NPR Blogs

The Two-Way
7:10 am
Wed June 12, 2013

Book News: Illinois School Board Restores 'Perks Of Being A Wallflower'

Originally published on Thu June 13, 2013 7:35 am

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

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The Salt
4:41 am
Wed June 12, 2013

Why You'll Be Paying More For Beef All This Year

With U.S. cattle herds at their lowest levels since the 1950s and corn feed prices on the rise, beef prices are on the rise.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Thu June 13, 2013 5:53 am

If you've experienced sticker shock shopping for ground beef or steak recently, be prepared for an entire summer of high beef prices.

Multi-year droughts in states that produce most of the country's beef cattle have driven up costs to historic highs. Last year, ranchers culled deep into their herds — some even liquidated all their cattle — which pushed the U.S. cattle herd to its lowest point since the 1950s.

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Monkey See
5:16 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

What Kids Are Reading, In School And Out

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue June 11, 2013 7:11 pm

Walk into any bookstore or library, and you'll find shelves and shelves of hugely popular novels and book series for kids. But research shows that as young readers get older, they are not moving to more complex books. High-schoolers are reading books written for younger kids, and teachers aren't assigning difficult classics as much as they once did.

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The Two-Way
5:14 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

Egypt Said To Be In Talks With Ethiopia Over Nile Dam Plan

A May 28 photo shows the Blue Nile in Ethiopia, during a diversion ceremony for the country's dam project. Egypt says it is against the plan.
AFP AFP/Getty Images

Egypt's leaders are negotiating with Ethiopia over a Nile River dam project the Ethiopians have begun building, according to reports. The news comes after a week of forceful talk about the dam project, including one session with Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi in which politicians discussed armed intervention, apparently not aware their words were being broadcast on live television.

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The Salt
5:12 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

Tender Beef, Without The Pathogens: USDA Proposes Labeling Rules

Meat tenderized the old-fashioned way. The industrial method is a mechanized process involving needles.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue June 11, 2013 6:27 pm

In order to make tough cuts of beef more tender, the industry uses a mechanical tenderizing process that involves piercing the meat with needles.

This is effective in breaking up the tough muscle fibers, but there's a downside, too: a higher risk of surface bacteria making their way into the cut of meat, which can set the stage for food poisoning. That's a particular concern when it comes to the center of meat cuts, which don't get heated to the same temperatures as the exterior.

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The Salt
4:35 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

The Latest In Adventurous Tastings? Prison Food

Sean Kelley, senior vice president at the Eastern State Penitentiary, displays a plate of "food loaf," a punishment food currently served in Pennsylvania prisons. Over the weekend, the historic penitentiary, now a museum, served visitors sample meals from the 1800s, 1900s and today.
Matt Rourke AP

Originally published on Thu June 13, 2013 11:11 am

Our fascination with prison food is usually limited to death row prisoners' elaborate last meal requests and urban legends about disturbingly low-grade meat. But nowadays, the walls between the prison cafeteria and the outside world are coming down, at least metaphorically.

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The Two-Way
4:13 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

ACLU Files Lawsuit Over Vast Collection Of Phone Records

Originally published on Tue June 11, 2013 4:57 pm

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration over its practice of collecting vast data about the phone calls made in the United States. The ACLU claims the government surveillance violates the Constitution's guarantee of free speech, association and privacy.

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Shots - Health News
3:48 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

Drug-Resistant Gonorrhea Rises In Great Britain

A public health poster from 1952 encourages Americans to get checked for sexually transmitted diseases. Gonorrhea is the second-most-common sexually transmitted disease in the U.S., with more than 300,000 cases reported in 2011.
Images from the History of Medicine

Originally published on Wed June 12, 2013 12:31 pm

Forms of gonorrhea that don't respond to the last line of antibiotics have rapidly spread in Great Britain, expanding the reach of drug-resistant disease.

The number of gonorrhea cases with decreased sensitivity to the front-line drug cefixime increased by nearly six times from 2004 to 2011 in England and Wales, a team from the U.K.'s Health Protection Agency reported Tuesday in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

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The Two-Way
3:09 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

Google Asks Permission To Publish Info About FISA Requests

Google was recently allowed to release general data about national security letters it receives, as seen in this chart. The company is now asking the U.S. government to allow it to publish similar data on national security requests, including those made under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Google

Originally published on Tue June 11, 2013 3:24 pm

As Google and other large tech companies cope with the aftermath of recent reports that the National Security Agency has had broad access to their users' data, the search giant is asking the U.S. government for permission to publish the number of national security requests it receives, including those made under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
2:57 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

A Brave New World: Big Data's Big Dangers

Big Data may not be much to look at, but it can be powerful stuff. For instance, this is what the new National Security Agency (NSA) data center in Bluffdale, Utah, looks like.
George Frey Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 11, 2013 4:12 pm

New technologies are not all equal. Some do nothing more than add a thin extra layer to the top-soil of human behavior (i.e., Teflon and the invention of non-stick frying pans). Some technologies, however, dig deeper, uprooting the norms of human behavior and replacing them with wholly new possibilities. For the last few months I have been arguing that Big Data — the machine-based collection and analysis of astronomical quantities of information — represents such a turn.

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The Two-Way
2:30 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

U.S. To Recommend Listing All Chimpanzees As Endangered

Chimpanzees are political animals who understand shared power and the benefits that flow from reconciliation.
Peter Steffen AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 11, 2013 4:31 pm

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service announced a proposal today that would designate all chimpanzees as an endangered species.

Currently, chimps in the wild are classified as endangered but those in captivity are not classified as such. The Washington Post reports that the change could affect chimps that are used in medical research and are used as pets.

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The Two-Way
1:16 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

He Broke The NSA Leaks Story, But Just Who Is Glenn Greenwald?

Glenn Greenwald, columnist/blogger/lawyer/advocate.
Kin Cheung AP

He's an advocate, an activist, a lawyer, a blogger, a columnist, an author and an award-winning investigative journalist.

Now, Glenn Greenwald is at the center of the stories about surveillance and data-collection programs being run by the National Security Agency.

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The Salt
12:40 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

Za'atar: A Spice Mix With Biblical Roots And Brain Food Reputation

Lebanese bread topped with za'atar, a spice mix ubiquitous in the Middle East.
Photostock Israel Getty Images

Originally published on Fri June 14, 2013 11:27 am

NPR Morning Edition Host Steve Inskeep recently traveled to Damascus for a series of reports on the ongoing war in Syria. He sent this postcard from the road.

Dear Salt:

On my first day in Damascus, I went walking in the ancient bazaar — narrow stone-paved streets surrounding a great stone mosque. The mosque is so old, it used to be a church during the Roman Empire, and before it was a church, it was a pagan temple. The bazaar is surely as old as the mosque, for Damascus is a historic city of trade.

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The Two-Way
11:49 am
Tue June 11, 2013

Report: Overdraft Protection Puts Customers 'At Greater Risk'

Richard Cordray, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
T.J. Kirkpatrick Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 11, 2013 1:44 pm

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is looking at how overdraft fees affect consumers in a detailed report released Tuesday.

One of the stunning finds: "Overdraft and non-sufficient funds fees accounted for 61 percent of total consumer deposit account service charges in 2011 among the banks in the CFPB report."

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Shots - Health News
11:47 am
Tue June 11, 2013

How CT Scans Have Raised Kids' Risk For Future Cancer

Use of CT scans has doubled for children under five and tripled for older children.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed June 12, 2013 6:40 am

Doctors are prescribing too many CT scans for children, a study says, even though they know that the radiation used in the tests increases children's lifelong risk of cancer.

Choosing other tests and dialing back the radiation used in the scans would prevent 62 percent of related cancers, according to Diana Miglioretti, a biostatistician at the University of California, Davis, who led the study.

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