Let's say you're skiing in the backcountry, looking for some powder — but instead, you trigger an avalanche.
If you have an avalanche air bag pack strapped to your back, you just yank the cord. That deploys the air bag, which keeps you close to the surface and easier to dig out, says Andy Wenberg with Backcountry Access, one of several companies making the devices. When deployed, his company's version of the air bag comes out like wings.
"The whole idea when you deploy that thing in an avalanche is you're avoiding burial death," he says.
Shortly after winning this race, Tyson Gay acknowledged failing a drug test. He is believed to have used a cream provided by an anti-aging specialist whose clients include several NFL players, reports ProPublica.
Tyson Gay, the U.S. sprinter whose comeback was derailed by failed drug tests in 2013, is believed to have used a cream containing banned substances he obtained from an Atlanta chiropractor and anti-aging specialist, according to a report by ProPublica and Sports Illustrated.
Originally published on Tue February 11, 2014 5:59 pm
The Winter Olympics brings up many questions about the sports themselves. But people are also wondering whether announcers might use the big time difference between Sochi and the U.S. to improve their coverage.
That idea came up over at Quora, the question-and-answer site:
On Monday, Norwegian Ole Einar Bjoerndalen came a ski-length away from winning a 13th Olympic medal and becoming the most decorated athlete ever at the Winter Games.
The biathlon pursuit Olympic event — cross-country skiing with rifle shooting — is a pretty devious race. The fastest man goes first, and then everyone else in the race tries to catch him before the finish line. And in Monday's competition, Bjoerndalen went first.
Devin Logan practices during a ski slopestyle training session in Sochi on Friday. She says she doesn't stress about competing, even on a course that some have called dangerous. "What we do is scary in general," she says. "But we know how to do it."
Credit Cameron Spencer / Getty Images
Devin Logan after finishing sixth in the women's ski superpipe at December's Dew Tour iON Mountain Championships in Breckenridge, Colo.
Credit Doug Pensinger / Getty Images
Devin Logan (right) with her mother, Nancy, in January after winning her spot on the U.S. Olympic team.
Much of the attention on the slopestyle events in Sochi has been focused on snowboarders like Shaun White. But Devin Logan and her other American teammates twist and soar down mountains, too — on skis.
I first met Logan at an Olympic qualifier event in Colorado back in December. We were hanging out at the base of the halfpipe watching the competition. She's 20. She smiles a lot. We bonded over Instagram and 2 Chainz. I told her I'd look for her in Sochi — but she didn't know then if she'd even make the U.S. team.
Originally published on Mon February 10, 2014 6:27 pm
When the federal government hits its debt ceiling at the end of the month, don't expect another big red-on-blue confrontation.
The appetite in the House Republican conference for that kind of debt-defying standoff isn't what it was last fall when the nation was hit by the double whammy of the debt limit and partial federal government shutdown.
And the House GOP can't even agree on what points to negotiate with President Obama — who has said he's not willing to negotiate on the debt ceiling anyway.
Originally published on Mon February 10, 2014 6:50 pm
The Obama administration says businesses employing 50-99 people now have until Jan. 1, 2016, to provide health insurance, rolling back part of the requirement known as the employer mandate. Under the Affordable Care Act, larger companies must offer the coverage in 2015.
NPR's Julie Rovner filed this update for our Newscast desk:
A Mexican national has been sentenced to 30 years in prison over the shooting death of border patrol agent Brian Terry.
If you remember, Terry's death resulted in the uncovering of a botched gun-walking scheme known as "Fast and Furious." Weapons, which the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives allowed criminals to buy, were found at the scene of the shootout.
There is a fake John Kerry wandering around Jerusalem these days. He stars in several satirical videos criticizing the U.S. effort to negotiate a peace agreement between Israeli and Palestinian leaders. The State Department suggests it is just the latest sign that Kerry has put real pressure on Israel to move toward a peace deal. NPR's Emily Harris reports.
Is the water safe to drink? As we've just heard, that's the question still plaguing hundreds of thousands of West Virginians who live in and around Charleston. I spoke earlier today with the other U.S. senator from West Virginia, the senior senator, Democrat Jay Rockefeller.
Senator Rockefeller, welcome to the program.
SENATOR JAY ROCKEFELLER: Thank you, Melissa. I wouldn't drink that water if you paid me.
BLOCK: Really? Well, that was my first question, would you drink the water? And you say no.
Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 3:11 pm
If you're happily in love, Mom and Dad may have helped.
Teenagers' relationships with their parents have a small but measurable impact on their romantic relationships up to 15 years later, according to researchers at the University of Alberta.
People who had a tumultuous relationship with Mom and Dad in their teens were more likely to face heartache down the road. And those who felt close to their parents during adolescence tended to feel more emotionally and physically satisfied in their adult romantic relationships.
Now we go behind closed doors. That's the part of the program where we talk about issues that people usually keep private. And today, we are focusing on miscarriage. And if you've ever gone through it or know someone who has, then you know it's devastating and surprisingly common. The National Institutes of Health report that 15 to 20 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage.
Euclid Market, a corner store in East Los Angeles, recently got a makeover to promote healthier eating. It not only sells more fruits and vegetables, but also offers cooking classes and nutrition education.
Credit Courtesy of Margaret Molloy/UCLA Fielding School of Public Health
Public health researcher Alex Ortega heads a UCLA project that aims to increase the demand for healthy food in low-income neighborhoods.
Credit Margaret Molloy/UCLA Fielding School of Public Health
In inner cities and poor rural areas across the country, public health advocates have been working hard to turn around food deserts — neighborhoods where fresh produce is scarce, and greasy fast food abounds. In many cases, they're converting dingy, cramped corner markets into lighter, brighter venues that offer fresh fruits and vegetables.
Virginia Rady, 28, holds her old nebulizer at her home in Dallas. Rady was diagnosed with chronic persistent asthma at age 2. She underwent a series of three outpatient surgeries between December 2012 and February 2013 for a procedure known as bronchial thermoplasty. She says the procedure has changed her life, allowing her to remove her nebulizer from her bedside.
Credit Brandon Thibodeaux for NPR
Virginia Rady no longer has to use this nebulizer to deliver asthma medication. She underwent a procedure known as bronchial thermoplasty, which has reduced her need for drugs to control symptoms.
Credit Brandon Thibodeaux for NPR
Rady, shown with her dog, says she's now able to exercise regularly, and hopes to be able to have children.
If you've ever tried to drink something through one of those little red coffee stirrers instead of a full-sized straw, you know what it's like to breathe with asthma.
Twenty-five million Americans have been diagnosed with asthma. And for 10 percent of them, medications like inhaled corticosteroids and long-acting beta agonists aren't enough to keep them out of the hospital.
Forest Lawn is a big name in the funeral business, and it has funeral homes all across Southern California. Most are stately, sprawling estates. But the Glendale location is a little different.
First off, it's tiny — the size of a typical funeral home bathroom. Second, there aren't any coffins or headstones for sale. There is an attendant, but he can't sell you anything: The urns are only on display. The place feels pretty inconspicuous. It could as easily be marketing homemade pottery as end-of-life planning.
Wayne Warren shakes wet dirt out of a plastic bucket and into a metal chute, tossing aside bigger rocks. For him, California's drought is golden.
Yes, golden. Warren is knee-deep in the San Gabriel River, an hour outside of Los Angeles. That chute next to him is a sluice box. The water washes away the dirt in a muddy cloud, and he leans over the box. Out of the creek, he taps his findings into a green, plastic gold pan and gives it a few swirls. What's left ...
Originally published on Mon February 10, 2014 3:19 pm
In Sochi this week, athletes are competing in a display of human grace and skill. Many will win. Many more will lose, and many tears will be shed.
In New York on Saturday night, athletes of a different breed competed in a display of canine finesse and dexterity. Many won. If any lost, none knew it. Not one shed a tear.
At the Westminster Dog Show's Masters Agility Championship, 225 exuberant dogs dove through tunnels, flew through hoops, leaped over hurdles and wove in and out of poles with the focus of the highest-level Olympic champion.
<strong>I want to hold your lunch!</strong> This 1965 lunchbox — considered "one of the Holy Grails" of lunchbox collecting — sold for $936.10 in 2013. It came with a thermos. Another mint condition sample sold for $1,625 last fall.
Credit Courtesy of Hake's Americana & Collectibles
This 1968 <em>Yellow Submarine</em> Beatles lunchbox sold for $851.60 in 2011.
Credit Courtesy of Hake's Americana & Collectibles
While an original Beatles lunchbox will cost you hundreds of dollars, fans can pick up a version made in the '90s or later in the $10-$25 range. Here's one based on the 1965 album Help! It's being sold on eBay as part of a set of 13 lunchboxes, each based on a different Beatles album cover.
The Beatle's 1966 album <em>Revolver</em> is depicted on a retro-style, modern metal lunchbox.
Originally published on Sun February 9, 2014 10:04 am
California, which has been experiencing its worst drought on record, is welcoming some heavy rainfall this weekend, but it's still too early to say if it signals a wholesale quenching of dried up streams and farm fields.
There's been a surge in earthquakes in the U.S. over the last few years. In Texas, there are 10 times the number of earthquakes now than just a few years ago.
Scientists say it's likely linked to the boom in oil and gas activity, meaning that people who never felt the ground shake are starting to.
Here's how Pat Jones of Snyder, Texas, describes the earthquake that struck her town in 2010: "It just sounded like some car hit the back of our house. We got up and checked around and we didn't see anything or hear anything else."
Originally published on Sun February 9, 2014 10:37 am
Controversy is nothing new to figure skating, so perhaps it's not surprising that team figure skating, new to this Olympics, has already come in for some unwanted attention. The Russian and U.S. figure skating teams are strongly denying reports that they are in collusion.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.
The Obama administration is now urging some criminals in U.S. prisons to plead for clemency. Many of these prisoners were sentenced under tough drug laws from the days of the crack epidemic. And now, the Justice Department says that low level, non-violent drug offenders should ask for early release. The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, meanwhile, is pushing a bill that advocates are calling the biggest sentencing reform in decades.
Letters written in a time of war reflect almost universal longing and loss, no matter the century or the enemy. NPR's Rachel Martin talks to Andrew Carroll, the director of the Center for American War Letters, about his personal collection of wartime correspondence from every American conflict, going back to 1776.
Jamie Anderson of the United States, center, celebrates with silver medalist Enni Rukajarvi of Finland, left, and bronze medalist Jenny Jones of Britain, after Anderson won the women's snowboard slopestyle final at the 2014 Winter Olympics, on Sunday.
Attorney General Eric Holder has directed the Justice Department to give same-sex married couples "full and equal recognition." This means they will now have spousal privileges in federal courts. NPR's Arun Rath speaks with justice correspondent Carrie Johnson about the policy shift and what it means for same-sex couples.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam delivers his State of the State address to a joint session of the General Assembly on Monday in Nashville, Tenn. In the speech, he proposed spending the state's lottery money on free community college education for those in need.
Pretty soon, going to community college in Tennessee may become absolutely free. Republican Gov. Bill Haslam unveiled the proposal in his annual State of the State address this week.
Haslam is trying to lift Tennessee's ranking as one of the least-educated states. Less than a third of residents have even a two-year degree. But a community college free-for-all has been tried elsewhere, though not sustained, and there's always a nagging question.
"So I know you're wondering," Haslam said. "How do we pay for this?"
Originally published on Sat February 8, 2014 12:04 pm
Attorney General Eric Holder has for the first time directed Justice Department employees to give same-sex married couples "full and equal recognition, to the greatest extent under the law," a move with far-ranging consequences for how such couples are treated in federal courtrooms and proceedings.