NPR News

Shots - Health News
10:00 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Medicare Kept Paying Indicted, Sanctioned Doctors

A check of Medicare's new database of payments to physicians confirms that at least $6 million in 2012 went to doctors who had been indicted or otherwise sanctioned.
iStockphoto

In August 2011, federal agents swept across the Detroit area, arresting doctors, pharmacists and other health professionals accused of running a massive scheme to defraud Medicare.

The following month, several of those arrested — including psychiatrist Mark Greenbain and podiatrist Anmy Tran — were suspended from billing the state's Medicaid program for the poor.

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Monkey See
9:41 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Lusting For Spring In Our Hearts

A cherry blossom tree on the Potomac. Not bad, eh?
Mark Wilson Getty Images

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Krulwich Wonders...
9:34 am
Wed April 16, 2014

The Ultimate Animal Experience? Losing A Memory Quiz To A Chimp

Time to be embarrassed. You're about to be bested by a young chimpanzee in a memory test.

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The Two-Way
9:03 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Iraq's Infamous Abu Ghraib Prison Temporarily Closed

An Iraqi security officer patrols the grounds at Baghdad Central Prison in Abu Ghraib, in 2009.
Wathiq Khuzaie Getty Images

Abu Ghraib, the Iraqi prison that became the center of 2004 prison-abuse scandal during the U.S. occupation, is being closed temporarily due to security concerns, according to the country's Justice Ministry.

The infamous prison, located on the outskirts of Bagdad near Sunni-dominated Anbar province, is being temporarily shut due to fears it could be overrun by Sunni insurgents, according to The New York Times.

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The Two-Way
8:48 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Dozens Of Girls Abducted In Nigeria

Originally published on Wed April 16, 2014 10:17 am

Soldiers, "vigilantes and volunteers," CNN writes, are searching for about 100 Nigerian schoolgirls who are reportedly in the hands of the militant Islamist group Boko Haram.

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Code Switch
7:32 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Revisiting Pulitzer Nominees That Touch On Issues Of Race

Washington Post writer Eli Saslow won a Pulitzer Prize for his series on the prevalence of food stamps in post-recession America.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Wed April 16, 2014 10:30 am

This week, Columbia University handed out the Pulitzer Prizes, which are widely considered among the highest honors in journalism. The occasion gives us a good excuse to shout-out some of the finalists and winning entries that touch on issues of race and culture. (Fair warning: These stories are very good journalism done in the service of illuminating some deeply dispiriting realities.)

Speak No Evil

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The Two-Way
7:14 am
Wed April 16, 2014

43-Year-Old Cold Case Closed: South Dakota Girls Died In Accident

Cheryl Miller's driver's license was among the evidence collected from the car she and Pamela Jackson were last seen in. The two South Dakota girls disappeared in 1971. Now, authorities say it appears they accidentally drove into a creek. It wasn't until last year that low waters revealed the vehicle.
South Dakota Attorney General's office AP

Originally published on Wed April 16, 2014 9:19 am

Families and friends who have wondered since 1971 about what happened to two South Dakota girls now have some closure.

Authorities said Tuesday that they believe Pamela Jackson and Cheryl Miller died when their 1960 Studebaker Lark accidentally went off a gravel road and into a local creek. "All the evidence would appear to indicate an accident," South Dakota Attorney Gen. Marty Jackley said.

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The Salt
7:01 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Tasting With Our Eyes: Why Bright Blue Chicken Looks So Strange

Does this blue chicken make you queasy? Scientists say there might be an evolutionary reason for that.
Courtesy of Lawrie Brown

Originally published on Wed April 16, 2014 7:22 am

There's something unsettling — freakish, even — about Lawrie Brown's photos of everyday meals.

In one photo, the California-based photographer has placed a shockingly blue raw chicken atop a bed of rice and peas. In another, pink cereal puffs float in a sea of yellow milk. And Brown slathers three hefty scoops of green ice cream with purple fudge in a third, with blood-red cherries as garnish. Other photos in her "Colored Food Series" feature green corn, blue crackers and green spaghetti.

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Monkey See
6:28 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Drag Is Raw: Wrestlers, Queens, And Gender As Performance Art

RuPaul rules over RuPaul's Drag Race, a show with a lot of similarities to another Monday night show: WWE Raw.
Mathu Anderson Logo

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The Two-Way
6:02 am
Wed April 16, 2014

In Ukraine: Reports Of Soldiers Switching To Pro-Russia Side

Men sit on an armored personnel carrier in Slovyansk, Ukraine, on Wednesday. A Russian flag flies from it. When some Ukrainian forces approached the city, locals say, they were persuaded to hand over their vehicles to pro-Russia protesters.
Gleb Garanich Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Wed April 16, 2014 10:01 am

  • On 'Morning Edition': NPR's Ari Shapiro reports from Kramatorsk, Ukraine

Confusion continues to reign in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russia gunmen remain in control of many government offices even as the Ukrainian military sends in troops, tanks and armed aircraft in an attempt to dislodge them.

According to NPR's Ari Shapiro, who is in eastern Ukraine, locals who are pushing to separate from the central government and join the Russian Federation claim that at least some Ukrainian troops are refusing to move against them.

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The Two-Way
5:52 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Book News: J.K. Rowling Gives Glimpse Of Ginny Weasley As An Adult

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

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The Two-Way
5:03 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Hundreds Missing After Ferry Sinks Off South Korea's Coast

Rescuers head toward the ferry Sewol off the southern coast of South Korea on Wednesday. It sank while on a trip to a resort island. Several hundred people, most of them high school students and teachers, are missing.
Yonhap News EPA/Landov

Originally published on Wed April 16, 2014 10:27 am

  • On 'Morning Edition': NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports about the ferry accident
This post is being updated as news comes in.

Many hours after the tragedy, close to 300 people were still missing following a ferry disaster Wednesday off the southern coast of South Korea. Most of those unaccounted for are high school students who were on a trip to a resort island.

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All Tech Considered
5:03 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Weekly Innovation: Better Luggage Checking ... And Tracking

Coming in December: the eTrack and the eTag, from Air France and KLM. The innovations let you drop off your bags without checking them, and track them throughout your journey.
Courtesy of FastTrack Company

Originally published on Wed April 16, 2014 10:15 am

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Animals
4:55 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Police Trace Heavy-Breathing Emergency Caller

Police near London received a troubling call, and all the dispatcher could hear was heavy breathing. Cops found the caller running through a yard. It was a dog with a wireless phone in its mouth.

Asia
4:36 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Sad Panda In China Gets Her Own Play Area

Si Jia got depressed after her only companion moved to another zoo. The staff at the Yunnan Safari Park in southwest China built her a swing and parallel bars. She may get a real friend soon.

Europe
4:14 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Tank Movement Increases Tensions In Eastern Ukraine

Originally published on Wed April 16, 2014 5:56 am

Several Ukrainian tanks are on the move in some eastern cities, according to reports Wednesday morning. Some of the armored personnel carriers are flying Russian flags.

NPR Story
3:08 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Minority Tartars Consider Pragmatic Approach To Crimea Annexation

People in the newly annexed territory of Crimea are trying to figure out how to deal with their new status as part of Russia, rather than Ukraine. Tatars were vocal in their opposition to the Russian takeover of Crimea. That's because they remember their history of maltreatment under the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union.

NPR Story
3:08 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Ex-Defense Secretary Rumsfeld Criticizes Tax System

Originally published on Wed April 16, 2014 6:00 am

Donald Rumsfeld has made complaining to the IRS a bit of a tradition. In this year's letter to the IRS he writes: I have absolutely no idea whether our tax returns and our tax payments are accurate.

NPR Story
3:08 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Tremendously Gratifying To Win 2 Pulitzers, 'Post' Editor Says

Originally published on Wed April 16, 2014 4:20 am

After years of circulation declines and painful staffing cuts, this year's two Pulitzer Prizes are especially sweet. David Greene talks to Marty Baron, the executive editor for The Washington Post.

NPR Story
3:08 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Pension Deal Would Help Detroit Climb Out Of Bankruptcy

Originally published on Wed April 16, 2014 6:00 am

The city has reached a tentative agreement with retired police officers and firefighters to preserve their pensions. Pensions of other city retirees would take a 4.5 percent hit.

Science
1:43 am
Wed April 16, 2014

A T. Rex Treks To Washington For A Shot At Fame

Pat Leiggi (right) of the Museum of the Rockies prepares to move a leg bone of the T. rex at the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.
Maggie Starbard NPR

Originally published on Wed April 16, 2014 6:53 am

This week, scientists at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History will start unpacking some rare and precious cargo. It's something the Smithsonian has never had before — a nearly complete skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus rex.

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Paying For College
1:41 am
Wed April 16, 2014

How One Michigan City Is Sending Kids To College Tuition-Free

Originally published on Wed April 16, 2014 6:00 am

Paying for college presents a tremendous hurdle to many families, from wading through paperwork and navigating financial aid to understanding the long-term implications of college debt.

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Around the Nation
1:40 am
Wed April 16, 2014

As La. Coast Recedes, Battle Rages Over Who Should Pay

Man-made canals built for the oil and gas industry cut through wetland. The industry argues those canals aren't to blame for coastal erosion.
Robert F. Bukaty AP

Originally published on Wed April 16, 2014 7:42 am

Louisiana's coast is disappearing at the rate of about a football field an hour. Since the 1930s, the Gulf of Mexico has swallowed up an area the size of Delaware.

You can see the water encroaching in Delacroix in St. Bernard Parish, less than an hour southeast of New Orleans. Here, a narrow crescent of land known locally as the "end of the world" is where the road abruptly comes to a dead end; in the distance, you see the tops of now-submerged trees.

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Shots - Health News
1:40 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Is Obamacare A Success? We Might Not Know For A While

Hundreds in California rushed to get health insurance just before the deadline.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Wed April 16, 2014 7:06 am

After months of focusing on how many people have or haven't signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, we now have a rough total (7.5 million), and everyone's keen to get to the bigger questions: How well is the law working? How many of those who signed up have paid their premiums and are actually getting coverage? How many were uninsured before they signed up? And just how big has the drop been in the number of uninsured people?

Unfortunately, the answers to some of these questions simply aren't knowable — or, at least, not knowable yet.

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Author Interviews
1:39 am
Wed April 16, 2014

'Before India,' A Young Gandhi Found His Calling In South Africa

Mohandas Gandhi (center) sits with co-workers at his Johannesburg law office in 1902.
AP

Originally published on Wed April 16, 2014 9:08 am

In 1893, in the bustling seaside city of Durban, South Africa — then under British colonial rule — a young lawyer stepped off a ship from India, eager to try his professional luck far away from home. His name was Mohandas Gandhi, and he stayed in that country for more than 20 years before returning home, where he'd make a name for himself as an anti-colonial agitator and social reformer.

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Around the Nation
1:37 am
Wed April 16, 2014

After Losing A Leg, Woman Walks On Her Own — In 4-Inch Heels

Heather Abbott of Newport, R.I., shows off her "high-definition" prosthetic leg, which allows her to wear high heels and skirts.
Stephan Savoia AP

Originally published on Wed April 16, 2014 9:16 am

Returning to watch the Boston Marathon was never a question for Heather Abbott. After losing her leg in the bombing last year, watching the race is just one item on a long list of things she did before and intends to do again. Also on that list: wearing 4-inch heels.

"Sometimes, I think: Why am I doing this to myself? Because I could just wear regular flat shoes," Abbott says. "I don't want to give things up that I love to do, so I'm going to get used to it and figure it out."

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Kitchen Window
10:18 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Sous Vide Makes Its Way To The Home Kitchen

A salmon fillet cooked sous vide, with miso-ginger glaze, gets a crisp finish under a broiler or torch flame.
T. Susan Chang for NPR

Originally published on Wed April 16, 2014 5:22 am

Sous vide. Not that long ago, it sounded so exotic — or, at least, so French. It was a phrase that belonged in restaurants, amid white tablecloths and flower arrangements and hushed conversations. Alternatively, it was a word that belonged to the modernist kitchens just beyond the swinging doors — kitchens filled with gleaming dehydrators and transglutaminase "meat glues" and spherification siphons and more.

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The Two-Way
5:19 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

NYPD Shuts Down Controversial Unit That Spied On Muslims

Men pray on the street before the start of the American Muslim Day Parade in 2010 in New York.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

The New York Police Department said Tuesday it would disband a special unit charged with detecting possible terrorist threats by carrying out secret surveillance of Muslim groups.

The squad that conducted the surveillance, known as the Demographics Unit, was formed in 2003. It brought the NYPD under fire from community groups and activists who accused the force of abusing civil rights and profiling.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said his administration has promised "a police force that keeps our city safe, but that is also respectful and fair.

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The Two-Way
4:30 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

In India, Landmark Ruling Recognizes Transgender Citizens

An Indian eunuch in the eastern city of Bhubaneswar dances Tuesday to celebrate the Supreme Court's ruling recognizing a third gender category.
Biswaranjan Rout AP

Originally published on Wed April 16, 2014 4:08 am

India now has a third gender.

The Supreme Court has recognized the country's transgender community as being in a third neutral category — neither male nor female.

In handing down the ruling, Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan said, "Transgenders are citizens of this country ... and recognition as a third gender is not a social or medical issue but a human rights issue."

Article 15 of India's Constitution guarantees that no state can discriminate against citizens on the basis of religion, caste, race or sex.

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NPR Story
3:34 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

In Portugal, A Sales Receipt May Be Your Ticket To Win Big

A customer pays a vendor for her purchases at Feira da Ladra flea market in Lisbon, Portugal, in October 2013. The government has introduced a "Lucky Receipts" lottery to encourage people to ask for receipts — which will automatically be entered into a national lottery for fancy new cars. It's an effort to curb tax evasion and raise revenue.
Mario Proenca Bloomberg via Getty Images

Originally published on Tue April 15, 2014 3:51 pm

On Lisbon's cobblestone lanes, the Portuguese economy is hobbling along as it always has — in cash.

In a tiny, 100-year-old bar, Nuno Goncalves pours out glasses of ginja — a Portuguese sweet cherry liqueur — for his customers, mostly old men in flat caps. A small shot-glass full costs 50 cents — cash only. There is a cash register, but it doesn't print receipts.

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