Shots - Health Blog
3:55 pm
Mon August 8, 2011

Early Morning Smokers Are More Addicted And At Greater Risk Of Cancer

Early morning cigarettes are a proxy for the level of addiction, researchers say.

Even though rising cigarette prices and new restrictions on smoking in public places have helped to make a dent in smoking rates in the U.S., there are still plenty of heavily addicted smokers out there who remain at great risk of developing cancer from their habit.

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3:49 pm
Mon August 8, 2011

Market Turmoil Fuels Gold Rush

Gold futures climbed above $1,700 an ounce Monday as investors eyed the precious metal as a safe haven from declining stock markets.
David McNew Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 10, 2013 9:16 pm

The stock markets may be sinking, but the price of gold is on the rise, topping $1,700 an ounce Monday. Economists say the spike in gold is a sign that investors are getting nervous.

Ken Rogoff, an economics professor at Harvard University, says gold is kind of like an economic mood ring: When the price is relatively stable, the economy is cool, calm and collected.

But when the price of gold soars to levels like Monday's high, it's a sign of panic, he says. "People are scared right now," he says.

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3:04 pm
Mon August 8, 2011

Why The Downgrade Won't End The D.C. Dysfunction

President Barack Obama talks about the downgrade of U.S. debt at the White House on August 8.
Nicholas Kamm AFP/Getty Images

The political blame game that has followed Standard & Poor's U.S. debt downgrade has been dismally predictable.

Democrats point fingers at the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party. Republicans condemn President Obama for an inability to lead. And S&P has been alternately hailed for calling out Washington's budgeting dysfunction and excoriated for overstepping in its ratings role.

One thing not in dispute?

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The Two-Way
2:38 pm
Mon August 8, 2011

Alleged 'Patent Troll' Hit With Large Fine In Appeals Court

A ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit is being seen as a victory against "patent trolls," companies that acquire intellectual property for the sole purpose of extracting licensing fees or settlements, despite having no intention of using the protected technology or idea themselves.

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Shots - Health Blog
2:25 pm
Mon August 8, 2011

Why Toilet Training Can Trip Up Parents and Doctors

When it comes to potty training advice, pediatricians don't have much science to look to.

Science has failed parents, at least when it comes to determining how to toilet-train their children. There's scant data on whether it's better to potty train early or late, or whether it's OK to go diaper-free with "elimination communication," which involves whisking tiny babies off to the potty whenever they pee, which can be two or three times an hour.

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2:08 pm
Mon August 8, 2011

How Much Do Debt Ratings Matter?

President Obama signs the financial reform bill into law in 2010 as Vice President Joe Biden and lawmakers look on.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Standard & Poor's moved to downgrade housing lenders Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and a handful of insurance companies Monday — all in connection to Friday's credit downgrade of long-term U.S. debt.

There's a lot of speculation about how much these risk downgrades are weighing on stock markets, and whether they will continue to ripple through the economy. But, there are systemic reasons ratings matter less than they have in recent years.

Conventional wisdom says a U.S. downgrade would make Treasuries riskier. It would make yields — or interest rates — rise.

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National Security
1:48 pm
Mon August 8, 2011

For Navy Seal Team 6, A Huge Loss For A Small Unit

The U.S. Special Forces held a changing of the guard Monday, and it should have been a moment to recount triumphs, like the raid that killed Osama bin Laden just three months ago.

Instead, the long-planned change of command in Tampa, Florida, was a somber day as military leaders paid tribute to the 30 American troops who died in Afghanistan in a helicopter crash Saturday.

Nearly two dozen were members of the unit responsible for killing bin Laden – Navy Seal Team 6.

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The Two-Way
1:40 pm
Mon August 8, 2011

Research Shows Texas Having A Link To Antarctica

Scientists have found evidence that parts of North America and East Antarctica were joined in a supercontinent called Rodinia 1.1 billion years ago.
Robin E. Bell Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

Scientists have long thought that Earth's continents once formed a "supercontinent" called Pangaea. Now they've found evidence that parts of North America and East Antarctica were joined in a supercontinent called Rodinia 1.1 billion years ago — even earlier than Pangaea.

"I can go to the Franklin Mountains in West Texas and stand next to what was once part of Coats Land in Antarctica," said geochemist Staci Loewy, who led the work. "That's so amazing."

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Corey Flintoff is NPR's international correspondent based in Moscow. His journalism career has taken him to more than 50 countries, most recently to cover the civil war in Libya, the revolution in Egypt and the war in Afghanistan.

After joining NPR in 1990, Flintoff worked for many years as a newscaster during All Things Considered. In 2005, he became part of the NPR team covering the Iraq War, where he embedded with U.S. military units fighting insurgents and hunting roadside bombs.

1:14 pm
Mon August 8, 2011

In India, Snake Charmers Are Losing Their Sway

Snake charming is a dying art in India. Here, a man named Buddhanath is shown at a New Delhi market during Nag Panchami, the yearly religious festival in honor of the king cobra. The charmer plays a gourd flute and his snake responds.
Corey Flintoff NPR

Snake charmers used to be a fixture at Indian markets and festivals, beguiling crowds with their ability to control some of the world's most venomous reptiles.

But one of India's iconic folk arts is fading away — and animal rights activists say it can't happen soon enough. They say it's an art based on cruelty.

These days, it's not easy to find a snake charmer, even on Nag Panchami, the yearly religious festival in honor of the king cobra, which fell on Aug. 4 this year.

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