NPR Blogs

Shots - Health News
8:44 am
Fri November 1, 2013

Seeing In The Pitch-Dark Is All In Your Head

I think I can see something.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 10:13 am

A few years ago, cognitive scientist Duje Tadin and his colleague Randolph Blake decided to test blindfolds for an experiment they were cooking up.

They wanted an industrial-strength blindfold to make sure volunteers for their work wouldn't be able to see a thing. "We basically got the best blindfold you can get." Tadin tells Shots. "It's made of black plastic, and it should block all light."

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Krulwich Wonders...
8:01 am
Fri November 1, 2013

Falling Into The Sky And Other Tales Of Gravity

Robert Krulwich NPR

For most of us, gravity is the tug that pulls us home.

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The Two-Way
7:43 am
Fri November 1, 2013

U.S. Spying Efforts Sometimes 'Reached Too Far,' Kerry Says

Secretary of State John Kerry.
Fang Zhe Xinhua/Landov

Originally published on Fri November 1, 2013 1:10 pm

Some of the electronic surveillance programs of the National Security Agency have been on "automatic pilot" in recent years and have inappropriately "reached too far," Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday.

Kerry's comments are causing something of a stir.

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The Two-Way
7:27 am
Fri November 1, 2013

Book News: Medical Thriller Writer Michael Palmer Dies At 71

Michael Palmer poses at his home in Swampscott, Mass., in this 2002 photo.
Joel Page AP

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

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The Two-Way
6:46 am
Fri November 1, 2013

Obama Aides Considered A Clinton-For-Biden Switch, Book Says

Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Biden at a White House event in October 2011. A new book says President Obama's aides were then studying whether to replace Biden with the former first lady on the 2012 ticket.
Kevin Dietsch UPI /Landov

Originally published on Fri November 1, 2013 11:52 am

"President Obama's top aides secretly considered replacing Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. with Hillary Rodham Clinton on the 2012 ticket, undertaking extensive focus-group sessions and polling in late 2011 when Mr. Obama's re-election outlook appeared uncertain," The New York Times reports.

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The Salt
3:18 am
Fri November 1, 2013

Are Farm Veterinarians Pushing Too Many Antibiotics?

Cattle crowd inside a feedlot operated by JBS Five Rivers Colorado Beef in Wiley, Colo.
John Moore Getty Images

Originally published on Mon November 18, 2013 5:27 pm

In a barn outside Manhattan, Kan., researchers from Kansas State University are trying to solve the riddle of bovine respiratory disease. They're sticking plastic rods down the noses of 6-month old calves, collecting samples of bacteria.

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The Salt
3:17 am
Fri November 1, 2013

Can Starbucks Do For Tea What It Has Done For Coffee?

A pot of tea sits at the newly opened Teavana tea bar in New York City.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Fri November 1, 2013 11:59 am

Starbucks, which revolutionized the coffee industry, is now taking on tea. It has opened its first tea bar, and it's creating mixed tea beverages, some even more complex and customized than the coffee beverages we all know.

This first store, on Madison Avenue in Manhattan, has minimalist decor: gray soft seats, charcoals, chestnut browns. Teavana teas line one wall. Beakers filled with colored liquids greet you at the entrance.

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Shots - Health News
3:16 am
Fri November 1, 2013

Which Plans Cover Abortion? No Answers On HealthCare.gov

In a hearing Wednesday, Rep. John Shimkus of Illinois questions Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius about which insurance plans offer abortion services.
Jonathan Ernst Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri November 1, 2013 5:21 pm

As if the rollout of the federal health law didn't have enough problems, abortion is back in the spotlight.

How the various health plans in the exchanges would or would not pay for abortion was one of the very last issues settled before the bill was passed in 2010. Now abortion's invisibility on the federal HealthCare.gov website has some people pretty upset.

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The Two-Way
6:57 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Israeli Warplanes Reportedly Strike Russian Missiles In Syria

Originally published on Sun November 3, 2013 8:57 am

Unnamed U.S. officials have told CNN and The Associated Press that Israeli warplanes destroyed a shipment of Russian missiles at a Syrian airbase. But officials in Tel Aviv won't comment on the reported attack near the port of Latakia overnight on Wednesday.

"We're not commenting on these reports," a spokesman for the Israeli Defense Ministry told Reuters.

Reuters also reported an explosion in the area and said one Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he thought that Israel had carried out a strike, but stressed that he was not entirely certain.

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The Two-Way
6:40 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Judge Blocks Oversight For NYPD's 'Stop-And-Frisk' Policy

New York City Council member Jumaane Williams speaks at a March demonstration in Lower Manhattan against the city's "stop-and-frisk" searches.
Allison Joyce Getty Images

Originally published on Thu October 31, 2013 7:37 pm

A federal appeals court judge has put a temporary hold on changes to the New York Police Department's controversial "stop-and-frisk" policy ordered by a lower court and suspended the judge who made the earlier ruling.

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Shots - Health News
6:25 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Polio Has Not Returned To South Sudan, After All

We reported Wednesday that the polio outbreak in Somalia had spread to South Sudan. But health officials say that they were mistaken. There have been no polio cases in the country since 2009.

The World Health Organization said previously that it had confirmed three cases of polio in South Sudan back in August.

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Shots - Health News
5:50 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

For The Young And Healthy, Health Insurance Is A Hard Sell

Students Amanda McComas, Rose Marie Chute and Sari Schwartz are approached in October at Santa Monica City College in California about signing up for insurance with the Affordable Care Act.
Robyn Beck AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu October 31, 2013 6:01 pm

Getting young, healthy people to sign up for health insurance is seen as critical to the success of the Affordable Care Act. It's precisely those people who will help offset the cost of the older, sicker ones.

But while cheap health insurance and subsidies based on income are intended to make the program appealing to the young, what if they haven't even heard of the health care law? Or don't want to buy even an inexpensive policy?

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The Salt
4:56 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Heat, Drought Draw Farmers Back To Sorghum, The 'Camel Of Crops'

A test field of sorghum outside Manhattan, Kan., planted by Kansas State University.
Dan Charles NPR

Originally published on Thu October 31, 2013 9:07 pm

Much of the world is turning hotter and dryer these days, and it's opening new doors for a water-saving cereal that's been called "the camel of crops": sorghum. In an odd twist, this old-fashioned crop even seems to be catching on among consumers who are looking for "ancient grains" that have been relatively untouched by modern agriculture.

Sorghum isn't nearly as famous as the big three of global agriculture: corn, rice and wheat. But maybe it should be. It's a plant for tough times, and tough places.

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The Two-Way
4:39 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Local Charities Gear Up For Cut To Food Stamp Benefits

This shop in the GrowNYC Greenmarket in New York's Union Square accepts Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT), or food stamp benefits.
Andrew Burton Getty Images

Originally published on Fri November 1, 2013 6:06 am

More than 47 million Americans who receive food stamps will be getting a bit less starting Friday when a temporary benefit enacted as part of the federal stimulus expires.

The Department of Agriculture, which runs the Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program, or SNAP, as the food stamp program is formally known, says a family of four receiving $668 per month in benefits will see that amount cut by $36. One in 7 Americans receives food stamps.

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