times has the background:

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The Two-Way
11:42 am
Thu August 8, 2013

'New York Times' Is Not For Sale, Sulzberger Says

Ramin Talaie Getty Images

Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 12:37 pm

Responding to speculation that his newspaper would be next, New York Times Publisher and Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. has issued a flat "the Times is not for sale" statement.

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The Two-Way
11:17 am
Thu August 8, 2013

Judge Says Nidal Hasan Can Represent Himself In Fort Hood Trial

Maj. Nidal Hasan faces 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 of attempted murder for the November 2009 shootings at Fort Hood, Texas.
Bell County Sheriff's Office Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 12:28 pm

The judge presiding over the case of Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, who is accused of killing 13 people during a 2009 shooting rampage in Fort Hood, Texas, said Hasan can continue to defend himself, The Associated Press reports.

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The Two-Way
11:12 am
Thu August 8, 2013

World-Record Snakehead Fish Caught In U.S.

Caleb Newton, who lives in Spotsylvania County, Va., holds the 17-pound, 6-ounce northern snakehead fish he caught in June. The International Game Fish Association has approved a world record for his catch of the invasive predator.
Griffin Moores The Free Lance-Star

Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 11:59 am

A Virginia man has caught the largest northern snakehead on record with a rod and reel, landing a 17-pound, 6-ounce specimen of the fish often called "Frankenfish" for their monster-like appearance and tenacious survival skills.

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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
11:06 am
Thu August 8, 2013

Gigging The Edible Frog: An Inhumane Tradition

iStockphoto.com

Late last Friday afternoon, just about to relax into the weekend, I checked NPR.org to see what was new and ran smack into a story about a cruel tradition here in the American South: frog gigging.

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The Two-Way
10:29 am
Thu August 8, 2013

Stars And Stripes: Pair Of Sumatran Tigers Born At National Zoo

A Tigercubcam view of the new cubs, born at the Smithsonian's National Zoo on Monday.
Smithsonian's National Zoo

Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 1:03 pm

The Smithsonian's National Zoo has announced the birth of a pair of Sumatran tigers, a species that has dwindled to less than 500 in the wild. Both mother and cubs are reportedly doing well.

There was no immediate word Thursday on the sex of the cubs.

Four-year-old Damai gave birth on Monday. The new arrivals appear healthy, and so far, "Damai is being a great mom, and is nursing and grooming both cubs," the zoo says on its website.

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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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