Latest News from NPR

Checking Up on Native Plants

16 hours ago

Spring brings the first native blooming plants, and native wildflowers are springing up at the New England Wild Flower Society’s Garden in the Woods near Boston. But climate change, aggressive invasive species and insects are stressing some iconic plants, so a group of experts assessed the state of New England’s plants now. We revisit a conversation between host Steve Curwood and the Wild Flower Society’s senior research ecologist Elizabeth Farnsworth, as they walked in the woods to find out what’s going on. (published May 20, 2016)

BirdNote®: Drinking on the Wing

16 hours ago

Most birds drink standing up, but swallows and swifts dip down over ponds to drink on the wing. In this week’s BirdNote® Michael Stein examines where this adaptation come from. (published May 20, 2016)

Beyond the Headlines

16 hours ago

In this week’s trip beyond the environmental news headlines, Peter Dykstra fills in host Steve Curwood about faltering “clean coal” and carbon capture projects and how critics say chemicals manufacturing safety measures are falling short of protecting the public. The history calendar this week brings a tale of how superstition saved lives, when tornadoes battered one Kansas town on the very same date three years in a row. (published May 20, 2016)

A federal appeals court Monday ruled in favor of Bank of America, reversing a lower court ruling. The decision is a blow to the federal government, which had won the case at trial. Bank of America had been ordered to pay a $1.27 billion penalty for alleged violations by its Countrywide unit.

The case got attention in 2012 because it appeared to pull back the curtain on some of the widespread wrongdoing in the mortgage industry that led to the worst financial crisis in generations.

The head of the World Health Organization, Margaret Chan, came out swinging at the opening ceremony of the 69th World Health Assembly in Geneva on Monday. The meeting of health officials from nearly 200 countries is usually a low-key, bureaucratic affair. Chan, however, opened the assembly by basically saying that the world is facing unprecedented global health challenges right now and is ill-equipped to deal with future threats.

"For infectious diseases, you cannot trust the past when planning for the future," she warned.

Long car commutes not only cost drivers time, it may also cost them good health. Extended commutes in heavy traffic are tied to stress, less time to exercise, and more exposure to air pollution. As Carey Goldberg of Here & Now contributor WBUR reports, researchers say those three factors can lead to a higher risk for cardiovascular problems.

The Fast Talking Dean Of Hamilton College

17 hours ago

At Hamilton College in Clinton, NY, Dean of Faculty Pat Reynolds holds the record for the fastest reading of graduates’ names at the college’s commencement ceremony. Here & Now‘s Jeremy Hobson talks to Reynolds about this year’s performance and the difficulties involved in providing a quick, dignified, and accurate reading of the names.

Checking In With The Class Of 2016

17 hours ago

What are the hopes and expectations of this year’s college graduates? This week, Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson will speak with several graduating seniors. First up: Konje Machini, who was chosen to be one of the commencement speakers at the University of Chicago’s graduation in June.

In a lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, all the work that happens in a vast pharmaceutical manufacturing plant happens in a device the size of your kitchen refrigerator.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Many of the department stores that once anchored bustling shopping malls continue to close. Macy's will shutter 36 additional stores this year; 78 Kmart and Sears locations will also close. What to do with that vast, vacant space?

There is no traffic, and no problem finding parking at Owings Mills Mall in Maryland. The 5,000 or so parking spaces are all vacant. A J.C. Penney closed last month and a Macy's closed last year.

When it opened in 1986, it was anchored by a Saks Fifth Avenue and catered to well-to-do Baltimore suburbanites.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

People in India know the Sundarbans as a beautiful and dangerous patchwork of mangrove islands covering nearly 4,000 square miles extending into Bangladesh. It is also home to a variety of rare and endangered species and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Now, this watery landscape is getting international attention for a different reason.

Some of these islands are disappearing, swallowed up by rising tides. Tens of thousands of people who live in the Sundarbans have lost their homes in recent decades.

Antibiotics can save lives, but sometimes they can work too well.

Most antibiotics can't tell the difference between good and bad bacteria. That means the medicines kill helpful bacteria in your gut while they're obliterating the bacteria making you sick.

5,000-Year-Old Chinese Beer Recipe Revealed

18 hours ago

A 5,000-year-old brewery has been unearthed in China.

Archaeologists uncovered ancient "beer-making tool kits" in underground rooms built between 3400 and 2900 B.C. Discovered at a dig site in the Central Plain of China, the kits included funnels, pots and specialized jugs. The shapes of the objects suggest they could be used for brewing, filtration and storage.

It's the oldest beer-making facility ever discovered in China — and the evidence indicates that these early brewers were already using specialized tools and advanced beer-making techniques.

Susan Silverman, the older sister of the irreverent comic Sarah Silverman, grew up with a crippling fear of losing people she loved. Her fear wasn't completely unfounded: When she was 2, her infant brother Jeffrey died inexplicably in his crib.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

A left-leaning, Green Party-backed candidate has won Austria's presidential election, edging out an anti-immigrant populist by just 0.6 percent of the vote.

Alexander Van der Bellen, a retired economics professor, had 50.3 percent of the vote, according to The Associated Press. His rival, Norbert Hofer of the far-right Freedom Party, had 49.7 percent.

A mere 31,000 votes — out of more than 4.6 million — separated the two candidates.

Joanna Kakissis, reporting for NPR from Vienna, described der Bellen as a 72-year-old, chain-smoking economist.

Hooray! It's that time of election season again, when (depending on whom you support) every single poll is cause for either panic or triumphantly punching the air.

Election Day, by the way, is Nov. 8. That's almost half a year more of hyperventilation over polls.

That sounds exhausting.

Pharmaceutical giant Bayer has launched a $62 billion bid for seed seller Monsanto in what some news reports say would be the largest-ever German takeover of a foreign company.

Bayer's all-cash offer is 37 percent higher than Monsanto's stock price before news broke about the possible deal.

"This transaction represents a compelling opportunity for Monsanto's shareholders," Bayer CEO Werner Baumann told reporters on a conference call Monday.

The presidential effect on foreign business deals

20 hours ago
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Sabri Ben-Achour

Boeing has made a deal to sell aircraft to VietJet.  GE Wind will partner with the Vietnamese government to develop windpower.  Pratt & Whitney will sell advanced engines to Vietnam. 

All these deals are announced just as President Obama is in Hanoi to put an end to a decades long arms embargo and highlight improving ties with the former adversary. 

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Getting justice for victims of torture and other abuses used to be just about impossible. It's still extremely difficult, but decades of work by activists, lawyers — and increasingly by doctors — have brought new tools to the struggle, whether they're working in a war zone or a hostile political environment.

Marketplace for Monday, May 23, 2016

21 hours ago
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Marketplace

Aircraft manufacturing deals abroad, hospital mergers at home and an interview with Gates Foundation CEO Susan Desmond-Hellmann. Plus: Why are there no ads on most streaming sports?

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that a black Georgia man convicted of murder by an all-white jury should have a new trial because the prosecution deliberately excluded African-Americans from the jury based on their race.

The court's decision reversed as "clearly erroneous" an earlier ruling by the Georgia Supreme Court, which had said the defendant had not proved racial discrimination in the selection of his jury.

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