NPR News

Pages

Technology
3:01 pm
Fri January 3, 2014

For The Blind, Connected Devices Create A Novel Way To Read

This Braille reader connects to a smartphone.
John Suchocki The Republican/Landov

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 3:43 pm

Saturday is World Braille Day, commemorating the birth of Frenchman Louis Braille, who was blinded in an accident when he was a toddler. Undeterred, he became a brilliant student but was frustrated that he couldn't read or write.

In school, he learned about a system of dots used by soldiers to communicate at night. Braille adapted that system into something that would transform the lives of the blind and visually impaired.

Read more
The Two-Way
12:18 pm
Fri January 3, 2014

This Week's Massive Winter Storm, Seen From Space

A composite image shows large portions of the United States covered by snow, as a winter storm moved eastward across the country Thursday.
NASA/GSFC/Aqua/MODIS

Originally published on Sat January 4, 2014 3:38 am

NASA caught our eye earlier today when the space agency tweeted a composite image of the huge winter storm that has covered parts of the Midwest and Eastern U.S. with a deep blanket of snow.

The photos that make up the image were taken Thursday, NASA says, during several passes of its Aqua satellite. The craft used its Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer — MODIS — "to capture this true-color image of a massive winter storm moving up the eastern seaboard," the agency says.

Read more
It's All Politics
12:08 pm
Fri January 3, 2014

House GOP Puts Another 'Target' On Obamacare

House Republicans plan to start the new year with a vote on HealthCare.gov that will place Democrats in a politically tough spot.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 3:32 pm

Updated at 7:55 p.m. ET

When Congress returns next week, House Republicans will welcome their Democratic colleagues with a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't vote.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., has let it be known that the House will vote on legislation ostensibly meant to protect Americans from HealthCare.gov data breaches. Several Republicans have introduced HealthCare.gov-related security bills, so Cantor has plenty of material to work with.

Read more
Around the Nation
11:56 am
Fri January 3, 2014

Big Cities See Violent Crime Rates Fall In 2013

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 3:43 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

At the start of this new year, a number of cities in the United States, including its five largest, have a common story to tell about crime. In 2013, they all saw violent crime rates drop significantly. Some also saw murder rates drop to historic lows. From Chicago, NPR's Cheryl Corley reports.

Read more
NPR Story
11:49 am
Fri January 3, 2014

Explanatory 'Verticals' Give Big-Name Journalists More Power

Originally published on Tue January 7, 2014 7:26 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Recently we've heard of some big changes at several news organizations involving some of their most prominent journalists. At the Washington Post, the founder of the popular policy site Wonkblog, Ezra Klein, is weighing a departure. And the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times are both scrambling to set up dedicated news teams to replace journalists who have left in pursuit of more money and independence. NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik joins us from our studios in New York.

Read more
The Two-Way
11:43 am
Fri January 3, 2014

The NSA's Quantum Code-Breaking Research Is No Secret

The National Security Agency headquarters at Fort Meade, Md. The agency has been trying to build a quantum computer, The Washington Post reports — but that news doesn't surprise experts in the field.
Saul Loeb Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 3:43 pm

So the world's most clandestine spy agency is working on something called a quantum computer, The Washington Post tells us. It's based on rules Einstein himself described as "spooky," and it can crack almost any code. That's got to be top-secret stuff, right?

Read more
Arts & Life
11:43 am
Fri January 3, 2014

'Playboy' Gets Pranked: Group Flips The Script On Sex

You can't buy these panties at your local Victoria's Secret. While they mimic the look of that brand's Pink line, they're actually part of a project by FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture.
Courtesy of FORCE

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 3:43 pm

Rebecca Nagle sometimes finds herself asking the question: What would Hugh Hefner say?

"The only sex that is good is when it's good for everyone," she says, laughing. "And I've only ever had good sex."

Hefner didn't actually say that. Nagle wrote it.

"But you can really imagine Hugh Hefner saying that," she insists.

Read more
Shots - Health News
11:43 am
Fri January 3, 2014

California County Pushes Drugmakers To Pay For Pill Waste

Ground zero for a new approach to prescription drug disposal.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 3:43 pm

The leftover prescription drugs you have around your house are at the center of a battle between small government and big pharmaceutical companies.

The immediate aim is to have the pharmaceutical companies take care of disposing of extra drugs. But Alameda County in northern California wants to make manufacturers think about the life cycles of their products — from their creation to what happens when they're no longer needed.

Read more
Around the Nation
11:43 am
Fri January 3, 2014

Skier Vies For A Spot On Team USA After Breaking Both Legs

Alice McKennis speeds down the course during the women's downhill at the Alpine skiing world championships in Schladming, Austria, in February.
Alessandro Trovati AP

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 3:43 pm

On a cold, cloudy day in Colorado, ski racer Alice McKennis suits up. She buckles her boots, puts on a back protector and dons a tightfitting speed suit.

She's training at the U.S. Ski Team's Speed Center at Copper Mountain near Vail, Colo. — and how she got here is exceptional.

Read more
Parallels
11:43 am
Fri January 3, 2014

From The Ruins Of A Tsunami, A Rebuilt Aceh Rises Anew

A man rides a motorcycle near houses that were rebuilt in an area in Banda Aceh, the capital of Indonesia's Aceh province, that was devastated by the tsunami that hit on Dec. 26, 2004.
Heri Juanda AP

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 4:09 pm

As survivors of Haiyan — November's super typhoon in the Philippines — slowly put their lives back together, the rest of Asia has been marking the anniversary of another disaster.

Shortly after Christmas nine years ago, a huge tsunami swept across the region, killing at least a quarter of a million people.

Some of the worst damage was in the Indonesian province of Aceh, where whole villages were swept away by a wall of water so powerful it picked up ships and left them several miles inland.

Read more
Business
11:43 am
Fri January 3, 2014

How NAFTA Helped The Mexican Billionaires' Club

Carlos Slim Helu (left) talks with Steve Forbes of Forbes magazine. The magazine lists the Mexican telecom mogul as the world's richest man, with a net worth of $73 billion.
Jeremy Piper AP

Originally published on Mon January 6, 2014 10:50 am

When the North American Free Trade Agreement was being negotiated, supporters promised it would increase the income of Mexicans. And the middle class did grow in Mexico over the past two decades. But it's clear that Mexico's ultrarich are among its big winners.

Read more
The Salt
11:16 am
Fri January 3, 2014

Let Them Eat Sandwiches: USDA Eases School Lunch Restrictions

After the the school lunch program was overhauled in 2012 to curb childhood obesity, lots of kids began complaining that lunches were too skimpy.

Why? Because in some cases, schools had to limit healthy foods — such as sandwiches served on whole-grain bread or salads topped with grilled chicken — due to restrictions the U.S. Department of Agriculture set on the amount of grains and protein that could be served at meal-time.

In some districts, program participation dropped as more kids decided to brown-bag it and bring their own food to school.

Read more
The Two-Way
11:06 am
Fri January 3, 2014

Obama Administration Moves To Alter Gun-Buying Rules

President Obama speaks in April after the Senate rejected a bill that would expand background checks on guns. The White House is seeking to clarify rules that bar firearm possession due to mental health problems.
Manuel Balce Ceneta AP

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 1:58 pm

Federal agencies are proposing new rules for handling gun buyers' background checks, in changes the Obama administration says will "keep guns out of potentially dangerous hands." The changes include a clarification of rules barring firearm possession due to mental health problems.

Read more
Code Switch
10:15 am
Fri January 3, 2014

2014: The Year We Weren't Shocked That People Of Color Watch Films?

The latest installment of Paranormal Activity has Latino themes and a Latino cast.
Paramount Pictures

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 3:27 pm

One of the stories of 2013 was that every time a movie with people of color in prominent roles got giant ratings, people were shocked. You could almost set your watch to this phenomenon, which Linda Holmes once memorably described as "fluke-ifying."

Read more
The Two-Way
9:48 am
Fri January 3, 2014

Couples Urge Sotomayor To Deny Utah's Bid To Block Gay Marriage

Attorneys for same-sex couples say Utah officials who want to block gay marriages "cannot meet their burden" of showing either an error by a lower court or serious damage if the ceremonies continue, according to papers filed with the Supreme Court Friday. The filing urges the court to deny a request to halt the unions in Utah.

Read more
It's All Politics
9:42 am
Fri January 3, 2014

Clay Aiken's Political Reality: Results Mixed For Stars Like Him

Clay Aiken performs a special one night only concert at the Progress Energy Performing Arts Center in Raleigh, N.C., in March 2010.
Jim R. Bounds AP

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 10:19 am

Reality television star Clay Aiken set the political class chattering Friday with rumors that he may run for Congress.

Frozen in time as the elfin man-child of American Idol fame, the runner-up from a decade ago is reportedly considering running as a Democrat in his home state of North Carolina.

Read more
The Two-Way
9:32 am
Fri January 3, 2014

Everyone Poops, But Dogs Do It With Magnetism

Can a pup get a little privacy, please?
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Fri February 7, 2014 3:10 am

Dog owners have all been there when walking their canine companions.

Fido sniffs the ground and maybe turns around a few times. He searches. "No, not that patch," he seems to say. "Maybe this one. ... Or over here. ... Umm, maybe not."

Then, finally, he gets into position to ... well, let's just say leave that deposit that you'll have to pick up.

Read more
It's All Politics
8:22 am
Fri January 3, 2014

7 Political Dates To Watch In 2014

Vice President Biden and House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio applaud President Obama as he gives his State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress on Feb. 12, 2013.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 1:01 pm

With November midterm elections looming, 2014 promises much more political catnip than 2013.

It's a year with a full roster of House, Senate and gubernatorial races, but 2014 is also likely to prove to be another critical period for the Affordable Care Act as an important deadline comes early and the Supreme Court takes up another aspect of the health law.

Here are some of the most important dates to watch:

Read more
The Two-Way
8:13 am
Fri January 3, 2014

Did Kim Jong Un Feed His Uncle To 120 Dogs? Be Skeptical

Before their split: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, right, and his uncle, Jang Song Thaek, in February 2012. Earlier this month, Jang was executed.
Kyodo/Landov

If you've done much Web surfing today you've probably come across a headline such as this one from NBC News:

"Kim Jong Un's executed uncle was eaten alive by 120 hungry dogs: report."

Read more
Shots - Health News
7:52 am
Fri January 3, 2014

5 Things That Could Alter The Perception Of Obamacare

Maria Webster joins others protesting Texas Gov. Rick Perry's stance against the Affordable Care Act in early 2013.
Eric Gay AP

Originally published on Mon January 6, 2014 3:06 am

Nearly four years after President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, most of its major provisions are now in effect. And they appear to be as controversial as ever.

To help make sense of the partisan arguments, here are five things that are likely to be important measuring sticks of the law in 2014 and beyond.

1. How many people sign up for coverage in the insurance marketplaces and how many of them are in good health.

Read more
The Two-Way
7:23 am
Fri January 3, 2014

Ford Tops Resurgent U.S. Car Industry, 2013 Sales Results Show

Ford says it sold the most F-series trucks since 2006. Here, a 2014 F-150 goes through quality control on the assembly line at Ford's Dearborn Truck Plant.
Bill Pugliano Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 8:58 am

Ford and GM are calling 2013 the best year for U.S. auto sales in at least five years. On Friday, they reported double-digit annual gains, while Chrysler reported an increase of 9 percent for its strongest year since 2007.

The new sales figures reflect a continuing turnaround from the struggles that led to a federal bailout in recent years. Here are highlights from each company's report:

Ford

  • Retail sales were up 14 percent in 2013, as Ford sold 2,493,918 vehicles.
Read more
The Salt
7:15 am
Fri January 3, 2014

'Cut Food': Take A Peek At The Beauty Inside Everyday Edibles

A hotdog and ice cream cone from Beth Galton and Charlotte Omnes' "Cut Food" series.
Courtesy of Beth Galton

Originally published on Mon January 6, 2014 6:18 am

Let's assume you've got a beautiful stuffed turkey, some time to kill and a hacksaw just itching to slice things apart. This could be the ingredient list for a real culinary disaster. But if you're Beth Galton and Charlotte Omnes, what you get is a peek inside the beauty baked into everyday foods.

They're the duo behind "Cut Food," a photo series that literally cleaves into edibles — hot dogs, ice cream, fried chicken and mashed potatoes with gravy — to reveal gorgeous geometric patterns tucked within.

Read more
The Two-Way
6:17 am
Fri January 3, 2014

Nuns' Objection To Health Care Law Is Unwarranted, Justice Dept. Says

At the center of the debate: prescription contraceptives.
Tim Matsui Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 11:20 am

The Obama administration has asked the Supreme Court not to extend a temporary injunction given to a group of Colorado nuns who want to be exempt from some rules in the new health care law. The rules relate to the requirement that most employers provide health insurance that includes coverage of birth control costs.

Read more
The Two-Way
5:55 am
Fri January 3, 2014

4 Killed As Cambodian Police Fire At Striking Garment Workers

A worker throws a petrol bomb after clashes broke out during a protest Friday near Phnom Penh, Cambodia. At least four people were killed when police opened fire at the workers.
Samrang Pring Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 9:08 am

Cambodian police killed at least four people Friday near the capital, Phnom Penh, when they opened fire on protesting garment workers who want the country's minimum wage doubled.

The Associated Press reports:

Read more
The Two-Way
3:56 am
Fri January 3, 2014

One Of The Rescue Ships In Antarctic May Now Be Stuck, Too

The Xue Long in the much warmer waters of Taiwan in 2009.
AP

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 5:32 am

One day after helping to rescue 52 people from a ship stuck in Antarctic ice, a Chinese icebreaker is in danger of also being stranded for a while.

Australia's Maritime Safety Authority says the crew of the Xue Long sent out an alert Friday saying their ship may not be able "to move through heavy ice in the area."

Read more
The Two-Way
3:19 am
Fri January 3, 2014

In Israel, Ariel Sharon's Family Gathers At His Bedside

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2001.
Philippe Desmazes AFP/Getty Images

Doctors in Israel say that former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's "already critical medical condition is deteriorating further as key bodily organs continue to decline," The Associated Press writes.

Dr. Zeev Rotstein, director of Tel Hashomer hospital near Tel Aviv, told reporters that members of the 85-year-old Sharon's family are by his bedside, the AP adds.

Read more
Shots - Health News
3:15 am
Fri January 3, 2014

Overweight People In Developing World Outnumber Those In Rich Countries

Government workers exercise at their office in Mexico City, August 2013. To counter the obesity epidemic, the city requires all government employees to do at least 20 minutes of exercise each day.
Tomas Bravo Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Mon January 6, 2014 3:06 am

People are getting fatter around the world. And the problem is growing most rapidly in developing countries, researchers reported Friday.

"Over the last 30 years, the number of people who are overweight and obese in the developing world has tripled," says Steve Wiggins, of the Overseas Development Institute in London.

Read more
Around the Nation
3:06 am
Fri January 3, 2014

Northeast Hit With Snow And Powerful Winds

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 9:16 am

A very cold winter storm is engulfing much of the Northeast, dumping more than 20 inches of snow in some areas and bringing strong winds along with it. Schools are closed in Boston and New York City. Thousands of flights have been canceled. Officials around the region are asking people to stay home and let road crews do their work.

Krulwich Wonders...
2:47 am
Fri January 3, 2014

'You're Invisible, But I'll Eat You Anyway.' Secrets Of Snow-Diving Foxes

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 8:57 am

I'm a fox. It's January. I'm hungry. I want a meal. My food, however, is buried 3 feet down, deep in the snow, hiding. It's alive, in motion, and very small, being a mouse. So how does an above-ground fox catch an underground mouse? Well, the answer is nothing short of astonishing. Here's a fox:

Read more
Around the Nation
2:47 am
Fri January 3, 2014

'Breaking Bad' Fan Arrested For Running Drug Operation

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 2:51 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne. For most fans, meeting the cast of your favorite show is enough. Apparently, not Ryan Carroll. Last September, the 26-year-old fan of "Breaking Bad" won a trip to Hollywood to watch the series finale with the cast. He told Florida's Naples News that the show was highly addictive, just like the meth they make.

This week, he was arrested for running his own drug operation and seized in the raid, a Hazmat suit signed by the "Breaking Bad" actors.

Pages