NPR Blogs

The Two-Way
11:55 am
Fri January 11, 2013

Ai Weiwei: In China, Lack Of Truth 'Is Suffocating'

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei in June 2012.
Ed Jones AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 11, 2013 12:15 pm

  • From WBUR: Ai Weiwei on the suffocation of truth.
  • From WBUR: Ai Weiwei on being known despite censorship.
  • From WBUR: Ai Weiwei on life in prison.

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who has been outspoken about the lack of freedom in his homeland and was imprisoned in what he and his supporters say was an effort to keep him quiet, told our colleagues at Boston's WBUR this week that the lack of truth in China is "suffocating ... like bad air all the time."

Read more
Monkey See
11:49 am
Fri January 11, 2013

Pop Culture Happy Hour: 'Downton Abbey' And The Right Of Redemption

NPR
  • Listen to Pop Culture Happy Hour

It's taken over 100 episodes, but we're finally digging deeply into Downton Abbey this week, and because Stephen isn't big into the genre of ladies in hats, we called in someone who is: our friend and yours, Barrie Hardymon. (Yes, you Barrie people can jump around with excitement now. We'll only cry a little with jealousy.) We'll talk about the first episode of the new season, what does and doesn't work about the show overall, and Maggie Smith (and yes, this causes Glen to break out his Maggie Smith impression, and what's better than that?).

Read more
Shots - Health News
11:25 am
Fri January 11, 2013

How Military Research On Anthrax Could Lead To A Weapon Against Gluten

Students at the University of Washington used a protein-folding program initially funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to come up with a treatment for celiac disease.
DARPA

Originally published on Mon January 14, 2013 9:06 am

Why would the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency — the people who helped bring the world stealth fighters and GPS — fund research into man-made proteins that could make it easier for some Americans to eat pizza?

That's what we wondered when we read that the Pentagon's gee-whiz research arm provided support for work on a drug to treat celiac disease, a condition that interferes with the digestion of gluten in wheat and other foods.

So we asked.

Read more
The Two-Way
11:21 am
Fri January 11, 2013

'State Of The Union' Set For Feb. 12

President Obama, Vice President Biden (at left) and House speaker John Boehner at the 2012 State of the Union address.
Saul Loeb DPA /Landov

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has sent President Obama the invitation that precedes each year's State of the Union address:

Read more
Shots - Health News
10:44 am
Fri January 11, 2013

Merck Halts Sale Of Niacin Drug In 40 Countries

Tredaptive, a booster of good cholesterol, is dead.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri January 11, 2013 11:29 am

Drugmaker Merck just stuck a fork in a vitamin-based drug to prevent heart disease and stroke.

The company is withdrawing Tredaptive, a long-acting pill combining niacin (No. 3 in the long list of B vitamins) and laropiprant, a chemical that reduces the unpleasant skin flushing caused by high doses of niacin.

Read more
Krulwich Wonders...
10:05 am
Fri January 11, 2013

The Oldest Rock In The World Tells Us A Story

Steve Munsinger Photo Researchers Inc.

Originally published on Fri January 11, 2013 1:51 pm

It's hard to imagine how this teeny little rock — it's not even a whole rock, it's just a grain, a miniscule droplet of mineral barely the thickness of a human hair — could rewrite the history of our planet. But that's what seems to be happening.

Read more
The Two-Way
8:38 am
Fri January 11, 2013

Feeling Miserable? You're Not Alone, And The Flu Epidemic Has Yet To Peak

Reaching for relief: A customer at a pharmacy in New York City was grabbing some medicine on Thursday.
Andrew Kelly Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Fri January 11, 2013 11:50 am

If you haven't caught the flu yet or don't know someone who has, you might want to buy a lottery ticket today. You're one lucky person.

As The Associated Press writes, "from the Rocky Mountains to New England, hospitals are swamped with people with flu symptoms." More than 40 states report "widespread" outbreaks. The flu's been blamed for the deaths of at least 20 children, the AP adds.

Read more
The Two-Way
7:21 am
Fri January 11, 2013

Reports: FAA To Order Review Of Boeing 787 Dreamliner

The interior of a United Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Kevork Djansezian Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 11, 2013 1:05 pm

Update at 9:42 a.m. ET. Review Ordered:

Saying that "we are confident about the safety of this aircraft, but we are concerned about these incidents," Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Michael Huerta confirmed Friday morning that his agency has ordered a review of Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner after a series of problems in recent days, including fuel leaks and an electrical fire.

The planes are not being grounded. Boeing says it welcomes the review and is confident in the aircraft's safety.

Read more
The Salt
3:34 am
Fri January 11, 2013

This Butter Sculpture Could Power A Farm For 3 Days

A 1,000-pound butter sculpture is unveiled at the 97th Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg last week.
Bradley C. Bower AP

Originally published on Fri January 11, 2013 9:49 pm

For more than a week, it was the belle of the ball, the butter with no better: a giant 1,000-pound dairy sculpture that occupied the place of honor at the annual Farm Show in Harrisburg, Pa.

Read more
The Two-Way
4:39 pm
Thu January 10, 2013

Deadly Day In Pakistan: Dozens Killed In Multiple Blasts In Quetta

Pakistani police officers and residents gather at the site of a bomb blast that targeted paramilitary soldiers in a commercial area in the city of Quetta, killing 11 people. Later in the day, twin blasts at a snooker club in the city killed at least 80 people.
Arshad Butt AP

Originally published on Thu January 10, 2013 5:53 pm

Back-to-back bomb blasts in the Pakistani city of Quetta on Thursday have claimed the lives of at least 80 people.

"The death toll has risen to 81 so far," Mir Zubair Mehmood, a senior police official, said at a news conference. He said 121 people were wounded. His comments were reported by the privately owned Geo TV.

Read more
Shots - Health News
4:20 pm
Thu January 10, 2013

Speaking More Than One Language Could Prevent Alzheimer's

Scientists have found that bilingual seniors are better at skills that can fade with age than their monolingual peers.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon January 14, 2013 9:07 am

Not so long ago bilingualism was thought to be bad for your brain. But it looks more and more like speaking more than one language could help save you from Alzheimer's disease.

Read more
The Two-Way
3:57 pm
Thu January 10, 2013

Agreed, Baby Pandas Are Cute. But Why?

Tai Shan and his mother, Mei Xiang, enjoy frozen fruit treats at the National Zoo in 2006.
Avie Schneider NPR

Originally published on Fri January 11, 2013 1:05 pm

Xiao Liwu made his public debut Thursday at the San Diego Zoo. Fans crowded around the exhibit, their camera lenses extended, hoping to catch a glimpse of the 5-month-old giant panda cub. If they're lucky and actually do see the 16-pound panda (his Chinese name means "Little Gift"), there'll be much oooing and aaahing.

You'd have to be heartless not to agree that pandas, especially the youngest of them, are as cute as all get-out. Right? But why?

Read more
The Two-Way
3:25 pm
Thu January 10, 2013

Baseball Will Test For Human Growth Hormone During Season

Major League baseball will begin random regular-season blood tests for human growth hormone, seen here in an injector pen holding about one week's worth of HGH doses at the clinic of Dr. Mark Molitch of Northwestern University.
M. Spencer Green AP

Originally published on Fri January 11, 2013 6:47 am

Major League Baseball will expand its effort to fight performance enhancing drugs to include random blood tests for human growth hormone and other substances during the regular season, under the terms of an agreement with the players union that was first reported by

Read more
The Two-Way
3:06 pm
Thu January 10, 2013

What Does $1 Trillion Worth Of Platinum Look Like?

You'd need a lot of these — think in terms of railroad cars to haul them — to have $1 trillion.
Shannon Stapleton Reuters /Landov

OK, OK. We know that you don't actually need $1 trillion worth of platinum to make this debt-defying coin.

But just for the sake of some financial fun, how much platinum would you actually need to mint a coin that contains a trillion dollars worth of platinum?

Turns out, it's probably more than mankind has available on the market right now.

Read more

Pages