NPR Blogs

Shots - Health News
3:43 am
Wed September 4, 2013

For Hospital Patients, Observation Status Can Prove Costly

The next bed could cost you a lot if the hospital says you're there on observation.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu September 5, 2013 9:25 am

If you're on Medicare and you're in the hospital for a few days, you may think you're an inpatient. The hospital may have other ideas. Increasingly, hospitals are placing older patients on "observation status." They may be there for days, but technically they're still outpatients.

This is a big deal for someone on Medicare because follow-up treatment in a nursing home isn't covered unless someone has been an inpatient for at least three days. That's leaving some seniors on the hook for thousands of dollars in nursing home bills.

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The Salt
3:05 am
Wed September 4, 2013

Small Farmers In New England Fear New Food Safety Rules

Joe Buley owns Screamin' Ridge Farm in Montpelier, Vt. He says the FDA's new food safety rules threaten the viability of small New England farm operations like his. Here, Buley harvests cucumbers.
Emily Corwin

Originally published on Wed September 4, 2013 6:42 am

Back in January, the Food and Drug Administration issued two proposed food safety rules to prevent tainted food from entering the food supply.

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The Two-Way
1:19 am
Wed September 4, 2013

Ariel Castro, Ohio Man Who Held Women For Years, Is Dead

Ariel Castro in court on July 17.
Marvin Fong The Plain Dealer/Landov

Originally published on Wed September 4, 2013 1:41 pm

Corrections officials in Ohio say convicted Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro is believed to have committed suicide in his cell Tuesday night.

They say he was found hanged around 9:20 p.m. EDT at the Correctional Reception Center in Orient, Ohio, a short distance southwest of Columbus.

Castro was serving a life sentence for holding three women captive in his Cleveland home for about a decade.

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The Two-Way
6:10 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

5 Years After Being Covered With Water, Chinese Village Emerges

A July photo shows houses that have emerged from Tangjiashan Barrier Lake in Xuanping Township, in southwest China's Sichuan Province.
Liu Huawei Xinhua /Landov

Originally published on Tue September 3, 2013 6:11 pm

It's been a long time since the people who lived in rural Xuanping saw their little town, which was flooded by a powerful earthquake in 2008. But thanks to a steep drop in water levels, parts of their village in China's Sichuan Province are visible again, from homes and businesses to its school.

The village's ghostly return began in July, when water levels fell from 712 meters to 703 meters above sea level — a difference of nearly 30 feet, as news site China Daily Asia reported.

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Shots - Health News
4:02 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

CDC: One-Fourth Of Heart Attack And Stroke Deaths Preventable

There has been more progress in lowering deaths from heart attacks and strokes among people who qualify for Medicare than those who are younger.
CDC

Originally published on Thu September 5, 2013 9:26 am

Could health insurance be the remedy for 200,000 deaths a year from heart attacks and strokes? It might be a big part of the cure.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about one-quarter of the 800,000 deaths from those causes could be avoided, according to a report released Tuesday.

It's worth trying. "Nothing is more important than reducing heart disease and stroke," CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said in a briefing for journalists.

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The Salt
3:16 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

Now A Test Can Tell If Your Pricey Cup Of Cat Poop Coffee Is Fake

A civet cat eats red coffee cherries at a farm in Bondowoso, Indonesia. Civets are actually more closely related to meerkats and mongooses than to cats.
Ulet Ifansasti Getty Images

Originally published on Thu September 5, 2013 1:25 pm

From gross to gourmet. That pretty much sums up civet poop coffee.

The beans are literally harvested from the feces of the tree-dwelling civet cat in Indonesia. The idea is that a trip through the animal's digestive tract partially ferments the beans and imparts a much-sought-after flavor to the coffee.

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The Two-Way
3:14 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

Mexico Summons U.S. Ambassador, Seeking Answers To Spying Claims

New reports allege that the NSA spied on Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, seen here walking with President Barack Obama in June, when he was a candidate for office. Mexico and Brazil have demanded a response to charges of U.S. spying on their internal affairs.
Ben Stansall AFP/Getty Images

Allegations that U.S. agents spied on Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto when he was a candidate during last year's campaign have led Mexico to summon U.S. Ambassador Anthony Wayne and demanded "a thorough investigation."

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The Two-Way
2:42 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

U.N. Chief: Use Of Force Is Legal Only In Self-Defense Or With U.N. OK

Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon arrives for a news conference about the situation in Syria at the United Nations on Tuesday, in New York City.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Wed September 4, 2013 10:40 am

The United Nations' Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says if his inspectors find that chemical weapons were used in Syria, it would represent a "serious violation of international law and an outrageous war crime."

"Our common humanity compels us to ensure that chemical weapons do not become a tool of war or terror in the 21st century," Ban said before departing for a G-20 meeting in Russia. "Any perpetrators must be brought to justice. There should be no impunity."

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The Two-Way
2:18 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

Bay Area's New Span Truly Is A Troll Bridge

Who goes there? On the Bay Bridge, the new troll will want to know.
BayBridgeInfo

Would there be a troll under the new Bay Bridge that links San Francisco and Oakland?

That seemingly silly question was being taken pretty seriously by some in California until Monday evening, when the official Twitter page of the San Francisco-Bay Bridge put out the word that, yes, there will be a little fellow under the new span. He'll be there to "protect" travelers.

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The Two-Way
1:49 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

Two Alligators Topping 720 Pounds Each Caught In Mississippi

Beth Trammell of Madison, Miss., poses with the 723.5-pound alligator she and five others caught over the weekend.
Ricky Flynt Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks Department

Originally published on Tue September 3, 2013 6:24 pm

Two alligators, each weighing more than 720 pounds, were caught in Mississippi this past weekend, setting a new state record for heaviest male alligator. Both animals measured more than 13 feet in length; it took hours to get the trophies into the hunters' boats.

The huge reptiles were brought down on the same day, setting a state record that stood for less than two hours before it was broken again.

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Krulwich Wonders...
1:25 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

How To Build Little Doors Inside Your Shell: The Secrets of Snail Carpentry

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Tue September 3, 2013 3:03 pm

"I am going to withdraw from the world," says a snail in Hans Christian Andersen's tale The Snail and the Rosebush. "Nothing that happens there is any concern of mine."

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Shots - Health News
1:22 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

Facebook Chats Prompt At-Risk Minority Men To Get HIV Tests

Latinos and African-Americans are more active on social media. Could that help promote HIV testing among minorities?
Brendan Smialowski Getty Images

It didn't take long for people to figure out that Facebook could be a great place to connect with other people dealing with the same health problems. But public health officials have moved cautiously, lest their efforts backfire. Do you really want to "like" STDs?

But there is now evidence the social media approach can help, even when the health condition is sensitive. Facebook can play a role in persuading people at high risk of HIV/AIDS to use a home HIV test kit, a study finds.

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The Two-Way
12:35 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

'Death Ray II'? London Building Reportedly Roasts Cars

A man reacts to a shaft of intense sunlight reflected from the glass windows of the new "Walkie Talkie" tower in central London on Aug. 30.
Leon Neal AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue September 3, 2013 2:17 pm

A skyscraper under construction "melted my Jag," reads the headline from London's City A.M.

"Beam of light from Walkie Talkie skyscraper 'melts man's Jaguar,' " says London's Metro.

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The Two-Way
12:07 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

Boehner, Pelosi Unite Behind President On Syria

President Obama met with more than a dozen lawmakers, including House Speaker John Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, at the White House on Tuesday to press his case for a military strike in Syria.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Tue September 3, 2013 2:30 pm

President Obama's call for Congress to give him the go-ahead to strike targets in Syria has put House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on the same side of an important issue for one of the few times in recent years.

Calling Syrian President Bashar Assad's alleged use of chemical weapons "a barbarous act," Boehner emerged from a meeting at the White House to say he supports Obama's request.

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The Two-Way
12:02 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

U.S. 'Space Fence' Radar System Goes Silent, After 50 Years

A computer image generated by NASA shows objects orbiting Earth, including those in geosynchronous orbit at a high altitude. The objects are not to scale.
NASA

Originally published on Tue September 3, 2013 12:51 pm

The Space Fence is down. That's the message we get from the SatWatch site, following up on our report last month that the U.S. Air Force was poised to shut down the radar system that tracks thousands of objects orbiting Earth. It had been in operation since 1961.

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