NPR News

Vijay Iyer, Jeremy Denk Win MacArthur Genius Grants

Sep 25, 2013

After Ohio death row inmate Harry Mitts Jr. is executed on Wednesday, the state will have officially run out of pentobarbital — the lethal injection drug.

That's because the Danish pharmaceutical company Lundbeck LLC, which manufactures the drug, has cut off its supply in deference to the European Union's opposition to capital punishment.

In our "Weekly Innovation" blog series, we explore an interesting idea, design or product that you may not have heard of yet. Do you have an innovation to share? Use this quick form.

Kenyan Mall Attack: The Latest News

Sep 25, 2013

Here's a quick look at where things stand in Nairobi, Kenya, where terrorists claiming to be part of the Somalia-based al-Shabab organization attacked a shopping mall on Saturday and then kept security forces at bay until late in the day on Tuesday:

Rooftop Farming Is Getting Off The Ground

Sep 25, 2013

From vacant lots to vertical "pinkhouses," urban farmers are scouring cities for spaces to grow food. But their options vary widely from place to place.

While farmers in post-industrial cities like Detroit and Cleveland are claiming unused land for cultivation, in New York and Chicago, land comes at a high premium. That's why farmers there are increasingly eyeing spaces that they might not have to wrestle from developers: rooftops that are already green.

Mayhem. Chaos. Fiasco.

Choose your favorite. Those words and others are making their way into headlines about what happened Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium.

It was Mariano Rivera Bobblehead Night, and the first 18,000 fans through the gates were supposed to get jiggly statues of their soon-to-be retired star pitcher.

But the truck bringing the bobbleheads to the stadium broke down. So the thousands of fans who had gathered outside the gates were given vouchers instead.

First Listen: HAIM, 'Days Are Gone'

Sep 25, 2013

Geoff Barrow of the revered English band Portishead recently maligned the fast-rising Los Angeles sister act HAIM with a snippy tweet: Hiam [sic] sound like Shania Twain ... When did that become a good thing? To which this critic replies: Who said it isn't?

Wednesday Morning Political Mix — Sept. 25, 2013

Sep 25, 2013

It's Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013, which puts us five days away from a possible federal-government shutdown that would begin Oct. 1 if Congress fails to pass a stop-gap spending bill.

So the drama in the Senate over the spending bill leads the day's interesting political items and features Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. At this writing, Cruz was in the last gasps of an anti-Obamacare talkathon. That's where we start:

Just one week after the discovery of two long-lost cars in an Oklahoma lake and what appear to be the remains of six long-lost people inside them, a 1960 Studebaker Lark has been recovered from a creek in South Dakota.

As more becomes known about the strong, 7.7-magnitude earthquake that rocked southern Pakistan on Tuesday, we're hearing that:

Latest MacArthur Geniuses Include Sound Savior

Sep 25, 2013

This year's 24 recipients of MacArthur Foundation "genius grants" include a physicist whose work was inspired in part by an NPR report he heard a decade ago.

As Carl Haber of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory explains in a video posted by the foundation with Wednesday's awards announcements:

There's a showdown underway in Congress.

The Republican-controlled House has voted to keep the government running only if the Affordable Care Act is defunded, and the Democratic-controlled Senate isn't likely to go along with that plan. If the two sides can't resolve their differences by Oct. 1, the U.S. government will shut down.

We asked you what you wanted to know about the potential government shutdown, and journalists from NPR's Washington Desk tracked down the answers:

Football is unique in that most players participate in only half the game — offense or defense.

Imagine running power lines through a cathedral. That's how archaeologists describe what the Bonneville Power Administration proposes doing in the Columbia River Gorge in Washington state. The federal electricity provider is trying to string a new transmission line near a cave that contains ancient paintings, a site considered sacred by Native Americans.

Wild Weather Tied To Unusual Jet Stream Activity

Sep 25, 2013

There has been a lot of extreme weather in the Northern Hemisphere this year, including the recent torrential rains in Colorado, flooding in Europe, bitter cold in Florida and a heat wave in Alaska. And scientists say all of it is related to some odd behavior by the powerful air currents called the polar jet stream.

Sunny Pettinati walked into the L.L. Bean store in Yonkers, N.Y., clutching a plastic bag and looking a little embarrassed.

"I'm returning a sweater that I purchased, I think, about 10 years ago," she said.

The sweater had sat in a drawer, unworn, for years, and she was trying her luck with the store's famously lenient return policy.

It turned out to be painless. A few taps on the keyboard, and the saleswoman handed her a gift card worth the full value of the sweater.

Army Capt. Matt Zeller had been told that his Afghan comrades would make a big show of hospitality. He'd read that the Afghan code of honor would mean protecting his life with their own. Sure enough, that's what his interpreter, Janis Shinwari, pledged to him when they met in April of 2008.

"I expected him to say it. I didn't think he'd make good on his promise within two weeks of my arrival," Zeller says. "Literally pick up a weapon and ... save my life," says Zeller.

President Obama's health care law has so far survived challenges in Congress and the courts. But its biggest test could begin next week. That's when the online marketplaces offering health care coverage to the uninsured are set to start signing people up. The question is, will they come?

Update at noon ET. It's Over:

Saying that "it's fitting that this debate concludes with a prayer" because he believes Americans are pleading with Congress to defund President Obama's health care law, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas just wrapped up his marathon protest on the Senate floor.

Cruz began speaking just after 2:40 p.m. ET Tuesday and abided by Senate rules when he finished at noon today.

"The pleas from the American people," he said of what he sees as the public's opposition to Obamacare, "are deafening."

Premiums in the health insurance exchanges set to open next week will be lower than anticipated, the Obama administration announced Wednesday.

According to a report released by the Department of Health and Human Services, "premiums nationwide will ... be around 16 percent lower than originally expected," and 95 percent of uninsured people live in a state with average premiums that are lower than expected.

Telemedicine is rising to new levels of accessibility thanks to the increasing prevalence of smartphones, tablets and webcam equipped computers.

There will be more passenger flights in the Asia-Pacific than anywhere else in the world in the next 20 years, with the region accounting for a third of all new commercial aircraft orders, according to Airbus's latest Global Market Forecast.

Americans love bananas. Each year, we eat more bananas than any other fruit. But banana growers use a lot of pesticides — and those chemicals could be hurting wildlife. As a new study shows, the pesticides are ending up in the bodies of crocodiles living near banana farms in Costa Rica, where many of the bananas we eat are grown.

For decades, circumstantial evidence has shown that golden eagles do indeed attack large mammals like deer and even bear cubs.

But in a paper published Monday in the Journal of Raptor Research, Linda Kerley of the Zoological Society of London and Jonathan Slaght of the Wildlife Conservation Society unveiled stunning images of an adult golden eagle attacking and killing a young sika deer, weighing 88 to 100 pounds.

The images were captured by a camera trap the researchers set up to study Siberian tigers in the Russian Far East.

Fall Music Preview

Sep 24, 2013

President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil was so angry about reports that the National Security Agency was spying on her and others in her country that she recently called off a high-profile visit to the U.S.

The Brazilian leader was still in a fighting mood Tuesday as she used her speech at the United Nations General Assembly to deliver a broadside against U.S. spying. She also called for civilian oversight of the Web to ensure the protection of data.

So your snoring is driving your partner crazy. Does that mean you're destined for one of those awkward-looking sleep apnea masks?

Not so fast, doctors say. Many snorers don't have sleep apnea, which causes a person to frequently stop breathing for brief periods during sleep. It's a big cause of chronic sleepiness and has been linked to a variety of health problems. Sleep apnea can also make a sufferer miserable.

In Henry Dumas' short story "Will the Circle Be Unbroken?" three "afro-horns" have been forged from a rare metal found only in Africa and South America. One rests in a European museum; a second one is believed to be somewhere on the west coast of Mexico among a tribe of Indians; and a third is owned by Probe, a jazz musician. When Probe finally plays the afro-horn in public, the sound is devastatingly powerful.

Why Are Most Rampage Shooters Men?

Sep 24, 2013

Aaron Alexis, the man who police say killed more than a dozen people at the Washington Navy Yard on Sept. 16, has joined a heinous parade of mass murdering shooters, nearly all men.

Citing what it says has been "Penn State's continued progress toward ensuring athletics integrity," the NCAA said Tuesday that it is gradually restoring the football scholarships the school lost in the aftermath of the child sex abuse scandal involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

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