NPR Blogs

Shots - Health News
6:27 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

Why You Have To Scratch That Itch

The origin of itch has confounded scientists for decades.
Oktay Ortakcioglu iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri May 24, 2013 11:20 am

Everybody itches. Sometimes itch serves as a useful warning signal — there's a bug on your back! But sometimes itch arises for no apparent reason, and can be a torment.

Think of the itchy skin disorder eczema, or the constant itching caused by some cancers. "A very high percentage of people who're on dialysis for chronic kidney disease develop severe itch that's very difficult to manage," says Dr. Ethan Lerner, an associate professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School.

Scientists now say they've got a much better clue as to how itch happens.

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The Two-Way
6:08 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

Alabama Republican Jo Bonner Says He's Leaving Congress

Rep. Jo Bonner in July 2010.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Thu May 23, 2013 7:51 pm

Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Ala., says he will leave Congress effective in August to take a senior position at the University of Alabama.

Bonner, who has represented Alabama's 1st District for six terms since 2003, will become vice chancellor of government relations and economic development at Alabama. His sister, Judy Bonner, serves as president of the university.

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The Two-Way
6:05 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

After The Storm: Students Gather For One More School Day

Students and teachers from Eastlake Elementary and Plaza Towers Elementary schools gathered Thursday to say goodbye for the summer. This was a chance to reconnect after the devastating tornado brought an abrupt end to the school year at Plaza Towers in Moore, Okla.
Katie Hayes Luke for NPR

Originally published on Fri May 24, 2013 6:08 am

Under cloudy skies and through intermittent showers, 4-year-old Kamrin Ramirez holds in her little hands two cards, one addressed to Ms. Patterson, the other for Ms. Johnson, her two preschool teachers at Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Okla.

"I write thank you so much," she says.

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Shots - Health News
6:03 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

The Weight Of A Med Student's Subconscious Bias

More than a third of medical students in a North Carolina study had a bias against overweight people.
iStockphoto.com

Quite a few medical school students have something against obese people, and most of those who have such a bias are unaware of it.

That's the conclusion of study appearing in the July issue of Academic Medicine. It was conducted at the Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C. The study's author says the subconscious judgments could affect how patients are treated.

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The Salt
5:47 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

Inside A Tart Cherry Revival: 'Somebody Needs To Do This!'

At Michigan State University's Clarksville Research Station, researchers apply pollen by hand to tart cherry blossoms, in order to breed new varieties.
Dan Charles NPR

Originally published on Tue May 28, 2013 11:29 am

Some fruits, like apples, you can find anywhere. But others have gotten a little bit lost in today's global food business.

Take tart cherries, also known as sour cherries. Unlike sweet cherries, America's tart cherries are too fragile to ship very far, so most people never get to taste a fresh one.

They're typically frozen, then baked into that iconic American dessert, the cherry pie — and cherry pies aren't as popular as they used to be.

Yet the humble sour cherry is experiencing an unlikely renaissance — and the best may be yet to come.

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The Two-Way
5:41 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

Descending Into The Mariana Trench: James Cameron's Odyssey

James Cameron traveled to the bottom of the Mariana Trench last year — a depth of nearly seven miles.
Courtesy of Mark Thiessen/National Geographic

Originally published on Fri May 24, 2013 8:44 am

At nearly seven miles below the water's surface, the Mariana Trench is the deepest spot in Earth's oceans. And the site north of Guam is where director and explorer James Cameron recently fulfilled a longtime goal of reaching the bottom in a manned craft.

For the dive, Cameron designed a 24-foot submersible vehicle, the Deepsea Challenger — "this kind of long, green torpedo that moves vertically through the water," as he tells All Things Considered's Melissa Block. Cameron was able to watch his descent, he says, through a window that was about 9-1/2 inches thick.

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The Salt
5:19 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

Oprah Winfrey's Latest Venture Is Farming In Hawaii

The Oprah Magazine includes an article with details on Oprah Winfrey's new farm in Hawaii." href="/post/oprah-winfreys-latest-venture-farming-hawaii" class="noexit lightbox">
The June issue of The Oprah Magazine includes an article with details on Oprah Winfrey's new farm in Hawaii.
The Oprah Magazine

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 3:48 pm

The local food movement has a powerful new poster girl.

More glowing than American Gothic, Oprah Winfrey and her pal, Bob Greene, appear on the cover of the June issue of The Oprah Magazine, standing in what looks to be a field of kale.

"Oprah's New Farm!" reads the headline splashed across the pair's checkered shirts. "How She's Growing Healthier — and You Can Too."

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The Two-Way
4:53 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

For Second Time, Moore Family Loses Home To A Tornado

An aerial photo shows destroyed houses in Moore, Okla., after Monday's tornado. Rena and Paul Phillips, who lost their home in the storm, also lost a house to a tornado in 1999.
Steve Gooch AP

The tornado that devastated Moore, Okla., Monday destroyed some 12,000 homes, according to Oklahoma City Police. And for one family, it was the second house they've lost to a tornado in the past 14 years. Rena and Paul Phillips say that the recent loss won't make them move.

The Phillipses told their story to Rachel Hubbard of Oklahoma member station KOSU, who reports on how they're coping with the loss — and the search for belongings in the rubble of their home — for Thursday's All Things Considered.

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The Salt
4:47 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

This 9-Year-Old Girl Told McDonald's CEO: Stop Tricking Kids

Hannah Robertson, 9, and her mom, blogger Kia Robertson — with the makings for kale chips, of course.
Jamie Robertson Courtesy Jamie Robertson

Originally published on Tue May 28, 2013 11:28 am

It's not every day that a 9-year-old girl chastises the CEO of one of the world's biggest fast-food chains.

Yet that's exactly what young Hannah Robertson did Thursday morning at McDonald's annual shareholders meeting in Chicago. When the meeting opened up to questions, Hannah was first up at the mic with a pointed criticism.

"It would be nice if you stopped trying to trick kids into wanting to eat your food all the time," she told McDonald's CEO Don Thompson.

Ouch.

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The Two-Way
4:10 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

NOAA Predicts Above-Average Hurricane Season

Satellite image of Hurricane Sandy in October of last year.
NOAA

With memories of last year's Superstorm Sandy still fresh, NOAA is warning East Coasters and those farther inland to brace for another active Atlantic season, predicting that as many as six major storms will develop between the beginning of June and the end of November.

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Shots - Health News
3:49 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

Researchers Find Bird Flu Is Contagious Among Ferrets

Of ferrets, men and bird flu.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu May 23, 2013 3:52 pm

Scientists have completed the first assessments of how readily the H7N9 flu virus in China can pass among ferrets and pigs. The mammals provide the best inkling of how dangerous these bugs may become for humans.

The news is both bad and good. They've found the new bird virus is easily passed between ferrets sharing the same cage.

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The Two-Way
3:43 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

Obama To Limit Drone Strikes, Renew Effort To Close Guantanamo

President Obama speaks about his administration's drone and counterterrorism policies at the National Defense University on Thursday.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu May 23, 2013 7:03 pm

President Obama on Thursday unveiled a major pivot in White House counterterrorism policy, calling for a limiting of CIA drones strikes and for a renewed effort to close the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

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Shots - Health News
2:43 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

Hardly A Haven: Home Can Be Deadly In Natural Disasters

Floodwaters from Superstorm Sandy destroyed the first floor of this house in Staten Island, New York. Most of the people who drowned during the storm died in their homes in low-lying areas of New York and New Jersey.
Paul J. Richards AFP/Getty Images

Home can be a refuge. But when natural disaster strikes, hunkering down at home can be a deadly mistake.

All told, 32 of the 53 New Yorkers who died in last fall's Superstorm Sandy drowned, and most of them died at home, according to a report published today in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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The Two-Way
2:22 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

In Oklahoma, Praying To A 'God Of Rebuilding'

Sue McClure, a volunteer with Disaster Relief of Oklahoma, assists tornado victims Wednesday at the First Baptist Church in Moore, Okla.
Katie Hayes Luke for NPR

All that's left standing at Kiaya Roper's house in Moore, Okla., is the bathroom. When a tornado struck the town on Monday, Roper was at work at Central Elementary School, her children were at school and her husband managed to ride out the storm by hunkering down in that bathroom.

"God put his hand down on his head for me," Roper says.

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The Two-Way
2:20 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

Moore Finds Comfort In Animals Who Survived The Storm

Jen Elsner of Norman brings a lost dog to the shelter at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds.
Katie Hayes Luke for NPR

Originally published on Fri May 24, 2013 9:58 am

There's no room at the inn for the Degmans. Not the Days Inn, anyway.

Jim and Marilyn Degman didn't suffer significant damage to their home in Monday's storm, but they lost power and decided to seek shelter elsewhere. They tried two other places before they found a La Quinta Inn & Suites that would admit Angel Baby, their toy poodle.

"I think she's a little more traumatized than we are, because of her routine," Jim says. "She can't go to her home."

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