How often do whales clean their ears? Well, never. And so, year after year, their ear wax builds up, layer upon layer. According to a study published Monday, these columns of ear wax contain a record of chemical pollution in the oceans.
The study used the ear wax extracted from the carcass of a blue whale that washed ashore on a California beach back in 2007. Scientists at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History collected the wax from inside the skull of the dead whale and preserved it. The column of wax was almost a foot long.
These were the words uttered by painter Jean-Michel Basquiat, who was deeply shaken after he heard the story of a black graffiti artist who was beaten to death by New York City police. Seeing his own life reflected in the death of a fellow artist, Basquiat went on to create Defacement (The Death of Michael Stewart),not only to commemorate the young man's death, but also to challenge the state-sanctioned brutality that men of color could face for pursuing their art in public spaces.
Originally published on Fri October 4, 2013 4:54 pm
Al Jazeera America, the new cable news network owned by the Emirate of Qatar, has been running sponsorship ads on NPR for the last month as part of its launch campaign.
Some listeners are upset, accusing NPR of being unpatriotic or naïve. Some add that it also has been unethical. Three NPR stories about the new English-language channel did not mention the sponsorship. Most of the complaints, recalling the coverage by Al Jazeera's Arabic network of American deaths early in the Iraq war, are obviously heartfelt.
Editor's note: After the crowning of Nina Davuluri as Miss America, we solicited this commentary from writer Anna John, one of the co-founders of the blog Sepia Mutiny. This post includes several embedded tweets that contain explicit language.
Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 10:04 am
Aaron Alexis, the 34-year-old man believed responsible for Monday's shooting rampage that killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard, was a former full-time Navy reservist who had obtained a concealed-carry permit in Texas and was arrested three years ago for illegally discharging a weapon.
From the standpoint of global warming, burning natural gas can be better than burning coal, a study published this week suggests.
This is a contentious issue among people who are opposed to the natural gas drilling practice known as fracking. That technique involves injecting water, sand and chemicals into wells to release far more gas than conventional drilling can. Opponents of fracking have been concerned not only about local environmental issues, but also about the potential for methane leaks to make global warming worse.
Over the last months, we've been reading your comments, tweets and emails about the new NPR.org home page. The shift was a major one, breaking from years of standard newspaper-style site format, and embracing new designs and technologies. We expected strong reactions to the new experience, and we've absolutely received them, both positive and negative.
A line of men in black rain boots push trash carts through the alleys of Lahore, Pakistan. They stop at an open sewer along a neighborhood street and start to pull up shoes, bricks, plates and any other trash that might block the flow of wastewater.
Standing water is a prime breeding ground for mosquitoes. And the local government in Lahore is on a focused mission: Stop the spread of dengue fever by mosquitoes.
You may be hearing a lot about the National Book Awards this week — at least that's what the National Book Foundation hopes. That's because they've made some changes to the awards that they hope will get more people talking about them. Over four days starting Monday, they will roll out their nominees in four different categories — beginning with Young People's Literature and ending Thursday with Fiction.
Originally published on Mon September 16, 2013 5:29 pm
Here at The Salt, we've been following the controversies that surround antibiotic use on the farm. Farmers give these drugs to chickens, swine and beef cattle, either to keep the animals healthy or to make them grow faster. Critics say it's contributing to an epidemic of drug-resistant bacteria not just on the farm, but among people, too.
New U.S. poverty numbers come out on Tuesday. But what, exactly, do those numbers measure?
Consider the case of Ann Valdez. She's a 47-year-old single mom who lives in an apartment in Brooklyn with her teenage son. She doesn't have a job. She gets a cash payment of about $130 every two weeks from the government. That's all that's counted for her income in the government's poverty measure.
It's being called the largest marine salvage operation ever. Off the coast of west Italy, engineers are attempting to rotate the wrecked Costa Concordia cruise liner to an upright position. The massive ship is now clear of the reef that had penetrated the hull. And apparently, no pollutants are spilling from the ship.
NPR's Sylvia Poggioli joins us now from the island of Giglio. And, Sylvia, describe where you are now and whether there's been any visible progress toward riding the ship.
The whole beauty of fantasy sports is that you can manage teams of pro athletes without ever leaving your couch. The process of drafting teams, betting on the success of individual players and trash-talking with your similarly obsessed friends takes place on Web and mobile platforms, and that makes the fantasy sports pastime about more than just bragging rights. It's become a billion-dollar business.
American cyclist Chris Horner celebrates winning Spain's Vuelta bicycle race Sunday. Anti-doping officials say that Horner, who at 41 is the oldest ever to win one of cycling's top events, was not at the hotel drug testers visited.
Originally published on Mon September 16, 2013 5:40 pm
The cycling team of Chris Horner, the 41-year-old American who won Spain's Vuelta bike race on Sunday, says the racer followed the rules in telling doping officials where they could test him. And Monday afternoon, U.S. doping officials agreed that Horner had done his part to allow surprise out-of-competition testing.
Conjecture over Horner's victory in the three-week Vuelta a Espana grew after drug testers couldn't find him at a team hotel in Madrid on Monday morning. His team says the officials went to the wrong hotel.