National News

Canadian Government Retires Its Penny

Feb 4, 2013

The Canadian mint stops distributing pennies on Monday. Canada stopped making one-cent coins last year to cut costs, since each penny cost 1.6 cents to make. Most stores will round out change to the nearest five cents.

Escalating political violence from both the left and right is raising fears of political instability in debt-burdened Greece. The conservative-led government is cracking down on leftist groups, vowing to restore law and order.

But the opposition says authorities are trying to divert people's attention from growing poverty and despair.

Take the latest explosion in Athens — a firebomb at a crowded suburban mall last month that slightly injured two security guards.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

President Obama is taking his campaign against gun violence to the country, beginning today with a trip to Minneapolis and a visit to that city's police department. Many police organizations favor tougher gun laws. The president leaves behind a new Congress that's getting down to business. And consuming most of lawmakers' time: the budget and the deficit.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene.

Home health care aides are waiting to find out if they will be entitled to receive minimum wage. A decades-old amendment in labor law means that the workers, approximately 2.5 million people, do not always receive minimum wage or overtime.

The Obama administration has yet to formally approve revisions to the Fair Labor Standards Act that would change that classification.

From movies about outbreaks, to television shows about zombies, to books about Armageddon, we're in love with the end of the world.

Author Sam Sheridan wants to teach you how to survive it, no matter the catastrophe. His new book is called Disaster Diaries: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Apocalypse.

He's got the skill set to prepare us: Sheridan's resume includes wilderness firefighting, construction work in the South Pole, and everything in between.

Got A Superbug? Bring In The Robots

Feb 3, 2013

Drug-resistant bacteria are a growing problem at hospitals across the country. The bacteria, such as Staphylococcus and Clostridium difficile, are difficult to prevent and impossible to treat.

"The problem is expanding, and it's going up and up and up," explains Dr. Trish Perl of Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. "We're running out of antibiotics to treat, and so the challenge is can we prevent?"

In Cairo you can get most anything — food, medicine, groceries — delivered right to your door, anytime. But civil unrest in the streets of the Egyptian capital has made it a riskier job for deliverymen.

Tabouleh restaurant, an upscale Lebanese joint, is tucked into a quiet neighborhood just south of Tahrir Square, the center of Egypt's revolution.

It's usually packed. But clashes between protesters and police have been ongoing for a week just two blocks away. On a recent night, there's only one table of diners.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ED KOCH: Hi, hi. How am I doing?

SIMON: Ed Koch, the former mayor of New York, died yesterday at the age of 88. He was as New York as a salt bagel with an extra schmear. I profiled him when he ran for re-election in 1981.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Kevin Spacey's got a memorable entrance in the new series "House of Cards." He looks into the camera and talks to the audience while he strangles an injured dog.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "HOUSE OF CARDS")

KEVIN SPACEY: (as Francis Underwood) There are two kinds of pain: the sort of pain that makes you strong; or useless pain, the sort of pain that's only suffering. I have no patience for useless things.

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

Preserving Science News In An Online World

Feb 1, 2013

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IRA FLATOW, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY, I'm Ira Flatow. When you read a news article online, how much attention do you pay to the comments that follow at the bottom? What about how many times the story has been re-tweeted or how many Facebook likes it has? Do you pay attention to those?

How Owls Turn Heads

Feb 1, 2013

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IRA FLATOW, HOST:

Up next, Flora Lichtman is here with Video Pick of the Week, fresh from being the recent winner of the Cyberscreen Film Festival. Well, congratulations, Flora.

FLORA LICHTMAN, BYLINE: Oh, thank you, Ira.

FLATOW: It was for optical illusion piece.

LICHTMAN: Yes. Step into an optical illusion was the winner. Thank you. But, really, I mean, I'm still stuck on dung beetles.

(LAUGHTER)

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IRA FLATOW, HOST:

Now for a surprising find from the insect world. The dung beetle, that insect known for sculpting little balls of animal feces that they roll around and later feast on. Well, it turns out that these beetles have a built-in cosmic GPS that helps them navigate around. Dung beetles use light - listen to this - use light from the Milky Way to orient themselves at night. It's all in a paper published earlier this month in the journal Current Biology.

The Oscar-nominated documentary The Gatekeepers centers on Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but from an unusual vantage — not the Palestinians or Israelis on the ground, but six men at the pinnacle of the country's security apparatus: the former heads of the security agency Shin Bet.

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