U.S. News

Shots - Health News
2:16 pm
Mon December 23, 2013

Alabama Blue Cross Shares Obamacare Tax Woes With Customers

Kajdi Szabolcs iStockphoto

Insurance companies aren't crazy about their share of the health law's taxes, but mostly they've complained to politicians and regulators.

At least one health plan wants to bring consumers into the loop.

"Affordable Care Act Fees and Taxes" is a separate line on bills Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama is sending to individual customers.

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Code Switch
12:44 pm
Mon December 23, 2013

The Extraordinary Story Of Why A 'Cakewalk' Wasn't Always Easy

Cakewalk dances were an integral part of minstrel shows for decades.
Minstrel Poster Collection (Library of Congress)

Anything that can be done with straightforward ease is said to be a "cakewalk." Any action that is "not a cakewalk" is, of course, difficult and complicated.

No surprise, right? But stay with me a little longer.

The cakewalk was a pre-Civil War dance originally performed by slaves on plantation grounds. The uniquely American dance was first known as the "prize walk"; the prize was an elaborately decorated cake. Hence, "prize walk" is the original source for the phrases "takes the cake" and "cakewalk."

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The Two-Way
12:10 pm
Mon December 23, 2013

White House Grants Extra Day For Obamacare Sign-Up

This image shows part of the HealthCare.gov website in Washington on Friday noting a Dec. 23 enrollment deadline for coverage starting Jan. 1.
Jon Elswick AP

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 1:03 pm

A midnight deadline to sign up for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act that starts Jan. 1 has been extended by a day in what the White House describes as an effort to accommodate people in different time zones.

The deadline that had been midnight on Dec. 23 has been pushed to Christmas Eve at midnight.

The Washington Post reports:

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Commentary
12:04 pm
Mon December 23, 2013

Sorry Assiduous (adj.) SAT-Takers, Linguist In Dudgeon (n.) Over Vocab Flashcards

Decades ago, the SAT test was seen as a measure of raw ability, not as something students ought to cram for. Now, test prep is a huge industry. Linguist Geoff Nunberg wonders what exactly students learn when they're flipping through vocabulary flashcards.
Mario Tama Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 2:01 pm

When I took the SATs a very long time ago, it didn't occur to us to cram for the vocabulary questions. Back then, the A in SAT still stood for "aptitude," and most people accepted the wholesome fiction that the tests were measures of raw ability that you couldn't prepare for — "like sticking a dipstick into your brain," one College Board researcher said.

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All Tech Considered
11:43 am
Mon December 23, 2013

Quantified Men: Tinder, Lulu And The Fallacy Of Hot Dating Apps

With the Tinder dating app, you swipe right if you want to meet someone, and swipe left if you don't.
Courtesy of Tinder

Originally published on Tue January 7, 2014 8:18 pm

Let's stipulate, for the purposes of this post, that you are looking for love. Thanks to our ever-connected devices, you can skip the bars or gyms or extracurricular activities to find a hookup. And even if you do meet someone the old-fashioned, analog way, romance and social media are so entwined that you can't escape getting ranked somewhere on an app.

This is the modern reality made possible by the two hot dating apps of 2013: Tinder and Lulu.

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Health
9:58 am
Mon December 23, 2013

Coping With Loss Amid Holiday Cheer

The holidays can be difficult if you've lost a loved one through suicide. Guest host Celeste Headlee gets tips for coping. She hears from Eric Marcus of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, whose father and sister-in-law took their own lives and psychiatrist Christine Moutier.

Education
9:58 am
Mon December 23, 2013

Racing To The Top, But Leaving Students Of Color Behind In Special Ed

Children of color are reportedly over represented in special education classes in Minnesota and other states. For more on whether anything can be done about it, guest host Celeste Headlee speaks with Dan Losen of the The Civil Rights Project at UCLA.

Technology
9:58 am
Mon December 23, 2013

Free Wifi Promised To Open Opportunities in Harlem

More than 80,000 Harlem residents are being promised free public wireless internet. But similar projects in other cities have run out of fuel. Guest host Celeste Headlee speaks with the New York City Housing Authority's Dupe Ajayi about the plan.

The Two-Way
5:36 am
Mon December 23, 2013

'I Am A Lover ... Not A Hater,' Says 'Duck Dynasty' Star

Duck Dynasty plastic drinking glasses with Phil Robertson's image are among the merchandise on sale at the Duck Commander store in West Monroe, La., and at other businesses around the nation.
Matthew Hinton AP

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 6:16 am

"I love all men and women. I am a lover of humanity, not a hater," Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson told a Bible study group Sunday in his first public comments following his suspension from the A&E reality show because of things he said to GQ magazine about homosexuality.

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Shots - Health News
1:46 am
Mon December 23, 2013

Screening Newborns For Disease Can Leave Families In Limbo

Vera Wojtesta was one of 300 babies flagged by New York's newborn screening program as at risk of having life-threatening Krabbe disease.
Ben Shutts Courtesy of the Wojtesta family

Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 2:24 pm

For Matthew and Brianne Wojtesta, it all started about a week after the birth of their daughter Vera. Matthew was picking up his son from kindergarten when he got a phone call.

It was their pediatrician, with some shocking news. Vera had been flagged by New York's newborn screening program as possibly having a potentially deadly disease, and would need to go see a neurologist the next day.

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Weekends On All Things Considered Podcast
5:54 pm
Sun December 22, 2013

A Pinball Monopoly, Camel Trekking In Texas, Charles Dickens' Mistress

  • A Pinball Monopoly, Camel Trekking In Texas, Charles Dickens' Mistress

This week on the podcast, we meet a tour guide leading camels through the wilderness, and a pinball manufacturer who wants to shake up his industry.

Plus, DJ Bettos Arcos plays some Christmas music from south of the border.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Law
3:00 pm
Sun December 22, 2013

'New Level' Of Scandal With LA Sheriff's Department

Host Arun Rath talks with Los Angeles Times reporter Robert Faturechi about the troubles facing the L.A. County Sheriff's Department. More than a dozen current and former deputies face federal charges stemming from allegations of abuse and corruption.

Games & Humor
3:00 pm
Sun December 22, 2013

In The World Of Pinball, An Underdog Takes On The Giant

Originally published on Sun December 22, 2013 4:53 pm

For more than a decade, Stern Pinball was the only manufacturer of pinball machines. The Chicago-based company's last rival closed down in 1999.

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All Tech Considered
12:58 pm
Sun December 22, 2013

Museums Give Video Games Bonus Life, But The Next Level Awaits

Flower, a 2009 release from thatgamecompany, is one of two video games the Smithsonian American Art Museum has acquired for its permanent collection.
Sony Entertainment/Smithsonian American Art Museum

Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 7:36 am

The long-running debate over whether video games constitute art may finally be moot — at least as far as the Smithsonian American Art Museum is concerned. Last week, SAAM acquired two video games, Halo 2600 and Flower, for its permanent collection.

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Politics
9:46 am
Sun December 22, 2013

Pension Cut Angers Senate's Staunchest Military Supporters

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., left, is urging her Senate colleagues to change the budget proposal that cuts retirement benefits for current and future military retirees.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Sun December 22, 2013 12:33 pm

In the two-year, $2 trillion budget deal that cleared the Senate last week, one item, worth just one-sixth of 1 percent of that total, was the reason many senators said they voted against it.

That item would produce some $6 billion in savings by shaving a percentage point off annual cost-of-living adjustments, and it would apply only to military pensions. Not all military pensions — just the retirement paid to veterans younger than 62.

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Strange News
8:05 am
Sun December 22, 2013

Building A Robotic Christmas Wonderland Of Trash

Originally published on Sun December 22, 2013 12:33 pm

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We all know the neighbor who goes a little bit overboard with the Christmas lights display. Well, we now take you to a perfectly manicured street in Palm Springs, where artist Kenny Irwin has taken holiday decorations to a new extreme. Sandhya Dirks of member station KPBS has this tour of a post-apocalyptic fantasy land.

SANDHYA DIRKS, BYLINE: Walk into Kenny Irwin's winter wonderland and you soon recognize it's not like anything you've ever seen before:

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Around the Nation
8:05 am
Sun December 22, 2013

'Bertha' Still Stuck In Her Tunnel Under Seattle

Originally published on Sun December 22, 2013 12:33 pm

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. The people of Seattle are puzzled by a mystery unfolding underground: the world's biggest tunneling machine is stuck about 75 feet under street level where it's digging a nearly two-mile-long highway right under downtown Seattle. As NPR's Martin Kaste reports, engineers say it'll take until January to figure out what is causing the block.

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Interviews
8:05 am
Sun December 22, 2013

What A Top Gun Learned On Her Way To The Top Of The Pentagon

Originally published on Sun December 22, 2013 12:33 pm

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We're going to hear now from the woman charged with streamlining the Pentagon's roughly $700 billion annual budget.

CHRISTINE FOX: We have to curb the growth of the compensation of our force. It's grown 40 percent above inflation over the last decade. And it's fully half of our budget. So, we have to slow the growth.

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Opinion
8:05 am
Sun December 22, 2013

A Navy Man's Argument That Cutting Pensions Might Be Good

Bryan McGrath spent 21 years in the United States Navy before retiring. He now works as a defense contractor, and he believes that it's not necessarily a bad thing that military pensions are changing. NPR's Rachel Martin reports.

Around the Nation
8:05 am
Sun December 22, 2013

A Big Helping Of Christmas Compassion At Joseph's House

Originally published on Sun December 22, 2013 12:33 pm

Joseph's House is a hospice in Washington, D.C., for people who don't have a home. Started in 1990, it's a spot where people with end-stage AIDS and cancer can come to receive food, shelter, medication and community. NPR's Rachel Martin checks in for the holidays.

Shots - Health News
4:10 am
Sun December 22, 2013

For 2 Young Doctors, Working On Christmas Was A Privilege

Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 6:03 am

December is supposed to be the time of year filled with family gatherings and holiday good cheer. For medical residents, quite the opposite is true.

There are no school breaks during residency. Being a medical resident is a real job, and a stressful one at that. Residents work long shifts, even with caps that max out at 16 hours for the newbies and up to 28 hours for those beyond the first year.

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The Two-Way
7:13 pm
Sat December 21, 2013

17-Year-Old Colorado School Shooting Victim Claire Davis Dies

Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson holds a picture of Claire Davis, 17, at a briefing at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo., the day after the Dec. 13 shooting. Davis died Saturday.
Ed Andrieski AP

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 3:56 am

The teenager shot in the head by a classmate at a high school outside Denver died Saturday after being hospitalized for eight days.

Claire Davis, 17, was shot at point blank range with a shotgun on Dec. 13 and had been hospitalized in critical condition.

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Code Switch
3:57 pm
Sat December 21, 2013

Reporter's Notebook: 'What Part Of Sacred Don't You Understand?'

Navajo activist Klee Benally chains himself to an excavator on the San Francisco Peaks, which he and 13 tribes consider sacred.
Ethan Sing

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 8:48 am

Laurel Morales covers Indian Country as a reporter for NPR member station KJZZ from a base in Flagstaff, which is on the edge of the country's largest reservation.

The Paris auction of 27 sacred American-Indian items earlier this month marks just the latest in a series of conflicts between what tribes consider sacred and what western cultures think is fair game in the marketplace.

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Around the Nation
3:55 pm
Sat December 21, 2013

Camels Trek In The Texas Desert, Just Like Old Times

The camel trek guides insist everything Americans think they know about camels is wrong.
Wade Goodwyn NPR

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 8:28 pm

At 10 on a crisp West Texas morning, five camel-trekkers stand under the open sky of the Davis Mountains. A few feet away, guide Doug Baum and Jason Mayfield load up five camels.

Baum, a former zookeeper, runs the Texas Camel Corps. The group guides camel treks around the world. In the Big Bend region, camels were for a brief time widespread, and the guides have brought them back.

'As Good As They Come'

You have to like a man who brings his own camel to a camel trek. On Mayfield's arm is a tall, beautiful blond named Butter.

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Law
3:51 pm
Sat December 21, 2013

1979 Supreme Court Ruling Becomes Focus Of NSA Tactics

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 8:28 pm

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

Throughout this debate over the NSA, the government has maintained that this collection of phone records for millions of Americans is legal and constitutional. And the government has sided a key Supreme Court case decided in 1979.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Case is submitted, and we'll hear arguments next in Smith against Maryland.

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U.S.
3:51 pm
Sat December 21, 2013

NSA Under More Scrutiny As Year Ends

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 8:28 pm

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

Turning back to this country and the controversy surrounding the National Security Agency. This week, it became clear that President Obama will likely make some changes to how the spy agency does its work. How far those changes go? Well, that's an open question. Will they, for example, adjust or even end the bulk collection of phone records? At his press conference yesterday, the president said that is part of the discussion.

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Africa
3:51 pm
Sat December 21, 2013

U.S. Troops Wounded In South Sudan Rescue Mission

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 8:28 pm

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

From NPR West, this is ALL THING CONSIDERED. I'm Arun Rath.

We're going to begin the program tonight in Africa where four U.S. servicemen were injured when their aircraft was fired on while flying over South Sudan. They were there to rescue Americans trapped in South Sudan where a political conflict threatens to escalate into a full-blown civil war.

NPR's Gregory Warner is in Nairobi where the injured soldiers were taken. Greg, what can you tell us about what happened today?

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Technology
3:51 pm
Sat December 21, 2013

55 Years Later: Commemorating First Space Broadcast

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 8:28 pm

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

Before we come back to Earth, here's a little space history with a holiday touch. Fifty-five years ago this week on December 19, 1958, the first radio broadcast was transmitted from space. An American satellite beamed down the voice of Dwight D. Eisenhower via shortwave.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER: This is the president of the United States speaking. Through the marvels of scientific advance, my voice is coming to you from a satellite circling in outer space.

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Space
3:51 pm
Sat December 21, 2013

Astronauts On Spacewalk Begin Space Station Repair

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 8:28 pm

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

This morning, astronauts Michael Hopkins and Richard Mastracchio stepped outside the International Space Station. Their mission: to conduct one of three urgent spacewalks to repair a coolant system. Mission Control seemed happy with today's effort.

(SOUNDBITE OF MISSION CONTROL RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: OK. Really nice work, guys. We're about an hour and a half ahead. Let's take some steps beforehand. First, we want to do an ammonia inspection.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Copy that.

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Politics
7:04 am
Sat December 21, 2013

The Life Of A Lobbyist In A Do-Nothing Congress

After casting their final votes of a session in which few laws were passed, members of Congress leave for a five-week recess.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 2:00 pm

The 113th Congress has finished its first session, and lawmakers enacted fewer than 60 laws. No Congress since 1947 has done so little legislating.

That's bad news for many of Washington's lobbyists. Howard Marlowe, for one, hasn't been feeling the joy of his job.

"One of the driest periods in the 35 years that I've been lobbying," he says.

An old Washington hand, Marlowe has a small, boutique lobbying firm specializing in local infrastructure projects. His client base includes airports, shipping ports and local governments.

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