NPR Blogs

Shots - Health News
5:46 pm
Tue July 23, 2013

Female Genital Mutilation On The Decline, But Still Too Common

A mother and daughter walk home after attending a community meeting about eradicating female genital mutilation in the western Senegalese village of Diabougo.
Finbarr O'Reilly Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Thu July 25, 2013 5:53 pm

More than 125 million women and girls in Africa and the Middle East have suffered from genital cutting and other types of mutilation, UNICEF said this week in the most comprehensive and quantitative survey to date. Nearly half of those women live in Egypt and Ethiopia, where the practice is still entrenched in the culture.

"It's seen as tradition — something that has just always been there," UNICEF's Francesca Moneti said. "It's just like how we get up in the morning and get dressed. Your daughter reaches the age of cutting, and she just gets cut."

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The Salt
5:44 pm
Tue July 23, 2013

Taco Bell Says Adios To Kids' Meals And Toys

Steve Helber AP

Originally published on Tue July 23, 2013 6:32 pm

That Crunchy Taco will no longer come with a side of toy.

Taco Bell announced Tuesday that it is ditching kids' meals and the trinkets that come with them at its U.S. locations. The items will begin to come off menus starting this month, the company says, and should be completely gone by January 2014.

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The Two-Way
5:09 pm
Tue July 23, 2013

Court Rules Against Dallas Suburb That Barred Renting To Illegal Immigrants

Originally published on Tue July 23, 2013 6:24 pm

Back in 2006, when many municipalities across the country took Arizona's lead passing stringent laws against illegal immigrants, the Dallas suburb of Farmers Branch became a kind of poster boy.

With much controversy, the city passed legislation that among other things barred anyone from renting property to undocumented immigrants.

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The Two-Way
4:21 pm
Tue July 23, 2013

WATCH: Disco, The Parakeet, Takes On 'Monty Python'

Disco, the parakeet.
YouTube

Originally published on Tue July 23, 2013 8:49 pm

We'll get back to the real news in a little bit. But we would be downright irresponsible, if we didn't point you to the latest from Disco, the parakeet.

His owners just posted a video that shows Disco trying to learn the famous line from Monty Python, "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition."

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Shots - Health News
4:19 pm
Tue July 23, 2013

Obama Turns To Comedians To Promote Health Coverage

Comedian Sarah Silverman helped get out the vote for Obama in 2008 and 2012.
YouTube

Who needs jocks when you've got Jennifer Hudson and Amy Poehler?

That seems to be the message coming out of the White House following a star-studded meeting yesterday led by White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett. Its mission: Figure out how to help promote the Affordable Care Act.

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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
4:04 pm
Tue July 23, 2013

Can You Trust A Robot? Let's Find Out

While Hollywood has firmly planted the idea in our minds that robots may very well turn out to be evil, academic research into dangerous interactions between humans and robots has only just begun.
The Halcyon Company The Halcyon Company

Originally published on Tue July 23, 2013 4:47 pm

When they come — and they are coming — will the robots we deploy into human culture be capable of evil? Well, perhaps "evil" is too strong a word. Will they be capable of inflicting harm on human beings in ways that go beyond their programing?

While this may seem like a question for the next installment of The Terminator franchise (or The Matrix or whatever, pick your favorite), it's a serious question in robotics and it's being taken up by researchers now.

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The Salt
3:33 pm
Tue July 23, 2013

Howard Buffett Battles Hunger, Armed With Money And Science

Buffett in a pinto bean field on the Arizona farm, where he grew 60,000 pounds of beans for a Tucson food bank in 2012. Another goal of Buffett's research farm is to find better crops for poor subsistence farmers.
Nick Oza for NPR

Originally published on Wed July 24, 2013 11:12 am

Get Howard Buffett into the cab of a big ole' farm tractor and he's like a kid — albeit a 58-year-old, gray-haired one. He's especially excited when it comes to the tractor's elaborate GPS system, which he describes as "very cool."

"I'm driving hands-free," says Buffett, the son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett.

He says that the tractor has been automatically set to plant 16 perfect rows of seeds, "so it makes everything more efficient. And it's going to give you a better crop in the end."

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The Two-Way
3:32 pm
Tue July 23, 2013

The Big Stink: D.C.'s Corpse Flower Put On A Show

The color of the corpse flower is meant to mimic the color of rotting flesh and raw meat.
Heather Rousseau NPR

Originally published on Tue July 23, 2013 8:50 pm

The line to see the thing that was supposed to smell like rotting flesh wrapped around the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C., on Monday night. Most folks who braved the heat and hourlong wait weren't greeted with the overwhelming stench of death, but rather the smell of sweat and intense, intense humidity.

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The Two-Way
3:28 pm
Tue July 23, 2013

Anthony Weiner Acknowledges More Inappropriate Messages

Anthony Weiner listens to a question from the media after courting voters outside a Harlem subway station in May.
Mario Tama Getty Images

Originally published on Tue July 23, 2013 6:36 pm

New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner says he did, indeed, trade lewd messages with a woman after his departure from Congress.

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The Two-Way
2:33 pm
Tue July 23, 2013

WATCH: Royal Couple Leave Hospital With Their Baby Boy

Britain's Prince William, right, and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge hold the Prince of Cambridge on Tuesday as they pose for photographers outside St. Mary's Hospital in London.
Kirsty Wigglesworth AP

Originally published on Tue July 23, 2013 3:49 pm

With the streets flooded with spectators and media, Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge emerged from the hospital with their bundle of joy on Tuesday.

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The Two-Way
1:47 pm
Tue July 23, 2013

After Braun's Suspension, Is A-Rod Next At Bat?

Alex Rodriguez during a July 13 game in Florida, where he was playing for the minor league Tampa Yankees while trying to recover from recent injuries.
Mike Carlson Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Tue July 23, 2013 8:50 pm

Is Ryan Braun just the leadoff hitter for a lineup of stars who, like him, will soon be suspended by Major League Baseball for their dealings with a Miami-area clinic that allegedly sold performance enhancing drugs?

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Shots - Health News
1:43 pm
Tue July 23, 2013

Time To Get Out Of The High-Risk Health Insurance Pool?

High-deductible "last resort" health plans have been the only option for some folks with pre-existing conditions. No more.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue July 23, 2013 3:16 pm

The online health insurance marketplaces can't open soon enough for Chris and Kristi Petersen. Enrolled in the Iowa high-risk insurance pool because insurers on the private market won't cover them, the couple pays more than $1,300 each month for a plan with a $2,500 annual deductible and a 20 percent copay for medical services. It's more than they can afford.

"At the end of this year, these exchanges are either going to have to offer some relief, or I'm just going to quit working and let the welfare take care of us," says Chris. "I'm fed up with it. I'm fed up with insurance."

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The Two-Way
12:14 pm
Tue July 23, 2013

PHOTO: Japanese Commuters Tilt Train To Free Trapped Woman

When a woman slipped between a train and a station platform just north of Tokyo on Monday, about 40 commuters and railroad employees worked together to tilt the 32-ton subway car enough to one side so that she could be pulled to safety.

The Associated Press writes that the train car's suspension system "allows it to lean to either side, according to the Yomiuri newspaper, Japan's largest daily."

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The Two-Way
11:15 am
Tue July 23, 2013

MUST-SEE VIDEO: 'Whales Almost Eat Divers'

Those are two whales coming up from the water, just feet away from two divers off the coast of central California. The image is from a video, which has gone viral, taken on Saturday.
YouTube.com

Originally published on Tue July 23, 2013 12:19 pm

Divers Shawn Stamback and Francis Antigua had a much closer encounter than they expected off the coast of central California on Saturday when two humpback whales surfaced just a few feet away from where they were swimming.

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Shots - Health News
10:45 am
Tue July 23, 2013

Unusual Tick-Borne Virus Lurks In Missouri's Woods

A harmful trio (from left): a deer tick, lone star tick and dog tick.
Getty Images

Originally published on Wed July 24, 2013 10:11 am

Last year, scientists got the chance to solve a medical mystery — well, at least half of it. This week the final puzzle pieces fell into place, as investigators tracked the newly identified virus to an eight-legged bug.

The mystery actually began with two Missouri farmers who came down with a strange illness in 2009. They had high fevers, diarrhea and nausea. Their platelet counts dropped dramatically, though they didn't experience any abnormal bleeding.

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