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When Islands Pop Out Of The Sea

Oct 1, 2013

When a mud volcano erupted last week and created a muddy mound of an island just off the southern coast of Pakistan, it seemed to us like a rather rare development.

But it turns out islands crop up fairly often. Charles Darwin commented on one. And it's been happening in shallow marshy patches off the coasts of Sweden and Finland for millennia.

Darwin's Find

Shutting down the government is nothing new; Congress did it 18 years ago, suspending federal operations for three weeks.

History suggests Americans will accept the inconvenience for the duration, and Congress eventually will find a compromise.

But what if history is bunk? What if what we think we know about government shutdowns doesn't apply to this one?

DOJ Voting Lawsuit: Absurd Or Critical?

Oct 1, 2013



I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. My thanks to Celeste Headlee for sitting in for me on short notice. So today, the country woke up to the shutdown of the federal government. We've been hearing from you about how this is affecting you and your budgets and your families. We'll hear what you've been telling us and we'll hear from two of the business reporters we turn to often to find out what they're hearing about the long and short-term impact on the country. That's in just a few minutes.

When a government shutdown loomed in 2011, the Twitterverse had some fun with #govtshutdownpickuplines.

They're back!

Here are some of the better, slightly naughty ones we're seeing (we also also checked #shutdownpicklines):

The Panda Cam? That's Shut Down, Too

Oct 1, 2013

By now, you've probably heard that the federal government shut down at 12:01 a.m. ET Tuesday after members of Congress were unable to reach a budget agreement in time to keep the government funded.

Well, today's the day health insurance marketplaces open for business. And despite a partial shutdown of the federal government and some technical jitters, they're available for insurance shoppers.

While Oct. 1 is a milestone in the implementation of the health law, other dates are likely more critical for consumers planning to shop for health insurance on their state marketplace.

Scientists are reasonably sure that it's a cloudy day on Kepler-7b, a planet that orbits its star about 1,000 light-years away from us.

Using NASA's orbiting space telescopes, researchers publishing in Astrophysical Journal Letters say that for the first time they've been able to make a rudimentary map of the atmosphere of an extrasolar planet.

The team used faint visible light and infrared reflections from Kepler-7b to make their cloud map.

The quartet on jazz bassist Dave Holland's new album Prism is more electrified, and usually louder, than bands he's led before. Some reviewers see its music coming out of his early work with the electrified Miles Davis, but the parallel doesn't go far. Holland played bass guitar with Davis, not his usual bass violin. Plus, early electric Davis was gloriously unruly, while Holland loves the elegance of interlocking rhythm cycles, wheels within wheels.

Edward Snowden, the former NSA contract worker who leaked documents detailing America's secret and broad surveillance activities, is on the short list of nominees for Europe's Sakharov Prize, which recognizes those who fight for human rights.

Other finalists include Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl who survived being shot in the head; and three political prisoners in Belarus.

The author is a Syrian citizen living in Damascus who is not being further identified for safety reasons.

The young men of Syria account for many of those fighting on both sides of the country's civil war. Yet those on the sidelines of the conflict are facing heavy burdens of their own.

All over Syria, many young men, particularly those from rebellious towns, spend their days holed up at home to avoid running into trouble with the Syrian authorities.

The Senate's votes have been along party lines when it comes to the so-called shutdown showdown.

And it's been mostly the same story in the House.

A team of chemical weapons experts has arrived in Syria, where they will begin the long and complicated task of destroying the country's chemical weapons arsenal. Under a plan endorsed by the U.N. Security Council, the weapons are to be destroyed by next June.

Syria is wracked by a civil war that has killed more than 100,000 people and forced more than 2 million others to flee the country, according to recent U.N. figures.

Residents of Buena Vista, Colo., are in shock after a rock slide on Monday that authorities say killed five people — possibly all from the same family.

The Denver Post says "a deadly cascade of boulders poured over Chaffee County's popular Agnes Vaille Falls [at] midmorning." The rocks came down on a popular hiking trail.

Nail Gun Victim Lives To Tell The Tale

Oct 1, 2013

Eugene Rakow is a carpenter who shot himself in the heart with a nail gun. Doctors removed the nail and gave it to him as a souvenir. According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the surgeon said Rakow was amazingly lucky. "Nine out of 10 people won't make it," according to the surgeon.

Update at 6:42 p.m. ET. Second Rider Turns Himself In:



Good morning, I'm David Greene.

You know, Russian President Vladimir Putin is kind of a tough guy. You can find photos of the former KGB spy fishing shirtless and hunting everything from tigers to whales. Now something else is in his crosshairs: zombies. That's in a new videogame called "You Don't Mess with Putin." In it, the Russian leader battles some unlucky zombies at a news conference. But no superhero can do it alone. His sidekick: a hard-drinking American who goes by the name Comrade Mike.



The Marine Corps has forced two of its top officers to retire. It is rare for commanders to be punished for a failure in combat, but that's the case here. The two commanders - both two-star generals - are being forced out because of an attack that happened on their watch in Afghanistan. It took place a year ago at a sprawling base called Camp Bastion. Two Americans died.

Both of the Hillary Clinton biopics that drew protests from the Republican National Committee have now been canceled before even being made.

Hockey superstar Alex Ovechkin was among the first torch bearers for the 2014 Olympics that will be held in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. David Greene talks to Ovechkin about the various challenges ahead for the Winter Games, as well as the upcoming hockey season.

Update at 8:18 p.m. ET. Impasse:

As first day of a federal government shutdown came to a close, Congress was not any closer to a resolution.

Case in point: Republicans in the House proposed three bills that would have reopened national parks, the Department of Veteran's Affairs and kept the D.C. government afloat. But all three bills didn't even make it out of the House.

Boehner's Blues: Why Would Anyone Want This Job?

Oct 1, 2013

John Boehner might not have the worst job in politics, but not many people envy the House speaker these days.

The GOP rank and file won't listen to him, grass-roots conservatives don't trust him, and Democrats say he can't deliver votes.

For a man who occupies the most powerful position in the House, Boehner's inability — or, possibly, his unwillingness — to persuade his fellow House Republicans to accept a budget without delaying or blocking parts of the Affordable Care Act has resulted in the first government shutdown since 1996.

President Obama spoke with NPR in the Oval Office on Monday, as a visiting group of young people in suits got a tour of the Rose Garden outside the windows. The most striking part of our encounter in this moment of crisis was how familiar the atmosphere seemed.

NPR's Steve Inskeep interviewed President Obama on Monday about the looming government shutdown, the upcoming debt ceiling fight and more. A full transcript of the interview follows:

STEVE INSKEEP: As you have watched what's happening in Congress, do you feel that House Republicans are coming any closer to anything that you could sign?

President Obama says he's tired of the seemingly never-ending rounds of budget crises.

"When it comes to Congress paying its bills ... we cannot be a country that is lurching every two months or three months from crisis to crisis to crisis," Obama said in an interview Monday with NPR's Steve Inskeep.

Yet that is precisely the situation the president finds himself in.

During a wide-ranging interview with Morning Edition's Steve Inskeep, President Obama assumed an indomitable posture as he talked about his negotiations with House Republicans.

He said he will not negotiate with Republicans when it comes to a cornerstone of his health care law, and he will not negotiate when it comes to another congressional battle to raise the debt ceiling in a little more than two weeks.

"This perpetual cycle of brinksmanship and crisis has to end once and for all," Obama said.



After 162 regular season baseball games, the Cincinnati Reds and the Pittsburgh Pirates will meet tonight in a sudden death playoff. For my team, the Pirates, it's their first time in the post-season in 21 years. And after tonight, after just one game in a scheme surely invented by sadists, the Pirates might be out of the playoffs.

A day after a meeting with President Obama, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu takes center stage at the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday. He will likely dwell on Iran's suspect nuclear program and warn the world community against being taken in by Tehran's recent charm offensive.

The sound of Buddhist chants wafts through an annex of the Songtang Hospice, the first private facility of its kind in Beijing. A group of lay Buddhists is trying to ease the passage of a recently departed soul of a patient.

When I first visited this place nearly two decades ago, the average patient stayed just 18 days. Now, it caters to people who are not terminally ill, and the average stay is about five years.

Today marks a milestone on the nation's long march toward universal health coverage: the launch of online marketplaces, called exchanges, designed to help people find insurance they can afford.

It's an idea pioneered by Massachusetts seven years ago. People here call their program a success, and say the state's exchange was an indispensable factor.

Musician Emily Bear has composed more than 350 pieces for the piano. She's recorded six albums, performed at the White House and Carnegie Hall, and worked closely with her mentor, music legend Quincy Jones. And get this: She's 12.