Ben Bernanke steps down this week as chairman of the Federal Reserve. The new chair, Janet Yellen, will take over on Saturday. After a two-day meeting, the message today from Fed policymakers was simple: Stay the course. The Fed released a statement saying it will continue dialing-back its stimulus.
NPR's John Ydstie has more on that decision and Bernanke's legacy.
Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 8:46 am
Saying Edward Snowden has "contributed to a more stable and peaceful world order" by exposing U.S. surveillance practices and forcing a new debate over security and privacy, two Norwegian politicians nominated the former intelligence contractor for the Nobel Peace Prize on Wednesday.
If he were to win the award, Snowden, who gave a trove of classified documents to media outlets last summer, would join the ranks of popular Nobel Peace laureates such as Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa.
Originally published on Mon February 3, 2014 12:56 pm
Financial planners all say: The sooner you start saving, the better off you'll be in retirement.
But that advice often goes unheeded by young workers focused on paying down student debt and car loans. And even for those who can afford to set aside a little cash, investing can seem complicated and risky.
Neanderthals died out long ago, but their genes live on in us. Scientists studying human chromosomes say they've discovered a surprising amount of Neanderthal DNA in our genes. And these aren't just random fragments; they help shape what we look like today, including our hair and skin.
These genes crept into our DNA tens of thousands of years ago, during occasional sexual encounters between Neanderthals and human ancestors who lived in Europe at the time. They show up today in their descendants, people of European and Asian descent.
Originally published on Wed January 29, 2014 12:51 pm
In his yearly report (pdf) to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the country's spy chief says one of the top threats facing the United States is the unauthorized leak of classified information.
In his threat assessment report, James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, listed "insider threats," alongside cyber attacks and terrorism.
Originally published on Wed January 29, 2014 2:32 pm
I bought Francisco Lima his first taste of freedom in decades.
It was 2004, and Brazil was starting to confront one of its most distressing problems: slavery. I was in northern Pará state, in the Amazon, observing a special police unit that raided slaveholding farms and firms and liberated workers like the 74-year-old Lima.
But the recently rediscovered "first Porsche in the world" — dubbed the P1 — was a technological marvel for its time. It "included a compact electric drive weighing 286 pounds," writes the automotive news site Jalopnik, and could chug along at 22 mph.
On Jan. 9, people in and around Charleston, W.Va., began showing up at hospitals: They had nausea, eye infections and some were vomiting. It was later discovered that around 10,000 gallons of toxic chemicals had leaked into the Elk River, just upstream from a water treatment plant that serves 300,000 people. Citizens were told not to drink or bathe in the water, and while some people are now using water from their taps, many still don't trust it or the information coming from public officials.
After more than two years of negotiations, lawmakers from the Senate and the House have agreed on a new, bipartisan farm bill. The five-year, $500 billion deal would reduce spending by approximately $23 billion, with much of those savings coming from cuts to the federal food stamps program. The House is expected to vote on the deal on Wednesday. Robert Siegel discusses details of the bill with reporter Derek Wallbank of Bloomberg News.
Originally published on Wed January 29, 2014 12:44 pm
Steve Beshear couldn't help but chuckle during the State of the Union speech when President Obama said, "Kentucky's not the most liberal part of the country."
Obama was singling out his fellow Democrat for being the rare Southern governor who has fully implemented the Affordable Care Act, expanding Medicaid and running a state health insurance exchange that launched far more smoothly than the federal model.
Originally published on Wed January 29, 2014 9:58 am
A Hong Kong real estate tycoon made headlines two years ago when he offered a $65 million bounty to the man who could win his daughter's heart and marry her. In an open letter today, the daughter says she hopes he can accept that she is indeed a lesbian.
Originally published on Wed January 29, 2014 1:39 pm
I'm not a big football fan. However, I look forward every year to Super Bowl Sunday. Who can argue with a day that, let's face it, is as devoted to partying as it is to the matchup on the field. So every time another Super Bowl rolls around, we invite a bunch of friends over for some beer, some eats and, of course, some serious game-watching.
Originally published on Wed January 29, 2014 12:30 pm
If you've seen any coverage of North Dakota's oil boom, you've seen the images — oil rigs, truck traffic, "man camps," miles of temporary housing.
But there is something about this place that just can't be captured by a still photograph. It's a feeling you get when you cruise down an endless highway under a vast, big sky — until suddenly: BOOM. You're wedged between semitrucks dwarfing what was once a quiet farm town.
Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 9:11 am
Exercise helps recovery after cancer treatment, but fatigue can make working out hard. Yoga can help reduce fatigue for breast cancer survivors, a study finds. It's one of a growing number of efforts using randomized controlled trials to see if the ancient practice offers medical benefits.
Women who took a yoga class three hours a week for three months reported less fatigue compared with a group of breast cancer survivors who did not do yoga.
Originally published on Fri January 31, 2014 9:10 am
You think 21st century foodies will go to great lengths for a culinary thrill? (Lion meat, anyone?) Turns out, they've got nothing on 18th century English royals.
Frogs, puffins, boar's head and larks and other songbirds were all fair game for the dinner table of England's King George II, judging by a chronicle of daily meals served to his majesty and his wife, Queen Caroline.
Originally published on Wed January 29, 2014 12:44 pm
Even during a week when the NFL's Super Bowl is dominating sports pages and sports talk shows, college football is back in the headlines because players at Northwestern University have voted to form a union.
A heart-rending moment came towards the end of President Obama's State of the Union Address last night, when he spoke of an Army Ranger who was grievously wounded in Afghanistan. Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg was on his 10th combat tour when he was hit by a massive roadside bomb. He spent months in a coma and endured many surgeries, but was able to be in the audience between his father and First Lady Michele Obama for the president's speech.
Originally published on Wed January 29, 2014 12:40 pm
The toughest test of a card player comes not with a big hand or a sheer bust, but rather with cards somewhere in between. Then it's not the deal that makes the difference — it's the sheer skill of the player.