English critic Samuel Johnson once said of William Shakespeare "that his drama is the mirror of life." Now the Bard's words have been translated into life's most basic language. British scientists have stored all 154 of Shakespeare's sonnets on tiny stretches of DNA.
It all started with two men in a pub. Ewan Birney and Nick Goldman, both scientists from the European Bioinformatics Institute, were drinking beer and discussing a problem.
There's a quick, one-word explanation for why the federal government started selling flood insurance: Betsy.
Hurricane Betsy, which struck the Gulf Coast in 1965, became known as billion-dollar Betsy. Homes were ruined. Water up to the roofs. People paddling around streets in boats. Massive damage.
This would be the time when you'd expect people to be pulling out their flood insurance policies. But flood insurance was hard to come by. You could get fire insurance, theft insurance, car insurance, life insurance. Not flood.
National security reporter Fred Kaplan was the first to publicly link Paula Broadwell to Gen. David Petraeus in last fall's affair scandal, but that's not the topic of his new book. In fact, it's barely an addendum. Instead, Kaplan focuses in depth on counterinsurgency — a cornerstone of Petraeus' legacy.
At 72, the prince of R&B has reverted to childhood. Aaron Neville has a new album called My True Story, and it's a collection of the songs he sang growing up in the projects of New Orleans in the 1950s and '60s, back when doo-wop was king.
"I've been into every doo-wop there is," Neville says. "I think I went to the university of doo-wop-ology."
And now for some reaction to that decision, we turn to Anne Coughlin. She's a professor at the University of Virginia Law School, and her research inspired a lawsuit brought by two women in the Army Reserve seeking to reverse that ban. The suit argues the ban is unconstitutional. Anne Coughlin, welcome to the program.
ANNE COUGHLIN: Thank you so much, Melissa. I'm happy to be here.
BLOCK: And first, your thoughts when you heard this decision from Secretary Panetta today.
One week after Federal Aviation Administration officials grounded Boeing's newest jet, the world's entire 787 Dreamliner fleet remains parked. FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said Tuesday he couldn't speculate on when a review of the plane would be complete.
Investigators in the U.S. and Japan remain perplexed as to why batteries on two planes suffered serious failures. Now Boeing, its flagship jet and the certification process for the 787 are under intense scrutiny.
If you were dreaming of flying soon in a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, you have to wake up: Federal Aviation Administration isn't rushing its review of the grounded aircraft.
"We need to get to the bottom of the recent issues with the batteries in the 787 and ensure their safety before these aircraft can be put back in service," U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said today at an Aero Club luncheon in Washington.
Originally published on Wed January 23, 2013 4:24 pm
Firefighters in Chicago responded to the largest fire in years last night. According to The Chicago Tribune, at one point a third of the city's firefighters were battling the blaze at a vacant warehouse.
Luckily no one was hurt, but the arctic temperatures the area is experiencing meant the firefighters faced issues like frozen hydrants.
The pictures of the action, however, are made simply stunning because of the ice.
British Prime Minister David Cameron delivered a long-awaited speech on Britain's relationship to the European Union on Wednesday. Cameron is under pressure from the growing U.K. Independence Party to pull Britain out of the EU and he has said he is seeking "fresh consent" from the British public to continue in the EU on "renegotiated" terms. He promised to hold a referendum on whether Britain should withdraw if his party retains power after elections in 2015. If the U.K. pulls out, it would weaken the EU significantly.
The Algerian government was criticized for its handling of the gas plant hostage crisis which left 37 foreigners dead, including three Americans. But Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal told a press conference he was proud of how the security forces handled the crisis.
Joining us now is the Senate Majority Whip, the number two Democrat in the leadership, Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois. Welcome to the program once again.
SENATOR DICK DURBIN: Good to be with you.
SIEGEL: You and other Senate Democratic leaders seem to regard the House deferring action on the debt ceiling as an olive branch. Meanwhile, House Democrats like George Miller say they're tied to a three-month leash. What's the good part of this deal that House Democrats don't get?
When compared with its neighbors Coney Island and the Rockaways, Manhattan seemed hardly touched by the waters and winds of Superstorm Sandy in late October. But almost three months later, areas of lower Manhattan are still laboring to recover.
Earlier this month, a museum devastated by Sandy finally reopened. About 800 people packed the lobby and upstairs galleries of the South Street Seaport Museum in lower Manhattan as Mayor Michael Bloomberg addressed the crowd.
Ever since the Libyan rebellion that ousted Moammar Gadhafi, and more recently with the fighting in Mali, we've heard occasional mention of the Tuareg people, nomadic people of the Sahara, who are sometimes called the Blue Men of the Sahara. Last year, a Tuareg group seized a large section of Mali and declared it an independent Tuareg country they call Azawad.
Who are the Tuareg? And how do they fit into the tapestry of peoples and movements in that troubled part of Africa?
On Capitol Hill today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was both emotional and angry. Testifying before a Senate committee, she spoke passionately about the attack last September that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans. She said she's taking seriously the recommendations of her review panel to better protect U.S. diplomats around the world.
But as NPR's Michele Kelemen reports, Clinton insisted the U.S. can't retreat, especially from a region now in so much turmoil.
Sen. Rand Paul asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday if she knew that the State Department sent three comedians on a tour of India. We talk to one of the comedians about what it's like to be a political football.
Controversial experiments on bird flu could resume within weeks because leading influenza researchers around the world have finally called a halt to an unusual moratorium that has lasted more than a year.
The voluntary pause in the research started back in January 2012. Scientists had genetically altered the bird flu virus H5N1, changing it in ways that allowed it to spread through the coughs and sneezes of ferrets — the lab stand-in for people.
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has decided to lift a ban that prohibited women from serving in combat, a congressional source tells NPR's Tom Bowman. The move opens up thousands of front-line positions.
Panetta is expected to announce the decision along with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Thursday.
Originally published on Wed January 23, 2013 12:21 pm
NPR's Political Junkie Ken Rudin recaps the week in politics, from Obama's inaugural address to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's testimony on Benghazi. Jack Pitney, political science professor at Claremont McKenna College, discusses the Republican decisions on the debt ceiling and the future of the Republican party.
After yesterday's election in Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu will remain prime minister but with sharply diminished leverage and new coalitions to calculate. Opinion polls made Netanyahu an overwhelming favorite after his Likud bloc aligned with another right wing faction, but that alliance emerged with fewer seats than expected and with a new centrist rival.
Joining us now from Israel is Jodi Rudoren, Jerusalem bureau chief for The New York Times. Good to have you with us today.
Originally published on Thu January 24, 2013 5:56 am
Choosing hospice care is never an easy decision. It's an admission that the end is near, that there will be no cure.
But even after a family has opted for this end-of-life care, some still face an unexpected hurdle: Twelve percent of hospices nationwide refuse to accept patients who don't have a caregiver at home to look after them, according to a recent survey of nearly 600 hospice providers published in Health Affairs.