It's one of the smallest law enforcement agencies in the federal government, but the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has sure had a busy couple of weeks.
Dozens of its agents raced to Boston, where they analyzed bombs left near the finish line of the marathon. Others went south to Texas, where a fertilizer plant exploded under mysterious circumstances. Members of the ATF's national response team are still on the scene in tiny West, Texas, sifting through rubble at the blast site, near a crater that's 93 feet wide.
Soccer isn't just a sport in Brazil, it's a religion, and the main temple is the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro.
The venue is not only the biggest stadium in Brazil but the biggest in South America. Over the weekend, the newly renovated complex reopened to great fanfare, with stirring musical numbers, a light show and dignitaries including Brazil's president.
The headlines in the local media, however, focused not on the fanfare but on the many problems, from flooding in the VIP area to malfunctioning seats and turnstiles. The stadium was also four months late reopening.
Smoking has its risks, but in California higher prices for health insurance probably won't be among them.
The federal health law allows states to charge smokers up to 50 percent more for a health plan, but a bill moving forward in the California Legislature would prevent that from happening.
The Affordable Care Act is supposed to remove discrimination in the pricing of health insurance for things like gender and medical condition. Critics say a tobacco surcharge creates a new category of discrimination against smokers.
Author Benjamin Alire Saenz writes about life on the U.S.-Mexico border. Here he holds his latest book, Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club, in front of "$26," a painting by Francisco Delgado (the presidents in the painting appear on American bills worth a collective $26).
Credit Monica Ortiz Uribe
For almost a century, the Kentucky Club, just three blocks from the international bridge, has been a nightlife destination for residents of El Paso and Ciudad Juarez.
On a Saturday night, the bridge that links downtown El Paso, Texas, to Ciudad Juarez in Mexico is hauntingly still. Once, this was a border crossing flush with life; now, after years of brutal drug violence, it's like a graveyard. It's certainly not the border that American author Benjamin Alire Saenz recalls from his high school days.
"We'd all pile in a couple of cars. There'd be like 10 of us and we'd come over to Juarez," Saenz remembers. "We'd go to all these places like The Cave, the Club Hawaii ... the Kentucky Club ... and we would just have a good time and laugh."
With instant messages buzzing, emails pinging and texts ringing, how can employers increase productivity in the workplace? Software companies are tackling the problem, tracking employees' computer time to find ways to improve their efficiency.
Credit Courtesy of Yuki Noguchi
NPR's Yuki Noguchi tried RescueTime to measure her productivity. Here are the results.
Even when people think they're buckling down, studies show the average office worker wastes over a third of the day. There's Facebook, of course, and the email from a friend with a YouTube link. After all that, is it time to go get coffee?
Worker pay is the most expensive line item in the budget for most businesses, which means billions of dollars are going to waste.
But here's the silver lining: It turns out lack of productivity presents a big business opportunity.
Joe Hruska is pretty blunt about how much work anyone does in a typical day.
Poacher-turned-conservationist Karamoy Maramis, who works at Bogani Nani Wartabone National Park in Sulawesi, holds a maleo, a bird that exists in nature only on the Indonesian island.
Credit Aek Berry / AFP/Getty Images
Fishermen arrive on Wakatobi island in Sulawesi waters off eastern Indonesia in 2009. In the 19th century, the island's rich and unique biodiversity helped Wallace understand how species adapted to their environment — and how regions are defined by the animals that live in them.
Credit Rebecca Davis / NPR
Maleos are a prime example of an animal that has adapted to its environment, using geothermal energy to incubate their eggs rather than body heat. They dig into the earth, which is heated by hot springs, are able to sense spots that are exactly 86 to 97 degrees, and lay their eggs there.
A mammoth spinning vortex is seen on Saturn, in this "false-color" photograph released by NASA Monday. The image was captured by the Cassini spacecraft. A related image, presenting what a human eye would see, is farther down this page.
A huge storm is seen on Saturn's north pole, in this color image from NASA's Cassini spacecraft. NASA used red, green and blue spectral filters "to create this natural-color view, which is what the human eye would see if we were there at Saturn."
NASA is calling it "The Rose." By any other name, it's a mammoth storm on Saturn's north pole. Its eye spans an estimated 1,250 miles — 20 times the size of an average hurricane's eye on Earth. Winds in the Saturn storm's eye wall are believed to be four times as fast.
The stunning image of the spinning vortex was given "false colors" to emphasize low clouds (in red) versus high clouds (in green). NASA estimates that the clouds at the outer edge are moving at up to 330 miles per hour.
There are still relatively few women in tech. Maria Klawe wants to change that. As president of Harvey Mudd College, a science and engineering school in Southern California, she's had stunning success getting more women involved in computing.
Nearly all of the remaining provisions of the new health care law go into effect next January, including one that requires businesses with 50 or more full-time employees to pay for their health care or pay a penalty.
Some businesses may already be making personnel changes to save money when that provision of the Affordable Care Act kicks in. One option on the table: shifting full-time workers to part time.
Patricia East is a developmental psychologist who began her career working at an OB-GYN clinic in California. Thursday mornings at the clinic were reserved for pregnant teens, and when East arrived the waiting room would be packed with them, chair after chair of pregnant adolescents.
It was in this waiting room, East explains, that she discovered her life's work — an accidental discovery that emerged from the small talk that staff at the clinic had with their young clients as they walked them back for checkups.
Originally published on Mon April 29, 2013 4:00 pm
A civilian cargo plane crashed in Afghanistan, killing all seven crew members, the U.S. military said Monday.
NPR's Tom Bowman is reporting on it for our Newscast team. He says:
"Officials say the crash killed all seven crew members. And there is no word yet on their nationalities.
"Emergency responders are still on the scene of the crash, at the sprawling base north of Kabul. Officials are still trying to determine the reason for the crash but say there's no indication of hostile fire.
Iceland has become the first country to elect members of parliament from the Pirate Party — an international online freedom movement.
Three Pirate Party MPs will take seats following historic polls in Iceland that saw a new coalition come to power on a promise of easing economic austerity measures.
According to The Associated Press:
"The conservative Independence Party and rural-based Progressive Party — who governed Iceland for decades before the 2008 [economic] crash — each had 19 seats in Iceland's 63-seat parliament, the Althingi. ...
In the aftermath of last year's Newtown, Conn., school shootings, the Entertainment Software Association, which serves computer and video game publishers, issued a statement saying that years of research has shown no connection between entertainment and real-world violence.
But there's still a connection between video game makers and real-world gun makers.
It all started one night when writer Amanda Filipacchi was browsing through Wikipedia and noticed an absence of women under the category "American novelists." At first, she thought the female writers being moved off the page were not important enough to be on it. But then she discovered some obscure male novelists were still listed, while some well-known women were not.
Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx has been nominated to head the U.S. Department of Transportation in President Obama's final term. What the soon-to-be 42-year old mayor lacks in transportation credentials, he makes up for in loyalty to the President and a shared vision of the need for better transit systems.
It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.
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And I'm Melissa Block.
The head of the U.N. refugee agency says aid workers are not prepared for the possibility of chemical warfare in Syria. And as NPR's Michele Kelemen reports, that's just one of many concerns relief groups face in what they're calling the worst humanitarian disaster in decades.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block.
In Bangladesh today, crowds chanted hang him as the owner of a garment factory building was led into court. The eight-story building collapsed last week, killing some 400 workers. Hundreds more remain unaccounted for. It's the worst industrial accident ever in Bangladesh, and it comes just months after a factory fire there killed more than 100 garment workers.
Turkey and Israel are negotiating compensation for the families of nine activists. They were killed in 2010 when Israeli commandos boarded a Turkish aid ship off the Gaza coast. The talks are part of an effort to restore normal ties between the countries after a three-year chill. But some families of the aid ship victims say they won't accept compensation until Israel lifts restrictions on Gaza. NPR's Peter Kenyon reports from Istanbul.
I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation. So begins an essay in the upcoming issue of Sports Illustrated, written by 34-year-old NBA center Jason Collins. And it's a big moment, not just for pro basketball but for all pro sports.
Three popular pesticides will soon be illegal in the European Union, where officials hope the change helps restore populations of honey bees, vital to crop production, to healthy levels. The new ban will be enacted in December.
"I pledge to do my utmost to ensure that our bees, which are so vital to our ecosystem and contribute over €22 billion ($28.8 billion) annually to European agriculture, are protected," said EU Health and Consumer Commissioner Tonio Borg.
"What is a 'tea blend?'" is a Downton Abbey-inspired mix of almond, vanilla and cream teas accented with rose hips.
Credit Cara McGee / Courtesy of Adagio Teas
"Eleven," one of Cara McGee's blends inspired by the new Doctor Who, is described as "quirky and dark." Amy Pond — a blend in honor of one of the doctor's recent time-travelling companions — is a fiery orange, cranberry and rooibos vanilla chai.
Credit Cara McGee / Courtesy of Adagio Teas
Two of McGee's teas inspired by the latest BBC incarnation of Sherlock Holmes and his trusty sidekick.
Credit Cara McGee / Courtesy of Adagio Teas
McGee calls "Bilbow Brew" — inspired by The Hobbit -- her current favorite fandom blend. It combines Irish breakfast, sweet potato and vanilla green teas, and tastes "kind of like breakfast in the Shire," she says. "Smaug," on the other hand, has lapsang souchong, candy cane and ginger teas in it.
Credit Aun-Juli Riddle / Courtesy of Adagio Teas
"Sellsword Spirits" was inspired by Bronn from Game of Thrones.
Originally published on Mon April 29, 2013 4:27 pm
Apparently, fan fiction and fan art aren't the only options for expressing your love of Sherlock, Doctor Who and The Hunger Games. There's also tea.
If you visit the online tea store of Adagio Teas, you'll find a collection of "Fandom Blends." They're the teas that customers have mixed and named after characters in favorite TV shows, books, movies and comics.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai acknowledged on Monday that for the past decade or more, his office has been receiving secret cash payments from the CIA, but that it's only small amounts used for "operational" purposes.
Pro-democracy supporters in Hong Kong sing and shout slogans during a January protest. Chinese leaders and the state-run media are now speaking often of the Chinese dream, though there's no real consensus on what it means.
Forget about the American dream. Nowadays, the next big thing is the Chinese dream. In Beijing, it's the latest official slogan, mentioned on the front page of the official People's Daily 24 times in a single week recently.
With this level of publicity from the official propaganda machine, the Chinese dream even looks set to be enshrined as the new official ideology.