NPR Blogs

The Two-Way
7:11 pm
Fri October 4, 2013

Shutdown Forces Nation's Radio Telescopes Into Inactivity

The Very Large Array in Socorro, N.M.
Wikipedia Commons

Many of the world's largest radio telescopes, operated by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, are going inactive — the latest casualty of the government shutdown.

NPR's Geoffrey Brumfiel reports that the NRAO, which is funded by the National Science Foundation and operates radio telescopes in West Virginia, New Mexico, Arizona and even Chile, will be pointing the giant dishes straight up, in the "stow" position.

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The Two-Way
6:11 pm
Fri October 4, 2013

Italian Senate Panel Recommends Expelling Silvio Berlusconi

Former Prime Minister and leader of Forza Italia, Silvio Berlusconi speaks on Wednesday at the Senate in Rome.
Filippo Monteforte AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 27, 2013 11:05 am

Silvio Berlusconi, the controversial, larger-than-life Italian politician and media mogul, is one step closer to the end of his political career.

Today, a senate panel recommended stripping the former prime minister of his senate seat. The New York Times reports:

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Shots - Health News
5:24 pm
Fri October 4, 2013

Want To Read Others' Thoughts? Try Reading Literary Fiction

Would time spent with Anton Chekov, famed for his subtle, flawed characters, make you a better judge of human nature?
Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Thu October 10, 2013 9:33 am

Your ability to "read" the thoughts and feelings of others could be affected by the kind of fiction you read.

That's the conclusion of a study in the journal Science that gave tests of social perception to people who were randomly assigned to read excerpts from literary fiction, popular fiction or nonfiction.

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The Two-Way
4:51 pm
Fri October 4, 2013

Google Vs. Facebook: A Map Of Global Conquest

Google is red; Facebook blue.
Mark Graham/Stefano De Sabbata Internet Geographies at the Oxford Internet Institute

Originally published on Fri October 4, 2013 6:14 pm

The U.K.'s Oxford Internet Institute has put together an interesting illustration of the most popular websites around the world. Not surprising, Google and Facebook dominate the globe.

We're not quite sure what the data mean, if anything, but you can be the judge.

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Shots - Health News
4:19 pm
Fri October 4, 2013

The Last Word On Hormone Therapy From the Women's Health Initiative

Once hailed as a feminine fountain of youth, then vilified, hormone replacement therapy may finally be finding its place as a short-term treatment for menopause symptoms.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri October 4, 2013 7:37 pm

Back in 2002, a research study blew apart the widely held belief that hormone replacement therapy protected women from heart disease and other chronic ills.

Instead, the Women's Health Initiative study found that taking estrogen plus progestin hormone replacement therapy — HRT — actually increased a woman's risk of heart disease and breast cancer.

The study had a huge effect: Within months the number of women using HRT dropped by almost half.

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The Salt
3:40 pm
Fri October 4, 2013

Of Goats And Gardens: Making Sense Of Urban Agriculture In LA

A garden in Santa Monica, Calif.
Courtesy of Cultivate LA

Originally published on Thu October 17, 2013 10:12 am

Until recently, if you wanted to find out the rules for raising goats in Hollywood, bees in Bel Air or squash in a community garden in South Central Los Angeles, it would have been pretty tough — like standing in various lines at the DMV.

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The Two-Way
2:49 pm
Fri October 4, 2013

Embattled Alex Rodriguez Sues Major League Baseball

He's waiting to hear his fate: New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez.
John Angelillo UPI /Landov

Alex Rodriguez, the embattled Yankees' third baseman, is suing Major League Baseball, claiming they have gone on a "witch hunt" to destroy his reputation and career.

The New York Times reports:

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The Two-Way
2:02 pm
Fri October 4, 2013

Officials Detail Shutdown's Chilling Effect On National Security

National Intelligence Director James Clapper waits for a hearing of the Senate Judiciary on Wednesday.
Brendan Smialowski AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri October 4, 2013 5:42 pm

James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, told Congress this week that the partial federal government shutdown has forced the furlough of some 70 percent of employees throughout the intelligence community.

"I've never seen anything like this," said Clapper, a 50-year veteran of intelligence work.

So what impact is all this having on the spy world?

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The Two-Way
1:51 pm
Fri October 4, 2013

Giant Hornets Kill Dozens In China; Warm Temps Might Be Cause

The Asian Giant Hornet. Attacks on humans in central China have claimed more than 40 lives in recent months.
Scott Camazine Photo Researchers RM/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri October 4, 2013 2:32 pm

Asian Giant Hornets have killed more than 40 people and injured 1,600 in central China in recent months, forcing the government there to mobilize a special medical response team.

Xinhua News Agency reports that the attacks have occurred in Shaanxi province. In the city of Ankang, 19 people have died, with 22 others killed in attacks in two adjacent cities.

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The Two-Way
1:38 pm
Fri October 4, 2013

Netanyahu's Push: Countering Iranian Leader's Charm Offensive

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday in New York City.
Andrew Burton Getty Images

Originally published on Sun October 6, 2013 9:07 am

It must be draining to do eight interviews in a row, but Benjamin Netanyahu seemed energized by it. The Israeli prime minister walked into our meeting in a New York hotel room bantering and smiling. He commented on the shades (pulled down to avoid a backlit photo) and noticed a novel that our engineer had brought along. Netanyahu picked it up and looked it over — a novel by Joe Hill, the pen name for the son of Stephen King.

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The Salt
1:30 pm
Fri October 4, 2013

Meat-Drenched Oktoberfest Warms To Vegans

Traditional fare at Bavarian Oktoberfest is heavy on meat, but that's changing as restaurants add more vegan and vegetarian options.
Wolfworld Flickr

Originally published on Fri October 4, 2013 4:22 pm

Oktoberfest, one of the world's largest festivals, is mostly about beer. And to soak up all that froth and alcohol, Bavarians have traditionally reached for meat.

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The Two-Way
1:03 pm
Fri October 4, 2013

Still-Powerful Tropical Storm Karen Set For Saturday Landfall

Workers pump water from the parking lot of the Dadeland Plaza shopping center on Thursday after heavy rains triggered by Tropical Storm Karen in Pinecrest, Fla., a suburb of Miami.
Wilfredo Lee AP

Originally published on Fri October 4, 2013 3:12 pm

A weakened Tropical Storm Karen, the first named system this year to threaten the U.S., still has its sights set on the Louisiana coast, but the National Hurricane Center has shifted the system's path a bit.

At 10 a.m. CDT, the storm was about 250 miles south southwest of the mouth of the Mississippi River, moving at about 10 mph with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph.

NOLA.com says:

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Krulwich Wonders...
12:56 pm
Fri October 4, 2013

Comparing Sperm Whales To Sperm: A Swimming Contest

Brad Purnell YouTube

Originally published on Fri October 4, 2013 3:40 pm

If you're a big, big whale with a gigantic tail swimming through water, nothing gets in your way, not the water, not the other fish, not nothin'. You are so much bigger than the water molecules around you, you move through the sea the way humans move through the air on a calm day — you just go. Whales, I imagine, don't think much about water.

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Monkey See
12:49 pm
Fri October 4, 2013

Clip Job: 'Five Dances,' One Sweetly Moving Romance

Ryan Steele in Five Dances
Paladin

Originally published on Fri October 4, 2013 4:10 pm

Five Dances might be the least talky movie I've seen in months — but it's plenty expressive. What it says, it says silently, or at least nonverbally, in the music-and-movement language of Jonah Bokaer's haunting choreography, which speaks of solitary strivings and the brief, passionate connections that punctuate them.

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The Two-Way
12:21 pm
Fri October 4, 2013

Tasteless Or Not? Restaurant Puts Communion Wafer On Burger

The controversial burger, which comes with an unconsecrated communion wafer, at the Kuma's Corner restaurant in Chicago.
AP

Kuma's Corner, a Chicago restaurant that's built a reputation with foodies for its venturesome dishes, "has cooked up a controversial burger of the month for October, garnishing it with an unconsecrated communion wafer and a red wine reduction sauce," The Associated Press says.

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