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The Two-Way
5:17 pm
Sat September 14, 2013

Costa Concordia Salvage Operation To Begin Monday

Work at the wreckage of the Costa Concordia continues through the night Sept. 14, off the Italian island of Giglio. The Costa Concordia is due to be righted, in a project set to begin Monday.
Marco Secchi Getty Images

Originally published on Sat September 14, 2013 6:25 pm

A complicated salvage operation is set to begin Monday at the site of the Costa Concordia, the luxury cruise ship that ran aground off Italy in 2012. Even if it succeeds, it will be a long time before things return to normal on the island of Giglio, where the ship wrecked last January.

A large team has gathered to try to move the wreck of the ship, which measures 952 feet in length and weighs more than 114,000 tons. NPR's Sylvia Poggioli filed this report for our Newscast unit:

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The Two-Way
1:51 pm
Sat September 14, 2013

Japan Uses Laptops, Cost-Cutting To Launch Rocket Into Space

Japan's new solid-fuel rocket lifts off from the launch pad at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Uchinoura Space Center in Kimotsuki, Kagoshima prefecture, on Japan's southern island of Kyushu Saturday.
Jiji Press AFP/Getty Images

Japan has sent a space telescope into orbit, as its new Epsilon rocket delivered its payload Saturday. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency says the successful launch is a step toward its goal "to lower hurdles to space" by simplifying rocket launches and making them more affordable. The launch was reportedly done via laptop.

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The Two-Way
12:08 pm
Sat September 14, 2013

Bookless Public Library Opens In Texas

An artist's rendering shows computer stations at the new BiblioTech bookless public library in Bexar County, Texas. The library is holding its grand opening Saturday.
Courtesy of Bexar County

Originally published on Mon September 16, 2013 6:02 pm

An all-digital public library is opening today, as officials in Bexar County, Texas, celebrate the opening of the BiblioTech library. The facility offers about 10,000 free e-books for the 1.7 million residents of the county, which includes San Antonio.

On its website, the Bexar County BiblioTech library explains how its patrons can access free eBooks and audio books. To read an eBook on their own device, users must have the 3M Cloud Library app, which they can link to their library card.

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The Two-Way
10:25 am
Sat September 14, 2013

Colorado Gets Brief Break From Flood Warnings; Rain Is Forecast

Samantha Kinzig of Longmont, Colo., and her daughter Isabel, 5, took a close look at a damaged bridge in Longmont Friday. Heavy rains that fueled widespread flooding in numerous Colorado towns have eased, but forecasters predict more on Saturday and Sunday.
Marc Piscotty Getty Images

Originally published on Sat September 14, 2013 4:17 pm

The rains that brought severe flooding to parts of northern and central Colorado have eased, allowing people a chance to regroup before more rain comes, possibly as soon as Saturday afternoon. Thousands of residents have been displaced by the flooding, from Fort Collins in the north to Colorado Springs in the south, since waters hit dangerous levels Wednesday.

The floods have been blamed for four deaths, as the Two-Way reported Friday.

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The Two-Way
8:37 am
Sat September 14, 2013

U.S. And Russia Form A Plan On Syria's Chemical Weapons

Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced a plan to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons arsenal from Geneva on Saturday.
Larry Downing AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat September 14, 2013 1:06 pm

Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart have reached a deal that calls for Syria to destroy all of its chemical weapons. The plan, which Kerry announced in a news conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva on Saturday, gives Syria a week to detail its chemical arsenal.

"The world will now expect the Assad regime to live up to its public commitments," Kerry said. "And as I said at the outset of these negotiations, there can be no games, no room for avoidance, or anything less than full compliance by the Assad regime."

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The Two-Way
6:52 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Social Security Wrongfully Paid $1.3 Billion In Disability

People line up outside of the Social Security Administration office in San Francisco, in February of 2005.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

The Government Accountability Office says that the Social Security Administration made about $1.3 billion in payments over two years to about 36,000 people who were believed to be working, while claiming they were disabled.

The GAO arrived at this number by comparing names on the National Directory of New Hires and people on disability insurance.

While $1.3 billion sounds like a whole lot of money, keep in mind that this only represents less than 1 percent of all the disability benefits paid by the agency.

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Shots - Health News
6:23 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Synthetic Marijuana Prompts Colorado Health Investigation

A sign outside a medical marijuana dispensary in Manitou Springs, Colo. Voters amended the state's constitution to legalize marijuana for recreational use in November 2012.
Eric Whitney

Originally published on Mon September 16, 2013 5:58 pm

More than 150 people are now believed to have been sickened by synthetic marijuana in Colorado, which legalized recreational use of real pot last November. Three people may have died.

State and federal investigators are scrambling to identify the exact source of the illnesses. The state health department has named about a dozen illicit products, often sold as "incense," that it believes are responsible for at least some of the illnesses. The stuff goes by names like "Spice," "Crazy Clown" and "Dead Man Walking."

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Shots - Health News
6:04 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

After Disasters, DNA Science Is Helpful, But Often Too Pricey

A Thai medic checks bodies for forensic identity in Phang Nga province in southern of Thailand on Jan. 11, 2005. Thousands of people were killed in Thailand after a massive tsunami struck on Dec. 26, 2004.
Pornchai Kittiwongsakul AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri September 13, 2013 7:32 pm

Human DNA is the ultimate fingerprint. A single hair can contain enough information to determine someone's identity — a feature that's been invaluable for identifying the unnamed casualties of natural disasters and war. But forensic scientists who use DNA say the technology isn't always available where it's most needed, like in poor countries, or in war zones like Syria.

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The Two-Way
5:50 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Judge Rules 'Ikea Monkey' To Remain In Animal Sanctuary

A still from news video of Darwin's great escape in December.
ABC News

Originally published on Fri September 13, 2013 6:12 pm

Darwin the 'Ikea monkey' will no longer be hitting the superstores with a Canadian woman who calls him her son after a judge in Ontario ruled that the primate is not a pet and should remain at an animal sanctuary.

As we wrote in December, Darwin, a Japanese macaque dressed in a heavy shearling coat, attracted considerable attention when he escaped from a locked crate in owner Yasmin Nakhuda's car in Toronto. He made his way through rows of parked cars and ended up inside a nearby Ikea store before staff there cornered him and called in animal control officials.

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The Two-Way
4:59 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Hong Kong Bans Shark Fin At Official Functions

This file picture taken on January 2, 2013 shows shark fins drying on the roof of a factory building in Hong Kong.
Antony Dickson AFP/Getty Images

Shark fin will no longer be included on the menus of official government functions in Hong Kong, the country said in a press release on Friday.

"No shark fin, bluefin tuna or black moss will be on the menu at official entertainment functions," the government said. "The items have aroused international and local concern because they are either captured or harvested in ecologically unfriendly or unsustainable ways, or cause other conservation concerns."

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The Two-Way
3:32 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Police Start Clearing Zocalo Of Striking Mexican Teachers

General view of the Zocalo of Mexico City, on September 2, 2013, while thousands of teachers camp in protest against the new education law passed by the Congress.
Ronaldo Schemidt AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri September 13, 2013 7:06 pm

This post was last updated at 6:58 p.m. ET.

Riot police moved into Mexico City's Zocalo Plaza on Friday to remove thousands of striking teachers from the historic square.

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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
2:11 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

The Physicist's View Of Reality

Gold exists, just as it really is, just as the physicist knows it to be, and that has nothing to do with us.
Michal Cizek AFP/Getty Images

Science is more like the United Nations than it is like a village. Different communities of scientists carry out their work using their own methods, languages and styles. Scientists in different fields need interpreters if they are to communicate with each other. There is no scientific lingua franca, not even mathematics.

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The Two-Way
1:00 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

37 Killed In Fire At Russian Psychiatric Hospital

In a photo released by Russian officials in Novgorod, firefighters work at the site of a fire at a psychiatric hospital in the village of Luka on Friday.
AP

Originally published on Fri September 13, 2013 5:23 pm

A fire at a dilapidated Russian psychiatric facility that broke out early Friday morning has killed at least 37 people, including a nurse who tried to guide patients to safety, officials say.

The fire in the town of Luka, about 120 miles southeast of St. Petersburg, was the second such blaze in recent months. In April, a similar blaze at a psychiatric hospital near Moscow killed 38 people.

In the latest incident, authorities had long warned that the mostly wooden building dating to the 19th century was unsafe, according to The Associated Press.

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The Two-Way
12:52 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

NPR To Offer Voluntary Buyouts In Bid To Balance Budget

NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Fri September 13, 2013 1:46 pm

Saying that the goal is to balance its budget in fiscal year 2015, NPR announced late Friday morning that it will soon offer "a voluntary buyout plan across the organization that reduces staffing levels by approximately 10 percent."

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Krulwich Wonders...
12:25 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

A Most Delightful Map

Courtesy of Massimo Pietrobon

Originally published on Fri September 13, 2013 2:07 pm

Think about this: You wake up in New York City, decide to go for a stroll, head east after breakfast, and a short time later, still on foot, you find yourself in Morocco. Three hundred million years ago, you could have done that! There was no civilization back then, no cities, no countries, no people, but the land was there, so take a look at this map.

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