There's a growing interest in what our genes say about our health. And in recent years, quite a few companies have sprung up to help us listen with the help of personalized DNA tests.
For a few hundred dollars and a vial of spit, these companies will search your DNA for sequences that predict your physical traits, your response to certain drugs and your risk for any number of diseases.
It's one of the ultimate images of summer: a woman in a short, pink slip sits on a bed, her knees pulled up to her chest, gazing out a window. Her hair is tucked back into a bun. Her bare arms rest lightly on her bare legs.
Edward Hopper painted her in 1952 for a work called Morning Sun. The picture has been widely reproduced for decades. But on a recent visit to its home at the Columbus Museum of Art in Columbus, Ohio, it was nowhere to be found.
Six years ago, we told you about a woman, identified as A.J., who could remember the details of nearly every day of her life. At the time, researchers thought she was unique. But since then, a handful of such individuals have been identified. And now, researchers are trying to understand how their extraordinary memories work.
Ever wonder how charitable the people are who live in your state or community? It turns out that lower-income people tend to donate a much bigger share of their discretionary incomes than wealthier people do. And rich people are more generous when they live among those who aren't so rich.
Roxana Castro sits in an orange chair in the waiting room at Mary's Center in Washington, D.C. She's 17, and expecting a baby boy next month. The pregnancy was a surprise, she says, mostly for her parents, but also for the baby's father.
Even with her mother's help, Castro admits she's nervous. The father of the baby says he'll be there, but she knows this is a big responsibility, and says she's not ready to start a family just yet.
"A baby is so fragile," she says. "I don't know how to take care of it or anything."
All it takes to enter a time warp in New Hampshire is $15 and a summer afternoon. Spanning more than 250 years of American history, Strawbery Banke is the oldest neighborhood in the state's oldest city, Portsmouth.
It's kind of like Virginia's Colonial Williamsburg — lite. Stationed inside many of the 37 homes are re-enactors in different period garb. Inside a hulking white house, it's 1872.
Weekends on All Things Considered continues its "Why Music Matters" series with a story from the operating room.
"The O.R. is a naturally rhythmic place, in that you have the beating of the anesthesia machines and the autoclave comes on," says Divya Singh, an orthopedic and hand surgeon. "So music just becomes another sound."
In just a few weeks, we will mark the seventh anniversary of one of the country's deadliest hurricanes. New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are still recovering from the devastating damage and loss of life caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita — the storm that would follow.
Originally published on Sun August 19, 2012 3:14 pm
First of two stories
The 1989 overthrow and execution of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu provided the first glimpse of a country that had been mostly closed to the outside world — and many of the scenes were appalling.
Among the most disturbing were images of tens of thousands of abandoned children suffering abuse and neglect in Romania's orphanages. Many were confined to cribs, wallowing in their own filth and facing mental health issues.
In the 1920s, the sound of music in the black church underwent a revolution. Standing at 40th and State Street in Chicago, Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ was a witness to what occurred.
The high-energy gospel beat of the music that can still be heard in this Pentecostal church is the creation, music critics say, of Arizona Dranes, a blind piano player, a woman who introduced secular styles like barrelhouse and ragtime to the church's music.
The recent outbreak of West Nile virus in the Dallas area has led to a new round of large-scale spraying for mosquitoes — a method of treating outbreaks that has generations of success, and even nostalgia, behind it.
Although the overall mosquito-killing strategy has changed little since the days when it was pioneered during construction of the Panama Canal a century ago, the chemicals used have become much safer for everything and everyone involved, save the mosquitoes, experts say.
Originally published on Fri September 21, 2012 2:35 pm
With running mate Paul Ryan's tax returns released on a Friday night — a good week and a half ahead of the Republican convention — the presidential campaign can finally move off the subject of tax returns.
Or so Mitt Romney can hope.
In reality, the numbers in the Wisconsin congressman's filings provide new data points, for those inclined to see things this way, about how far Romney's financial situation is from that of ordinary voters.
Originally published on Sun August 19, 2012 11:44 am
Julian Assange stepped onto a balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in London Sunday to demand that the U.S. end its persecution of WikiLeaks. It was his first public appearance since taking refuge inside the embassy in June.
"I ask President Obama to do the right thing," he said. "The United States must renounce its witch hunt against WikiLeaks."
In New England, more women are breaking through the glass gangway. That's the ramp you use to walk down onto a dock to hop onboard your own fishing boat. For generations lobstermen in Maine have been predominantly, well, men — but that's starting to change.
At a small gas dock in a rock-lined cove on Deer Isle, Maine, there's a new captain fueling up. Genevieve Kurilec, 29, wears a tank-top, orange fishing overalls and lobster buoy earrings.
Although considered one of the most dangerous places in the country, past budget cuts in Camden, N.J., have forced police layoffs. Now the city is considering even more dramatic steps: replacing the city's police force with one operated by the county.
Camden is on pace to break a record for homicides and shootings this year, and many in the crime-ravaged city say something has to change.
Greeks used to take their yogurt for granted. This year, at anti-austerity protests, they even threw it at their politicians. But Greeks are finally realizing yogurt might actually help the country during its worst recession in half a century.
In Athens, dozens of entrepreneurs have opened yogurt bars. The first one, called Fresko, opened last year on a pedestrian street near the Acropolis. It features four types of rich, strained yogurt kept cool in traditional ceramic pots.
Russia's neighbor, Ukraine, is experiencing a linguistic rift. Ukraine's president, Viktor Yanukovych, has signed a law making Russian one of the country's official regional languages. Russian is spoken primarily in the country's east and south; Ukrainian is spoken in the west and center. And Ukrainian speakers fear that Russian could crowd out Ukrainian, as it did in Soviet times. David Stern reports from Kiev.
DAVID STERN, BYLINE: Ukraine is country that is sometimes united by its two main languages.
Cooking on hot summer days tends to be something we either do outside, or try not to do at all. But at the same time, we are in the season of wonderful food. And if you're lucky enough to live near farm stands in the country or farmers markets in the city, real tomatoes, fresh corn and new potatoes are all around. For inspiration, I get out a worn, stained paperback book written by an Englishwoman, Elizabeth David, in the 1950s. It's called "Summer Cooking."
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer. The race for the White House is nearly in full swing. The presumptive Republican ticket is now set. Both parties are gearing up for their respective conventions, which are coming right up. Both President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney are waging a tough battle over the future of Medicare. In Florida yesterday, Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan, enlisted an important ally.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.
Four years ago, American voters were presented with a unique choice and elected Barack Obama the first African-American president. Now, for different reasons, the choice is again unique. This year, for the first time since the founding of the republic, there is no white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant represented on either major presidential ticket. What might that mean? Is the face of the American ruling class changing?
We talked to voters in Virginia this week in Henrico County, a tossup county in a swing state. On state maps, Henrico County seems to be draped over north Richmond like a shawl. It's a critical region for both parties. President Barack Obama was there in mid-July. He carried Virginia last time and wants to hold on. Both Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan were in Henrico County in the last couple of weeks.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.
Once again, taxes will be a major part of the battle for the 2012 election. Conservative ads out last week seek to savage what they call Obama's Tax Hike, a reference to letting the Bush tax cuts for wealthier families expire at the end of the year.
(SOUNDBITE OF A POLITICAL AD)
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Liberals say raise taxes on the rich. But Reid's Senate passed Obama's tax hike, hurting so many small businesses.
On-air challenge: This week's puzzle is called "Anagram K-pers." Every answer is a familiar word starting with the letter "K." You identify the words from their anagrams. For example, K + vane will make "knave."
Last week's challenge: Name two insects. Read the names one after the other. Insert an "H" somewhere in this string of letters, and you'll complete a familiar word that is the opposite of what either of these insects is. What word is it?