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Planet Money
10:53 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

H1-B Visas Applications As An Economic Indicator

Originally published on Wed April 3, 2013 6:19 am

The demand from American companies for high-skilled immigrants seems to be up this year. And that could mean something is about to change for the overall economy.

There is a cap on the number of visas the government gives out for these kind of workers every year. Lately, that cap has been 85,000. Demand always outstrips supply, but for the past couple of years, it has taken at least a few months to hit the quota. But this year, the H-1B visas might be gone by the end of the week.

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Sports
8:03 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

Baseball Isn't Dead; It Just Takes More Work To Appreciate

Some say baseball is too slow and doesn't appeal to young people. Not Frank Deford.
Rodolfo Arguedas iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed April 3, 2013 6:19 am

It being the start of baseball season, that means we've been inundated by predictions — who'll win the divisions and the pennants and the World Series? We know two things on this subject. In every sport, at the start of the season, the experts are bound and determined to make these long-range predictions. And second, they are invariably wrong.

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Shots - Health News
5:08 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

Obama's Plan To Explore The Brain: A 'Most Audacious' Project

A colored 3-D MRI scan of the brain's white matter pathways traces connections between cells in the cerebrum and the brainstem.
Tom Barrick, Chris Clark, SGHMS Science Source

Originally published on Mon April 8, 2013 12:35 pm

President Obama has announced an ambitious plan to explore the mysteries of the human brain.

In a speech Tuesday, Obama said he will ask Congress for $100 million in 2014 to "better understand how we think and how we learn and how we remember." Other goals include finding new treatments for Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy and traumatic brain injury.

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Shots - Health News
4:17 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

How To Get Rid Of Polio For Good? There's A $5 Billion Plan

A child is immunized against polio at the health clinic in a farming village in northern Nigeria. The procedure involves pinching two drops of the vaccine into the child's mouth. For full protection, the child needs three doses, spaced out over time.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Tue April 2, 2013 7:56 pm

Polio is on the verge of being eliminated. Last year there were just over 200 cases of polio, and they occurred in just two remote parts of the world — northern Nigeria and the rugged Afghan-Pakistan border region.

A new $5.5 billion plan being pushed by the World Health Organization strives to eliminate polio entirely, phase out vaccination campaigns and secure polio vaccine stockpiles in case the virus somehow manages to re-emerge.

If the effort is successful, polio would be just the second disease in human history, after smallpox, to be eliminated by medical science.

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The Two-Way
4:07 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

No April Fool's Joke: Samoa Air Charges Passengers By Weight

A screen grab of Samoa Air's website.
www.samoaair.ws

Originally published on Tue April 2, 2013 7:00 pm

OK, we've checked the date, and it's April 2, but this story from the Pacific island nation of Samoa left us scratching our heads: Samoa Air says it's charging passengers based on what they weigh.

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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
3:45 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

How Close Is Doomsday?

Mindaugas Kulbis AP

Originally published on Tue April 9, 2013 1:40 pm

How close are we to the end? How close are we to being among the last humans to ever live? Depending on who you are — your religion, politics, relative degree of pessimism or optimism — that question is bound to bring up images of some particular kind of cataclysm. It could be an all-out nuclear exchange or a climate change-driven mass extinction. But what if there was a way of answering the doomsday question in the most generic way possible.

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It's All Politics
3:38 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

Reality Often Rivals Fiction In Political Corruption Scandals

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara outlines corruption charges against several New York politicians on Tuesday.
Richard Drew AP

Originally published on Tue April 2, 2013 4:22 pm

The federal criminal complaint against New York politicians arrested after an FBI sting was a reminder of how often real-life political scandals can read like the imaginings of Hollywood screenwriters.

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Shots - Health News
3:25 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

China's Air Pollution Linked To Millions Of Early Deaths

Men walk along a railway line in Beijing on Jan. 12, as air pollution reached hazardous levels.
Wang Zhao AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon February 10, 2014 12:25 pm

More than 1 million people are dying prematurely every year from air pollution in China, according to a new analysis.

"This is the highest toll in the world and it really reflects the very high levels of air pollution that exist in China today," says Robert O'Keefe of the Health Effects Institute in Boston, who presented the findings in Beijing this week.

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The Two-Way
3:17 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

'Buckwild' Star Died Of Accidental Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

We told you on Monday about the death of one of the stars of the MTV reality show Buckwild. The Kanawha County, W.Va., Sheriff's Office said there were no signs of foul play in the death of Shain Gandee, 21, his uncle David Gandee, 48, and a third, unidentified person.

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Business
3:17 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

For Legal Pot Sellers, A Big Tax Problem

Erica Freeman of Choice Organics weighs medical marijuana for a customer.
Grace Hood for NPR

Originally published on Tue April 2, 2013 7:56 pm

An obscure tax code provision crafted for drug dealers is giving state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries a headache.

In Colorado, federal income tax rates for dispensaries can soar as high as 70 percent because of a tax code section that does not allow businesses to claim certain deductions.

The section is known as 280E, and it was originally written for illegal drug traffickers. But today it's a thorn in the side of licensed dispensary owners like Erica Freeman.

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Music Reviews
2:19 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

Bombino: A Desert Rock 'Nomad' Rolls Into Nashville

Bombino's new album is titled Nomad.
Ron Wyman Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue April 2, 2013 7:56 pm

Tuareg bands are natural rockers. These desert nomads have a history of harsh physical challenges, long separations, nostalgia and rebellion — elements that give their music gritty authenticity. There's something about their ambling, tuneful songs that fits perfectly with the bite and snarl of electric guitars.

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It's All Politics
2:02 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

Daughter Of Former Fla. Sen. Bob Graham Running For Congress

Gwen Graham, a lawyer and administrator in the Leon County, Fla., school district, says she'll seek the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican Rep. Steve Southerland next year.
Gwen Graham For U.S. Congress

Originally published on Tue April 2, 2013 2:37 pm

The daughter of Florida political legend Bob Graham has announced she will run for Congress next year, taking on incumbent Republican Steve Southerland.

Gwen Graham, a lawyer and administrator in the Leon County school district, made the announcement Tuesday morning. "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that Congress is a dysfunctional mess," Graham wrote on her campaign website.

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Shots - Health News
1:55 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

Could Wind Turbines Be Toxic To The Ear?

A maintenance worker looks out over an off-shore wind farm in Liverpool, England in 2008. Some people are concerned about the potential health effects of noise from wind turbines.
Christopher Furlong Getty Images

Originally published on Wed April 3, 2013 9:18 am

The U.S. is embracing wind energy, with wind turbines making up half of the new electricity added to the power grid last year. But a smattering of people who live near the turbines say they're a nuisance — and making them ill.

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It's All Politics
1:43 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

Seeking Forgiveness And A House Seat, Sanford Again Faces GOP Voters

Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford faces former Charleston County Councilman Curtis Bostic in the GOP primary runoff Tuesday. The winner will represent Republicans in a May 7 special election for a U.S. House seat.
Bruce Smith AP

Originally published on Wed April 3, 2013 8:23 am

Update at 8:41 p.m. ET Sanford Wins Runoff

Former Gov. Mark Sanford, whose political career was derailed four years ago by his admission of an extramarital affair, has won the GOP nomination for the U.S. House seat he once held, reports The Associated Press. Note at 8:10 a.m. Wednesday: Sanford won with about 57 percent of the vote. (We mistakenly said earlier that he won "by" about 57 percent.)

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Around the Nation
1:43 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

In Missouri, Days Of Drought Send Caretakers To One 'Big Tree'

This bur oak, called "The Big Tree" by Missouri locals, has been around for centuries. When a drought hit the state last year, the community came together to offer help and water for the iconic tree.
Courtesy of Christopher Starbuck

Originally published on Thu April 4, 2013 8:52 am

The devastating drought in the Midwest last summer is a story often told by the numbers, with statistics on large crop failures, days without rain and thousands of parched acres.

This story is also about a tree — a bur oak in rural Columbia, Mo., that everyone calls "The Big Tree." Although it's survived all kinds of punishments during its 350 years on the prairie, last year's record drought was especially tough.

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Europe
1:13 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

Once Championed By Putin, Medvedev Falls Precipitously Out Of Favor

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, heads a State Council session alongside Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow last year. Increasing political attacks on Medvedev have accompanied Putin's suspicions about his erstwhile partner's ambitions.
Yekaterina Shtukina AP

Originally published on Tue April 2, 2013 7:56 pm

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev appears increasingly isolated from the centers of power surrounding President Vladimir Putin.

Analysts say Medvedev is the target of a campaign to wreck his reputation and drive him from office. It's a risky situation for the former president, who was once regarded as Putin's partner.

The attacks have come from many directions. One of the harshest was an anonymous, documentary-style film that was posted on the Internet in January.

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From Our Listeners
1:04 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

Letters: Gun Violence, 'New Mind Of The South'

NPR's Neal Conan reads from listener comments on previous show topics, including the epidemiology of gun violence, what it means to be a 'Southerner' and going off the map.

World
12:46 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

Hisham Matar: A 'Return' To Libya In Search Of His Father

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. My guest has often thought of his father as neither dead nor alive. Hisham Matar's family was living in Egypt, in exile from Libya, when Matar's father, a prominent opponent of the Gadhafi regime, was kidnapped, taken back to Libya and imprisoned. That was in March 1990, and it was the last time Matar saw his father.

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The Salt
12:29 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

Fruit, Not Fries: Lunchroom Makeovers Nudge Kids Toward Better Choices

Students select blueberries and rolls from the food line at Lincoln Elementary in Olympia, Wash., in 2004.
John Froschauer AP

Originally published on Tue April 2, 2013 2:49 pm

Gone are the days of serving up tater tots and French toast sticks to students. Here are the days of carrot sticks and quinoa.

New nutritional guidelines, announced in 2012, require public school lunchrooms to offer more whole grains, low-fat milk and fewer starchy sides like french fries. But short of stationing grandmothers in every cafeteria, how do you ensure that students actually eat the fruits and veggies they're being offered?

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Music Reviews
12:25 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

Kacey Musgraves: Country's Blunt And Poetic New Voice

Kacey Musgraves' "Merry Go 'Round" was one of NPR Music's favorite songs of 2012.
Kelly Christine Musgraves Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue April 2, 2013 12:46 pm

Kacey Musgraves is something of an anomaly. A Texas native in her mid-20s, she fits most easily into the contemporary "country" category, but the work she co-writes with a variety of collaborators is really a throwback to an earlier era of singer-songwriters — as much influenced by rock and folk as by country.

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Mental Health
12:22 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

A Focus On Adults: Living With Chronic ADHD

Originally published on Tue April 2, 2013 12:57 pm

With rates of childhood attention deficit hyperactivity disorder at alarming highs, a study confirms that, for many, the condition persists into adulthood. A study by the Boston Children's Hospital and the Mayo Clinic finds that the chronic form of ADHD can lead to depression and substance abuse.

Science
12:13 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

The Buzz On Bees: Why Many Colonies Are Collapsing

Originally published on Tue April 2, 2013 12:57 pm

Bees have been dying off in increasing numbers over the past few years. Experts say that habitat loss and disease are the biggest culprits, and some believe that pesticides are to blame. NPR science correspondent Dan Charles explains the possible causes and what is being done to stop this trend.

Around the Nation
12:11 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

What Changes As Women Rise Through Law Enforcement's Ranks

Originally published on Tue April 2, 2013 12:57 pm

President Barack Obama named Julia Pierson as the head of the Secret Service, the first female director in the agency's history. At least one woman is said to be on the shortlist for FBI director. Women are also climbing the ranks on local police forces as well.

The Salt
11:32 am
Tue April 2, 2013

From Pets To Plates: Why More People Are Eating Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs on the grill
Courtesy of Curtiss Calleo

Originally published on Thu April 4, 2013 12:00 pm

You may best know the guinea pig as a nervous little pet that lives in a cage and eats alfalfa pellets.

Now, the rodents are increasingly showing up on plates in the United States.

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The Two-Way
11:31 am
Tue April 2, 2013

James Hansen, NASA Scientist Who Raised Climate Change Alarm, Is Retiring

NASA scientist and climatologist James Hansen in 2009.
Christopher Furlong Getty Images

"After nearly half a century of research in planetary and climate science for NASA, James E. Hansen is retiring on Wednesday to pursue his passion for climate activism without the hindrances that come with government employment," The New York Times' Dot Earth blog writes.

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The Two-Way
11:03 am
Tue April 2, 2013

U.N. Approves Treaty To Regulate Multibillion-Dollar Global Arms Trade

Delegates to the United Nations General Assembly applaud the passage of the first U.N. treaty regulating the international arms trade on Tuesday.
Timothy A. Clary AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue April 2, 2013 11:48 am

The United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly approved the first U.N. treaty to regulate the estimated $60 billion global arms trade on Tuesday.

The goal of the Arms Trade Treaty, which the U.N. has sought for over a decade, according to The Associated Press, is to keep illicit weapons out of the hands of terrorists, insurgent fighters and organized crime.

The vote on the treaty was 154-3, with 23 abstentions.

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The Two-Way
10:57 am
Tue April 2, 2013

In Spain, A Mattress That Lets Your Money Rest Easy

My Mattress Safe retails for about $1,120.
Courtesy of Descanso Santos Suenos

Spaniards wary of trusting their life savings to their country's shaky banking system can now buy a mattress that has an armored safe equipped with a keypad combination lock hidden in one end.

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The Two-Way
10:56 am
Tue April 2, 2013

NRA Task Force Recommends Training School Personnel Who Want To Be Armed

Former Republican Congressman Asa Hutchinson holds up his task force's report during a news conference Tuesday in Washington, D.C.
Shawn Thew EPA /LANDOV

A task force launched by the National Rifle Association after the Dec. 14 school shooting in Newtown, Conn., has come back with a report that recommends the creation of programs that give additional weapons training to school resource officers as well as "selected and designated school personnel" who could then carry arms.

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The Picture Show
10:38 am
Tue April 2, 2013

How A Female Photographer Sees Her Afghanistan

A photograph taken from behind a burqa, Kabul, 2007.
Farzana Wahidy AP

Originally published on Tue April 2, 2013 3:44 pm

Born in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in 1984, photographer Farzana Wahidy was only a teenager when the Taliban took over the country in 1996. At age 13 she was beaten in the street for not wearing a burqa, she recalls, and she describes those years as a "very closed, very dark time." To carry a camera would have been unthinkable.

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Shots - Health News
10:20 am
Tue April 2, 2013

The Hidden Limitations Of Health Savings Accounts

In order to get the tax advantages of a health savings account, the health plan it's linked to has to meet certain criteria.
iStockphoto.com

Health plan deductibles keep getting higher — the proportion of workers with a deductible that topped $1,000 for single coverage nearly tripled in the past five years, to 34 percent.

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