Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 6:57 pm
We are awash in war films, and why is it that nonfiction films such as Dirty Wars or Iraq in Fragments increasingly resort to the dramatizing techniques of narrative film, while fiction films strain toward procedure, as if to avoid the sticky business of interpretation altogether?
Earthquake scientists on the West Coast would like to build a system that would give people a bit of warning before they get jolted with strong shaking from a distant quake.
Seismic waves take time to travel from the epicenter, which means such a warning system could issue alerts ranging from a few seconds to a few minutes. A prototype has been developed for the region, seismologists say, but the complete network still lacks funding, and has big gaps outside cities.
Meanwhile, Japan already has something like that up and running.
Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 6:21 pm
After spending a year and a half in jail, a Philadelphia Roman Catholic priest convicted of child endangerment will go free after a court overturned the 2012 verdict.
NPR's Jeff Brady says although Monsignor William Lynn, 62, was never accused of abuse himself, he was convicted in 2012 of putting children in danger by moving abusing priests to unwitting parishes. Lynn was an official of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia at the time.
In a clinic in southern Turkey, Mohammed Ibrahim helps 23-year-old Syrian Mustapha Abu Bakr take his first steps since he lost his legs, holding on to a set of bars for balance.
"He can't express his feelings," Ibrahim says. "It's a new thing completely for him."
Ibrahim explains that patients who have lost a leg below the knee can walk out of the clinic without crutches after a day of practice. For double amputees like Abu Bakr, who was injured in Syria's civil war, the adjustment takes more time.
At the Central Iowa Shelter and Services in Des Moines, Iowa, health insurance navigator Andrea Pearce stood in a crowded dining hall on a recent day, shouting instructions on how residents can sign up for Medicaid.
"If you do not have insurance and you want to enroll and you have an e-mail address where you know the password," she said, "come to the computer lab we will guide you through the application."
Reporter John Otis was looking for a flight to Venezuela. That may sound like a simple task, but air travel to and from that Latin American country turns out to be extremely complicated these days. Here's his story.
A direct flight from my home in Bogotá, Colombia, to Caracas, Venezuela, takes about 90 minutes. But when I tried to buy a ticket recently, none were available. I was offered a flight with an overnight stop in Miami, but that would have cost $5,000.
The Gulf nation of Qatar has nearly depleted its groundwater, and will increasingly need to import food. Some farms still operates on ground water, but in the long haul, Qatar is counting on desalination and using money to import food.
Utah's surprise decision to legalize same-sex marriage caps a landmark year for gay rights. The last 12 months saw a huge string of victories, from state legislatures, to Congress, to the Supreme Court.
The nation's capital is not exactly a beach town. But the cherry-tree-lined Tidal Basin, fed by the Potomac River, laps at the steps of the Jefferson Memorial. And, especially since Superstorm Sandy, officials in Washington have a clear idea of what would happen in a worst-case storm scenario.
"The water would go across the World War II memorial, come up 17th Street," says Tony Vidal of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "And there are actually three spots where the water would come up where we don't have ... a closure structure right now."
As the U.S. economy continues to recover, it has been getting some help from an unexpected place. After decades of massive job losses, manufacturing firms have been steadily creating jobs — many of them well-paying. One particularly bright spot is a new generation of high-tech manufacturers.
When President Obama announced his BRAIN Initiative in April, he promised to give scientists "the tools they need to get a dynamic picture of the brain in action."
An early version of one of those tools already exists, scientists say. It's a relatively new set of techniques called optogenetics that allows researchers to control the activity of brain cells using light.
NBC Sports has made a bet on the English Premier League, and the network is making matches all ten Boxing Day matches available to paying cable subscribers. Matt Weiland, co-editor of The Thinking Fan's Guide to the World Cup, joins Robert Siegel to talk about why the Premier League games are worth watching.
People tend to hate to lose stuff they already own. This trait, known as the endowment effect, is likely handed down to us by evolution, since it is visible cross-culturally as well as in non-human primates. However, new research suggests certain cultures place a brake on this evolutionary trait, whereas capitalistic societies put it on steroids.
During the holidays, family kitchens are ground zero for intense craziness: mixers whirling, timers buzzing, knives flying. So yes, it's understandable that many of us just stay out of way of the experienced cook — especially when the knives come out and Mama is talking under her breath.
Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 4:04 pm
Thailand's government has rejected a call from the country's Election Commission to delay a February vote to choose a new parliament, as protesters opposed to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra increasingly resort to violence to disrupt the polls.
Anti-government demonstrations have been going on for weeks as "yellow shirt" protesters — most drawn from the ranks of Thailand's urban middle class — have sought to oust Yingluck, whose government was elected in a 2011 landslide, mostly with support from the country's poorer, rural farming communities.