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Technology

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Scientists have found the inspiration for a lifesaving tool in an unusual place — a children's toy. The invention may soon help health care workers diagnose malaria in places where standard laboratory equipment is hard to find. Diagnosing malaria in the field isn't all that difficult, but you need a device called a centrifuge that can spin a blood sample very quickly, causing different types of cells in blood to separate from each other.

The online classified website Backpage.com said it has suspended its adult ad pages, citing government pressure about the content being shared there.

A 2016 Senate report called the website the "largest commercial sex services advertising platform in the United States" and said that "Backpage officials have publicly acknowledged that criminals use the website for sex trafficking, including trafficking of minors."

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In 1889, Bethlehem Steel brought engineer Frederick Taylor on board in an attempt to streamline its vast operation.

Taylor had recently invented a theory of "time management" in which the same principles used to optimize machines was applied to people. Taylor stalked the floors of the Bethlehem plant armed with a stopwatch and a clipboard noting the time it took for workers to complete tasks, like loading iron bars onto waiting railcars. Taylor's eventual recommendation to the company's executives were simple: The workers should be made to do more in less time.

Media coverage of tragedy — terrorist attacks, homelessness, the refugee crisis — can be so overwhelming it's numbing. Charities say it can also make it harder to get support.

Some are hoping a new form of media will be more persuasive — virtual reality or VR, which they think makes people more empathetic.

Apple's iPhone Turns 10 Years Old

Jan 9, 2017

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Now let's note an anniversary.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

To do that, imagine a world where no one is bent over a little glowing screen.

CORNISH: Or where confronted with a question at a dinner party, no one Googles the answer right at the table.

On Jan. 9, 2007, 10 years ago today, Steve Jobs formally announced Apple's "revolutionary mobile phone" — a device that combined the functionality of an iPod, phone and Internet communication into a single unit, navigated by touch.

It was a huge milestone in the development of smartphones, which are now owned by a majority of American adults and are increasingly common across the globe.

Chances are your doctor has stopped taking notes with pen and paper and moved to computer records. That is supposed to help coordinate your care.

Increasingly, researchers are also exploring these computerized records for medical studies and gleaning facts that help individual patients get better care.

In Georgia, lawmakers are set to pass a more than $20 billion budget this year and grapple with a failing hospital system.

But Georgia, like many other states, faces a serious human resource problem in its Legislature: Salaries are often low and many would-be politicians can't afford to be lawmakers.

Former Georgia state Rep. LaDawn Jones loved serving in the General Assembly even as she juggled raising two kids and running a law practice. But she left after one term because the job didn't pay enough.

Last October, Matt Herich was listening to the news while he drove door to door delivering pizzas. A story came on the radio about a technology that sends an electric current through your brain to possibly make you better at some things — moving, remembering, learning. He was fascinated.

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Updated at 3:31 p.m. ET after briefing

After casting doubt on the legitimacy of U.S. intelligence (even referring to it as "intelligence"), President-elect Donald Trump was briefed Friday by the nation's top intelligence officials on their investigation into Russia's hacking attempts and interference in the U.S. presidential election.

Director of National Security James Clapper, CIA Director John Brennan and FBI Director James Comey briefed the president-elect on their findings at Trump Tower early Friday afternoon.

Starting next week, Norway will become the first country to switch off its nationwide FM radio network and convert completely to digital signals.

The change was announced in 2015, and will take months to be fully implemented.

The Norwegian government decided to make the transition in part because digital radio can provide many more channels for the same price — eight times as many, to be precise.

Citing local regulations, Apple has removed The New York Times news app from its app store in China. The incident is the latest in the long history of media restrictions in the country, but also in the ongoing pattern of tech companies getting involved in the efforts.

Updated at 2:15 p.m. ET

Intelligence agency leaders repeated their determination Thursday that only "the senior most officials" in Russia could have authorized recent hacks into Democratic National Committee and Clinton officials' emails during the presidential election.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper affirmed an Oct. 7 joint statement from 17 intelligence agencies that the Russian government directed the election interference — and went further.

Updated at 4:15 p.m. ET

Four people have been charged with hate crimes for allegedly carrying out an assault, live-streamed online, in which a man was tied up, hit and cut with a knife by several assailants.

Authorities say the victim, who had been reported missing before the attack, has "mental health challenges." He was encountered by police on Tuesday evening and is recovering in the hospital.

ZTE is a company known for phones. Based in China, it's one of the largest smartphone makers around the world. But as it's trying to branch out, it launched a project last year to crowdsource a new path, asking its customers what they want. Maybe some kind of drone, ZTE executives thought, or a new way to use virtual reality.

Between Fidel Castro's death and the new American president, it's hard to know what's next for U.S.-Cuba relations. But partnerships are already underway, including one involving Cuba's first independent video game design company and a U.S. foundation that helped it get started.

Empty Head Games is the company started by two young Cubans, Josuhe Pagliery and Johann Armenteros. In November, the duo launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo for their game, Savior. In just six days, the campaign hit its $10,000 goal.

There are more than 80,000 educational apps in Apple's app store. It seems like a great way to encourage brain development and make your little one the smartest baby genius. But just sticking a tablet in your kid's hands might not be as helpful.

Sure, use the app. But it's not a babysitter — you've got to help them use it, too.

Ah, to work in France: plenty of vacation and a 35-hour workweek. And, as of Jan. 1, a new law that gives French employees the right to disconnect. Companies in France are now required to stop encroaching on workers' personal and family time with emails and calls.

It's 1968 in New Bordeaux, La. On the surface all looks tranquil as you drive through the bustling city in your red Pontiac, tapping your foot to Sam Cooke's "Chain Gang."

But as you take a sharp left down a winding back alley, an alarming sight gives you pause. Behind you, trucks painted with the Confederate flag begin to appear, the white men behind the wheel angry and visceral as they shout racial slurs.

Your name is Lincoln Clay. You're a 23-year-old biracial man — but in this place, this time, you're black, and instances of racism and bigotry are commonplace.

The Shanghai city government thinks it can make citizens more honest through a smartphone app. The city released the app, Honest Shanghai, in November during "honesty week," a celebration of virtuous behavior throughout the city.

Here's how the app works: You sign up using your national ID number. The app uses facial recognition software to locate troves of your personal data collected by the government, and 24 hours later, you're given one of three "public credit" scores — very good, good, or bad.

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Yes, This Is A Thing: A Self-Tying Shoe

Jan 2, 2017

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Let's take a moment to recognize one of last year's tech breakthroughs.

TIFFANY BEERS: We have what we call a lace engine.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

If you've been glued to your smart phone checking work email throughout the holiday season, you might want to consider relocating. French workers will have the "right to disconnect" outside of work hours, thanks to a new law going into effect Jan. 1.

Companies with more than 50 employees will be obligated to set up hours — normally during the evening and weekend — when staff are not to send or respond to emails.

Reading The Game: The Last Of Us

Dec 31, 2016

For years now, some of the best, wildest, most moving or revealing stories we've been telling ourselves have come not from books, movies or TV, but from video games. So we're running an occasional series, Reading The Game, in which we take a look at some of these games from a literary perspective.

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NPR's Ari Shapiro talks to cybersecurity expert Robert Knake on what tools the U.S. has to retaliate against Russia in cyberspace. Knake, former director of cybersecurity policy with the National Security Council, is now a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

In November, the typically straitlaced Office of Government Ethics surprised observers with a series of tweets mimicking Donald Trump's bombastic style, exclamation points and all: "Brilliant! Divestiture is good for you, good for America!"

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