NPR News

The Two-Way
9:11 am
Fri July 3, 2015

Aetna Announces $37 Billion Merger With Rival Humana

Health insurance giant Aetna has announced a $37 billion plan to acquire rival Humana.
Jessica Hill AP

Originally published on Fri July 3, 2015 9:26 am

In what could prove the largest-ever merger in the insurance industry, Aetna has announced a $37 billion deal to acquire rival Humana.

The agreement, announced by the Hartford, Conn.-based Aetna, "would bolster Aetna's presence in the state- and federally funded Medicaid program and Tricare coverage for military personnel and their families," according to The Associated Press.

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Shots - Health News
9:00 am
Fri July 3, 2015

When The Fish You Eat Have Eaten Something Toxic

Barracuda are one kind of fish that has been implicated in poisoning with ciguatera toxin.
iStockphoto

Some tasty saltwater fish carry a toxin that you may never have heard of.

And a recent study found that more people in Florida may be getting sick from eating fish contaminated with the toxin than previously thought.

By comparing Florida public health records with survey results from thousands of fishermen, scientists from the University of Florida found that ciguatera fish poisoning, as the condition is called, is significantly underreported in the state.

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The Two-Way
7:42 am
Fri July 3, 2015

Syrian Forces Try To Halt Rebel Offensive On Aleppo

Smoke rises after a reported barrel bomb attack by Syrian government forces in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on Wednesday.
Ameer al-Halibi APAImages/APA/Landov

Originally published on Fri July 3, 2015 8:07 am

Updated at 10:05 a.m. ET

Syrian forces have carried out airstrikes to push back what is being described as a major offensive by militants affiliated with al-Qaida to seize the key northern city of Aleppo.

As NPR's Deborah Amos reports from the Turkish border, the battle surprised the regime, but also surprised more moderate rebels, who tell NPR they are not part of the offensive.

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The Salt
7:24 am
Fri July 3, 2015

Why The World Might Be Running Out Of Cocoa Farmers

Farmer Issiaka Ouedraogo walks past cocoa pods growing on a tree, on a cocoa farm outside the village of Fangolo, near Duekoue, Ivory Coast in May 2011.
Rebecca Blackwell AP

Chocolate might be headed toward a crisis, depending on whom you ask.

That's at least what the 2015 Cocoa Barometer has to say. It's an overview of sustainability issues in the cocoa sector, written by various European and U.S. NGOs, and was released in the U.S. this week. And what they're really worried about is the people who grow the beans that are ground up to make our beloved treat.

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The Two-Way
6:59 am
Fri July 3, 2015

Hours From Greek Bailout Vote, 2 Sides Evenly Divided

Thousands of people supporting a "no" vote on the country's referendum rally in Athens on Thursday.
Pacific Press/Barcroft India Barcroft Media/Landov

Originally published on Fri July 3, 2015 8:48 am

Updated at 10:20 a.m. ET

Despite the prime minister urging a thumbs down, the "yes" vote holds a slight edge in Greece ahead of a referendum on whether the country should accept the terms of an international bailout, according to one poll.

In another, however, the "nays" have it.

One survey, conducted by the respected ALCO institute just 48 hours before the referendum that could decide Greece's economic fate and future in the eurozone, gives the "yes" camp 44.8 percent against 43.4 percent for the "no" side, according to Reuters.

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The Two-Way
5:45 am
Fri July 3, 2015

Russia Finally Launches Supplies To ISS After Earlier Failures

A Russian Progress spacecraft blasts off from the launch pad at the Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, on Friday.
Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri July 3, 2015 8:08 am

A Russian rocket filled with much-needed supplies for the International Space Station lifted off from a pad in Kazakhstan early today after two previous re-supply missions failed.

NPR's Corey Flintoff reports that the successful launch of the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, known as the Progress 60P, which is set to dock with the station on Sunday, was a relief to the astronauts and cosmonauts on the space station.

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Animals
5:33 am
Fri July 3, 2015

Parrot On A Winning Streak Picks Japan To Win Women's World Cup

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The Salt
5:03 am
Fri July 3, 2015

New Nation, New Cuisine: The First Cookbook To Tackle 'American Food'

A recent version of Indian Slapjacks, a recipe featured in American Cookery, the first cookbook of American food.
Premshree Pillai Flickr

Originally published on Fri July 3, 2015 7:02 am

In 1776, the American colonies declared independence from Britain.

But it wasn't until 1796 that someone dared to tackle a question that would plague every generation of Americans to come: "What is American food?"

American Cookery, the very first American cookbook, was written by Amelia Simmons (more on this mysterious woman later). In it, she promised local food and a kind of socioculinary equality. The title page stated that the recipes were "adapted to this country and all grades of life."

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Goats and Soda
5:03 am
Fri July 3, 2015

Peruvian Sisters Can Turn A Gourd Into An $800 Objet D'art

Standing in their backyard in Cochas Grande, Peru, Katya Canto (left) and her sister, Blanca, hold the fruit ... er, vegetables ... of their labor. The gourd at left shows scenes from a potato harvest. The just-started gourd at right will tell the story of an ancestor's epic trek.
Josh Cogan

Their gourds tell a story — and earn them a living. That gourd in the photo — the one on the left? It is covered with miniature pictures of a potato harvest in Peru. There's even a wee burro hauling the day's crop.

That gourd will sell for around $800.

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Europe
3:06 am
Fri July 3, 2015

When Greeks Vote Sunday, It's Not Just About A Debt Deal

A man waits at an Athens bus stop where the Greek word "yes" has been spray-painted over "no" on a banner put up in advance of Sunday's referendum. Greek voters will say whether they want to accept or reject a deal that's been offered by the country's creditors. Greeks are deeply divided and analysts say the outcome is not clear.
Thanassis Stavrakis AP

Originally published on Fri July 3, 2015 7:00 am

Elisavet Zachariadou is a retired professor of history in Athens. She admires Italian art and reads French literature and German philosophy. She considers herself a European.

"When I learned that Greece is going to be part of the European Union [in the 1980s], I was very happy," she recalls. "And I said, 'How nice. And how good for all of us.' "

But Zachariadou's attachment to Europe is complex. She's 84 and lives in the Athens suburb where she grew up during World War II, when Nazi Germany invaded Greece and her people suffered horribly.

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All Tech Considered
3:06 am
Fri July 3, 2015

How Personal Should A Personal Assistant Get? Google And Apple Disagree

Google's upcoming "now on tap" feature will let smartphone users ask a question within an app like Spotify.
Google Inside Search

Originally published on Fri July 3, 2015 6:17 am

The smartphone has become a staple of life. But what about the personal assistant inside that phone? Not so much.

Maybe you turn to Apple's Siri or Google Now for a quick search or a snarky answer to a question. But imagine a world where your phone actually gets you. You, personally. Turns out two tech giants — Google and Apple — disagree on whether that's a worthy goal.

Introducing 'Now On Tap'

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NPR Story
3:06 am
Fri July 3, 2015

Why It's An Uphill Battle To Make Indianapolis A More Pedestrian Friendly City

Originally published on Fri July 3, 2015 5:33 am

Copyright 2015 WFYI-FM. To see more, visit http://www.wfyi.org.

The Two-Way
6:31 pm
Thu July 2, 2015

REELZ TV Network Will Air Miss USA Pageant

Donald Trump co-owns the Miss America beauty pageant, which REELZ network will broadcast July 12.
Chicago Tribune TNS via Getty Images

Donald Trump's controversial remarks dispagaging Mexican immigrants led to a series of organizations cutting ties with the Republican presidential candidate.

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The Two-Way
6:10 pm
Thu July 2, 2015

Investigators Say Weather Caused Mount Zion AME Church To Burn

Fire crews took two hours to control the blaze at Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church in Greeleyville, S.C., on Tuesday. Authorities blame the fire on weather.
HANDOUT Reuters/Landov

Investigators say weather caused a predominantly black church in Greeleyville, S.C., to burn down, according to The Associated Press. A statement from the State Law Enforcement Division says there was no evidence of criminal intent in the blaze at the Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church.

As NPR's Maanvi Singh reported yesterday:

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The Two-Way
4:39 pm
Thu July 2, 2015

Virginia's Pamunkey Tribe Granted Federal Recognition

The federal government Thursday granted recognition to the Pamunkey Indian tribe of Virginia. The tribe, whose members encountered the first permanent English settlers some 400 years ago, had long sought the recognition.

The Pamunkey tribe has just over 200 members, about a quarter of whom live on a reservation near Richmond.

The announcement by the Bureau of Indian Affairs that it would recognize the tribe is "vindication," said tribal Chief Kevin Brown.

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The Salt
4:13 pm
Thu July 2, 2015

White House: We Have A Beef With GMO Regulations

About 90 percent of America's soybeans are genetically modified.
iStockphoto

The U.S. government's system for regulating the products of biotechnology, including GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, was born in 1986, and it has been controversial from the start. Now, it will be getting a makeover — in part to assure the public that GMOs really are adequately regulated.

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It's All Politics
4:08 pm
Thu July 2, 2015

Small Donors Fueled Sanders' $15 Million Fundraising Haul

A supporter registers for a town hall meeting Thursday in Rochester, Minn.
Jim Mone AP

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, running in the Democratic presidential primaries, has raised about $15 million, his campaign said Thursday.

His campaign emphasized the grass-roots strength of his fundraising: 250,000 donors making nearly 400,000 contributions of $250 or less.

The numbers come from a quarterly disclosure report being filed at the Federal Election Commission, and are measured from when Sanders launched his campaign April 30.

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Goats and Soda
3:34 pm
Thu July 2, 2015

Yes, There Really Is A Town In Liberia Called 'Smell No Taste'

This is a photo taken in the town of Smell No Taste, where a teenager died of Ebola this past week. The home where he passed away is now under quarantine.
Abbas Dulleh AP

Originally published on Fri July 3, 2015 6:19 am

A curious detail appeared in stories about the death this week of a 17-year-old boy from Ebola.

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Code Switch
3:32 pm
Thu July 2, 2015

Coping While Black: A Season Of Traumatic News Takes A Psychological Toll

Raymond Smith of Charleston, S.C., kneels in prayer in front of the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston before a worship service on June 21.
Stephen B. Morton AP

Originally published on Thu July 2, 2015 6:12 pm

Can racism cause post-traumatic stress? That's one big question psychologists are trying to answer, particularly in the aftermath of the shooting at the historically black Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., and the recent incidents involving police where race was a factor.

What's clear is that many black Americans experience what psychologists call "race-based trauma," says Monnica Williams, director of the Center for Mental Health Disparities at the University of Louisville.

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National Security
3:32 pm
Thu July 2, 2015

Deputy Secretary Of State: Iran Needs Nuclear Deal 'More Than We Do'

Originally published on Thu July 2, 2015 4:35 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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History
3:32 pm
Thu July 2, 2015

Rejection Of Flag Exposes Larger Truths About The Confederacy

Originally published on Thu July 2, 2015 4:35 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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The Two-Way
3:31 pm
Thu July 2, 2015

Maria Leaves Sesame Street After 44 Years On The Block

Gordon (played by Roscoe Orman), Maria (played by Sonia Manzano), and The Count on Sesame Street's 42nd season. Manzano is closing out a Sesame Street career that began in 1971.
Zach Hyman Sesame Street

For the last 44 years, you could ask Maria how to get to Sesame Street, but not any more. Sonia Manzano, the actress who has played the character since 1971, is retiring and won't be part of the next season.

Manzano, 65, announced the news earlier this week at the American Library Association Annual Conference.

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U.S.
3:24 pm
Thu July 2, 2015

New Rules Could Create A New Class Of Overtime Workers

Originally published on Thu July 2, 2015 5:22 pm

As President Obama promised, a new rule would make 5 million more Americans eligible for overtime pay.

Many workers say it's a welcome change. But businesses say employees could see negative, unintended consequences.

Barrett Zenger has managed a music store in Corpus Christi, Texas, for the past seven years, where he oversees two dozen employees, stocks inventory and fills in for sales clerks who call in sick.

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It's All Politics
3:01 pm
Thu July 2, 2015

5 Things You Should Know About Jim Webb

Former Sen. Jim Webb speaks at the National Sheriffs' Association annual conference last month in Baltimore.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Thu July 2, 2015 4:29 pm

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Economy
2:45 pm
Thu July 2, 2015

So Far, So Good For The Economy. But What About The Second Half?

A worker welds parts in fans for industrial ventilation systems at the Robinson Fans Inc. plant in Harmony, Pa., in February. Hourly wages in the U.S. remained unchanged last month.
Keith Srakocic AP

Originally published on Thu July 2, 2015 3:36 pm

Maybe it seems like just yesterday that you were storing away your holiday decorations.

Maybe it actually was yesterday because life gets busy and tasks get put off, and before you know it, half the year is over and you're scrambling to catch up.

So in case you have been too busy to pay close attention, here's what we now know about the just-ended half of this year's economy:

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Parallels
2:43 pm
Thu July 2, 2015

In Data Breach, Reluctance To Point The Finger At China

Adm. Michael Rogers, NSA director and head of the U.S. Cyber Command, has avoided singling out China for blame in the OPM hack, which may affect as many as 18 million federal workers.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu July 2, 2015 4:35 pm

Adm. Michael Rogers is among the American officials most likely to know which country perpetrated the Office of Personnel Management's massive data breach, possibly the biggest hack ever of the U.S. government. He's not only director of the National Security Agency, but also heads the U.S. Cyber Command.

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NPR Story
2:27 pm
Thu July 2, 2015

Professor Says Jefferson Davis Statue Should Be Removed, Preserved

A statue of Jefferson Davis is seen on the University of Texas campus in Austin, Texas.(Eric Gay/AP)

Confederate flags are coming down across the South as governments and institutions respond to calls to remove symbols of a racist past. At the University of Texas at Austin, thousands of students have petitioned the school to remove a statue of Jefferson Davis, who was president of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War.

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Parallels
2:26 pm
Thu July 2, 2015

In Secular French Schools, One Group Wants To Talk Religion

A student attends a course on religion at a middle school in Metz, in eastern France, on June 5. French schools teach basics, like the history of religion, but discourage any displays of religious identity.
Jean-Christophe Verhaegen AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu July 2, 2015 4:35 pm

For the past several years, the group Coexister has been going into secular French schools to break down religious stereotypes in the classroom.

Since January's attacks on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket, the demand for their interventions has skyrocketed.

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The Two-Way
2:24 pm
Thu July 2, 2015

ISIS Reportedly Destroys Ancient Statue In Captured City Of Palmyra

The self-declared Islamic State has released photos purportedly of its fighters destroying an ancient artifact in the Syrian city of Palmyra weeks after the Islamist extremists captured the city.

A "priceless" 2,000-year-old statue of a lion dating from the city's Roman heritage is seen being smashed in what Syrian antiquities director Maamoun Abdelkarim tells Agence-France Press is "the most serious crime [ISIS has] committed against Palmyra's heritage."

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Science
2:13 pm
Thu July 2, 2015

Checking DNA Against Elephants Hints At How Mammoths Got Woolly

Mammoths had a distinctive version of a gene known to play a role in sensing outside temperature, moderating the biology of fat and regulating hair growth. That bit of DNA likely helped mammoths thrive in cold weather, scientists say.
Courtesy of Giant Screen Films, 2012 D3D Ice Age, LLC/Penn State University

Originally published on Fri July 3, 2015 5:55 am

Scientists say they've found a bit of DNA in woolly mammoths that could help explain how these huge beasts were so well-adapted to live in the cold of the last ice age.

Woolly mammoths had long shaggy fur, small tails and ears to minimize frostbite, and a lot of fat to help stay warm as they roamed the tundra more than 12,000 years ago.

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