NPR News

Shots - Health News
12:43 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

NIH Allows Restart Of MERS Research That Had Been Questioned

A transmission electron micrograph shows Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus particles (colorized yellow).
NIAID

Some researchers who study the virus that causes Middle East respiratory syndrome got an early Christmas present: permission to resume experiments that the federal government abruptly halted in October.

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The Two-Way
12:31 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

White House Says Response To Sony Attack Will Be "Proportional"

The White House says the devastating cyber attack on Sony Pictures was done with "malicious intent" and was initiated by a "sophisticated actor" but it would not say if that actor was North Korea.

Spokesman Josh Earnest said the matter is still under investigation.

"Regardless of who is found to be responsible for this, the president considers it to be a serious national security matter," Earnest said.

President Obama is holding daily meetings with his homeland security advisers and cyber coordinators to determine who is responsible and how to respond, he said.

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The Two-Way
11:42 am
Thu December 18, 2014

6 Things You Should Know About Cuban Cigars

American actor Groucho Marx, with his trademark moustache, glasses and cigar. We can't be sure that this cigar was Cuban.
John Kobal Foundation Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 12:40 pm

Cuban cigars are wrapped in mystique. Soon travelers will be able to bring back $100 worth of the famed cigars. Here are some facts you should know.

1. Cuban cigars are expensive, even in Cuba.

As NPR's Tom Gjelten tweeted, the new permission to bring back $100 worth of tobacco (or alcohol) allows you at the most four good cigars. Tom says he hasn't been back to Cuba for six years, but the last time he was there, a single Cohiba or Uppman "set you back at least $25."

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The Salt
11:16 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Tourtiere: A French-Canadian Twist On Christmas Pie

Tourtiere is a savory, spiced meat pie, which both French- and English-speaking Canadians love to serve around the holidays.
martiapunts iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 12:08 pm

A version of this story was originally published on Dec. 23, 2011.

If you happen to spend Christmas Eve in Canada — especially Quebec — you might be lucky enough to be invited to a festive dinner after midnight Mass. The feast is an old tradition from France called reveillon, and it's something to look forward to after a long day of fasting.

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The Two-Way
11:15 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Boko Haram Suspected In New Round Of Killing And Kidnapping

Members of the Abuja "Bring Back Our Girls" protest group sit during a march in continuation of the Global October movement. Once again, Boko Haram militants are implicated in killings and mass kidnapping in northeastern Nigeria.
Afolabi Sotunde Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 12:14 pm

Islamist extremists are being blamed for an attack in northeastern Nigeria that killed at least 33 people and resulted in the kidnapping of more than 100 others.

The Associated Press quoted officials saying that the number of dead in the village of Gumsuri was 35 and that "at least 185" had been kidnapped. The BBC said 33 had been killed and at least 100 kidnapped.

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The Two-Way
10:35 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Pakistani Court Grants Bail To Suspect In Mumbai Attack

Zaki-ur-Rahman Lakhvi, seen here on June 28, 2008, was granted bail today by an anti-terrorism court in Pakistan. India says he is one of the masterminds of the 2008 attack on Mumbai that killed more than 160 people.
Roshan Mughal AP

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 12:24 pm

An anti-terrorism court in Pakistan has granted bail to a man accused of masterminding the deadly 2008 attack on Mumbai, India.

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Shots - Health News
10:22 am
Thu December 18, 2014

California Whooping Cough Infections Run High Among Latino Babies

Nurse Julietta Losoyo gives Derek Lucero a whooping cough vaccination at the San Diego Public Health Center on Dec. 10.
Chris Carlson AP

California is battling the worst whooping cough epidemic in 70 years.

Nearly 10,000 cases have been reported in the state so far this year, and babies are especially prone to hospitalization or even death.

Six of 10 infants who have become ill during the current outbreak are Latino. There's no conclusive explanation, but there are a few theories that range from Latino cultural factors to a lack of health insurance.

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Goats and Soda
9:50 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Death Comes In Many Different Ways. And Some Are A Bit Surprising

A vigil is held against violence in Cali, Colombia. The country has seen some 1,090 homicides this year.
Luis Robayo AFP/Getty Images

We're living longer.

And cardiovascular disease and infectious diseases aren't taking quite as much of a toll as they did a couple of decades ago.

But that doesn't mean we're immortal.

Road accidents, suicide, chronic kidney disease, alcohol-related diseases ... these are a few of topics to discuss after looking at a new country-by-country analysis of causes of death by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

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The Two-Way
9:41 am
Thu December 18, 2014

India Tests Crew Capsule, New Heavy-Lift Rocket

India's test crew module floating in the Andaman Sea after splash down.
N. Balbantray Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO)

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 10:11 am

India took a giant leap forward toward its ambitious goal of sending humans into space, launching an unmanned crew capsule aboard a powerful new rocket.

The Indian Space Research Organization, or ISRO, launched the 630-ton rocket from its facility at Sriharikota on the country's southeast coast. It was the first flight test of an improved version of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle, or GSLV rocket.

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The Two-Way
9:38 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Montana Man Found Guilty Of Killing German Exchange Student

Markus Kaarma waits to be dismissed during an afternoon break in Missoula County Court in Missoula, Mont., in this Dec. 5 photo. A jury found Kaarma guilty Wednesday of deliberate homicide in the shooting death of a German high school exchange student who entered his garage.
Arthur Mouratidis Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 10:37 am

A Montana man's shooting in April of a German exchange student was a test of the state's "castle doctrine," which says a man's home is his castle and can be defended as such. But on Wednesday, a jury convicted Markus Kaarma of deliberate homicide in the death of 17-year-old Diren Dede, who was in his garage.

As Montana Public Radio's Christopher Allen reports, "Kaarma's defense team argued deadly force was justified because he was defending his home. Prosecutors argued Kaarma, who had been previously burglarized, set a trap with intent to harm and committed deliberate homicide."

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Shots - Health News
8:44 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Is Your State Ready For The Next Infectious Outbreak? Probably Not

Alyson Hurt/NPR

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 10:47 am

Ebola may have slid off the nation's worry list, but that doesn't mean the United States is ready to handle an outbreak of Ebola or another infectious disease, an analysis says. That includes naturally occurring outbreaks like dengue fever, tuberculosis and measles, as well as the use of bioterrorism agents like anthrax.

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The Two-Way
8:25 am
Thu December 18, 2014

2014 Saw Fewest Executions In 20 Years, Report Finds

The gurney in the execution chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary is pictured in McAlester, Okla., in 2008.
AP

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 11:20 am

There was a significant drop in the number of executions and death penalty sentences in 2014, a new report by the Death Penalty Information Center finds.

The group's year-end accounting finds that:

-- States conducted 35 executions in 2014 — the lowest since 1994.

-- And the justice system sentenced 72 people to death — the lowest number in 40 years.

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Shots - Health News
7:47 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Worries About Unusual Botulinum Toxin Prove Unfounded

A culture of Clostridium botulinum, stained with gentian violet.
CDC

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 8:31 am

Remember that worrisome new form of botulinum toxin we told you about in late 2013, the one that supposedly had to be kept secret out of fear it could be used as a bioweapon that would evade all of our medical defenses?

Well, as it turns out, it's not that scary after all. The antitoxin stored in the government's emergency stockpile works and would neutralize the toxin just fine.

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Monkey See
5:54 am
Thu December 18, 2014

The Many Rabbit Holes (Or Should We Say Labyrinths) Of 'Serial'

Sarah Koenig and producer Dana Chivvis in the studio.
Elise Bergerson Serial

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 12:45 pm

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The Two-Way
5:35 am
Thu December 18, 2014

New Era For Cuba? Voices From Miami And Havana

Anti-Castro protester Lazaro Lozano (left) argues with an unidentified pro-Obama supporter in the Little Havana area of Miami on Wednesday.
Alan Diaz AP

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 10:22 am

Just hours after the United States and Cuba announced they were moving toward normalizing relations, crowds gathered in Havana and Miami trying to come to grips with a historic shift.

NPR covered the reaction in those two places with two pieces on Morning Edition.

NPR's Greg Allen reported from Miami:

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World
5:24 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Correct Name Gets Canadian Woman A Free European Trip

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 10:31 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.

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Around the Nation
5:24 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Santa Pays An Early Visit To Cape Cod Eateries

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 10:31 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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NPR Story
3:11 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Rep. Sires Pushes Back Against Obama's Cuba Plans

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 10:31 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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NPR Story
3:11 am
Thu December 18, 2014

S.C. Judge Rules 1944 Execution Of 14-Year-Old Boy Was Wrong

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 10:31 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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NPR Story
3:11 am
Thu December 18, 2014

How Tchaikovsky's 'Nutcracker' Became A Holiday Tradition

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 10:31 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Here is a holiday tradition that seems as old as Christmas trees and mistletoe.

(SOUNDBITE OF PYOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY SONG, "NUTCRACKER OVERTURE")

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Afghanistan
3:11 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Fight Against Corruption In Afghanistan Press On

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 10:31 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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NPR Story
3:11 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Obama Announces Diplomatic Thaw With Cuba

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 10:31 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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Science
1:36 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Arctic Is Warming Twice As Fast As World Average

A lone polar bear poses on a block of arctic sea ice in Russia's Franz Josef Land.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 10:36 am

The latest word from scientists studying the Arctic is that the polar region is warming twice as fast as the average rise on the rest of the planet. And researchers say the trend isn't letting up. That's the latest from the 2014 Arctic Report Card — a compilation of recent research from more than 60 scientists in 13 countries. The report was released Wednesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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Parallels
1:31 am
Thu December 18, 2014

At An Isolated Camp, Iraqi Police Prep For A Showdown With ISIS

More than 4,000 officers of the Nineveh province security force are based in an isolated training camp in northern Iraq. Their aim is retaking ISIS-controlled Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city.
Deborah Amos NPR

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 10:31 am

When Mohammed Taha Yaseen recalls the day that Islamic militants swept through Iraq's northern city of Mosul this past summer, he chokes up.

"The army ran away," he says, and pauses to gain control of his voice. "We didn't run — the police stayed and fought ISIS."

Yaseen, an officer in the Mosul police force, tells his story at an isolated training camp in northern Iraq, less than 20 miles from the front lines with ISIS, also known as the Islamic State.

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Television
1:27 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Boundary-Pushing Late Night Hosts Move On — Colbert Up, Ferguson Out

Craig Ferguson hosts The Late Late Show in 2011.
Sonja Flemming AP

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 10:31 am

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The Two-Way
1:23 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Supreme Court Refuses To Block Arizona Driver's Licenses For 'Dreamers'

The Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., voted against Arizona's appeal, which would have allowed a state ban on driver's licenses for young undocumented immigrants.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 8:33 am

Arizona hoped an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court would prevent the state from having to grant driving permits to young undocumented immigrants, also known as "dreamers," who entered the country as children. A federal appeals court ruled in July of this year that Arizona must start issuing the licenses to dreamers, who under Obama administration policy are permitted to remain in the United States.

NPR's Nina Totenberg reported on the Supreme Court's Wednesday decision and the background of the legal dispute:

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The Two-Way
7:40 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

S.C. Judge Says 1944 Execution Of 14-Year-Old Boy Was Wrong

George Stinney Jr. appears in an undated police booking photo provided by the South Carolina Department of Archives and History. A South Carolina judge vacated the conviction of the 14-year-old, who was executed in 1944, saying he didn't receive a fair trial.
Landov

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 8:05 am

An African-American boy, George Stinney Jr., who was executed at age 14 in the killing of two young white girls has been exonerated in South Carolina, 70 years after he became the youngest person executed in the U.S. in the 1900s. A judge ruled he was denied due process.

"I think it's long overdue," Stinney's sister, Katherine Stinney Robinson, 80, tells local newspaper The Manning Times. "I'm just thrilled because it's overdue."

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The Two-Way
5:39 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

U.S. Officials Believe North Korea Was Behind Sony Hack

U.S. intelligence officials believe North Korea was centrally involved in the recent attack on Sony Pictures' computer network — possibly out of retribution for its film The Interview. Above, a security guard stands outside a theater during the film's premiere in Los Angeles last week.
Kevork Djansezian Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 6:29 pm

The recent attack on Sony Pictures' computer network that resulted in a flood of embarrassing emails and pirated movies has its origins in North Korea, according to U.S. intelligence officials.

More details about the U.S. investigation into the hacking attack could emerge as early as Wednesday night.

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The Two-Way
5:16 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Satanist And Christian Holiday Displays To Go Up At Michigan Capitol

Bearing the message "The Greatest Gift is Knowledge," a holiday display by the Satanic Temple will accompany a Christian Nativity scene on the grounds of the Michigan State Capitol.
Satanic Temple

Two very different holiday displays will share the grounds of the Michigan State Capitol next week: a traditional Christian Nativity and an exhibit by the Satanic Temple. The situation has brought controversy — and energized Christians who realized that a planned Nativity was in danger of being canceled.

The story drew intense attention after it emerged that there was a chance the Capitol grounds might host only a Satanic holiday display during the Christmas season, because plans for a Christian display didn't take into account Michigan's rules.

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The Salt
3:19 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Japan's Butter Shortage Whips Its Cake Makers Into A Frenzy

A customer picks up a block of butter at a food store in Tokyo on Nov. 10. Japanese shoppers are up in arms over a serious butter shortage that has forced Tokyo to resort to emergency imports, as some grocers limit sales to one block per customer.
Yoshikazu Tsuno AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 9:21 am

We are well into the Christmas season, and if you live in Japan, that means sponge cake.

The traditional Japanese Christmas dish is served with strawberries and cream, and it is rich, thanks to lots and lots of butter. But the Japanese have been using even more butter for their Christmas cakes this year, exacerbating what was already a national butter shortage.

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